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A new era for Bentz, GOP

Kitzhaber out, Kate Brown in as Oregon governor

By Pat Caldwell

For the Baker City Herald

Oregon’s elected state leaders will confront a new paradigm today after Kate Brown is sworn in as governor, even as the shadow of an ethics scandal hovers over her predecessor, John Kitzhaber. 

Kitzhaber announced his resignation last week — to take effect today at 10 a.m. — after momentum regarding an ethics controversy swirling around him and his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes reached critical mass. 

Oregon Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, said Tuesday he was surprised by Kitzhaber’s announcement and said he is still troubled by the circumstances.

 “I think it is safe to say I was saddened. It is unfortunate that someone could be forced out of office before anything is proven,” Bentz said.

Kate Brown sworn in as Oregon governor

SALEM (AP) — Kate Brown has stepped in as Oregon’s governor following an influence-peddling scandal that prompted the resignation of her predecessor, fellow Democrat John Kitzhaber.

Brown was sworn in during a Wednesday ceremony at the state Capitol. Brown, formerly the secretary of state, becomes the first openly bisexual governor in the nation.

Unlike most states, Oregon has no lieutenant governor. Under the state constitution, the secretary of state takes over if a governor steps down or dies.

Kitzhaber, elected to an unprecedented fourth term last year, announced last week that he would resign amid allegations his fiancee used her relationship with him to enrich herself. He has denied wrongdoing on both of their parts.

Spring signs

February on pace to be warmest on record

Lisa Britton/For the Baker CIty Herald A buttercup in bloom Saturday near the Lower Powder River, about 15 miles northeast of Baker City.

By Jayson Jacoby

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Red is the customary color of Valentine’s Day but this year, in Baker County, it was yellow that distinguished the holiday.

Specifically, the yellow blossom of a buttercup.

Cracking the Code

Baker City’s Street Maintenance Challenge

By Pat Caldwell

For the Baker City Herald

As spring approaches, Baker City officials will once again be compelled to search for solutions to the ongoing struggle to maintain streets.

“We are always going to be talking about infrastructure,” City Manager Mike Kee said.

The city’s infrastructure challenge — particularly maintaining streets — is not a new phenomenon nor is it a strictly local manifestation.

Gov. John Kitzhaber's resignation statement

Gov. John Kitzhaber’s statement, following announcement that he will resign at 10 a.m. on Feb. 18:


I am announcing today that I will resign as Governor of the State of Oregon. 

It is not in my nature to walk away from a job I have undertaken - it is to stand and fight for the cause. For that reason I apologize to all those people who gave of their faith, time, energy and resources to elect me to a fourth term last year and who have supported me over the past three decades. I promise you that I will continue to pursue our shared goals and our common cause in another venue.

I must also say that it is deeply troubling to me to realize that we have come to a place in the history of this great state of ours where a person can be charged, tried, convicted and sentenced by the media with no due process and no independent verification of the allegations involved. But even more troubling - and on a very personal level as someone who has given 35 years of public service to Oregon - is that so many of my former allies in common cause have been willing to simply accept this judgment at its face value.

Associated Press: Kitzhaber resigns, effective Feb. 18

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A person with direct knowledge of the plan says Democratic Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber plans to resign amid allegations his fiancee used her relationship with him to enrich herself.

The announcement is a stunning fall from grace for the state’s longest-serving chief executive. The person spoke only on condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorized to talk about the governor’s plan.

The decision on Friday capped a wild week in which Kitzhaber seemed poised to step down, then changed his mind, but ultimately bowed to calls from legislative leaders that he quit the state’s top job.

Secretary of State Kate Brown, a Democrat like Kitzhaber, will assume the office. She will also be the nation’s first openly bisexual governor.

Kitzhaber has consistently maintained that he and his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, worked hard to avoid conflicts between her public and private roles.

Bentz: Kitzhaber deserves chance to 'have the facts sorted out'

By Pat Caldwell

For the Baker City Herald

Oregon District 60 Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, said Wednesday night that he did not believe Gov. John Kitzhaber will resign from his post.

Yet in a rapidly shifting political saga, key members of Kitzhaber’s own Democratic party today urged him to step down.

Medical marijuana proponents plan peaceful protest at Baker City Hall Monday, Tuesday

A group of medical marijuana proponents plans a peaceful protest Monday and Tuesday at Baker City Hall to urge city councilors to let voters decide whether to ban commercial sales of marijuana here.

Rod Shaw, who has lived in Baker City for almost eight years, is organizing the protests, which are slated to start about 10 a.m. both days.

Shaw, who has a medical marijuana card, said he knows City Hall, 1655 First St., will be closed Monday due to Presidents Day.

Shaw said he decided to organize a public protest after the City Council on Tuesday discussed Police Chief Wyn Lohner’s proposed ordinance that would ban commercial sales of marijuana for both medicinal purposes, which is legal now, and for recreational purposes.

He wants the city to allow voters to decide whether to ban commercial sales of pot. Measure 91, which voters statewide approved in November, legalizes recreational use of marijuana starting July 1. The measure also allows cities or counties to ban commercial sales so long as voters agree to do so. However, such a citywide vote couldn't happen until November 2016.

See more in Friday's issue of the Baker City Herald. 


Council waits on pot sales

Council will discuss issue again Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. at CIty Hall

By Chris Collins

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The Baker City Council agreed Tuesday night to meet in special session next week to continue its discussion of how to deal with the commercial sale of marijuana, both for medicinal and recreational use.

The decision came after a discussion Tuesday that lasted about an hour and a half and included differing opinions from the city attorney and the police chief and 10 members of the public, who spoke alternately on the benefits and the dangers of marijuana.

Mayor Kim Mosier proposed addressing the issue through a business license requirement. Although legal in Oregon starting July 1, marijuana possession and sales remain illegal under federal law.

Making the Move

Thatcher’s Ace Hardware Readies For Move To Remodeled Building

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald The former Del's Feed and Farm Supply on Resort Street is being remodeled to accommodate a move of Thatcher's Ace Hardware from its current location at 2001 Second St.

By Chris Collins

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When Scott and Diana Thatcher pooled all their resources to move to Baker City 16 1/2 years ago they were given little encouragement that their purchase of the Coast to Coast hardware store would succeed.

“People told me ‘you won’t make it six months — you’re buying a dying hardware store,’ ” Scott Thatcher, 53, recalls. “I said ‘Yeah, I am, but that’s all I can afford.’ "

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