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Congress leaves counties in the lurch

We’re glad some in Congress seem so eager to spend $700 billion to try to save the country’s economy, but we wish lawmakers showed even a smidgen as much interest in helping Baker County and dozens of other rural counties.

For what it’s worth, Congress, helping the counties is a whole lot cheaper.

No golden parachutes to worry about, either.

Last week, while legislators were fretting about the financial crisis and debating the $700 billion bailout, Democrats in the House deleted from a bill — which the Senate passed by a 93-2 vote — a pair of programs that are crucial to counties such as Baker.

The cost of continuing those programs is $3.3 billion — slightly less than one-half of one percent of the bailout total.

Apparently it takes a whole lot of zeroes to goad Congress  into action.

Lawmakers’ inability to continue the county payments and in-lieu-of-taxes programs is especially galling because the victims in this case — in contrast to some of the irresponsible high-rollers who got us into this credit mess — are innocent.


Letters to the editor for September 29, 2008


With a baby, you bare it all when nature calls

One of the great things about being the parent of a toddler is you can buy products with names such as “Butt Paste” without blushing when the cashier gives you one of those looks.

Remove the baby from the equation, though, and I regress 25 years.

I become the equivalent of a teenage boy whose mom has sent him to the store to buy a box of what the marketing majors, those masters of inoffensive euphemism, describe as “feminine products.”

If I need, for instance, a salve to soothe the nether regions of my body, well then I’m loitering in the magazine aisle and leafing through “Four Wheeler” until I see a checkout with no customers and a clerk who appears to be dozing.

And I’ll linger for hours if I have to, or at least until someone starts turning off the lights.

Even when the way is clear I’ll hide the ointment under a couple one-pound bags of M&M’s and maybe a six-pack of Hamm’s. This is of course a pathetic attempt to deflect the checker’s attention from the true nature, and location, of the affliction which prompted my visit.


Yes on Measure 56

The good thing about Oregon’s double-majority law is that it encourages people to vote.

The bad thing about the law is that it also discourages people from voting.

We think the latter factor outweighs the former, which is why we urge voters to approve Measure 56 on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Measure 56 would partially overturn the double-majority law that’s been in effect since voters approved it in 1996.

Here’s the situation now: Except during general elections in even-numbered years, any measure that would raise property taxes — whether statewide or in an individual city, county, school district or special district — can’t pass unless two things happen (hence “double majority”): half of the eligible voters cast a ballot, and at least half of those who do so vote yes.

Measure 56 would eliminate the double-majority rule for all property tax-raising measures on ballots in May or November. Double-majority would still apply to tax measures that go before voters in other months.


Bailout bitter pill to swallow, but. . . .

The $700 billion bailout bill Congress is debating is the legislative equivalent of an inoculation.

It hurts, but it’s necessary.

Congress should pass the bill because the consequences, should lawmakers dawdle, could be disastrous.

That said, the public must demand that Congress tailor this bailout so that, to the fullest extent possible, the people being bailed out are those who didn’t contribute to the financial morass in which America’s economy, and much of the rest of the world’s, has gotten mired.

The reality, of course, is that many people who are partly responsible will benefit from Congress’ intervention.

People who signed mortgages they couldn’t afford — a fact which anyone with the math skills of a second-grader could have calculated.


Training helps protect all of us

If you live in Baker City, almost every day dangerous substances pass within a couple miles of your home.

And considerably closer than that, if your address is near the freeway or the railroad tracks.

But we never see the toxic chemicals or other similarly hazardous stuff that rolls through on the road or the rails.

At least we hope we don’t.


Letters to the editor for September 23, 2008


Letters to the editor for September 22, 2008


Letters to the editor for September 19, 2008


Buster makes an appearance in Baker

A famous visitor walked into my office the other day and he came right over and licked my hand.

I have so few famous visitors, and no previous one had ever licked me, and so this incident, despite the saliva, made a routine day mildly interesting for me.

My guest was Buster. He is the most heavily publicized English bulldog I know.

He’s also the only English bulldog I know.

This is not of course any fault of Buster’s, and I don’t believe my inability to get acquainted with multiple bulldogs ought to diminish Buster’s celebrity.

Buster, as you might recall, was the subject of several headlines around here during late May and early June of 2007.

Buster’s owner, Forrest Keller of Vashon Island, Wash., rode to Baker City during a Memorial Day weekend motorcycle tour.

Unlike most motorcyclists, Keller doesn’t mind riding with a bulldog strapped on the gas tank.


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