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We concur, councilor

Baker City Councilor Dennis Dorrah said something that needed to be said.

Well, actually Dorrah wrote rather than said what he was thinking, since he couldn’t attend last week’s budget board meeting.

But the point of Dorrah’s words, whether printed on paper or spoken, comes to the same.

That point is that Baker City officials should treat every dollar as precious.

Dorrah, in the letter he submitted to the 14-member budget board, which includes the seven city councilors and seven members appointed by the City Council, contends that city spending during the rest of the fiscal year should “be held to an absolute minimum.”

Dorrah also suggests the city cut at least 5 percent from the budget for fiscal 2009-10, which starts July 1.

Letter to the editor for November 24, 2008

Looking up downtown

Despite its passel of awards and national recognition, Baker City’s historic downtown district is missing something significant.

But perhaps not for much longer.

The glaring gap in the development of downtown is upstairs.

There’s a lot of space on the upper floors of buildings, but a relative pittance of that space is being used for residential or business purposes.

That’s a pity.

Letter to the editor for November 21, 2008

Curing glitches in state’s biofuel law

Oregon’s House Bill 2210 might have seemed sensible to legislators who represent temperate, and relatively small, westside districts.

But in the vast, often frigid lands east of the Cascades, the 2007 law, which mandates the blending of biofuels with regular gasoline and diesel, brings consequences that detract from the legislation’s laudable goals of reducing pollution and creating a market for various crops and logging debris.

Fortunately the Legislature, which convenes in January, can fix the worst of the law’s problems by way of a couple of modest tweaks.

First, the ethanol.

The law requires that gasoline sold in Oregon contain 10 percent of the plant-based fuel, which can be produced from crops as well as from logging slash.

Ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline and produces fewer pollutants.

Saving dimes and trashing soda cans

I found a dime in the bottom of my backpack, its silvery sheen concealed by a Three Musketeers wrapper and a handful of .22 shells.

I fished the dime out and flipped it into the ceramic dish that sits on the window sill next to the kitchen sink. This is the temporary resting place for most of our loose change, the pennies going in one dish, the larger denominations in a smaller one, and all of the currency afforded a pleasant view of the Eagle Caps on fair days.

Not long after — it might in fact have been the same day — I tossed a couple of soda cans into the trash can beneath the sink.

I thought nothing of this at the time.

But some days later, while I was standing at the sink, clutching a soapy sponge, I noticed, as though for the first time, the proximity of the coin dish and the trash can. I doubt there’s more than four feet between the containers.

This revelation — it was very nearly an epiphany, actually — hit me in that powerful way unique to those instances when I realize the level of idiocy to which I am capable of descending.

Letters to the editor for November 20, 2008

Don’t conceal gun permits from public

Oregon’s excellent public records law allows us to find out, among many other matters, when our neighbors get a marriage license, or register to vote, or apply for a permit to build a fence.

But now many of Oregon’s 36 county sheriffs — including Baker County’s Mitch Southwick — argue that we’re not necessarily entitled to know which of our neighbors have a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

It seems to us that on the roster of government records that citizens ought to have access to, concealed weapons permits rank quite a lot higher than, say, marriage licenses.

Think of it this way: If the government issues a marriage license to a couple who aren’t ready to be married, no one besides the unfortunate pair is likely to be harmed.

Letters to the editor for November 19, 2008

Don’t rush zoning law

Forgive us a brief excursion into exaggeration, but compared to Baker County’s draft zoning ordinance, “War and Peace” is a pamphlet.

Which is to say the ordinance — all 45 chapters — is long and complicated.

County officials have been putting the thing together for five years, after all.

They shouldn’t be in a rush now to make the ordinance official.

We don’t fault the county’s efforts thus far to explain to residents and property owners what’s going on.

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