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Letters to the editor for January 12, 2009

Clarify Web site

Oregon’s health officials claim on a state Web site that complying with the new law banning smoking in bars is, and here we quote: “easy.”

After perusing the Web site we weren’t convinced this is so.

Adhering to certain parts of the law, we’ll concede, shouldn’t severely tax tavern owners.

Putting up some “no smoking” signs and hiding the ash trays, for instance, is pretty light work.

But there’s one “easy” task listed on the Department of Human Services’s Smokefree Workplace Law Web site which, it seems to us, could cause quite a hassle for pub owners.

Under the heading “complying with the law is easy” is this:  “encourage employees who smoke to quit smoking.”

The state suggests one way by which business owners can accomplish this: “Encourage (employees who smoke) to call Oregon's toll-free QUIT LINE at 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669).

Editorial from The (La Grande) Observer

The (La Grande) Observer:

It’s a funny thing about environmental groups. The more they claim to do for forest health, the unhealthier the forests become. Lawsuits and appeals of timber projects and sales go on and on, while trees die and go unharvested, while combustibles continue to pile up on the forest floors.

Legal wrestling matches drag on (and on), and conflagrations break out every year. The result? Blighted land, squandered taxpayer dollars and a wasted resource.

The controversy touched a new height in absurdity recently, when a federal district court judge effectively slapped down a U.S. Forest Service policy designed to promote work that reduces the risk of wildfires. Two local sales already evaluated for positive and negative environmental impacts were stopped dead in their tracks.

The Forest Service policy, adopted in 2003, exempts from appeal certain logging projects on 1,000 acres or fewer, and also prescribed burning on 4,500 or fewer acres. The policy is designed to allow some constructive, productive work to proceed in a timely manner.

A warm front plays a prank on predictors, professional and otherwise

Baker Valley battled the invaders with rare courage, stubbornly resisting even as its allies fell, one after another, before the mild onslaught.

But the juggernaut of slush was irresistible.

Surrounded and vanquished, its situation hopeless, the valley at last laid down its thermometers and surrendered to the meteorological inevitability.

Which is to say it warmed up around here Wednesday morning.


Warm fronts bluster into our mountain valley pretty regularly during winter, and predicting their snow-softening progress requires little in the way of scientific prowess.

This I appreciate, as my knowledge of science is, well, limited. (Which is akin to saying that Baker County is limited in its allotment of tide pools.)

Except sometimes the jet stream plays a prank.

The trick the atmosphere pulled off earlier this week was clever indeed, making fools not only of amateur prognosticators like me, but also the professionals from the National Weather Service.

Watching Congress on wilderness

If the Senate’s action this week foreshadows the future of public land legislation under Democratic control, that future could be interesting indeed.

And potentially disappointing for advocates — and we included ourselves among them — of an equitable federal policy.

Senators had hardly arrived at the Capitol when Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., introduced the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (S.22). The act would, among many other things, designate as wilderness five areas in Oregon, totaling about 203,000 acres of public land (none of those areas is in Northeastern Oregon).

We don’t oppose creating any of those wilderness areas.

Letters to the editor for January 9, 2009

Lettters to the editor for January 7, 2009

Don’t have a cow, now

The government’s getting ready to tax cow flatulence and burps.

Sure it sounds ludicrous.

But the government’s involved, a fact which makes plausible even the most hare-brained of schemes.

We certainly won’t try to convince anyone that the government’s incapable of imposing nonsensical and economically ruinous laws.

But neither do we want Baker County ranchers to worry unduly that they’ll lose their operation if they can’t teach their herds some manners.

Here’s what the government has actually done:

Last July the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced what it calls an “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking” regarding “potential regulatory approaches” to dealing with greenhouse gases.

Letters to the editor for January 6, 2009

City plows ahead and does its job

The great thing about snow is that it melts.

Glaciers are rather more persistent, of course, but there aren’t any of those in Baker County.

Yet the temporary nature of snow is small consolation to anyone whose car is marooned behind a chest-high wall of congealed slush.

Or to someone who lives along a street where the blacktop hasn’t been visible for a couple of weeks.

Both situations have happened this winter in Baker City.

Both have happened in plenty of winters past and, barring a radical shift in climate, both will continue to happen.

On balance, though, the snow that accumulates on our streets is more an annoyance than the near-disaster that some critics of the city’s snow-control strategy seem to believe it is.

In general the city deals with snow and ice in an appropriate and competent way.

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