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Letters to the editor for November 10, 2008

Voters do bridge rural-urban divide . . . . occasionally

“Baker County votes don’t matter — Portland decides every election.”

This lament is one we hear often.

And it’s not without merit.

Consider, for instance, that President-elect Barack Obama received 57 percent of the votes cast in Oregon, and John McCain 41 percent.

Obama did exceptionally well in Multnomah County, Oregon’s most populous, where he got 77 percent of the votes to McCain’s 21 percent.

Yet in Baker County Obama polled just 32 percent to McCain’s 64 percent.

The returns are similarly reversed in the U.S. Senate race.

Letters to the editor for November 7, 2008

Elk season arrives, and with it the excuses

The elk hunt commences one day hence and I have been hard at it, gathering my woolen garments and my excuses.

In this way I hope to protect my skin as well as my ego, although I’m too pragmatic to expect much as to the latter.

I do own a closetful of coats — enough insulation, probably, to keep several versions of myself toasty in all but the most frigid weather. Except probably it will just rain.

As for the actual hunting, I lack anything like the creativity necessary to conjure tales that would diminish, in any meaningful sense, my incompetence.

To begin with I’m not what you could call stealthy.

I can usually stay upright, even on uneven ground. The trouble is I tend to snap twigs and kick stones and snag low-hanging limbs with my sleeves and in general upset the normally tranquil woods with the sort of cacophony which not even the most naive elk will tolerate.

Last fall I didn’t see a single elk. I don’t know if this is because there weren’t any elk around, or because I made such a racket that all the elk heard me before I was close enough to see them, but I suspect the second theory is a lot nearer the truth.

Baker County’s big bargain

Rarely is a government agency presented with the kind of bargain that Baker County Commissioners gratefully accepted recently.

Commissioners want to build a hydroelectric plant at Mason Dam between Baker City and Sumpter.

They solicited bids from consultants interested in overseeing the county’s application for a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Four consultants submitted bids.

Letters to the editor for November 6, 2008

After this election day, even the losers win

I feel especially proud today to be an American.

Not because my candidate won.

I voted for John McCain, and he lost.

His defeat disappoints me because I think McCain would be a better president than Barack Obama.

But I’m hardly inconsolable, because I also believe that Obama could be a pretty good president.

And I hope he fulfills his immense promise.

City Council made right call on SDCs

The Baker City Council was wise to delay its discussion about possibly adding system development charges to the list of fees it assesses to people who build new homes or commercial structures.

SDCs are, potentially, a big deal — based on a consultant’s report, the charges could add more than $14,000 to the cost of building a home.

SDCs could be a crucial source of money for the improvements city officials hope to make to the water, sewer and street systems — or, in the case of the sewer system, might be forced to make.

More than half of Oregon’s 240 incorporated cities charge SDCs. Baker City never has done so.

Considering all that’s at stake, then, councilors shouldn’t be in a hurry to make a decision.

So far they haven’t been.

It’s time to let feedlot workers vote

Today Americans will decide who they want to lead this country for the next four years.

Voters will make their choice by casting secret ballots.

It seems to us that this method, which we use to fill the most important job in the world, ought to be a reasonable way to determine whether 85 workers at three livestock feedlots want to join a union.

Beef Northwest, the company that owns those feedlots, in Boardman, Nyssa and Quincy, Wash., agrees.

So do the 120 ranchers, including 16 in Baker County, who belong to Country Natural Beef, the cooperative that sends its cattle to the Boardman feedlot for finishing.

Letter to the editor for November 4, 2008

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