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Letters to the Editor for March 28, 2014

Mr. Daugherty was on ‘a hopeful frolic of his own’

During the Baker City Council meeting last Tuesday, Randy Daugherty and others expressed their disapproval of the $71 LID assessment for the Resort Street upgrade. 

For that meeting City Manager Mike Kee had prepared a written history of the process that resulted in that assessment amount. His statement is available, in full, on the city website.

I was a member of the City Council during that time. Mr.  Kee’s recitation of how the assessment came to be $71 is entirely correct. The statements Mr. Daugherty made in the Council meeting are not.  

Neither Mr. Kee nor other city staff should be condemned for Mr. Daugherty’s dissatisfaction. He was on a hopeful frolic of his own.

Milo Pope

Baker City

 

Letter to the Editor for March 21, 2014


In most trying times, human kindness prevails

On Nov. 1 my husband Darrell and I moved to Baker City from Seneca to be nearer the cancer center in Boise. Though ultimately the winter was a sad and difficult time for us, we had precious moments together there and both felt grateful for the extra effort and the TLC of some of our neighbors on Grove Street; of a number of old Baker friends and friends who traveled from out of town to be with us; several merchants, Linda Hudson of Ideal Partners; Pastor Privett and the ladies of the Nazarene Church, as well as the nursing staff and recreational director at St. Alphonsus Care Center, where they went the extra mile for us.

This is to say that even in the most trying times, human kindness might still be found, and my thanks go to those who saw with their hearts.

Ada McMillan Hilton

Baker City

 

Letters to the Editor for March 17, 2014


We need to reconsider our futile war on drugs

With respect to the dangers of addictive drug usage we need to have a COMPLETE discussion and evaluation regarding the damage they do versus the damage and cost associated with our present attempts at forced drug control. This analysis must include the total cost, which would include the dollar cost of prisons, drug control agencies, nation-wide associated local police force expenditures, and related costs. To this must be added the human costs which include incarcerating otherwise productive people and the lifelong emotional impact on children whose parent or sibling are serving prison time.  

Youth appear to be attracted to drugs for two main reasons. One is because drug use is forbidden and therefore exciting. The other is because there is profit in getting an acquaintance “hooked” on drugs in order to help support one’s own habit. All attempts to stop the use of drugs by force of law will merely assure greater profits for the pushers. This fact appears to be ignored by those responsible for our present drug laws.

Our government tells us we live in the freest country in the world. Yet the United States has a greater percentage of its population in prison than any other nation. Nearly half of those prisoners are locked up merely for violating our drug laws. We are using taxpayers’ money to build more prisons so we can incarcerate even more mothers, fathers and youth for violations of futile drug laws. 

Internationally the attempt to control drug movement has turned our southern border into a war zone! Gangs are killing each other for supremacy and many innocent people are slaughtered as well. This bloodshed is a direct result of our futile attempt to control drug usage in this country and Mexico obviously knows it. 

In addition to the great economic cost the many years of our attempt at forced control of drugs has caused untold misery and ruined lives and deaths, while producing no measurable benefit. Is it not time for reasonable people to seek a less hostile policy that is compatible with our free country?

Jasper Coombes

Haines

People need to pay for what they want

Here we go again. I noticed in last night’s paper two non-related stories of citizens wanting someone else to pay for their purchase.

First of all, to address Suzanne Fouty wanting to add 50 cents per month to our water/sewer bills for the spay/neuter program. I want to say at the outset your program is admirable and does good work but, I am so tired of my utility bill being looked at as a piggy bank for something other than water/sewer. The key word is utility bill; I don’t agree with the city adding $1 per month for sidewalks to it, let alone money for spay/neuter and a part-time coordinator’s salary. Apply to the Leo Adler for help or other charitable organizations, have fundraisers, raise the fee you charge for adoption, be creative in seeking funds, but don’t look at my utility bill as a piggy bank. I do take issue with Fouty saying how I feel about 50 cents reflects on how I feel about animals. We had a cat adopt us 11 years ago and she is the joy of our lives; our love for animals is not an issue.

Secondly, I would like to address the Resort Street property owners who don’t want to pay for what they ordered. We live on 11th Street, which was paved in 1980 — no curbs, no sidewalks, no underground utilities, no fancy metal framework to hide our garbage cans behind, and it was assessed at $7 per foot to the property owners. Now fast forward 1/3 of a century, pave a street, beautiful new sidewalks, underground utilities, fancy metal framework hiding your garbage containers and you don’t think you should pay anything? Come on now, you are business owners; we used to have a café downtown. If you came in and ordered a meal, you better believe you wouldn’t leave until you paid for it. Just as you won’t give me a new car for my birthday and my wife a diamond necklace for hers. Now you know, you ordered the steak, now pay for it.

Bill Ward

Baker City

Reminded again why Baker is a great place to live

To Virginia Kostol, who found my money and turned it over to Shannon Kanyid, who got it to me: I thank both of you very much, providing once again Baker is a great place to live.

Tom Hank

Baker City

Sticking up for the venerable VHS tape and the VCR

If you need further proof that our technology actually peaked in the 1980s, I present to you the much-maligned VHS tape.

I currently watch VHS tapes that were manufactured in the late 1970s and early 80s on a VHS machine made not long after. Thirty-five years later and they play just fine.

From an archival standpoint, a VHS tape will last 100+ years if kept cool and dry. Each cassette is a marvel of wheels, pins and magnetic tape. By contrast, a DVD or Blu-Ray is a cheap 15-cent plastic disc that has a shelf life of two to five years. If you have children, make that two to five months. If they are toddlers, it’s more like two to five minutes. One lateral scratch on the label or playing-side and your favorite movie is finished.

Libraries all over the country are replacing the best archival video format they have in favor of an inferior knock-off that will render their entire archive obsolete in just a few years. That means, in order to preserve our national film heritage, a library will have to consistently replace their most popular titles, over and over and over again.

Consumers are being duped into doing the same thing.

Troubleshooting a VCR and/or VHS tape usually requires nothing more than some alcohol, Q-tips, a pair of scissors, some scotch tape and a little patience. Troubleshooting a DVD or Blu-Ray player and/or disc means buying a new DVD or Blu-Ray player and/or disc. This is madness.

If you want a film heritage you can actually pass on to your children, then pony up the 50 cents to a dollar and save a VHS today.

Oh, and the best part: I can still fast-forward through the commercials. Can you?

MH Heintz

Baker City

 

Letters to the Editor for March 14, 2014


Obama’s green energy policies not realistic

 In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama told reporters that his green energy policies would “necessarily cause energy prices to skyrocket.” This didn’t seem to concern him, for as soon as he was inaugurated, he put them into effect. Most people notice the consequence of his policies in the price of gasoline. In 2009, gas was selling for well under $2 a gallon. Today it goes for between $3 and $4 a gallon.

The extra money we spend for our motor fuel means that we have less money to spend on other things. Businesses pass their higher fuel costs on to their customers, another bite out of our pocketbooks. Most economists feel that these increased energy costs are one reason why the current recovery from the Great Recession is the most sluggish in recent history.

The European Union is about a decade farther down the renewable energy road than we are. In their pell-mell rush toward high-cost wind and solar energy, European industries now pay twice as much for their electricity as the U. S. does, making them much less competitive globally. To survive, European industries are beginning to relocate outside of the EU.

As a consequence, the EU is ditching its renewable-energy standards as a matter of economic survival. Binding limits on each member nation’s emissions have been lifted. Berlin has announced that it will end lavish tax breaks for solar power. Brussels has decided that jobs for citizens have a higher priority than saving the planet.

President Obama has stated that he is a pragmatist; he is interested only with what works. But even as Europe is mothballing its green energy experiment, President Obama wants the U. S. to continue on down the green energy path. He states that “the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century.” He seems to have learned nothing from the EU’s failure to achieve global dominance through wind farms and solar panels. His ideology has trumped reality.

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Nature controls the Earth’s climate, not people

There has been a great amount of anxiety regulations, and huge costs imposed on the public by people who think man’s activity is creating our global warming.

The truth is that all works of man are insignificant compared to natural things that have been going on since time began.

First of all, the sun and its flares are the cause of the world’s temperature. Astronomers have observed that the sun moves in long, progressive cycles that change its position relative to the Earth, and cycles of sunspot activity change the amount of energy that is projected on the Earth. These cycles are estimated to be about every 40,000 years. This probably accounts for our ice ages. Geologists have observed at least four on exposed rock surfaces.

About 12,000 years ago our last ice age started retreating. Most of Canada and many of the northern tier of the U.S. were covered by an ice sheet more than a mile thick.

I, for one, am glad that it warmed up.

Eventually the world will start cooling and another ice age will come down on us, but I’m not going to wait for it.

As to all so-called pollutants that are destroying our ozone layer, remember a few years back, we had to change an efficient refrigerant over to a less efficient fluid because of the dangerous chlorofluorocarbons. Well, tests showed that when Mt. Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines it ejected more chlorofluorocarbons than all of mankind.

In regard to carbon dioxide emissions, one of the world’s most prominent geologists, Australian Ian Plimer, has stated that the volcanic ash emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere in just four days by a volcano in Iceland has erased every effort we have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon. And there are around 200 active volcanoes on the planet spewing out this crud every day.

Add to this the matter of forest fires, such as we had last year in the U.S. and Australia, will negate all the efforts to reduc cabon in our world for the next two to three years, and it happens every year.

Kenneth Anderson

Baker City

 

Letter to the Editor for March 12, 2014


America can get back on solid financial footing

Thank you for raising the issue of voter apathy in your op-ed of Feb. 28. Indeed, we have about 2,600 people over age 17 in Baker County who are not even registered to vote. But, since Oregon actually has the country’s sixth-highest voter turnout rate, it seems that we should look beyond our state for the real source of voter disgust and disillusion.  

Nationally, the unaddressed structural economic problem of loss of good paying jobs to off-shoring and computer automation has been with us for about 35 years, and it’s still growing.  More and more of us are being thrust into poverty, while the top 1 percent now take home over 20 percent of total income.

Many of us have lost promising educational and economic futures, and there seems to be little we can do about it. We’re still a wealthy nation, but how many are optimistic?  

Our politics have become extremely partisan. But, while we’ve been fighting each other, the phenomenally wealthy have seized more and more influence and control.  They are largely ignoring working families and the needs of the planet.  They resist “paying it forward” from their own good fortune, and are thus restricting our economic growth.

I urge my fellow readers to carefully ponder and internalize the meaning of our Pledge of Allegiance to “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” What a contrast with today’s political discourse – brimming with fear, anger, and disinformation!  

Are we to continue to wage a debilitating fight? May I suggest that we tune out the voices that would divide us, including Fox News and right-wing talk radio. Let us, instead, listen to each other, including those 2,600 unregistered potential voters. Remembering our nation’s proud heritage, I’ve no doubt we have the imagination and creativity to forge answers that meet everyone’s needs. 

The United States emerged from the Great Depression and victory in World War II with an unprecedented, 30-year period of prosperity (taxing the wealthy at more than twice today’s rates).  Together, We the People did it once; together, we can do it again.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

 

Letter to the Editor for March 10, 2014


Feeling unrepresented by members of Congress

I have openly requested Congressman Walden’s staff to assist me with Travel Management, the collaborative group and the Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision. I have asked local staff in Riley Bushue, and now Kirby Garrett. Recently I contacted Brian McDonald, chief of staff at Representative Walden’s D.C., office, again, no response.

I did have the opportunity to visit with Rep. Walden on Jan. 11, 2013, in Mt. Vernon on the issue of Travel Management. Representative Walden assured me he would bring the issue up to Rep. Hastings and work to address them, and let me know through Mr. Bushue what was going on. I repeatedly asked for follow up, no response was ever given from Mr. Walden or his staff on the issue. 

I have repeatedly contacted Mr. Bushue and now Mr. Garrett on issues revolving around development of Sub-Part A of Travel Management, the collaborative group and the upcoming Forest Plan Revision, no response has ever been given to my concerns. I recently contacted Mr. Garrett asking for a congressional inquiry as to why the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Supervisor Staff is being allowed to hand pick which “public meetings” the public are allowed to attend, again, no response. 

Is this truly the kind of “representation” we deserve or want from an elected official? I know I don’t.

Is it proper for only some to be paid to attend meetings and keep people locked out of them, or hold them during times the general public can’t attend them? If you don’t think it’s happening, just start asking for meeting times, agendas, and attendees list, you’ll find no one’s real willing to let you know, because they don’t want you there. 

It’s incredibly simpler to control a message when you control the conversation and tell others how you are going to march people down a process. But the sickening part is when elected officials allow it to happen, unchecked, which is what Mr. Walden continues to allow to happen, with poor staffing and even poorer engagement in the matter. 

John D. George

Bates

 

Letters to the Editor for March 7, 2014


Evidence of global warming obvious to anyone

In a letter to the editor, Chuck Chase poo poos the danger signs of global warming. Chase calls it “voodoo science.” 

Yet even grade-schoolers can understand the signs. 

Melting of the earth’s ice caps — Arctic, Greenland, Antarctica — are canaries in the coal mine that world leaders are ignoring at mankind’s peril, and in favor of corporate profit and unsustainable materialism.

 

Forest Plan revision coming soon


By Steve Beverlin, John Laurence and Kevin Martin

The Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington are some of the most beautiful — and productive — landscapes in the world. Our forests and rangelands provide water, wood, food, forage, wildlife, fish, fuel, minerals and fun. Almost 5 million of those acres belong to the citizens of the United States and are managed as the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests under a multiple use mission to provide those benefits now and into the future. Nature provides these resources and it’s up to all of us to be stewards of that gift.

Forest Plans provide the vision of where the forests and rangelands are headed over the next few decades. The Plans describe what we call the “desired condition” that provides a vision for what the landscape should look like and how it should function. Forest Plans matter because nature matters.

 

Letters to the Editor for Feb. 28, 2014

Nonpartisan county race preserves local control

As chief petitioners we believe it is essential that all voters understand the effects of both the current and nonpartisan election process, and that representative government requires participation by the most voters possible.

Concerns have been raised about the loss of local control if county commissioners vacate the position. This has happened twice recently in Baker County involving a single commissioner.

The current process for a single vacancy involves receiving three suggested candidates from the county political party of the vacated seat; the remaining two county commissioners make the appointment in a public hearing.

This differs little from the nonpartisan process where the two remaining county commissioners receive applications from potential candidates, take testimony and statements from those candidates and the public in open hearings, and then they make their decision in a public hearing. The political parties and the PCPs may submit applications or testimony in this process.

The fact that the vacancy can be filled by any Baker County resident means the choice can be made based on ability and not on political party affiliation. If the voters think it was the wrong choice they can correct it at the next election.

The appointment by the governor of one or more vacant commissioner seats for nonpartisan elections only occurs when there is not a quorum seated (less than two commissioners) and the governor shall only replace the minimum number of commissioners needed to reach a quorum. The two, seated, commissioners will then make their appointment as described in the preceding paragraph. This minimizes the loss of local control.

How often does the governor appoint county commissioners? In Oregon the majority of counties choose their commissioners with a nonpartisan process (20 of 36) and there seems to be only one appointment by the governor in the last 20 years. What is of greater concern to us is the fact that a small number of voters will decide the next election. Based on the 2010 primary election results the next two county commissioners will be selected by only 12.4 percent of Baker County voters. Is that the representative democracy we want?

Randy Joseph

Chuck Guerri

Loran Joseph

Baker County Committee for Nonpartisan Elections

 

Letters to the Editor for Feb. 26, 2014


Where’s common sense in BLM’s sage grouse plan?

As an active participant in protecting a precious commodity, our beautiful Baker Valley and the forests, rivers, and high desert around us,  I wish to ask why the BLM is proposing a plan for protecting sage grouse habitat in Oregon, which directly harms our ranchers, communities and the sage grouse eco-system they support.  

 It appears those of us who live here are at the mercy of vocal, well-funded special interest groups that not only don’t live or work here, but whose goals are the elimination of all public grazing practices. I am confident these special interest groups have other hidden agendas that further their own interests.  The sage grouse appears to be only a pawn in a larger scheme of keeping legitimate ranchers, miners, recreational users, hunters, fishermen and others off public lands, including our beloved forests. The BLM sets short comment periods, thus making it difficult to comment or respond.  

Is the sage grouse plan helping pave the way for the Boardman to Hemingway line, proposed by Idaho Power Company, to be placed in front of the Interpretive Center in plain view of one of Oregon’s most scenic highways? Former Governor Tom McCall, who I knew, set in place a “utility corridor” from Boardman to Idaho, which affects no one and is the common sense route for this transmission line. 

As for the cattle industry, these stewards of the land support our schools and communities through tax revenue and employment. Yet, according to the BLM, their preferred plan would result in job loss across five counties. 

 In 1990, the spotted owl was listed as an endangered species, and logging was stopped by court order on all federal lands. Baker County came to a standstill. Middle-income jobs were lost, stores closed, schools closed and people moved away. Now we find the spotted owl’s predator was another owl species, not logging. We cannot let this craziness happen again.  A listing of the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act will damage Oregon, especially Eastern Oregon. This should not happen. Where is the common sense in all of this? 

JoAnn Marlette

Baker City

What will happen if the forests are closed?

How do I start this letter? Good question, but here goes ... Yesterday at the local library I was informed by an employee of the U.S. Forest Service that our president of these United States intends to close all forest lands in the whole of this country in the next two years. Now that’s quite a statement, making me wonder how many thousands of Americans and companies will be suddenly out of work. I wonder what then will houses be built out of — plastic two-by-fours? steel framework? rubber roofs? Wouldn’t that mean no more paper bags, no more cardboard boxes, no more paper products, no more woodstoves? Fireplaces? Or no more campsites? Locked out of hunting, hiking, trail rides on horseback to high mountain lakes. Gee, that sounds like a good idea! The American public should take that right in stride. I’m getting mad already.

So how do we heat our homes and small businesses with gas or electric. Few of the middle and low class could ever afford it, and hopefully no one will stand still and let this come to be.

Do we have anything to say about bad rumors or are we just supposed to stand by and let it happen? People, you’d better get together and ask some hard questions to our state and U.S. Forest Services; sounds to me that they won’t have a job either, so who’ll put out the fires. All good questions, but where are the answers? I’d be writing serious letters to our governor and high-ranking government officials and demand a sensible reply, or better yet call and raise some questions about who is running America and Oregon.

We can’t let this go unchecked. If we do it’s only the beginning of total government rule and we’ll truly lose what freedoms we have left. And of course if they take our guns, too, I don’t have to tell you what that means, do I?

Think real hard about all this. Do something, please.

Jim Smeraglio

Baker City

Merkley does the Potomac two-step

Senator Merkley’s town hall meeting the other day made one wonder how our country has survived so long with leaders like him in charge. All but a very few questions asked by his constituents were not answered, mostly by analogies of what he thought we wanted to hear.

I patiently listened to the senator do a Potomac two-step around issues of concern to this part of Oregon. At least 15 minutes was devoted to that nasty carbon footprint we have been leaving, and “global warming” or “climate change.” By telling us how important it is to cut back on emissions, no matter what the cost to the consumer. By trying to make a case to curb coal-fired electric generation plants, and get in tune with the president and the EPA, curbing carbon emissions with voodoo science.

I do so love facts, don’t you, senator? I get so confused with the half-truths and the people of this world that spin the facts to fit their own pocketbook or their green agenda.

Fact No. 1: The Icelandic eruption put more carbon dioxide in the air than man has removed with the Clean Air Act, gasohol, wind turbines, solar power and the shutting down of coal-fired plants. That isn’t including what Mount St. Helens or the almost weekly eruptions of the Asian fire chain has contributed to the carbon dioxide levels.

Fact No. 2: The three largest volcanic eruptions put more carbon dioxide into the air than man has since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Fact. No. 3: Trees, including in our Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, absorb carbon dioxide and give off life supporting oxygen. But when a forest burns that tree gives back all of the carbon dioxide it has absorbed in its lifetime.

We have come a long way in cleaning up our air and water, including the smog covering our industrial belt. Nobody wants to go back to the way it was. It kind of makes one wonder what their climate change agenda is. It couldn’t be about control of the people and their lives. What do you think, senator?

Chuck Chase

Baker City

 
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