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Home arrow Opinion arrow Letters

Letters to the Editor for April 28, 2014


Warner leads with results, not promises

This is a letter of support for Fred Warner for County Commissioner.   

I’ve had the opportunity to work with Fred on several issues the past few years and have found him to be very solution-oriented in every case. An example is when the Anthony Lake Ski Resort was going to be closed.  Fred and the Baker County Board of Commissioners brought in some local business people, crafted a low-risk business model and agreed to take the ski area as a gift from the previous owners.  At the time, $30,000 was sitting in a Transient Room Tax fund generated by a fee that local motels collect from overnight stays and dedicated to economic development. The county allocated that money to fund startup operations for the ski area.  The county did not commit any funding, has never been asked for other funding nor has it given any funding to Anthony Lakes.  Since that startup four years ago, Anthony Lakes has made local payroll of over $1.7 million and spent almost $1.8 million on goods and services from local businesses. In 2013-14, out-of-town skiers at Anthony Lakes spent over 425 nights in local motels — and this number grows yearly.  This translates into huge increased business for local restaurants and shopping at local merchants. This has been an extraordinary and sustainable return to Baker County at no cost to the county taxpayers.


Letters to the Editor for April 25, 2014

Harvey is a fresh voice  for Baker County

We have been Bill Harvey supporters since he filed, but after the forum last Tuesday, our choice has never been more clear, after some issues were brought to light, with which we are uncomfortable. 

1. Mr. Warner stated that he was protecting Baker County from a lawsuit by overturning the unanimous planning commission decision that rejected a wind farm project. What Mr. Warner didn’t make clear in the forum was that the lawsuit threat was created by his office not filing legal paperwork in a timely manner. That is the uncomfortable reality. 

2. Also, Mr. Warner oversaw the altering of a GOP 2nd Amendment resolution to, in his words, “fit Baker County” (as if the 2nd Amendment is different here). His edits excluded the protection of so-called “assault weapons” and “rejection of laws that violate the 2nd Amendment.” Oddly, Gary Dielman had a great deal of input into a GOP resolution, and Mr. Warner felt his changes made the resolution “completely harmless,” according to Mr. Dielman. We think Mr. Dielman meant “completely useless.” We ask: how does affirming an amendment to the Constitution cause harm? The edits removed the intent of the resolution to support the 2nd Amendment. As veterans, this watering down of our founding documents is repellent.


Letters to the Editor for April 23, 2014


Bennett is a proven, capable county commissioner

Incumbent Mark Bennett has proven to be a very capable and effective Baker County Commissioner. Mark and his wife, Patti, operate a cattle ranch in the Unity area.  

He was appointed to fill the commissioner vacancy created when Carl Stiff resigned due to health reasons. Mark has in the past been appointed to a number of important positions in the Baker County government. He has held the position of director of the Baker County Planning Commission, manager of the Emergency Operations, lead representative for Baker County for the location of the Boardman to Hemingway electrical power line, interim city manager for Unity, lead member of the Natural Resource Advisory Commission. The commission must know and understand how to deal with the various federal and state agencies that are present in Baker County.


Letters to the Editor for April 21, 2014


I’ve worked with Warner, and I’m voting for him

I am writing in support of Fred Warner for Baker County Commission chair. I have had the opportunity to work with Fred in a variety of capacities, as an employer, a fellow elected official, and like all citizens of Baker County, as our highest elected county administrator.


Letters to the Editor for April 18, 2014


Who was really responsible for rescinding travel plan?

It is hard to find someone in Baker County  not familiar with the Wallowa-Whitman’s attempt to introduce a Travel Management Plan on our forest.  The Forest Service was (is) to implement a system of roads and trails, provide us with maps, and close our treasured “open forest.”

In response, our county decided to go out and inventory the roads and submit a plan. A committee was formed (which included a seat at the table for Hells Canyon Preservation Council) and many took on the road inventory chore.


Letters to the Editor for April 16, 2014


Tired of federal regulations, I’m voting for Bill Harvey

I’m ready for a change.

I’m tired of spending all my time attending meetings. If I’m not in a meeting, I’m hopelessly buried in some 1,200-page document from our Forest Service or the BLM.


Letter to the Editor for April 14, 2014


Not impressed with Fred Warner’s efforts

I am not a Baker County resident, therefore these are simply my observations and personal dealings as an outsider looking in and a concerned member of property owners in the County.

I have attempted to work with Fred Warner Jr. on a vast array of issues over the last couple of years, and for the most part, I have found Fred to be ineffective at best and unwilling to engage at the worst. 

A county commissioner is supposed to run the monthly business of the county and watch out for the best interest of local residents.

I personally have attempted to engage with Fred on the Mainline Trail Project, which converts the abandoned grade from Sumpter to Bates (Grant County) into a bicycle trail. Over 100 emails I never received any correspondence back from Fred, and very seriously felt like he was openly ignoring my request because he simply desired the trail more than he wanted to address the concerns of the people of Austin, I never understood why Baker County was planning activities in Grant County.

The trail Fred and his staff were planning would have closed roads, created a bike path through my family’s property and several other large pieces of property. Mr. Warner was unwilling to deal with Baker County staff that openly misled the public and kept information from us and I find that inexcusable.

Fred allowed the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest staff to hold meetings in Baker that were public meetings, without notice to the public that they were being held. Those meetings were vital to the public fully understanding the county’s role in agreeing to close down our forest and what deals are being cut.

And, where was Fred at the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision meeting? Nowhere to be seen is where.

Again, while not a county resident, I wonder why anyone would vote for a commissioner that simply refuses to listen to the public and deal with issues head on.

I’m hopeful Bill Harvey will get the opportunity to start addressing all of these issues.

John  D. George

Bates


Letters to the Editor for April 11, 2014


Why change a winning formula? Re-elect Warner

I’ve often heard it said, “Never change a winning team.” To that I say, “amen.” During my eight years of service on the Baker City Council, I’ve watched Fred Warner balance budgets and maintain essential services despite dwindling resources, stand eye-to-eye with governmental regulators, and leverage Baker County dollars to complete much needed road projects. I’ve seen him work to achieve consensus and solutions that benefit all Baker County residents, not just a select few. He has put aside any personal bias and represented our citizens well.


Letters to the Editor for April 9, 2014


The world does need alternative energy

In his April 3, 2014, op-ed in The Record-Courier opposing the Huntington windfarm, Mr. Bill Harvey did us a grave disservice by declaring that our need  for renewable energy is “not based on fact or need.” He thus asserted his denial of the existence and impact of global warming, a belief he explicitly stated in his letter to the editor of the Baker City Herald of July 22, 2013.

In seeking to impose his misguided and unscientific beliefs on us, Mr. Harvey is flying in the face of almost all climate scientists, and he is sowing seeds of doubt and confusion around a profound environmental threat to our well-being.


Letter to the Editor for April 4, 2014


Partisan races = local control 

A Baker County initiative petition to change the county commissioner seats from partisan races to nonpartisan races is currently being circulated by Sumpter resident Randy Joseph. Many voters think “nonpartisan” means neutral or not involved in politics. Not so!

County commissioners make and set policy, just like our state representatives and senators. Other elected county officials who are nonpartisan carry out policy — big difference. 

It is easy to influence voters with a well-written statement, but it is also easy to deceive them when they have no idea what a person’s true affiliation is.

Baker County citizens — voters — need to keep local control of the replacement process when a commissioner resigns. If these seats become nonpartisan, then vacancies will be appointed by two individuals, one possibly being the governor all the way on the other side of the state. Where would these nominees come from? Who would vet them? The two commissioners left making the appointment? This smacks of a good-old-boy system.

ORS 236.210 and 236.225 in summary: If one Baker County Commissioner resigns, then the remaining two commissioners will make the decision for the replacement.

If two commissioners resign, then the governor of Oregon will appoint one commissioner to make a quorum and then the remaining commissioner, along with the governor’s appointee, will make the decision for the appointment of the third commissioner. 

Is this really the voters having a say in local government?

In the past 30 years, there have been four resignations of county commissioners. In July of 1986 both Ben Dunleavy, a Democrat, and Rod McCullough, a Republican, resigned; in  2003 Paul York, a Republican, resigned, and last spring we had the resignation of Dr. Stiff, a Republican.

Baker County currently has the ability to mimic the primary with a nominating convention to determine the nominees for the county commissioner decision. The nominees are fully vetted and voted on by the dozens of elected precinct committee people (PCPs) from all over the county.

Numerous studies have proven nonpartisan races actually reduce voter turnout. Voters lose the ability to screen candidates for core beliefs. Nonpartisan elections equal no interest or research by the voters for the candidates — candidate beliefs are masked. We end up with less informed voters than we have today. (Google: Teams without Uniforms: The Nonpartisan ballot in State and Local Elections.)

A nonpartisan system is promoted by liberals and left-wing groups such as the legislative arm of SEIU, The League of Conservation Voters, and League of Women Voters among a few. The Oregon counties that have gone nonpartisan have done so with the help of these liberal groups and the Democratic Party — which really doesn’t quite smell right, not quite neutral. Nonpartisan races are the road to a single-party system. (If you like your party, you can keep your party! Yeah, right.)

According to the Association of Oregon Counties, there are currently seven counties that are nonpartisan under a home rule charter, which allows the county to define in its rules a replacement process.

Two counties are partisan under Home Rule governance. Baker County is not Home Rule, it is general law governance (statute driven). Seven other counties are nonpartisan and under the county judge format of General Law. There are actually only 13 counties governed like Baker County that are nonpartisan. Hardly the 20 out of 36 that has been stated by the chief petitioners, who are trying to compare apples to oranges.

Once Baker County voters understand the loss of local control, we don’t believe they will support this nonpartisan initiative.

For more information call 541-519-5035.

Van Diepen and Jones are members of the Baker County Republican Central Committee.


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