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Letters to the Editor for Feb. 3, 2014


Spaying and neutering pets saves animals’ lives

According to the Humane Society of the United States, nearly 3 million cats and dogs are euthanized in U.S. shelters each year. That means one homeless pet is euthanized about every 12 seconds. Often these animals are the offspring of cherished family pets, even purebreds. Maybe someone’s cat or dog got out just that one time or maybe the litter was intentional, but efforts to find enough good, permanent homes failed. The result is that homeless animals have to be euthanized. Spaying and neutering saves lives.

Spay/neuter awareness month takes place in February, and World Spay Day takes place on Feb. 25. New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals, the Alpine Veterinary Hospital, Baker Animal Clinic, the Baker Animal Hospital, Baker City and Baker County along with humane organizations, rescue groups, veterinary clinics and individuals across the U.S. and around the world are organizing reduced cost spay/neuter clinics, and are bringing awareness to the importance of spaying and neutering. To volunteer or to spay/neuter your pet at reduced cost, call me at 541-523-6863 or visit www.newhopeforanimals.org. Together, we can ensure every pet enjoys a long, happy and healthy live in a loving home.

Karen Skeen

Baker City

New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals spay and neuter chairman

We need to get rid of the perch in Phillips Reservoir

Continuing to allow perch to remain in Phillips Reservoir is costing Baker County over $1.5 million a year in revenue. If you would like this to be corrected, let the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife know your feelings.

You may hear the same old stories:

1. We are netting perch yearly in Phillips Reservoir.

2. We can’t use Rotenone, it will kill all the fish, including the bull trout, if any. Ask them how many bull trout they have netted out of Phillips the past four years. By the way, if no bull trout are found in Phillips, do the perch eat them? I would wager to say over a million perch are inhabiting Phillips.

3. A third argument they have is what about the environmentalists? OK, they have used Rotenone in other places in Oregon (i.e., in Malheur County and in Western Oregon) with positive results.

4. Oh, by the way, they will probably say Rotenone is too expensive. Rotenone would be used one year and would not need to be used again for probably 10 years. My response to that is what about the $1.5 million Baker County is losing each year?

Now is the time to get with it. Wouldn’t it be great if the fishing for trout in Phillips was as good as it was in the 70s before someone illegally  introduced perch in Phillips? Fellow sportsmen, if we continue to have such a shortage of water or climate change, it would be the perfect time to Rotenone Phillips Reservoir. I understand that is not a poison and the flow of Rotenone can be controlled so it will not go downstream from the dam. Timing is essential to cut the cost of Rotenone and cut the loss of revenue occurring yearly in Baker County.

Good fishing for trout would result in the return of the fishermen.

Frank Bishop

Baker City


Conflict and Coles


Baker City Councilor Roger Coles should have publicly announced during the Council’s Jan. 14 meeting that his wife, Dawn, works for the Baker County YMCA.

During that meeting Roger Coles criticized City Manager Mike Kee and other city staff for failing to work with the YMCA to plan for needed repairs at Sam-O Swim Center. The city owns the swimming pool and the YMCA manages it.

To be clear, we don’t believe Councilor Coles has an actual conflict of interest in this matter.


Letters to the Editor for Jan. 31, 2014


Oregonians should re-elect Sen. Jeff Merkley

Your editorial on the Republican Senate candidates forum (“The GOP challenge,” Jan. 27) offered only muted approval, saying, “We’ve yet to interview the candidates so we’re not prepared to recommend voters choose one of the quintet over (U.S. Senator Jeff) Merkley.”  Perhaps the Herald’s editorial board found, as did I, that the five candidates offered embarrassingly little in the way of positive policy ideas to support rural America and the middle class (similar to the policy-free Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night).

Instead of even mentioning such central issues as stark economic inequality, structural unemployment and underemployment, and dangers of devastating global climate change, the candidates took refuge in such ideological issues as abortion and phasing out Social Security, and even found a “socialist, communist agenda” lurking behind the new Common Core school testing standards.  And they uniformly called for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), even though it is already benefiting millions of Americans.

I was particularly disappointed to hear front-runner Jason Conger declare that “Borrowing from the Social Security Trust Fund is a breach of trust.”  This is the same zombie untruth that left President Bush out on a limb in 2005.  Conger and his fellow candidates should know by now that the $2.7 trillion Social Security Trust Fund actually invests in United States Treasury bonds backed by “the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.”

As a result, I have no hesitancy in vigorously supporting the re-election of our outstanding Senator Jeff Merkley.  Merkley has an exceptional understanding of the issues facing our nation, and he has the leadership ability to bring “We The People” together to solve those issues.  I heartily recommend the speech that Merkley gave to the Netroots Nation conference last June (Google: “Merkley Netroots”).  

We face the choice between a country ruled by a wealthy few, leaving most of us out in the cold, or a country ruled by We the People that benefits everyone. I urge the Herald and my fellow readers to energetically support the re-election of Senator Jeff Merkley.

Marshall McComb

Baker City


President puts his full faith in the government


President Obama got through several hundred words of his State of the Union speech Tuesday night without reverting to his favorite subject, which is government.

This doesn’t make the president unusual, of course.

It just makes him a politician.

All politicians like to prattle on about government. Sometimes they extoll its virtues and sometimes they lampoon its failures, but as an institution it never strays far from their minds.


Letters to the Editor for Jan. 29, 2014


Inequality isn’t about income, it’s about decisions

Income inequality is a favorite topic currently. But currently the worst inequality is between people who are successful in life — the middle and upper classes — and the underclass. Sociologists have identified some characteristics which separate these two groups: Wait until marriage to have children and stay married; get a good education; stay out of jail; don’t do drugs or abuse alcohol; and, have some sort of a spiritual life. Successful people share most or all of these characteristics; the underclass demonstrates few or none of them.

Progressives claim that pointing out these differences is “blaming the victim,” saying that it’s their own fault they’re poor. But that isn’t so; instead it’s pointing out that our behaviors have consequences. Mostly this is just common sense. The pregnant high schooler who drops out of school to raise her baby is beginning life with two strikes against her, as is her male counterpart who drops out of school and then does something that gets him locked up. Druggies’ and alcoholics’ addictions are what land them on skid row.

Now we’re talking about averages here. Some individual women are taller than some men, but on average men are taller than women. While some people play by the above rules yet through no fault of their own wind up poor, in general, people’s behaviors are a good predictor of whether or not they will be successful in life.

So what can the government do about the extreme income inequality between successful people and the underclass? Very little. As long as there are people who behave in self-destructive ways, there will be an underclass, people about to go under financially for the third and last time. Even if the government were to institute a 100 percent income tax, and then pay every man, woman and child in the country the exact same amount of money, there would still be some who could exist very comfortably on that money while others would constantly run out of money long before they ran out of month.

There are just some tasks which the government is unable to do.

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Fire victim says thank you to all who helped

I want to send out a personal and heartfelt thank you to all of the emergency personnel who responded to the apartment fire at the Blue Ridge Apartments on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Without the quick response of the Baker Rural Fire Department, the Baker City Fire Department, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office and the American Red Cross, the fire, loss and damage would have been exponentially worse. I am humbled by the number of personnel who came out and grateful to those who were able to stay into the evening to see that we were safe.  

As well, for Chris at the Red Cross, pulling a one-man-show; he was with us all day and then into the night to see that we were all set up and safe at the Oregon Trail Motel. Thank you as well to the hospitality of the staff at the Oregon Trail Motel.  Our community is blessed to have such caring and competent people in these positions and my family and I are humbled and grateful.  If I forgot anyone, my apologies, it was a bit of a blur that day.  

Heather J. Cromwell

Baker City


A waste of $6.1 million


Government’s ability to obscure simple matters in the impenetrable foliage of jargon is infamous, yet even our cynical eyes can still be surprised.

This would be an amusing trait if it weren’t also so often an expensive one, with tax dollars footing the bill.

As reported in a story in Monday’s issue of the Herald, Oregon is among nine states that have received $6.1 million from the U.S. Department of Education to.....

Well, here’s where that jargon jungle gets in the way.


Letter to the Editor for Jan. 27, 2014


Government taking away our freedoms

Blatant disregard and prejudice for smokers and 2nd Amendment defenders by city, state, federal agencies, blatant disregard for drinkers and other so-called sinners and so-called alarmists that believe in Constitutional rights, not privileges. The city is using prejudice to pass bans on freedoms in parks, outdoors. Already have non-constitutional areas of town, making them downright dangerous for all who visit those areas, including our children. Still takes time for cop to run from one side of building to other even if in same building. All that time, more potential casualties, minimum 10 minutes for backup.

Wake up. All parts of the Constitution have to do with freedom, just as relevant today as when it was written. Possibly more relevant now. Everyone seems to forget freedom of speech and religion, or lack thereof. Want all religious symbols destroyed. Get over it. All monuments in Washington, D.C., would have to be destroyed, all have at least one Bible in foundation. Check facts out yourself.

While you’re at it, re-read the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Especially those that swore to uphold the Constitution. Not everyone wants others to help save everyone from everyone. We prefer to think for ourselves. All states that have tough gun controls also have huge crime rates.

All government land is supposed to be accessible to all citizens, not just when money is available. Forest Service roads over 100 years old are supposed to be left open, forever, even in so-called roadless areas, which are inaccessible to all disabled people. To any person not gifted with perfect help.

Part of freedom is being thick-skinned enough to let others not only believe whatever, but to use their own brain to make their own decisions.         

Carl Koontz

Baker City


The GOP challenge


Baker County Republicans had a great chance Wednesday to talk with five people who will be seeking their vote in the May primary, and it was heartening to see a meeting room at the Sunridge Inn filled.

The county’s Republican Party put together the forum that brought to Baker City the five candidates who want to replace Democrat Jeff Merkley as U.S. senator. Although only registered Republicans will get to decide which of the five will challenge Merkley in the general election — Jason Conger, Tim Crawley, Mark Callahan, Monica Wehby and Jo Rae Perkins — the event was a valuable chance for all residents to hear from the group, one of whom might be representing us at the Capitol a year from now.


Letter to the Editor for Jan. 24, 2014


Backcountry travelers need to know about avalanches

In response to the article about “Locals escape avalanche scare” that appeared in The Observer and Baker City Herald on Friday, Jan. 17:

Yes, they are lucky to be alive. I wasn’t there, but in reading the article the only training it suggested that the group had was many years of snowmobiling riding and that all were backcountry winter users.  

All backcountry users need to attend avalanche awareness presentations, or Avalanche training Level I, II, or III courses which are given by many organizations. 

These presentations and training provides the following information:

• Safe travel routes

• Snowpack evaluations

• Social habits and make up of groups

• Avalanche beacons and use

• Avalanche shovels and use

• Avalanche probe poles and use

• Shovel technique for rescue

• Self rescue in an avalanche

Each individual backcountry traveler, whether it is by snowmobile, backcountry skis or snowshoes, should carry beacons, shovels, and probe poles and have the training to know how to use them. 

A backcountry traveler should be trained to identify the dangers of avalanche and how to self rescue and be safe. No matter how you travel in the backcountry in the winter you need the right equipment to take care of you and your partners. 

There are many organizations that can provide avalanche training and awareness. A few of those organizations are American Avalanche Association, National Ski Patrol, and Wallowa Mountains Avalanche Center.

Please be safe when traveling in the backcountry. Remember, each individual in a backcountry party must have the training and proper equipment to rescue each other when an avalanche occurs. 

Mike Gooderham

La Grande

Anthony Lakes Ski Patrol member, and Level II avalanche instructor


City staff is sufficient


The Baker City Council last week revived a debate that councilors started last spring.

The issue is whether the city has enough employees to do all the tasks residents expect.

Councilor Mike Downing contends the city workforce is too small. 

He believes the city needs more firefighters, police officers and public works employees.

Mayor Richard Langrell and Councilor Roger Coles disagree.


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