What’s great about Baker? Here’s a list to get started
As I attended the OPB broadcast from Bull Ridge Brew Pub last week, I started thinking about Baker City. One thing came to me: the sense of pride we all have about our town. Sure, there are some things that aren’t great but there are people and things I realize make me proud and should make us all proud.
Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Dave Johnson and Baker High football team. Two state championships in three years. Need I say more?
2. Our agricultural community. Farmers like Brent Kerns and his family, and the Blatchfords and others, produce a huge amount of the best potatoes anywhere.
3. Our ranching community, like Rob Thomas and his family with innovative breeding techniques produce some of the best Angus bulls in the country.
4. Dwight and Barbara Sidway, who took over a dilapidated building in our city center and made it into a regional treasure by dint of hard work and long hours.
5. Bev Calder who took a small wine shop into the spotlight and then expanded it into La Grande. A tourist stop without tackiness.
6. Bill Brown and Tyler Brown and their family who started a unique restaurant and brewery which regularly wins national championships and which is now expanding to a new building.
7. Mary Stevenson who started with a dream in the middle of the worst recession in the history of the country and has made a beautiful, quiet facility for us to enjoy, and is now expanding.
8. Anthony Lakes Ski Area. Best powder in Oregon. Enough said.
9. Richard and Kathleen Chaves. Hometown boy makes good and keeps it at home. Look at the Sports Complex, the Crossroads/Carnegie Art Center and, now, the Old Post Office. All done with class.
10. Brian and Corrine Vegter. They operate under the radar but are integral in many community projects including the Elkhorn Classic bicycle race and the annual turkey trot. Now involved in a bike path along the old Sumpter Valley right of way. Talented artists.
11. Heidi Dalton. Although only on the job for several months as director of the YMCA she has already transformed the institution and is dynamically leading it into a new facility for the benefit of all of us.
12. John Wilson and Beef Northwest. Know how many cattle they feed? Don’t ask. They are supplying a large (and tasty) protein source to the west.
13. Barbara McNeil – Zephyrs. She chose Baker City over Manhattan. That has to count.
14. Randy and Mary Jane Guyer. He is head of a large accounting firm and they are both constantly involved in community civic projects, usually as leaders.
15. Tabor Clarke, who almost singlehandedly over many years developed the Leo Adler Memorial Parkway, giving our town a scenic foot and bicycle pathway along our beautiful river.
There are, I’m sure, many others that affect you and that I have not mentioned. Just keep them in mind when someone “disses” our town.
Dave Coughlin is a Baker City attorney.
Keep America safe; defend the Second Amendment
As we Americans, and our elected officials, struggle to make sense of the increasing violence by armed mass murderers, the issue of revisiting our Second Amendment rights is again at the top of the list as a foundational contributing factor to the senseless slaughter we have recently witnessed. Over the last 20 years we have seen mass killings in public schools, Amish schools, universities, military bases, (where arms were unavailable to the military personnel victims, but stored in the armory), churches, Hindu temples, theaters, nursing homes, beauty salons, political gatherings, shopping malls, parking lots, etc;....... one venue has been noticeably absent from the list. There has never been a mass shooting at a gun show. One needs not to spend much mental energy to figure out why. The greatest deterrent to an armed criminal, or even an armed mentally ill person seeking to take innocent lives, (as evidenced in the venues where these attacks occur), is the realization his evil actions may be countered by law-abiding armed citizens.
So as you hear the media attacking Second Amendment rights (which began again Monday on NBC Morning Show), remember the only certain deterrent to unlawful deadly force, is lawful deadly force. The Nazis well understood that concept. Murderers and terrorists will always be with us. Guns will always be with us, regardless of legislation. As with illegal drugs, where there is a demand there is a supply, generated by those who seek to thwart the law.
Conversely, a gun is not always the preferred weapon, as we saw in the deadliest terror attack in U.S. history, when on 9/11/2001, a few crazed Muslim extremists slaughtered 3,000 innocent people, using box cutters, jet engines, and jet-A fuel. One (sane) legally armed citizen on each of those aircraft, or at Sandy Hook School, could have made a huge difference in the loss of innocent life.
Keep American safe.... defend our Second Amendment right.
Local residents did Baker proud on OPB’s ‘Think Out Loud’
One of my favorite Oregon Public Radio programs, “Think Out Loud,” was recorded in Baker City last week. It was a wonderful program. All the speakers were enthusiastic, factual and positive about life in Baker County.
Barbara Sidway, TImothy Bishop, Mark Ferns, Ginger Savage, Rob Thomas, Richard Chaves and several others let the rest of Oregon know how lucky we are to live in Baker County.
We weep as a nation for Sandy Hook Elementary.
We seethe with anger at the senseless slaughter.
But neither our tears nor or rage will reduce the chances of future tragedies happening, any more than our similar, and understandable, reactions to Thurston and to Columbine prevented Virginia Tech or Aurora.
So what would accomplish this vital goal?
The answer, we believe, is twofold:
First: How we deal with the people who would commit such atrocities.
Second: How we manage the places, and in particular the schools, where they would commit these acts.
We haven’t mentioned guns. This might seem a curious omission in discussing crimes carried out by people wielding guns.
Here’s why we don’t believe gun control laws, such as a revival of the assault weapons ban in place from 1994 to 2004, would have an appreciable effect on protecting our children, and our society, from the next Adam Lanza.
There are so many guns.
We state this not as a value judgment — opinions vary, obviously, on whether the number of guns in America is a good thing or a bad thing.
It’s plain fact.
The sorts of gun control laws that are in effect now, or that well-meaning people have called for since the Sandy Hook shootings, would do little if anything to prevent mentally unbalanced people from getting semi-automatic guns and ammunition for them.
The only way to do that is by gathering the vast majority of such guns that exist now, either through mandatory confiscation by the government, or by encouraging legal owners to turn in their guns, or by a combination of the two methods.
But with millions of guns in existence, this task simply is not feasible.
Then too there are significant legal hurdles to the confiscation part of that equation.
The other obvious flaw in focusing on guns is that they are not a necessary ingredient in the massacre of innocent people.
Killers in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other places — including Oklahoma City in 1995 — have slain dozens or hundreds with bombs made of ordinary, readily available materials.
The bottom line is that people who intend to kill indiscriminately have myriad ways to do so.
Which is why we believe the focus of America’s efforts, legislatively and culturally, should be to identify and deal with such people before they brandish the weapon of their choice. And in the inevitable cases when we can’t prevent that, we need to reduce the vulnerability of their targets.
To the first point, we encourage changes to laws, both state and federal, that would make it more likely that people who could be prone to committing mass murder are identified and treated.
This is a difficult task, to be sure, one for which there is no foolproof solution. The vast majority of people who are “a little different” will never shoot up a school or detonate a bomb next to a federal building.
Yet neither do such people attack without ever giving a hint of the potentially murderous trouble that lurks in their flawed minds.
To the second point, we think schools should make the “lockdown” strategy something nearer the standard rather than one employed only during the rare emergency.
This isn’t to say our classrooms should be turned into prisons.
But the simple act of locking doors, which requires no legal action and impinges on no one’s rights, could save lives.
Although the Sandy Hook tragedy has devolved into a predictable, and predictably polarized, debate over guns, on the positive side of the ledger, everyone abhors what happened.
We hope this universal outrage prompts us as a society to try to deal with this terrible problem in an analytical rather than an emotional, or political, way.
Keeping guns out of schools might well help. But keeping murderers out absolutely will save lives, and that should be our foremost goal.
My daughter Olivia, who’s 5, pointed at the TV and yelled to me.
“Obama said ‘Olivia,’ ” said Olivia.
She was right.
The president, with whom Olivia has been on a last-name basis since his first term, did say her first name during his speech that aired on a whole bunch of channels Sunday evening.
Mr. Obama wasn’t talking about my Olivia.
He was referring to Olivia Rose Engel.
She was a little girl who sounds an awful lot like my little girl, and never mind that they share a first name.
Olivia Engel was 6. Like my Olivia she was a big sister. Both Olivias are fond of pink and purple. Both took art classes and swimming lessons.
These two Olivias made silly faces when you took their photograph.
Probably they would have been friends had they ever met.
That never happened.
Now it won’t ever happen.
Olivia Engel was one of the 20 students fatally shot last week by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
I don’t pretend to feel some uniquely strong sense of despair from this tragedy because my daughter has the same name, and the same goofy smile, as one of the Sandy Hook victims.
You don’t even need to be a parent to grieve at the loss of so much potential.
You only need to be human.
That said, the Connecticut massacre affected me in a way that Clackamas and Thurston and Columbine and the whole rest of the terrible litany of slaughter did not.
Mainly this was because of a photograph.
Probably you know the one I mean, as it’s become a symbol of the Sandy Hook shooting.
The students stand in a line, each little pair of hands resting on the narrow shoulders of the child just ahead.
The scene reminded me strongly of what I’ve seen when Olivia and her kindergarten classmates walk out of Baker High School.
Except for the fear.
The naked fear of a child for whom life will never be the same, never as innocent nor as good.
Olivia and the other kids never look that way when they gallop out to the parking lot.
Usually they’re giggling, most of them.
Which is how we want our kids to be all the time. Smiling and laughing and safe and secure, from the moment they bound into the living room in the morning, pleading for pancakes for breakfast, until the last glimpse we see of their faces after dark, blanket pulled up tight against their chins.
It doesn’t take a tragedy on the scale of Sandy Hook Elementary to scare a parent, of course.
It’s all too easy to succumb to the terrible lure of the daydream, to imagine your child run down in the street by a drunken driver, to watch, with nauseating clarity, as strong arms yank her into the abyss of an anonymous van.
You can ward off this fear with the reassuring magnitude of statistics, the lottery-like balm of odds measured in the millions to one.
But I suspect Olivia Engel’s parents must at some time have indulged in this mental calculus, that they never truly believed the worst could happen to their daughter, any more than anyone really expects they’ll win a jackpot.
Now their Olivia will always be 6.
I’ll watch my Olivia. I hope I’ll watch her graduate and marry and prosper and achieve everything she’s capable of.
I’ll remember when she was 6, a little girl who liked pink and purple and made the silliest face when we asked her to smile for the camera, and who never heard the president say her full name on TV.
Inmates honored local seniors with dinner, singing
On Dec. 11, the Powder River Correctional Facility (PRCF), hosted its inaugural “Seniors Appreciation Christmas Dinner.” This was to honor and show their appreciation for all the many contributions seniors have made throughout their years in the communities they have lived, or currently live in. The dining area was decorated in the spirit of the holidays and everyone had a grand time that attended. The meal was a traditional Christmas dinner and was paid for by the inmates themselves and prepared by them also.
Each table had two assigned inmates who hosted a table. They were most gracious and attentive to our every need. We were very pleased that they were able to sit down with us at our table and enjoy the dinner also. The conversation was great and lead us in getting to know each other. The two gentlemen who sat with us have ambitions to fulfill when their sentences are completed. One wants to continue his love for baking and open his own bakery. He made the rolls for the dinner and let us in on two secret ingredients; brown sugar and squash. The other wants to pursue an alcohol and drug councilor career in order to help others. We will keep them in our thoughts and prayers, as well as the other inmates that they will succeed in their plans for the future..
The Powder River Correctional Facility Christmas Choir sang many Christmas carols which had the audience tapping their feet and singing along. They did an amazing job with only a few days to put their program together and practice. The evening ended with the poinsettias that adorned the tables being given out as door prizes.
We want to thank Powder River Correctional Facility, both the inmates and staff, for a wonderful evening and acknowledge the planning and hard work it takes to put this event together. We look forward in attending next year.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May God bless you.
Don and Glenda Cole
When needed, local businesses came through
On Dec. 5, I had unexpected sewer stoppage that affected my home, a dilemma that needed immediate attention.
I’m extremely grateful for “local” firms, Dan Mann Plumbing and Twilight Sewer Service, who responded promptly. Their coordinated effort is much appreciated. The key word is “local” — the owners are prompt, knowledgeable, efficient, and come without delay.
I recommend these Baker City firms to anyone experiencing home ownership problems, such as I had.
Kudos to local businesses!
Special section didn’t include a BHS football player
The Baker Bulldog football program, in bringing home the State 4A Championship for the second time in three years, is proof positive of sacrifice, dedication, and lots of hard work by all involved with the team. These boys, most of whom have played football together since the eighth grade, learned the valuable lessons of hard work and sacrifice that will produce reward for their efforts. The coach and staff are to be commended for inculcating these sound principles in their team.
I do question, however, why our grandson, Colby O’Grady, along with one or two other boys were not acknowledged to be a member of the Baker Bulldog football team. Colby has played football with these boys since the eighth grade. He was on the varsity roster in 2012 playing in the opening games with Weiser and Payette. He sustained injuries resulting in knee surgery which will be with him the rest of his life. He still attended his practices and games with the team through seasons end and championship rounds. He kept the football clean and dry during the Scappoose playoff game among other necessary sideline chores. Colby described himself as a R.E.W. (ride-eat-watch) team member at one of the parent/team meetings. He was doing all he could to maintain his contribution to the football team with dignity in a lighthearted way.
Was this an inadvertent mistake or an omission knowingly made by staff? I don’t know, but it would have been rewarding to see Colby’s picture along with his teammates in the publicity releases for 2012 championship. In my opinion he has earned that recognition.
Editor’s Note: The football roster listed in the Herald’s commemorative section on Dec. 7 inadvertently omitted Colby’s name.
Thanks for the article that introduced us
Just over a year ago, you published a front page article about the new exhibits specialist at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, who had recently moved to Baker City from Yosemite National Park.
When the article continued inside the paper, it included enough personal details about her age and background to catch the eye of a certain young man who had moved to Baker from Nevada just a few months prior to her arrival in town, having accepted a new position here with the Forest Service.
While it took several more months before life presented the right opportunity for these two people to meet each other, we wanted to say thank you for publishing the article that led to our introdution — we are getting married next week!
The Baker School Board recall election is over, and the voters have spoken.
So what did they say?
Most clearly they said they want to retain Lynne Burroughs as board chair, and Mark Henderson as a director.
We suggested in this space last month that defeating the recall was part of what we consider to be the best outcome.
But that’s also not the only message that comes from Tuesday’s special election.
This was a long ways from a landslide.
In Henderson’s case, 43 percent of voters believed he deserved to be recalled from office.
As for Burroughs, 45 percent were in favor of her being recalled.
These aren’t majorities, obviously, but neither are the percentages so small that they should be ignored.
Baker City Herald Editorial Board
A significant number of their constituents aren’t satisfied with the representation of Burroughs and Henderson.
We suspect the overriding reason for the dissatisfaction is that Burroughs and Henderson voted this spring, along with director Andrew Bryan, to impose a punitive censure against director Kyle Knight that has cut off Knight from some information related to the school district’s operations.
We believe this was a mistake, and one that reduced Knight’s ability to represent the people who elected him in May 2011.
But we also believe that the circumstances that led to Knight’s censure can be prevented from recurring, and that the board can, if not fully repair its rift, at least put in some sutures that will hold.
The incident that prompted Knight’s censure, and led to both the campaign to recall Henderson and Burroughs, and to Knight’s pending civil rights lawsuit against the district and the two board members, was Knight’s decision, in March, to forward to the Herald and other local media an email from Superintendent Walt Wegener to board members. The email from Wegener (who’s also a defendant in Knight’s lawsuit) explained that a school district employee, Carol Srack, had been placed on administrative leave and that she was going to be fired for using district credit cards to buy personal items.
Srack was fired, and she was convicted both in the school district case and on similar charges related to her work with the Baker Rural Fire District.
Burroughs, Henderson, Wegener and others contend that Knight, by forwarding what they deem a “confidential” email, violated a number of state and federal laws as well as the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of due process.
We’ve seen no compelling evidence to support those claims.
However, there’s no doubt that Knight acted unilaterally in divulging the contents of Wegener’s email. That’s not a legal issue, but it does affect the relationship between school board members.
There’s evidence that forwarding the email wasn’t Knight’s first choice, though. He initially asked Wegener, in an email, whether the board would convene in an executive session (closed to the public, but open to the media) to discuss the Srack situation.
That session didn’t happen.
But now that the recall is over, the board should have a meeting — one open to the public.
The subject of that meeting: How the board should handle future cases that involve public records which some officials consider confidential — Wegener’s March email being an obvious example.
Such cases are rare, to be sure.
But when the next one arises, the board should schedule a meeting to talk about when records must be available to the public. The board should have on hand for that meeting a copy of the Oregon Attorney General’s manual for the state’s public records and meetings laws.
There’s no guarantee, of course, that all five board members would agree. But at least such a meeting would allow for a frank discussion that could lead to a compromise suitable to all, and that avoids having Knight or another individual board member act separately.
Which, by the way, would eliminate any need for the punitive censure to continue.
By Jayson Jacoby
Baker City Herald Editor
No section of the newspaper prompts as many questions, and leads to as many complaints landing on my desk, as the page with “Opinion” printed at the top.
(That’s this page, 4A, by the way, and much of its fallout doesn’t literally land on my desk, with an audible thud, but instead arrives in my email inbox with silent, binary stealth.)
That the Opinion page would have such an effect is hardly surprising.
As its title implies, it’s the place where opinions are unleashed to mingle freely with facts — a sort of coffee klatch, only less visceral and without maple bars.
And since, as the saying goes, we’re all entitled to our own opinions but not to our own facts, the temptation to wage rhetorical warfare proves too powerful for many opinionated folks to resist.
I think this is a fine thing.
Maybe the finest thing, in fact, in our land where the freedom to express yourself is so vital our founders put it right at the top of the list of rights.
I hope I never become so jaded that I’m unable to appreciate the simple yet inestimable value of being able to have a go at the City Council’s latest endeavor and have your take printed and hand-delivered to thousands of households.
And it’s free.
The inky maelstrom of deeply held beliefs and occasional antipathy that is the Opinion page tends to be rather messy. Rarely does the page exemplify the sort of ostensibly objective balance of a “point/counterpoint”-style debate.
This is especially true for the letters to the editor section.
I field fairly regularly the complaint that the letters on a particular page lean strongly toward one side of an issue. This came up most recently during the Baker School Board recall campaign that concluded this week.
That one opinion predominates in a certain Opinion page has nothing to do with the Herald editorial board’s opinions, nor with some other unstated bias inside our office which conspires to silence alternative viewpoints.
Or, rather, a matter of timing.
Our system for letters is simple: We publish them in the same order we receive them.
Only rarely does the volume of letters exceed the available space, so most letters run in the first issue that’s published after the letter arrives.
As an example, if Monday’s and Tuesday’s mail (both traditional and electronic versions) bring a total of four letters, it’s likely that all four will appear in Wednesday’s issue.
Here’s another rarity: We receive a local letter that we decline to publish.
(By “local” letter I mean one written by a local resident, which means the letter is more likely to deal with a local topic. I prefer to reserve the space on Page 4A for them. We don’t often publish letters from, say, Texas or New Jersey; these missives, I suspect, are emailed to every newspaper that has a website, in a sort of shotgun approach.)
We give writers considerable latitude, which seems to me appropriate since opinions, being rugged individuals, don’t thrive under the confinement of sentence parsing and heavy-handed editing.
We don’t of course permit gratuitous profanity, or character assassinations which lack even a veneer of sober thought or legitimate purpose. We do limit writers to 350 words per letter, and at least 15 calendar days between letters.
I mentioned the editorial board several paragraphs back. I don’t much like that term — attaching “board” to an entity confers on it an elevated status which in this case is not warranted — but it’s the commonest way to refer to the people who come up with a newspaper’s editorial positions.
The Herald’s editorial board is rather smaller than what you’d find at a larger publication, consisting of three members: the publisher, Kari Borgen; reporter Chris Collins; and me.
This roster isn’t ideal, and not only because there are so few of us.
Reporters, generally speaking, don’t participate in formulating opinions — which of course is what editorials are — because reporters strive, in writing their stories, to be objective.
To avoid conflicts, then, when the editorial board is pondering a topic that Chris covers as a reporter, her role is to give Kari and me information — just as she does in her stories — but not to contribute toward the crafting of an opinion.
That crafting, by the way, is a democratic process rather than a dictatorial one.
The Herald’s editorials do not convey my personal opinion, or Kari’s, or Chris’.
Which is not to say, of course, that we never publish editorials that each of us agrees with, with little or no reservation.
Sometimes our individual opinions are pretty much identical.
Frequently, though, our three viewpoints diverge. So we discuss. Sometimes we argue and cajole and (at least in my case) gesticulate. The goal, in any event, is to conceive an opinion which is rational and reasonable.
Perhaps it’s even persuasive, although none of is either naíve or arrogant enough to expect anything more than occasional success in that sense.
I write most of the editorials, although my efforts to put on paper our combined work are always subject to editing from Kari and Chris (and inevitably, the better for it).
The other common elements on the Opinion page, with the exception of guest editorials from other newspapers, are generally the product of a single person.
These include columns and editorial cartoons.
The latter tend to be the most, well, flamboyant items on the page — not only because they are opinions rendered in pictures rather than just words, but also because editorial cartoonists, who don’t have a couple dozen paragraphs to make their point, tend to prefer the blatant over the subtle.
The satire in an editorial cartoon usually is more overt, too, and some readers are offended by the exaggerations that satirists necessarily employ.
But I don’t think the page would be earning its keep if nobody ever muttered epithets while reading it.
I’m not talking about opinions designed only to inflame or to anger.
But one byproduct of a logically expressed viewpoint can be that it frustrates people who, though they disagree, recognize the validity of the opposing arguments, and even admire the skill with which it was put forward.
That’s a healthy thing. Moreover, it can lead to spirited but respectful exchanges between people who agree on almost nothing, save, perhaps, the importance of whatever topic it is they’re tussling over.
Impressed by watching county road workers
I am proud to be Baker City’s biggest advocate.
It seems as though everyone is caught up in the recall and all of the negativity, but I would like to tell everyone how fortunate we are to have Ken Helgerson and the county employees that widened and repaved Lindley Road.
These guys were amazing! I have never witnessed such efficiency and every time one of us residents passed them as they were working they smiled, waved and said hello. We felt like they enjoyed their work and were happy to be working. Our road used to be filled with potholes and was dangerously narrow, not it is awesome. After they finished the paving, they came back and put gravel on the shoulders and in our driveways around the mailboxes, etc. They did this with a dump truck, backhoe and a man with a shovel. They actually did it by leap-frogging each other and alternating driveways. What really impressed me was when I saw Mr. Helgerson, the boss, on the end of the shovel!
I thought no wonder his crew puts out 100 percent — because the boss works hand in hand with them.
We appreciate their hard work and the great job they did.
Not only do we live in the most beautiful place on earth, but God loves us and Christmas is coming. It doesn’t get any better than that.
The surprise special session of the Oregon Legislature that Gov. John Kitzhaber will convene Friday is likely to be a quick and congenial gathering.
Which is how lawmaking ought to be when the bill on the table is so sensible and beneficial to the state.
Kitzhaber was right to call this bill “a huge win for the state of Oregon” in a press conference on Monday.
Here’s how the bill works:
It gives the governor the authority to guarantee the current state tax structure will stay in place for any company that commits to spending at least $150 million on capital improvements, and hiring at least 500 new employees, over five years.
The impetus for the bill, though, is one company.
One very large and very wealthy company that was started in Oregon, remains here and now wants to expand here: Nike.
Nike and some other international firms with operations in Oregon, such as Intel, like the way the state assesses income taxes. Since 2006 Oregon has used a “single-sales factor” policy, which means companies such as Nike are taxed only on their sales inside the state.
The benefit, for a company such as Nike that does billions in sales outside Oregon, is obvious.
The bill the Legislature is likely to pass Friday wouldn’t change the tax system — it would guarantee that that system will remain in place.
Critics have branded the proposal as both a tax giveaway and a capitulation by the governor and the Legislature to what amounts to extortion by Nike.
The first complaint is feeble.
The proposed bill wouldn’t change the rules for Nike or any other company, and it certainly wouldn’t give those firms anything, in terms of tax policy, that they haven’t had for the past six years.
Nor does the bill provide companies a leak-proof tax shelter. For instance, Nike and any other company that might sign a deal with the governor under the auspices of the bill would still be subject to higher tax rates should the Legislature or voters decide to raise them, or to a new tax should lawmakers or voters choose to impose such.
The bill’s guarantees aren’t permanent, either: The bill includes a 10-year “sunset” clause so a future Legislature can decide whether to continue the practice.
The second complaint — that Nike is in effect gaining special treatment through the implied threat that without the bill it’ll move to greener tax pastures (Nike has said nothing of the sort, though) — at least contains a scrap of plausibility.
Except tax policy is not a zero-sum game.
Lawmakers have an obligation to their constituents to compare the potential costs and benefits of tax policy.
In the current case, the benefit is at least 500 jobs at a company that pays its in-state workers an average of $100,000, which means significant new income tax revenue for Salem, while the cost, quite likely, is nothing at all.
Little wonder, then, that both Kitzhaber, a Democrat, and Rep. Bruce Hanna, a Republican leader, both endorse the bill wholeheartedly.
Democrats haven’t always been for higher taxes
Ever hear of “Beckham’s Law?” Probably not, as it is a Spanish law passed in 2005 which allows high-priced athletes, artists and business executives to reside in Spain and pay a low flat tax of just 24 percent; it got its nickname when English soccer star David Beckham was the first to take advantage of the new law. He was joined by enough world class soccer players so that the Spanish soccer team FC Barcelona won the European Champion Clubs’ Cup three times in the next six years.
The success of the Spanish tax law led several economists to do a study seeing if there is a connection between tax rates and soccer success. Using data going back to 1980, they explored the extent to which changes in tax rates explained player mobility and athletic success in 14 European countries. Comparing those countries’ various tax rates with team rankings by the Union of European Football Associations, they found a strong correlation. Spain, England and Italy have relatively low tax rates, and teams from these countries are perennial contenders in international competitions, while Norway, Sweden and Denmark, high tax countries, languish in the cellar.
Since world class athletes can easily change countries, the connection between low tax rates and success in soccer should come as no surprise. But international corporations can also easily change countries, and you can be sure that our corporate tax rate of 35 percent, the second-highest among developed economies, is something which corporations take into account when planning for the future.
Corporations can even more easily change states within this country; high tax states like California and New Jersey have been hemorrhaging companies (and the jobs they provide) for years. Politicians don’t like to admit that the high taxes they enact have a heavy impact on their states’ economic health; they also hope that we voters won’t notice that effect.
The Democrats haven’t always been the party of high taxes. President Kennedy and the Democrats of his generation cut taxes and so ensured economic health for years. Those Democrats knew something which today’s Democrats have unfortunately forgotten.
‘Tis the season to give — from the heart
At this time of year, many are considering the various ways available for “end of year” giving. During these difficult times, I would like to encourage you to give within your community/county. Take time to search out those neighbors, acquaintances, organizations, churches and strangers within this area and give freely.... generously blessing them from your heart.
Although I may miss a few, I would suggest: the Compassion Center, Salvation Army, churches, veterans groups, MayDay, the Senior Center, the hospital, various nursing homes, the Lindsey Lou Heart Fund (Bingham family), and many other private and medical needs that have grown within our area this past year. You could even consider paying a family’s heating or electrical bill.
I challenge all readers to commit your time or funds to these needs on a regular basis.... throughout the year ahead. Suffering is not seasonal! Every dollar or moment given from an open hand — with an open heart — can be multiplied to meet the needs of others. Imagine the possibilities!
Local businesses go out of their way to help
In November I had a wonderful experience. I was getting ready to call Eastern Oregon Audiology. Phone rang. Tom was asking me if I wanted to bring in my hearing aids for a free check up before my warranty ran out. Yes! I will be in.
This is why I do business in Baker. Our friends are always going the second mile.
Then I must also compliment our fine medical facilities. This also includes the wonderful fireman and EMTs.
Local donations help reduce pet euthanization
Approximately 5 to 6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3-4 million are euthanized. That is one animal euthanized every eight seconds. One out of every 600 pitbull breeds are adopted out of animal shelters; the rest are euthanized.
Maybe someone’s dog got out just one time or maybe the litter was intentional, but efforts to find enough good homes failed. The result is that homeless animals are too often euthanized, because there are more pets entering shelters than there are people able to provide them with loving care. By spaying or neutering your pet, you will have peace of mind knowing that his or her offspring won’t be put down in a shelter.
The 19th-annual Spay Day USA, or World Spay Day as it is now called, takes place on Feb. 26, 2013. New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals is raising funds to participate in World Spay Day locally. In the past we have received enough money through donations and fundraisers to spay/neuter 35 animals. This year we would like to earn enough money to spay/neuter 40 animals. We have already held two fundraisers. We would like to thank Del’s for letting us use their facilities for pictures with Santa, Brian Watts for representing Santa, Judy, his helper, Sandy Osborne for the wonderful pictures, the generous people who took cash and explained the many different print options, and the wonderful animals who so kindly and gently posed for us. New Hope also had a booth at the 4-H Christmas bazaar. We were able to raise $875 between these two events, which is about one-third of our needed funds. From now through January we will have other events for Baker County’s participation in World Spay Day. We invite everyone to participate in this worthwhile project for Baker County’s pets.
The author is chairperson for the Spay/Neuter Committee for New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals, P.O. Box 146, Baker City, OR 97814.
Say thanks this year to those who protect us
With the holiday season quickly approaching us everyone is scrambling to find just the right gifts for our loved ones. This has been a trying year for so many people and we are blessed to live in this community. That alone is gift enough. We urge everyone to rethink your gift-giving, use common sense and, especially, think of those less fortunate.
We would like to encourage you to give to your local food bank, Salvation Army or Red Cross. We are especially encouraging you to give to the Wounded Warrior Project. Your tax-deductible donation will enable this entity to help injured warriors returning from the battlefield, and their families, by providing assistance to them. Even better, make this a monthly donation of whatever you can afford. Our military needs our support more than ever and it’s the least we can do for them as they have so much for us.
You can mail your donation to: Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 75817, Topeka, KN, 66675. Make a difference this year.
Dan and Renece Forsea
As the curiously named 1970s singer Meat Loaf once opined, “two out of three ain’t bad.”
When applied to winning state football championships, though, that achievement is rather better than “ain’t bad.”
The Baker Bulldogs pulled off that rare feat on Saturday by beating North Bend 52-22 in the Class 4A state title game at Hillsboro Stadium.
Baker players also brought home the championship trophy in 2010.
And the Bulldogs advanced to the final game in 2009, losing that year to Marist of Eugene, a private school that now competes in the Class 5A division for schools with larger enrollments.
To sum up, then, the dynasty assembled by Head Coach Dave Johnson, his assistants, and the dozens of student-athletes they’ve mentored over the past four years includes berths in three title games, and two state championships.
That’s a run not matched around here since the Huntington Locomotives were running roughshod in Oregon’s eight-man football division, winning four consecutive state championships from 1968 to 1971.
The Bulldogs’ sustained success is all the more impressive because, as with any high school or college team, it has of necessity been accomplished with a changing roster of players.
Many high schools have won a single title by relying heavily on one class with unusual athletic talent. In some cases even two or three transcendent players can lead a team to a magical season.
But remaining in the top echelon for four straight years requires multiple classes to perform at a high level.
Football, of course, is only a sport.
It’s not as important as what happens in the classroom. But it is important.
And in a small town such as Baker City, the success of the football team creates a pleasing atmosphere of camaraderie that can be seen in purple-and-gold posters, and in the many businesses that have posted congratulatory messages on the signs where they normally advertise their latest deal.
We can still argue about the Ducks and Beavers and Broncos, or whether we’re obligated, as Oregonians, to root for the Trail Blazers.
But when it comes to high school football, in Baker City there are only the Bulldogs. And their performance is something we should all be proud of.