On the first morning of my first job in Baker I was late because I went to the wrong place.
This was a quarter century ago, in late June of 1989. The town was no larger and no more bustling than it is today so I can’t blame anything but my own stupidity for the mistake.
I wasn’t even driving, so traffic wasn’t a factor, either (not that traffic is ever much of a factor in getting from one place to another in Baker).
It was, though, I’d argue, a plausible bit of blundering on my part.
The job was with the Forest Service’s Baker Ranger District. At that time the ranger station was a building at the northwest corner of Pocahontas Road and 10th Street (the building is still there; it’s the Oregon State Police office now).
So that’s where I went.
What I didn’t know then is that the Forest Service owns another complex of buildings at 11th and H.
That’s where I was supposed to go.
Can’t we have a City Council that works for the city?
I have been asked many times by various citizens to run for City Council. Now I would like to make public my reasons for not running.
I can’t remember in my 33 years living here a single city council that wasn’t dysfunctional in one way or another. The citizens vote for what they perceive to be citizens interested in representing the city as a whole in matters of importance. What we always end up with sadly is several worthy council members doing exactly that, and a few that bring their own personal agenda that serves them and not the citizens.
This current Council is case in point. The citizens voted for the councilors, and as the paper pointed out the citizens have no vote as to who is chosen mayor. But each voter realizes one of the seven would be elected mayor and therefore we wouldn’t vote for any councilor we felt would be inadequate in the job.
Unfortunately, four councilors felt that rather than wait for the seating of a new City Council in order to pick a new mayor they would vote Richard out now.
Will we ever have a Council that will learn to respect and disagree at the same time, and the key word here is respect. We have four councilors that like children when the game doesn’t go their way, they take the ball and go home.
The four councilors that decided their personal agenda is more important than that of city business is by far the most compelling reason I can think of for not wanting to run for public office. My hat is off to now Roger Coles, Dennis Dorrah, and now simply Councilor Richard Langrell for doing the right thing. You have my full support as well as sympathy. As for the other four Councilors, have you ever thought actions such as yours are always seen negatively by any business thinking of relocating to Baker City. You did this the very same week we will have thousands of visitors to our fair city, what will they think of you?
Bentz is right: We can accomplish more together
I was impressed by Rep. Cliff Bentz’s calm and thoughtful response to the controversy that exists in our use of natural resources (“Bentz: Timber gridlock annoys,” July 7). While others may promote conflict and confrontation, Bentz reminds us that collaboration can produce win-win solutions that benefit us all, and he specifically calls for “a sturdy line of communication between state and federal agencies and local governments.”
It’s likely that such vigorous communication actually can overcome environmental lawsuit barriers and lead to increased, sustainable employment in the timber industry. Bentz urges us to explore additional job creation opportunities, as well, and so do I.
In my opinion, a most productive first step toward wage growth and prosperity in our community would be to recognize the epic damage caused by the growing inequality of wealth in our country. There’s been a heartbreaking decline of the middle class.
American wages have been stagnant or shrinking for the past 35 years, as good-paying jobs were lost to computer automation and off-shoring. Profits have increasingly gone to an elite few, who are lightly taxed.
One widely-discussed solution: engaging with all levels of government, we could increase incomes by enhancing the Earned Income Tax Credit. If more families had a livable income, it would quickly and substantially increase the amount of money circulating in Baker County and elsewhere, and more jobs would follow. Everyone would benefit.
Abraham Lincoln warned us that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Fighting each other, we invite disintegration. Let us not allow fear and ideology to cloud mutual respect and high regard. Working together we can realize the potential of our collective genius to discover surprising, new solutions that transcend our individual views.
Baker County has long been known for its ranches, farms and orchards that produce the staples of an all-American meal.
Peaches and huckleberries for a dessert cobbler.
But the county is also starting to round out the local menu with a selection of beverages with which adults can complement their dinners.
We have a pair of breweries in Barley Brown’s and Bull Ridge.
Travis Cook and Jacki and Lance Adams are growing wine grapes near Keating and Richland.
I remember the day the man with the unusual last name phoned to tell me a fantastic tale about motorcycles and Baker City.
His name is Eric Folkestad.
I’d have remembered that, more than eight years later, if I remembered nothing else.
I asked him to spell Folkestad.
Later I asked him to spell it twice more so I could be sure I hadn’t swapped the “l” and the “k” or misplaced the “e.”
I was so worried about botching his last name I nearly forgot to ask him the equally vital question about his first name.
Privatizing federal land would limit our freedoms
The same night that the Republicans held their debate for county commissioner there was an article about Seneca Jones, a timber company, buying part of the Elliot Forest, which is a part of the state forest lands that were laid out to support schools and colleges. Evidently the state land board got frustrated fighting with environmental groups so decided to show them and sold about 800 acres to the private company. That land which used to belong to the people of Oregon will now have no trespassing signs posted on it.
I mention this in response and support of Bob Whitnah’s letter in the Baker County Press. He is dead on. If you like the freedom of movement you grew up with in the West then pay damned little attention to the periodic Sagebrush Rebellion stuff that periodically comes out of Nevada. Privatizing federal lands would be extremely difficult with 435 congressmen, 100 senators, nine Supreme Court justices and a president all having a say. The Seneca Jones situation illustrates exactly what would happen if federal lands ever reverted to the states. With the wealth of the country becoming ever more concentrated in the hands of a few it wouldn’t be long before the super-rich bribed, contributed to elections and bought their own state legislators and worked out a deal to privatize and own what is now collectively yours. In Oregon those with the power would number less than 100 to do this, on the county level three elected officials might be able to do it.
The western United States is unique in all the world for providing freedom of movement for its citizens. I grew up western and will fight to keep that heritage. The idea that I should be surrounded by no trespassing signs on my land is unacceptable. That doesn’t mean I am always happy with the way my lands are managed but at least I have a say. Once they are in private hands I have none.
When you own the town’s ice cream shop you’re going to get a lot of smiles from your customers.
Who can frown, after all, at the man who hands you a double scoop of rocky road or huckleberry?
But John Osborn did a lot more to make people happy than whip up milkshakes at Charley’s Ice Cream parlor at Main and Broadway.
Osborn, who died July 2 at age 61, was helping Baker County’s children long before he weighed his first bag of jelly beans or jawbreakers at Charley’s.
He was an assistant Scoutmaster for a quarter century.
He served on the sale committees for the Baker County Fair, as well as the Baker County Fair in Halfway.
He coached youth baseball and softball for many years.
John later turned his restaurant into a Thanksgiving soup kitchen, where he served free meals to people on the holiday.
It’s little wonder that John was nominated for Baker County Man of the Year in 2010.
We hope Charley’s continues to dish out treats for sweet tooths of all ages.
But the place won’t ever be quite the same without John Osborn standing behind the counter, asking you what’ll you have.
Oregon isn’t among the nine states that make it a criminal offense to impersonate someone online.
It should join that list.
Not every person who has his or her name co-opted by a Facebook imposter suffers any real harm, of course.
But the potential for irreparable damage, whether to a victim’s reputation or bank account, more than justifies adding to the state’s criminal statutes.
Some existing laws could encompass certain types of online impersonation — fraud, identity theft and harassment, for instance, are all illegal in every state.
Still and all, the difference between a harmless prank — creating a Twitter account or Facebook page under a friend’s name and posting silly pictures or slightly embarrassing quotes, say — and permanently sullying a person’s name isn’t always distinct.
In a recent case in Baker City, someone created a Facebook page pretending to be former City Councilor Gary Dielman, who’s an elected member of the Baker County Library District board and of the Baker County Democratic Central Committee.
It’s not clear what the imposter did, other than exchange online messages with at least one local resident.
But with no state law in place that deals explicitly with online impersonators whose motivations aren’t blatant, Oregon is too inviting a place for imposters who might be trying to pull something other than a juvenile prank.
Nobody on the cable show “Finding Bigfoot” can actually find Bigfoot, but they can, apparently, move an entire volcano a couple hundred miles.
Which seems to me even more implausible than the notion that an unidentified bipedal primate has been slinking around the forests of the Northwest for decades yet not one has been clipped by a Camry on the freeway.
Wolves can’t even avoid that fate, and wolves are more nimble than any biped.
I watch “Finding Bigfoot.”
I would describe this as a guilty pleasure except I don’t get a great deal of pleasure from the experience.
As we celebrate our nation’s independence today it’s appropriate to also consider how much progress we’ve made in ensuring citizens have the full measure of freedom — America’s DNA, you might say.
During the 20th century the debate about freedom in the U.S. focused on fundamental matters.
Should women vote?
Should African-Americans be able to sit in the front seat of a public bus and go to the same schools as white students?
We answered those questions, and our answers — that freedom must always trump gender and racial heritage — were the correct ones.
Today, by contrast, a major topic among the national discourse is whether a relative handful of corporations ought to be compelled, by force of federal law, to buy their female employees four types of contraceptives (out of 20 available) even if doing so runs counter to the business owners’ religious beliefs.
Two-parent family remains best option for society
Sociologist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, “Much of the social history of the Western world … has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.” We have inherited from our ancestors something which works: the two-parent family. A man and a woman marry for life and provide a home for their children. It’s not perfect; we humans aren’t perfect. But numerous studies have established that this is the best environment for raising happy, healthy children — it works.
Then a generation ago along came no-fault divorce and the sexual revolution. Both sounded good at the time, but once adopted, they have led to the single-parent family. Single parents want to raise happy, healthy children, of course, and many do. But they are laboring under a handicap. They are trying to do by themselves a job best done by two people.
Mr. Sowell, a black man, was appalled at the destructive effect this change has had upon the people of his race, particularly the young men. Huge numbers of them spend significant amounts of time in jail, and all too many are murdered in gang violence. They make the neighborhoods in which they live hells on earth.
Some claim that this is evidence of racism in our society, but it’s not. The rate of out-of-wedlock births in our inner cities is around 70 percent. The refusal of these young black men to marry the mothers of their children deprives them of the civilizing impact young women can have on them, and significantly increases the odds that their sons will share their unhappy fate. For them, the single-parent family most decidedly does not work.
We whites should not feel complacent. As the rate of our out-of-wedlock births continues to increase, our young men are sharing the same pathologies afflicting young black men. We’re just not as far down that path as they are.
Western civilization has tinkered with the institutions of marriage and of the family, and the results have not been good. But we have not learned from our experience, and continue to replace what works with what sounds good.