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Golden future, no TV needed

We’re excited about the economic benefits Baker County will realize from its exposure on “Gold Rush,” a highly rated reality TV series on the Discovery Channel.

As with “Ghost Mine,” the SyFy network series that filmed two seasons near Sumpter in 2013, “Gold Rush,” besides its direct monetary contributions, will give the county valuable publicity on a major cable network.

But we’d be happier still if the county could boast a mining boom that didn’t require the presence of TV cameras.

Baker’s reputation as Oregon’s top gold-producing county dates back to the Civil War.

But we were reminded just this week that you needn’t look that far back to find headlines touting the county’s rich deposits. With the announcement that the Cornucopia mines near Halfway are for sale, we dug through the vast troves of historical records on the state geology agency’s website. These include clips from this newspaper in the 1930s, when the Copia mines, despite the nation being mired in the Great Depression, employed 200 to 300 full-time miners and produced more gold than any other mine in Oregon.

We understand it’s farfetched to expect Baker County to replicate that era.

Even with gold hovering around $1,200 an ounce, the immense cost and labyrinth of government red tape required to start large-scale mining pose major obstacles to the industry.

But based on geologic reports there is little doubt that vast wealth still lies beneath the ground in parts of Baker County. And we’re confident that miners, if only they were allowed to do so, are ready to extract those treasures. Even if there are no cameras around.

Letters to the Editor for Feb. 26, 2016

Changing the law doesn’t require force

Some people fail to realize that individuals may not self-appoint themselves to overrule Congress or the Supreme Court, nor claim authority to ignore any laws they choose.

People unable to recognize when laws are being broken, who provide support and assistance to the lawbreakers, may themselves face criminal or civil action. It is unnecessary to read or see an indictment to use your brain to recognize a crime in progress. If Mr. Justus chooses to support criminal activity and be an accessory to it, he does not have the judgment I ask of a county commissioner. Nor do I want my commissioners to encourage armed thugs to impose their version of fascist rule on any community, destroy property, or threaten others, whether they are elected officials or government employees and their families.

If you believe your particular 3 percent of the population is above the laws that 97 percent of our country support, think twice before you act upon that delusional belief. If you define people who accept our laws and the Constitution as implemented in the United States as “sheep or sheeple” you are probably afflicted by that delusion of moral and intellectual superiority.

You can wrap yourself in the armor of flag, patriotism, and religion and shout “Constitution” all you want, and still change nothing. Unless you can conduct a dialogue that can convince the majority to accept your point of view, you will change nothing. If you behave like a thug, the only people who will follow you are equally delusional thugs. If you take up weapons and try to change laws by force, the remaining 97 percent of us will look forward to your incarceration.

Clair Button

Baker City

Legislature's leap of faith on minimum wage

A majority of Oregon’s legislators, along with Gov. Kate Brown, seem to think the world’s greatest economic mind belongs to the Tooth Fairy.

Forget Friedman and Galbraith and their ilk, with their complex theories and confusing charts and incomprehensible jargon.

Just slip an incisor under the pillow at night, and by dawn the useless chunk of dentin has been replaced by legal tender.

And you lose nothing because a new tooth is already jutting from the gums. 

It’s magic.

I detect a similarly childlike faith in the sudden appearance of dollars in the Legislature’s decision last week to boost the state’s minimum wage. The wage is scheduled to rise over the next six years by 35 percent, 46 percent or 59 percent, depending on where you (and your payroll) happen to live.

In Baker County, along with 17 other “non-urban” counties, the smallest of those rates applies. The minimum wage in these counties will rise from $9.25 to $9.50 on July 1, and then by 50 cents on each of six subsequent years, also on July 1.

I understand that lawmakers felt pressured to act before the session ends in early March.

What a winter for BHS sports

This has been quite a winter for two Baker High School athletic teams.

Wrestlers and swimmers don’t always get as much attention as they deserve, although they work as hard as other athletes.

The nature of their sports, of course, has much to do with this.

Letter to the Editor for Feb. 22, 2016

Moment of silence should replace prayer at meeting

I have never attended a meeting of the Baker County Commissioners due to inconvenience, not lack of interest. I assume that at the beginning of a commissioner’s term that she/he would take an oath to uphold the state of Oregon’s Constitution.

Article I, Section 3 of that Constitution specifically references the subject of freedom of religious opinion, stating, “No law shall in any case whatever control the free exercise, and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.” 

I personally am uncomfortable hearing in a public meeting, or being expected to condone, any phrase such as “in Jesus’ name,” unless it is a religious gathering that I am attending voluntarily. If my “right of conscience” was respected at a public meeting a phrase like that would not be permitted aloud.

A simple moment of silence so all present can inwardly invoke a higher power, or not — addresses that right. Silence is so simple!

A public meeting has no place for any suggestion of religious belief, and goes against the intent of the state and federal Constitutions. An exception might be that an individual stands up to make a statement and voluntarily feels it is important to identify their religion.

Also, any expectation that someone who asserts a religious affiliation that may be in a minority and should wait outside until the invocation is done, is ridiculous. It is inequitable. Silence is appropriate. Hopefully, the majority is not designing to make a stance of number.

Linda Bergeron


Itís still murky in Salem

A year has passed since John Kitzhaber resigned as Oregon governor, his once sterling reputation sullied by a scandal in which secrecy played no small part.

We were pleased, though not surprised, when Kitzhaber’s successor, Kate Brown, upon taking office emphasized the necessity, in the wake of one of Oregon’s ugliest political episodes, for “transparency and trust in government.”

We’re feeling gullible.

Letters to the Editor for Feb. 19, 2016

Halfway rally: A celebration of the Constitution

What an outstanding Constitutional rally in Halfway. I applaud its organizers, the community, and the leadership displayed by Commissioners Harvey and Bennett as well as from candidates Justus and Hoopes. This was the spirit of what makes this country great: freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, and the Bill of Rights.  

I’m disappointed in Mrs. Miller’s suggestion that the gathering was done in support of criminal activity.  Anytime Americans are killed, it’s a tragedy.  Had law enforcement been harmed or killed during the past few months in our area, we would have dedicated that rally to them as well.  Thinking otherwise about this rally displays ignorance and short sightedness.

I’m aware of several folks who visited the refuge during January in an effort to understand why fellow Americans would have taken such drastic measures. At the time, none of the “occupiers” had been charged with any criminal activity. Period. I’m not advocating their now indicted actions, but had law enforcement sat down with them in an attempt to understand their plight, I think reason may have dictated the day and no one would have died.  Law enforcement never once tried to reason from what I observed; they merely just kept asking them to leave without addressing the root of the problem. As a rancher, as a longtime local, and as a candidate running for office, Kody Justus’ courage in at least attempting to understand both sides throughout by a personal visitation is something to be commended.

Lastly, I’m shocked and saddened that Sheriff Ash not only didn’t support this rally, but that he called the main organizer and acted contrary to how a Constitutional sheriff should have acted worthy of my vote. His conduct appeared belittling and threatening. His and the BLM’s apparent overreaction to a non-event at the Interpretive Center is rather telling as well.

I believe in following law and order, and I love that we live in a nation of laws. But when did the Constitution become such a reviled document to be treated with disdain by so many Americans? I’m glad we have an election soon.

Jake Brown


Biblical prosperity offers more than the world’s system

The reason for this letter is I’ve heard that some churches instead of teaching Biblical finance they are letting teachers in the world system do it for them. Any pastor who allows this is either lazy or ignorant of God’s law, or maybe just afraid to teach the truth.

I have personally been a witness to this. One pastor told me every time he taught on Biblical wealthy and prosperity, people left the church. There are always those who will deny the truth, but taught correctly they will be back and more with them. Also there will be happy people and God’s smiles on the church instead of His disappointment.

Be aware without teaching God’s way, many of us are being cheated out of what is rightly ours according to the Bible. Faith comes by the hearing of the Word. So what’s the difference? The world’s way, there is no argument it will work, especially if you work hard and make good money. The downside is you do without many things until you are out of debt. My question is how long will you stay deft-free when it is mostly always outgo? God’s Word says if you do it His way you do not have to struggle and He promises 10, 30 and 100 percent return, and that’s not bad for a 10 percent investment and a little faith.

The laws of Biblical prosperity also include not just money but spiritual, mental and physical health. The world’s way can never do this. God wants all the Christians’ needs to be met with the ability to meet others. 

One more thing that bothers me is the way we treat God’s money in tithes and offerings, not knowing we are handling holy things belonging to God that should be treated with prayer and great respect, not plucking just to get it out of the way.

Richard Fox

Baker City

Two men surrendered, but only one is a hero

It happens that on the day the last person at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge gave himself up to the FBI, I read the story of another individual who surrendered, more than a century ago.

Ten million people died after that surrender.

This is not the only difference between that episode and what happened in Oregon.

Along with about 20,000 other people I listened to the streaming audio as David Fry, the Refuge holdout, talked with negotiators.

Letters to the Editor for Feb. 17, 2016

We can change the laws without breaking them

There are legal ways to fight for what you want instead of breaking the law as the Bundys did. I am so sorry they brought so much strife to Eastern Oregon. Our area was made with laws and votes by the settlers of this land, laws that can be changed by our votes in our cities, county, state and federal governments. When people protest taking over federal buildings or land because they say “it belongs to the people” it kind of reminds me of a child in kindergarten taking all the school supplies home because “they belong to him.” And what a cost this last episode has been to the state and county both financially and with emotions running high, hurtful things are said which under normal circumstance most likely would never be expressed in ways that would hurt our neighbors and friends. I do not always agree with all of  the policies of the federal government but we can fight legally through the courts not by breaking laws.

I was embarrassed for Eastern Oregon when I saw the picture in this paper of someone holding a sign at the small rally in Halfway stating “murdered by Federal Supremacist.” The officer did exactly what he should have even though I am sure his heart is hurting for being forced to take someone’s life. I feel so sorry for the officer even though it is his job and always a possibility. First Finicum was part of a group that was breaking the law, then he tried to outrun police and then in dodging a roadblock got stuck in a snowdrift. When ordered out of the car he came out with hands up but soon lowered his hands reaching to the inside of his jacket for something. The officer had no choice but to shoot. Is the officer supposed to wait until he is shot  and possibly killed?

People acting with civil disobedience often have bad outcomes. Let’s not let that happen again in Eastern Oregon.

One last thing. We totally agree with Mary Miller’s letter in Friday’s paper. If you missed it, you need to read it.

Cheryl and Lowell Craig


Commissioners’ prayer policy, not objections to it, is divisive

In a recent letter to the editor, Rocky Morris writes, “I don’t think he (meaning me) truly realizes what he is doing.” Morris is referring to my complaint that for the past year Baker County Commission meetings always begin with Christian prayers. 

Rocky, I know exactly what I’m doing. Do you?

Did you call me to ask me about my religious beliefs? No, you did not. What if I told you I’m Jewish? Would you still think it’s all right that Commission prayers always end “in Jesus’ name I pray?” Do you know that the Commission does so without knowing how many Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, and persons of no religious beliefs, might be in the audience? The Commission, under Commissioner Harvey’s leadership, seemingly doesn’t believe that religious minorities deserve acknowledgment or representation.

Do you know, Rocky, that for 160+ years Baker County Commission meetings did not mix government and religion? So why now, Commissioner Harvey?  So why now, Commissioner Kerns? So why now, Commissioner Bennett?

Do you know, Rocky, that during the eight years that local Jewish merchant Hans Neuberger was a Baker City councilor, the Baker City Council asked everyone attending its meetings to stand while a Christian prayer was said?

Rocky suggests that if I have an objection to the Commission’s Christian prayers, I just wait outside Commission chambers until the invocation is finished. How ironic that the Baker City Herald’s headline to your letter proclaims “Meeting Prayer Issue Need Not Divide Us.” 

Gary Dielman

Baker City

Let’s be passionate, but also listen to each other

Regarding the letter of Feb. 12 from Marry Miller, who wrote that the attendance of Baker County Board of Commissioners Bill Harvey and Mark Bennett at the rally in Halfway was appalling as it was “lending support and encouragement to radicalized criminals that staged an armed takeover of a federal facility” — the Bundy Bunch.

May I suggest you cast your thinking net a little wider? Might it be that there was a more pressing reason for our officials to be there, such as: to diffuse any potential despair from turning to rage, to reassure those who have endured the overreach of the BLM that their patient endurance is not forgotten; that the work of several years to right this situation will continue its slow, plodding process. In other words, the legal road.

Regarding Mr. Justus, your conclusion that he went to Burns to join the Bundy Bunch seems to be stretching it. There is no news that he joined the demonstrators, and since he is interested enough in the welfare of Eastern Oregon that he is willing to run for public office, I can just as well assume he wanted to assess the situation in Burns for himself rather than rely on secondhand information.

Passion is a good thing. Still, it is my hope that we train ourselves to understand the other’s point of view with the hope of actually delighting in each other and finding ourselves agreeing with at least some of their thinking. It’s impossible for one alone to think of all aspects of a problem.

Suzanne Kahle

Baker City

County officials who attended rally upheld their oath

In response to those who criticize county officials and denigrate folks who gather peacefully at a Halfway rally, it seems to me that county officials would be wise to continue investigating and discovering truth in matters regarding the BLM, Forest Service, and other federal agencies that claim ownership jurisdiction on public property in Eastern Oregon. Do they hold title to the land and did they gain that title as lawfully prescribed? What good ever came of burying one’s head in the sand? If there’s two sides to every issue why not investigate both sides? What better reputation could be developed for this county?

It is clear to me that road closures, mining and timber restrictions, citations, heavy-handed tyranny and unfair prosecution against many private landowners is reason enough to investigate and get at the truth regarding federal powers exercised in our county. Baker County can use the truth. The truth can help us all.  

Alaska filed a $29 billion lawsuit against the feds for lost revenue and other damages in 1993 when the feds reneged on their agreement to turn land over to the state of Alaska. Now Utah and other jurisdictions have dozens of lawsuits against federal violators all over the country.   

We have county officials who have taken an oath to uphold our private rights. No federal agency has such oath or obligation to us. I’m thankful for strong officials who refuse to sit in apathy but work hard to understand both sides of every story. That’s professionalism, folks. That’s the reason they’re collecting their pay.  So let them do their job. And my thanks to Mr. Harvey and Mr. Bennett for doing what’s right.   

Peggy Jean Anderson

Baker City

Cougar problem growing

Oregon lawmakers and Gov. Kate Brown have acknowledged the diversity of our state, and the unsuitability of one-size-fits-all public policy, with their support of a three-tiered minimum wage.

So what about hunting cougars with dogs?

The economic differences among Oregon’s regions that justify multiple minimum wages are mirrored, in a sense, by differences in cougar populations and the effects the big cats can have on deer and elk populations and local economies.

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