Baker City voters have a long list of qualified candidates to choose from as they sit down with their ballots and pick four people to represent them on the seven-member City Council.
Each of the nine candidates has qualities that would be valuable at City Hall.
We believe the quartet of Mike Downing, Barbara Johnson, Kim Mosier and Milo Pope combines the best mixture of experience and perspective.
Pope, a retired judge who presided over the Baker County Circuit Court, is the only incumbent on the ballot.
We have at times disagreed with Pope.
In particular we chastised him for intentionally missing a City Council meeting in August 2010 and attending a private gathering instead.
That said, Pope has been an effective councilor who frequently asks good questions about the city’s budget. He has also been a consistent advocate for finding a new source of revenue to maintain our streets, which have been degrading for more than a decade.
As an incumbent, Pope won’t need to familiarize himself with major city issues.
The continuity he would bring is especially important in 2013 as the Council deals with the effects of a rising PERS bill, and negotiations with all three of the city’s labor unions, whose contracts expire at the end of June.
Downing is a Baker City native who has already shown his commitment to public service. He served as a pro tem Justice of the Peace and was a candidate for that position earlier this year, and he has worked as a reserve dispatcher at the Baker County Consolidated Dispatch Center for the past five years.
Like Downing, Mosier has young children, and one of her goals it to work to make sure Baker City continues to be an excellent place to raise a family.
As a former deputy district attorney in Baker County and former assistant attorney general in the Oregon Attorney General’s office, Mosier has considerable experience in analyzing complex issues and making decisions based on a thorough consideration.
Johnson brings a different, but equally vital, perspective.
Like Pope she is a senior citizen who understands the unique concerns that older residents have. This is no minor matter in Baker City, where 20.5 percent of the population is 65 or older — well above the Oregon (13.9 percent) and national (13.3 percent) averages.
We were also impressed with Johnson’s enthusiasm for working on behalf of Baker City, a community where, in her own words, she moved “in 2004, not knowing a soul.”
Three other candidates — Jack Turner, R. Mack Augenfeld and Terry Schumacher — are also seniors.
Turner has been a major player in economic development, and we like his ideas about demanding results from the city’s investment in trying to attract new businesses. Turner lacks experience as an elected official, however.
That’s not the case with Schumacher and Richard Langrell. Both are former councilors with considerable experience in city government.
But unlike Pope, neither Schumacher nor Langrell has worked with the current city manager, Mike Kee.
Kyle Knight has shown a propensity for scrutinizing the spending of tax dollars as a member of the Baker School Board, a desirable trait in any elected official.
But the school board position is a major commitment. Moreover, Knight recently filed a civil lawsuit against the school district. The current controversy in which the school board is embroiled seems to us too great a distraction, even for an energetic candidate such as Knight.
Bogart knows the community and has lots of experience
I have known Steve Bogart for many years and highly recommend him for Justice of the Peace. Steve is fair and knows the community. He has worked as Baker County Commissioner, City of Baker City manager and many other positions within the county which gives him a wide range of experience and knowledge of the folks that live within Baker County.
I am voting for Steve and I hope you will also.
Bull trout not a reason to stop logging project
I would like to comment on your front page story on a logging lawsuit possible over bull trout on the Forest Service’s Snow Basin project. In the first place, I don’t believe there are any bull trout in the immediate treatment area.
One of the first things I would like to accomplish before I pass on is to stop this ridiculous foolishness about bull trout being a threatened or endangered species. They are not. Years and years of expensive and concerted efforts by the state of Oregon to control them failed. It was never possible to get rid of the bull trout. I do not think it possible in the future.
I am very well informed about bull trout. I was for five years the president of the Oregon Steelheaders, headquartered in La Grande. I am convinced the bull trout are the worst predators on young salmon that ever existed. I have seen maps with bull trout streams marked in red. It looks like those maps are bleeding to death. Using bull trout for an excuse to destroy the economy of a region should be illegal.
This project is in my back yard and where I have hunted and fished for over 66 of my 80 years. I have been up and down every stream and every canyon in the Snow Basin project. I am convinced this project does not in any way have any negative effect on any bull trout.
I suggest these people looking for something else to sue the Forest Service over, look for something besides the Snow Basin project because as far as lawsuits are concerned, this one is a loser.
Travel Plan can be a boon to elk and hunters
As the Travel Plan moves forward it is imperative that the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest renews its commitment to a plan rooted in scientific knowledge because a healthy environment is vital to all Americans, and brings substantial benefits to communities. Take elk for example. In economic terms, for which local county commissioners have great concern, elk are hugely important for a long-term sustainable economy. The Travel Plan EIS reports for the Wallowa Whitman National Forest “97,953 hunter days in 2007 were directly related to elk populations that depend on the Wallowa Whitman for habitat. These hunters contributed an estimated $7.7 million for their annual hunting excursions for elk on the WWNF.” So how do we make a Travel Plan Decision that protects elk?
Northeast Oregon boasts one of the leading elk research facilities in the world, the Starkey Experimental Forest. Key studies have been conducted right in our own back yard that clearly document the negative impacts of excessive road densities, and motorized vehicles on elk. The research from Starkey has helped land managers to identify 17 critical elk habitat areas where high quality elk habitat should be emphasized to protect this incredible legacy and sustainable economic opportunity in Eastern Oregon. If we do what’s right, these critical elk habitat areas will be great for hunting and great for elk. So if you love elk, get on board.
The science shows us how we can protect the land and water and safeguard the sustainable economic benefits that came along with a healthy environment. In the case of elk, we should support the Forest Service in making a very strong decision that emphasizes high quality habitat in the critical elk habitat areas, because we will also be emphasizing a healthy world for ourselves.
Williams best qualified for Justice of the Peace
We are endorsing Don Williams for Justice of the Peace.
Over a span of 20-odd years we’ve had occasion to visit with Don. Our conversations have hit on a vast spectrum of topics, discovering we have many common interests and views.
Our support is based not only on Don’s character. He was one of the only individuals to approach us when the Travel Management Plan was first proposed five years ago. He has supported our stand from the beginning with comments to forest officials. As a guest speaker at the Forest Access for All meeting in La Grande on April 6, 2012, again Don strongly voiced supporting the overwhelming view of Eastern Oregon, that we need to retain our open forest. Now and in the future our support for candidates will be decided as to their views on natural resource management and the potential impact to the local communities. Don spoke up early on, and this has made a lasting impression on us.
We ask you to join us at the polls and mark your ballot for Don Williams, for Justice of the Peace. He has Eastern Oregon values, plus he’s the best qualified.
D.M. and Wanda Ballard
Bogart will restore Justice Court to respected status
Baker County is fortunate to have two capable men running for the position of Justice of the Peace. However, Steve Bogart has demonstrated beyond question his management abilities for 25 years. Baker County Justice Court has faced some serious problems in recent years. I think Bogart will help return it to the respected status it held under Judge Larry Cole.
Because of his experience, ethics and dedication to all the people of Baker County, I believe Steve Bogart is the right choice for Justice of the Peace.
‘Tis the season for slimy political tricks, but the example that a local resident brought to the Herald office on Thursday is particularly disturbing.
The package, which was sent by regular mail, attempts, in a pathetic and clumsy way, to besmirch the reputation of Steve Bogart, one of two candidates for Baker Justice of the Peace.
It’s based on a 1995 incident in which current Baker County District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff, at that time a deputy D.A., was arrested for drunken driving in Union County.
Bogart was at that time Baker County Judge — not an actual legal judge, but the position we now call chairman of the Baker County Board of Commissioners. Bogart did not fire Shirtcliff, who completed an alcohol treatment program and probation, and who has gone on to a successful career as district attorney.
The person who sent the mailer lacked the fortitude to attach a name to the missive.
But under the cloak of anonymity the person levels a blizzard of nasty-sounding charges against Bogart, suggesting that he is unqualified because he lacks a “true moral anchor,” “possesses a foul sense of justice” and, egads, he used to work in a lumber mill.
We hope few people received this insulting compilation in their maibox.
Moreover, we hope no voter is influenced by this affront to reasonable political debate.
We believe both Bogart and his challenger, Don Williams — who we’re confident had nothing to do with the mailer — are eminently capable of serving as Justice of the Peace.
In fact we’re so confident in both candidates’ abilities, and in the similarity of their qualifications, that we’ve chosen not to endorse either in the election.
We feel this is a reasonable position, given that Williams and Bogart themselves, when we asked each if his opponent was qualified to serve as Justice of the Peace, both showed great honesty and civility by saying yes, the opposing candidate was qualified to do the job.
Re-electing the incumbent in a congressional district which one party has dominated for decades can become something like a habit.
Oregon’s Second District, which includes all of the state east of the Cascades, hasn’t sent a Democrat to Washington, D.C., since Baker’s Al Ullman, who served a dozen terms, the last ending in 1981. Fortunately, our current representative, Greg Walden, has been such an effective and diligent voice for our region that endorsing him for an eighth term is hardly a rubberstamp.
Walden, whose opponent, as in 2010, is Democrat Joyce Segers of Ashland, has since his first term been a tireless advocate for vital local issues such as managing public lands for multiple uses, including responsible logging, and making sure farming and ranching, the linchpin of Baker County’s economy, remain viable businesses.
The biggest change during Walden’s tenure is his increasing power in the Capitol. Although the only Republican in Oregon’s delegation, Walden is also the only member in a leadership position in Congress.
Voters should make sure our region retains that position by giving Greg Walden two more years as our representative.
Were the backers of Measure 80 — the marijuana legalization measure on the Nov. 6 ballot — interested solely in allowing people 21 and older to grow and to smoke the stuff in the privacy of their homes, they’d have a better chance of persuading voters to approve the initiative.
But there’s a lot more to Measure 80 than letting adults get a legal high.
The initiative reads like propaganda designed to convince voters that marijuana is not only just another intoxicant, like alcohol, but a wondrous substance that can help to cure the state’s physical as well as fiscal ills.
Measure 80, with its emphasis on establishing state-licensed pot shops, seems to us more beneficial to people who want to sell marijuana than to people who just want to smoke it.
A keystone of the measure is creating an Oregon Cannabis Commission. This commission would, among its many other duties, issue licenses to qualified marijuana growers, license stores that could sell marijuana, set prices, and even establish standards for the “quality and potency” of pot sold at sanctioned stores.
So much for the rustic “grow your own” ethic of past decades.
Besides which, five of the seven members of the commission would be elected at large by marijuana growers and processors.
Last we checked, Jack Daniels and Jim Beam aren’t members of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
Although Measure 80 supporters insist that legalizing marijuana will make it harder for kids to get pot, that claim, based on the language of the measure itself, seems laughable.
For instance, although the measure regulates marijuana that’s ready to smoke, it specifically exempts hemp from any regulation. Yet the measure defines hemp as including marijuana seeds and starter plants.
Notwithstanding proponents’ touting of hemp for its various industrial uses, including biofuel, it’s obvious that the vast majority of the marijuana grown now ends up in people’s lungs, not their fuel tanks.
Pretending that marijuana seeds and starter plants won’t eventually be put to that use, and thus don’t need to be regulated, is ridiculous.
It used to be that supporters of legalizing marijuana tended to frame the issue as one of personal freedom, the right for adults to decide for themselves what they eat or smoke or drink, without interference from the government.
Measure 80, though, seems designed to get the state government intimately involved in the marijuana business.
That’s not a proper role for the state, and voters should reject Measure 80.
We can’t afford four more years under Obama
Ever shop at Bronson Lumber out on 10th Street? Or Trader Rays on Broadway? Well, you won’t anymore, as both businesses are gone. So is Spence Industrial Supply and Tenth Street Market. There used to be a couple of antique stores on Main next to the Scrapbook Emporium. They’re not there anymore; neither is the Scrapbook Emporium, for that matter. It’s not unusual for a small business to fail, but usually another business comes along to make use of the space. But the buildings that housed the above businesses are empty, tenant-less.
My wife and I know what it is like to own a small business during a recession. You grit your teeth and hang on, knowing that in a few months, maybe a year, there’ll be a brisk recovery and things will get better again. That is the way recessions have always ended for the past 70 years … except for this one. It’s been four years now, and the economy is still painfully anemic; unemployment remains above 8 percent, not exactly the sort of change we were promised four years ago.
Business owners finally tire of the struggle, working long hours for little or no money. They’ve lost all hope for the future, so shut their doors, and another small business bites the dust.
President Obama was elected with a mandate to get things moving again. But he has his own priorities, and relentlessly pursues them with no regard for their effect on the economy.
The expensive health insurance policies mandated by Obamacare have already caused many small businesses to shed jobs. Once Obamacare is fully in place, 800,000 jobs will have been permanently extinguished.
President Obama admitted that his energy policies would necessarily cause energy prices to skyrocket. But energy is the life blood of any economy, and high energy prices make our manufacturers less competitive against the world.
President Obama nixed the Keystone Pipeline project, which would have created thousands of good-paying jobs. His War on Coal is wrecking havoc in many states. And on and on …
We cannot afford four more years of President Obama.
Williams is compassionate, fair and professional
It is with great pleasure that I write this letter recommending Don Williams as your next Justice of the Peace.
I have known Don in both a personal and professional capacity for nearly 20 years. I first met and began working with him when he was in charge of Baker County’s Juvenile Department. As a deputy sheriff at the time, I observed Don in that environment and I quickly came to understand he was holding the kids involved in the juvenile system accountable, along with their parents. I knew right then I was going to like this guy.
Don then became the supervisor of the Children and Family Services office. We continued working together in the fight against child abuse.
When Don went on to work for the PRCF it seemed to be just a natural progression in his career. Since I had known him, he had always in some way been on the side of protecting the innocent while holding offenders accountable.
Don has a unique knowledge of the law, having been involved with it from the juvenile process all the way through the adult system.
For as long as I’ve known Don he has been a man of his word. He’s compassionate, fair and professional when dealing with the public.
So, when I say it is with great pleasure I write this letter about Don, it is because Don has lived and worked for many years in Baker County making it a better place. As Justice of the Peace he is well qualified. His calm demeanor and sense of right versus wrong will help guide him on the bench. His compassion and fairness will ensure that proper justice be delivered.
Former Baker County Sheriff
We’re supporting Bogart for Justice of the Peace
We are supporting Steve Bogart for Justice of the Peace.
Steve has been involved in city, county and state affairs for many years and has been fair, honest and competent in all. He is qualified to be a good Justice of the Peace and what’s more, he cares!
Howard and Colleen Brooks
We hiked up to the Elkhorn Crest Trail on one of those early autumn days when both the nostalgia of summer, and the treachery of the coming winter, are palpable.
It was, to be specific, the final day of September.
Which is about as early as you can get in autumn.
Although quite late, obviously, for September.
Our route was the Cunningham Cove trail.
This path starts next to the North Fork of the John Day River, within sight of the Forest Service’s historic (and rentable, July 1-Oct. 31) Peavy Cabin, and climbs 2,000 feet to the Crest Trail.
And by “climb” I don’t mean the gentle ascent of the quadriceps-friendly, switchbacking trails common to the Wallowas.
The grade of the Cunningham Cove trail alternates between merely grueling and borderline ridiculous.
When the economy is humming along, government coffers tend to be full.
The relationship could fairly be described as symbiotic.
Businesses pay employees to produce goods and services that customers buy. The government takes a piece of the action, in the form of income and other taxes, and uses the money to maintain roads and emergency services and schools that make efficient and profitable commerce possible.
Trouble can arise, though, when the economy stagnates.
When tax revenues decline, government agencies sometimes look for new sources.
The danger comes when the government, by imposing a new fee or tax, discourages economic activity and thus prolongs the financial doldrums, ultimately hurting both the private and public sectors.
A real estate transfer tax is an example.
And although there is only one such tax in effect in Oregon now — in Washington County — the Legislature and the governor could create a statewide tax and change the law to allow local governments to do the same. A statewide tax has been proposed several times, in fact.
Voters, though, can take away that authority by voting “yes” on Measure 79. We think they should.
There’s no legitimate reason for government at any level to tax the transfer of real estate. Imposing such a tax now, with the housing market barely beginning to recover from the recession, would be particularly ill-timed.
Fortunately, voters can get rid of a similarly onerous and unnecessary tax by voting “yes” on Measure 84. It would initially reduce, then eliminate altogether, the state’s inheritance tax. Currently, estates worth up to $1 million are exempt, but amounts above that are subject to taxes.
Although the tax system includes credits for farms and ranches that can exempt from taxes operations worth as much as $7.5 million, there are plenty of farms and ranches in Oregon, including in Baker County, that exceed that value. Inheritance tax revenues are barely a blip in the state budget — 1.5 percent of the general fund — but the tax can be an insurmountable burden for people who want only to keep a business in the family.
Political opposition shouldn’t include stealing signs
Our right to express our political views includes the right to put signs in our yards — pretty obvious as you drive around Baker. But there is no right to go onto private property and steal the sign you don’t agree with.
That is what happened at my house last Saturday. Should I assume that those opposing the re-election of President Obama are adding this kind of illegal action to their current list of lies?
Support Johnson, Mosier for Baker City Council
Support Barbara Johnson and Kim Mosier for City Council.
At the AAUW Candidates Forum, I was extremely impressed with the presentations of Barbara Johnson and Kim Mosier for City Council. Barbara Johnson’s warmth, willingness to listen, and many years of dedication to community leadership positions will contribute to the strength of our council’s decisions.
Barbara and her husband, Ken, chose to move to Baker City eight years ago, cherishing the wonderful small-town atmosphere and community spirit of our town. Both immediately “connected,” and became active volunteers.
I know Barbara to be a fair-minded, wise, unbiased woman, who will work to support the valuable work of the city staff and current City Council. Kim Mosier has served Baker as deputy district attorney and county counsel starting in 2003, then moved away for an Oregon Attorney General’s Office position.
She and her husband returned in 2008 to raise their young children in Baker City, sharing their love of outdoor activities and passion for community values. Kim cares greatly about the issues that improve the livability of Baker, including community safety, parks, and public services.
Kim’s experience combines logical decision-making with the fresh voice of young families in Baker City. I believe we need the perspectives of both these women. I urge you to vote for Barbara Johnson and Kim Mosier for Baker City Council.
Vote for fairness: ‘Yes’ on Ballot Measure 84
Voters: We have a chance to strike a blow for fairness by voting “Yes” on Measure 84 this November. Measure 84 phases out the Oregon Death Tax (estate tax) over the next three years, and eliminates it entirely as of Jan. 1, 2016.
The Death Tax is a double tax. You work hard all your life, pay your income and property taxes, and then the state taxes your property, again, when you die and your heirs are left with the bill! And guess who gets paid first from the estate ... it isn’t your heirs!
Strike a blow for fairness and freedom and vote “Yes” on Measure 84.
Americans for Prosperity
Chapter Leader, Baker County
Segers would help us; Walden not so much
At the Baker candidates’ forum we heard repeatedly how our state and local governments are strapped for cash. But America is not a poor nation.
The problem is that our wealth is increasingly going to a few exceptionally wealthy individuals who are paying historically low taxes. According to IRS records, the top 5 percent now take in about one-third of our total income. It’s starving consumer demand, and that hurts everyone.
I believe we need a U.S. Congress that can counter this upward redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the rich that started decades ago. Without correction, life will continue to be sucked from the middle class, the economy will continue to stagnate, and only the wealthy will benefit from the American dream.
If we re-elect Greg Walden, our economy will likely continue to be held hostage by right-wing extremists in the House of Representatives. Walden has gone along with them, rubberstamping a whole series of costly measures, including the Bush tax cuts, the Iraq war, the debt-ceiling crisis, the Ryan-Romney Budget which ends Medicare as we know it, and against Wall Street reform.
Ryan-Romney are, despite false denials, also calling for even more tax cuts for millionaires and austerity spending cuts, both of which will lead to lost jobs as they have in Europe, and they don’t even start reducing the national debt for decades. And Walden will fall right in line and vote with them.
If, instead, we elect Democratic candidate Joyce Segers, we will have a chance to free ourselves from the no-new-taxes pledge that the Republicans have signed (oh, yes, including Walden, Romney, and Ryan) and adopt fair and sensible plans to recycle some of the trillions now sitting in Cayman Islands banks and elsewhere, currently unavailable to reduce our national debt and get the economy moving.
The overriding issue here is not between Republicans and Democrats. It’s between the 1 percent “haves” and the 99 percent “have nots.” The stakes could not be greater.
Vote for Joyce Segers. We won’t get the help we need, if Greg Walden remains in office.
Pope’s guidance will be needed on City Council
Although I don’t live in the city of Baker, and accordingly am not able to cast voters in the City Council race, I would like to encourage those who do qualify to cast a vote, to do so for someone who is best qualified for the job. More importantly, one who has the integrity to always do the right thing, and to demand no less of his colleagues. That person is retired Circuit Court Judge, Milo Pope.
I had the privilege of working for six years, appearing frequently before Judge Pope in Baker County Circuit Court, on behalf of the public, and children, presenting cases related to juvenile offenders and abused children. Although at times I did not agree with his disposition of cases, I always admired him for his candor, wisdom, courtesy, and above all his brutal honesty. When I felt he had erred on a decision, he always did so on the side of compassion in his effort to bring out the best in people and to encourage them to become an asset to their community. Many times, he provided the encouragement and impetus for change in folks, who theretofore had no concept as to what it meant to be a valued part of their community.
Mr. Pope is one who truly cares for people, and for the welfare of this great place we call Baker City. He is always unerringly mindful of ethics and legality in his work, and uses his legal knowledge and needed background to interdict on council decisions which may prove costly to the city. With the number of newly elected folks who will be coming onto the council, his guidance will be greatly needed. I encourage your vote to retain a candidate that the future of Baker City badly needs: Milo Pope.
The Oregon Legislature referred two matters to voters in the Nov. 6 election, and we recommend “yes” votes on both Measure 77 and 78. Both amount to little more than housekeeping.
Measure 77 would amend the state constitution to allow the governor to declare a catastrophic disaster — in the case of a massive earthquake, for instance. Currently, the governor has only statutory authority in such cases, which could make it difficult to direct state dollars to emergency services and other critical needs.
Measure 78 makes minor wording changes to the constitution, clarifying the separation of the legislative, executive and judicial branches. It replaces masculine pronouns in referring to the Secretary of State with gender-neutral ones. The current office holder, by the way, is Kate Brown.