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Home arrow Opinion arrow Letters

Letter to the Editor for July 23, 2014


Forest officials don’t want to listen to the public

In a letter dated July 17 of 2014 the forest supervisors of the three national forests (Wallowa-Whitman, Malheur and Umatilla) of the Blue Mountains closed the door on public comment meetings to the people of Eastern Oregon. 

Mr. Laurence of Baker, Ms. Raaf of John Day, and Mr. Martin of Pendleton all signed a letter provided to this paper stating that they did not feel there was a need for public comment meetings, and no extension was warranted as they were doing their due diligence to interact with the public of Eastern Oregon. Mr. Laurence assured a group of people on March 1 that such meetings would take place, now he is declining to move forward with those meetings as promised, yet another misrepresentation of the truth.

The people of Eastern Oregon not only deserve to have open public comment meetings on the Forest Plan Revision, they require such meetings because of the limited opportunities they have to comment on the 1,400-page document. The U.S. Forest Service has supplied three electronic means to submit comments, and one paper means, all in written format, with no way to articulate their positions verbally and has also stated you may visit a supervisor’s or district office to submit comments, that is if one wants to be made to feel like a criminal in accessing an office building, or can get an appointment with a Forest Service employee to discuss the matter.

It is grossly apparent the USFS in Eastern Oregon does not want to engage with the public in Eastern Oregon in an open forum public comment meeting, and they are hoping that the written comment method will help limit the amount of comments they will receive in the matter.

You must stand up for yourselves and have a voice. Please contact the people below and let them know you expect and demand public comment meetings before the Aug. 15 cutoff deadline or request an extension of the comment period on the Forest Plan Revision.

Wallowa Whitman Forest Supervisor – John Laurence – This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Malheur Forest Supervisor Teresa Raaf – This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Umatilla Forest Supervisor Kevin Martin – This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Regional Forester Pena – This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Secretary Vilsack – This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Chief Tidwell – This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

John George

Bates


Letters to the Editor for July 21, 2014


Predators are getting the upper hand on people

This letter may seem a little vindictive, but as I watch the Portland news about cougars I can’t help being a little amused.

I grew up in Eastern Oregon. I am now 88. My father ran a band of sheep in the Wallowa Mountains and had to contend with cougars coming into his sheep camp on a nightly basis and killing his sheep. At that time there was a rancher in the area that kept hounds. This rancher kept the cougar population down by hunting with hounds.

Of course at that time there were no animal rights groups to declare this inhumane or to say that we were invading the cougars’ territory. They did the same with the coyote. Now these animals are not even afraid of humans. These predators are killing the deer and elk so much that many people don’t even bother to go hunting any more. In a lot of rural areas the deer have moved into towns to seek food and protection.

The wolves have also become a problem. A few years ago a local rancher was plagued with wolves killing his calves and sheep at birth. He was not allowed to hunt and kill this predator to save his livestock. He would have been fined had he killed the culprit.

People can no longer enjoy camping, fishing, hiking or even a day of picking berries without the fear of what might be stalking them for dinner. Citizens of rural Oregon are very disgusted with the radical animal rights groups that do not understand the day-to-day operations of ranching, stopping to think where the food they are consuming came from. Protecting these animals causes an overpopulation and throws off the natural balance. Lo and behold, when the food the cougars are hunting runs out or stars to take shelter in our towns, where do you think the predators are going to start to look fro food next?

It could be your back porch.

Patricia Culley

Baker City

Sacking of mayor another predictable mess

Hooray for Bill Ward, citizen I presume, and fellow thinker in the “I think I smell a rat” pack.  For reasons I do not understand I too watched that Baker City Council debacle that started off intelligently and then took a really foul tack, obviously at the direction of two said councilors. Having read an account of the drift being taken and having experienced this same kind of nefarious treatment in parts of my life I knew what was in the offing, and wasn’t surprised when it came unzipped.

Bill asked, “Will we ever have a Council that will learn to respect and disagree at the same time” — and based on my extraordinarily short time of living here (21 years) I have truly seen some strange goings on at the city level, from the mysterious disappearance of a Sunday Portland Oregonian gang of papers, but containing an ugly article on our fair city, city manager sackings, recall activity and now this odd defrocking of the current mayor, aided and abetted by what seems to be ethereal reasoning on the part of the aforementioned gang of four.

I am also a fan of what I call the gang of six fervent and forever negative contributors to this column. I think of them as our exhaustingly persistent crew of boo birds, forever haranguing the efforts of our federally elected government leaders any time they, the BBs see something  that doesn’t pass their muster, but what? Where were they with their cutting edge wisdom in this matter. Nowhere, not one of them showed up for muster, so I’ll have to surmise they saw nothing untoward in this dismissal of the now ex-mayor.

Councilor Coles referred to it being akin to a foreign nation coup, to which I disagree. I see it as a misplaced Mississippi lynching.

Gene Wall

Baker City


Letter to the Editor for July 18, 2014


Our carbon appetite threatens the air we breathe

For the past several hundred million years that part of the Earth above the water has been blanketed with plant life. These plants inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. The oxygen made animal life possible, when it came along, to exist here also.

It is a good thing for animals such as ourselves that plants separate carbon dioxide into its two elements and lock up the carbon part. For something sinister, for animals, happens when carbon dioxide accumulates in the air above a certain concentration.

Were it not for the great green carbon sink blanketing the Earth and soaking up the carbon dioxide, the air would become too hot for animals to live in. We can be thankful we have this green blanket that keeps up with the naturally produced carbon dioxide and keeps our air ocean habitable.

Or did, at least until we invented autos and planes and diesel locomotives and coal-fired power plants, all of which use carbon for fuel and dump carbon dioxide as waste into the air we all breathe. And for the fuel we keep needing, we dig up the carbon the plants locked up millions of years ago.

At first it made no detectable difference. There were not nearly so many of us so there were but a few of the machines. But we became so numerous and we found so many adaptations for these carbon-fueled engines, all the while mindlessly cutting down our forests and paving over and otherwise reducing the size of the green blanket we depend upon to clean that air, that we have overwhelmed its cleaning capacity. Now there is an excess of carbon dioxide in our air ocean. That excess is heating the great air ocean, which is heating the vast salt oceans. And these in turn are changing our weather. It is well underway.

We get all excited, as we should of course, and promptly do something about it when we find a little cow poop in Elk Creek but go right on dumping the stuff that is going to exterminate us into our only breathing air.

Dan Martin

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for July 16, 2014


Can’t we have a City Council that works for the city?

I have been asked many times by various citizens to run for City Council. Now I would like to make public my reasons for not running.

I can’t remember in my 33 years living here a single city council that wasn’t dysfunctional in one way or another. The citizens vote for what they perceive to be citizens interested in representing the city as a whole in matters of importance. What we always end up with sadly is several worthy council members doing exactly that, and a few that bring their own personal agenda that serves them and not the citizens.

This current Council is case in point. The citizens voted for the councilors, and as the paper pointed out the citizens have no vote as to who is chosen mayor. But each voter realizes one of the seven would be elected mayor and therefore we wouldn’t vote for any councilor we felt would be inadequate in the job.

Unfortunately, four councilors felt that rather than wait for the seating of a new City Council in order to pick a new mayor they would vote Richard out now. 

Will we ever have a Council that will learn to respect and disagree at the same time, and the key word here is respect. We have four councilors that like children when the game doesn’t go their way, they take the ball and go home.

The four councilors that decided their personal agenda is more important than that of city business is by far the most compelling reason I can think of for not wanting to run for public office. My hat is off to now Roger Coles, Dennis Dorrah, and now simply Councilor Richard Langrell for doing the right thing. You have my full support as well as sympathy. As for the other four Councilors, have you ever thought actions such as yours are always seen negatively by any business thinking of relocating to Baker City. You did this the very same week we will have thousands of visitors to our fair city, what will they think of you?

Bill Ward

Baker City

Bentz is right: We can accomplish more together

I was impressed by Rep. Cliff Bentz’s calm and thoughtful response to the controversy that exists in our use of natural resources (“Bentz: Timber gridlock annoys,” July 7). While others may promote conflict and confrontation, Bentz reminds us that collaboration can produce win-win solutions that benefit us all, and he specifically calls for “a sturdy line of communication between state and federal agencies and local governments.”

It’s likely that such vigorous communication actually can overcome environmental lawsuit barriers and lead to increased, sustainable employment in the timber industry.  Bentz urges us to explore additional job creation opportunities, as well, and so do I.

In my opinion, a most productive first step toward wage growth and prosperity in our community would be to recognize the epic damage caused by the growing inequality of wealth in our country.  There’s been a heartbreaking decline of the middle class.  

American wages have been stagnant or shrinking for the past 35 years, as good-paying jobs were lost to computer automation and off-shoring. Profits have increasingly gone to an elite few, who are lightly taxed. 

One widely-discussed solution: engaging with all levels of government, we could increase incomes by enhancing the Earned Income Tax Credit. If more families had a livable income, it would quickly and substantially increase the amount of money circulating in Baker County and elsewhere, and more jobs would follow. Everyone would benefit.

Abraham Lincoln warned us that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Fighting each other, we invite disintegration. Let us not allow fear and ideology to cloud mutual respect and high regard. Working together we can realize the potential of our collective genius to discover surprising, new solutions that transcend our individual views.

Marshall McComb

Baker City


Letter to the Editor for July 9, 2014


Privatizing federal land would limit our freedoms

The same night that the Republicans held their debate for county commissioner there was an article about Seneca Jones, a timber company, buying part of the Elliot Forest, which is a part of the state forest lands that were laid out to support schools and colleges. Evidently the state land board got frustrated fighting with environmental groups so decided to show them and sold about 800 acres to the private company. That land which used to belong to the people of Oregon will now have no trespassing signs posted on it. 

I mention this in response and support of Bob Whitnah’s letter in the Baker County Press. He is dead on. If you like the freedom of movement you grew up with in the West then pay damned little attention to the periodic Sagebrush Rebellion stuff that periodically comes out of Nevada. Privatizing federal lands would be extremely difficult with 435 congressmen, 100 senators, nine Supreme Court justices and a president  all having a say.  The Seneca Jones situation illustrates exactly what would happen if federal lands ever reverted to the states. With the wealth of the country becoming ever more concentrated in the hands of a few it wouldn’t be long before the super-rich bribed, contributed to elections and bought their own state legislators and worked out a deal to privatize and own what is now collectively yours. In Oregon those with the power would number less than 100 to do this, on the county level three elected officials might be able to do it.  

The western United States is unique in all the world for providing freedom of movement for its citizens. I grew up western and will fight to keep that heritage. The idea that I should be surrounded by no trespassing signs on my land is unacceptable. That doesn’t mean I am always happy with the way my lands are managed but at least I have a say. Once they are in private hands I have none.

Steve Culley

Richland


Letter to the Editor for June 30, 2014


Two-parent family remains best option for society

Sociologist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, “Much of the social history of the Western world … has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.” We have inherited from our ancestors something which works: the two-parent family. A man and a woman marry for life and provide a home for their children. It’s not perfect; we humans aren’t perfect. But numerous studies have established that this is the best environment for raising happy, healthy children — it works.

Then a generation ago along came no-fault divorce and the sexual revolution. Both sounded good at the time, but once adopted, they have led to the single-parent family. Single parents want to raise happy, healthy children, of course, and many do. But they are laboring under a handicap. They are trying to do by themselves a job best done by two people.

Mr. Sowell, a black man, was appalled at the destructive effect this change has had upon the people of his race, particularly the young men. Huge numbers of them spend significant amounts of time in jail, and all too many are murdered in gang violence. They make the neighborhoods in which they live hells on earth.

Some claim that this is evidence of racism in our society, but it’s not. The rate of out-of-wedlock births in our inner cities is around 70 percent. The refusal of these young black men to marry the mothers of their children deprives them of the civilizing impact young women can have on them, and significantly increases the odds that their sons will share their unhappy fate. For them, the single-parent family most decidedly does not work.

We whites should not feel complacent. As the rate of our out-of-wedlock births continues to increase, our young men are sharing the same pathologies afflicting young black men. We’re just not as far down that path as they are.

Western civilization has tinkered with the institutions of marriage and of the family, and the results have not been good. But we have not learned from our experience, and continue to replace what works with what sounds good.

Pete Sundin

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for June 27, 2014

We need to organize to fight global warming

A small group has been meeting to discuss the changing climate and the global warming that is causing it and what we can do about it. Soon we are going to call a public meeting of people seriously concerned about global warming who, like us, feel that we should be organized.

When I approached my nieces about joining such a group each declined, saying in effect: “My plate is too full already.” These are young women with young children who will be adults, doing the world’s work 40 years from now. That is, they will be only if enough of their parents come to realize that efforts to save the habitability of the Earth is the most important work of their entire generation. No other generation ever had a more important task.

Many disbelieve “all this global warming stuff,” citing evidence of one-time rivers and forests in the Sahara and palm trees and crocodiles in North Dakota as proof that the present warming is but one more normal variations of Earth’s climate. However, there is one critical difference between now and then. This time the warming is caused by 35.6 zillion (however many that is) tons of carbon we have put in the air, and which we must slow down adding to until the Earth’s various carbon traps catch up. This we do by such things as switching from gas to electric autos, from coal to solar power, and greatly reducing the number of jet flights. We must somehow get the coal and petroleum corporations to leave in the ground $20 trillion worth of coal and crude that they would like to have us buy and burn.

Sooner or later we must have the government in our struggle and on our side. For this we must be organized, for being organized we are a movement, and movements move governments as nothing else does. Enough people concerned with global warming can keep the Earth habitable for when your kids are running it. You young parents, we need your talents, your energy and your numbers.

Dan Martin

Baker City

I’m a veteran who received excellent care from VA

I am a veteran. I receive all of my medical care since 1999 at the VA medical facility at Boise. My experience with this VA medical facility is quite different than that reported in a recent editorial which appeared in the Herald and which is being reported in most of the major news media.

I have received excellent and timely care consistently during this time span. While under the care of the VA medical system I have suffered two events which could have been either life devastating or fatal. One involved prostate cancer and the other a blockage of a carotid artery. Both of these events were dealt with in a timely and efficient manner.

I believe that the news media has a duty to investigate and report a complete story, not just what gets people’s attention.  There is a bright side to the VA medical facility story that should be addressed. I know. I’ve been there.

Sig Siefkes

Baker City


Letter to the Editor for June 20, 2014


Writer didn’t mention effectiveness of vaccines

In a recent guest opinion published in another local paper, Baker County resident L.E. Castillo criticizes a new Oregon Health Authority vaccination requirement that parents who opt out of having their children vaccinated watch a “vaccine education module.” Castillo bolsters his objection by citing several studies showing that some children suffer adverse effects from vaccines. 

Based on these studies Castillo advises parents “not to vaccinate your children until you’ve done some homework.” As an alternative to vaccination, Castillo recommends “homeopathic vaccine alternatives.”

Castillo makes no attempt to present the overwhelming evidence that vaccination prevents deadly epidemics that used to plague the world. 

Parents magazine has this to say about vaccination: “The odds of experiencing a vaccine-related injury are greatly outweighed by the dangers of catching a vaccine-preventable disease. The measles vaccine, for instance, can cause a temporary reduction in platelets (which control bleeding after an injury) in 1 in 30,000 children, but 1 in 2,000 will die if they get measles itself. The DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis/chicken pox) vaccine can cause seizures or a temporary ‘shocklike’ state in 1 in 14,000 people, and acute encephalitis (brain swelling) in 11 in 1 million. But the diseases it prevents are fatal in 1 in 20 cases, 1 in 10 cases, and 1 in 1,500 cases, respectively.”

Bottom line is that Castillo leaves out of his guest opinion the most important information that parents should have in making the decision to opt out of vaccinating their children. 

Gary Dielman

Baker City


Letter to the Editor for June 4, 2014


Harvey reflects on campaign, thanks voters

I would like to say thank you to Baker County for the vote of confidence you have shown in the primary election as your next Baker County Commission Chair.  As I reflect on the following:

• Interview with Super Talk Radio Eddie Garcia 

• Input with Lars Larson

• Participating in two different forums

• Mass mailing

• Radio ads on local stations

• Weekly Round Table meetings

• Placement of over 300 signs

• Attending the Rural Area City Council Meetings,

I am still amazed and greatly humbled that it was the individual person who took the time to learn about the issues and made the choice to cast their ballot.  That is what really made the difference. 

 I would specially like to say thank you to the many volunteers who spent countless hours, providing me with documents, legal information and input on the many different areas that affect our county as a whole today.  I am also grateful for those that provided the leg work getting the word out regarding my campaign.

 Finally, a great big hug and thank you to my wife Lorrie who encouraged me, supported me, prayed with me and took on the role as my campaign manager.

 After the November general election, it will be time to get to work and I am looking forward to January 2015.

Bill Harvey

Haines


Letters to the editor for June 2, 2014

Anyone following the Baker School District knows we have been through a lot in the past few years. Boards of directors are comprised of people with different backgrounds, temperaments and agendas and go through periods of peace, as well as dissent.

Yet every board member provides clear thinking in some area of expertise. For the past three years, Mark Henderson has given the Baker School District board a strong orientation in practical business sense and clear thinking. While he is now leaving the board for new business opportunities, it is worth reviewing his good record of service on the board, since a review would not only say something about Mark, but also reveal important things about the board.

Mark came to Baker County in 2005 and read the newspaper stories about the Baker District facing decreased funding and increased expenses. He was concerned about his two boys, at the time in pre-K and first grade. Many people would just grumble and not do anything. But Mark decided to see how he could help.

He emailed Doug Dalton, financial manager for the district, to learn more and find ways to help. Mark soon found himself on the budget committee, a group of residents that goes over the district’s proposed budget and makes recommendations to the board. Even at that early stage, Mark showed he was knowledgeable, applying the common sense of a business owner combined with the compassion of a parent with children in the district.


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