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Don’t close geology office

Mining precious metals hasn’t been a big business in Baker County for more than half a century.

But that’s no reason for the state geology department to close its office in Baker City.

We understand that the state government is short on money.

As much as $4.4 billion short for the two-year period that starts July 1, in fact.

O’Reilly has it in for Europe, and Portland goes after a sign

Listened to Bill O’Reilly give Europe a good verbal whipping two nights in a row this week. I was at the same time entertained and dismayed by his treatment of the continent.

I watch at least part of O’Reilly’s program most evenings. In the main I enjoy the show, even when, as happens perhaps a third of the time, I disagree with the host.

O’Reilly lambastes liberals often but he is no kept apologist for the Republican Party. Media pundits sometimes describe O’Reilly as though he were an ideological clone of Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck, but I think such comparisons result from shoddy research rather than piercing political insight.

An electric silence

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski tooled around in at least two electric cars this week.

The governor’s test drives attracted quite a lot of media attention, although perhaps not as much as when Kulongoski eschewed vehicles altogether and hiked to his office last year.

Yet based on the accounts we have read it seems no one bothered to ask the governor if he knew how the electricity that propelled them had been generated.

This seems to us a significant omission considering Kulongoski’s opinion on what constitutes renewable energy.

Boost for biomass

It turns out that fallen limbs are good for something besides tripping careless hikers.

Powering your car, for instance.

In the publicly owned forests in Northeastern Oregon the ground is littered with tens of thousands of tons of limbs, twigs and other woody debris that could be made into ethanol.

Except some members of Congress, in a move that qualifies as egregiously illogical even by that body’s standards, seems to prefer we left the stuff lying around to waylay walkers.

Or, worse still, to fuel a summer wildfire rather than your sedan.

Letters to the Editor for April 8, 2009

City misuses meetings law

Baker City officials and the City Council violated at the least the spirit of Oregon’s public meetings law on March 10 when they discussed, during an executive session closed to the public, City Manager Steve Brocato’s proposal to privatize the city’s planning department.

As its name implies, the public meetings law is supposed to ensure that city councils and other public bodies conduct their business during meetings open to the public.

The law does, however, allow public entities to discuss certain topics during executive sessions. The public is not allowed to attend such sessions. The news media can sit in, but most reporters agree not to report on the sessions (although the law does not prohibit reporters from doing so).

Letters to the Editor for April 7, 2009

Yes to checkpoints

Oregon is a maverick among states, and in some respects we’re proud of our state’s independent streak.

We hardly ever walk out of a store feeling sad that we didn’t have to pay sales tax, for instance.

But we don’t boast about Oregon’s membership in the club of 12 states where police can’t legally set up roadblocks to look for drunken drivers.

Oregon’s Legislature, which is meeting in Salem, has recently been discussing these so-called “sobriety checkpoints.”

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