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Football field trip folly

We’re not sure what “pro-social” activities are, or are supposed to be.

What we do know is that juveniles who are on probation for such crimes as burglary and meth possession shouldn’t be getting free trips to college football games, no matter what you call it.

On Sept. 13, four employees from Washington County’s Juvenile Department escorted 12 youth offenders to Eugene’s Autzen Stadium, where they watched the University of Oregon play the University of Wyoming.

Bomb threat raises easy, and difficult, questions


A bomb threat on a school day at Baker Middle School qualifies as news under any reasonable definition of that word.

We didn’t hesitate, when we heard on the police radio scanner that officers were searching the building around 7 o’clock the morning of Sept. 9, to talk to police, gather as much accurate information as we could and then post a story on both our website, www.bakercityherald.com, and on our Facebook page.

With about 255 students affected — some already eating breakfast at the First Presbyterian Church just south of the school, and others set to show up in less than an hour — this was obviously vital information for quite a lot of local families.

Fortunately this incident ended as most of them do — there was no bomb.

Students, who had been taken by bus to Baker High School, were back at BMS by 8:30 a.m.

No one was hurt.


Paying to visit public lands

One advantage to living in Baker County, where about half of our 2 million acres are publicly owned, is that we can go to a lot of places without having to pay an admission fee.

But the federal government, which manages most of the county’s public acreage, seems to have an insatiable appetite for our dollars.

A current and troubling example is a bill in Congress we were alerted to by a fine watchdog organization, the Western Slope No Fee Coalition of Colorado.

Letters to the Editor for Sept. 15, 2014

Walden’s record on Constitution is lacking

Congressman Greg Walden is asking Oregon voters to send him back to Congress for yet another term. Before we do that we should compare his existing voting record with the requirements of the U.S. Constitution, which is still the law of the land. Each elected public official from the president on down has sworn, that is SWORN, to abide by the Constitution in fulfilling the duties of the office for which he or she was elected. According to information contained in the Jan. 6, 2014, and July 28, 2014, editions of the “New American” publication, in which each bill involving a constitutional issue is  considered, Mr. Walden scored 53 percent. This indicates that he violated his oath to obey the Constitution roughly half the time. Some examples of his unconstitutional votes:

• H.R. 1960, June 13, 2013, voted to permit indefinite military detention of prisoners without trial. 

• H.R. 1947, June 20, 2013, voted for the Farm and Food Programs bill which would spend nearly $1 trillion tax dollars on federal food programs which is not allowed under the Constitution.

• H.R. 2397, Sept. 6, 2013, voted against an amendment that would prohibit the government from collecting  information on individuals not suspected of crimes.

• H.R. 4435, May 22, 2014, voted for indefinite military detention of any person detained under the Authorization for the use of military force authority in the United States.

Mr. Walden also voted, in violation of the Constitution for: Ukraine Aid, H. R. 4152; Use of military force, H.R. 4435;  Omnibus Appropriations bill, HR 3547; and the  Farm and Food Programs, H.R. 2642. 

For an individual who claims to, and has sworn to, uphold the U.S. Constitution, this is a very poor record. Shouldn’t we attempt to find a candidate for that office who will do what the law requires and what he or she has sworn to do? Let us try!

Jasper Coombes


Americans need to recognize dirty political tricks

Gary McManus’ recent letter to the editor seems to be based on information he got off the Internet that Snopes.com — the mythbuster website — has called “FALSE.”

In that letter McManus attributes to Saul Alinsky “eight rules to create a socialist state.”  

It took me just minutes to find out that Saul Alinsky, who has been dead since 1972, did not create those “eight rules” that McManus lists. The misinformation came from the Internet and smacks of political dirty tricks that the public finds so distasteful.  

I’m writing as someone who recently was the target of political dirty tricks, when local persons, pretending to be me on Facebook, carried on Facebook conversations with about two dozen unsuspecting Baker City citizens, organizations, and businesses, including, among others, two of our local newspapers, a 5J board member, and a couple of my next door neighbors. 

McManus pleads for “all Americans to wake up.” Yes, I agree! 

Gary Dielman

Baker City

Coles made right decision to not run for re-election

This letter is prompted by your recent item about city councilman Roger Coles who says it is time for him to “move on.”  I agree, it is time.

 The highlights of his swan song are these:

 “The budget boards have really been phenomenal. I think they’ve worked hard to keep the financial health of the city in check...” That statement from Coles assumes that he and other phenoms saved the city from financial deficit. That is not true and never has been. City staff has traditionally ended each fiscal year with a surplus.

 “I think you have people with different philosophies. You got people who are, however it is handled, it’s fine. Then you have people asking about accountability and responsibility.”  Mr. Coles counts himself as responsible and regards city staff as irresponsible. That is not true either. While Mr.  Coles’ place of business is just across the street from City Hall, he has appeared only one time to meet with City Manager Mike Kee.  He mostly berates city workers in public at council meetings, facts or no facts.

 “I wasn’t a person to sit there and be willing to rubber stamp what was put in front of me.”  That is true, he wasn’t.  His favorite mantra has been, “I can’t buy into that.” Among the efforts he could not buy into was the effort to guard against cryptosporidium in our water supply. When the crypto outbreak did occur, Coles pretended that he had advocated for a filtering system all along. But he repeatedly voted against protection. And now, years and one outbreak later, we are building a system. Finally, we have bought into it.

Roger Coles deserves our thanks for his willingness to serve on the council. He is not entitled to much credit for the manner in which he has done so.

Milo Pope

Baker City

Keeping an eye on the goats

Baker County is the best place in Oregon to see mountain goats in their natural habitat.

But perhaps it’s become too good, in at least one place.

That’s Twin Lakes, the scenic, and understandably popular, spot in the Elkhorns west of Baker City.

The goats that congregate around the lakes are so blasé about the presence of people, including campers, that they’ve become at the least a nuisance.

A serious threat

The most important thing about Tuesday’s bomb threat at Baker Middle School is that it was only a threat.

No bomb.

No injuries.

Not even much class time lost, as the school’s approximately 260 seventh- and eighth-graders were in their seats by 8:30 a.m., just 35 minutes after the normal start.

The second most important aspect of this event is that the person apparently responsible, a 13-year-old boy who’s a student at BMS, was identified.

A document reveals Baker County in its youth

It is a rare and pleasant occasion when someone brings to my office an historical document so rich in compelling detail that almost instantly on opening it I forget that I’m surrounded by the microchip-laden devices that define our era.

Kim Lethlean gave me a copy of just such a record recently.

Lethlean, who lives in Baker City, has a keen interest in local history — particularly mining history, as his family owns the Virtue mine.

The Virtue, a hard-rock gold mine in the arid sagebrush hills about six miles east of Baker City, plays an outsized role in the city’s story.

When its early owners, among them Col. J.S. Ruckel, realized there wasn’t enough water near the mine to process its ore, they decided, rather than dig a ditch as was customary in those days, that it would be simpler to haul the ore to where the water is.

Specifically, to the Powder River.

Letter to the Editor for Sept. 10, 2014

Merkley needs to be voted out of office

 Saul Alinsky was a radical that graduated from the University of Chicago and wrote two books, “Rules For Radicals,” and “Reveille for Radicals,” the subject being  on how to create a socialist state. He died in 1972 but his writings still go on. Hillary Clinton did her college thesis on Alinsky writings and Obama writes about him in his books. Alinsky advocated eight rules to create a socialist state, the first being the most important.

1) Healthcare: Control healthcare and you control the people.

2) Poverty: Increase the poverty level as high as possible. Poor people are easier to control and will not fight back if you are providing everything for them to live.

3) Debt: Increase the debt to an unsustainable level. That way you are able to increase taxes, and this will produce more poverty.

4) Gun control: Remove the ability to defend themselves from the government. That way you are able to create a police state.

5) Welfare: Take control of every aspect of their lives (food, housing and income).

6) Education: Take control of what people read and listen to. Take control of what children learn in school.

7) Religion: Remove the belief in God from the government and schools.

8) Class welfare: Divide the people into the wealthy and poor. This will cause more discontent and it will be easier to tax the wealthy with the support of the poor.

Does any of this sound like what is happening in the United States? It is time for all Americans to wake up and vote the big government, socialist leaning politicians out of office. Senator Merkley has voted with the Obama agenda about 96 percent of the time.

It’s time for him to be voted out of office!

Gary McManus

Baker City

Councilors should all be involved

Baker City Council members Dennis Dorrah, Roger Coles and Richard Langrell let down their constituents last week.

The trio didn’t attend a special City Council meeting during which councilors evaluated City Manager Mike Kee’s performance over the past year.

This is a vital part of the Council’s job.

Kee oversees the city’s day-to-day operations. He’s responsible for the city’s 70 or so employees.

Letter to the Editor for Sept. 5, 2014

Obama does nothing to keep gas prices down

Our local Democratic official says that there is no conspiracy by the Obama Administration to jack up gasoline prices, but that those prices are set by a balance between supply and demand. That is true enough as far as it goes — there is no conspiracy. But the fact remains that high energy prices are a stated policy of our Democratic president. In 2008, then-Senator Obama said that his energy policies “would necessarily cause energy prices to skyrocket.” He has since learned not to be quite so candid, but his policies are unchanged; he just hopes that you don’t notice them.

Motor fuel prices are determined by a balance between supply and demand. The Obama administration actively works to diminish the supply side of that equation, and so cause their price to increase. When running for re-election, he tried to take credit for the fact that oil and natural gas production in the United States has greatly increased in the past few years. However, all of that increase is coming from state and private lands. Production on federal lands has diminished every year of his administration, and continues to do so.

He and his fellow Democrats work to depress the supply of motor fuels by making huge areas of the country absolutely off limits for oil and gas production — offshore areas off both coastlines, the North Slope of Alaska, etc. On federal lands, applications for new oil leases move through the Byzantine federal bureaucracy at an excruciatingly slow pace.

Our local Democratic official says that during the last year of the Bush Administration, gasoline prices topped $4 a gallon. That also is true. But the only reason that motor fuel prices aren’t even higher today is because our supply situation is so much better now than it was back then. Despite the best efforts of the president and his Democratic allies, we are still only paying between $3 and $4 a gallon. What would gasoline prices be if the Obama Administration was working to increase our country’s oil production, rather than decrease it?

Pete Sundin

Baker City

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