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Obama’s bad week a cornucopia for his critics

President Obama has had better weeks than this one.

Pretty much every week, actually, including many when he didn’t even win an election, sign a healthcare reform law, or have Osama bin Laden killed.

First, the White House press corps has roused from its months-long slumber about last year’s terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, reporters having detected the scent of scandal much as sharks recognize a splash of blood in the sea.

Second, with the revelation that the IRS has been acting the way the IRS acts in movies and novels but hardly anywhere else, the Justice Department is looking into whether tax bureaucrats’ targeting of tea party groups was illegal as well as politically idiotic.

Even by the lofty standards of the presidency, where public relations crises arrive with metronomic regularity, the two preceding blunders would constitute an especially troublesome period.


Letters to the Editor for May 15, 2013

Protect our public schools from conservative campaign 

Are our public schools in danger once again?  I’m concerned that the current 5J School Board election could produce the result that last December’s failed 5J recall could not. 

How else am I to interpret the enthusiastic endorsements of Mike Ogan and Rich McKim by recall leader Kerry McQuisten and recall treasurer Suzan Ellis Jones which appeared in our local papers even before the ballots arrived?  What else explains the integrated ticket of Ogan and McKim, featuring shared campaign literature and companion yard signs?  

McQuisten stated, “We need to elect both, not just one of these candidates, in order to see a substantial change at 5J.”  What does she mean? Could it be she knows that existing board member Kyle Knight,  plus Ogan, and McKim would form a majority of three on the five-member school board? Is that why Knight distributed the Ogan and McKim yard signs in my neighborhood? 

It’s important to understand that the recall and Kyle Knight are associated with and supported by the Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity, and the Western Liberty Network (WLN), which has proclaimed its intention to “take charge” of Baker County.  According to their web site, the Western Liberty Network in January gave to “...Kyle Knight, elected to the Baker City School Board after taking WLN training, an award for overcoming adversity while in office....”  

Americans for Prosperity is funded by arch-conservative billionaire David H. Koch who advocates privatization of our schools.

Last year’s experience offered ample demonstration of the divisive and reckless acts of those seeking to undermine our schools and the best interests of our community in pursuit of their ideological agenda.  

Our award-winning schools are among our most valuable assets to attract and retain energetic young families in Baker Valley. The recognition of our model schools and our Oregon Teacher of the Year are testimony to their quality and their contribution to a promising future for us all. Let us be sure to protect that heritage.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

5J candidates ask for a positive campaign

We collectively wondered who would become negative first. Mr. Dielman wins the prize. The six candidates all agreed any two of us would be a positive move, and that the bickering must stop. Life seems pleasant among the six of us candidates. 

Recent letters suffered from flaws in critical thinking. They take a fact, such that as we are conservative, add several guesses, false info, and have invented an entire scary story. What if two candidates were seen eating downtown together last week? Would that be more controversy? No. 

Neither McComb, Moses, nor Dielman decided to ask us about any of their fiction. They have resorted to fear, inventing stories to scare people. We’re wondering if someone will play the “gender card” next, saying we’re unqualified because we’re male. (But wouldn’t that be sexist?) 

Perhaps some folks were listening to the quiet heckling from the back of the AAUW forum.

We got our introduction to robust thinking from Mrs. Dielman in the early ’80s. Thankfully it stuck.  

 Sooo, to clarify:

1: We still hope to earn endorsement from others of any political stripe in this non-partisan race. This is about educating kids for a tough world out there. We are about unity of effort for the students. We owe allegiance to the public, and no organization. All six candidates have endorsements. It’s (mostly) positive opinion from citizens supporting their candidate.  

2: Some want people to panic over a “3-2 majority.” The board has one now. Big deal. Again, this is a non-partisan race. The 10 percent on both ends must stop trying to control the 80 percent of us in the middle. 

3: We graduated from, had, and still have kids in the 5J system. We are running for a seat to improve it in challenging times.

Thank you, and keep it positive.

Mike Ogan

Richard McKim

Both writers are candidates for the Baker School Board. Ogan is running for Position 3, McKim for Position 4.

After researching, Ogan and McKim are my choices

I would like to respond to our longstanding liberal, Suzanne Moses, on her Friday letter to the editor. I couldn’t imagine anyone being as bad as she said Mike Ogan and Rich McKim were, and running for the school board. Oh dear! So I did some checking into the background of both Ogan and McKim.

I would like to thank you, Suzanne, you really opened my eyes. I am sure glad I didn’t cast my ballot yet. After vetting all of the people running for the school board, Ogan and McKim are my picks by far. If it wasn’t for you, Suzanne, I would have voted for Rosemary Abell and Kevin Cassidy. Oh the shame of it all, what a mistake that would have been.

Now I am voting for strong, conservative, very principled candidates, with strong financial backgrounds, dedicated to turning a very negative atmosphere into a positive, can-do leadership. No backroom deals with these two boys, no sir, we need to deal with the positives and round-file the negatives.

Even though we cut one school day a week, and laid of 25 teachers, we have increased our per student cost $1,300 per child. Didn’t I hear that the administrators got a raise?

In the past seven years our math performance has steadily dropped by 14 percent. The 5J District has problems that need a strong leadership, this is why I am voting for Mike Ogan and Rich McKim. Check ’em out and vote for leadership and strength.

Chuck Chase

Baker City

Brass quintet put on quite a show for Baker audience

Baker Community Concerts presented a big hit to an appreciative audience Friday night at the high school auditorium. The Presidio Brass, five of the best horn players one could ever hope to hear, presented a dynamic program of classics and jazz on a variety of brass instruments. Kudos to the tubist-pianist who also is the sole arranger responsible for making music written for symphony orchestra, string quartet, opera, jazz, or science fiction movies fit the instrumentation of this small group of five horns.

On another note, the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will be held in Fort Worth, Texas, May 21-June 9. The good news is that one does not have to go to Fort Worth to attend.

It will be available via:  e-mail ( This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ), live webcast, Facebook, and Twitter. This is a musical phenomenon to enjoy and appreciate.

Mardelle Ebell

Baker City


5J election not about ideology

Had you paid attention only to the recent spate of letters to the editor on this page, and to comments posted on the Herald’s website (www.bakercityherald.com), you would have ample reason to believe that the Baker School Board is comparable, in partisan political terms, to the U.S. Senate or the Oregon Legislature.

Well, no.

The school board, as it should be, is a non-partisan body.

We say “as it should be” because overseeing the management of a school district, which is what the board does, is a task for which neither Republicans nor Democrats, neither liberals nor conservatives, have any special acumen.

Yet the implication of some of the letters we’ve published recently, and of some online comments, is that a candidate’s party affiliation or political philosophy determines whether he or she is worthy of this office.

We don’t believe this is the case.

Based on the six candidates’ written responses to the Herald’s questionnaire, which were printed on Pages 6A and 7A of the May 1 edition, and on their statements during a public forum on April 30, we believe each of the six candidates — Rosemary Abell, Rick Stout, Kevin Cassidy, Mike Ogan, Karen Spencer and Richard McKim — could be an effective board member.

We hope voters who have yet to fill out their ballots will be influenced not by letters and comments which have more to do with the writer’s political ideology than with the Baker School Board, but rather that voters will base their choices largely on the candidates’ own words and accomplishments. We’ve been impressed as well by the several thoughtful letters we’ve published which emphasize candidates’ strengths rather than their opponents’ alleged weaknesses.

We’re not suggesting that there’s no place for criticism even in a non-partisan campaign.

But concerns are about a candidate’s fitness for office are much more credible when they’re based on the candidate’s actual statements or actions which are directly related to the duties of a school board member. Critiques which focus instead on the candidates’ supposed political positions, or worse yet, on those of their supporters, ring hollow in our ears, and, we hope, in the ears of undecided voters.


Letters to the Editor for May 13, 2013

Ogan has numbers sense

 Mike Ogan is a candidate for Position 3 in the upcoming 5J School Board election.  Mike has been in banking and finance for 25 years . He is a real numbers man. 5J has not enjoyed the presence of such a person on the board in my recent memory. Mike will prove to be an invaluable addition to the 5J Board. I would like to urge everyone interested in a quality school board to vote for Mike Ogan.   

Carl R. Kostol

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for May 10, 2013

Join me in voting for Karen Spencer and Kevin Cassidy

I know Karen Spencer and I know Kevin Cassidy.

Karen is my neighbor, and I’ve known Kevin and his family for several years. I know they’re both intelligent, dedicated, hard-working and committed candidates for 5J School Board. I know they have no hidden agendas and have not formed any pre-election coalitions.

I look forward to seeing them bring their attributes to the board, the students, the staff, and the community. We need them.

Although they have neither one solicited my vote, they have it. Please give them yours.

Karen Woolard

Baker City

Cassidy would bring passion, knowledge to school board

Kevin Cassidy would be a great addition to Baker School District 5J School Board. He is an involved parent, community member and forward thinking individual. 

I have had the pleasure of working with Kevin when I served on the Parent-Teacher-Community Organization (PTCO)  Board at Haines Elementary and as his child’s teacher. Kevin is very inquisitive and stays current in the research regarding best practices in the classroom. 

Currently, there are many changes affecting our profession. Kevin has been in classrooms, visited with teachers and asked the tough questions of administration to make sure we are keeping our vision of providing an equitable and engaging education for students. 

He recognizes hard work and endorses staff dedication. I have witnessed his ability to be a collaborative participant in meetings. Kevin has a gift for listening to others’ ideas and thoughts. He listens for understanding and not rebuttal. 

He is passionate about children and will do his research to bring informed knowledge to the decision-making process. When you are part of a school district that exemplifies greatness, one must do their best to maintain that standard.

With his admirable work ethic, reliable community involvement, and noticeable desire to support a community who cares deeply about the profession of educating children, Kevin is clearly the most-qualified candidate to serve our school board in Position 3.  

Nanette Lehman

Baker City

Oregon Teacher

 of the Year 2013

Don’t forget to vote, but not for Ogan or McKim

Voters in the school board election will decide whether the politics of divide and conquer will prevail or whether the community will choose a school board committed to working for children and away from internal conflict. With this in mind, I myself will be voting for Rosemary Abell and Kevin Cassidy, largely because of their excellent qualifications and demonstrated track records of public service and educational involvement.   

Forgive me for being blunt. I hope voters will vote for anyone but McKim and Ogan, who were endorsed by Kyle Knight supporters Kerry and David McQuisten and Suzan Ellis Jones in letters to the Herald editor/May 3.  Electing anyone endorsed by these individuals is like admitting the fox into the hen house due to their central role (along with Kyle Knight) in bringing you the divisive and wasteful recall election that voters defeated last fall. So I hope you will look to demonstrated skills and qualifications in the candidate statements (Herald/May 3) because you can be sure, a fox will present himself in the best possible light and will even promise to cooperate with chickens.  

Suzan Ellis Jones signed her letter, “Chair, on behalf of the Baker County Republican Central Committee” but many voters may be unaware that all four of the leadership positions of the Baker County Republican Party (Central Committee) were taken over by recall petition circulators allied with the Tea Party last fall — to the dismay of many lifelong Baker Republicans. Whether you view this as bad news or good news, just be aware that “This ain’t your father’s Republican Party.” 

Above all, please cast your ballot. Heavy balloting is the best way to keep extreme candidates from forming a new three-to-two majority on your school board, and school kids would surely be the losers.

Suzanne Moses

Baker City


A seasonal invasion that’s turned more sinister

Spring has traditionally been the season for armies to attack, as soon as the ground is firm enough that their horses and field guns and tanks won’t bog down.

It’s also the season when invaders of a different sort launch their annual onslaught across the borders of my modest piece of land, which is in most respects a tranquil place where not much of a martial sort happens except between a little boy and his older sister.

I’m referring to weeds.

Vegetative vermin.

Photosynthetic scum.

This seasonal offensive includes the common culprits — the brazen dandelion painting its yellow graffiti across my well-tended lawn, the milkweed posing as innocent crocus, the ground ivy (alias: dollar weed) thrusting stubborn taproots a foot into the soil.

(I’m convinced that a ground ivy taproot could support the weight of a ’59 Cadillac if tied to the Caddy’s bumper.)

The past several springs, though, these familiar foes have been joined by ones more sinister — weeds whose ugly mugs show up on the sorts of “most wanted” posters once reserved for fugitives who hold up stagecoaches or rob banks.

“Noxious” is the usual adjective applied to these weeds, and it’s a word which to my ear perfectly captures the plants’ unpleasant nature.

(This is typical of words ending in “ous” — jealous, for instance, and unctuous.)

Their vanguard was whitetop. It crept in among the vinca vines on the west side of the house and I didn’t recognize it until one stalk had erupted in the white blossoms that give the weed its common name (it also goes by “hoary cress” and by a variety of vernaculars which are unsuitable for this publication).

When I realized that it was indeed whitetop, the most infamous noxious weed in Baker County, I felt violated — as if I had walked into my living room and found a stranger there, sprawled on my sofa, eating my chips and drinking my beer.

A couple weeks ago I found a few whitetop seedlings poking through the red cinders on the east side of the house, they apparently having ridden in on the same evil wind that delivered others to the opposite side.

Fortunately, whitetop is relatively easy to confine on a city lot like mine, if you yank it before it goes to seed.

A more recent, and more insidious, invader is bur buttercup.

Whoever named this scourge got the “bur” part right enough — the weed’s tiny flowers, after blooming, turn into sharp burs.

But even though those blooms are yellow, as a buttercup’s are, I see no reason to impugn the buttercup, a perfectly innocuous plant, by lending its name to a nasty, foot-puncturing weed.

Sadly, and inexplicably,  the taxonomic authorities rarely consult me on such matters.

Bur buttercup hardly poses any great risk to the sanctity of my grounds, of course.

With a mere 9,000 square feet to watch over — that’s one-fifth of an acre, and much of it’s covered by a house anyway — eradicating a patch of weeds requires a bit of effort with a shovel or metal rake, none of it terribly taxing.

(And spraying herbicide is easier still — especially since my father-in-law owns the sprayer.)

But my skirmishes with noxious weeds have given me a new appreciation for how monumental the task is of trying to combat their spread on vastly larger scales.

Baker County, for instance, which covers 2 million acres, or about 10 million of my home lots.

Considering noxious weeds can hitch a ride on everything from a deer’s flanks to a heifer’s hooves to the tires on my four-wheel drive, it seems a minor miracle that the county isn’t overrun with whitetop and the like.

(Although in places the battle clearly is over, and the weeds have won.)

The word “weed” is a troublesome one in one respect.

There’s nothing inherently evil about a dandelion, for example. My aversion to the species is purely aesthetic and therefore not altogether rational.

A case could be made that I’d be better off growing dandelions than grass — at least you can eat dandelions.

You can even make wine from them, although, as I mentioned, I’m more of a beer man myself.

But there’s little to recommend weeds such as bur buttercup, which crowd out native grasses and forbs that wild animals as well as domestic livestock like to eat.

Besides which, many noxious weeds are toxic.

Government agencies and private landowners have been tussling with weeds for decades and, as with most wars, the momentum shifts, with counterattacks being mounted to reclaim hill and valley alike.

It’s a good fight, and one worth waging.

My part in this is negligible, with nothing at stake but my landscaping. But I keep at it, and relish the occasional ambush when I catch a patch of ground ivy unawares and get the whole root, straight from the rich soil.

Jayson Jacoby is editor
of the Baker City Herald.


Letters to the Editor for May 8, 2013

Ogan can find solutions

Mike Ogan has been an involved parent in the school district for many years. Currently he has a child enrolled in the Baker School District. 

Mike has served on several school board committees and has attended numerous school board meetings over the past few years. This has given him an insight into some of the most pressing issues our school district is facing, and additional challenges that are on the horizon. He has a realistic view of these issues and a practical approach to finding real solutions.

Mike will not only advocate for the best education of our children, he will represent his constituents by obtaining factual information and making a sound decision based on that information. 

Mike Ogan is a straight forward candidate and by supporting him you will have a voice on the 5J School Board.

Troy Lepley

Baker City

 Vote for Abell, Cassidy

Candidate Richard McKim says with good reason, “The public is sick of their school district making the news.”  

Well, School District 5J Board member Kyle Knight and School District critic Kerry McQuisten are the ones who caused most of that negative news. 

Last year they were the prime persons behind the attempt to recall two school board members. The voters defeated the recall by a wide margin.  

What Knight and McQuisten could not accomplish through a recall, they are now trying to accomplish by endorsing the election of McKim and Mike Ogan as a team. McQuisten has publicly endorsed them, and Knight helped put up their election signs around town.

If you voted against the recall, then the possibility of Knight, McKim, and Ogan forming a majority on the Board should be all the reason you need to fill Position 4 with Rosemary Abell, who has by far the best educational credentials of all four candidates for that position, and to fill Position 3 with the well-qualified Kevin Cassidy, who is Ogan’s sole opponent.

The last thing our excellent schools need is a school district board chaired by Kyle Knight.

Gary Dielman
Baker City

Keep sidewalk program 

I’d like to see the City Council and the public works department continue the sidewalk program for awhile longer, and not just abandon this project so soon. The sidewalks are too valuable a part of our town’s infrastructure to see them deteriorate further. Sidewalks serve the public in general, not just individual property owners.

 We were able to take advantage of the city’s generous discount which helped replace 100 feet of sidewalk in front of our house and we feel it was well worth what we ended up paying, not to mention we gave a few people a temporary job in this difficult economy. I applaud Barbara Johnson for supporting good sidewalks in her lone vote at the council meeting. 

I agree with her that our sidewalks need to gradually improve, not just for the beauty of our town, but also for public safety. Many people, myself included, have fallen down from tripping on cracks or gravely walks. 

If the fund does continue, perhaps the city could give a deeper discount or an easy payment plan or even a lien for those unable to pay all at once. If it isn’t possible for the fund to continue, then maybe the city could devote some of its general funds to the goal of repairing at least the very worst ones over time.

Donna Landon

Baker City

Gun policy is important

You would think that after recent school shootings and the resulting gun battle in Congress that during the recent forum with school board candidates the district’s weapons policy would rate more than a couple of sentences. 

I wasn’t there, but according to the story, someone asked about the weapons policy and Karen Spencer responded “that it was too soon to tell what the state and federal government will dictate, but that the district ‘is doing everything to keep our kids safe.’ ” 

That’s great. It’s good to know that everything is being done, but as a grandfather who might have another grandchild in the 5J district in a few years I would like to hear a few details about that “everything.” 

It is true that the state might change a few rules, it’s a given that as Jefferson said nobody is safe when the Legislature is in session and Portland lefty Ginny Burdick always has an antigun bill or two and one of those leaves it up to local districts on a weapons policy, which means Oregon’s left-leaning cities will prohibit and some Eastern counties will get on with maybe arming teachers, hiring armed guards or other plans. 

So again what is that actual policy going to be? Having just one candidate respond wasn’t very good investigative reporting. Where did the other candidates stand? Why or why not should someone vote for or against them on the most important issue facing schools these days?

Steve Culley

Baker City

Elect Rosemary Abell

Undoubtedly each candidate for School  Board would serve well, if elected, but I ask voters to consider  Rosemary  Abell.

  Abell is an educational  consultant who taught in public school systems and worked for state departments of education.  

Additionally,  she acted as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Education, research institutions and school districts.   

 Abell’s qualifications surely influence  my vote, and I hope yours. For wise decision making on the 5J School Board, elect Rosemary Abell for a four-year term.

Phyllis Badgley

Baker City

Best bang for tax dollars

I am voting for Mike Ogan and Richard McKim for the following reasons.  

They both have children in the 5J school system and will be very proactive to ensure that 5J students receive the best education possible. 

They both are graduates from the 5J system. 

They both have very strong financial and management credentials. They both have expressed that they want a stronger community involvement in the 5J school district. 

Therefore, for the best bang for your tax dollars and to promote an excellent education in the 5J system, vote for Mike Ogan and Richard McKim.

Jon Sallquist

Baker City 


Letter to the Editor May 6, 2013

City should revisit burn rules

It’s Friday, May 3, a gorgeous day.  

I’m home, thinking about the attention the yard needs. I plan on grabbing my shovel and doing a little flowerbed maintenance.  

The house is stuffy, also a great day to open up the windows and air out the winter doldrums. 

I head outside to get busy and I’m  hit by the smell of burning garbage.  You know that smell is not just a pile of leaves, but someone burning their trash.  

Call the fire department?

 Well, the wind is blowing, so all I can tell is the smoke seems to be coming from the north and since I live on the south side, it could be coming from anywhere.  

I have to go back inside, close up the open windows and forget about working in the yard today.  


When is Baker City going to ban burning within the city limits?  I would love to see the City Council take up this issue again.  

We are but a few cities (last I knew) in the state that still allow people to burn and it’s not just yard debris they are burning.  

And, I think we all know the health risks involved to everyone.

Next time you see a City Councilor,  let them know how you feel about burning inside the City limits. 

Gail Duman

Baker City


Law not needed to teach respect for flag, nation

When I was in elementary school in the 1970s we recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, but one line always confused me.

Not the “under God” part.

My family wasn’t a churchgoing one — except for Easter — but I sort of implicitly understood about God.

He, or it, was up there, in the sky or possibly above it, and so obviously we, people and dogs and everything, were below, which is to say under, God.

The concept seemed to me quite logical.

For a long span of years, though, I didn’t fully understand the “republic for which it stands” phrase, and in particular what it had to do with the flag.

I came to recognize later that my trouble was that I took things too literally.

This is hardly uncommon among kids, of course — precious few 8-year-olds have moved past the most common definition of any word, if indeed they’ve gotten that far.

When I heard “stands” I could envision a person standing, or even an inanimate object like a house, but I couldn’t conceive why a flag would be standing for a republic.

Most of the flags I saw were flapping about in the wind.

Also I was a trifle foggy on what a “republic” is.

So far as I can remember, though, my uncertainty about the details of the pledge didn’t prevent me from detecting the solemnity of the exercise, or from taking comfort in what seemed to me its inclusiveness.

This was of course from the simplistic viewpoint of a child — I don’t mean to suggest that I grasped the notion of patriotism.

Yet I began to see that the flag and the pledge were symbols of America and that all of us, my classmates and the teacher and the principal, were connected by the significant bond of being Americans.

The pledge, like the flag and other powerful symbols, occasionally is employed for partisan political maneuvers, and from both ends of the spectrum.

The Oregon Legislature has taken up the pledge in a big way this year.

Recently the House, by a 42-16 vote, passed House Bill 3014, which would require public schools to put an American flag in each classroom, and to set aside time each day during which students could recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

As I said I like the pledge, and it pleases me to hear a bunch of little voices repeating its majestic phrases.

But I don’t care for this bill.

I don’t see that the government ought to be enshrining in law an activity that’s not prohibited anyway.

I understand that the pledge isn’t nearly so common in public schools now as it was when I was a student, but I don’t believe this is because the Legislature has failed to patrol our classrooms with sufficient diligence.

If lawmakers are truly troubled by the rarity of a daily recitation of the pledge then they should approve a resolution or some other non-binding document which expresses their concern, and which encourages schools to reinstitute the noble tradition.

But passing a law is an altogether different sort of approach, and in my view it’s the wrong sort.

Proponents of the bill emphasize that although schools would be required to make time for the pledge, the actual recitation would be optional for students.

But this ignores the inherent problem with the very idea.

By making any activity a matter of law the government strongly suggests that to do otherwise is to go against what your nation thinks is the proper course. And although I’m no whiz with a map and compass I prefer going it alone, even if I sometimes lose the trail, to being forever nudged toward the prescribed course by a government which thinks it knows better than I do what defines love of country.

That the Legislature’s call for conformity is not mandatory in no way diminishes its fundamental flaw.

The true measure of America’s greatness, it seems to me, is not what our government does to enable or even to encourage patriotism, but rather what it does to ensure that no one’s beliefs, however unconventional, are tainted because they seem to conflict with the government’s preferences.

I’m sure that in any classroom where the pledge is said now, the vast majority of students participate, and likely all of them, and I think this is a good thing.

But it’s those few kids, who for whatever reason might decline to join in, that I’m worried about, and I don’t believe the government should adopt laws which make their plight more difficult.

I don’t mean to imply that any citizen has a fundamental right to never feel that he’s an outcast, or different.

This is plainly impossible in anything resembling a free society, and can in fact be achieved only in the kind of oppressive regime where everyone feels the same, which is to say equally oppressed, and bad.

House Bill 3014 could become state law, I suppose — certainly my objection to it matters not a whit.

And this wouldn’t be a terrible thing.

I find some opponents’ claims about the bill exaggerated, and a little silly.

Referring to the pledge, state Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, said: “To require little children to do this every day…is very sad and very frightening.”

Notwithstanding that the law wouldn’t require children to do anything, I don’t see anything frightening in the prospect.

Unnecessary, even a trifle patronizing, but not frightening.

Nor do I agree with Rep. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, who derides the bill as “all about posturing and preening. It’s all about getting videos of ourselves being patriotic.”

Too often, it seems to me, people instinctively equate patriotism with jingoism. It’s as if there’s something inherently wrong with demonstrating pride in our country by way of a group ritual.

Other critics argue that cajoling kids to repeat words they probably don’t understand in effect turns students into automatons, diminutive political pawns.

Except repetition is an integral part of education — the pledge, in a sense, is little different from the way kids learn to read, or to write. In the same first-grade classroom where I first said the pledge I also had to print each of the 26 letters, lower-case and capital (or rather, little and big) dozens of times until I could replicate, with some success, the letters rendered perfectly on a strip of paper that stretched above the blackboard.

Anyway, verbal expressions of affection, which the pledge certainly is, aren’t necessarily diminished by frequency.

My younger daughter usually says “I love you” when I tuck her into bed. And although sometimes she recites this in a sort of rote fashion that suggests she’s half asleep, the words never ring hollow in my ears, never fail to reach my heart. 

In the end I suspect more good than ill will come from the Legislature’s debate about the Pledge of Allegiance.

But if the bill becomes law I suspect I will always remember, when I’m visiting my kids’ schools, one clause in particular.

In addition to the flag and pledge, the bill would require public schools to allocate time each week when students could salute the flag.

The bill reads: “Students who do not participate in the salute provided for by this section must maintain a respectful silence during the salute.”

I think saluting the American flag is a fine thing to do.

And I’m all for students being silent and respectful. 

But I always figured teachers were quite capable of enforcing those standards, without assistance from the government.

Jayson Jacoby is editor
of the Baker City Herald.


Letters to the Editor May 3, 2013

We need to get to work making Baker City beautiful

We’re ready! We’ve all donated our dollars — you have more coming! But enough of articles, pictures and city council discussion of the issue.

Talk is cheap and we’re not getting the job done as the city we love and care for is not moving along.

Some people can and will, while others can’t and won’t, so it’s on our backs to step up and do it all. Since we’ve “all” donated to this task, then I want my money put to work on any and all repairs whether they chip in or not.

Our beautiful city is an eyesore to us and our visitors. Shame!

Shirley Schurman

Baker City

Elect Ogan and McKim to the Baker School Board

This upcoming school board election is incredibly important. With two open seats, our votes will either put members in place who will continue the board’s longstanding problems, or greatly improve 5J for our children.

 After attending this week’s candidate forum, it seemed to us that two very qualified new voices have emerged from pack: Mike Ogan and Rich McKim. We need to elect both, not just one of these candidates, in order to see a substantial change at 5J.

 Both men are independent thinkers. They have young children in our school system, unlike most of the other candidates. The decisions they make will affect their own children, just like they affect our children. Mike Ogan has a particularly strong financial and business background, and has attended five times more board meetings than his competitor. Our school board desperately needs his kind of conservative values and analytical intelligence. Rich McKim has organizational and leadership skills from his years in the military. Like Ogan, he also stated distinct fiscal and organizational goals.

 We’ve also been impressed to see both these candidates reach out to the public at community events instead of just attend obligatory candidate forums. They’re busy talking with parents rather than lobbying the district. They aren’t personal friends or recruits of current dysfunctional board members or 5J administration. We’ve had the opportunity to speak with them both, and believe them to be the most focused on representing and involving the public they would serve. They have the clearest ability to handle serious educational issues. They have the courage and honesty to solve the problems at 5J.

 Ballots will be mailed out this Friday, May 3. Please join us in voting for Ogan and McKim.

David and Kerry McQuisten

Baker City

Cassidy, Abell are my choices for Baker School Board

Two new 5J School District Board members will be elected on May. In a typical special district election in Baker County, only about 30 percent of registered voters exercise their right to vote. I strongly urge you to vote for the candidates of your choice!

My choices are Kevin Cassidy for Position 3 and Rosemary Abell for Position 4. Kevin Cassidy’s candidacy was inspired by the legacy of his grandfather, Duane Cassidy, who loved serving on the 5J School District Board in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Kevin told me that he always knew that he wanted to follow his grandfather’s example, and realized that “now is the time.” Kevin’s voluntary service on many boards and his professional ODOT budgetary and contract negotiation skills provide a rich background in listening to and working with others whose viewpoints vary. Kevin is a quick study and a conscientious worker.

Rosemary Abell has a long career in education, working at all levels from classroom teaching to working in testing and special assessments for cognitively disabled students at the state and federal level. Rosemary has worked as a trainer for Baker County’s the Ford Institute for Community Building Leadership Program. Also, with her husband Larry, she continues the ongoing restoration of the historic Pythian Castle building, which provides a home for additional thriving downtown businesses. Rosemary’s skills provide invaluable resources for the improved education of all Baker 5J students and best use of our existing facilities.

Voting for Kevin Cassidy and Rosemary Abell will help ensure that our board will contain two dedicated, experienced members who are anxious to listen to their constituency and to collaborate with the other board members and staff of the 5J School District.  

Kata Bulinski

Baker City

Republican Committee backs Ogan, McKim for school board

Nothing is more important than the education of our children. Therefore, the Baker County Republican Party is pleased to announce our official endorsement of conservative candidates Mike Ogan and Rich McKim for position numbers 3 and 4 on the Baker 5J School Board.

As Republicans, we embrace and promote conservative values at a grassroots level within our community. Mike Ogan and Rich McKim clearly embody these values. We are convinced their blend of fiscal experience, leadership skills and honest desire to serve the public is sorely needed at 5J. They are dedicated to public transparency, parental involvement, decisions that benefit teachers and students, and financial common sense.

It is time to stem the liberal tide that has flooded our school system, and return to strong, traditional American principles.

We look forward to joining with fellow Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, Tea Partiers, non-affiliates, and all voters of a conservative mindset to create the best educational environment possible for our children. Please cast your votes for Mike Ogan and Rich McKim.

Submitted by Suzan Ellis Jones, chair, on behalf of the Baker County Republican Central Committee

Abell stands head and shoulders above other 5J candidates

As a resident of Baker County I am well aware of the importance of the upcoming 5J School Board election. Educating the young people of our community is such a critical issue. In reading the information provided by each candidate running for the two open positions, in the May 1 issue of the Baker City Herald, one thing really jumped out at me. There is one candidate who stands head and shoulders above the rest because of her qualifications in the field of education. Our school district would be so enriched by what Rosemary Abell would bring to the table. What a missed opportunity it would be if Rosemary were not elected to the school board! I know that she is going to get my vote! A vote for Rosemary is a step in a very positive direction for our children and our educators. 

Liz Starkey

Baker County

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