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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


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

Letters to the Editor for March 25, 2015

Focus should be on pit bulls instead of cougars or wolves

I see that there have been several cougar sightings around Baker City, dogs have been called out to find the cat, and of course wolves are always a hot topic. 

Some get a little edgy when heading out to the woods where wolves are active. After many generations of urbanization, it isn’t all that hard to understand the uneasiness that the wild world might cause in civilized folks. Other things are a little harder to understand. 

You can count on your fingers the number of cougar-related deaths in the country and probably on one hand the number of wolf attacks. Pit bulls, on the other hand, are a different story. A few minutes on the Internet or a smarter- than-you phone and you get a picture of real carnage, often involving young children.

I guess it is legal. I Googled myself, and the first thing that came up led me to my Oct.4, 2013, letter to the editor, with another person’s letter commenting on the little boy killed by a pit bull in Baker City. I didn’t know it at the time, but the pit bull came from John Day, where some of my grandkids are.

Not long ago I passed through Baker City and there was one of our well-educated “animal lovers” being pulled along by four big pit bulls. If they had decided to chase another dog, a cat or a child, there is nothing the owner could have done to restrain that much dog power. 

I guess the city passed some kind of watered-down dog ordinance but as far as I can tell the county is still messing around.  

Let’s not have another child death before our leadership gets off its butt.

Steve Culley

Baker City/John Day/Richland

Forest Service press release is ‘smoke and mirrors’ 

On March 19, a press release was put out by the U.S. Forest Service on “Focus turns to Forest Plan Revision public engagement as Travel Management [Subpart B] paused in the Blue Mountains” 

This press release is nothing new, and bordering on an open attempt to confuse and give a false sense of hope to the public on Travel Management.

1) Travel Management has been on the “back burner” of both the Wallowa-Whitman and Malheur National Forest since 2012; this article states nothing new, and is a disservice to pretend they have done something new.

2) This release gives the false impression that the supervisors and regional forester are giving some sort of relief to the people of Eastern Oregon, when no such relief is being given.

3) Subpart A of Travel Management on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is still being developed and the article fails to state that or how Subpart A will be used as a springboard to Subpart B and the closure of the mountains.

Most importantly — This is not the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision. Restricting motorized use fully is in the forest plan revision through the designation of routes and you are still fully looking at a closure of our mountains if it goes through as written with designation of routes.

The message is the same: No designation of routes, No obliteration of roads, and No reduction of road densities in The Blues, period, end of discussion.

I cannot stress enough, this is a nonstory and worse, it gives people the false impression this is some sort of victory. IT IS NOT! Your access is still in jeopardy and your vigilance is needed and required to keep your mountains open. Do not get sucked into the hype, because it’s all smoke and mirrors.

Chuck Chase

Baker City

I owed it to others to try to straighten this out

I was amazed by the misinformation in the Baker City Herald editorial on March 18, 2015. Tim Collins’ mistake was deciding he had the power to dictate sewer/water rates, only City Council can set rates. The person costing taxpayers thousands of dollars is City Manager Mike Kee.

Mike can’t understand a simple one-page contract. In depositions, Mike said “the City has no document that allows us to charge Langrells double for sewer/water.” Mike convinced four members of City Council, one an attorney, to enter into the lawsuit instead of returning the overcharged fees.

A double sewer/water rate was never part of the annexation. It was discussed, but never considered for the contract. The City offered the 10-year moratorium on taxes because none of us felt a need for more property in the city. We built in the county because we didn’t want to be in the city. None of the annexed property has been built on.

Judge Pahl’s ruling does not preclude the city from introducing evidence. It says Tim Collins has no authority to set rates and what was discussed during negotiations is not part of a written contract. The reason the city will not be introducing any evidence is because none exists.

I tried to get city managers to follow the terms of their contract for 10 years. My only choices were, allow the city to cheat me or take them to court. If I was the only one being cheated, I would have let the city get away with it. It’s only because I am a member of the Baker City Council that I felt I owed the other people, who the city is also illegally double charging, my obligation to straighten this out. 

I have endured one year of ridicule from the city staff, four members of the City Council and the Baker City Herald. I was wrongfully removed as mayor by those four council members. I risked paying about $50,000 in attorney fees.

If the mayor of Baker City has to go through this to be heard, what chance does an average citizen have?

Richard Langrell

Baker City

Letter to the Editor for March 23, 2015

Control of federal land? Be careful what you wish for

Our own worst enemy” — that’s what Baker County Commissioner Harvey thinks of the U.S. government. 

Harvey supports HB 3444, introduced by Republican State Representative Jim Weidner. The bill requires the United States to extinguish title to public lands and transfer title to the state.  

Harvey told the Baker City Herald (March 11 issue) that Weidner’s bill makes sense. “To me it is a good thing and it should be done.” 

Perhaps Harvey’s hopes are buoyed by precedent set in Utah. In 2012, the Utah Legislature, in a flight of pure fantasy, actually passed similar legislation and gave the U.S. government two years to comply.  So far Congress has, as far as I know, not even acknowledged Utah’s demand.

That’s not surprising. Even Utah’s own Legislative Counsel recommended against such legislation. I’m sure Legislative Counsel actually read the U.S. Constitution and found no clause granting authority to states to compel the U.S. government to do anything.

Apparently Weidner and Harvey have not considered the practical consequences of acquiring control of all those federal lands. In Idaho in 2012, the U.S. Forest Service spent $169 million on fire suppression. If Oregon acquired BLM and USFS lands, on which cattlemen graze their animals at a fraction of what grazing costs elsewhere, the state would most likely not continue such a subsidy, because it simply could not afford to do so.

Utah thinks it can go to court and require Congress to comply with its law.  Harvey agrees with that tactic. “You only do it when you absolutely have to. But we have no recourse. Our own government is becoming our own worst enemy. We have to litigate, we have no option left,” he told the Herald reporter.

Gary Dielman

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for March 18, 2015

Gun control has never, and will never, succeed

Let’s talk gun control. The FACTUAL aspects of controlling the personal possession and use of firearms.  It appears quite simple to me, having been raised with them.

They are merely tools that can, and are, used for good and bad. Law-abiding people use them wisely and safely. The bad guys, outlaws, use them destructively. This last sentence explains, for the most part, why gun control laws haven’t yet and never will work to increase safety of our citizens. As a matter of fact, areas of this country with the strictest control of guns, Detroit and Washington, D.C, have the highest gun crime rates. Only outlaws have guns, the unarmed population are their victims. 

The new gun law passed in New York City is a perfect example of disaster designed to happen. The capacity of guns, including .22 caliber rifles, as I understand it, is restricted by law to seven rounds. Insanity! Proponents of the law claim the restrictions are for safety. For whom? It certainly isn’t for the safety of the homeowner who might be awakened to discover multiple robbers armed to the teeth.  And perhaps the person being robbed is aged or disabled. Which party is the law designed to protect?

We have repeated examples of our schools being invaded by killers. Yet we have laws and signs declaring that schools are gun-free zones. To an intended killer of children it simply means defenseless children! Will we never learn?

Recent history is replete with examples of nations where the citizens first gave up their right to be armed and shortly thereafter the government became a brutal dictatorship and the people were without the ability to resist. Could it eventually happen here?

If you read the U.S. Constitution carefully, you will see it means that each person has the God-given right to be armed! The Second Amendment merely emphasizes that right. There are two primary reasons to disarm the American people. The first is ignorance: ignorance of the consequences facing a defenseless people. The other, simply put, is deceit: those who know the consequence and yet deliberately want their fellow man defenseless. Isn’t it time we identify each?

Jasper Coombes


Don’t let Western Oregon Democrats manage land

Transferring federal land to the state is a bad idea. State government is not local. Who in his/her right mind would transfer public land to a state government controlled by Democrats? Need I remind folks that we haven’t had a Republican governor since Vic Atiyeh? It was Western Oregon liberals who voted in favor of legalizing dope, the same voters who continue to select a majority of Democrats for leading state government. Is that who you want controlling our public land?  Public land is a good thing, it just needs to be managed well and pay its way.

It might be a positive idea for each Eastern Oregon county to manage its share of public land but that would be impractical. The first large wildfire would bankrupt any county.

If we are going to make positive political changes, how about the following?

• Pass national legislation requiring the federal government to pay property taxes.  This would provide a more stable, reliable income from public land than payment-in-lieu-of-taxes or secure-rural-schools legislation. It would give a fairly determined tax base to counties with large public land ownership.

• Secede from Western Oregon and join Idaho if they would have us. There are periodic suggestions to secede and form our own state but that would be prohibitively expensive. Eastern Oregon would be a much better match with Idaho economically (agriculture), culturally (rural), politically (conservative) and mind-set (common sense) than we are with Western Oregon. 

• Elect conservative Republicans to the presidency and Congress so we at least have a chance for better Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture who might manage western federal land with a western perspective.

• Protect farmers and ranchers, the folks who feed everyone, with appropriate legislation. Then leave them alone.

• Shoot the wolves and allow dog use in hunting cougars and bears.

• Reduce the influence of environmental groups.

• Require Eastern Oregon federal judges to decide Eastern Oregon legal issues.

Since many of you know that I am a federal employee (Forest Service), I need to clarify that the previous opinions are strictly my own.

Jim Carnahan

Baker City

Letter to the Editor for March 16, 2015

New gift turns me into a gold panner

I received a gift in the mail the other day — a brand new gold panning kit. It came from one of my old ironworking chums that I had left behind in the Portland / Vancouver area. Vaughn must have figured I needed more things to keep me busy. Feeling somewhat obligated, my wife and I made plans to try it out.

Back home you couldn’t look crosswise at a river or stream without some sort of permit, license or pamphlet so I set out to cover our bases. It was all about the fish in Vancouver so my first stop was with Fish and Wildlife. They had no problem but referred me to BLM. BLM shrugged their shoulders, as if I had interrupted their extremely important day with a stupid question, warning me to stay away from other people’s claims. The National Forest people had no problem as long as we weren’t bringing in heavy equipment. So with no more knowledge, than before, we headed into the woods. Long story short — no gold, wet feet and sore backs. 

While recovering I remembered a recent newspaper article by Jayson Jacoby. It had touched on some gold history of this area so I shot him an e-mail asking if he had any information steering us in a gold finding direction. He instantly responded with an informative article from a past issue of the Herald. The article pushed me towards the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI). Jayson had referenced them in the recent article also but it had escaped my attention (oldtimer’s disease).

Barb and I took the short walk to the courthouse and the DOGAMI office. This is where we met Jason McClaughry (Eastern Oregon regional geologist). There is not enough words to express how thoughtful and helpful this gentleman was. He answered every one of our gold panning questions and when I mentioned our interest in rockhounding he came alive. He freely shared his valuable knowledge, sending us on a future full of travel and discovery.  A huge thank you to both Jayson and Jason for making us feel we matter.  

Mike Meyer

Baker City

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