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Letters to the Editor for Sept. 7, 2012

By Jim Martin

The Forest Service is happy now, they have lots of fires. Let’s look at their policy and laws and see why they are so pleased with fire and at the same time uncover the reason they want to shut down the roads and deny the people access to the forests.

“Fuel load” is their term for dead, dying trees, brush and combustible litter that greatly accelerates and intensifies a forest fire. They used to have programs to reduce fuel load, and local wood cutters played a large part. Most programs were cut and severe restrictions were implemented over the years limiting the wood cutters’ ability to remove dead wood. There are way too many restrictions to list but here are a fewthat show their intent.

Some areas, so thick with dead trees and good wood, that are impossible to walk through have been posted “No Woodcutting — Old Growth Forest.” Each year it gets worse, just waiting for a spark.

Wood cutting is prohibited Dec. 1 through April 30. Why? Because our pickups caused erosion?  Yet some logging contracts call for snow to prevent damage to soil and small trees.

Whyw is it illegal to cut dead, down or standing, ponderosa pine? It is a most volatile wood and makes great forest fires. There are tons of it out there.  What good is it to the woodpecker when it all burns?

Look at the restrictions on cutting down snags. Yet they are the first thing cut on the fire line to protect workers and prevent flying burning embers.  Remember, all of these restrictions carry severe penalties and fines.

There are pages of laws restricting anyone wanting to remove dead wood from the forest. Any thinking person can only conclude that the U. S. Forest Service does not want the fuel load reduced on the forest. And that is why they want to close thousands of miles of roads. It prevents the removal of dead wood. Each yearthe fuel load gets deeper and inevitably it will burn. A few big fires each year throughout the West is what they want.

Look at all the dollars they can demand from Congress at their budget hearings. All those hundreds of homes and thousands of acres of forest burned this summer will reap them millions.  That means more and bigger offices, higher wages, more planes and equipment, more people to boss and more bosses. Plus more armed wood cops to force their will on the people.

Why can’t this road closure issue be put on the ballot this fall and let, “We the People” voice our desires, instead of some bureaucratic arm of the federal government?

I agree with Mike Ragsdale, we cannot let them shut down one mile, not even an inch of our roads. Let’s demand that they reopen closed roads so the fuel load can be reduced. Let’s get back to preventing fire, instead of fomenting it.

Also, let’s elect people that will reverse the insane policies of our government.

Jim Martin of Baker City is a retired Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee.

Letters to the Editor for Sept. 5, 2012

Politicians persist with their Robin Hood nonsense

It has been routine for years. The politicians tell us they want to tax the rich and give it to the middle class. They wish to portray themselves as modern Robin Hoods.  Robin robbed the rich and gave to the poor.

There is a problem with this. We do not have enough rich people to rob (tax). I recall that in about 1960 when the income tax rate was very high, a very good economist calculated that if the government not only took all of the income taxes of the rich but also took all of their income it would only pay for operating the U.S. government for four days. There were not enough rich people then and there have not been ever since. 

Why do these politicians keep telling us this nonsense? It has been getting them elected for these many years.

Carl Kostol

Baker City

Where did the School Board mailer come from?

I’m confused and angered by the flier I received in the mail from School Board directors Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson. This flier gives the appearance of being an official 5J mailing. Is it? Or is it a personal political mailing? It says: “Meet your 5J School Board members.” Why are only two members listed? Last time I checked, the voters had elected five!

Who paid for this mailing? Who designed and printed it? Was this effort done on District equipment utilizing District staff time? According to the USPS web site, just the postage alone to mail this flier to households in the 97814 ZIP code would cost $934. Nowhere on the flier does it state this important financial information. I’m hoping our taxpayer dollars weren’t used to fund this propaganda attacking their fellow Board member.

Melissa Hamman

Baker City

Personal attacks don’t make for worthwhile debates

A recent letter asked why anyone would vote to recall Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson from the 5J School Board. The authors say that they are good family people, have served the 5J school district in a variety of ways, and have been active in our community.  All of this is true, but misses the larger point.

 While Ms. Burroughs and Mr. Henderson may be good people, it is not a given that they are well suited to govern our school district — it isn’t personal.  Each of them has done things justifying their recall.  While I don’t have the space to list them here, you probably have read about them in this newspaper.

 Unfortunately, defenders of Ms. Burroughs and Mr. Henderson have chosen a strategy of discrediting me rather than defending their actions. This alone should raise a red flag in the minds of taxpayers and parents with students in our schools. But even if I am discredited, the question of Ms. Burroughs and Mr. Henderson’s suitability to govern has been raised by the hundreds and hundreds of your friends and neighbors who signed the first recall petition (which barely fell short) and are signing the current one. It will be harder to discredit all of them.

 It is true that I am young and have no children. I submit that this is actually an asset; our school board needs at least one person who can be objective, view issues without the distorting lens of vested interest, and point out when the emperor has no clothes. I freely acknowledge I still have much to learn, but am not so green as to be blind when people do things that are wrong. When this happens, it is my duty to bring them to the public’s attention. 

 Personal attacks are poor substitutes for a substantive argument. I will do my best to keep things on a high note and urge you to ignore the personality attacks, ignore the static, and find out about the issues for yourself.  Thank you.

Kyle Knight

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 31, 2012

Van to Fruitland appreciated

Thank you, St. Luke’s MSTI (Mountain States Tumor Institute), for placing a van in Baker City to transport patients to and from St. Luke’s in Fruitland, Idaho.


Why would anyone vote for recall?

An open letter to Baker City voters:

Thank you, Mr. Heriza, for your letter of Aug. 20 asking voters to consider the problems of a recall School Board election.


Shortsighted candidate won’t get my vote

I listen to NPR a lot and two mornings ago I heard a fellow interviewed. He is running for President of the United States from a third-party backing. I did not hear all the interview but it did not matter. 

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 29, 2012

Headstones are an embarrassment

I have been saddened and embarrassed by the condition of the headstones at Mount Hope Cemetery. After meeting with Mike Kee, the city manager, and the contractor for the care of the cemetery I found that there is no fund for stone repair. 

Convince us, Democrats

No sooner had Mitt Romney selected Congressman Paul Ryan to be his vice-presidential running mate than the Democratic spin machine cranked up. “Be afraid, ladies,” we’ve been told. “Beware of that Ryan character. He’s a big part of the Republican ‘War on Women!’ ”


Letters to the Editor for Aug. 27, 2012

Save money for students by avoiding school board recall

In a letter to the editor, Kerry McQuisten writes, “At no time did I tell him” — meaning me — “our recall effort against Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson would cost nothing. That’s ridiculous and not at all the point I was attempting to make when he asked about my involvement.”

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 24, 2012

School board recall would be a spank, not a slap

The latest flurry of anti-recall letters to the Herald have been interesting. The letter from Mr. Heriza, although well-written and amusing, was nonetheless raw emotion and lack of practicality.

To illustrate: Mr. Knight tried to intimidate Andrew Bryan by suggesting he had a financial interest in the disposal of the old high school. I don’t know what Mr. Heriza’s definition of intimidate is, but I believe it was Mr. Knight who was censured for exercising his First Amendment right. Mr. Heriza intimates that making such a suggestion is a bad thing. I think that anything like that should be brought to light. It almost sounds that Mr. Heriza would like to just “keep things quiet.” 

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 22, 2012

Women should vote to preserve their rights

Women of Baker County — you do have a vote! That right has not been taken away from us (as other rights are threatened) — so use it!

Those other rights are threatened by Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his vice presidential hopeful.

Paul Ryan would ban common forms of birth control, would eliminate a woman’s right to choose, voted to end funding for Planned Parenthood, and voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

So use a right you do still have — vote!

Peggi Timm

Maryalys Urey

Baker City

Solutions, not ideology, needed in economic debate

Our dear country is in deep economic distress. Sound, evidence-based solutions are desperately needed. But we’re often sidetracked by misleading information and rigid ideology.

We’re once again hearing a story about President Kennedy that’s been twisted to justify ruinous tax cuts (Letters, Aug. 15 and 17). Kennedy actually wanted spending increases to stimulate the economy, but, like Obama, was obstructed by Congressional Republicans. To put things in perspective, the top marginal tax rate (the rate paid by the wealthy) had been at over 90 percent since 1950, during the golden years of middle-class growth. Kennedy reluctantly cut the top rate from 91 percent to 70 percent. That’s twice today’s top rate, but we still prospered!

Reagan cut the top marginal rate from 70 percent to 50 percent and then to 28 percent, and wound up tripling the national debt. Clinton raised it to 31 percent and then 39 percent, and we had prosperity and even ran a budget surplus. Bush then cut it to 35 percent, and doubled the national debt. There’s a pattern here. Those calling for even more tax cuts for the wealthy are selling from an empty wagon.

And what’s this about government repressing private enterprise? An army of corporate lobbyists and hundreds of millions in campaign contributions are actually keeping wealthy folks in control. Obvious results are the 2008 financial collapse caused by unregulated investment banks, confusion about global warming promoted by the fossil-fuel industry, and wrenching dislocations caused by NAFTA and other “free trade” treaties sponsored by international corporations.

 Perhaps less obvious: we’re struggling through a new kind of recession.  Many of our good-paying, middle-class jobs were eliminated over the past 30 years by off-shoring, accelerating automation, and union-busting.  The middle class has been drained of its purchasing power, while the 400 richest Americans now have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together.  

We need real, innovative solutions.  Two locally produced and maintained websites can enhance our ability to reason using facts and positive approaches:  www.progressivevalues.us and www.ccbc.us  I urge all my fellow readers to join in the much-needed, well-informed debate.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

A dog-lover says thanks to considerate drivers

A huge thank you to all drivers on 10th Street on Aug. 20 around noon. My shar-pei escaped from her collar while leaving the vet’s office and was running loose up and down 10th. Thank you for stopping and letting us cross the street to try and catch her. A special thank you to Dr. Matt for leaving his vet practice to help us. And also thanks to the gals in the yellow car for helping the entire time. Although it was just 15 minutes it seemed like a lifetime to this dog lover!

Gwen English

Baker City

I support school board recall effort, and will sign again

The statement in Jim and Mary Tomlinson’s letter last Friday that the majority of registered voters don’t support the recall is deeply flawed. I’m sure petition circulators, knowing they had to gather 913 signatures plus a surplus to cover invalid signatures, did exactly that, thus the 1,066 signatures turned in. No reasonable person would attempt to gather signatures from every registered voter in the school district. And if I’m not mistaken, wasn’t Jim Tomlinson appointed to the 5J budget committee by Lynne Burroughs – resulting in a letter from the Oregon Department of Revenue instructing the board to follow state law by having the entire board, not the chair, appoint committee members? And doesn’t Mary Tomlinson work for a company that has a contract with 5J?

I keep seeing letters against the recall from the same group of friends (good ole boys’ network) related to the District. On the other hand, I see letters from the pro-recall side who are just voters; these letters state facts. My signature was invalidated because the County Clerk marked me as an inactive voter without my knowledge during a study abroad program for college in Australia during the summer.  As a 2009 Baker High School graduate I know firsthand what happens in the Baker 5J School District as a former student. I will sign the petition again. I, like my friends and neighbors, support this recall effort.

Sean Gilsdorf

Baker City

Don’t miss the ceramics display at Crossroads

  The current exhibition at the Crossroads Art Center “Persistence in Clay” is still on display through Aug. 31. This show is a must see. This is a unique opportunity for Eastern Oregon to see a collection of leading edge contemporary ceramics sculptures.

Through the continuing diligence of the Crossroads staff, this art work has been brought to Baker City. The pieces on display continue the exemplary tradition of the clay work being done in America. This is a traveling exhibition from the Missoula Art Museum that celebrates the 60th year anniversary of the Archie Bray Foundation. The Bray has served as the seminal birth place for internationally know ceramicists such as Peter Voulkous, David Shanner and numerous other great American talents. The work on sale is very reasonably priced, and a great investment for would be collectors. I bought a piece for my collection and wish I could afford more. A show of this caliber is seldom available in this rural of a setting.

Tom Dimond

Retired ceramics professor,        Eastern Oregon University

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 20, 2012

Fixing Resort Street would benefit the city

Interesting comments regarding the Resort Street plan. Stunningly obvious was the comment that the Herald believes that the “city can spend the money on other projects that have a greater benefit to a larger number of city residents.” By “starting to reverse the decade-long downward trend in the condition of city streets.” What part of Resort is a not a “city street?” And what part of Resort is not used by a large number of residents?

Much more to the point, where on Resort Street is in good condition? The city at this very moment is working on the streets insuring that they are in good condition for a large number of residents. Yes, interesting comments.

Kate Dimon

Baker City

Recalling board members would be slap in face

I was encouraged by and agree with the Herald’s editorial indicating that our schools are providing our students with a quality education and the rancor among board members has not affected school district operation. I do not agree that no harm will result regardless of the outcome of a recall election.

Consider this scenario: The recall is successful and Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson are removed from the board. By a 2 to 1 vote, Andrew Bryan dissenting, Kyle Knight is elected board chairman. This is a young man who spent his first year: 1) intimating that board member Bryan had a financial interest in the disposal of the old high school building; 2) promoting an armed faculty while opposing technology education; 3) challenging the competency of the district’s financial officer; 4) releasing confidential information to the press; and, 5) recently suggesting possible collusion by the county clerk in her validation of the recall signatures.

Given time and maturity Mr. Knight could well become a positive contributor to the education of the district’s students. As a former teacher and high school vice principal, I suggest rather than pushing to make our teachers gun-toters, he spend some time in our city park during school hours, asking young people, near his own age, why they opt for Big Gulps and cigarettes rather than attending class.

In contrast, Mrs. Burroughs has spent many productive years in the classroom and, without remuneration, has spent countless hours providing this community with first-class drama productions. “Service to others” has been her credo. To recall her would be a slap in the face.

Some 38 years ago I wrote a poem about a disgruntled young woman leaving the city of Baker. The last two lines of the poem were: “She stood in front of Levinger’s and gave the town the ‘bird.’ ”

Levinger’s is no longer in existence but if the 5J voters recall Mrs. Burroughs, I will invite her to give her “hand signal” from the confines of my front yard.

John Heriza

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 17, 2012

Make sure your vote will actually be counted

2012 is an important election year. Last week my family and I learned that just being a registered voter often isn’t enough to make your signature or vote count. In Oregon, registered voters can be labeled “inactive” if they haven’t voted in five years or if a ballot bounces back to the County Clerk’s office in the mail. If you’re a legally registered yet inactive voter, you no longer have the legal right to sign a petition — your signature will be invalidated. Other U.S. states have ruled limitations on inactive voters’ rights unconstitutional. Not Oregon, though!

If you were vacationing out of the area, deployed with the military, etc. and you think your ballot may have bounced back to the County, please go to the Courthouse and ask to take a look at your voting status. If you’re like some people I’ve spoken with who didn’t turn a ballot in because you didn’t like any of the candidates, you might be inactive. Again, get to the Courthouse and make sure your information is current. 

Your signature on a petition or ballot can also be invalidated if your county clerk views the signature on your voter registration card and decides they don’t match. Telling the clerk in person that you indeed signed the petition will not be considered, nor, according to the Baker County Clerk, will the “intent” of the signer. All that matters is that your signature is a match to the one on the card. If you registered online your signature ties to the one on your driver’s license, and we all know how different those can look. If you first registered decades or just years ago and your signature has changed, please go sign your card again just to be sure. Your vote and signature are too important to risk this election year.

David McQuisten

Baker City

Focus on educating children, not recalling volunteers

The Baker City Herald’s Editorial Board missed the mark when it characterized the failure of School Board recall supporters to gather sufficient valid signatures (editorial, “Right to be Cautious,” Aug. 10). The County Clerk’s Office followed a legally mandated signature checking process. This is not a “delay;” it is the democratic process in action. It is disheartening to read Herald editorials by the staff that continue to support the recall. The majority of registered voters apparently do not support it.

As citizens dedicated to our children and their education and growth, let’s join together to support the goals that our School Board volunteers were elected to implement. The School District goals are to maintain a “program designed to improve student achievement, support students’ academic growth ... encourage their attainment of individual goals and successfully prepare students to function effectively in a rapidly changing world and for the futures they choose to pursue.” Code AE, Adopted 2/19/08, readopted 2/21/12. Let’s focus on developing our children to be future leaders of our community and our nation.

Jim and Mary Tomlinson

Baker City

Government has spending problem, not tax problem

In reading the recent letter, “Reagan tax cuts made things worse, not better,” I find myself agreeable to the need for a well-informed debate.

First item: Tax cuts for the wealthy. In the early 1960s President Kennedy and a large number of leading Democrats were in agreement that the tax rate reduction would help the country’s economy. Truth is that there was a reduction in tax rates for everyone, not a tax cut. This reduction had indeed proven the outcome of economic stability. We do not have a tax problem, we have a spending problem.

Second item: Lesson from history. This country was built and made great by hard-working people, no matter what level of society they belonged. They did this while government was small and represented the people. The private sector remained strong and free from the overpowering control of the government that was there to represent them. Today the overpowering control of government has left its roots and engulfed our society entirely.

Businesses, including myself, continue to do all that we can to create and maintain jobs for employees and need to be freed up from government regulations and excessive taxes, and allow us to do what we do best ... stimulate the economy and create jobs.

I would ask all government officials to put a stop to overspending.

I am asking in November for all Baker County citizens to join me in voting for Mitt Romney.

Bill Harvey


Letters to the Editor for Aug. 15, 2012

A happy note for the future of orchestras

This Sunday, the newly formed Baker City Orchestra held its first concert at Geiser-Pollman Park in Baker City. There was a huge turnout. I would estimate the listeners to have numbered around a hundred or more.

But what really hit home with me was not so much the number of people in the audience, but their wild enthusiasm for the new orchestra. That confirms that this type of music is not dead, but somewhat absent and greatly missed. Actually, the orchestra only included one classical piece in their program (Beethoven) and it received the most applause. The community really came out to support great music!

This event has led me to consider the health of orchestras everywhere. I work with the Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra in La Grande and it has become increasingly apparent to me as well as others on the board that the GRSO and other orchestras are in serious danger of dying out! This is because fewer students are becoming professional or even part-time musicians. Most musicians start at an elementary level in school and sadly, music-learning opportunities are becoming extremely scarce. Students should be exposed to and instructed in art and music as well as the basics, but despite this well-known fact, music is being budgeted out of our public schools.

For example, we have only one music teacher between several schools in our district and while the middle and high schools have band programs, a string program has not existed for many years. The few private teachers in the area struggle to keep up with demand and it seems that an increasing number of players emerge from homeschool families and the adult population. Consequently, there are not as many people in general who are willing to commit to music which leads to a severe shortage in current and future orchestral players. What can be done about this shortage? Perhaps we should seriously consider forming music instruction programs at a local level. If we replace failing music instruction in our schools, we may not only save our orchestras, but possibly music as well! 

Amber Martell

Baker City

High taxes on rich strangle economy

For a decade, a Democratic talking point was that the Bush tax cuts were simply “tax cuts for the rich,” and it was official Democratic policy to let these tax cuts expire. But now they want to keep the Bush tax cuts for some of “the rich,” the middle class, and allow them to lapse only for those making over $250,000 a year. The trouble is, many of these latter “rich” folks are the owners of small businesses. And historically, small businesses provide over half of the new jobs created each year.

We have an excellent example of this right here in Baker City, with the Chaves’ computer date storage business. This small business has the potential to create 100 or more new jobs for Baker County. Do we really want to raise these folks’ taxes by approximately one-third? For that is what will happen if the Democrats get their way. Why take money designated to create jobs here locally that the government will fritter away on $500 toilet seats and bridges to nowhere? The federal government does not have a particularly good record on the wise use of our tax dollars.

The Democrats were not always the party of high taxes. The Reagan tax cuts of 1982 were passed by a Democratic House of Representatives, and 20 years earlier, the Kennedy tax cuts were passed when the Democrats controlled both Congress and the presidency. Each tax cut led to a decade of economic growth.

President Kennedy knew something that President Obama doesn’t — that high taxes on the rich only strangle our nation’s economy.

Peter Sundin

Baker City

Cost a necessary part of school board recall

I read with fascination Gary Dielman’s letter Monday during which he describes an alleged conversation we recently had. I spoke with Dielman in passing once, for no more than a couple minutes, nearly three months ago. Dielman, having been the subject of a recall effort by local voters, is understandably a bit biased in the anti-recall direction. However, I do wish he’d taken the time to accurately “recall” our brief conversation before writing his letter.

 At no time did I tell him our recall effort against Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson would cost nothing. That’s ridiculous — and not at all the point I was attempting to make when he asked about my involvement. I’m a taxpayer who places high importance on the wise use of taxpayers’ money. I don’t take the cost of a special election lightly, nor does anyone working with me. When considering costs, I believe voters should also look, for example, at the pay raise Henderson and Burroughs just gave the superintendent — in a time when teachers have been cut. Or at their senseless rejection of a teacher’s grievance surely resulting in thousands of dollars in expensive independent arbitration/legal fees and the cost of recruiting new staff for that position. And what price would you put, Mr. Dielman, on standing up for the First Amendment rights of the directors we voted into office? Or on keeping legally public information available to the public rather than have certain board members declare this information “confidential” simply because they say it is? When I compare the cost of a special election to that of keeping these two in office, it seems a sadly necessary investment.

 As voters, we have only two established, legal choices when an elected official fails miserably on the job: We can wait until they come up for re-election and vote them out, or we can recall or “unvote” them. From my point of view, another couple years of this board’s decisions would come at too high a cost.

Kerry McQuisten

Baker City

 Let’s show Idaho Power the door

Let me get this straight: We have just let a private and out-of-state owned business — Idaho Power — into our county, tell us they are going to put a high-voltage power line though our yards, divide the community in argument, make a mockery of our own rules and regulations, give us no compensation for social and economic damage done, and we are about to let them get away with it.

Remember their last project? Although construction of their dams mandated they provide adequate fish passage there still hasn’t been a salmon or steelhead in any of our creeks and rivers since the dams went into place. So why now have we let them return and raise havoc? I don’t recall being given the chance to vote whether we wanted this power line coming through our county or not. Instead, as if this is our vote, we are being only given choices of alternative routes that, like I said, split our community, compromise our unique lifestyles, bend hard-fought for-or-against regulations and erode our environment. Are we supposed to be thankful to be given a chance choosing one of two evils?

Go to the Idaho Power Website and watch their propaganda video why the Boardman to Hemingway line is both needed and necessary (their words). You’ll discover that their average customers now have 24 electrical devices, live in larger homes and are busy breaking new energy-consumption records. Well, if their customers can afford bigger homes and all those electrical gadgets then they can certainly afford a rate hike. Why should we be sacrificing our land along with our way of life for people in rat race land with a consumerism problem? We are not in a state of emergency.

Yet Idaho Power really does need this power line because Idaho Power is a for-profit company — no different than Enron was. They are on the New York stock exchange (IDA. Currently at a five-year high). Their mission is to make money and satisfy their shareholder’s portfolios. What their video doesn’t tell you is that this power line allows them to also sell electricity where it is in high demand, places like Phoenix and L.A. Idaho Power only cares about Idaho Power. If they didn’t then why are they bypassing their own property with their proposed route? This issue is about money and muscle and we in Eastern Oregon are not even pawns but mere dust on their chessboard.

Our way of life is something that can’t be graphed or charted and therefore doesn’t count and is easily sacrificed. This is the real price they are out to extract from us, making us pay for all the electrical device-heads in Idaho and to satisfy some stockholder in the Bahamas. Please make it clear to these people that they and their project are not welcome here. Show them to the nearest exit. It doesn’t have to be well lit.

Whit Deschner lives near Sparta. 

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