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Home arrow Opinion arrow Letters

Letters to the Editor for April 24, 2015

Nothing to gain by changing: Vote no on Measure 1-63

Please vote no on Measure 1-63.

I favor the present partisan voting system for county commissioners, and cannot see anything to gain by changing it.

It has been my experience to see that whenever somebody is driven to such an extent as the backers of this measure, it turns out they are after a power grab of some kind, revenge, or other.


Letters to the Editor for April 22, 2015

Keep local control by voting no on Measure 1-63

I have read several arguments in favor of  Measure 1-63. I feel I am being asked to vote for some fantastic candidate who represents everyone equally and is able to fix all of our problems with a quick swipe of the pen. In my experience, this person does not exist. If there were one person capable of fixing all the issues affecting our county, I am sure they would wear a cape.


Letters to the Editor for April 20, 2015

Bucking a worm shortage to haul in a smallmouth bass

We had been past Farewell Bend many times on our excursions to Boise, once a month for Costco, Trader Joe’s, Fred Meyer and anything the wife and I can’t find here. It looked pretty fishy to me every time we drove past. When I couldn’t stand it any more the wife packed a nice lunch and I gathered up my fishing gear. I was figuring catfish for dinner. I had even bought some surefire, guaranteed, “bloody chicken” dough bait — and grabbed a dozen worms — just in case. 

  The dough bait proved toxic upon opening. The stench cloud enveloped my whole being and squeezing it on to my hook left a finger odor that could kill. After depositing the bag of bait a quarter mile away (my wife had moved a half mile) I threw out my line and stared at my motionless pole for a good hour before reeling in. Fighting the gag reflex, I swapped the nerve gas for a worm. On my next cast I hooked the biggest smallmouth bass of my fishing life, pushing five pounds. After sending a picture to my brother in-law, he decided to visit us.                                                                                                               A couple weeks later Larry and I found ourselves in the midst of a local worm shortage? Any place we thought would have ’em — none, sold out, “sorry!” I couldn’t help but think the Democrats were behind it! Bi-Mart wouldn’t open for another hour and we had searched almost everywhere. Finally we located the last dozen worms in all of Baker City (ha! ha!, take that stupid Democrats). And off we went.

We soon learned that Huntington had hoarded all the worms and they don’t sell gas on Mondays? I didn’t ask but had an inkling that the local barber also owned the only gas pump. Larry and I stared at the end of our poles for most of a day before returning to Baker without fish and, surprisingly, a bit sunburnt — it was only March!

That evening we fished the Powder in town — spinners — caught fish.

Mike Meyer

Baker City

I like to know about candidates; vote no on Measure 63

It looks like we will be voting on a Ballot Measure 63 in May, making voting for a Baker County commissioner nonpartisan. This means they don’t have to let you know what kind of values they possess, or the core beliefs that drive them. This ballot measure is the brainchild of the Democrats. We already know what the Democrat values are from what is going on in the Democrat-controlled state Legislature. Raising the price of gas with a carbon tax that goes to enrich the alcohol producers at our expense, as well as a business having to pay sick leave if they have over five employees. Democrats are sponsoring five different bills that would raise the minimum wage up to $15 dollars an hour. They are also shutting down all mining in Oregon unless you want to pay through the nose for the privilege. Oh, and by the way, they are grabbing your kicker refund too. And on and on.

Last November Baker County rejected the nonpartisan state ballot measure, but that didn’t deter them, oh no. Democrats are trying again to slip this through the back door in Baker County by having you vote for nonpartisan county commissioners. I don’t know about you but I kind of like to know what the candidates running for office believe, we darn sure know what the Democrats believe and where they want to take our state and county. Stand with me and vote no on Measure 63. 

Chuck Chase

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for April 17, 2015

Vote no on Measure 1-63 to preserve local control

The concept of nonpartisan county commissioners is being advanced by those who possess beliefs contrary to the conservative principals of the majority of people in Baker County. The current office holders have been elected by the people to represent them.

 ALL individuals, including non-affiliated with any party, have the opportunity to vote if they want to vote in the general election. 

 Currently under Oregon statute there are three types of county government structure:   

1. General Law – County Courts;

2. General Law – County Commissioner (currently Baker County form);

3. Home Rule counties.

 We, the Baker County Republicans, view the nonpartisan initiative as an attack on the current party system promoting a move toward a single party political system.

Under our current form of government if someone resigns , or is deceased, the replacement process allows for representation from all over the county to participate in the selection of nominees for appointment to the vacant position, which is true local representation.

 Don’t forget this issue was voted down in a similar statewide measure last November with the state initiative, and both Democrats and Republicans agreed this was a bad idea.

Maintain local control and keep core beliefs of candidates part of the selection process.  Vote no on Measure 1-63.

M.A. Longwell

Baker City

Measure 1-63 is just a        straw-man from Democrats

I believe Measure 1-63 is based on nothing more than a straw-man — “one who is set up a cover or front-man for a questionable enterprise.” The idea that only Republicans can vote for County Commission positions is that straw-man. The real story is, the Baker County Democrats did not put forth a single candidate for the Commission. I believe the Democrat party did this on purpose so that they could set up this straw-man. In reality a small percentage of Democrats turned their backs on their (firmly held beliefs?) and changed their party registration so as to try to influence the primary vote. I guess the county Republican voter registration numbers took a nose dive after election day.

Now, we get to the real goal of this charade, 1-63. Nonpartisan positions result in candidates that don’t want the voters to know what their ultimate goals are, once elected. The electorate gets a homogenized group of candidates who have either not figured out wher ethey want to go or how to get there. Or, the candidate who won’t tell you their goals and aims because this is a nonpartisan post and “I will do my best after study and introspection on a case-by-case basis (read: “There is no way I will ever tell the electorate who I am, or what I am.”)

I happen to like knowing a person’s beliefs, past actions, and possible future actions, by knowing their affiliation with like-minded people. The “R,” “D,” “L,” “I” etc. is a good place to start.

At least that’s how it looks from the back of the turnip wagon.

Al Aschenbrenner

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for April 15, 2015

Please use alternatives to glyphosate herbicides

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) puts out a report every year, “Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.” They warn that glyphosate herbicides such as Roundup cause genetic damage to animal and human cells. It causes abnormal development or death or embryonic cells, oxidative damage to human skin cells, increased risk of reproductive problems, neurological diseases, cancer, miscarriages, and attention deficit disorder in concentrations lower than agriculture use. They are especially dangerous to children and may have lifelong effects. In the garden and on the farm they increase the severity of plant disease.

These chemicals wind up in homes at levels 10 times higher and last much longer than outdoors because they are not broken down by sunlight and soil organisms. Common symptoms of poisoning include fatigue, headache, rashes, bronchial constriction, chest pain, nasal congestion, blurred vision, corneal erosion, contact dermatitis, nausea, irritability and hostility and nervous system disorders.

Persons with multiple chemical sensitivities are made ill by herbicide drift as well as monetary damage to adjacent crops. Monsanto, the developer of these chemicals, has paid over $500,000 in fines for false advertising yet still insists they are safe! Herbicides also wash into streams and lakes and leach into groundwater.

If you are still foolish enough to use these poisons, use protective gloves, long sleeves, eye and respiratory protection. A Hazmat suit would not be excessive. Don’t spray on windy or hot or humid days as the chance of drift is likely. Spot spray instead of broadcast.

Some alternatives are: To control weeds use organic mulches, grass clippings, hay, bark, leaves or fabric barriers. Plain vinegar will kill any plant you don’t want. A citrus-based organic herbicide is available from www.millsmix.com. There are also long-handled weed pullers and “flamers” that are effective weed control. Corn gluten will kill broadleaf plants in established lawns.

It’s baffling how folks who have been alerted to the dangers and offered alternatives still insist on using these poisons.

Don’t take my word for it; by all means investigate for yourself.

Please don’t endanger your family, pets, neighbors and the environment.

Yvonne Da Torre

Baker City

Avoid partisan bitterness, vote yes on Measure 1-63

When I married my husband John, I joined a successful Baker County dairy operation that had been in business for 52 years. We continue to successfully farm and ranch in Baker County. We both have deep Baker County roots. Our great-grandparents (and one great-great) are from Baker. Our children are raising their children here. We have coached a variety of sports and helped build sports grounds. We have served on boards, taught Sunday school, led 4-H, and supported fairs, school programs and auctions. We care about Baker County! That’s why we’re encouraging everyone to vote yes on Baker County Measure 1-63.

From 2005-2011, I was on the Baker County Budget Board. During my tenure, I learned that the commissioners’ positions were business-oriented. It did not matter if they were Democrat or Republican. It was more important that they were smart, financially responsible and capable of managing the day to day business of the county. I have spoken with former commissioners, county chairs and county judges. They did not feel when it came to effectively managing the county that their political affiliation made any difference.

People I talk with share my concern that state and national politics have become so bitter nothing is getting done. We don’t want that divide to hurt the business of Baker County.

Like many in my family, I am a lifelong Republican. My love for  Baker County is based on the people who make this community great, not its politics. A nonpartisan commission will give voters who don’t identify with the two-party system a greater voice in our future.

Currently, 28 of the 36 Oregon counties are nonpartisan. Our conservative neighbors in Grant, Union and Wallowa counties voted to have nonpartisan county commissions.  

Local control is local people having a voice. We encourage you to be heard: Vote in the May 19 election. Vote YES on Measure 1-63. Take partisan bitterness out of local government.

For more information visit www.popbakercounty.com., or join us on Facebook at Vote Yes on Measure 1-63. 

Kate Rohner

Chairperson

People Over Politics For Baker County

(Proponents of Measure 1-63)


Letter to the Editor for April 10, 2015

Lack of rural political power dates to 1964

 The authors of our United States Constitution never intended that this country would be a pure democracy. From ancient Greek and Roman history, they knew that a majority can behave just as tyrannically as any autocrat, so the Constitution includes some non-democratic measures. One of these is the makeup of the United States Senate, which creates a balance between small states and large ones.

State legislatures were then set up on the same principle — a lower house dominated by a state’s cities and an upper house dominated by its rural areas. Neither side could ride roughshod over the other; compromise was always necessary. That’s how things stood for 175 years.

In 1964, the Progressive-dominated Warren Supreme Court decided that this would not do. In a fit of hyper democracy, it ruled that both houses of state legislatures must be apportioned by population.

We in Eastern Oregon are living with the consequences of that decision; the Oregon State Legislature is run by urban legislators from the Willamette Valley. We have little influence.

Consider the recently passed low carbon fuel standards. This will significantly increase gasoline prices; with similar rules, California endures the highest gas prices in the country. Our rural legislators patiently explained the highly negative impact this measure will have on the rural parts of Oregon, but the urban legislators were on an ideological binge and it became law anyway, a fine example of the tyranny of the majority.

But this is basically a feel-good measure. It will have virtually no impact on global warming, its stated purpose. About all it accomplishes is that it allows its supporters to tell each other how virtuous they are, how enlightened.

There is virtually nothing we can do about that 1964 decision. The Supreme Court is reluctant to undo its previous stupidities. Earl Warren has spoken; therefore it is so. However, we can learn from this experience. The next time Progressives propose some measure (such as a $15-per-hour minimum wage?) we should give that matter a hard look; see if the supposed good it does isn’t far outweighed by its unintended negative consequences.

Pete Sundin

Baker City


Letter to the Editor for April 8, 2015

County needs to defend itself against Forest Service

Regarding the discussion at a recent Board of Commissioners meeting concerning relationships with the U.S. Forest Service, I think it is important to keep several things in mind. One, the track record of the Forest Service in past years when the county was a cooperating agency is not a good one. Too often the Forest Service has adopted an “it’s my way or the highway” approach and Baker County has suffered as a result.  

Two, our experience has been no different than that of many counties in many states where the Forest Service has attempted to implement its national agenda regardless of the needs and desires of local residents and elected officials.

A county’s status as “cooperating agency” allows the Forest Service to assume it can and will get its way and that local officials, as the name implies, will “cooperate.” The only position the county can and should take if it hopes to have any impact on negotiations at all is to become a coordinating agency. That may be the only tool which will force the Forest Service to actually listen to local concerns.

 The last county commissioner election sent a message. That message, in part, was that voters expect — actually demand — that their elected county commissioners vigorously defend the public’s access to public lands. Chairman Harvey gets it and I would be, as I suspect many others would be, extremely disappointed if his fellow commission members don’t “get it” also.

Jerry Boyd

Baker City


Letter to the Editor for April 1, 2015

Travel management is cooking in every FS project

Press Release — USFS scheduled for reality check!!

For us dealing with the Forest Service for the past 15 years, on a nearly daily basis, this action is well past due. It becomes more apparent every day since the Travel Management Plan was withdrawn two years ago.

Nearly as disappointing —  the press. In Eastern Oregon, I find it hard to believe anyone on the staff of the newspapers can print these misleading Forest Service press releases as breaking news. Intentionally misleading the people in regard to road closures is blatant propaganda coming from the USFS at this time.   

 It is not news the TMP is on hold. (How many roads have been closed during this so-called pause?) Nothing has changed since it was shot down two years ago. Insinuating this is a new development, once again, rightly confirms the lack of confidence we have in the Forest Service being capable of speaking forthright. 

Press release from Mr. Pena, March 19, 2015, “It is my expectation that all three forests (including the Umatilla) will continue to address natural resource concerns and public access need as a part of ongoing project level decisions and forest restoration projects.” What we know from this statement, road closures will occur in these projects providing a back door for closures.

Bartering of roads to escape litigation is common at the table of collaboration. Travel Management is not on the burner but is cooking under the guise of every single project in the Blue Mountain forests. 

The Forest Service has a problem and it’s time to own up. This agency was forced to withdraw a TMP, then was confronted last fall with the problem of 11 counties withdrawing support for the agencies proposed Blue Mountain Forest Plan. Still, yes still they continue down a road of ignoring public sentiment.  Intentionally disregarding the message and presenting the illusion of public engagement. 

A question plagues me, “ why are the forests in such miserable condition?”

Wanda Ballard

Baker City   


Letter to the Editor for March 30, 2015

New city ordinance runs contrary to marijuana laws

Local ordinance 3336 is contrary to state law and will never hold up in court. 3336 violates Senate Bill 1531, which states in Section 2, “notwithstanding ORS 633.738, the governing body of a city or county may adopt ordinances that impose reasonable regulations on the operation of medical marijuana facilities registered, or applying for registration, under ORS 475.314 (3)(a) and reasonable conditions on the manner in which a medical marijuana facility may dispense medical marijuana.”

The law says what it means, and it means what it says. An outright ban is not reasonable and will never survive judicial scrutiny. How is it that the city attorney, the mayor and the police chief cannot figure that out.

Measure 91, which legalizes recreational marijuana use, has similar language at Section 59 which says, in part, “(1) Cities and counties may adopt reasonable time, place and manner regulations of the nuisance aspects of establishments that sell marijuana to consumers if the city or county makes specific findings that the establishment would cause adverse effects to occur.”

The City of Baker has found no specific findings of adverse effects. All we have seen from District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff, Mayor Kim Mosier and Chief Wyn Lohner is “REEFER MADNESS.” Measure 91 at Section 59 says, “Marijuana laws supersede and repeal inconsistent charters and ordinances. Sections 3 to 70 of this Act, designed to operate uniformly throughout the state, shall be paramount and superior to and shall fully replace and supersede any and all ordinances inconsistent with it. Such charters and ordinances hereby are repealed.”

Sen. Ron Wyden, while in Baker City, said that “Oregon’s marijuana laws apply to every nook and cranny” of the state including Baker City.

I realize that not everyone on the City Council is a lawyer, but Mayor Mosier purports to be one. City Attorney Brent Smith purports to be one. District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff purports to be one. City Manager Mike Kee appears to be an intelligent and educated man. These people had to know that ordinance 3336 is at odds with state law.

Local ordinance 3336, being inconsistent with sections 3 to 7 of Measure 91, is hereby repealed.

Al Free

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for March 27, 2015


Build a society that reflects values of most Americans

The top 1 percent of Americans now receive $1 trillion more income each year than they would receive under the income distribution that existed in 1979, and they pay historically low taxes. The bottom 80 percent now receive $1 trillion less per year, or $11,000 per family.

This is because not nearly enough good-paying jobs have been created during the past 35 years, due to off-shoring and the increasing impact of automation and robotics, and wages have not kept pace with the remarkable increase in productivity that has occurred. The profits have unjustifiably flowed to the very top.

The result: According to a CBS News report, “Three-quarters of Americans said they’re finding it difficult to both save for retirement and handle their day-to-day expenses.”  

But we will learn none of this from the op-ed articles by the Heritage Foundation that frequently appear in the Herald (most recently on March 23).  The regressive right is intent on keeping our attention focused on cutting government spending, and not on the burgeoning inequality of wealth.  

I urge my fellow readers (and the Herald’s editorial board) to explore a much wider range of meaningful options. For example, the other day the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) released their “People’s Budget: A Raise for America.” It calls for sharply increased taxes on the wealthy to pay for expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit and for needed investments in our infrastructure, like education. And it calls for a carbon tax, allowing the market to allocate carbon reduction.

What the CPC budget shows is what Washington too often suppresses: There is an alternative. It’s time for We the People to call the shots, and not the regressive right and their wealthy supporters. It’s time for democracy, not oligarchy.  

We can afford to build a society that reflects the values and priorities of most Americans. We only have to choose to do so, and we can choose to do so in the coming 2016 elections.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

Mandated voting would lead to downfall of the system

Obama and the Liberal Left are now attacking our right to vote or not. The president, using the term loosely, is now considering a “Mandate Vote Act.” 

This would mean, no matter the circumstance, every person 18 and over must vote, or be held criminally responsible. This would certainly mean the downfall of America’s voting system,which proves to be already troubled.

This latest stunt proves Obama’s lack of leadership, his turncoat attitude toward Israel, and his “hug-a-thug”approach to ISIS has the left-wingers worried about the upcoming 2016 presidential election.

Why else would the president suggest such lunacy, if not a political ploy? Most Americans aren’t aware of the political brinkmanship that is destroying this country from within. And, I speak of both immature parties. Most voters unfortunately, vote using what I call the “60-second-smear” method. Meaning, many people vote using information can-fed to them through the media’s 60-second smear campaigns between favorite television shows.

Why would anyone want an uninformed voter to vote? People who are made to vote are not going to educate themselves further just because they “have” to vote. Moreover, most would just rebel and choose whatever  — not even reading what or who’s up for vote. Why would any rational person want a voting system like this? A person or party who knows that unless they do, they have no chance of winning the presidency, that’s who.

For anyone to suggest this sort of voting system will work, has a severe lack of cognitive ability. And, they certainly should not be running America or her military! I find this yet, just another attempt by Socialist/Marxists to destroy America from within. 2016 must be the year of change for our Administration. 

If a change does not happen, I fear the worst. What we need to do is get rid of the two-party/electoral college system and make every person’s vote count on all state, local and national elections. Making every vote count is the only fair way of voting. 

No law or action should be taken without an individual voting election and those who don’t want to participate, should not be penalized.

Stephanie Kinsel

Baker City


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