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Letters to the Editor for July 18, 2012

What’s Romney trying to hide?

Romney’s surrogates are bristling at the suggestion that Romney committed a felony in signing SEC documents after 1999, but they studiously ignore the alternative. Given Romney’s cautious nature in many things, it’s not likely he would have lied when he signed Bain related SEC disclosures or when he testified under oath that he was actively involved in Bain companies and attended board meetings in Massachusetts when challenged on his residency and eligibility to run for governor.

Since simply positive factual statements cannot be simultaneously true and untrue, logic dictates he is lying in his campaign statements which are not under oath or under any legal penalty. Whether his SEC filings, sworn testimony and financial disclosures to the FEC conflict with one another or with his tax filings is a matter that will only be settled when he is forced to make public his tax returns for the last 12 years as Obama has already done. The fact that he adamantly opposes such a release of his tax returns confirms in my mind that besides any embarrassing details about foreign investments and overseas tax shelters there must be something very fishy at the core of the matter which would strike a fatal blow to his credibility and legitimacy if elected.

John Harmer

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for July 13, 2012

Don’t close roads — downsize the Forest Service instead

I am a Baker County resident and love our forests. I along with many of my friends are in the forest and mountains sometimes several times a week. I’ve watched the Forest Service close many of the roads we used to enjoy. The Forest Service wants to keep a few people happy, environmentalists, that threaten to sue for everything. About half of the forest is already wilderness area. Let them take their walks and enjoy that part of the forest. Compromise has already been made. For the rest of us, which I believe is the majority, don’t close anything.

The loggers can no longer log, half the forest is wilderness and many of the roads already closed. I think that a good solution to the whole problem is get rid of 80 percent of the U.S. Forest Service and put the extra money into things that are really needed such as schools and other projects.

Bob McKean

Baker City

Regardless of contest results, Baker City is a winner

As we await the results of this year’s Best of the Road contest, I already know that Baker City is the winner. Timothy Bishop orchestrated a  spectacular show of our beautiful town for the judges and attendant Travel Channel/CBS TV crew. With only a one-day official visit, he managed to showcase our ranching heritage, our arts community, and other towns in Baker County, as well as the Baker City Historic District, heart of Baker County. Please join me in thanking Timothy for job well done!

 I’m proud to have been a small part of this community effort in service on the planning committee. Every citizen should share that pride. It doesn’t matter who is announced as the winner on Tuesday. We are all winners here and should congratulate each other on our beautiful small town!

Barbara Sidway

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for July 11, 2012

Free market? I wish there were such a thing

Free-market exponent Pete Sundin wrote a letter to the editor praising free choice, something I can agree with, if there really were such a thing.

How short Mr. Sundin’s memory is.  He has seemingly forgotten that unregulated free choice in worldwide financial markets led to the recession the U.S. and Europe are facing today.  Mr. Sundin isn’t the only one with a short memory.

I just learned today about the LIBOR scandal that promises to eclipse the derivatives scandal of 2008.  LIBOR stands for “London Inter-bank Offered Rate.”  That’s the average rate set by banks that determines what interest is charged to buy and sell money between banks.  In the culture of big finance, LIBOR trickles down to also affect the little guy’s interest payments on credit card, car loan, and mortgage.

Barclays, a 300-year-old British bank, has admitted to rigging LIBOR to its advantage, and disadvantage of others.  (Read about it in The Economist here: http://www.economist.com/node/21558281, or just Google “LIBOR scandal.”)  Barclays has agreed to pay U.S. and British regulators almost a half billion dollars in penalties.  Several other big-name banks are being investigated for similar activity.

Once again we learn that the game of free-market high finance is not conducted on a level playing field. Not only do financial institutions pay its traders obscenely high salaries and bonuses, but they also cheat.

The Economist refers to the LIBOR scandal as the “rotten heart of finance.”

Now, back to Mr. Sundin’s letter to the editor about free choice.  There is no free choice for the little guy, when the big guys don’t play by the rules.

Gary Dielman

Baker City

Locals help make Cycling Classic roll smoothly

The Baker City Cycling Classic couldn’t have happened this year without the support of our local community, and they came out more committed to the race than ever before.

Baker Loves Bikes would like to thank all our volunteers, the Baker High School students, their parents and their coaches for their dedication. The City of Baker City for the help making the courses clean and safe. Our police and fire departments for ensuring the safety of those racing and spectators.

Many local businesses supported the race financially or with volunteers for us. This help allowed us to put over $2500 into the BHS programs that worked with us and with continued support like this we will be able to increase our donations as we move forward.

The field at this years BCCC was up by 30 percent from last year and with the rider feedback we’ve been receiving already, we’re sure to have an even larger field next year. This event brings bike racers from all over the country to Baker County and the money they pay to be here goes directly into programs at Baker High School,which makes it unique. More money from this event stays right here in Baker, than just about any other event in the county, and it’s all from sources outside our area.

We also received help from the Northeast Oregon Compassion Center and in return they received a large donation of food for the food bank for the third year in a row. For the first time we worked with the fifth-grade classes to create the beautiful and colorful posters for the BCCC. Many of the posters could be seen around downtown Baker, but some graced the walls of bike shops around the Pacific Northwest, as far away as California.

As we move forward to our 12th year of racing in Baker City we become the second longest consecutively run bike race in the state of Oregon, and that is thanks in large part to the support of Baker County and YOU. Thank you all so much we couldn’t do it without you, and the riders all thank you too.

Brian Vegter

Baker City

Vegter is the race promoter for the Baker City Cycling Classic, and vice president of Baker Loves Bikes.

Letters to the Editor for July 9, 2012

Council should be responsive

I would like to alert the membership of the Hells Canyon Preservation Council to the lack of your organization to engage with the local populace in Eastern Oregon on the matter of the Travel Management Plan currently be planned by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 

Throughout the last four months local citizens have attempted to engage your organization through its writings on its blog and other social media, to be ignored and most recently to delete our questions. 

I would be greatly concerned to follow the leadership of people that cannot put together a coherent argument of their point, other than to wax poetic and insist that they have the only correct view point on natural resources management. 

Please ask the staff in La Grande to answer the questions being posed to them. I believe before they kill any more jobs in Eastern Oregon they should account for their position.

 John D. George



Change is possible  

It seemed for a time that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision had handed virtual control of our elections to the wealthy few. 

But the unanimous vote last week by the Baker City Council urging a U.S. constitutional amendment to take money out of politics is now a shining symbol of the power of We the People.  A small group of local citizens initiated the proposal, and the City Council debated and passed a resolution to let Congress and the states regulate political contributions and spending.

And both Senators Wyden and Merkley are already co-sponsoring just such a Constitutional amendment.  This is a big deal!  It deserves everyone’s utmost support.  We can change our destiny ... if we work together.

I was born in 1940, and during my lifetime I’ve seen the middle class grow by leaps and bounds, fueled by huge government investments, starting with World War II.  But then I watched the tide start to go out around 1980, as good-paying jobs were lost to globalization and automation, labor unions declined, and the wealthy 1 percent gained more and more of our total income and economic and political power, and were then granted massive tax cuts. 

I watched as wealthy folks and international corporations reached out and stuck their thumbs on the scales that determine who gets what.  With their money they could lobby Congress, buy political influence with campaign contributions, and offshore good-paying jobs and automate jobs out of existence with impunity.  They could then dictate pay and working conditions, bust unions, pay minimal income tax, and so forth. 

But that’s the past, not necessarily the future.  If we work together, we can reverse history and rebuild a society that works for us — with a government of, by, and for The People. It’s possible!  I know.  I was there.

I urge my fellow readers to reject the hate talk and ideology that keeps us divided, that makes us adversaries.  There’s too much at stake.  Real answers await our mutual, joint creative problem-solving genius.  The bold action of our City Council shows us it can be done.    

Marshall McComb

Baker City

Letter to the Editor for July 6, 2012

Pro-choice only goes so far

There are many politicians (you’ll find them in both parties) who like to say that they’re “pro-choice.” But when you look into their claims, you’ll learn that choice is only in one area of life — abortion. For the rest of life, they like to make our choices for us. Their rationale? Life is so complicated nowadays that we average citizens are incapable of making intelligent decisions for ourselves.


Letters to the Editor for July 2, 2012

Remembering a great friend, and my friend, Jack Pittman

I am proud to have called Jack Pittman a friend. I wish I could say a few words at his memorial service, but while some people can talk about a good friend after his passing and not get all choked up, I’m not one of them.

I first met Jack years ago, when I worked at the Senior Center and volunteers from his church would come once a month to help serve lunch. Right before lunch is served, one of the volunteers asks the Lord to bless the food, diners and volunteers. A lot of people do a real nice job, but Jack spoke to Jesus like he was talking to an old and trusted friend. His heartfelt words always had a big impact on me. And it wasn’t just words, because Jack lived life just like he spoke. Jack was the most religious man I’ve ever known, but he never flaunted his beliefs or looked down on someone who might not have his degree of faith. Jack was a role model, although I doubt he thought of himself that way. He was just being the good man he was.

When Jack would see me, he usually said “How are you, you good looking rascal?” It often made me doubt his eyesight, but never his sincerity. He talked to everyone like they were the most important person in his world, and I believe Jack honestly felt that way about each and every person he ever visited.

When I decided to be baptized, I couldn’t imagine asking anyone else to baptize me. I think it caught him by surprise and there was a slight pause. I was afraid he would refuse, but I shouldn’t have worried. I don’t think Jack could refuse any service to his Lord or to a friend.

Knowing Jack, he got a job greeting new arrivals into Heaven. He has such a way of making everyone feel welcome, he’s a natural.

This isn’t goodbye my friend, just until we meet again.

Jim Thomas

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for June 25, 2012

I’m supporting 5J recall

Enough with all this bickering and pettiness! Our school board, while volunteers, should conduct itself professionally. We should not see sniping, eye-rolling, and punitive actions. We should not see board members (employers) joining with a district administrator (employee) against another member of the board (one of the employers).

It is with a heavy heart that I think these volunteers should direct their talents somewhere that is not the local 5J Board. I am embarrassed that our board members cannot become a cohesive and positive force for the children in our district.

Please join me in promoting the Burroughs-Henderson Recall.

Elizabeth Campbell Huntsman

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for June 22, 2012

Wind farm imperils rare grass

The Oregon semaphore grass is a unique and amazing grass that occurs in two populations within the state of Oregon, and nowhere else in the world. It has a global heritage rank of G1, “critically imperiled because of the extreme rarity.” (Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species of Oregon, October 2010; Oregon Biodiversity Information Center, Institute of Natural resources, Portland State University).

Construction of the Antelope Ridge Wind Facility in Union County constitutes a threat to the Oregon semaphore grass. EDP Renewables chose to ignore it in their application until the Friends of the Grande Ronde Valley challenged them to address it. This rare plant is on the chopping block due to a renewable energy program that is proving to not be environmentally friendly that will ultimately provide less than 1 percent of our energy production. The question now is how many other endangered species of plants and animals are being ignored? 

Pamela Wilkinson


Not good news for Romney?

Local Obama critic Pete Sundin (June 13 Herald) notes that attorney John Wolfe of Chattanooga, Tenn., has garnered a significant percentage of votes in several state Democratic presidential primaries.  Sundin concludes that there is much discontent with their president among Democrats, which would seem to bode well for Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.  

What Sundin fails to tell the reader is that Wolfe is farther left politically than Obama. He wants tighter regulation of big banks and expanded use of Medicare. Democrats and independents who voted for Wolfe may be even less likely to vote for Mitt Romney.

Gary Dielman

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for June 20, 2012

Voters should look at Romney’s record, too

Pete Sundin tries to make a case (letters 6/13) for looking askance at President Obama’s accomplishments before casting our vote, drawing from major untruths perpetuated in the GOP/Romney platform. Perhaps Sundin doesn’t realize that far from being a big taxer, under Obama taxes are at their lowest level in decades. Similarly, Obama has spent less in new programs than any president since World War II, of course adding to the federal budget the cost of Bush’s two undeclared and unfunded wars increases our deficit, and his assertion that Obama is bad for jobs and business is refuted by the stock market going from 7,000 to 12,500 while business profits are the highest in history, and not surprisingly, any slowing of jobs growth coincides with the do-nothing 2010 GOP Congress blocking his policies.

Looking at Romney, who claims he ran a company which invested in struggling business without ever taking a bailout and touts his business acumen as the cornerstone of his campaign, we see a CEO (Bain) who sought and accepted a $10 million federal bailout (Boston Globe, Oct. 25, 1994) after making bad investments that he wanted the U.S. taxpayer to pony up for and in the tortured logic of the GOP, his dismembering and gutting businesses while stripping them of assets and laying off many thousands of workers is to be admired? 

Yes, indeed, do look hard before you vote.

John Harmer

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for June 13, 2012

Look at president’s deeds, not his words

Ever hear of John Wolfe? Don’t feel bad; not many people have. He is one of those obscure people who somehow get their name on the ballot and wind up with a few votes. But this year, this six-time loser from Tennessee ran in the Arkansas Democratic presidential primary against President Obama and got 40 percent of the vote!

What about Keith Judd? The name doesn’t ring a bell? He’s a convicted felon serving his sentence in a Texas prison. He ran in the West Virginia Democratic primary against the president and got 41 percent of the vote.

In Kentucky, an astonishing 42 percent of Democratic voters went for an “uncommitted” slate of delegates rather than vote for Barack Obama.

When four out of 10 Democratic voters in these states vote for an unknown, a jailbird and nobody in particular, respectively, rather than for the sitting president from their own party, they are sending a strong message: the nation is on the wrong track and has been for the past 3½ years.

At best, the recovery from the Great Recession has been anemic. Gasoline prices remain high. The administration has not made a dent in the high rate of joblessness among Americans. The budgets which President Obama has been submitting to Congress add a trillion dollars to the national debt each year. The Democratic-led Senate has failed to vote on any of these budgets since Barack Obama has been in office.  The list of Democratic failures is long.

President Obama is running for re-election, so pay no attention to anything he might say. Instead, pay attention to what he had done while in office, and at what he has failed to do. Then you will see why so many moderate Democrats are expressing their discontent with the man by refusing to vote for him.

Pete Sundin

Baker City

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