Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., came to Baker County last week to talk up hydroelectric power.
We share the congressman’s enthusiasm for this rather humble source of megawatts.
We’ve been tapping the potential of flowing water around here for about as long as we’ve boasted electric lights.
Quite a few people in addition to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky have had their reputations forever tarnished by the Penn State football abuse scandal.
And rightly so.
But amid the publicity that followed last week’s release of the report that is a scathing indictment of the Sandusky cover up, we were troubled by the focus shifting from Sandusky to his much more famous boss, the late Joe Paterno, Penn State’s head coach for more than 40 years.
Paterno deserves the scorn that has been heaped on him, to be sure. So do all the other Penn State officials who failed to stop a monster from preying on more victims.
But the monster — the only one who truly has earned that moniker in this whole awful mess — is Sandusky himself.
It would be a pity if the enormity of his crimes were diminished, in the public’s perception, by attention given to associates such as Paterno whose notoriety is greater but whose misdeeds, bad though they are, are minor compared to Sandusky’s.
What’s Romney trying to hide?
Romney’s surrogates are bristling at the suggestion that Romney committed a felony in signing SEC documents after 1999, but they studiously ignore the alternative. Given Romney’s cautious nature in many things, it’s not likely he would have lied when he signed Bain related SEC disclosures or when he testified under oath that he was actively involved in Bain companies and attended board meetings in Massachusetts when challenged on his residency and eligibility to run for governor.
Since simply positive factual statements cannot be simultaneously true and untrue, logic dictates he is lying in his campaign statements which are not under oath or under any legal penalty. Whether his SEC filings, sworn testimony and financial disclosures to the FEC conflict with one another or with his tax filings is a matter that will only be settled when he is forced to make public his tax returns for the last 12 years as Obama has already done. The fact that he adamantly opposes such a release of his tax returns confirms in my mind that besides any embarrassing details about foreign investments and overseas tax shelters there must be something very fishy at the core of the matter which would strike a fatal blow to his credibility and legitimacy if elected.
The news that Bank of America is closing its Baker City branch in October wasn’t exactly shocking.
Most of the nation’s major banks — B of A, based in Charlotte, N.C., ranks second in assets to JPMorgan Chase — have pared their operations since the financial meltdown four years ago.
But this inconvenience for the bank’s local customers also creates an opportunity for the community.
That’s because Bank of America’s Baker City branch is not the typical boring banking center, architecturally speaking.
It’s located in one of Baker City’s older — and to our eyes, one of the more interesting — Victorian homes.
The Ison House, at 1790 Washington Ave., was built in 1887. The Queen Anne-style home was built of brick brought from Portland. According to Historic Baker City Inc’s guide to local architecture, the home’s original owner, Luther B. Ison, deemed locally fired brick too soft for his tastes.
Not to disparage banks, and the potential loss of jobs from the bank’s closures is unfortunate, but we’d be pleased if the Ison House were sold and used for either of two purposes.
The most obvious would be that someone with a surfeit of money and patience buys the home and restores it for its original use: as a home.
The more intriguing idea, though, has to do with brew.
McMenamins of Portland is renowned for turning antique buildings into restaurants. Among the company’s locations is an old house in South Salem that’s not all that different from the Ison House.
Baker City already has two brewpubs, of course — Barley Brown’s and Bull Ridge.
Adding a McMenamins could bolster our reputation as a destination for beer connoisseurs, and give a boost to the two existing businesses that serve a similar clientiele.
If you asked a random sampling of local residents to name the most significant manmade objects in Baker County, I’d wager a lot of lists would include Brownlee Dam, Hotel Baker and the Sumpter Dredge.
Fine choices, all.
(Hells Canyon Dam is quite imposing too, but alas, it’s in Wallowa County.)
My choice is, I’ll admit, unorthodox.
The Elkhorn Crest Trail.
It is of course, technically speaking, not a structure at all.
Nor did its construction serve any great purpose.
Don’t close roads — downsize the Forest Service instead
I am a Baker County resident and love our forests. I along with many of my friends are in the forest and mountains sometimes several times a week. I’ve watched the Forest Service close many of the roads we used to enjoy. The Forest Service wants to keep a few people happy, environmentalists, that threaten to sue for everything. About half of the forest is already wilderness area. Let them take their walks and enjoy that part of the forest. Compromise has already been made. For the rest of us, which I believe is the majority, don’t close anything.
The loggers can no longer log, half the forest is wilderness and many of the roads already closed. I think that a good solution to the whole problem is get rid of 80 percent of the U.S. Forest Service and put the extra money into things that are really needed such as schools and other projects.
Regardless of contest results, Baker City is a winner
As we await the results of this year’s Best of the Road contest, I already know that Baker City is the winner. Timothy Bishop orchestrated a spectacular show of our beautiful town for the judges and attendant Travel Channel/CBS TV crew. With only a one-day official visit, he managed to showcase our ranching heritage, our arts community, and other towns in Baker County, as well as the Baker City Historic District, heart of Baker County. Please join me in thanking Timothy for job well done!
I’m proud to have been a small part of this community effort in service on the planning committee. Every citizen should share that pride. It doesn’t matter who is announced as the winner on Tuesday. We are all winners here and should congratulate each other on our beautiful small town!
Your studded tires should be safe for at least one more winter.
A Portland man who wants to ban studded tires on Oregon roads failed to gather enough signatures to put a proposed ban on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Jeff Bernards didn’t even come close, in fact. He needed at least 80,000 signatures from registered voters. He collected about 10,000.
We’re happy about his failure.
The news that Baker City is beginning work on updating its 16-year-old transportation plan might sound like one of those bureaucratic exercises that are as exciting as listening to a lecture delivered in a language you don’t understand.
We’re not going to try to convince you that the city’s finished product will pull you in like the latest from Stephen King or Craig Johnson.
But unlike famous authors, the city, along with the engineering firm it has hired to write the plan, will incorporate reader suggestions.
The city, in fact, is all but pleading for your help with what amounts to the plot.
Even if you didn’t attend this afternoon’s kickoff meeting at City Hall, and you can’t make the bicycle tour that starts Thursday morning at 10 o’clock (meet at City Hall, 1655 First St.), you’ll have ample chances over the next year or so to tell the city what you think its transportation system lacks.
One thing that isn’t exactly in abundance here, of course, is traffic.
Considering our version of rush hour resembles a tranquil Sunday in a Portland suburb, you might wonder why Baker City even needs a transportation plan.
Well, for one thing the state thinks we ought to have a plan if we intend to keep applying for grants and loans that make major projects financially feasible for a small town.
But it’s also valuable for city officials — including the seven elected city councilors, who have the final say on such things — to have an idea of what their constituents think is important.
In Baker City we needn’t fret over such things as billion-dollar light rail extensions or even more expensive bridges over the Columbia River.
And our street system is pretty much in place.
We’d wager, though, that most locals could come up with a list of improvements, such as adding bicycle lanes or sidewalks, that make it easier, and safer, to get around town.
The sooner city officials learn about those needs, the more likely it is they’ll end up in the final plan, and the more likely they’ll actually get built.
Free market? I wish there were such a thing
Free-market exponent Pete Sundin wrote a letter to the editor praising free choice, something I can agree with, if there really were such a thing.
How short Mr. Sundin’s memory is. He has seemingly forgotten that unregulated free choice in worldwide financial markets led to the recession the U.S. and Europe are facing today. Mr. Sundin isn’t the only one with a short memory.
I just learned today about the LIBOR scandal that promises to eclipse the derivatives scandal of 2008. LIBOR stands for “London Inter-bank Offered Rate.” That’s the average rate set by banks that determines what interest is charged to buy and sell money between banks. In the culture of big finance, LIBOR trickles down to also affect the little guy’s interest payments on credit card, car loan, and mortgage.
Barclays, a 300-year-old British bank, has admitted to rigging LIBOR to its advantage, and disadvantage of others. (Read about it in The Economist here: http://www.economist.com/node/21558281, or just Google “LIBOR scandal.”) Barclays has agreed to pay U.S. and British regulators almost a half billion dollars in penalties. Several other big-name banks are being investigated for similar activity.
Once again we learn that the game of free-market high finance is not conducted on a level playing field. Not only do financial institutions pay its traders obscenely high salaries and bonuses, but they also cheat.
The Economist refers to the LIBOR scandal as the “rotten heart of finance.”
Now, back to Mr. Sundin’s letter to the editor about free choice. There is no free choice for the little guy, when the big guys don’t play by the rules.
Locals help make Cycling Classic roll smoothly
The Baker City Cycling Classic couldn’t have happened this year without the support of our local community, and they came out more committed to the race than ever before.
Baker Loves Bikes would like to thank all our volunteers, the Baker High School students, their parents and their coaches for their dedication. The City of Baker City for the help making the courses clean and safe. Our police and fire departments for ensuring the safety of those racing and spectators.
Many local businesses supported the race financially or with volunteers for us. This help allowed us to put over $2500 into the BHS programs that worked with us and with continued support like this we will be able to increase our donations as we move forward.
The field at this years BCCC was up by 30 percent from last year and with the rider feedback we’ve been receiving already, we’re sure to have an even larger field next year. This event brings bike racers from all over the country to Baker County and the money they pay to be here goes directly into programs at Baker High School,which makes it unique. More money from this event stays right here in Baker, than just about any other event in the county, and it’s all from sources outside our area.
We also received help from the Northeast Oregon Compassion Center and in return they received a large donation of food for the food bank for the third year in a row. For the first time we worked with the fifth-grade classes to create the beautiful and colorful posters for the BCCC. Many of the posters could be seen around downtown Baker, but some graced the walls of bike shops around the Pacific Northwest, as far away as California.
As we move forward to our 12th year of racing in Baker City we become the second longest consecutively run bike race in the state of Oregon, and that is thanks in large part to the support of Baker County and YOU. Thank you all so much we couldn’t do it without you, and the riders all thank you too.
Vegter is the race promoter for the Baker City Cycling Classic, and vice president of Baker Loves Bikes.
Council should be responsive
I would like to alert the membership of the Hells Canyon Preservation Council to the lack of your organization to engage with the local populace in Eastern Oregon on the matter of the Travel Management Plan currently be planned by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
Throughout the last four months local citizens have attempted to engage your organization through its writings on its blog and other social media, to be ignored and most recently to delete our questions.
I would be greatly concerned to follow the leadership of people that cannot put together a coherent argument of their point, other than to wax poetic and insist that they have the only correct view point on natural resources management.
Please ask the staff in La Grande to answer the questions being posed to them. I believe before they kill any more jobs in Eastern Oregon they should account for their position.
John D. George
Change is possible
It seemed for a time that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision had handed virtual control of our elections to the wealthy few.
But the unanimous vote last week by the Baker City Council urging a U.S. constitutional amendment to take money out of politics is now a shining symbol of the power of We the People. A small group of local citizens initiated the proposal, and the City Council debated and passed a resolution to let Congress and the states regulate political contributions and spending.
And both Senators Wyden and Merkley are already co-sponsoring just such a Constitutional amendment. This is a big deal! It deserves everyone’s utmost support. We can change our destiny ... if we work together.
I was born in 1940, and during my lifetime I’ve seen the middle class grow by leaps and bounds, fueled by huge government investments, starting with World War II. But then I watched the tide start to go out around 1980, as good-paying jobs were lost to globalization and automation, labor unions declined, and the wealthy 1 percent gained more and more of our total income and economic and political power, and were then granted massive tax cuts.
I watched as wealthy folks and international corporations reached out and stuck their thumbs on the scales that determine who gets what. With their money they could lobby Congress, buy political influence with campaign contributions, and offshore good-paying jobs and automate jobs out of existence with impunity. They could then dictate pay and working conditions, bust unions, pay minimal income tax, and so forth.
But that’s the past, not necessarily the future. If we work together, we can reverse history and rebuild a society that works for us — with a government of, by, and for The People. It’s possible! I know. I was there.
I urge my fellow readers to reject the hate talk and ideology that keeps us divided, that makes us adversaries. There’s too much at stake. Real answers await our mutual, joint creative problem-solving genius. The bold action of our City Council shows us it can be done.