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The post-9/11 generation; and an electric future


I was in a Boise hotel the first weekend of spring break, watching my two younger kids frolic in the swimming pool with half a dozen others, when I realized that none of these children was alive on Sept. 11, 2001.

This thought struck me with some force.

At least one of the swimmers looked to me to be 11, although he might be a precociously tall 9 or 10.

But I’m as sure as I can be, without getting a look at boy’s birth certificate, that he isn’t as old as 12 1/2.

Time, of course, gets away from us no matter how closely we think we’re tracking its progress.


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.


Keeping a road open to vehicles


A Wallowa-Whitman National Forest official’s recent statement that the forest intends to keep the North Powder River Road open to motor vehicles, even if Congress designates new wilderness in that part of the Elkhorn Mountains, was welcome.

That’s a popular route into the Elkhorns and it should remain accessible by motor vehicles.

But the Wallowa-Whitman’s stance is not the definitive word on the matter.


Celebrate clarity on the ballot


Nowhere is clarity in writing more important than on a voter’s ballot.

And so we’re pleased with the Oregon Supreme Court’s decision last week regarding the wording of a ballot measure that Oregonians likely will vote on in November.

The measure has to do with the state’s plan to give four-year driver’s licenses to people who can’t prove their living legally in the U.S.


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.


The most important man hardly anyone knows


Philo T. Farnsworth should be as famous as Thomas Edison or Alexander Graham Bell.

That Farnsworth is, if not unknown then certainly obscure compared with Edison and Bell, seems to me both a pity and the basis for a fascinating story.

It is debatable, but hardly hyperbolic, to claim that Farnsworth is the most significant inventor of the past 200 years.

What’s not in question is that Farnsworth invented electronic television.

Which is a technology that’s about as ubiquitous as the lightbulb and the phone, but vastly more influential.


Extend studded tire season


Nature, as usual, thumbed its frost-nipped nose at calendars, including the Oregon Department of Transportation’s.

On Tuesday, the first day studded tires were illegal on the state’s highways, a snowstorm slickened highways in Central and Southeastern Oregon.

Baker County, fortunately, was spared this storm.

But as anyone knows who has lived here for more than a few years, it’s hardly uncommon for heavy snow to fall in April (and, let’s be honest, in May or, occasionally, in June).


Letter to the Editor for March 31, 2014


Walden’s bill is about politics, not public access to forests

Last week, the Baker City Herald editorial staff wrote, “Rep. Greg Walden has gotten right to the heart of the debate over managing national forests and he only needed to write a four-page bill to do it.”

It’s time for a reality check.

It seems clear that Walden only threw this piece forward because I am on his heels, chasing his lackluster votes. I have heard for years from hunters, farmers, ranchers, loggers and outdoorsmen worried about their forest access and concerned with the deafness of Washington bureaucrats. 

They tell me of their frustration in writing endlessly to Walden’s office, their local papers, and their vain attendance in “public comment” sessions.


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


Watermelon’s PR campaign rivals a politician’s

I did not realize that watermelon has the sort of public relations apparatus normally reserved for heads of state or platinum-selling rock bands.

Nor did I know that watermelon exudes citrulline and arginine, which sound like components of gasoline but which apparently are natural substances that confer health benefits.

But now I do know those facts — and much else besides about this truly miraculous fruit — thanks to the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

This organization, I was disappointed to learn, is not based in Hermiston.

That city of course is associated with watermelons in these parts much in the way that Walla Walla is known for onions.

In fact the promotional arm for the watermelon has its headquarters in Orlando, Fla.


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