Attempts have been made to change, or even eliminate, Oregon’s ban on using dogs to hunt cougars and bears, and using bait to attract bears, since voters approved Measure 18 in 1994.
The latest proposal strikes us as a reasonable compromise between the current situation and an outright reversal of those restrictions.
It’s House Bill 2624. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee had a public hearing on the bill Tuesday.
We like the legislation because it would give voters a chance to decide whether the limits on cougar and bear hunting should continue.
But here’s the best part of the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Brian Clem, a Democrat from Salem: It would let voters in each of the state’s 36 counties decide how to manage cougar and bear hunting in their countioes.
Measure 18, by contrast, was a statewide vote.
Although 52 percent of voters were in favor of the hunting restrictions, the measure was opposed by a majority of voters in most counties. In Baker County, 72 percent of voters cast a “no” vote on the measure.
Measure 18, then, was a classic example of how voters in the state’s most populous county — Multnomah, which includes Portland — can, in effect, overrule their fellow Oregonians.
That’s always a possibility in our electoral system, of course, and we’re not suggesting it should be changed.
But neither is it undemocratic to have elections at the county level.
We don’t, after all, let voters in Portland or Eugene or Astoria decide who serves on the Baker School Board or the Baker City Council.
Managing cougars and bears isn’t quite equivalent — like other game animals, they are legally considered the property of the state, which is to say all Oregonians.
Except the effects cougars and bears can have hardly apply equally across the state.
That Oregon’s cougar population has doubled since voters approved Measure 18 — from about 3,000 to 6,000 — is of little consequence to urbanites.
But for ranchers, such a significant increase in the populations of predators such as cougars and bears can directly, and negatively, affect their business.
Fortunately, Oregon is not at a crossroads where we must choose either to slaughter our bears and cougars or spare them.
Bears were plentiful even before Measure 18, and cougar populations were already rising — though the rate increased sharply after 1994.
HB 2624 would in no way imperil either species.
Although we’re confident that voters in many counties, including Baker, would choose to overturn Measure 18, the current annual limits would remain on the number of cougars that can be killed in the six regions of the state (the annual quota for the Blue Mountains is 245 cougars, and in 2012 a total of 161 cougars were killed: 99 by hunters, 62 for damage complaints or other causes).
The bottom line is that HB 2624 would give residents across Oregon a voice in an important local issue, without threatening the state’s thriving cougar and bear populations.
We thought the nonsense related to the federal budget cuts known as the sequester had reached its apex with the pulling of college tuition assistance for about 201,000 National Guard soldiers (a blunder which Congress, to its credit, fixed last week).
The latest lunacy is that the feds, no longer content to close national parks and deprive children of vaccinations, are in effect calling for counties, including Baker County, to bail them out.
The target is the federal program officially known as Secure Rural Schools, but more commonly referred to as county payments.
The program, which dates back more than a decade, sends hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the coffers in Washington, D.C., to counties with public lands — and in particular forested land — within their borders.
The basic idea is to make up for some of the money these counties used to receive from the sale of timber logged on federal forests. That source of revenue has plummeted since the early 1990s, when the amount of logging on federal land dropped dramatically.
The federal government wants counties to repay $17.9 million. Of that, $3.6 would come from Oregon counties, and an estimated $40,000 from Baker County.
U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, a Republican from Washington state, called the idea an “obvious attempt” to make the sequester seem to the public as harmful as possible.
We don’t go in much for conspiracy theories, but the congressman’s allegation is hardly farfetched.
Notwithstanding the heavy-handed nature of the government’s gesture, asking counties to repay the money doesn’t make sense in relation to the sequester. That’s because the payments are based on 2012 revenues, which supposedly makes them exempt to the across-the-board cuts that started in early March after President Obama and Congress failed to make a deal on the budget.
(“Cuts” in this case being something of a misnomer, by the way, since in many cases — defense being one major exception — they don’t mean the government is spending less money than last year, but rather increasing spending by a smaller amount than was planned.)
Many other lawmakers have joined Hastings in criticizing federal officials for trying to pilfer county coffers, among them Oregon’s senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Rep. Greg Walden, whose district includes Baker County.
Given the widespread disgust among legislators, we think it’s likely that counties, in the end, will still get the money.
Even so, this episode will forever remain an appalling example of how the federal government, though its expertise in spending tax dollars is formidable indeed, seems incapable of tempering its profligacy with anything resembling sober thought.
There’s nothing reasonable about implying, as the feds have done in this matter, that somehow Baker County is partially responsible for the budget woes in Washington, D.C.
Rebuild our land and economy
I read the story about Sen. Ron Wyden in the March 22 issue. Sen. Wyden stated some things that seem to go against the actions he normally takes when voting on issues concerning natural resources. He described it as: “pursuing this on a dual track: boosting timber cuts and providing a safety net that provides for schools, roads and police in resource dependent communities, and then our bipartisan coalition will also support reauthorizing the (Secure Rural Schools) payment program.”
On the other hand, in February Wyden introduced three bills that will add thousands of acres to wilderness areas and national monuments and a lot of miles of Oregon rivers to the wild and scenic rivers system. Wyden said: “Each of these parts of the bill aim to protect natural treasures in Oregon, preserve them for use and enjoyment and build upon the economic opportunities they provide for their local communities.”
As chairman of the Energy and Natural Resource Committee, he also warned that returning to the logging practices of the 1980s boom to replace county payments is not a viable solution because: “Experts tell us it is not possible to cut enough trees to produce historic levels of funding in rural counties and comply with the multiple uses of our federal forests that our communities want and meet our bedrock environmental laws.”
I say that may be true about “not possible to cut enough trees,” especially if you continue to introduce legislation that keeps removing more land from natural resource production, which includes mining. Even now, since there has been years of devastation to these industries, there may not be enough trained loggers or miners around, since they also had to move from the area to find other jobs.
Wyden’s proposals are more like finishing off already struggling economically deprived communities. The tourist and recreationist opportunities cannot compete with jobs that support families from resource production. Wilderness is supposed to be lands that do not have evidence of man. Therefore, trading with private landowners to remove them from access to the water for cattle and farming, or limiting that access so that recreationists can float by is ridiculous and does more harm to the economies of the communities.
As fuel loads increase from overgrown forests that are now considered wilderness, should there be a fire (from natural causes) it will burn hotter and more complete. This has been known to sterilize the land, such that it takes even longer to come back. There will be no pristine beauty or treasure afterwards, because those fires are unstoppable.
We have more trees growing now than in the early years. It is because there was a point when we understood we needed to plant more trees than we harvest. In the 1980s it was standard practice to plant seven trees for every tree cut; some places did more.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that Secure Rural Schools was supposed to be temporary, to provide rural counties with time to rebuild their economies. I think it is misunderstood that everything we have comes from the earth: It has to be grown or mined, there is no other source. The more land you take out of production and remove evidence of man from, the more you take out of the economy and risk a devastating destruction of the land, because man is not there to tend the land and take from it the resources we need.
So how does a community rebuild its economy? The news article said that Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell “identified up to 83 million acres in need of treatment... 12.5 million acres require treatment using large machinery.”
Well at least we have a start of recognition for part of the problem. There are less and less people able to produce because of too high restrictions on land use, and our government spends way too much on pet projects that frankly do not create family wage jobs. Maybe some are starting to see the light.
Guy Michael is a Baker County miner.
Chase has a strong commitment to OTEC
My husband and I are new Baker City residents. Many things brought us to this area — a thriving arts community, beautiful country, and plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreation. We also found out pretty quickly how wonderful the people of Baker City are. And one of the people we’ve been fortunate to meet is Charlene Chase, who is now running for the vacant spot on the OTEC board.
Charlene Chase’s background as an educator, principal and school board member show that she has the background to qualify her for this position. Her community involvement, including being a CASA volunteer, shows that she has a genuine interest in the quality of life in our area.
One of the reasons Charlene Chase has said made her want to run for a position on the OTEC board is that she wants to preserve the original, strong commitment to have OTEC be a true cooperative — a utility that well serves all its members. Having such a utility is just one more reason my husband and I are so pleased to now live here. And that is why we are voting for Charlene Chase for the OTEC board.
March, in my view, is the least attractive month.
“Ugly” is a more direct description, of course, and nicely pithy, but I don’t believe it to be a fair description of March or, indeed, of any month.
Each of the 12 has its charms, its moments of beauty.
March just doesn’t have a surfeit of these, most years.
And often as not these interludes are so brief that they leave no lasting impression.
At the moment you glimpse the fetching buttercup, winking from beneath the sagebrush, you are forced to squint and turn away as a squall pelts your cheeks with icy rain and desert grit.
5J recall took money that could have gone to schools
Kerry McQuisten’s recent letter in which she portrays herself as a victim who has been exonerated is incorrect on both counts. McQuisten signed her name to a recall petition that contains multiple provable falsehoods (for details see http://bakercityrecallfacts.blogspot.com). In doing so, she besmirched the reputations of two people whose only sin is they volunteered with no pay to help improve the education of this community’s children and she cost the 5J District $10,092.58, funds that could have been used for the children’s education.
My complaint to the Secretary of State was not for vengeance. It was a request for accountability. Unfortunately, the Oregon statute has a loophole. A person only has to say that he/she didn’t know the statements in a recall petition were false and the state can go no further. This is what has happened in this case.
McQuisten says in her letter that the Secretary of State “found no evidence that our ballot statement was false.” I have a copy of the letter she refers to and it actually says that the Secretary of State found “insufficient evidence that you knowingly made false statements,” which is entirely different.
The kindest thing that can be said of McQuisten is that she made no effort to check the facts on her recall petition in her haste to pursue her destructive agenda. She now fashions herself as a reporter for the Record Courier. I would leave it to the readers of that paper to decide about her credibility.
The takeaway is that the children have been deprived of funds that should have been used for their education, the community has been put through a wrenching recall petition, and two good people have been unfairly attacked all based on a series of provable lies. If you value the community’s children’s education don’t vote for any candidate with any ties to McQuisten or Mr. Knight in the upcoming election for two school board positions. Do your homework; find out who each candidate is and what their agenda is. And vote for the children, not McQuisten’s destructive agenda.
Daugherty the best choice to replace Peggi Timm
Those of us who are members of OTEC will soon be receiving ballots that will include selecting someone to replace Peggi Timm, one of OTEC’s original founders and the first board president. Those are big shoes to fill. I will never forget when Peggi and others approached the Baker City Council with the idea of forming a cooperative to supply our local power needs. I thought then that it would be a nearly impossible task – but I underestimated Peggi’s ability and tenacity. She has contributed so much to our community in many different roles through the years; we owe her a great deal. Thank you, Peggi.
So who should we select to replace her? We have a very strong candidate in Randy Daugherty. We’ve done a lot of business with Randy over the years. We’ve worked with him and watched him serve our community as a local business man, a member of the Budget Committee, a member of the Planning Commission, and member of the Baker City Council. He is a man of integrity. He is fiscally conservative. He was born and raised in Baker City. He understands the needs of our communities better than any of the other candidates presented to us. He fully meets all the competencies established by the co-op for new members of the board of directors. Please join us in voting for Randy for OTEC Board Position 9.
Larry and Peggy Pearson
Chase has all qualifications for OTEC board
Charlene Chase is the prime candidate for the OTECC Board Position No. 9. Ms. Chase has the desire, time and qualifications to represent customers in our electrical cooperative. As a school administrator, and as a school district board member, she gained expertise in cooperative management. She will use these skills to help OTECC provide its members safe and reliable power in the most economical way possible.
Her community involvement through important community programs, including American Association of University Women, Baker County CASA, Baker Web Academy and Baker Early College Charter School Board, has given her insight into the needs of community members and has honed her abilities to work with many different kinds of folks.
Her goals for the OTECC Board considerations include: long-term economical energy for members by insuring current and future energy needs are met; keeping technology current; exploring opportunities for economic development; maintaining quality service while controlling operating costs and making sure that the Board represents member interests. When we think about a member of any board that represents us, we want that person to have a great deal of desire, time, and energy to complete the mission. We firmly believe that Ms. Chase has all of these characteristics plus the qualifications to bring a well-rounded set of life experiences that make her a very informed, active, working member of the OTECC Board.
Irv and Susan Townsend
So was it a wolf or wasn’t it a wolf?
What, may I ask, is a “possible wolf?”
Daugherty the overwhelming choice for OTEC board
We have known Randy Daugherty for many years both on a personal and professional level. His steady focus on all aspects of life make him the overwhelming choice for OTEC Board Position 9. Whether it be his professional life, his personal life or volunteering he has always put attention to detail a top priority. We have often heard him say “if you do the absolute best you can, that still might not be good enough.” We know as an OTEC board director, Randy will put forth the time and effort necessary to represent OTEC members at the highest level.
Join us in voting Randy Daugherty, OTEC Position 9.
Steve and Cindy McLean
Doug Dalton has excellent qualifications for OTEC board
As you are identifying the most qualified candidates to serve our community on the OTEC board, it would be in your best interests to look closely at the characteristics of Doug Dalton. Doug currently serves as the chief financial officer for the Baker 5J School District. Our profession has been in economic stress for the past few years. I have witnessed other school districts and educational staff suffer both financially and professionally. Without adequate funding to sufficiently operate, staff has been reduced and days have been furloughed within those schools. Doug’s ability to implement a trajectory of planning has enabled Baker School District to make adjustments with minimal impact on student achievement.
Doug Dalton’s background knowledge is not in education but he does his research and applies his business sense to maintain our standards of excellence. Recognizing he has many years of experience in the utility and energy profession, I can only imagine the impact he could have serving on the OTEC board. Doug approaches the decision-making process well-informed and his skill set is just what our community needs to maintain the quality of life and resources we have come to appreciate and expect.
Dalton has extensive knowledge of electric utilities
Doug Dalton is a very qualified candidate to represent our electric utility needs as a member of the OTEC board of directors.
Prior to returning to Eastern Oregon in 2003, Doug worked seven years at Idaho Power. During that time he gained extremely valuable executive skills in accounting, finance and management that have helped him to understand the intricacies of the electric utility industry.
His experience with Idaho Power, plus the last 3 1/2 years as chief financial officer at Baker 5J has given Doug an insight to the art of boardsmanship.
Doug, his wife, Heidi and their two daughters are strong, responsible citizens of Baker County.
The Dalton family are very thoughtful and kind neighbors.
Please join us in voting for Doug Dalton to be a member of the OTEC board of directors. The OTEC ballots will be in the mail this Friday, March 29.
Dale and Leslie Bingham
Architecturally speaking, the David J. Wheeler Federal Building in Baker City will never be mistaken for the work of Frank Lloyd Wright or I.M. Pei.
But whatever it lacks in beauty and style, the three-story structure continues to fulfill the prosaic purpose for which it was built in 1967: Office space for federal employees.
We find it curious, then, that the federal government, which just this month deemed it necessary, among many other things, to revoke tuition aid to National Guard soldiers, shut down many airport control towers and close some national parks, managed to scrape up the cash to remodel the second and third floors of the Wheeler building.
Now we understand that, from a strict accounting standpoint, the building’s interior renovations and the sequester cuts are not related.
Except that they share the most important trait: They’re all part of the trillions of dollars Americans contribute each year to the federal coffers.
We’re not so naive as to expect that each of those dollars will be spend in the most efficient way possible.
Yet neither are we content with the explanation that remodeling federal buildings while vastly more vital services go wanting is an inevitable result of the complexity of the federal budget.
We’re certain our local public forests are more in need of money than our local public buildings are.
Randy Daugherty for OTEC board of directors
OTEC members are at a crossroads. As Director Position 9 opens, I encourage you to vote Randy Daugherty to our OTEC board. We need both his experience as well as his thoughtful fiscal understanding to keep our utility providing reliable and affordable power.
Daugherty is a Baker County homegrown leader. He understands our community and the needs of Eastern Oregon. His solid business experience comes from managing an automobile business through difficult economic times. His years of service on city and county boards have honed skill sets that prepare him for active and vibrant decision making for our utility. These include understanding of both budgets and long-range planning goals. Randy can make tough decisions now that will benefit us all in the future.
Randy Daugherty cares about the residents of OTEC’s service area. He has spent a lifetime volunteering to maintain our healthy, rural lifestyle. As a motivator and tenacious worker for us all, we will benefit from his election to the OTEC board of directors. Please join me and vote Daugherty.
The real gun problem is in the inner cities
It should be an interesting week with Bloomberg and the left running antigun ads on TV. Talk about shooting flies with an elephant gun. Universal background checks, translated as universal gun registration, because some young white boys decide to shoot up a school. The glaring facts are that in all of these cases the shooter was local, had given off signals for a long time before they went off and there was no way to stop it because mental health in this country is a joke. These crazies were not traveling the nation looking for targets.
It’s kind of funny watching Piers Morgan campaign against my right and duty to own a good rifle. The purpose of the second is to provided a barrier to tyranny. If it was ever necessary to fight I want a good rifle. They gave me a good one in Vietnam and I don’t want to engage in a firefight again with Joe Biden’s shotgun. Yes I do want one of those “military type weapons.” I can’t figure out if all Brits are thickheaded or if they just export them over here and get them jobs on CNN. Piers follows the Hitler line, just repeat the lie often enough and it will become fact. He has the left convinced that the second amendment has something to do with hunting. It is ironic that the Brits couldn’t disarm us at Lexington and Concord or in the seven-year war that followed but now find it easier and cheaper to put a dumb jabbermouth on the telly.
Hey Piers: The high rate of gun deaths in this country has to do with drugs and gang violence. I would suggest that there is an inner city problem that has nothing to do with rural America. If New York, Chicago and Killadelphia has a problem then get at the source of that problem and quit agitating for something that will eventually cause the rural and urban areas to want a political separation. Looking on the Internet it seems that the idea partitioning states, drawing lines between the red and blue seems to be picking up steam.
Baker County District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff told county commissioners last week that he’s worried about legislation in Salem which could severely weaken the voter-approved law that requires mandatory minimum prison sentences for people convicted of certain violent crimes.
We share Shirtcliff’s concern.
House Bill 3194, whose proponents include Gov. John Kitzhaber, would get rid of mandatory minimum sentences for three felonies: first-degree sex abuse (current minimum of 6 years, 3 months) second-degree robbery (5 years, 10 months) and second-degree assault (5 years, 10 months).
Judges would have the discretion to give convicted criminals shorter sentences.
HB 3194 in effect eviscerates Ballot Measure 11, which Oregon voters approved in 1994.
The three crimes listed above account for about 42 percent of convictions that carry mandatory minimum prison sentences.
To put it another way, if this bill becomes law, an unknown number of people who sexually abused, assaulted or robbed someone in Oregon will be free rather than in prison.
It seems to us that you’d need an awfully compelling reason to justify such a thing.
We’ve yet to see one that comes even close.
Kitzhaber contends that by continuing the status quo Oregon would, in effect, “be choosing prisons over schools.”
The numbers don’t bolster the governor’s position.
Oregon’s prison population did rise substantially in the decade after voters approved Measure 11 — an 85 percent increase from 1995-2005.
But that trend ended long ago.
From 2005 to 2012 the inmate population rose by just 9 percent.
Moreover, we’re locking up most of the people who pose the greatest risk to society.
In 2010 Oregon was best in the nation at incarcerating people convicted of violent crimes, with a rate of 67.2 percent (the average, among the 33 states the kept track of this, was 53 percent).
Those are statistics to celebrate, not lament.
Ultimately, the governor’s “prisons versus schools” is nothing but a canard.
As he himself knows well, Oregon’s most pressing financial problem is not housing violent criminals. We recently applauded Kitzhaber for focusing on a fiscal anchor that’s pulling down not only the state, but also cities, counties and school districts: Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).
If anything is “unsustainable,” to borrow the word Kitzhaber used to describe the state prison system, it’s PERS.
The retirement system’s burden on public employers statewide grew by $1.1 billion in the current biennium, a figure that makes Kitzhaber’s goal of paring $60 million annually from the prison budget over the next decade seem positively paltry.
Oregon’s budget woes can’t be cured by going easier on violent criminals. Prescriptions such as HB 3194 can, though, make the state less safe.
We didn’t expect the proponents of legalizing marijuana would surrender after their defeat at the Oregon ballot box last November.
But we didn’t figure on the Legislature taking up their cause so soon.
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to discuss, during a public hearing April 1, House Bill 3371. It would allow people 21 and older to keep as many as six mature marijuana plants and up to 24 ounces of marijuana. The Oregon Health Authority would license pot producers, processors, wholesalers and sellers, and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission would collect a tax of $35 per ounce from growers. The state would dole out the tax revenue by this formula: 40 percent to schools, and 20 percent each to the State Police, state general fund and services for mental health, alcoholism and drugs.
The main effect of this bill, were it to become law — besides, of course, giving OLCC the sort of intoxicating power the likes of Al Capone could scarcely have dreamed of — is to disenfranchise the 923,000 Oregonians who voted “no” last November on Ballot Measure 80.
That measure, like House Bill 3371, would have legalized marijuana use for adults.
Measure 80 failed, with 53.2 percent of voters opposed (the margin was much greater in Baker County, with 64.4-percent opposition).
The measure gained a majority of “yes” votes in just four of the state’s 36 counties — Benton, Lane, Lincoln and Multnomah.
Yet less than five months later, lawmakers are thinking about thwarting nearly a million of their constituents.
We don’t understand why this is a priority — nor, it seems, do legislators, as, according to a story in The Oregonian, nobody in Salem is copping to being House Bill 3371’s sponsor.
Separate groups intend to bring the issue back to voters in November 2014 or November 2016. The voters have had their say, and the Legislature should allow them the chance to do so again.