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Letters to the Editor for Oct. 11, 2013


A majority of Americans don’t want Obamacare

Obamacare is at the center of the current Congressional impasse. Republicans have voted to defund it; Democrats refuse to do so. Let’s take a look at the short history of this issue.

In 2008, the American people gave the presidency and control of Congress to the Democrats so they would move the country out of the morass of the Great Recession. Instead, they passed an ineffective stimulus package loaded with political pork, then spent months wrestling with health care. And instead of reducing the amount of governmental meddling in the health care market, they engineered the governmental takeover of one-sixth of the American economy.

No Congressman had read all the bill’s 2000+ pages. Nancy Pelosi famously said, “Let’s pass it so we can see what’s in it.” There was chicanery in its final passage. No Republicans voted for it.

At the time, a majority of Americans were opposed to Obamacare, and in November 2010, voters gave their opinion of Democratic husbandry with a Republican romp, both at the federal and state levels. Obamacare would never have been passed by the next Congress.

Obamacare was supposed to make health care more affordable. But it was never explained how the same government that pays $500 for hammers and suffers billions annually in Medicare fraud was somehow going to run health care efficiently and economically. And indeed, the reverse has been true. Americans now suffer from annual double-digit increases in their health insurance premiums. Many small companies find that they no longer can afford to provide health insurance for their employees.

Federal employees want no part of Obamacare; they prefer their existing health care plans. Labor unions worked hard for its passage, but now they line up seeking exemptions from it. If Obamacare is so wonderful, why do these highly Democratic groups avoid it like the plague?

Most polls show that a majority of Americans continue to oppose Obamacare. Yet Senate Democrats are adamant; they will not give an inch. President Obama vows a presidential veto. Democrats insist on imposing on the American people this unpopular, expensive monstrosity of a program, Obamacare.

Pete Sundin

Baker City

City Council urges renewal of downtown economic district

Baker City has begun the process to renew the Economic Improvement District in our downtown community.

Since the early 1980s, much work has been done to create an attractive commercial area that entices people to visit and do business. We have seen a great deal of success since those efforts began. With the initial implementation of the Economic Improvement District, we were able to leverage community monies to encourage millions of dollars in private investment. If the Economic Improvement District had not been in place, our downtown community would not have had the dedicated resources needed to make so many of our wonderful improvements that have happened.

Property and business owners will once again consider the renewal of the Economic Improvement District. We urge our fellow citizens to support this renewal. Let’s keep our downtown community vibrant and healthy for generations to come.

Richard Langrell

Baker City mayor

Clair Button

Mike Downing

Dennis Dorrah

Barbara Johnson

Kim Mosier

Roger Coles

Baker City Council members


City action on pit bulls is necessary


City Councilor Roger Coles used the term “knee jerk reaction” Tuesday evening when councilors discussed imposing restrictions, or even an outright ban, on pit bulls.

In one sense the term is appropriate in this case.

A decision is sometimes deemed to be “knee jerk” when it’s prompted by a single event.

Trouble is, the term also, in many instances, connotes a decision which is based on emotion rather than on fact — “in the heat of the moment,” to use another cliché.

We don’t believe the City Council is acting in knee jerk fashion as regards pit bulls (and to be clear, Coles didn’t say he believed his colleagues had done so; he just said he hopes that doesn’t happen.)


Would you trust these people with anything?


Somebody has to sign off on all those checks the federal government writes, but why does it have to be Congress?

The Founding Fathers might have botched that one.

Although in their defense, none of those august men ever had to deal with John Boehner.

Or Harry Reid.

Or any other modern politician for whom the words “principle” and “posturing,” which have little in common except containing nine letters and starting with “p,” have become so corrupted as to be nearly synonymous.


Letters to the Editor for Oct. 9, 2013


Republican Party lacking true statesmen

The Herald’s political cartoon on Sept. 30 offers a good look at the state of today’s Republican Party, which is “stuck on (Senator Ted) Cruz control” as it drives our nation off a cliff in pursuit of unattainable ideological goals.  Thanks to right-wing extremists, a manufactured state/fiscal crisis two or three times a year has become the new normal. 

Senate Democrats and President Obama would be foolhardy to give in to unbridled, extortionist GOP demands.  The fiscal year 2014 United States Budget has already been taken hostage in a futile attempt to overturn the law of the land.  The likely next threat is even bigger.  Failure to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17 will shake global financial markets, which rely on both U.S. Treasuries as one of the major sources of funding, and the U.S. dollar to conduct global transactions. Our once-proud nation could well be driven to its knees.  

Should a statesmanlike choice be made, the House leadership and moderate House Republicans could actually join with House Democrats to pass a “clean” budget resolution and end the impasse right now.  But there may be no room left for real statesmen and statesmanship in today’s GOP. 

What the Herald’s political cartoon does not explicitly show is the Republican House majority leadership, including Representative Greg Walden, cowering in fear at right-wing threats.  On one hand, there are tea party extremists within their own ranks who threaten to strip them of their leadership jobs if they attempt to compromise with Democrats. On the other hand, they face wealthy ultra-conservatives, like the Club for Growth, who threaten to fund primary-election challenges against Republicans who fails to toe the tea party line.

New polls indicate that House Republicans may lose their majority status in the next election as a result of their current actions. But that’s over a year away.  Maybe we can change the game now.  My fellow readers, please contact Rep. Walden, urging him to rise up and put the country first, and use his House leadership position to avert the severe damage that otherwise appears imminent.                                    

Marshall McComb

Baker City

Senior Center is a gem that’s open to everyone

Why I go to the Senior Center?

I guess the question should be why I didn’t go sooner.

My husband and I had retired and were doing the long-needed remodel on our kitchen. Food was getting to be a hassle so we decide to try the Senior Center. As we drove up we both looked at each other like really we are not ready to be in an old folks’ dining room.

To our surprise the group was a variety of ages laughing, having fun and enjoying life. The low price of the meals shocked us and the company was upbeat and interesting. We enjoyed ourselves so much we still go at least three times a week. I can’t cook a meal for what I get at the Senior Center.

But lunch isn’t the only thing they offer.

Join them for a large variety of activities. Line dancing, exercise group, tai chi, foot clinic, bingo, pool, books you can borrow. Don’t forget our best-kept secret is the clothing closet that has quality clothes for low prices.

But most of all it is about the people. They have great stories and boy do they know their history. Their stories make Eastern Oregon come alive for me.

Stop in, pick up a menu, meet new friends. Don’t let the word “senior” scare you — all ages are welcome.

The two of us are grateful for this rare gem in Baker City.

Ramona and John Creighton

Baker City


Congress: More vote, less talk


Congress is arguing about Obamacare.

And as a result the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center is closed.

Puzzled?

We are too.


Letter to the Editor for Oct. 7, 2013


Shoot out some car tires

All afternoon today we were barraged by news people telling us how marvelously well trained the capitol police and the other police officers were who reacted to the fuss today near the U.S. Capitol.  If they are so well trained, why didn’t they do the right thing?  What was the right thing?  The right response would have been to stop waving their guns around so much and shoot out some tires on the woman’s car. 

Carl R. Kostol

Baker City


Milestones are time to reflect on mistakes

This has been, and will continue to be, quite a year for 50-year celebrations.

There’s probably a term for these, something more pleasing to the ear than “half-centennial,” but I do not know it and am too lazy to look it up.

(Which, in the era of Google, is immensely lazy indeed.)

The year 1963 was, among much else, a crucial one in the civil rights movement. Most famously, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. held much of the nation spellbound with his “I have a dream” speech on Aug. 28 in Washington, D.C.

On Feb. 11 in London, a four-man beat group recorded its first long-play album, all in a single day. These clever lads called themselves The Beatles. They had some success later.

And of course the best-known event of the entire year, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22.

The publicity for the anniversary of that tragedy will be considerable.

This torrent of reminiscing has reminded me of another milestone, one which arrives in 2014.

That year — and specifically, July 28 — marks one century since the First World War began.

This, of course, puts the event beyond the living memory of almost everyone who’s around today.

(And even those rare methuselahs would have been just kids, and thus unlikely to have been following geopolitical events with any great enthusiasm.)

Yet a compelling case can be made — indeed, many historians have made it — that the First World War was the most significant event of the 20th century.

Many of the defining characteristics of that century — chief among them the nuclear age and the Cold War — are today linked more closely with the Second World War.

But their origins date to the earlier conflict.

Beyond the obvious chronological connection — you can’t have a second world war without a first — the historical record shows that the two wars are in effect one long fight, two bloody stanzas separated by a 21-year intermission during which no grievances were settled, and another major one was sown and bore its deadly fruit.

It is no coincidence, certainly, that the cast of characters was much the same in the two wars, the major differences being that Italy switched sides in the Second World War and Japan joined the Axis (what were known as the Central Powers in the First World War).

Even casual students of history understand that Adolf Hitler — the architect, as it were, of the Second World War — was in effect a prisoner of the First.

Not only did he fight in the 1914-18 war, but the whole of his monomaniacal life after the armistice was driven by his hatred for the punitive terms imposed on Germany by the Versailles Treaty of 1919.

The sequence of monumental events which happened during, or soon after, the First World War seem to us, at such a distance of time, as inevitable, neatly laid out as they are in the chapters of our history books.

Yet we can’t know whether the Russian revolution, the seed of the Cold War, would have happened in 1917, or indeed at all, had that country not suffered through the calamity of the Eastern Front during the previous three years.

And, as mentioned, it is hard to imagine that, without the First World War, a minor artist from Austria would have been able, by sheer force of his charisma and psychosis, to unleash the greatest military conflict in the world’s history.

I’m sure the First World War centennial will get into the news.

But I doubt it will garner anything like the attention given to, say, King’s landmark speech.

This would hardly come as a surprise; a century is an awfully long time. 

And in some ways the First World War seems even older than it actually is. There were a lot more horses than trucks, the soldiers carried rifles that had more in common with a musket than an M-16, and the airplanes were about as technologically advanced, by today’s terms, as a push lawnmower.

Perhaps most important, America’s role in the First World War, though significant, came late in the conflict, after France, Germany, Britain and Russia had squandered much of an entire male generation.

America’s experience in the Second World War was rich in iconic events and place names. “Pearl Harbor” and “D-Day” and “Iwo Jima” continue to resonate down through the decades.

By contrast, “Belleau Wood” and “The Meuse-Argonne” seem as foreign as, well, France itself.

Perhaps it’s just as well.

I don’t see that we need to use the Somme or Verdun to remind ourselves of how inhumane humans can be. Sadly, we can use more recent disasters to illustrate the point.

Still and all, 100 years after the guns of August blasted away the notion of war as a gentlemanly pursuit, we might do well to pause briefly to acknowledge that some mistakes carry greater consequences than we could ever conceive at the time.

Jayson Jacoby is editor
of the Baker City Herald. 


Letters to the Editor for Oct.4, 2013

Demand law banning pit bulls

There doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming outrage over the pit bull death of a young boy. I blame it on the apathy drugs the government has been putting in the water. There seems to be no other explanation. 

When I was growing up on the farm it was understood that if a dog even nipped a child someone was going to take it out behind the barn and shoot it. The Oregonian refers to the differences between how things are handled as the urban/rural divide.

About 10 or 12 years ago, after a rash of pit bull attacks, there were attempts to ban them is some states and cities. They got it done in some places. In others the airheads prevailed and assured us that not all pit bulls are evil. It is only the way they were raised and you can’t judge all pit bulls by what a few outlaws do and all that — the kind of thinking you get from those with hearts bigger than their brains. 

The best example of this was the ones who were going to rescue and rehabilitate Michael Vic’s fighting pit bulls. Some lucky dad, mom or grandpa is going to get one of these rehabs as a neighbor and will have to keep the children indoors. The press was glad to cover the rescue and rehab but I wonder if any of those rescued psycho mutts have killed any children. 

I wrote my letters to the editor. I testified in front of the City Council and urged the County Commission to ban the breed. No takers. No guts. What I said was going to happen did happen. If things follow the usual route, on Halloween night with kids congregated along Main Street there will be a couple of jackasses with some 60-pound pits on leashes in the middle of the kids. 

Enough. I call on the men of this county to get in front of the County Commission and City Council to demand they pass laws to ban these monsters. If the County Commission won’t then there is the initiative petition route.

Steve Culley

Richland

 

Pit bulls should be banned

Baker City has suffered, to my knowledge, two recent attacks by pit bulls. In one, an adult was seriously injured; in the second, a small child was tragically  murdered. Like so many others I was saddened and heart-sick at the loss of the child’s life and outraged at the suffering he experienced during the attack. 

My deepest sympathies go to the family at their loss in the wake of this unjustified death of their child. 

It is inexcusable to allow as dangerous a breed as a pit bull to reside anywhere within the city; anywhere near small children. Even more inexcusable are the comments in defense of the breed following the death of the child. 

No expression of remorse was forth-coming. How dare these individuals stand to the defense of a genetically engineered killing machine at this time immediately after this killing?

Examine the facts: Proportionally and historically small dogs have a higher rate of biting than larger dogs (USPS). Attacks by dogs are generally shows of aggression without a bite. Most dogs after connecting with a bite will break off and move away. 

Pit bulls will not usually disengage without a strong response and have been shown to ignore pepper-spray and even having bones broken with a baseball bat. Killing the dog on the spot has proven successful in many cases. These are animals that once started are very difficult to stop, and therein lies the problem. Adults have been mauled to death by pit bulls, what chance does a child have?

Worse yet, all this is well known and documented. Yet the best the pit bull lovers can offer is strident yet vague defense of the breed. Sounds pretty delusional to me.

I believe the city should enact an ordinance banning pit bulls from residing within the city limits and require caged transport for the animals when passing through the city. The same ordinance should also rescind the state’s one-bite exemption specifically as it relates to pit bulls. They are an established danger to the community. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.

Raymond Reinks 

Baker City


Letter to the Editor Oct. 2, 2013

Promote congressional career for your kids

Attention Parents: “Encourage” your children to become members of Congress! It’s the only vocation where you still get paid for walking out on the job.

Karen Lewis

Baker City


The sad sight of a once-thriving enterprise

By Jayson Jacoby

Baker City Herald Editor

I often walk past the defunct Ellingson Lumber Co. sawmill, and the scene never fails to provoke a twinge of sadness.

I don’t go out of my way for these doses of maudlin.

It’s just that I live directly across 15th Street from the fence that marks the western boundary of the millsite. To avoid the place I’d have to reconfigure most of my normal routes, which strikes me as an unnecessary, albeit aerobically beneficial, hassle.

Last Sunday morning I walked along Broadway, on the north side of the property, and even the fading yellow of the rabbitbrush, a sort of farewell to summer’s palette, failed to enrich the somber scene.

If anything, the blooms accentuated the sense that something is missing here, that a site which once teemed with activity, where good salaries were earned and useful products were made, is being taken over gradually by the shrubs of the desert.

Lamenting the loss of a mill is a common refrain these days, of course, and it’s an emotion more often than not informed by the partisan politics pitting the timber industry against the environmentalists.

Yet I rarely consider that debate when I look at the barren buildings on the Ellingson parcel.

I don’t pine for a bygone era when stacks of ponderosa logs loomed over Auburn Avenue, some with butts almost as wide as the street itself.

That prosperous period could not have continued in perpetuity, at least not at the pace which marked much of the half century after the end of World War II.

In a region where a pine needs a century or more to attain such girth, there just weren’t enough trees to satisfy every saw.

Still and all, I can’t help but wonder whether this transition needed to be as abrupt it was.

I ponder whether some minor tweaking of national forest logging policy might have made it possible for this industry, which had been a mainstay of Baker County’s economy for better than a century, to survive, albeit in diminished form.

I remember interviewing Rob and Pete Ellingson after they closed the mill in 1996.

They talked about multiple factors, including government-subsidized lumber from Canada that depressed prices for U.S.-produced boards.

But the most pressing problem, they said, was that they could no longer rely on the three nearby national forests to supply enough trees to augment the logs coming from the company’s own comparatively modest acreage.

The volume of timber cut on the national forests has risen a bit from its nadir in the mid 1990s, but the numbers remain trifling compared with those of previous decades.

Oregon’s congressional delegation has tried several times to craft a compromise that would get log trucks rolling in more significant numbers, but nothing has come of it.

Perhaps nothing ever will.

Or at least not until the hundreds of thousands of acres of young forests in the region have matured, and the public lands once again are best measured in billions of board-feet. 

The term “sustainable forestry” has been around for decades and although its creator was no doubt well-intentioned, his work, it seems to me, was for naught.

Our definitions of “sustainable” vary so widely as to render the term useless.

I used to believe that one apt description was that a small town which has a lot of productive forests nearby could sustain at least one sawmill, and in turn all the ancillary businesses which support it.

Moreover, I believed this could happen without our denuding those forests of the other qualities — wildlife habitat, sources of pure water, recreation — which we as a society prize.

It was not to be so in Baker City.

The city, of course, endured the loss of the mill.

I don’t mean to suggest the city’s future was ever in jeopardy. Baker City is a substantial place, and has been so for longer than most of Oregon’s cities. This is not Valsetz, nor any other town defined primarily, if not wholly, by lumbering.

Yet as the paint peels from the buildings which once housed the singing saws, as the wind blows without spreading the fresh scent of pine, I see, in my mind, the people who made careers here, the families which depended on this place, the homes and the cars and the Christmas presents which, in a sense, got their start here.

My eyes just see rabbitbrush, its luster gone again for another year. 

Jayson Jacoby is editor
of the Baker City Herald. 


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