I had the worst vacation of my life last week.
And the best.
On the negative side of the ledger I list the common ailments of a manual laborer whose skill with even basic hand tools is so meager as to be dangerous to passers-by.
I refer here to myself.
I tweaked a tendon or a ligament or anyway some part of my right wrist while shoveling gravel into a wheelbarrow.
I gashed my left arm on a section of plastic fencing whose ends ought to have been labeled “Ginsu.”
I almost glued two fingers together.
(My own fingers, fortunately.)
Yet the aches dissipated, and with a speed no salve or balm could match, the instant on Friday, May 16 when I glanced over at the new playground in Geiser-Pollman Park and saw that children were climbing every ladder and careening down every slide.
Mayor misses mark with personnel cost comments
The Mayor’s comment that city personnel costs need to be cut suggests to me that he has less than the desired level of understanding of municipal government. Labor costs, in every city, represent the greatest percentage of a city’s budget. Baker City’s ratio of personnel costs to non-personnel costs is not out of line with other cities in Eastern Oregon or elsewhere. “We need to cut personnel costs” is the mantra of the politically correct, but uninformed. It also fails to take into account the professionalism and competence of the city manager and department heads all of whom know and support the concept of asking only for what is needed to provide appropriate levels of service to the public.
It would be one thing if city departments were overstaffed, but they are not. There is no department of city government which has “excess” personnel. The staffing levels which exist are no more than needed to meet the responsibilities to and expectations of the public served. In fact, if one looks at public safety staffing in particular (both police and fire) and applies accepted staffing formulas developed by experts over a period of decades those two departments are actually understaffed.
If the Mayor seriously believes that the budget needs to be reduced perhaps he ought to look at the many “nice to have” programs he has supported and put some of them on the chopping block. Cutting essential, not “feel good,” services is a disservice to the public the Mayor was elected to represent.
Park playground project proves dreams come true
Thank you Lisa Britton Jacoby and all your cohorts, for coming up with a plan to update the city park playground equipment. It looks wonderful. I walked over yesterday to check it out. The park was full of young parents and children doing the same thing. We are so fortunate to have people who are willing and able to put forth the effort to make dreams come true. I will add this to the long list of why I love living here in Baker City.
You can sense it when you stroll among the graves in the veterans section at Mount Hope Cemetery, and watch the rows of American flags flutter in the May breeze.
But perhaps the most poignant reminder of what Memorial Day means comes when you stand in front of the monument on the east lawn of the Baker County Courthouse, on Third Street between Court and Washington avenues, and you read the names rendered there in metal.
These are the men and women from Baker County who died while serving in uniform during a war.
And although the letters that make up their names are small, their contributions are so great as to defy measurement.
Each name represents not just one life lost, but a long roster of family and friends whose own lives were forever changed by a death on a foreign battlefield.
We do what we can to remember and to honor them, with monuments and avenues of flags and speeches, though we know these are, and can ever only be, tokens.
But still these gestures matter, however minor they might seem compared with the magnitude of the sacrifices they are intended to recognize.
This day, which is their day and theirs alone, matters.
Geiser-Pollman Park keeps getting better
What a wonderful, fun gathering place Geiser-Pollman Park is becoming! The new playground equipment is already drawing crowds of young kids and parents — at all hours, in all kinds of weather. Kudos not only to Lisa Britton and Megan Fisher, but also to all those volunteers who rolled up their sleeves and “got ’er done.” The park’s horseshoe pits have been completely revamped and brought up to tournament code by the Baker City Lions Club. Great job, Lions (ROAR)!
We look forward to the day when the Bandstand project is completed and becomes yet another jewel in Baker City’s treasure chest.
David and Joyce Hunsaker
The wave of court rulings giving same sex couples the legal right to get married has finally, perhaps inevitably, reached Oregon’s shores.
On Monday federal Judge Michael McShane, as expected, overturned the state’s ban on same sex marriage. In 2004 Oregon voters, with 56.7 percent in favor, approved Measure 36, which added to the state’s Constitution a definition of marriage as “between one man and one woman.”
Oregon is the 14th state to have its gay marriage ban invalidated since last summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected sections of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
We support McShane’s ruling.
And we expect that were the matter put to Oregon voters today, the outcome would be different than it was a decade ago.
If you haven’t put your ballot for today's primary election in the mail, don’t.
It’s too late.
If you want your vote to count, you’ll need to bring your ballot to the Courthouse, 1995 Third St. in Baker City, or slip the envelope into one of the county’s other ballot drop boxes, by 8 p.m.
• County Clerk’s office, Suite 150 in the Courthouse, open today until 5 p.m., and Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Drive-up drop box on the west side (Fourth Street) of the Courthouse, open 24 hours
• Community Connection of Baker County Senior Center, 2810 Cedar St. in Baker City, open today until 5 p.m., and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Halfway City Hall, open today until 4 p.m., and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Huntington City Hall, open today until 4 p.m., and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Richland City Hall, open today until 3 p.m., and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Baker City Herald’s endorsements for Tuesday’s primary:
• Baker County Commission Chairman: Fred Warner Jr.
• Baker County Commission Position 2: Mark Bennett
The Herald has not endorsed a candidate in the three-person race for Baker County Clerk because it’s likely that two of the three candidates — Marcy Osborn, Cindy Carpenter and Lara Petitclerc — will advance to November’s general election.
That will happen unless one of the three candidates gets more than 50 percent of the total votes cast Tuesday.
Although this year’s primary has been one of the most competitive — and expensive — local races in years, in particular the contest between incumbent Fred Warner Jr. and Bill Harvey for Baker County Commission chairman, voter turnout as of this morning was just 32.8 percent.
We hope that percentage is substantially higher by the time the final ballot is tallied Tuesday night.
The new trees cast only thin shadows over the sidewalks north of the Fairgrounds rodeo arena but their significance, it seems to me, looms much larger than their meager shelter.
We who love trees must of course leaven our affection with patience. Much more patience, certainly, than we invest in the sowing of a vegetable garden or an expanse of grass, either of which yields its final products in a matter of weeks or perhaps a few months.
Trees are nothing as ephemeral as a row of peas or corn, but the greatness of a tree accumulates only over many years.
There is I think a slight similarity in this respect between trees and children.
Neither arrives fully developed. We watch as they grow into their potential, striving always to give them all they need to prosper. We rejoice when they achieve milestones (first autumn display of brilliant foliage, first straight-A’s report card) and we despair when they falter (first wind-snapped limb, first time late bringing the car back and with a dent in the fender).
Warner is the commission chair I’ll hire on May 20
I am voting for Fred Warner Jr. for Baker County Chair.
Every four years, the residents of Baker County use their vote to hire the job applicant they believe is best suited to manage the business of Baker County.
This election year, we have two applicants for Commission Chair. So, we have to ask ourselves: Who is best qualified to fulfill all the job requirements?
Fred Warner Jr. understands the entire job description. He has the proven management skills to handle the county’s budget, roads, emergency services, infrastructure, and public health systems.
Fred has proven he can successfully negotiate with city, state and federal agencies on all county issues — not just a few single-interest agendas. From the private property rights of landowners to the access of public lands, Fred Warner, Jr. protects Baker County.
In many job vacancies, there is more than one candidate. The employer or voter must examine the experience, the achievements and the reliability of each applicant as it relates to the actual job requirements.
Fred Warner Jr. has my vote. He is level-headed. His management of the county’s business has been excellent. His county staff is professional. He has kept this county in strong financial shape. He will not isolate Baker County from the decision-making table.
I am a Baker County Republican and I am proud to be voting for Fred Warner Jr. He is the job applicant who will keep this county moving forward on all fronts!
Warner has worked hard to make the county better
We believe it is time to step up and question the lies and half-truths that have been coming out during the County Commission election in Baker County.
We believe that if the only way one can run a campaign is to slam your opponent with innuendo and false statements, then shame on all of you who are pushing this propaganda. All one needs to do is look at Fred Warner’s record as County Commissioner to see that we have an effective and efficient government.
Candidates show where they stand on basic issues
As a Baker voter, I believe we need to understand the candidate’s position on some basic questions. Here are the results of the Oregon Family Council Voters Guide Candidate Survey.
Candidates were asked to provide a “support” or “oppose” answer, reflecting the kind of response they must ultimately provide as an election official.
Life: Would you support or oppose an Oregon law restricting abortion with exceptions only for rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at risk? Bill Harvey (Support) Dick Fleming (Support) Mark Bennett (Support) Greg Stackle (Support) Fred Warner (Declined to Answer).
Gambling: Would you support or oppose off-reservation and private casinos? Bill Harvey (Oppose) Dick Fleming (Oppose) Mark Bennett (Oppose) Fred Warner (Declined to Answer) Greg Stackle (Declined to Answer).
Zoning: Do you support or oppose zoning laws allowing governments to prohibit adult businesses from locating near residential neighborhoods, schools, or day care facilities? Bill Harvey (Support) Dick Fleming (Support) Mark Bennett (Support) Fred Warner (Declined to Answer) Greg Stackle (Declined to Answer).
Marriage: Would you support or oppose overturning current law defining marriage as only between one man, one woman? Bill Harvey (Oppose) Dick Fleming (Oppose) Mark Bennett (Oppose) Greg Stackle (Oppose) Fred Warner (Declined to Answer).
Religion: Would you support or oppose including religious exemptions in legislation to prevent restrictions of religious freedom? Bill Harvey (Support) Dick Fleming (Support) Mark Bennett (Support) Fred Warner (Declined to Answer) Greg Stackle (Declined to Answer).
Marijuana: Would you support or oppose marijuana becoming legally available to the general public in Oregon? Bill Harvey (Oppose) Dick Fleming (Oppose) Mark Bennett (Oppose) Greg Stackle (Support) Fred Warner (Declined to Answer).
Education: Would you support or oppose open enrollment in online charter schools in Oregon? Bill Harvey (Support) Dick Fleming (Support) Mark Bennett (Support) Fred Warner (Declined to Answer) Greg Stackle (Declined to Answer).
Taxes: Do you support or oppose the existing law that requires the state to return over-collected taxes to individual taxpayers? Bill Harvey (Support) Dick Fleming (Support) Mark Bennett (Support) Fred Warner (Declined to Answer) Greg Stackle (Declined to Answer)
Visit www.oregonfamilycouncil.org for more information.
Fred has the experience needed by commission chair
I would like to encourage people to vote for Fred Warner Jr. for Baker County Commission Chair. I have known Fred and his family for many years.
The family has been in the livestock business in Baker Valley since 1866. I have dealt with him on both a business and personal basis many times.
For those of you who have been asking to receive your Baker City Herald subscription online, today’s the day you’ve been waiting for.
Our readers are increasingly interested in receiving local news delivered to their computers, notebooks, iPads and smartphones. We’ve included some news stories on our website, www.bakercityherald.com, since 2001, and share local updates on Facebook and Twitter. But in our mobile world, it makes a lot of sense to have a “portable” subscription that delivers the entire newspaper digitally — you can read it while on the road, vacation or before you get home from work.
So, for the last two years, we’ve been planning delivery of the full version of the printed Baker City Herald to our subscribers to be accessed online and via mobile devices.
Finally, it’s here. In today’s print edition you’ll find a Readers Guide to the Baker City Herald that includes information about how to use your subscriber account number to login, create a password and view today’s newspaper ... every page. Your monthly subscription now gives you the option of having both the print and online edition at no extra charge. You can also choose just to receive the online edition, or never login and just keep receiving the print edition of the newspaper delivered to your home. Any way you choose, you pay the same subscription price as you’ve been paying ... no additional charge.