America must return to economic fairness
Our Constitution says that a central purpose and function of our government is to “promote the general Welfare.” To me, that means setting rules that enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of economic activity — to use the common wealth for the common good. By that measure, our government is currently failing us, and that means we need to change the rules of the game.
Our great country has, over the past 35 years, become a well-oiled machine, bestowing great wealth on a very few while relegating the rest of us to increasing economic distress and poverty. This massive redistribution of wealth followed a period of rising wages and widespread prosperity after WWII, with a promise of even further upward mobility, characterized by free college tuition and other major investments in our infrastructure.
That promising American Dream has vanished. Our economic structure has shifted fundamentally, with the introduction of computer automation, off-shoring, and union-busting. Good-paying jobs were and are being lost and wages stagnating, as we compete for the jobs that are left, while the wealthy rake in the profits. (This is well-documented by the movie “Inequality for All,” featuring former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, available on DVD at the Baker County Library and streaming on Netflix.)
Meanwhile, we’ve been stymied by anti-government sentiment, personified by Ronald Reagan and a discredited “supply-side,” trickle-down theory that led to tax cut after tax cut, cascading budget deficits, and deregulation of the reckless big banks.
We’ve let this happen. We’ve let the top one percent keep all the benefits of improved productivity, and we’ve let Big Money intimidate almost all national politicians into a virtual conspiracy of silence about raising taxes on the wealthy and boosting family incomes.
We must throw off our lethargy and our cynicism, lay aside the anti-government drumbeat that divides us, and we must change the rules. We must cooperate in reversing the massive redistribution of wealth. We must join together to demand the fairness and equity upon which our country was founded.
School board member trying to defends a bad decision
The letters in the paper reveal a lot about the people that write them. McKim’s starts with a disclaimer that this is his opinion and not that of the school board. He is 20 percent of the board. In his world of “what is” the fact is, a very small percentage (way less than 1 percent) attend most public meetings. No one was at the meeting when naming the gym was voted on. If it had been advertised maybe four or five people might have shown up to comment. Dielman’s 96 percent “no” by his unscientific survey negative to the gym name says something.
In his second point, it is a fact that most citizens aren’t involved in the workings of the school district. They expect the board to make the decisions, which include the right decisions. Just because something isn’t illegal doesn’t make it right. Rules can be bent; principles cannot.
The school board in the days of consolidation, the building of a new high school, names like Dr. Flora Biswell, Henry Levinger, Tom Hunt, Peggy Satterberg and Dr. James Evans, felt the necessity of putting a person’s name on the gym. This high school represents the starting place for state champions, Super Bowl winners, a national hall of fame high school coach, scholars and civil rights champions. Every class has some outstanding people. To disregard the 100-plus years of history for a decision in 2014 by a small group of “good ’ol boys,” and as a stated, invalidates concerns if you don’t get out of your recliner and attend the board meetings. Sounds like he thinks that the nearly 100 percent of 5J citizens not attending constitutes affirmation of this decision.
The school board is familiar with Mr. Peacock, yet are they familiar with names like Allison, Evans, Leipzig, Hammond, Doherty and their contributions to the use of the gym and the history associated with their efforts?
Your advice was to not make assumptions, gather information and don’t be poorly prepared to make your point. You are trying to defend a bad call. What’s the purpose, and who benefits from a name change?
Baker High School Class of 1954
Enhanced interrogation? It really works
Years ago, as a young pilot who might be shot down over enemy territory, I was required to attend the Survival and Escape and Evasion school at Stead AFB in Nevada. The 72 hours of enhanced interrogation techniques I underwent, although simulated, made me a believer in the efficacy of the process. It works.
Perhaps Senator Feinstein should have the privilege of attending that school, now at Fairchild AFB in Washington. Or, better yet, we could just waterboard her.
May the United States of America have a merry Christmas. And may 2015 be a prosperous year in which intelligence is a concept practiced in our nation’s Capitol.
Enjoying our local treasure: the river
For those citizens of Baker City who don’t already know, I want to draw your attention to one of your greatest treasures – the river.
My wife and I moved here about mid September. It wasn’t long til I had my line in the water most every day. It was like winning the lottery. A beautiful river full of magnificent rainbow trout, not two blocks from my front door! Did I mention the paved pathway, stretching alongside for two miles? It is truly a retiree’s dream.
After seeing me fishing, on a daily basis, quite a few curious locals mustered up the courage to admit “I thought the river was closed for fishing?” I would be more than happy to keep the Baker stretch of the Powder all to myself but being that Christmas is around the corner I feel it is my duty to share.
Your river is open year round (although I admit that it is pretty much closed when completely froze stiff). You may use bait and keep ’em April 26 to Oct. 31 (I kept a couple hook-swallowing beauties for breakfast); the rest of the year is catch and release using artificial flies and lures (no bait).
Since it is flowing smoothly, for the moment, I have decided that my Christmas present to this treasure (yours and mine) will be to forego my daily fishing tomorrow and instead take a big garbage bag and pick up the incredible amount of trash (mysteriously escaping the many, well-placed receptacles) that lines the bank of this incredible resource. I only wish my arms were long enough to reach to the other side.
Government epitomizes the word ‘bloat’
My Webster’s dictionary defines “bloat” as “to make turgid or swollen; to fill to capacity or overflowing.” It seems that one of the best examples of bloat then is government at all levels in these United States of America.
According to the Bob Livinston letter of October 2014 the American welfare state now costs $1 trillion a year which exceeds the entire budgets of almost every other country in the world. Our welfare empire includes 200 or more federal and state programs. They include 23 low-income health programs, 27 low-income housing programs, 30 employment and training programs, 34 social service programs, 13 food and nutrition programs and 24 programs for low-income child care.
U.S. Department of Agriculture information shows that there has been a doubling, from 10 percent to 20 percent, of American households on food stamps in the last 10 years. Now nearly 47 million individuals get food stamps. And the number rose at the rate of over 722,000 per month form 2012 to 2013.
The Eagle Forum of September 2014 indicates that taxpayer money is spent on 78 types of handouts to solve social problems which amounts to $19,000 to each American defined as poor, through 12 food programs, 12 social services, 12 educational assistance, 11 housing assistance programs, 9 vocational training, three energy and utility assistance, and three child care programs. These data do not include costs of the several agencies that administer these programs.
Washington, D.C., is said to be the city least affected by our sagging economy. It is full of mansions and boasts of the highest average income of any city in these United States. Where does all this wealth come from? From our pockets! The city exists on the income of politicians and lobbyists, neither of which produce anything! The city literally sucks the blood (wealth) out of this country and has near complete control of the rate and extent of that process.
The above is but a very small example of government’s reckless, largely unconstitutional, consumption of our limited resources. Isn’t it time we insist that our elected officials behave as statesmen rather than mere politicians?
Baker needs another grocer, a new traffic signal
For years I have hoped for these two improvements to be made in Baker City for the good of the people:
1. A first class grocery store is badly needed on the west side of town.
2. A traffic signal is needed at 10th and D streets since D has become a major, cross-town thoroughfare. It is frequently difficult to cross 10th street on D, and it can be a long wait to turn onto 10th from D street.
City officials, listen up!
Mr. Peacock exemplifies Bulldog pride
While the word peacock may not appear to coincide with a bulldog image at first glance, as a Baker High graduate, I know the two go hand in hand. Jerry Peacock, a Baker High administrator, not only worked as principal when I went to high school, but also as the vice principal when my parents went to high school. Mr. Peacock took the time to learn every name of every student, often times before they were even in high school. He also worked countless hours encouraging students to succeed. I cannot think of a more appropriate way to express the gratitude for his sincerity and dedication to Baker High School than to name the court after him.
I offer my condolences to those individuals who do not know Mr. Peacock because they are missing out on knowing an incredible person and educator! I would also encourage those individuals to become more involved in events at Baker High School to see the lasting impact he has had on the student body.
I recently read of the concern of embarrassing commentaries from visiting teams addressed in a previous letter to the editor. I would be surprised if that is the case, but if it is, perhaps those sneering teams should chat with a Baker High athlete about class, a trait Mr. Peacock stressed to instill in his students. If there is anyone who knows about class and bulldog pride, it’s Mr. Peacock.
Thanks Mr. Peacock!
Just seven people decided to name BHS court
A BHS student recently wrote a letter to the editor in support of naming “the new high school court” in honor of former BHS Principal Jerry Peacock, whom she greatly admires.
The student admits, though, “I don’t know the rights or processes of the (5J) board, but to me the decision seems right.”
As best I’ve been able to piece it together, here’s the process the student admittedly does not know about.
Last spring Vice Principal Ben Merrill and Athletic Director Brad Dunton, at the time both employees of Principal Jerry Peacock, suggested to the five members of the School District 5J Board of Directors, that the gym be named for BHS Principal Jerry Peacock. The school board members, outside of any public meeting, decided that was a wonderful idea.
Without attempting to get any other opinions, a motion to that effect was placed on the agenda of the May 20, 2014, school board meeting, where it was passed unanimously without any discussion of the motion’s merits.
So, just seven people were involved in changing a sixty-three-year-old tradition of calling the facility “BHS Gymnasium” and “Bulldog Gymnasium.”
Here are some of the persons not consulted by the 5J Board members: BHS teachers; BHS coaches; BHS students; Baker School District 5J taxpayers; Baker School District 5J voters; and the approximately 7,000 of us who attended BHS over the past 63 years since the gym was constructed.
The School Board members tell me I’m the only one complaining. Yet 56 out of 58 persons who’ve contacted me by email, phone, and in person say they are opposed to renaming the gym. Some say that, if asked, they would have nominated someone else for the honor. But the majority do not want the gym and court renamed at all.
The following input reflects my own thoughts and do not reflect the opinion of the 5J School Board.
By the way, I tend to write in an “unvarnished” manner when in a mood. Enjoy.
We, as a board, decided to honor someone, and named the large gym in the high school “Peacock Court.” If that upsets you, I expect to see you at the next school board meeting to make public comment. We welcome community involvement. If that makes you giggle, and you are over age 15, you will someday mature.
Regarding the Dec. 3 letter to the editor:
I don’t understand how the board’s decision became “pompous.” I don’t think that word means what some think it means. Were you even there? After all, no one who has recently written about the decision was there to my knowledge. We made a decision. That is what we are elected to do. It was just a decision, no pomposity involved.
1. It was written that the board “...completely ignore what would seem proper protocol.” I suppose it might “seem” so to some, but we followed proper protocol, and I don’t live in a world of what “seems,” I live in the world of what “is.” This comment is therefore invalid. If the only complaint is “style points” with how we went about it, fine, I will live with my actions. This “scab picking” is old. The displeasure is duly noted. Got it. I made my decision. I am moving on to the next issue. Please feel free to discuss this with me prior to the next board meeting. I will show up an hour early for convenience.
2. The people who have been asked if they knew who Mr. Peacock was must not have been the least involved in the workings of the school district for the last three decades (1984-2014). Otherwise they would know of Mr. Peacock’s vast contributions. An average of 100 students per year group, plus at least one relative, times 30 years equals well over 6,000 people who know who Jerry Peacock is.
Why should anyone think these people would suddenly, out of thin air, care one bit about the naming of a gym? Likewise, the obviously scientific poll of “People Gary Dielman Knows” gave similar results. I think he reported the results here some weeks back, but I was not up to reading another screed.
3. Again, I read of the tiresome issue of Mr. Peacock’s last name. Did any of us pick our last name? I doubt Jerry Peacock did. But I bet he is proud of it, and should be. If someone wants to make that an issue, it says more about them than our Bulldogs, and they need to look in the mirror, and grow up. If visiting teams make comments, again it says more about them than our students.
Does anyone really think our students are that weak of character? Our kids are made of stouter stuff than you give them credit for. They are creative enough to come up with a retort that will shame opponents who dare to belittle their gym. Would all this be an issue if Jerry Peacock’s name was Brock Sampson? Or Thor Armstrong? His name is an irrelevant side issue that I consider childish. If I hear about it as an issue again I am going to puke.
4. The decision was not behind closed doors. Gather facts before accusing. This is not Ferguson, Missouri, where feelings override facts. I guess this answers my earlier “Were you even there?” question. The Dec. 3 letter author wasn’t. Otherwise, they would not make obviously wrong claims. They didn’t know one way or the other, so they guessed. Nice research, champ.
5. The only public outcry I have seen or heard has been generated by Mr. Dielman’s letter, which also made an issue of Mr. Peacock’s last name. I was taught that when one side starts getting personal, they have run out of facts, and the other side has won the argument. If we are all going to be consistent, I should expect a hue and cry from the crowd, pouting about an entire exterior wall of the high school that has been painted to honor a teacher.
6. Since it seems to be in fashion, I’ll make fun of my own name: Why hasn’t one swinging Richard gotten off their recliner on one Tuesday evening to make one public comment at one school board meeting since we made this decision several months ago? All I can conclude is that no one cares; a few are just barely pouty or sulky enough to write the editor.
I am curious about the stir that the naming of the Helen M. Stack building caused back in the 1920s. My word, an entire building? (.....oh, wait, now I got it: people had real issues to worry about back then, and thicker skins) I’m sure someone will have the time on their hands to pore through the archives at the library and set me straight.
In summary, don’t make assumptions. Gather information before making accusations, or else you look stup… how do I put this delicately.....“poorly prepared” to make your point.
We all have a generation of kids to prepare for a hard world out there. I suggest we hold hands, and focus on preparing them. We will all be dead for a very long time. Our kids are what we will have to show for ourselves. Not a gym name....
Rich McKim is a member of the Baker School Board.
Thank you, Mr. Peacock:
On Nov. 25 I was walking to the main office in Baker High School, passing through the Commons. I saw Mr. Peacock talking to some of my fellow classmates. As I approached, I realized that everyone that passed by addressed Mr. Peacock. Kids I had never seen before; we were all from different friend grounds and backgrounds. But one thing, one person, united us all. That man was Mr. Peacock. We all knew him and he new all of us — every last one.
Let me give one of my personal stories about Mr. Peacock. I didn’t attend public school until my junior year. One time during my junior high years I had come to the high school for one of my brother’s sports fundraisers. Mr. Peacock saw me. I knew of him but didn’t know him personally. He saw me and said, “Hi, Little Payton.” I was known. No one in the entire school knew me or bothered to ask me who I was. But one person cared. Mr. Peacock somehow knew me when I was unknown. I am now a senior and his caring personality is still ingrained in my mind with admiration.
And I am not the only one he knew. Last year I would see him standing in the halls between classes saying “hi” to students and addressing them by their names. He knew them. And he still does; he still cares.
Some may say that it was a mistake to name the new school court after Mr. Peacock. I personally strongly disagree. There is no person more worthy than Mr. Peacock to be the namesake for the new court. He united our school for years, knowing every student. He has impacted students and the entire school with his leadership. Baker High School is blessed to have a former principal as amazing and inspiring as Mr. Peacock to dedicate the court to.
I read a letter to the editor criticizing the school board for not involving the community in the decision to name the hew high school court. I don’t know the rights or processes of the board, but to me the outcome of their decision seems right. To say I’m not biased would be a lie. But it’s hard not to be when I have experienced Mr. Peacock’s impact in our school.
A quote from the letter states that, “Actually, it seems a little weird. It (the name Peacock) doesn’t fit well, in my opinion, with the bulldog image. Having that name painted on the floor is strange.” Sure, it seems weird to put the name “Peacock” on a school with the bulldog as their mascot. But to say that it does not fit well with the bulldog image is a false statement. Mr. Peacock has invested immensely into the high school and has impacted many individuals in his 22 years as principal. If I could pick one individual to represent our school’s image, it would be Mr. Peacock.
The name was not chosen as an alternative mascot, it was chosen to honor one man, alongside the symbol of Baker High School, to show how much he has meant to our school.
“Naming a gym for a guy who will soon be forgotten is silly.”
I agree, naming a gym after a guy who will soon be forgotten is silly. But that’s the thing — Mr. Peacock will not soon be forgotten. He has left a permanent mark on me and many other individuals in our school and community. I guess those who have not met Mr. Peacock do not understand this, but those of us who will be using the court — current Baker High School students and future students — know and will hear about the great principal who led this school with nobility and love. We will all understand why the court was named after such a great man.
We love you, Mr. Peacock. Thanks for everything you have done for us.
School board ignores public in naming court
Regarding the naming of our school’s gym floor “Peacock Court”: After reading of this remarkably pompous decision by the Board to completely ignore what would seem proper protocol to include the public’s input in the decision-making process, I asked people if they knew who Peacock was, only one person of the 14 I asked knew! When the Board of Director’s decided to name the court “Peacock” without public input, they made it clear they have little respect for public opinion on such an important matter. Evidently the Board does not acknowledge the public’s right to input on something that represents our community. This is not to mention that it’s the public that pays the taxes to support our educational institutions, and elects the Board.
The name will most assuredly generate embarrassing commentary from visiting teams for future generations of our students to endure for years to come. I sincerely hope this behind-closed-doors decision generates the public outcry that it deserves!
Every vote should be counted
I agree with Mr. Stephen S. Smith’s letter about counting each vote. While I applaud the county clerk’s wishing to save money the larger issue is nullifying someone’s vote. Those votes should be protected and counted even when the final answer is obvious. Count them and never let that happen again.
Iva M Mace
Why does the BHS Gym need a name?
After reading Mr. Dielman’s letter regarding the gym naming, we believe the Baker High Gym is not about the school board.
It’s about the kids and their sports, good times and good memories.
Why is a name even needed?
Ron and Sherry Quigley
Everyone’s vote should count, and be counted
Congratulations to Mr. William Harvey on his electoral victory. He is obviously well-prepared and will do fine. Each day he and all of our elected officials are remembered in my recitation of Martin Luther’s general prayer.
However, our county clerk has decided not to count all the votes that were cast. An election is not a horse race. There are many ways to read the results. At times I have voted for a sure loser, even voted against the person I hoped would win. I did so to lower the winner’s mandate in the desire that election losers may not lose their voice entirely. There are many ways to use one’s vote. These subtleties of elective democracy seemed to have been lost at the Courthouse. The vagaries of our system need to be rediscovered.
Each person’s vote should count. I think Thomas Jefferson would concur. I don’t beleive Vladimir Putin would.
Stephen S. Smith
Walden thanks Baker County voters for support
I’d like to thank the voters of Baker County for your support in electing me to represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives. I am humbled by your confidence in me and pledge to continue working hard for policies that will grow jobs, root out wasteful spending, improve access to health care, and stand up for our veterans.
Now is the time to put the campaigns behind us and work to improve the lives of ordinary Oregonians. I pledge to work as hard as I can to solve our problems, here at home and across the nation. I take this responsibility as your representative very seriously, and I will do my part to reach common ground to leave Oregon and America a better place for the next generation.
Let’s work together to keep trash off our roadsides
Anyone who has property along any roadway in Baker County, this letter is for you.
When my hsband and I moved here 18 years ago we were so pleased to see how clean Baker’s roadways were no matter where we traveled. We learned the prisoners of Powder River Correctional Facility were able to go out and clean. They did a great job, but I hear they do not do this any more.
I would ask that all people who have property along any roadway to please keep it clean of trash and garbage and keep Baker County beautiful.