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Is a mandated vacation a civil rights violation?

The “right to infect” has replaced the “right to vote” as a litmus test of freedom in America.

Our civil rights torch-bearers aren’t what they used to be.

In the sad and segregated past we could root for true heroes such as Rosa Parks and James Meredith without a trace of ambivalence.

Their causes could only be described as righteous.

Half a century and more later, having dispatched with such odious matters as denying people a seat on a public bus or in a public university because their skin is black, America is left to quibble about matters that seem to me trivial by comparison.

Letters to the Editor for Nov. 14, 2014

Every vote should be counted

I agree with Mr. Stephen S. Smith’s letter about counting each vote. While I applaud the county clerk’s wishing to save money the larger issue is nullifying someone’s vote.  Those votes should be protected and counted even when the final answer is obvious.  Count them and never let that happen again.  

Iva M Mace

Baker City

Why does the BHS Gym need a name?

After reading Mr. Dielman’s letter regarding the gym naming, we believe the Baker High Gym is not about the school board.

It’s about the kids and their sports, good times and good memories.

Why is a name even needed?

Ron and Sherry Quigley

Baker City

Public snubbed in gym naming

By Gary Dielman

At the May 24, 2014, meeting of the 5J School District Board of Directors, the agenda contained this action item: “Naming the BHS Gym Peacock Court.” Board minutes record the decision: “Motion by Rich McKim, seconded by Kyle Knight, to approve naming the Baker High School Gym ‘Peacock Court.’ Vote: Approved by all board members — Andrew Bryan, Kevin Cassidy, Mark Henderson, Rich McKim and Kyle Knight.” The minutes contain no discussion of the motion.

About a month ago, when I learned about the naming of the gym, I was surprised that the Board had done so without first soliciting public input. I decided to find out why. Here’s what I discovered through contacts with Board members Chair Andrew Bryan, Kevin Cassidy, Rich McKim, and 5J Superintendent Walt Wegener.

In summary, these 5J administrators told me: That the Board unanimously voted to do it; that there was no discussion about involving the public, because it was no big deal compared with the really important educational decisions the Board makes; that the Board has the legal right to do it; and that I should expend my emotional energy on other matters. 

Obviously I’m not following that advice. Here’s why.

Board members were not elected to name buildings. Their function, as they told me, is to deal with the administration of a complicated, many-faceted school system. In office, and perhaps before election, they develop expertise to perform that role. But Board members have no greater — perhaps even less — expertise in naming buildings than the general public has.

Letters to the Editor for Nov. 10, 2014

Everyone’s vote should count, and be counted

Congratulations to Mr. William Harvey on his electoral victory. He is obviously well-prepared and will do fine. Each day he and all of our elected officials are remembered in my recitation of Martin Luther’s general prayer.

However, our county clerk has decided not to count all the votes that were cast. An election is not a horse race. There are many ways to read the results. At times I have voted for a sure loser, even voted against the person I hoped would win. I did so to lower the winner’s mandate in the desire that election losers may not lose their voice entirely. There are many ways to use one’s vote. These subtleties of elective democracy seemed to have been lost at the Courthouse. The vagaries of our system need to be rediscovered.

Each person’s vote should count. I think Thomas Jefferson would concur. I don’t beleive Vladimir Putin would.

Stephen S. Smith


Walden thanks Baker County voters for support

I’d like to thank the voters of Baker County for your support in electing me to represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives. I am humbled by your confidence in me and pledge to continue working hard for policies that will grow jobs, root out wasteful spending, improve access to health care, and stand up for our veterans.

Now is the time to put the campaigns behind us and work to improve the lives of ordinary Oregonians. I pledge to work as hard as I can to solve our problems, here at home and across the nation. I take this responsibility as your representative very seriously, and I will do my part to reach common ground to leave Oregon and America a better place for the next generation.

Greg Walden

U.S. Representative

Hood River

Let’s work together to keep trash off our roadsides

Anyone who has property along any roadway in Baker County, this letter is for you.

When my hsband and I moved here 18 years ago we were so pleased to see how clean Baker’s roadways were no matter where we traveled. We learned the prisoners of Powder River Correctional Facility were able to go out and clean. They did a great job, but I hear they do not do this any more.

I would ask that all people who have property along any roadway to please keep it clean of trash and garbage and keep Baker County beautiful.

Thank you.

Dixie Amis


We don’t have many votes, but we use them

Another campaign has passed and Baker County’s electoral voice barely nudged the decibel meter.


We were, as is customary, thwarted in several statewide races by the much more densely populated counties on the wet and windward side of the Cascades.

The numbers loom as an insurmountable electoral obstacle. It has been so since maybe the second or third decade after statehood in 1859, a period when gold miners briefly made Baker County made one of the more thickly settled counties.

Today, with 9,924 registered voters, our county accounts for less than one half of 1 percent of Oregon’s total.

(0.453 percent, if you’re not into the whole numerical brevity thing.)

Cautious optimism for forests

There’s no shortage of talk about how Northeastern Oregon’s forests are ailing, and how the remedy requires an increase in logging.

Trouble is, it’s easy to hear all these conversations because the chain saws aren’t drowning out all the words.

This needs to change.

Regional Theatre revives radio, but on the stage

The Internet hasn’t ruined radio but it has robbed the airwaves of much of their mystique.

Including the static.

Which for some listeners is no great loss, I suppose.

Except static is part of the personality of radio — an annoying part, perhaps, but an element which gives radio a sort of organic richness that distinguishes the medium from the robotic coldness of the microprocessor.

An actual radio, as opposed to one of the Internet radio services, requires a subtle, human touch that computers, in general, do not.

Letters to the Editor for Oct. 29, 2014

Avoid partisanship, register as an independent

Although I favor full disclosure on foodstuffs, and not modifying Nature’s perfection, I cannot support this GMO measure. Let’s get it right, and continue to grow our own, and buy local. 

While I support the decriminalization and availability of the herb Cannabis sativa, this measure is not fully thought out enough. If Oregon wants revenue from taxation then the question of income tax versus sales tax should be addressed again. As a society, let us not threaten the lives of young people.

When in doubt, I personally am voting for a woman since they tend to “do the right thing,” and for the contender who took the time to come to my door and let me hear his voice and see his eyes.

I favor Measures 89, 90, and the continued support of the Pine-Eagle Health District. State constitutions should rarely be amended, and Oregon should avoid debt.

Did you know? Some young people of voting age do not register because they don’t feel ready to be called to serve on a jury. I hadn’t thought of that. Anyone who has served (or attended a juror’s orientation) can understand the moral weight of serving. I find myself less critical of these individuals.

I recommend that ALL thinking voters consider registering as an independent, so the persistent us/them syndrome of partisanship can fall to the wayside, and allow the issue at hand, and person of choice, be what matters.

Linda Bergeron


Discouraged by trash on public, private lands

My husband and I own a small acreage in Baker County we drive six miles up a county road through U.S. Forest Service lands to get to. It is so discouraging to see the trash, cans and bottles thrown out along that route and other Forest Service roads in the area. Most recently I found on our property a heap consisting of 82 beer cans, two half-gallon empty vodka bottles and a red plastic cup. What does that tell you?

Woodcutters, campers, hunters or those who simply enjoy a drive in the forest, please show respect for our public lands (and private property) and pack out your cans and bottles to recycle (Baker City has a great recycling center) and your trash to throw out at home. Let’s all work together to keep our forests not only “green” but “clean” as well.

Marilyn Rowe


Election is choice between people, corporations

Global warming (aka climate change) is every person’s most important problem, whether they realize it or not. But even so, other and much less important problems must be dealt with along the way while this big, increasingly sinister one cooks along. Lesser problems such as this year’s mid-term election which is so critically important this time to those bent on giving total control of the federal government to the GOP, which means to the 1-percenters and greedy corporatists.

The beneficiaries (and I don’t mean the dummies trying to make it happen) of this possibly coming electoral catastrophe care naught for the majority class of people (that’s us, including those trying too hard to bring it about) nor for their well-being. And even less for democracy, which constitutes a threat to their primacy. So maybe you can guess what is in store for us, if they win this election.

It would be nice to have another U.S. golden era that we lowercase Demos dream of, where human well-being once more trumped corporate greed. At least for a little while before global warming destroys us all. But it sure won’t happen unless a few of those people who sit on their brains discover the brains in their other end and vote accordingly so that we may retain that sometime possibility.

And in case you haven’t thought of it yet you will find that it is much easier to vote away our democracy than it is to vote it back.

Dan Martin

Baker City

Warner has shown lack of leadership

People tend to forget things over time, but unfortunately this has stuck in my craw for years. What I mention here would mean immediate dismissal for anyone working for private business on Main Street.

First, while local people struggled to pay for gas, food and clothes in 2004, Fred Warner Jr., apparently enjoying the government gravy wagon, handed out $126,000 as a Christmas bonus to county employees who continue to receive raise after raise in lucrative pay and benefits, greatly outstripping the private sector in this county.

On one occasion one richly paid county employee could not even spell the word “assessor” to whose office she was sending me in the courthouse. Another such richly paid employee stole money undetected for 11 months in the Justice Court office in 2011.

Second, a couple years ago there were three instances reported in which Baker County funds, well over $24,000, had to be returned because of negligent and incompetent double-dipping. It was also discovered that county officials failed to properly authorize cash transfers to the tune of $302,236. What kind of management skill and oversight responsibility does Mr. Warner and his department heads demonstrate? I wonder if any steps have been taken to set higher standards of performance and honesty for county employees.

Third, as previously reported, Mr. Fred Warner Jr. has developed close ties with much of the political, socialistic and hypocritical nonsense on the west side of Oregon and which stretches all the way to D.C. Contrary to what Mr. Warner believes, I find these socialistic connections compromising, abhorrent and ultimately destructive to the best interests of men, women and children living in Baker County. It’s time for a dismissal, as the voters have already determined in May.

Peggy Anderson-Iler

New Bridge

Protecting kids: Talk, don’t text

Protecting your children from online sexual predators is a tougher task than it used to be.

The key word is mobility.

A decade ago, in most cases the only portal through which these Internet cretins could get access to your kids was a desktop or laptop computer.

These devices are easier to monitor than the smartphones and tablets that are teens’ preferred communication tools today.

Letter: District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff urges "no" vote on legalizing marijuana

On Nov. 4, voters in Baker County will have the opportunity to vote on whether marijuana should be legalized in the state of Oregon. As your district attorney, I would encourage Baker County voters to vote NO.

I make this recommendation for two primary reasons. First, Measure 91 is flawed and full of loopholes. Second, legalizing marijuana will have the effect of putting more children at risk.

This measure would allow a person previously convicted of felony drug crimes to get a license to grow, distribute and sell marijuana in a retail shop.  There is nothing in the law to limit how many retail shops a felon can operate.  

This measure makes no established driving rules for marijuana impairment and creates a substantial risk of increased driving fatalities relating to marijuana-impaired driving.  Traffic fatalities involving marijuana use have increased in the state of Washington since legalization.

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