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Don’t punish all renters


We don’t like that Baker City had to hire a collection agency to try to recover about $25,000 in unpaid water/sewer bills during the most recent fiscal year.

But we like even less the prospect of forcing many residents — most of whom pay their utility bills on time — to pay higher rents because a relatively handful of renters are irresponsible.

We’re concerned, though, that the latter scenario would result if the City Council goes along with the proposal City Manager Mike Kee unveiled earlier this month.


Walden’s bill has promise


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.

Which must be some sort of record for legislative brevity.

Walden, the lone Republican in Oregon’s congressional delegation, thinks residents ought to have a louder voice when the U.S. Forest Service proposes to restrict motor vehicle use on national forests.


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


Raises OK, but drop the charts


Baker City Manager Mike Kee’s proposal to give the city’s 16 non-union employees a 1.5 percent pay raise, retroactive to Jan. 1, is reasonable.

That’s comparable to the contracts the City Council approved last year with the city’s three unions. Those deals include annual raises of either 1 percent or 1.5 percent.

Moreover, the non-union staff, which includes department heads, three public works supervisors and three assistant fire chiefs, hasn’t had an across-the-board pay hike since 2011.

The non-union raises would cost the city about $19,000, a modest amount as part of the city’s overall budget, and one that would not require the city to reduce any services.

We were not, however, persuaded that pay raises are needed based on the comparison chart that Kee gave to councilors to bolster his argument.


Paying for a cat fix


We agree with Suzanne Fouty that there are too many feral or otherwise unwanted cats in Baker City.

We also agree with Fouty, who coordinates the Mollie Atwater and Friends Spay/Neuter Program, that an infusion of cash to deal with the problem would improve our quality of life.

But we think there might be a way to achieve that goal without requiring residents to help pay for a project some of them might oppose.


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


Here’s hoping for competitive hoops tourney


The big numbers painted on the outside west wall of the Powder Valley High School gym tell the story of Badger basketball.

Each pair of numbers denotes the year a Badger sports team won a state championship.

Powder Valley has been a consistent contender competing against Oregon’s smaller high schools, those with an enrollment of 105 or less.


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


More time for public to chime in


The local group Forest Access for All, which opposes further restrictions on motor vehicle travel on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, contends the Forest Service isn’t giving residents enough time to review a lengthy new document the agency is releasing later this week.

We agree.

The records that constitute the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision exceed 1,000 pages.

This is an important document, albeit one that doesn’t propose to close any roads.


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


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