Proposed forest rule threatens local economy
I am opposing the Forest Service proposed rule on “Categorical Exclusion for Restoration Activities.” This road and trail category (defined at 36 CFR 212.1) is to be used for areas where non-system roads and trails are located and is a backdoor approach to closing more forest roads.
This rule is designed to target our RS 2477 roads. Many of these old roads are not being maintained because they do not need it. They are healed over and do not contribute to erosion. Yes, they are being used — by every kind of animal. They have a cultural value to us, and most of them are established on ancient Indian trails which also have a cultural value.
I believe it is in our best interest to leave them alone.
In the explanation it covers “removing water control devices such as dikes, ditches, culverts and pipes; restore lands and habitat to pre-disturbance conditions (besides), restore lands occupied by roads and trails to natural conditions.” And “remove debris, sediment” following “natural or human-caused events.”
Again, we have water-related devices or controls in our local forest which support our agricultural lands that are over a century old. They have never caused any environmental damages and they have seldom needed more than a minimum of maintenance.
Since they use natural ways of operating they meet the standard to restore to a natural state covered by this rule. This will be a tremendous economic loss to Baker County.
This rule is written with no knowledge of our local terrain or local needs.
This rule threatens us with an enormous negative economical impact on a number of local industries, including fishermen, hunters, prospectors, woodcutters and most importantly here in our dry region, water for irrigation.
It is extremely important to respond immediately. The comment period ends Aug. 13.
Submit comments online at www.regulations.gov or write to “Restoration CE Comments,” P.O. Box 4208, Logan, UT, 84323.
Identify comments by writing “Categorical Exclusions for Restoration Activities” on the front page. Be sure to sign your name and address.
It looks as though voters in the Baker School District will decide whether to recall two of the five school board members: chair Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson.
The recall ballots won’t arrive in mailboxes as early as proponents had hoped, though.
County Clerk Tami Green announced Tuesday that recall organizers had failed to gather enough signatures to refer the matter to voters.
Proponents need to gather a minimum of 913 signatures from people registered to vote in school district elections to force a recall election. That threshold applies to Burroughs and Henderson individually — the organizers need to collect at least that many signatures on separate petitions for each board member.
Green certified 910 signatures on the petition to recall Burroughs, and 900 signatures on the Henderson petition.
We understand why recall backers Kerry McQuisten and Suzan Jones are upset with Green’s decision to invalidate some signatures and petition sheets.
They contend that certain dates on petition sheets which Green concluded had been changed — which results in all signatures on those sheets being dismissed — were actually the result of ink spilling or a shaky writing hand.
That sounds plausible.
Yet Green has an obligation to ensure that, almost literally, every “t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted in a matter as serious as the possible recall of an elected official.
Ultimately, we believe the only effect of Green’s decision is that recall organizers will have to replicate some of their work.
Which they say they will do, and soon.
Which means the democratic process has been delayed in this case, but in the end it won’t be thwarted, and we expect voters will have their say.
Chick-fil-A owner’s comments personal, not political
In the Aug. 3 editorial, “Chicken chain’s flap,” you are correct in stating that business owners have First Amendment rights to free speech as American citizens. However, the first sentence in the last paragraph is incorrect which states, “The First Amendment pretty clearly stands in the way of any city trying to legally restrict businesses from opening based on the political views of their owners.” This statement is misleading.
The views expressed by Mr. Cathy of Chick-fil-A were not political. They were a statement of his personal convictions that have helped the Chick-fil-A business to be successful, and he has the right to express them publicly. As you note, politicians have turned Cathy’s comments into a political flap, and it has been perpetuated by the press. We are disappointed that the Baker City Herald joined in this bias by insinuating that Cathy’s remarks were political.
Equally disappointing was the political cartoon included in the Aug. 3 paper which depicts that homosexuals are treated differently by Chick-fil-A. The company has issued a statement telling its customers that “going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena” and that Chick-fil-A’s tradition is “to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”
John and Susie Busch
Thanks to locals for taking care of my backpack
Just wanted to say thank you to the person(s) who turned in my backpack (on July 23) after it inadvertently fell out of the car when we stopped for lunch while on our way from Boise to Bend. Thank you to the Subway employees for holding onto it. Thank you to Grammy K for picking it up and keeping it safe until we came back through on the 28th. It was a disappointment not to have my wallet and cameras while on vacation, but great (and comforting) to know that Baker City has such quality people!
Chick-fil-A doesn’t discriminate against anyone
Although your Aug. 3 editorial about the Chick-fil-A flap notes the right of the owners to express their support for traditional marriage, the cartoon on the editorial page suggests that Chick-fil-A actively discriminates against homosexuals in the service they offer (comparing it to the pre-civil rights era when blacks were relegated to “Negro” drinking fountains, restrooms, etc.). This is, I believe, a gross mischaracterization of Chick-fil-A which borders on slander.
Chick-fil-A’s website has this statement regarding service to customers: “The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.” In addition, I’ve heard no reports that they practice any kind of illegal or unethical discrimination in their hiring practices.
Personally, I applaud the owners of Chick-fil-A for their courage in defending their “politically incorrect” view of marriage. The homosexualist agenda advocates “tolerance” for all…unless one’s views diverge from theirs. That makes the homosexualists the bigots, not Chick-fil-A’s owners.
Pro-pot position is rooted in writer’s selfishness
The editor’s “drifting towards a yes vote on pot measure” is misguided. His argument that he can consider voting for it because it will have no direct impact on him is indicative of much of what is wrong in our society. His perspective can only be labeled as “it’s all about me.” If it doesn’t affect me then I can support it. Have you ever stopped to think that it really isn’t, or shouldn’t be, all about you? What about the adverse effects (and they are well documented) on the user of marijuana? Legalize it and you simply make it easier for more people to abuse their bodies and minds. But who cares? Right...it’s not about them, it’s about the impact on you.
Consider also the negative effects on society. As a cop I worked in a number of big cities and the impacts on crime due to the use of any narcotic or drug, including marijuana, are many and always negative. So legalizing it will theoretically drive the cost down? Questionable, but even at lower cost there is a criminal element that will steal to obtain the funds needed to buy their weed. If you want to make your decision based on facts rather than assumptions you might ask the Baker City Police Chief or Baker County Sheriff whether marijuana use in our county is related to other criminal activity.
I never put words in a criminal’s mouth but I cannot count the number of heroin, meth and coke users I have interviewed that told me they started with weed, liked the buzz, and felt a stronger drug would just give them a better trip. Finally, your assumption that the cartels will stop growing marijuana in our national forests if Oregon legalizes pot can only be described as a fantasy. Look online for Mexican drug cartel distribution maps and you will see that weed grown here doesn’t all stay here. So unless every state were to legalize pot the cartel grows are not going away anytime soon.
Your original inclination to oppose legalizing weed was the right one. I hope you revert back to it.
There has been as yet scarce interest among Baker City residents in four openings on the seven-member City Council.
As of today, only one person — former councilor Terry Schumacher — has filed. A second, Mike Downing, is collecting signatures. And City Recorder Becky Fitzpatrick said she has given informational packets to two other people.
This apparent apathy doesn’t shock us. The deadline to file as a candidate is 4 p.m. on Aug. 27, and it’s common to have a flurry of late filings. Still and all, that’s less than three weeks away. And although the paperwork isn’t onerous, candidates must gather signatures from at least 40 people who are registered to vote in city elections. For information, go to www.bakercity.com, or call Fitzpatrick at 541-524-2033.
We think this is a particularly compelling time for residents to represent their neighbors and help to run the city. Rising costs for PERS could force the city to make difficult decisions in future years’ budgets. That’s the kind of challenge that we hope will prove irresistible to residents willing to devote their time, and abilities, to public service. It would be a pity if someone missed out on that chance just because he or she missed a deadline.
Reagan tax cuts made things worse, not better
Jobs and economic growth are not triggered by wealthy investors, but by broadly distributed middle-class prosperity and consumer demand. That’s why “supply-side” economic theory, in which tax cuts for the wealthy are supposed to stimulate the economy, has been thoroughly discredited and is worse than useless. And that’s why it was discouraging to read in the Herald that Reagan’s tax cuts during his first term were “so influential in reviving a sluggish economy” (your lengthy essay of July 27). (“Supply-side” is also known as “trickle-down” or voodoo economics. Google “Reaganomics” to learn more.)
Actually, economic growth during the Reagan years was stimulated by a major increase in government spending, a result right in line with the highly regarded Keynesian prescription for recovery from a normal recession. According to Wikipedia, increases in payroll taxes negated Reagan’s tax cuts for the middle class, but spending during Reagan’s two terms averaged 22.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), well above the 20.6 percent GDP average from 1971 to 2009. But in the end, Reaganomics failed him. Reagan’s spending increases and tax cuts tripled the national debt, a result Reagan described as the “greatest disappointment” of his presidency. (Not learning from history, the Bush tax cuts doubled the national debt, and it’s still climbing.)
It’s even more important to understand that the current recession is not a normal one. The economy continues to expand slowly, unemployment remains stubbornly high, and millions are suffering. Why? The middle class has been largely drained of its purchasing power by the increasing effects of automation, off-shoring jobs, and union-busting. Meanwhile, a few very wealthy Americans have siphoned off much of the profits, are paying historically low tax rates, and are investing millions of dollars in this election to increase their political clout and further impoverish the rest of us.
A well-informed national debate is desperately needed to deal with this major, new structural problem. It’s important that the drumbeat of false and misleading information be minimized. I urge you and my fellow readers to fact-check information before passing it along and then help create innovative, evidence-based solutions.
Nice to read about the school district’s achievements
The report on our schools in the July 30 Baker City Herald was very welcome to all of us — parents and community members who are not parents of students now in school here. Learning that the percentages – test scores in reading and math, building assessments are far above the state percentages tells us more than opinions without any credible data that have been expressed previously.
Thank you Supt. Wegener and Chairman Burroughs for compiling this data-filled report, and to the Herald for publishing it.
The real meaning of ‘once in a blue moon’
Sounds to me that almost everyone uses the term “once in a blue moon” like they know what it means. Well, as usual that is all talk, with little “knowledge,” meaning understanding gained by actual experience, not from hearsay from folk that know even less than you think you know.
Once in a blue moon is when there is a full moon twice in the same month, as is the case in August of 2012, once on Aug. 2 and again on Aug. 31. Now you know what a blue moon is.
Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler is wading into the murky swamp of the state’s Public Employees Retirement System.
For taking the risk that he’ll step into a patch of political quicksand, Wheeler deserves credit.
As a Democrat in a state that elects Republicans to statewide offices about once a generation, Wheeler would be on perfectly stable ground by simply going about his duties and leaving PERS to the Legislature.
We don’t mean to imply, though, that Wheeler has discovered a PERS panacea.
In a recent letter to the PERS board of directors, Wheeler suggested a few modest changes that might at least curb the retirement system’s voracious appetite for public dollars that otherwise could keep police officers, firefighters and teachers, among other local, county and state employees, on the job.
Incremental changes might be the best we can hope for.
The truly insidious aspect of PERS is that some of its more expensive benefits — for instance, guaranteeing annual returns of 8 percent on pension accounts for PERS members hired before 1996 — were negotiated as parts of legally binding contracts.
The Legislature can’t simply say, “sorry, we changed our mind.”
But as Wheeler noted in his letter, the Legislature could trim annual cost-of-living adjustments and do away with an overly generous benefit for retirees who move to another state.
With cities, counties and school districts facing another major increase in their PERS bills next July, Wheeler’s colleagues in Salem are obligated to support his effort to save as much money as possible.
So Oregonians, having dispatched years ago such trifling topics as whether we should pump our own gasoline or pay sales tax, will at last get down to the weighty matter of marijuana.
Literally, what with the munchies and all.
A little over a year ago I wrote in this space about my chronic ambivalence regarding the idea of legalizing (more or less) marijuana in the state.
Now, with the knowledge that a pro-pot initiative will be on the ballot Nov. 6, my position on the topic has started to solidify.
I’m not yet a definite “yes” vote in favor of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, which would allow people 21 and older to grow and sell (to adults only) marijuana.
But my endorsement is congealing, so to speak.
Power line would go through our back yard
It was with dismay that I read the B.C. Herald’s July 27 editorial “Best route for the power line.” I estimate that at least 99 percent of Baker County’s residents are on the grid and that they take it for granted. However, their power comes here transmitted on high tension lines going through someone’s back yard – though I doubt that many worry about where, as long as they have reliable power and it does not affect their viewshed.
Some of us, though, live with no access to the grid and thus derive no benefits from any transmission line anywhere. Instead, at high cost we supply our own limited power from photovoltaic systems or generators. We accept the cost and inconvenience gladly (no air conditioner, no clothes dryer, etc.,) but we do object to the new suggested route going through our back yard in the historical district of Sparta – which incidentally is in elk overlay. It also appears that the route would require quite a swath to be cut through the national forest.
Please reconsider your endorsement.
Save energy, avoid need to build power line
I have a novel idea. How about the beneficiaries bearing the cost? I live in Sparta, most of us get our electricity from photovoltaics, we accept the consequences of our choice and we live with limited electricity. We did this in part as we wished to live in an unspoiled environment with as few reminders as possible of the urban world, an unobstructed view of the Wallowas, for example. Now it would seem that many in the Baker City area don’t like the prospect of a 500kv utility line running through their area, I thought perhaps parallel to Pocahontas or Hwy 30 might be a good route. After all, the vast majority of you are connected to the utility grid, shouldn’t you pay the cost?
But then redistribution is a popular theme and moving it to eastern Baker County is redistributing the cost! Let’s face it, profligate energy consumption is detrimental to the environment that we all desire in Baker County. Use less electricity and demand that Idaho Power find another way to balance its load.
Remember that innocent era when Chick-fil-A, the purveyor of rapidly delivered poultry, was best known for its clever TV commercials featuring beleaguered cows urging Americans to boost their consumption of chicken?
Today the fast food chain is a symbol in the nation’s debate over same-sex marriage.
Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy precipitated this by publicly denouncing same-sex marriage.
We disagree with Cathy, but of course he is entitled to express his opinion in whatever forum he chooses.
And the people who are angry about Cathy’s comments are equally free to picket his restaurants or urge boycotts of the chicken chain.
So far, a fine example of how the First Amendment is supposed to work.
The troubling part of the Chick-fil-A episode happened, perhaps not surprisingly, when some politicians butted in.
The mayors of Boston, Chicago and San Francisco say Chick-fil-A isn’t welcome in their cities.
Although Mayors Tom Menino (Boston), Rahm Emanuel (Chicago) and Edwin Lee (San Francisco) clarified that they won’t marshal city resources to block Chick-fil-A franchises, we still think the trio went too far.
The First Amendment pretty clearly stands in the way of any city trying to legally restrict businesses from opening based on the political views of their owners. These three mayors should have stuck to criticizing Cathy’s words, rather than implying, however subtly, that his restaurants would be treated differently at City Hall than anyone else’s.
The economy, according to the cold, hard statistics assembled by analysts, remains in the doldrums.
But there are other measurements, ones which warm the heart.
The generosity of Northeastern Oregon residents is as lively as ever.
Perhaps even more so.
Consider what has happened, or soon will happen, around here this summer.
Last weekend the local American Cancer Society Relay for Life, an event which is the product of hundreds of volunteers, raised more than $60,000 for cancer research.
Over the past eight years these annual relays have brought in more than $500,000.
This Saturday the East-West Shrine All-Star Football Game at Baker Bulldog Memorial Stadium will add more than $100,000 to the coffers of the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Portland.
Last year’s game raised $130,000.
But the extraordinary part of this story isn’t even those two traditional events.
We’re gratified too by how quickly the region has responded to the plight of Jason and Stacy Bingham, the Baker Valley couple who have already had one of their five children, daughter Sierra, undergo a heart transplant. Now Sierra’s younger sister, Lindsey, is awaiting a heart transplant. And the Binghams’ three other children have been diagnosed with heart problems that could also require life-saving surgery.
Even with insurance, which the Binghams have, the bills could easily surpass the million-dollar threshold.
And although the Binghams have never asked for help, a series of fundraisers in July, including auctions at the Haines Stampede Rodeo and the Baker City Bull and Bronc events, raised tens of thousands of dollars.
“I just cannot believe the generosity of people,” said Jeanette Thompson, who is helping to organize a fundraising auction for the Binghams on Aug. 18 at 6 p.m. at the North Powder School.
Another Baker County girl, 9-year-old Tyalinn Harrison of Huntington, needs surgery to repair a hole in her heart. Organizers of a benefit auction and dinner set for Aug. 9 hope to raise $5,000 to help the Harrison family.
If the event — it starts at 5 p.m. at the Baker City Seventh-Day Adventist Church — brings in more than $5,000, the organizers will donate the surplus dollars to the Binghams.
The bottom line is that even when dollars are precious, local residents have responded to the extraordinary difficulties of their neighbors with generosity that’s equally extraordinary.