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Letters to the Editor for Nov. 11, 2013

Resort Street is a work of art

I’m writing regarding Resort Street. It is absolutely a work of art, and done well, too. It won’t need work done over again for a very long time.

I can honestly say I never complained when we had to drive around the park to get to the Dollar Tree or to go through the Baker Garage’s lot to get to my pharmacy.

I did, however, get a bit impatient when the drive-through window at US Bank was closed for so long. I did miss that.

Anyway, kudos to the whole crew for a job well done!

Mary Carroll

Baker City

Another view of Historic Baker City

Martin Financial Services is not in favor of the HBC business tax.

We opened our business on First Street in 1994 and have been paying for economic development via HBC ever since — even though Baker has a paid economic developer working at City Hall. We have yet to see any benefit from HBC’s effort.

It would have been nice to have been at least visited by one of the many directors in the last almost 20 years to discuss the strategies to promote a business such as ours. It would also be interesting to see any documented economic benefit over the past 20 years that any business has received — if such data exists.

It appears that HBC’s efforts are directed to promote retail and restaurant businesses; they are not directed to promote businesses that do not have a tangible product to offer like ours and others who are in the designated HBC area.

Then there are HBC regulations with which a business owner must comply. Regulation is cited as one of the top two challenges (the other one is taxes) that businesses must contend with to be successful. These regulations prohibit an owner from promoting his business as he sees fit — colors, signage and etc. are subject to HBC’s regulations.

Any business owner should have the freedom to establish and promote his business to his potential customers however he chooses. Promotional activities of individual business owners should not have to be filtered through someone else’s vision. A vibrant economy is a diverse one. HBC’s regulations are an unnecessary burden.

If HBC is to continue it should be reorganized as the “Baker City Downtown Retail and Restaurant Association.” These are the businesses that are most likely to receive economic benefit from the promotions that HBC does.

However, any business or citizen or anyone who supports HBC’s vision for Downtown could voluntarily contribute to its efforts. Voluntary contributions to HBC would affirm or not affirm the effectiveness/popularity of its efforts and promotions with the business community and the citizens of Baker City.

Carol Martin

Baker City

Work of ‘good Samaritans’ appreciated

Don’t underestimate  the goodness of today’s youth. 

 Friday,  Nov. 8,  I  began raking leaves in my front yard,  when all of a sudden a pickup full of high school students  “descended” with rakes over their shoulder, and proceeded to clear and bag all the leaves. I offered to pay them, but they refused, saying they were doing this as a Community Service.   What  a nice gesture!  

THANK YOU to the crew that accomplished the leaf removal task, in  short order. The good Samaritans moved on down the street to  help someone else.  

 As everyone knows, Second Street is not shy of leaves at this time of year.

Phyllis Badgley

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Nov. 8, 2013

Congressional schism might be easing

We witnessed an encouraging sign on Oct. 16 that the schism paralyzing the U.S. Congress may be easing. A bipartisan group of 87 House Republicans and 198 Democrats passed the Senate Budget Compromise, which ended the government shutdown and averted a default on United States obligations and a potential international financial crisis. 

It was heartening to see 87 Republican representatives rise above their party’s shift to rigid, anti-government obstructionism. Rejecting the politics of fear and ideology, they did what was right for our country and the vast majority of Americans. It’s a potential re-awakening of the democratic process through which we can mutually promote and enhance the common good.

However, the disruptive threat of the extreme right wing is still present. Even our own U.S. Rep. Greg Walden apparently bowed to tea party pressure by voting “No” on Oct. 16.. (The Club for Growth is supporting a primary challenge to Walden at www.primarymycongressman.com.)

On the other hand, wealthy Republican business donors like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are now alarmed by the threat of a U.S. default. They are unnerved at the recklessness that threatens to tear down the entire economy and scuttle their golden egg.  

The wealthy 1 percent have profited greatly from productivity increases from globalization, automation, and union busting over the past 35 years. They have, shortsightedly, enjoyed the low wages they pay, as the rest of us fight over ever-fewer family wage jobs. And they have tolerated absolutist, tea party hard-liners to protect their low taxes and loose government regulation. Perhaps they will now step in and promote needed rational behavior.

The Oct. 16 agreement also opened up negotiations between the House and Senate on the FY 2014 budget. (According to PolitiFact.com, these budget negotiations have been blocked since April by Senate tea party Republicans, who feared they might lead to much-needed tax increases.) Possibly, the current House-Senate budget conference will make a further positive step toward ending legislative gridlock. 

Let’s encourage Rep. Walden to join moderate, rational Republicans, renounce the anti-democratic minority, and follow the bipartisan precedent of Oct. 16.       

Marshall McComb

Baker City


Gratified by the persistence of an old friendship

He was my best friend for most of my teenage years and when we met for the first time in almost a quarter century the occasion, as it so often is in such cases, was a sad one.

My friend’s dad had died.

I stood outside the restaurant at the golf course where the post-funeral reception took place and I waited for my friend to arrive.

You used to worry in these situations.

You used to wonder whether, after so much time had elapsed, you would even recognize the face that you once saw every day and that was as familiar as those of your family.

Wrinkles breach the formerly smooth planes.

Hair goes gray.

Often, pounds are added.

(Rarely, they’re subtracted.)

You fear the embarrassment of seeing someone who you feel you ought to know and then hearing, in the tentative timbre of your voice, the question mark when you say his name.

You fear, above all, being wrong.

But we live in a Facebook world, where, for millions of us, the inexorable weathering of our facial features (and other features) is chronicled in high-megapixel detail.

So anyway I knew my friend had aged well, and I thought there was little chance of my making a humiliating misidentification. 

Indeed, when he drove past in the parking lot I immediately recognized him, even from the side, and through the haze of the safety glass.

He got out of his car and started walking toward me and we each raised a hand, in a sort of combined salute/wave, at almost the same instant.

He grinned and I grinned and the years, as they sometimes do when our past and our present collide, seemed suddenly to shed most of their oppressive weight.

Nothing was the same — nor could it be the same, so many missed weddings and births and deaths down the line — yet this was of no great consequence.

We knew that our bond, though not strong enough to keep us close through the years, was in its own way a powerful one.

Except I didn’t know, until that moment, that this was so.

I wondered, as I drove to the reception that morning, whether our friendship was forever trapped in childhood, the link severed when we collected our high school diplomas and left on our vastly different journeys into adulthood.

But as we shook hands and had a clumsy embrace (I’m not a hugger, and invariably foul up the etiquette of greeting gestures) I understood that this was not true.

I understood that those distant and murky days of junior high and high school, when we played pool in his basement or watched TV in my living room or sat in his room and listened to Van Halen’s first album and wished we could make our guitars sound like Eddie’s, those days mattered.

There are many kinds of friendships, of course.

Some last a lifetime, or nearly so.

But most, it seems to me, and in particular those that begin in our childhood, do not.

I’d like to believe that this brief reunion with my old friend will revive in some way our dormant relationship.

I suspect, though, that this will not happen.

We live far apart, and not only in a geographic sense.

But even if our next meeting comes years from now, and even if the reason is again a somber one, I have a newfound appreciation for our friendship, indeed for all true friendships.

Each person must give something of himself to create such a connection, and this seems to me a mutually beneficial exchange.

I have an idea of the person I was back then but the picture is an incomplete one. Yet this vision comes clearer, comes closer to a whole and true thing, when I can reminisce with the one person who knows that part of me.

I don’t understand how this works, only that it does work, and that it’s a sort of magic.

Which, come to that, is a fair way to describe friendship.

Jayson Jacoby is editor
of the Baker City Herald. 


Letters to the Editor for Nov. 4

Can we solve healthcare problem locally?

We have recently had four letters to the editor concerning health care. Thank you, Mr. Dielman, for getting this conversation started, and Mr. Augenfeld, Mr. Schoenfeld and Mr. Sundin for expressing problems and potential solutions. I also am concerned, but not able to track how each repair would look if implemented. Last year I obtained a copy of Obamacare from Sen. Wyden’s office but unfortunately it is the legislator’s condensed version so I really cannot know the details.

In order for Democrats to accept a healthcare system it must cover the poor and needy. In order for Republicans to accept a healthcare system it must not be under the control of the federal government as that is not constitutional, or be an enabling system easily milked by slothful or greedy people.

Is there a way to eliminate greedy insurance companies by creating three or four nationwide nonprofit insurance companies? If Republicans want a no-government-involved health system, would they be willing to expect local wealthy people to get together as private citizens and pay for the insurance policies of their local poor and needy? Surely they would be more able to find out who is truly in need and who is malingering. Malingering is a serious problem in any system given the sinful human nature.

Perhaps all the churches in an area could get together and open a clinic for the poor and needy of their area manned by local doctors and dentists taking turns, and leave the wealthy to pay for high-deductible insurance policies for them.

Suzanne Kahle

Baker City


Letter to the Editor for Nov. 1, 2013

Senior Center helps to curb loneliness

My husband and I moved to Baker County, and to our surprise found a community of people who still believed in working for a living, that children come first, and a handshake still means something.

We quickly became involved with different organizations and my dear husband’s love was helping out with the school’s sports programs.

Life was wonderful but things happen and not always to the good. We were both diagnosed with cancer on the same day. I made it but my spouse did not.

Suddenly my lifestyle changed. Decisions had to be made. One of the hardest for me was where to live. Stay in Baker or move closer to my children.

I loved the slower pace of the town and the people who I had become friends with, so Baker City is now my home.

For those of you who have lost a loved one, you know that those empty hours take a toll. I started going to the Community Center for lunch and have felt that this has given me my life back.

The group I eat with is a fun-loving bunch. We laugh, joke and share our stories. We look out for each other and if someone doesn’t show up, calls are made.

All ages are welcome at the Center. Did I mention that the food is great?

Try it out. The only thing you would lose would be the loneliness of sitting at home every day.

Darlene Maher

Baker City


Mascot morass: The role of offended by proxy

I’m inclined to dismiss the debate over sports teams’ Native American mascots as a trivial matter except for this:

The issue raises apparent contradictions, as well as questions about the context of words, that fascinate me.

I write “trivial” not to insult anybody.

My point, rather, is that if as a society we’re truly worried about Native Americans then we ought to focus on something other than the logo painted on football helmets and embroidered on the backs of cheerleaders’ sweaters.

The academic progress of kids who grow up on reservations, for instance.

Or the persistent problem of alcoholism among some tribes.


Behind the SUV bids

Often as not when Baker City government buys a vehicle, the “buy local” debate is revived.

The city’s recent decision to purchase a pair of SUVs wasn’t especially contentious compared with past cases.

But it did remind us that city councilors can, and in some cases should, consider factors other than price when choosing a dealer.

Councilors decided to buy two Ford Explorers from DJ Anderson in Sandy for $44,544. That dealership is among those that have negotiated contracts with the state through what’s called the Oregon Cooperative Procurement Program.


Letter to the Editor for Oct. 30, 2013

Federal policies threaten Baker County’s economy

As if destroying the timber industry a few decades ago through its bogus science protection of the spotted owl was not harmful enough, the federal government is on the verge of administering a death blow to many ranchers in our western states. Worst case, that will include the state of Oregon and our county of Baker. Once again prostrating themselves on the altar of junk science our federal “partners” now propose to close off literally millions of acres of grazing land in order to protect the sage grouse. I’m not a rancher but many of my good friends are.  They depend on grazing allotments on federal land for their livestock.  Much of that federal land, some here in our county, has been labeled sage grouse habitat.

 So focused are the misguided feds on implementing the UN’s Agenda 21 that they intentionally ignore the numerous studies conducted by reputable scientists that show, clearly, that sage grouse actually thrive on properly managed grazed land. But, no, to the feds ranchers are the enemy of the clean environment they allegedly are so committed to “protecting.” The federal government, though you certainly couldn’t tell it by watching the current administration, exists to promote the “common good.” Last time I checked producing livestock for the marketplace, and doing so in the responsible manner typical of Baker County ranchers, is a huge chunk of the common good in our region.  

 The federal government is out of hand. Closing public access to the public’s land, and now recommending the closure of public land to responsible grazing are but two of the many steps this administration is taking to collapse our economy and force socialism upon us. If that happens we will be nothing better than a third world country which, I suppose, will make the current occupier of the White House very happy.  Wake up people before it is too late if not for us then for our children and grandchildren. Vote out the current, rotten crop in Congress and replace them with real Americans.

Jerry Boyd

Baker City


Good news on grouse?

The specter of the sage grouse has haunted Baker County’s ranching industry for more than a decade, as federal protection for the bird could restrict grazing on public lands. The latest development, though, might be cause for optimism rather than worry.

Yes, the federal government is proposing to list as threatened sage grouse populations. But those are in Nevada and California.

We find this encouraging because it shows that federal officials aren’t necessarily bent on imposing one-size-fits-all strategies for protecting the species.


Letters to the Editor, Oct. 28, 2013

America can’t ignore the cost of Medicare

Gary Dielman loves Medicare and thinks that everyone should be enrolled in some similar program. But he leaves out some important information in his hymn of praise for that program — its long range prospects. They are not so rosy.

Medicare already spends more each year than it takes in. This will only get worse as more and more baby boomers retire. As things stand, Medicare will be bankrupt in about a decade. Worse yet, it has an unfunded future liability of $30 trillion. The program’s own officials say that Obamacare does nothing to correct this situation.

European countries are learning that the cornucopia of government goodies does have a bottom, and several of them already are getting awfully close to it. Greece is the poster child for out-of-control entitlements, and has narrowly escaped national bankruptcy only by being bailed out by other countries. We are on that same path, just not as far along as Greece.

We have already had a warning shot across our bows. For the first time in history, our bond rating has been downgraded from AAA to AA. The reason given? It’s the huge unfunded liabilities of our country’s entitlement programs. We will not be upgraded back to AAA until Medicare and our other entitlement programs are restructured and put on a more financially sound basis.

We must get that situation corrected as quickly as possible. Otherwise, our legacy to our children and grandchildren is going to be one of crippling debt.

Republican Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has submitted a plan to Congress which would do just that. Current retirees would continue under the present Medicare program, but future retirees would have the option to choose some other financially sound health care program. But Democrats are officially in a state of denial. They assert that Medicare has no long term problems, and they adamantly refuse to consider any significant changes to the program. They are content to continue kicking the can down the road, leaving future generations to clean up the mess they will left behind.

Pete Sundin

Baker City

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