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Crime statistics mislead

There are at least a few well-known aphorisms that highlight the fallibility of statistics.

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” — often wrongly attributed to Mark Twain, although its actual origin is uncertain — probably is the most repeated.

Misleading statistics sometimes are innocuous.

But it’s no minor matter when the source of a statistic is such a respected agency as the FBI, and the figures in question purport to show how often violent crimes happen in Baker City.

Walking pace reveals the heart of any community

The best way to see a town — any town, whether it’s the one you’ve lived in for decades or one you’ve never before visited — is by walking its neighborhoods.

You won’t cover a great deal of ground, of course, at the placid pace of a mile or two per hour.

But this strikes me as a clear case in which quality, in terms of what you’ll see, hear and smell, trumps quantity as expressed in miles traveled.

Because from a car, or even from a bicycle, you’ll inevitably miss some of the details that reveal themselves to a pedestrian. 

Hopeful after Haggen

The short, strange saga of the Haggen grocery store in Baker City has attracted considerable attention among local residents.

Which is no surprise.

We all have to eat, after all.

And although the slated Nov. 25 closure of the Haggen store at 1120 Campbell St. won’t leave shoppers without an option, we have over the decades become accustomed to having two major grocery chains — Safeway and Albertsons — from which to choose our staples. 

Letter to the Editor for Oct. 5, 2015

Co-sleeping is 100 percent preventable cause of death

My only purpose as Baker County Medical Examiner is to try and prevent deaths from occurring in this county. I wrote a letter several years ago after we had three infant co-sleeping deaths in a short period of time. This letter urged readers to avoid co-sleeping with infants. Some people thought this was an unnecessary intrusion into family affairs.

Fortunately, doctors at Eastern Oregon Medical Associates (St. Luke’s Clinic Baker City) agree that there is a significant risk of death to young infants sleeping in the same bed with their parents. Medical personnel at EOMA counsel every parent of children born in Baker City to not co-sleep with their infant children.

Two more co-sleeping deaths have occurred in Baker City in the past four months. This has nothing to do with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is not a preventable cause of death. Co-sleeping is a 100 percent preventable cause of death. If a child is not present in the parents’ bed, it will not die from co-sleeping. Parents do not think that they will roll over onto their child and prevent it from breathing. However, an infant lying wedged next to a parent may not be able to lift and turn its head and may suffocate. Parents who are sleeping very soundly because of taking drugs or alcohol provide an additional risk of infant death.

There is nothing wrong with cuddling an infant in bed or on a couch. When it is time for the parents to sleep, the infant needs to be put in a crib or cradle. It is no different than using a car seat for the child. It is what provides life-saving protection from asphyxiation.

Dr. James Davis

Baker City

After another tragedy

President Obama, in talking about the man who shot and killed nine people Thursday morning at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, said the U.S. has “become numb” to mass shootings.

We disagree.

And we’re pretty sure Roseburg residents do too.

Nor do we concur with Mr. Obama’s description of the nation’s response to Thursday’s tragedy as “routine."

Feds find money to build

With the federal government rolling up billion-dollar annual bills for fighting wildfires, a public building in Baker City that costs a bit less than $1 million might seem mathematically insignificant.

But we think the structure the U.S. Forest Service is building this fall is noteworthy.

Not because the $889,000 in public dollars the agency is spending on the building near the intersection of 11th and H streets will hamper its firefighting campaign in a meaningful way.

Letter to the Editor for Oct. 2, 2015

Study shows direct link between childhood trauma, many adult problems

Many of you may know of or may have heard about the lasting effects of trauma in childhood. But if you haven’t, please allow me to elaborate. The ground-breaking Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs study (1998) took a look at how childhood trauma affected adults later in life. The study asked mostly middle-class, white (74.8 percent), employed, college-educated (75.2 percent) adults who were patients of Kaiser Permanente whether they experienced the following things in childhood: verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, neglect, loss of a parent through death, separation or divorce, having a family member in prison, witnessing violence at home, or living with someone with a mental health issue or a drug or alcohol abuse problem. In order to calculate a person’s ACE score, the researchers gave one point for every category, regardless of the number of instances that occurred within that category. 

Here’s what they found: Almost two thirds (63.9 percent) of the 17,000 adults surveyed experienced one or more ACEs in childhood, while 12.5 percent reported having four or more ACEs. (The ACEs that were most common were physical abuse, living with someone who abused drugs or alcohol, and loss of a parent.)

The researchers, Dr. Vincent Felitti and Dr. Robert Anda, further found that experiencing these ACEs greatly increased the risk of disease and participating in harmful behaviors. They discovered that a person with four or more ACEs had a 160-percent higher chance of having diabetes, 190-percent higher chance of having cancer, 220-percent higher chance of experiencing coronary heart disease, and 240-percent higher chance of experiencing a stroke. Having four or more ACEs also increased a person’s chances of being an alcoholic (by 740 percent), using injection drugs (by 1,030 percent), and attempting suicide (by 1,220 percent). 

Clearly the ACEs study implicates that disease and risky behaviors likely harken back to an adult’s early experiences in childhood, where, shrouded by secrecy, decades later, reappear as forms of disease and addiction. 

For additional information, please visit the following websites: Adverse Childhood Experiences Study on the CDC website, ACEs Too High, and the Center for Youth Wellness. 

Brandy Dougherty

Mental health promotion and prevention coordinator

New Directions Northwest

Baker City

Climber’s fatal fall, and memories of a mountain

The headline grabbed my attention with considerable force.

“Climber dies on Three Fingered Jack.”

Any reference to that colorfully named volcano, which juts from the crest of the Cascades a few miles north of Santiam Pass, piques my curiosity.

But my interest is especially keen when the story involves people who try to ascend the pinnacle of crumbly lava that crowns this peak that Ice Age glaciers gnawed down substantially from its original bulk.

Letters to the Editor for Sept. 30, 2015

Bacon and cell towers: A Baker City porcine parable

Recently I attended a Planning  Commission meeting open to the public regarding two 100-pig pig farms that a company is pushing to establish within Baker City’s city limits. Current regulations restrict pig farms within city limits to 38 pigs.  Before starting, a lawyer, representing the city, speaking a dialect of English I barely understood, advised those in attendance that FCC (Flatulence Communication Commission) rules prohibit any testimony that includes pgfs (pig grunt farts) and that any testimony including pgfs would be rendered inadmissible despite the fact it has been proven that pgfs can be harmful to humans. Besides, those opposed wouldn’t have time to mention pgfs since anyone who opposed the two new farms would only be given three minutes each to state their case.

Meanwhile B.S. Snickerdoodle, representing the company, was given all the time she needed to totally baffle everyone in the room. Snickerdoodle maintained that not only a 100-pig pig farm smelled no different than a 38-pig pig farm but alluded also that the company’s pigs had very little smell at all and would hardly be noticeable, especially at night so long as one remained upwind. She explained that although the 38-pig pig farms supply Baker City with almost all the bacon the town’s residents need, current trends demand high quantities of pig grease because an increasing number of people are chewing the fat. Asked if this was a local or national trend, Snickerdoodle admitted it was a national trend.

Opposition testimony to the 100-pig pig farms, despite the three-minute restriction, offered a wide latitude why Baker should not entertain large farms from pilots flying over Baker might be overcome by smell, and what if everyone in town wanted to build a 100-pig pig farm? The lone local voice in favor noted insightfully that the only residential area that the two farms might affect was high-density housing full of low-income people who obviously didn’t and wouldn’t care. No vote was taken. The meeting was adjourned. Snickerdoodle promised to return with an updated set of tampered facts. The issue remains pending.

Whit Deschner

Baker City

Incident raises concern about county commissioners

Gary Dielman was the obvious victim of the Baker County Commissioners dealing with an issue, but all of us citizens are potential victims with such elected officials dealing with many issues. Are these men capable of fulfilling the responsibilities which are an essential part of their positions?

The recent demonstration looks more like an encounter on the playground with fifth-grade boys in charge.

Maryalys Urey

Baker City

Prayers fine, but so is poetry

The debate over whether local government meetings should begin with a prayer, and in particular with explicitly Christian invocations that mention Jesus, has been a divisive one in the past in Baker City.

This need not happen again.

A simple and fair solution exists, and we urge the Baker County commissioners to grab it.

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