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A wonderful man is gone, but his legacy lingers

I was in a motel room in Meridian, Idaho, when I got the word that my brother-in-law, Bill Pennick, had been taken to the hospital after his heart stopped.

Bill died a couple days later, on Jan. 20, at Salem Memorial Hospital.

He was 41.

It seems to me not only tragic, but also ridiculous that a man who never smoked and was active and otherwise healthy should die at that age from a heart problem.

Letters to the Editor for Jan. 26, 2015

Flat tax system would benefit government 

No matter where I have resided  (to be honest, only Vancouver, Washington, and Baker City,) I have been drawn to the opinion page of the local newspaper. It gives one a little idea of the local mindset. 

  On Dec 24, I couldn’t help but be impressed by Marshall McComb’s letter  “America must return to economic fairness.” I hope others noticed. This is an incredibly well-written, well- thought-out wake-up call to all of us, especially in a dangerously depressed economy such as Baker City. 

   I am only hoping that his ungodlike depiction of Ronald Reagan did not stop personal investigation. That very depiction, and the “union busting” reference, is why it should have never stopped mine, but I was busy ...  And then ...

   On Jan 9, “America must deal with income inequality” — Mr. McComb was not giving up!

I noticed. Every citizen needs to notice.

I had saved the paper with his first letter on this subject  (as far as I know) because I planned on a response ... but I got busy.

I now want to tell Marshall McComb that I would have never considered watching “Inequality for All” except for his persistence. Thank you Marshall! You are absolutely right. Everyone should watch it. This whole inequality thing never ends. 

I often wonder what happened to the “flat tax” idea and conversation? Seems like an (across the board) 5- to 15-percent flat tax could fix a lot of problems. It has always been said that, with this kind of system, the government would have more revenue than ever before. My guess is that the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) along with big government would do anything in its power to stifle such a proposal. Think of the downsizing. Thousands of well-paid paper shufflers, policy makers and complicated tax code writers would suddenly be out of a job. That would mean smaller government and, if we have learned anything in this life, we know, somewhere along the line, that idea, as well as the flat tax discussion, was put to rest. 

Thirty five years union, retired and still struggling.   

Mike Meyer

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for Jan. 23, 2015

My mother deserves some credit for my actions

I offer my deepest thanks for all the kind words written by the Baker City Herald staff in regards to my involvement in helping that family whose house was on fire. I feel honored to have helped them, and blessed to have been in the right place at the right time. 

But I need to share the credit with my mother who was responsible for raising me into the man I am today. I could not have asked for a better mother, who has always had a kind heart and was always the first to help someone in need.  Thank you Mom!  I love you!

Markeith  Reese

Baker  City

America must take another look at land-use policies

Access and use of the Land is perhaps the most important problem facing America today. The problem is that so few people recognize the problem and how it relates to them, particularly those who live in the metropolitan areas.

I say most important because no industry, no business, and no jobs, can continue without the produce and resources that are recovered from the earth. Another fact that few are aware of is that All New Wealth Comes from the Ground, there is no other source. It is created when farmers, ranchers, and fishermen harvest the food and fibers in their crops and timber men, miners and oil men recover our vital resources. This wealth is expanded when we process and manufacture more useful products from the resources.

All others share this wealth by distributing the products or by providing a service for one another. Thus the basic industries are the foundation of our entire economy.

Our Country has serious economic problems and needs more jobs and money.

The problem is that the agencies that have been charged with administering our lands, the  BLM, Forest Service, EPA, etc., have been so carried away with issuing a never ending series or regulations restricting access and use of the land, often disregarding Congressional Law and decisions of the Highest Courts of our land that they are destroying. The very industries that supply the wealth and resources that support our Country.

They have been so carried away by  Environment Policies and their slogan “Save the Earth” that they have forgotten the basic fact of life, that no life on earth can survive unless we Harvest the food and resources of the earth.

It is a noble thing to save a few special places for the future but you can’t have them ALL.

The same forces that uplifted our beautiful mountains brought the minerals to the surface and change the climate to make timber growth productive.

Unless we reassess our access and use of the land policies our Country is facing economical breakdown and your job and all environmental concerns will go out the window.

Kenneth Anderson

Baker City

In 1898, Portland gushed over Baker City, Sumpter

Have you ever read a Portland newspaper that described Baker City this way?:

“Baker City enjoys the distinction of never having had a setback by hard times. During the late years of financial and business depression Baker City continued her steady march to the front and she has trebled her population and quadrupled her volume of trade... a large number of commercial houses carrying heavier stocks of goods than those of any other town in the state outside of Portland. The national bank there does a larger business than any other banking-house in the state outside of the metropolis.”

The same publication had this to say of Sumpter:

“Counties of Eastern Oregon can boast of no place that is more solid, sturdy and assured of a brighter future than the town of Sumpter, at the head of Sumpter valley.

“Nestling among the wooded rolling foothills of the mountains, protected from the biting winter breezes of the north, in a spot that is a veritable garden of nature, is Sumpter. Climatically the Sumpter valley is one of the favored spots of earth, summer or winter. No extreme heat or cold comes to the sheltered city.”

The newspaper is The Evening Telegram.


Use chain saws or lose our trails

The 1964 Wilderness Act, for all its flowery language about the sanctity of nature, clearly expresses the notion that people are not only allowed to visit wilderness areas, but that such places should be managed to ensure we can enjoy their beauty.

We just have to get around on our feet or by horseback, since motor vehicles are prohibited.

That makes sense.

It’s difficult, certainly, to fulfill one of the Act’s goals — that in wilderness areas the “imprint of man’s work (is) substantially unnoticeable” — if there are rigs rolling along paved roads at 50 mph.

What doesn’t make sense is allowing hiking trails — some of which follow routes that Native Americans blazed thousands of years ago — to become impassable because workers can’t use chain saws to cut up trees that fall across the tread.

Letter to the Editor for Jan. 16, 2015

Harvey in charge, it’s a bright new day for Baker County

Good morning. It is a good morning for Baker County. Now is the beginning of a new day! After 12 years of the status quo we can now anticipate some economic progress and freedom in Baker County. That is our goal. 

Our county is rich in resources, natural and human, but poor  in opportunity. One of our greatest problems has been that the federal agencies, which we have hired to manage and protect the natural resources on our public lands, now appear to believe they own those lands and resources. Their management technique is largely that of precluding our access and use. As a result each year large areas of forest burn for lack of  constructive use and on-the-ground management. Then salvage lumber from the remaining dead trees is precluded, all wasted resources and money. Would intelligent forest management permit this?

Mineral resources are also held hostage by the federal agencies. The agencies have delayed the mining of some claims for very long periods asserting the time is required to make sure that no environmental restraints are violated. Some mining applications have been delayed for years instead of a few months as envisioned by the laws that govern the process.  A vigorous, and safe, mining industry would add very greatly to the local economy.  Then why can’t it be?

Local controls are robbing our prosperity also. The process required for permission to build a new house is tedious and expensive. Each step of the way requires study or inspection each of which has a time delay and dollar fee attached. The cost of approved access in some cases precludes building.  Both the extra time and money required by excessive local control discourages construction of, particularly rural, new homes.

The above is but a tiny tip of a gigantic iceberg that has brought our economic and social progress to a grinding halt. We now have a leader, Bill Harvey, who understands basic economics and our rights under the Oregon and U.S. Constitutions. Let us all give Commissioner Harvey our enthusiastic support and enjoy the benefits of the new day. 

Jasper Coombes


The dark days when nuclear war seemed certain

I’m too young to have a proper fear of the atomic bomb.

I was born in 1970 — a quarter century after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

By the late 1970s, when I was old enough to begin to comprehend such things, the threat of nuclear holocaust, though it seemed real enough in that Cold War era of the bellicose Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, had lost its immediacy and thus some of its potency.

When I was in school the experts had long since figured out that having pupils hunker beneath their desks wouldn’t help much if the Russian missiles were landing nearby.

Letter to the Editor for Jan. 14, 2015

Why is our country being run by Idaho Power?

A few years back, there was a sign when you entered Idaho reading, “Idaho is too Great to Litter.” It should have read, “Idaho is too Illiterate to be Great.” The sign disappeared because, as discovered, Idaho wasn’t so great after all. Idaho’s problem is politics by potato. Fine if you live there, but I live in Oregon and Idaho has no right dictating our standard of living. Now (again) it’s Idaho Power telling us we are about to be compromised by their unwanted and unneeded high voltage power line.

Last week there was an open house on the issue. I went to voice my concern that we were never given a vote whether we wanted their power line. Making this look like a democratic process we are now being asked where we want the power line to run: We are being force-fed poison with a choice of flavor. What’s an open house if our opinions are allowed, but ignored? Even if, say, John Steinbeck showed up with a novel about this social injustice, his book would have been trash-canned as soon as he turned away. However, this is an impossible scenario because Steinbeck is, of course, dead. Instead the room was filled with government agency personnel, like seventh graders standing in front of their science projects, an amusing scene until you add up the tax dollars merrily burnt. No one was there explaining how our lives have been already disrupted for five years fighting it. Where’s the study showing it disturbing our health, our livelihoods, and Baker Valley’s Kodachrome panorama? Where was the display table representing the people who don’t want the power line? Each agency has bought into this sham, that this is a done deal. Where did they get that information? But that’s a rhetorical question because Idaho Power’s table was there also. It was surrounded by staff who looked worried their mothers would find them and discover what they really did for a living. I sadly reflected that we used to live in a democracy where different voices are represented, valued and given weight; not a country run by Idaho Power.

Whit Deschner

Baker City

Freedom, fear and America

America hasn’t always embraced its satirists, and even the most renowned have generally been considered something other than first-rate artists.

But we don’t murder them.

Indeed, most of the fighting that results from satire in America is the bloodless sort practiced in a courtroom.

Letter to the Editor for Jan. 12, 2015

Here’s the recipe for locking up public lands

A recipe for locking up public lands to motorized use.

Ingredients – 1 regional forester, 3 forest supervisors, environmental groups and state agencies (ODFW preferred), Seasonings — flouting rules and ignoring the public.

• You take one forest supervisor that is within retirement age and willing to sell out entire communities to get his high 3 for retirement, add in two others that will blend smoothly with a regional forester picked ripe from the vine to force motorized use restrictions on the public. Blend in a yearly bonus of somewhere around $5,000 to turn a deaf ear to local residents’ calls for keeping their mountains open.

• In a separate bowl collect a ratio of “interested groups” 4 to 1, anti-motorized use to pro-motorized use to cover the supervisors and regional forester.

• Spread the “interest group” topping over the blended forest supervisor/regional forester mix and cover heavily as to disguise any sense of pre-conceived agenda.

• Apply a generous seasoning of flouting rules on how public engagement should occur, smothered with a heavy application of ignoring the public on their concerns.

Place in a “consensus” oven set at, till hell freezes over, and wait to see when the forest supervisors and regional foresters actually act upon locals concerns.

Meal will be done when the supervisors and regional forester are soft to the touch, poking with an email or phone call to test tenderness, and are ready act upon local residents concerns. 

Until they reach that point you should place the meal back into the oven and increase the heat till such time as the forest supervisors and regional forester act accordingly or are done, whichever comes first.

John D. George


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