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Letter to the Editor for March 12, 2014


America can get back on solid financial footing

Thank you for raising the issue of voter apathy in your op-ed of Feb. 28. Indeed, we have about 2,600 people over age 17 in Baker County who are not even registered to vote. But, since Oregon actually has the country’s sixth-highest voter turnout rate, it seems that we should look beyond our state for the real source of voter disgust and disillusion.  

Nationally, the unaddressed structural economic problem of loss of good paying jobs to off-shoring and computer automation has been with us for about 35 years, and it’s still growing.  More and more of us are being thrust into poverty, while the top 1 percent now take home over 20 percent of total income.

Many of us have lost promising educational and economic futures, and there seems to be little we can do about it. We’re still a wealthy nation, but how many are optimistic?  

Our politics have become extremely partisan. But, while we’ve been fighting each other, the phenomenally wealthy have seized more and more influence and control.  They are largely ignoring working families and the needs of the planet.  They resist “paying it forward” from their own good fortune, and are thus restricting our economic growth.

I urge my fellow readers to carefully ponder and internalize the meaning of our Pledge of Allegiance to “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” What a contrast with today’s political discourse – brimming with fear, anger, and disinformation!  

Are we to continue to wage a debilitating fight? May I suggest that we tune out the voices that would divide us, including Fox News and right-wing talk radio. Let us, instead, listen to each other, including those 2,600 unregistered potential voters. Remembering our nation’s proud heritage, I’ve no doubt we have the imagination and creativity to forge answers that meet everyone’s needs. 

The United States emerged from the Great Depression and victory in World War II with an unprecedented, 30-year period of prosperity (taxing the wealthy at more than twice today’s rates).  Together, We the People did it once; together, we can do it again.

Marshall McComb

Baker City


More time for public to chime in


The local group Forest Access for All, which opposes further restrictions on motor vehicle travel on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, contends the Forest Service isn’t giving residents enough time to review a lengthy new document the agency is releasing later this week.

We agree.

The records that constitute the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision exceed 1,000 pages.

This is an important document, albeit one that doesn’t propose to close any roads.


Letter to the Editor for March 10, 2014


Feeling unrepresented by members of Congress

I have openly requested Congressman Walden’s staff to assist me with Travel Management, the collaborative group and the Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision. I have asked local staff in Riley Bushue, and now Kirby Garrett. Recently I contacted Brian McDonald, chief of staff at Representative Walden’s D.C., office, again, no response.

I did have the opportunity to visit with Rep. Walden on Jan. 11, 2013, in Mt. Vernon on the issue of Travel Management. Representative Walden assured me he would bring the issue up to Rep. Hastings and work to address them, and let me know through Mr. Bushue what was going on. I repeatedly asked for follow up, no response was ever given from Mr. Walden or his staff on the issue. 

I have repeatedly contacted Mr. Bushue and now Mr. Garrett on issues revolving around development of Sub-Part A of Travel Management, the collaborative group and the upcoming Forest Plan Revision, no response has ever been given to my concerns. I recently contacted Mr. Garrett asking for a congressional inquiry as to why the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Supervisor Staff is being allowed to hand pick which “public meetings” the public are allowed to attend, again, no response. 

Is this truly the kind of “representation” we deserve or want from an elected official? I know I don’t.

Is it proper for only some to be paid to attend meetings and keep people locked out of them, or hold them during times the general public can’t attend them? If you don’t think it’s happening, just start asking for meeting times, agendas, and attendees list, you’ll find no one’s real willing to let you know, because they don’t want you there. 

It’s incredibly simpler to control a message when you control the conversation and tell others how you are going to march people down a process. But the sickening part is when elected officials allow it to happen, unchecked, which is what Mr. Walden continues to allow to happen, with poor staffing and even poorer engagement in the matter. 

John D. George

Bates


In the dark on wolves


So far as is known, Oregon’s newest wolf pack hasn’t attacked any livestock.

But this pack, which apparently consists of five wolves, is in one respect the most worrisome group of wolves in the state.

The reason is that nobody knows where they are.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) hopes to ease that concern, as soon as possible, by netting at least one of the wolves and fitting it with a GPS collar that emits a signal  by which agency officials can track the wolf’s movements and, by extension, the pack’s.

That knowledge is vital in helping ODFW alert livestock owners when wolves are nearby.

We were reminded of this just this week, when an adult male wolf from the Snake River pack wandered west into northern Baker County.

It’s not clear what that lone wolf is up to. But fortunately ODFW knows where he is, because biologists put a GPS collar on the wolf in March 2013. And the Snake River pack, unlike the new, unnamed pack, is a confirmed livestock killer, having killed one cow and injured two others in Wallowa County last fall.

The sooner ODFW can keep tabs on the newest wolf pack, the better.


Letters to the Editor for March 7, 2014


Evidence of global warming obvious to anyone

In a letter to the editor, Chuck Chase poo poos the danger signs of global warming. Chase calls it “voodoo science.” 

Yet even grade-schoolers can understand the signs. 

Melting of the earth’s ice caps — Arctic, Greenland, Antarctica — are canaries in the coal mine that world leaders are ignoring at mankind’s peril, and in favor of corporate profit and unsustainable materialism.


Cub Scouts remind me of newspaper’s legacy


The Cub Scouts were few in number but when the doors were closed they seemed to expand until the room, which can comfortably accommodate at least twice as many adults, felt full at the atomic level.

I fancied that I could hear the faint rasp of electrons colliding as they tried to carve out a little elbow room.

Actually I couldn’t hear much of anything except nine young voices, all going at once and sounding like a natural disaster, albeit one that doesn’t hurt anybody or knock down any buildings.


Forest Plan revision coming soon


By Steve Beverlin, John Laurence and Kevin Martin

The Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington are some of the most beautiful — and productive — landscapes in the world. Our forests and rangelands provide water, wood, food, forage, wildlife, fish, fuel, minerals and fun. Almost 5 million of those acres belong to the citizens of the United States and are managed as the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests under a multiple use mission to provide those benefits now and into the future. Nature provides these resources and it’s up to all of us to be stewards of that gift.

Forest Plans provide the vision of where the forests and rangelands are headed over the next few decades. The Plans describe what we call the “desired condition” that provides a vision for what the landscape should look like and how it should function. Forest Plans matter because nature matters.


Resort St. problems persist


We argued in 2012 that burying utility lines on Resort Street, though an attractive project, cost too many city dollars even when property owners along the street were going to contribute about $295,000 of what was then expected to be about a $1.1 million project.

Now some of those property owners contend they should pay less, or even nothing.

This would transform the Resort Street project from a mistake into a boondoggle that residents will be paying for in dollars, and possibly in extra potholes, for many years.

Every dollar trimmed from the property owners’ tab must be made up from city coffers. And we believe the city has already spent enough public dollars on this project.


It’s hoops week in Baker


You can gauge the proximity of spring by watching crocus blossoms advance and snow patches recede.

In Baker City we supplement those seasonal signs with the arrival of school buses at Baker High School, the squeak of sneakers on hardwood and the shrieks of basketball fans.

Early March brings the Class 1A state girls and boys basketball tournament to town.


Modulars the best move for kindergarten

We agree with the school board’s decision Tuesday to buy as many as four used modular buildings and install them at Brooklyn as kindergarten classrooms and a cafeteria and music room.

This isn’t the ideal solution, but we believe it is the best option.

Certainly it is the option that requires the least amount of student shuffling. Only the kindergarten classes will move — the rest of the grade levels will remain where they are.

Nor will the cost of the modulars force the school district to cut employees or programs. District officials also are confident they could sell the modulars if they become superfluous in the future.

Critics say the district instead should create space for kindergartners inside Brooklyn by moving third-graders from that school to South Baker Elementary.

But that would require that sixth-graders, who now attend South Baker, move to either Baker Middle School or to the former North Baker Elementary.

Opponents of the modulars have cited the North Baker option in particular, pointing out that there are vacant classrooms in that building.


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