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And now, a brief interlude of optimism

I have long believed that my personality inclines rather steeply toward pessimism, but recent events have prompted me to reconsider.

The thing is, I can’t rouse myself to a respectable pitch of despair about the economy.

I don’t feel right about this.

The overwhelming consensus in the country seems to be that this current crisis ranks as America’s most severe since the Great Depression.

I’m pretty sure that’s true.

The stock market numbers, which are spinning with the speed of a slot machine, bear it out anyway.

Yet the implication of our collective hand-wringing, or so it seems to me based on what I’ve read and heard from myriad sources during the past month, is that our nation teeters on the brink of Depression No. 2.

I’m pretty sure that’s not true.


Here’s a deal: Trees make money just standing around

Selling carbon credits sounds farfetched, but the process could be one of the best things ever to happen to Baker County’s private forests.

It could benefit a somewhat larger area, too — the Earth.

Oregon is one of three states picked to participate in a carbon credits pilot project through the Chicago Climate Exchange.

Here’s how the market works:

Companies and other entities that emit airborne carbon, and thus contribute to climate change, can buy credits from people who own forests, which absorb carbon and hold it in the trees so the element doesn’t foul the atmosphere.

Or to paraphrase, polluters pay people to counteract the effects of pollution.


Election’s coming

If you intend to vote in the Nov. 4 election, there are two crucial dates during the next week that you ought to jot down

The first date is this Thursday, Oct. 9.

That’s when the American Association of University Women will conduct its candidates’ forum in Baker City. The Baker City Herald is a co-sponsor.

The event is scheduled for 7 o’clock that evening in the Baker High School Commons, 2500 E St.

Candidates for Baker City Council and the Baker County Commission are invited to the forum, and everyone else is invited to ask the candidates questions or just listen to their answers.

The second red-letter date is Tuesday, Oct. 14.

That’s the last day you can register to vote in the Nov. 4 election.

You can register at the County Courthouse, 1995 Third St. If you don’t remember whether you’re registered to vote in Oregon you can check your status online, via a link at the Baker County Clerk’s Web site: www.bakercounty.org/Clerks/Elections.html, or go to www.oregonvotes.org.


Letter to the editor for October 8, 2008


Letters to the editor for October 7, 2008


The ESD debacle’s expensive lesson

There is much to learn from the several-year saga of the Union-Baker Education Service District.

Unfortunately for several Northeastern Oregon school districts, the lesson will be an expensive one.

Oregon’s Department of Education wants 41 school districts to repay the state $2.2 million they received.

That’s a preliminary figure — the final amount could be determined after a meeting scheduled for today in Pendleton to which officials from all 41 districts were invited.

State officials say the districts owe that money because the UBESD, between 1999 and 2004, reported that those districts had more students in their alternative school programs than were actually enrolled, and that employees were working with students for more hours than they really were.


Letters to the editor for October 6, 2008


Expand drug court to juveniles

Baker County’s Journeys Recovery Court program has helped a dozen adults defeat their drug or alcohol addictions during the past four years.

But addiction is an affliction that’s not limited to adults.

Which is why we support Circuit Court Judge Greg Baxter’s campaign to start a similar “drug court” for juveniles.

New Directions Northwest contributed a $5,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation for the new program.

Baxter admits that he was at first skeptical of the drug court concept. The judge, like many people, wondered whether the program gave criminals an avenue to avoid punishment.

Baxter soon learned that drug court isn’t like that at all.

First, the people who enroll in the program must first plead guilty to a crime.

Then, before sentencing, they have to tell Baxter they’re interested in drug court.


Kulongoski sees the light on salaries

Finally someone acknowledges that boosting salaries for public employees when the economy is floundering feels like a slap to the face of the taxpayers who foot the bill.

Or like a hand clutching for their wallet.

What surprised us was who made that admission: Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

It was just last year, after all, when the governor approved 33-percent pay raises for about 60 state agency directors over the 2007-09 biennium.

Last week Kulongoski decided to trim those raises, but only slightly.

Agency directors will not get the 3.2-percent cost-of-living raise scheduled for Nov. 1.

“The governor recognizes families are tightening their belts, and state government needs to as well,” said Anna Richter Taylor, the governor’s spokeswoman.


Letters to the editor for October 3, 2008


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