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Letters to the Editor for Feb. 18, 2015

B2H power line threatens county’s crown jewel

 I admire Whit Deschner’s letter to the editor of Feb. 4 about his opinion of the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission line. I agree with him.

I live in Bend and read what I can on your paper, but am not a subscriber. I am an avid Oregon Trail supporter and also a fan of the Interpretive Center on Flagstaff Hill.

It is my opinion that this power line will have a very negative effect on the Center and Baker City and its tourism in general. I have not seen much about the power line in the newspaper other an announcements of meeting, etc. This is the crown jewel of Baker County, I would hope the newspaper would get behind a public outcry against the power line.

Gail Carbiener


Kitzhaber accomplished much during his long career

John Kitzhaber got a lot more right during his distinguished 35-year political career than your editorial of Feb. 16 allows. Once the dust settles from the current upheaval, I trust that we will be able to look back with gratitude at his efforts on our behalf.  

On Feb. 15, the conservative editorial board of The Oregonian published a balanced assessment of Kitzhaber. I would like to quote their summary of his accomplishments as an example of a worthy tribute to a progressive and dedicated public servant:

“This is a regrettable moment in Oregon history. Kitzhaber’s imprint on Oregon shows vision and leadership. He advocated for policies to save salmon and other native species, helping the state balance economic development and energy needs with its extraordinary natural bounty. He conceived and guided implementation of the Oregon Health Plan, offering health insurance to hundreds of thousands of needy Oregonians. He conceived and led the state’s health care transformation, with an eye to pushing medical costs down — potentially a national model for health care delivery. And he steadfastly championed efforts to expand early literacy programs as the key to successful public education.”

Marshall McComb

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for March 4, 2015

Unborn children remain second-class citizens

In the 19th century, Native Americans were severely mistreated. To the government, they were an obnoxious impediment to the settlement of the continent, and so should be removed by any means fair or foul. They were herded onto lands which nobody else wanted. Indian treaties were routinely broken. Whites often murdered Indians with impunity, but let a couple of bucks seek revenge, and the cavalry was called out.

However, from William Penn on, the Quakers treated Indians fairly and with honor. To them, all mankind, including Indians, were created in the image of God and so worthy of respect. Quakers became advocates for the Indians and sought to get Americans to recognize our common humanity. Attitudes did change over the years, and nobody today believes that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

Black slavery ended in the 19th century, but African-Americans remained second-class citizens far into the 20th century. Blacks were denied the right to vote, sometimes violently. They were regarded as an inferior race, and “kept in their place” through segregation. Blacks were often lynched.

Rev. Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders reminded Americans that our founding documents state that all men are created equal, and that we all are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. Their educational efforts paid off, and today we have a black president, something unthinkable not that many years ago.

Another group of human beings remains second-class citizens today, our unborn children. The Constitution promises us all the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yet our unborn children are often denied the right to life, and without that, the other two are meaningless. In the ancient Roman and Greek cultures, a child’s father had the absolute right of life or death for his children. He decided whether a newborn would be welcomed into the family or abandoned on a hillside to die of exposure. All we have done is to change from the father to the mother which parent has the power to choose life or death for their children. Some progress!

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Baker vs. Idaho Power: A fixed game from the start

Recently, I obtained tickets for the B2H bowl held in the Baker County Courthouse. Attendance was minimal, since little — if any — notice was given about the game. Due to price caps the home team, the Bakerites, were poorly represented, but did their best against a professional, well-practiced, Idaho Power visiting team who, unrestricted by price caps, played an extremely physically political game quickly wearing out Baker. 

Questionable rule interpretations seriously marred the match-up since the BLM, reffing, began the game by letting Idaho Power have the ball with no coin toss. Immediately Idaho Power went long, using a, “divided they fall,” alternatives play, splitting the Bakerite defense by proposing various minor adjustments where to run the line within the county.

Baker locals finally got the ball deep in its own territory and gallantly tried to run the ball but unfortunately, the rain began and the b.s. used to fertilize the field, became extremely slick.  A fumble ensued and Idaho Power insisting that they recovered, quickly scored with a “we don’t care play.”

On their next possession, the Bakerites, trying to point out that Idaho Power was running the power line through five Oregon counties while only using one of its own, lost yards and punted.

Bakerites countered with a “we get nothing” offensive and a brilliant, “statue of: it will ruin our tourism trade if the power line goes in,” play. They might have reached the end zone but their runner was blatantly faced-masked down by Idaho Power and the infraction was not called by the BLM referee. 

Once again,  Baker was forced to punt.

Idaho then scored with a “we pay local taxes double reverse,” and then continued to run up the score by using the old and deceiving, “there really is an imaginary need for the power line” play.

The game was called and the BLM referee pronounced there would probably not be an extension of the season and that, unless the Bakerites really started protesting, the season would end March 19. Nevertheless, Baker has vowed a comeback. For the sake of fair play, let’s hope they do. 

Whit Deschner

Baker City

Don’t discount the risks of vaccinations

As I read through the waiver before signing it, I gulped at the possible things that could happen to my baby as a result of the vaccinations. I pushed the nagging fears aside as unreasonable and signed it. Done. I’ve been a “responsible” parent.

But that troubling feeling didn’t go away, so I began to look more closely into the safety of vaccinations. 

That was 22 years ago. Since then my research on the so-called “safety” of vaccinations has filled my file. And I’ve come to a better understanding of what it means to be a good and responsible parent: Knowing vaccine risks and failures and weighing those against the benefits.

Risks? Some of the more serious ones:  convulsion/seizure, high fever, high-pitched screaming (“purple crying”?), collapse/shock, brain inflammation. $3 billion in federal vaccine injury compensation has been awarded to vaccine victims in America. (Nat’l Vaccine Injury Comp. Program Statistics Report — July 1, 2014).  The Institute of Medicine has published a series of reports confirming that vaccines can cause injury AND DEATH!! (As referenced in the article “Back-to-school Vaccines: Know the Risks and Failures” on the National Vaccine Info. Center web-site NVIC.org). 

Let’s look at a bit of the history of medicine.  There were many practices that were initially embraced that were eventually shown to be in error and thrown out. One example is the practice of bleeding a sick person to get rid of the “bad blood.” George Washington was bled to death. We don’t do that anymore.

Let’s not make the same mistake with vaccinations. Know the risks and failures, and don’t discount those who have done their research (even though they might not have a medical degree) and have chosen not to vaccinate based on what they found. 

Mary Andersen

Baker City

Use TV signals? Pay please

The Blue Mountain Translator District sells a product that’s easy to steal.

It’s invisible, is the main issue.

And unlike other TV signals, the district’s aren’t carried by coaxial cable, nor do they require a satellite dish and receiver. All you need is a rooftop antenna.

A strategy for streets

It’s a perennial problem with no easy solution.

Baker City’s streets are, well, not crumbling, exactly. Not rapidly, anyway.

But they are deteriorating, and have been for more than a decade.

Limit Oregon’s vaccination exemptions

The “debate” over vaccinations is misnamed.

That vaccines are overwhelmingly effective and safe has been proved beyond any reasonable doubt by decades of unimpeached scientific studies.

But even if for some peculiar reason you aren’t convinced by the published research of the world’s eminent immunologists, you need only consider how vaccines have changed America for the better.

Half my life at the Herald, and I’m still loving it

It came to me, in one of those rare and random numerical epiphanies, that I have worked at the Baker City Herald for more than half my life.

These occasions are rare for me because numbers and I have had a troubled relationship. A long one, too, that dates to my introduction to algebra, which was roughly akin to a teenager who throws up on his date’s dress while trying to pin on a corsage before the homecoming dance.

This relationship — the math one, I mean, not soiling a poor girl’s new gown — might have contributed to the early retirement of multiple math teachers.

It certainly emptied a lot of red ink pens. Although the teachers eventually resorted to the ink-saving tactic of just scrawling a question mark next to my answers. It was as though my attempted solution to the problems veered so far from any recognizable principle that even the experts couldn’t figure out what I was trying to do.

Letters to the Editor for Feb. 25, 2015

Baker County shows integrity in fighting for public access

Integrity: “An adherence to moral principles, honesty.” 

Where has that gone, and why can’t we find it in the discussion on the motorized access restrictions to the Blue Mountains?

Some work in shades of gray, elected to positions they feel they need to protect to continue their paychecks and their positions of power. Some work in backdoor deals to protect their business venture to access resources they need to keep themselves afloat. Some work in “partnership” with groups that strive to see general motorized use removed from the forest under some moral calling of protectionist dogma that inflates their egos and swells their pocketbooks with lawyer fees. When companies begin to state “why does the public need to be there” and civil servants tell businesses that “any interference or preventing the Forest performing road closures will jeopardize timber outputs on the Forest,” we see the lack of integrity from both elected officials and civil servants alike.

For the record, the counties do not “lose their seat at the table” if they refuse to sign the MOU accepting cooperating agency status with the Forest Service. This narrative has been passed around by county officials far too long. What it does require is elected officials doing their jobs and being held personally accountable for their actions. Instead of giving themselves political cover when they sell our access down the river.

One county has shown personal integrity to protect its residents to see a forest plan revision developed that protects the quality of life for all their residents, not just the few influential companies that benefit from the “go along to get along” mentality, and that is Baker County.

Integrity isn’t about doing what is easy, or personally advantageous. Integrity is standing behind the words you say and doing what is right. That seems to be sorely missing from a great deal of elected officials and civil servants nowadays.

John D. George


Why should Baker give up financial benefits of pot?

Lumber mills gone, potato contracts — poof, mining and logging at a virtual standstill, boarded up storefronts... So what does that leave Baker County? I can think of cattle, hunting, fishing and tourism (a short list agreed but I bet I’m not far off). Suddenly in steps marijuana. Not the marijuana of “Reefer Madness” but the legal, regulated, taxable kind — a veritable gold mine if the cards are played correctly.

I am somewhat amazed at the talk of a “pot sales ban.” Not only is it inviting a lawsuit (something I hardly think the city can absorb) but literally throwing tourist dollars out the window. 

It’s not the dark ages anymore, although after reading that Baker City denied chronically ill patients local access to an inexpensive natural medicine proven to alleviate pain and combat the horrific effects (including nausea and appetite loss) of chemo therapy / radiation — I’m not too sure. Shame on you.

I can’t help but picture the fierce opponents of anything marijuana with their fingers wrapped around a whiskey bottle, beer or wine glass (I’m pretty sure which one causes more misery — you can look up all the comparisons if you have doubts).                      

Did Baker attempt to opt out of legal, regulated liquor sales or legal, regulated tobacco, gambling, firearms? If not, why not? Please tell me the difference? If you want to talk about crime, the children... I refer you directly back to alcohol, tobacco, firearms and gambling — “existing templates for regulation.”

Sorry I got off track, back to the tourism angle. Marijuana has a couple of fairly benign, well-documented effects: eating = local restaurants and grocery stores, sleepy = local motels and coffee shops. Baker City also has a main arterial to Idaho and, guaranteed, Nevadans and Californians will be coming.

Don’t let Ontario or La Grande snatch all the tourist money. If Senate Bill 542 comes to fruition Baker City would also reap the benefit of local taxation on sales. From what I’ve seen and read (crumbling roads...) I doubt Baker can afford to ignore any kind of potential revenue,  but then again...  

Mike Meyer

Baker City

Get tough with public records law

Oregon’s public records law is failing.

If you’re a member of the public, anyway.

The law is working pretty well for government officials.

Letters to the Editor for Feb. 20, 2015

Wolves: Good for national parks, bad for livestock 

Twenty years after being reinstated in Yellowstone National Park, wolves are moving into Oregon. We are still trying to figure out if reintroducing wolves to the Northwest is a good idea.

Wolves are endangered. This allows them to repopulate what was once their vast hunting ground. The beautiful creatures have been settling in nicely in many of their previous homes. In Yellowstone, wolves naturally glide into the ecosystem. Now that the elk numbers have dropped to around 5,000-6,000 head, the increase in the wolf population has also begun to level off. Elk herds are now at healthy levels. With wolf threat imminent, only the strong survive. Wolves are obviously an integral part of a wild ecosystem.

Unfortunately, outside national parks wolf numbers continue to rise, even though deer and elk numbers have dropped. So why does what works inside Yellowstone not work outside? It’s actually a fairly simple answer: livestock. Sheep and cows are easy prey. While some studies show that only small portions of cattle deaths are predator-caused — mostly not wolves — a study done by Oregon State University revealed that when cows are exposed to wolf scent, a condition similar to PTSD occurs. Stress can cost a rancher $261 per head annually in weight loss and lower pregnancy rates. Wolves may not kill as many livestock as other predators, but their effect on herd health will drive up production costs. Small ranchers risk going out of business, while large operations must increase prices to cover the added costs. When that happens, consumers see it at the grocery store.

In a natural environment wolves can match their numbers to the availability of game, while at the same time keeping the herds healthy. When it comes to an ecosystem where food supply is essentially unlimited, wolves cause major damages, especially to producers’ and consumers’ pocket books. Repopulating the wolves in national parks is beneficial to the animals there; however, spreading these creates to areas with livestock is detrimental to a very large community, which includes livestock, wild game and people.

Aiden Coomer

Baker City

Obama needs to call out radical Islam for its actions

There’s a lot of empty talk about Islam. Who are the good Muslims and who are the extremists. According to the Koran, the holy book, Islam means “submission” not “peace.” If you’re not a Muslim you’re a pagan or infidel and are to be killed. That’s what the book says.

I understand that at times the Koran can be changed to please some new revelation, which makes one wonder about its facts. A reading of the Koran placed against the events of Muhammad’s life indicates “revelation” changed according to circumstances of his life. An entire doctrine grew up around the radical change in his teaching. The doctrine of “abrogation” which means “annulment.” It’s simply a newer revelation from Allah that can cancel and replace an old one because the newer ones are better.

Looks to me like the radical are closure to scripture than the good people. I also believe it is time for Obama to call these so and act. Quit protecting them, and putting down the Christians every change he gets. Lots of red flags coming out fo the White House. After the prayer breakfast it makes one wonder over Obama’s true beliefs and faith.

Richard Fox

Baker City

‘Saturday Night Live’: An American institution

“Saturday Night Live” is the greatest TV show in American history.

I didn’t know, until Sunday night, that I believed this.

But then I watched NBC’s 3 1/2-hour extravaganza commemorating the program’s 40th anniversary, and was convinced of SNL’s unique position.

Actually I watched 2 1/2 hours of NBC’s 3 1/2-hour extravaganza Sunday night, and the rest later in the week.

The problem is the special started at 8 p.m. Most nights my eyes start drooping before 9 and my wife ends up nudging me and asking when did I learn to read with my eyes closed.

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