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Hydropower is renewable


Some people don’t much like the hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River, but even a dam-hater has to admit that the power those dams produce qualifies as “renewable.”

Certainly there’s no reason to believe the mighty Columbia is apt to stop flowing.

Yet according to a law the Oregon Legislature passed in 2007, the Columbia’s hydropower isn’t renewable. That law requires large utilities — our local Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (OTEC) isn’t included — to get at least 25 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025.


Letters to the Editor for Dec. 23, 2013


Christmas event outgrows Rachel Center

The Rachel Pregnancy Cancer would like to thank everyone who volunteered or provided items for the annual Christmas Extravaganza at the old Blockbuster building in Baker City. We’d also like to thank the Hinsdale family for donating use of their building.

The success of this event over the years has allowed us to help many families fulfill their Christmas wishes. Community donations of toys, clothing and other items have continued to grow year after year. Our dedicated group of volunteer organizers and the helpers who process donations, set up and run the event are to be especially commended. God bless you all.

Growth, however, is a double-edged sword. This event has outgrown the abilities of the Rachel Pregnancy Center. As a small nonprofit dedicated to preventing abortions through Christian counseling and day-to-day support of families in our community, we find that the Christmas event, by virtue of its success, has begun to impede our primary focus.

We are looking for a community organization or private group to continue to improve this popular event in the years to come. The Rachel Center will provide support in this transition, offering contacts and organizational advice, and forwarding donated items to “seed” next year’s event.

Interested parties can contact me at the Rachel Pregnancy Center at 541-523-5357 for more information.

Alberta Darlington

Director, Rachel Center

Baker City

Park smoking ban not smart or fair

Latest survey says over 64 percent of people over 21 years old smoke. We pay taxes to support our parks, and banning the majority of people is not smart or fair. Move a few tables to the corners and a few “butt” cans for those who smoke. Guys chew tobacco and spit, people cough and sneeze and dogs peeing and poopin’. We (you) haven’t ousted them, yet.

And, I want all the money the city has taken from me, approximately $400 over the years, so I can buy more medical insurance to pay the hospital or for my cremation when I fall. You printed a picture last year of one of the worse sidewalks, and nothing has been done to fix it.

We the people voted the city council members in because we thought they would do the right thing for all of us. We have the power to vote them out, too.

P.S. Dear Santa: Please give our council the brains and common sense to work for all of us. Yes, I’ve been good!

Shirley Schurman

Baker City


Feeling uncovered


At least Medicare works most of the time.

In Baker County, where almost one in four residents is 65 or older, that federal health insurance program is more important than in most other places, where the population is younger.

Medicare seems a paragon of governmental efficiency compared with Cover Oregon, the state’s new health insurance exchange that’s supposed to help Oregonians who aren’t eligible for Medicare or another program.

“Supposed to” is the key phrase here, because Cover Oregon is working about as well as a car engine does with half its pistons removed.

And to belabor the automotive analogies, the latest advice from Cover Oregon’s interim director, Bruce Goldberg, is tantamount to a Chevrolet dealer telling a prospective customer that he’s better off heading across town to the Ford outlet.

Earlier this week Goldberg acknowledged that because of Cover Oregon’s inability to process applications — a task being done manually because the organization’s website is dysfunctional — thousands of applicants will need to buy insurance elsewhere if they want to avoid going without coverage until Cover Oregon can get its act together.

Merry Christmas, indeed.

It’s hard to imagine Cover Oregon having a more disappointing debut. We hope the new year brings a new level of competence to a program that a lot of people are depending on.


Defining free speech


We re-read the Bill of Rights and it turns out we remembered the text correctly: There’s nothing in there about the freedom to star in a reality show on cable TV.

We felt compelled to brush up on those first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution after reading about the plight of Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Louisiana family around which the A&E series “Duck Dynasty” revolves.

The dynasty in this case is the Robertson family’s business, which makes duck calls and other products for waterfowl hunters.

Until recently, “Duck Dynasty” had been quite popular but not particularly controversial.


In Baker County, history groans, clatters, bangs


The train pulled out of the depot in a grudging way, building speed with a series of jerks and pulls that few modern machines can mimic.

Not that they’re intended to.

The engineers still rely largely on internal combustion to move us around, of course, but they’ve pretty much sheltered from us the explosive nature of the technology.

Cars, for instance, don’t rumble much anymore.

Most models emit instead an inoffensive whir, rather like a sewing machine.


Not all smoke is equal?


Do you smoke cigarettes?

Do you work indoors?

Go ask your boss if you can smoke at work.

The answer, of course, will be no.

Oregon law prohibits smoking at most indoor workplaces.


Courier’s lengthy legacy


The Record-Courier weekly newspaper has been a fixture in Baker County for more than a century.

And we’re pleased that the newspaper, which was started in 1901, will remain one.

But certainly things have changed.

For the first time in more than 80 years the Courier’s masthead doesn’t include the name “Brinton.”

The publication epitomizes the notion of a family newspaper.


Letter to the Editor for Dec. 13, 2013


President doesn’t make laws; that’s Congress’ job

Just read the letter in today’s paper from Pete Sundin. Two things struck me. Mr Sundin, the president and his “administration” do not make laws. Congress makes laws.  The president either signs the congressional bills into law or vetoes them. That is his only power re: laws. 

The second thing is business owners are not being forced to provide birth control to their employees; they are being told to provide insurance or get into one of the state exchanges and thus choose the insurance they want. Which part of that insurance the employees choose is none of anyone’s business.  It’s really quite simple; please don’t make it any harder for yourself.

Iva Mace

Baker City


Too cold for Baker? Snow way


The wintry storm — “Arctic blast 2013!” if you prefer the hyperbolic approach of TV news — swept across Oregon these past several days, leaving dozens of cancellations in its wake.

West of the Cascades, where many residents react to a skiff of snow almost as though it were radioactive dust, schools closed, highways became parking lots and officials warned people to stay inside lest they come down with frostbite or worse.

We Eastern Oregonians, though, being accustomed to frigid weather, are not so easily daunted.


Snowballs, an alleged rape, double standards


Is a real snowball fight worse than an alleged rape?

I pose the question not because I expect anybody will answer it.

My point, rather, is to illustrate how America’s obsession with athletes can contribute to situations that would be laughable if they were fiction.

Except they’re real, depressingly so.


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