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Letter to the Editor for Aug. 6, 2014


Mosquitoes dead, but what about the other bugs?

Last Tuesday evening I stepped on to my front porch and noticed the dead and dying mosquitoes, bees, ladybugs, moths, spiders and other small insects. So now we are mosquito-free in Baker City for at least a day or two, thanks to vector control and the pesticide sprayed in my neighborhood.

 But what about the honeybees, bumblebees, yellowjackets, flies, ladybugs, moths, spiders and other crawly things too numerous to mention? Weren’t these little casualties supposed to be dinner for a variety of birds and larger insects?

It appears the bird population has diminished considerably in the last 20 years. I’ve not seen a robin in my yard yet this summer. Is it because we are eliminating their food chain? Is there no alternative to simply killing what we find pesky and bothersome? 

“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago.  If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos”

— E.O. Wilson

 

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”

— John Muir

 

Next year I will request no spray be applied in my yard and I will use the numerous repellents available to me for my bodily comfort.

Susan Castles

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Aug. 4, 2014


Care about environment? Vote for Democrats this year

Global warming and climate change are caused by more and more heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. According to Wikipedia, the current concentration of this greenhouse gas is the highest in the past 800,000 years and likely the highest in the past 20 million years.  

This man-made pollution results from the burning of fossil fuels beginning with the start of the industrial revolution. It is the foundation for projections by climate scientists of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events.  These events are already occurring here and around the world, causing widespread damage and hardship. They include both floods and droughts, tornadoes and hurricanes, fires, melting glaciers and rising sea levels.

These scientific facts are widely recognized and accepted. The only reason they have become a political issue (the Herald’s editorial of July 25) is that most Republican leaders deny their existence.

A striking example is Republican Rick Scott, the governor of low-lying Florida, directly endangered by rising sea levels. In May, Scott repeatedly stonewalled questions about the threat of global warming by declaring, “I’m not a scientist.”

We have that same willful ignorance here in Oregon, where Republican candidates are advocating the extraction and burning of even more fossil fuels.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dennis Richardson criticizes Governor Kitzhaber for opposing coal exports, saying “Coal is a fact of life, and exporting coal is a fact of life.” (Record-Courier, June 26).

Republican Representative Greg Walden advocates increased energy production beneath federally-owned lands, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring crude oil to the United States from Canada’s tar sands, and increased exports of natural gas (his newsletter, June 26).

And Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby opposes regulation of greenhouse emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency, while also urging approval of the Keystone XL pipeline (Oregonian, July 20 and July 21).

We can’t vote in Florida, but we sure can vote in Oregon. If you care about the environmental health of our country and of Spaceship Earth, you will strongly support and vote for Governor John Kitzhaber, Senator Jeff Merkley, and Democratic Congressional candidate Aelea Christofferson this November.

Marshall McComb

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Aug. 1, 2014


Motorcycle Rally a boon for Baker High School

I want to personally thank the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally, organizers and sponsors for their ongoing contribution to Baker High School. The financial impact and support of this event will be felt long after the sound of twin cam engines dissipate from our community. In total, Baker High School welcomed nearly 400 riders/campers for the four-day event and generated nearly $10,000! All money generated from the campers along with the FFA barbecue and Cheerleader Hogwash goes to support our student activities/athletic programs for the upcoming school year. 

The campers that stayed at Baker High School were very kind and courteous during their stay. It was my pleasure to welcome them and I look forward to having them all back next year. 

Thank you Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally. With your support, our students and programs benefit greatly. Keep up the good work. 

Benjamin Merrill

Baker High School principal

Baker City

To solve problems we need to sit down and talk

Agreements are difficult to reach when we take positions on most anything. Rather than start with positions like supporting or not supporting a living wage that raises workers above the poverty level, we should examine supporting assumptions and reach even further to consider our basic beliefs. At the bedrock of our belief systems is a view of how we see ourselves and how we see ourselves in relation to others. If we see ourselves as an equal member of the human society, we are apt to believe in equality, leading to sharing and caring for others. Contrastingly, we may assert that each of us is responsible for ourselves, and we should plan and work toward self-sufficiency. We should be able to stand on our own two feet.

Neither of these views is complete. Parts of each are needed to form a sustainable and workable system. After all, we can see how difficult compromise is by looking at our legislature. A big step in reaching compromise is to make agreements at the base level. As an example, let’s say that workers should not have to live at the poverty level. Once this is agreed, then we can discuss just what is the poverty level and how much a worker needs.

Invariably, the subject of welfare comes up, and rightly so. Do able-bodied people take advantage of our welfare system. Yes, they do, but only a few. How do we get around this? Well, it seems simple: People who are physically and mentally unable to work should be taken care of. Able-bodied individuals should be required to work if they want to get the benefits of the welfare system. Yes, this would require an expanded government program, but one with accountability, and one that rewards personal responsibility.

I further believe that we could work towards solutions of most of our problems if we just would sit down together and have honest and unemotional discussions.

Bruce Raffety

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for July 30, 2014


Drum and Bugle Corps makes it a parade

I was so happy to once again see the Drum and Bugle Corps perform in the Miners Jubilee parade. They made my day!! It  is my belief that if they aren’t in it, it isn’t a parade!!

Alberta Bailey

Baker City

Grateful for a lady’s kindness

On July 24 at checkout stand of a local grocery store, I inadvertently dropped some currency on the floor.

The lady behind me called my attention to it, picked up the dropped currency and handed it to me. Her act of honesty restores my faith in human nature.

She is an employee of Baker City’s newly established  “Bee Hive” facility, and her name tag showed “Terrie.”  I’m  deeply grateful for her kindness. 

Phyllis Badgley

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for July 28, 2014


12 ways the Motorcycle Rally benefits Baker

Here are 12 little-known ways that the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally contributes to our community:

• We promote and collect money for camping at the Baker High School. This year they made almost $10,000!

• The FFA club held a tri-tip barbecue at the school Saturday night as a fundraiser.

• The Baker High School cheerleaders wash bikes and made $2,000!

• The Baker City VFW serves breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. It is their largest fundraiser of the year. Also on Friday night the bar revenue was the best they have ever had.

• In Halfway they sell buffalo burgers to help pay for their annual fireworks show. Last year they made over $2,000. Their most important fundraiser of the year.

• The American Legion Post No. 43 Poker Run brought in over $1,600.

• Relay for life and the Scouts also had fundraisers.

• The Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally is a dues- paying member of HBC (Historic Baker City) and the Baker County Chamber of Commerce.

• We supported the purchase of “Turbo” the drug dog for the Baker City Police Department and for his continuing care. This year we have donated $500.

• For the second year in a row we have given $500 to purchase bicycle helmets for Baker City kids.

• This year we stepped up and paid $2,000 to purchase electrical equipment from the Chamber. We could have rented the equipment to meet our needs but we felt that it was important that this equipment be available, free of charge, for local community events such as the downtown Christmas Tree Lighting and Miners Jubilee.

• We purchased two off road motorcycles for local law enforcement.

Kurt Miller

Hells Canyon Motorycle Rally operations manager

Baker City

Minimum wage laws not as good as they sound

Minimum wage laws are another of those ideas which sound good. After all, why shouldn’t a worker have a salary high enough to support himself in a decent manner? Conesquently most Americans support minimum wage laws. But this is an idea which, when you look closely at it, has some nasty side effects. Teenagers are especially adversely affected by these laws.

It works like this: There are certain job skills necessary for being a good, productive employee for all jobs, even for entry level jobs. One must show up for work on time, remain on task, do assigned duties to the satisfaction of one’s boss, phone in when sick, etc. Employers naturally want to hire those who already possess those job skills. But most teenagers who’ve never worked haven’t developed them yet.

 In an ideal world, employers could take a chance on hiring teenagers by offering them lower wages than they’d pay older workers, and teenagers who want to work could accept those lower salaries. Then, teenagers would have jobs where they could learn the basic skills needed to become successful employees. But this is not possible today. There is a minimum which employers can pay, and a minimum which teenagers can accept. Consequently many teenagers are priced out of the job market. This is a big reason why teenage unemployment rates are consistently much higher than the average. And regardless of what the minimum wage might be, their salary is $0.00, as they have no job.

Many black teenagers face an even worse job situation than their fellow teens. They come from dysfunctional, failing big city school systems, and so are even more inadequately prepared for the world of work than their suburban and rural counterparts. Their unemployment rate is thus even higher.           

The unemployment rate in the United States today is 6.1 percent. Teenage unemployment is well above 20 percent, and black teenage unemployment is an incredible 38.7 percent. It’s easy to see why noted economist Milton Friedman called the minimum wage laws the most anti-black laws on the books.

 Minimum wage laws don’t sound so good now, do they?

Pete Sundin

Baker City


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


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