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Letters to the Editor for Nov. 20, 2013


Early Learning Hubs: County, newspaper downplay threat 

The Baker City Herald’s editorial board has made the same mistake as Commissioner Fred Warner in thinking Early Learning Hubs (ELH) are a repackaged program with a new name and more money. They are not. These hubs do not replace existing services, nor do they replace the funds needed to run existing services. ELHs are a brand new layer of educational bureaucracy.

But then, the distribution of false information is how these hubs were sold to Commissioners Warner, Kerns and Stiff last March.

To set the record straight and correct Friday’s misguided opinion piece:

 

Obama’s belated apology


We’d be more inclined to accept President Obama’s apology for his empty promises regarding the healthcare reform law if he hadn’t dithered so long in making his mea culpa.

And even then it took another week for the president to make his apology meaningful by taking a tangible step to try to fix his mistake.

After admitting that his now infamous refrain during debates about the Affordable Care Act — “If you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan” — was false, the president announced Thursday that the estimated 4.2 million Americans whose insurance policies had been or would be canceled due to provisions in Obamacare would be able to renew those plans for at least one year.

The president finally got it right.

Except the problems with his blunders persist.

Health insurance officials said the president’s reversal could disrupt the marketplace and cause higher premiums.

Considering that records from the Department of Health and Human Services written in 2010 noted that millions of people could lose their policies due to the healthcare reform law, neither the president nor Obamacare’s backers in Congress can plead ignorance. Little wonder the apologies ring hollow.

 

No conspiracy in learning hubs


Do you want all children in Baker County to be healthy, happy and ready to learn to read when they walk into a kindergarten classroom for the first time?

Yes, that was a rhetorical question.

Of course we all want this to be the case.

And yet a statewide campaign to achieve that goal not only has failed to gain universal admiration, but Baker County’s Republican Central Committee has passed a resolution urging county commissioners not to participate in that campaign, even though it could bring more public dollars to the county.

(Earlier this week a state board decided not to choose the regional hub, which includes Baker, Malheur and Umatilla counties, for a one-year pilot project. What will happen with the three-county plan is not clear.)

 

Letters to the Editor for Nov. 15, 2013


Don’t want health clinic in a grocery store

Upon reading the article in Monday’s paper that St. Alphonsus is opening an Express Care clinic within an Albertson’s supermarket, I feel this is the most ridiculous action that the store could have taken. They are inviting people that are sick with contagious conditions to enter the supermarket through the main entrance, and make their way through customers to get to this clinic. If that’s not enough, in the clinic if the patient has a wait to see the physician they are going to issue them a pager to do shopping while waiting.

Now I’m not naive enough to believe that there aren’t ill people in the grocery stores every day, but to invite them in to be treated for such conditions as the flu, strep throat, sore throat, lice, cold sores and many other contagious conditions. And then encourage them to shop while waiting to be examined, handling groceries, produce, meat, baked goods and other consumables that the public is expected to purchase, take home and feed to their families, is wrong.

In this day of MRSA and other such highly contagious conditions that are hard to treat, it’s bad enough having accidental exposure at medical facilities without having intentional exposure at the grocery store. I see this as nothing more than St. Alphonsus attempting to expose the whole community to contagious conditions as a means of increasing its revenues.

Therefore my family and I will no longer shop at Albertsons, intentionally exposing ourselves to every communicable disease that comes along through the purchase of intentionally contaminated grocery items.

This would have been a better situation if the store had installed an isolated entrance and exit to this clinic thus minimizing the number of contagious patients entering the grocery area and handling groceries.

Bruce Morrison

Baker City

Worried about putting more sick people in enclosed space

While I laud the reason for a clinic in Albertson’s I don’t like the practicality of it. I have a strong background in public health and the thought of pulling more folks into the store who are there only because of illness is a dangerous and potentially hazardous practice. I realize we meet up with ill folks all over the city and in any travels we may take, but this will be a purposeful increase in an enclosed space AND they will be given coupons so they may shop in “my space” while they wait to be seen.

Yes we meet them in clinics too but we are usually in a clinic because we too are ill. That may be great for Albertson’s but not so great for my health. I will shop at Safeway. 

Iva Mace

Baker City

 

Scrambled seasons: Spring mixes with autumn


Autumn tends to be the most banal of seasons around here but this current version has gotten up to quite the dickens.

I was over on the breaks of the Snake River last week, immersed in fall.

I was wearing a red-and-black, all-wool hunting coat (warmer than manmade fleece but also considerably scratchier).

I had a bolt-action rifle slung over my shoulder, an elk tag in my backpack, and a keen-bladed knife in my pocket which has not touched blood in many years.

It was not cold, but the air had a proper autumnal chill.

Then I saw a flash of bright orange about 100 feet ahead, conspicuous among the whitish gray chunks of limestone littering the steep slope.

 

Letters to the Editor for Nov. 13, 2013


Big government keeps feeding the fat cats

In one of his Texas stories, Elmer Kelton distinguishes between barn cats and house cats. Barn cats live in the barn where they are expected to keep the mouse population down. They are never fed, stay out in the barn, and pretty much have to fend for themselves. House cats, on the other hand, live pampered lives in the warm house with all of their needs supplied.

He then points out that for most of American History, its people pretty well looked out for themselves. They took care of their own needs and took pride in never accepting charity or handouts. Even the free land of the Homestead Act was purchased with several gallons of sweat.

People nowadays have no problem with accepting government handouts, only now they’re called entitlements. One of President Obama’s campaign materials last fall was how a woman named Julia had all of her needs met at each stage of her life by one government program or another.

But Julia is just an ordinary-sized house tabby; there are some tiger-sized felines out there. Wall Street bankers know that their institutions are “too big to fail,” so no matter how badly they screw up, the taxpayers will bail them out. Al Gore and his renewable energy buddies are real gravy lickers. They receive huge subsidies from all levels of government, and enjoy mandates which require that their product is purchased no matter how inefficiently it is produced. Farm subsidies were enacted to help the small farmer survive the ups and downs of that way of life, but the great majority of farm subsidies go to “small farmers” like the Archer Daniels Midland Company and TV mogul Ted Turner.

These corporate fat cats much prefer Big Government to a smaller one, as big governments have lots and lots of goodies to pass out. And in our current setup, the bulk of those goodies go to those with good political connections. If we had a small government, as we did for most of our history, those house cats might actually have to work for a living. 

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Blood drive is truly a community effort

In September Baker County held the Red Cross Blood Drive, which was a huge success. We exceeded our goal on both days.

I feel compelled to send a big thank you not only to the donors, but to the businesses and volunteers that made it such a success. As strange as it may seem, giving blood has become a social event. Gathering friends meet and visit and, due to the generosity of these businesses and organizations, can have a snack together.

Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut and Subway donate food. The Haines Mutual Improvement Club and the Haines Methodist Church Ladies bring cookies, and the Cattlewomen donate beef broth. But that’s not all. The Calvary Baptist Church and Nazarene Church donate their facilities for the drive. Baker Sanitary Service picks up the trash and about 20 local people donate their time to help with registration and serving the food. And thanks to the Baker City Herald and The Record-Courier our advertising is free.

As you can see, the blood drive truly is a community effort for a very good cause. My heartfelt thanks to all who helped.

And now we have another blood driving coming on Nov. 18 and 19 at the Calvary Baptist Church at Third and Broadway. I assure you that you will have a good time and some good snacks if you come. And you will feel good about donating.

Call me for an appointment at 541-523-4650.

Colleen Brooks

Blood Chairman

Baker City

 

Letters to the Editor for Nov. 13, 2013


Big government keeps feeding the fat cats

In one of his Texas stories, Elmer Kelton distinguishes between barn cats and house cats. Barn cats live in the barn where they are expected to keep the mouse population down. They are never fed, stay out in the barn, and pretty much have to fend for themselves. House cats, on the other hand, live pampered lives in the warm house with all of their needs supplied.

He then points out that for most of American History, its people pretty well looked out for themselves. They took care of their own needs and took pride in never accepting charity or handouts. Even the free land of the Homestead Act was purchased with several gallons of sweat.

People nowadays have no problem with accepting government handouts, only now they’re called entitlements. One of President Obama’s campaign materials last fall was how a woman named Julia had all of her needs met at each stage of her life by one government program or another.

But Julia is just an ordinary-sized house tabby; there are some tiger-sized felines out there. Wall Street bankers know that their institutions are “too big to fail,” so no matter how badly they screw up, the taxpayers will bail them out. Al Gore and his renewable energy buddies are real gravy lickers. They receive huge subsidies from all levels of government, and enjoy mandates which require that their product is purchased no matter how inefficiently it is produced. Farm subsidies were enacted to help the small farmer survive the ups and downs of that way of life, but the great majority of farm subsidies go to “small farmers” like the Archer Daniels Midland Company and TV mogul Ted Turner.

These corporate fat cats much prefer Big Government to a smaller one, as big governments have lots and lots of goodies to pass out. And in our current setup, the bulk of those goodies go to those with good political connections. If we had a small government, as we did for most of our history, those house cats might actually have to work for a living. 

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Blood drive is truly a community effort

In September Baker County held the Red Cross Blood Drive, which was a huge success. We exceeded our goal on both days.

I feel compelled to send a big thank you not only to the donors, but to the businesses and volunteers that made it such a success. As strange as it may seem, giving blood has become a social event. Gathering friends meet and visit and, due to the generosity of these businesses and organizations, can have a snack together.

Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut and Subway donate food. The Haines Mutual Improvement Club and the Haines Methodist Church Ladies bring cookies, and the Cattlewomen donate beef broth. But that’s not all. The Calvary Baptist Church and Nazarene Church donate their facilities for the drive. Baker Sanitary Service picks up the trash and about 20 local people donate their time to help with registration and serving the food. And thanks to the Baker City Herald and The Record-Courier our advertising is free.

As you can see, the blood drive truly is a community effort for a very good cause. My heartfelt thanks to all who helped.

And now we have another blood driving coming on Nov. 18 and 19 at the Calvary Baptist Church at Third and Broadway. I assure you that you will have a good time and some good snacks if you come. And you will feel good about donating.

Call me for an appointment at 541-523-4650.

Colleen Brooks

Blood Chairman

Baker City

 

A big bill, but worth it


The Baker City Council is being asked to spend a lot of money for something most of us will never see.

But the investment in a temporary ultraviolet (UV) light treatment plant for our drinking water is both wise and necessary.

What the Council can buy is reassurance.

By agreeing to spend an estimated $30,000 per month to disinfect drinking water with ultraviolet light, councilors can show residents that they are committed to avoiding a repeat of this summer’s cryptosporidium outbreak.

 

Letters to the Editor for Nov. 11, 2013


Resort Street is a work of art

I’m writing regarding Resort Street. It is absolutely a work of art, and done well, too. It won’t need work done over again for a very long time.

I can honestly say I never complained when we had to drive around the park to get to the Dollar Tree or to go through the Baker Garage’s lot to get to my pharmacy.

I did, however, get a bit impatient when the drive-through window at US Bank was closed for so long. I did miss that.

Anyway, kudos to the whole crew for a job well done!

Mary Carroll

Baker City

Another view of Historic Baker City

Martin Financial Services is not in favor of the HBC business tax.

We opened our business on First Street in 1994 and have been paying for economic development via HBC ever since — even though Baker has a paid economic developer working at City Hall. We have yet to see any benefit from HBC’s effort.

It would have been nice to have been at least visited by one of the many directors in the last almost 20 years to discuss the strategies to promote a business such as ours. It would also be interesting to see any documented economic benefit over the past 20 years that any business has received — if such data exists.

It appears that HBC’s efforts are directed to promote retail and restaurant businesses; they are not directed to promote businesses that do not have a tangible product to offer like ours and others who are in the designated HBC area.

Then there are HBC regulations with which a business owner must comply. Regulation is cited as one of the top two challenges (the other one is taxes) that businesses must contend with to be successful. These regulations prohibit an owner from promoting his business as he sees fit — colors, signage and etc. are subject to HBC’s regulations.

Any business owner should have the freedom to establish and promote his business to his potential customers however he chooses. Promotional activities of individual business owners should not have to be filtered through someone else’s vision. A vibrant economy is a diverse one. HBC’s regulations are an unnecessary burden.

If HBC is to continue it should be reorganized as the “Baker City Downtown Retail and Restaurant Association.” These are the businesses that are most likely to receive economic benefit from the promotions that HBC does.

However, any business or citizen or anyone who supports HBC’s vision for Downtown could voluntarily contribute to its efforts. Voluntary contributions to HBC would affirm or not affirm the effectiveness/popularity of its efforts and promotions with the business community and the citizens of Baker City.

Carol Martin

Baker City

Work of ‘good Samaritans’ appreciated

Don’t underestimate  the goodness of today’s youth. 

 Friday,  Nov. 8,  I  began raking leaves in my front yard,  when all of a sudden a pickup full of high school students  “descended” with rakes over their shoulder, and proceeded to clear and bag all the leaves. I offered to pay them, but they refused, saying they were doing this as a Community Service.   What  a nice gesture!  

THANK YOU to the crew that accomplished the leaf removal task, in  short order. The good Samaritans moved on down the street to  help someone else.  

 As everyone knows, Second Street is not shy of leaves at this time of year.

Phyllis Badgley

Baker City

 

Letters to the Editor for Nov. 8, 2013

Congressional schism might be easing

We witnessed an encouraging sign on Oct. 16 that the schism paralyzing the U.S. Congress may be easing. A bipartisan group of 87 House Republicans and 198 Democrats passed the Senate Budget Compromise, which ended the government shutdown and averted a default on United States obligations and a potential international financial crisis. 

It was heartening to see 87 Republican representatives rise above their party’s shift to rigid, anti-government obstructionism. Rejecting the politics of fear and ideology, they did what was right for our country and the vast majority of Americans. It’s a potential re-awakening of the democratic process through which we can mutually promote and enhance the common good.

However, the disruptive threat of the extreme right wing is still present. Even our own U.S. Rep. Greg Walden apparently bowed to tea party pressure by voting “No” on Oct. 16.. (The Club for Growth is supporting a primary challenge to Walden at www.primarymycongressman.com.)

On the other hand, wealthy Republican business donors like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are now alarmed by the threat of a U.S. default. They are unnerved at the recklessness that threatens to tear down the entire economy and scuttle their golden egg.  

The wealthy 1 percent have profited greatly from productivity increases from globalization, automation, and union busting over the past 35 years. They have, shortsightedly, enjoyed the low wages they pay, as the rest of us fight over ever-fewer family wage jobs. And they have tolerated absolutist, tea party hard-liners to protect their low taxes and loose government regulation. Perhaps they will now step in and promote needed rational behavior.

The Oct. 16 agreement also opened up negotiations between the House and Senate on the FY 2014 budget. (According to PolitiFact.com, these budget negotiations have been blocked since April by Senate tea party Republicans, who feared they might lead to much-needed tax increases.) Possibly, the current House-Senate budget conference will make a further positive step toward ending legislative gridlock. 

Let’s encourage Rep. Walden to join moderate, rational Republicans, renounce the anti-democratic minority, and follow the bipartisan precedent of Oct. 16.       

Marshall McComb

Baker City

 
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