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Letters to the Editor for April 17, 2015

Vote no on Measure 1-63 to preserve local control

The concept of nonpartisan county commissioners is being advanced by those who possess beliefs contrary to the conservative principals of the majority of people in Baker County. The current office holders have been elected by the people to represent them.

 ALL individuals, including non-affiliated with any party, have the opportunity to vote if they want to vote in the general election. 

 Currently under Oregon statute there are three types of county government structure:   

1. General Law – County Courts;

2. General Law – County Commissioner (currently Baker County form);

3. Home Rule counties.

 We, the Baker County Republicans, view the nonpartisan initiative as an attack on the current party system promoting a move toward a single party political system.

Under our current form of government if someone resigns , or is deceased, the replacement process allows for representation from all over the county to participate in the selection of nominees for appointment to the vacant position, which is true local representation.

 Don’t forget this issue was voted down in a similar statewide measure last November with the state initiative, and both Democrats and Republicans agreed this was a bad idea.

Maintain local control and keep core beliefs of candidates part of the selection process.  Vote no on Measure 1-63.

M.A. Longwell

Baker City

Measure 1-63 is just a        straw-man from Democrats

I believe Measure 1-63 is based on nothing more than a straw-man — “one who is set up a cover or front-man for a questionable enterprise.” The idea that only Republicans can vote for County Commission positions is that straw-man. The real story is, the Baker County Democrats did not put forth a single candidate for the Commission. I believe the Democrat party did this on purpose so that they could set up this straw-man. In reality a small percentage of Democrats turned their backs on their (firmly held beliefs?) and changed their party registration so as to try to influence the primary vote. I guess the county Republican voter registration numbers took a nose dive after election day.

Now, we get to the real goal of this charade, 1-63. Nonpartisan positions result in candidates that don’t want the voters to know what their ultimate goals are, once elected. The electorate gets a homogenized group of candidates who have either not figured out wher ethey want to go or how to get there. Or, the candidate who won’t tell you their goals and aims because this is a nonpartisan post and “I will do my best after study and introspection on a case-by-case basis (read: “There is no way I will ever tell the electorate who I am, or what I am.”)

I happen to like knowing a person’s beliefs, past actions, and possible future actions, by knowing their affiliation with like-minded people. The “R,” “D,” “L,” “I” etc. is a good place to start.

At least that’s how it looks from the back of the turnip wagon.

Al Aschenbrenner

Baker City


Wait for a book? Not in the era of the Internet

Amazon and its Kindle e-reader have made me a bitter and impatient man.

I now share the wretched trait, common to medieval monarchs and certain modern celebrities and politicians, of demanding that my needs be fulfilled immediately.

And ideally with the sniveling deference appropriate of an underling.


Letters to the Editor for April 15, 2015

Please use alternatives to glyphosate herbicides

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) puts out a report every year, “Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.” They warn that glyphosate herbicides such as Roundup cause genetic damage to animal and human cells. It causes abnormal development or death or embryonic cells, oxidative damage to human skin cells, increased risk of reproductive problems, neurological diseases, cancer, miscarriages, and attention deficit disorder in concentrations lower than agriculture use. They are especially dangerous to children and may have lifelong effects. In the garden and on the farm they increase the severity of plant disease.

These chemicals wind up in homes at levels 10 times higher and last much longer than outdoors because they are not broken down by sunlight and soil organisms. Common symptoms of poisoning include fatigue, headache, rashes, bronchial constriction, chest pain, nasal congestion, blurred vision, corneal erosion, contact dermatitis, nausea, irritability and hostility and nervous system disorders.

Persons with multiple chemical sensitivities are made ill by herbicide drift as well as monetary damage to adjacent crops. Monsanto, the developer of these chemicals, has paid over $500,000 in fines for false advertising yet still insists they are safe! Herbicides also wash into streams and lakes and leach into groundwater.

If you are still foolish enough to use these poisons, use protective gloves, long sleeves, eye and respiratory protection. A Hazmat suit would not be excessive. Don’t spray on windy or hot or humid days as the chance of drift is likely. Spot spray instead of broadcast.

Some alternatives are: To control weeds use organic mulches, grass clippings, hay, bark, leaves or fabric barriers. Plain vinegar will kill any plant you don’t want. A citrus-based organic herbicide is available from www.millsmix.com. There are also long-handled weed pullers and “flamers” that are effective weed control. Corn gluten will kill broadleaf plants in established lawns.

It’s baffling how folks who have been alerted to the dangers and offered alternatives still insist on using these poisons.

Don’t take my word for it; by all means investigate for yourself.

Please don’t endanger your family, pets, neighbors and the environment.

Yvonne Da Torre

Baker City

Avoid partisan bitterness, vote yes on Measure 1-63

When I married my husband John, I joined a successful Baker County dairy operation that had been in business for 52 years. We continue to successfully farm and ranch in Baker County. We both have deep Baker County roots. Our great-grandparents (and one great-great) are from Baker. Our children are raising their children here. We have coached a variety of sports and helped build sports grounds. We have served on boards, taught Sunday school, led 4-H, and supported fairs, school programs and auctions. We care about Baker County! That’s why we’re encouraging everyone to vote yes on Baker County Measure 1-63.

From 2005-2011, I was on the Baker County Budget Board. During my tenure, I learned that the commissioners’ positions were business-oriented. It did not matter if they were Democrat or Republican. It was more important that they were smart, financially responsible and capable of managing the day to day business of the county. I have spoken with former commissioners, county chairs and county judges. They did not feel when it came to effectively managing the county that their political affiliation made any difference.

People I talk with share my concern that state and national politics have become so bitter nothing is getting done. We don’t want that divide to hurt the business of Baker County.

Like many in my family, I am a lifelong Republican. My love for  Baker County is based on the people who make this community great, not its politics. A nonpartisan commission will give voters who don’t identify with the two-party system a greater voice in our future.

Currently, 28 of the 36 Oregon counties are nonpartisan. Our conservative neighbors in Grant, Union and Wallowa counties voted to have nonpartisan county commissions.  

Local control is local people having a voice. We encourage you to be heard: Vote in the May 19 election. Vote YES on Measure 1-63. Take partisan bitterness out of local government.

For more information visit www.popbakercounty.com., or join us on Facebook at Vote Yes on Measure 1-63. 

Kate Rohner

Chairperson

People Over Politics For Baker County

(Proponents of Measure 1-63)


Lifesaving data for fire crews

If your property is burning, you want the firefighters to focus on dousing the flames.

You don’t want them getting a water-laden fire truck stuck because it drives over the septic tank and cracks it.


Laws don’t deter the lawless

The Oregon Legislature seems all but certain to pass a bill that we believe has little if any chance to achieve its goal.

That goal — to prevent convicted felons who aren’t legally entitled to own a gun from buying one — is a worthwhile one, to be sure.


Letter to the Editor for April 10, 2015

Lack of rural political power dates to 1964

 The authors of our United States Constitution never intended that this country would be a pure democracy. From ancient Greek and Roman history, they knew that a majority can behave just as tyrannically as any autocrat, so the Constitution includes some non-democratic measures. One of these is the makeup of the United States Senate, which creates a balance between small states and large ones.

State legislatures were then set up on the same principle — a lower house dominated by a state’s cities and an upper house dominated by its rural areas. Neither side could ride roughshod over the other; compromise was always necessary. That’s how things stood for 175 years.

In 1964, the Progressive-dominated Warren Supreme Court decided that this would not do. In a fit of hyper democracy, it ruled that both houses of state legislatures must be apportioned by population.

We in Eastern Oregon are living with the consequences of that decision; the Oregon State Legislature is run by urban legislators from the Willamette Valley. We have little influence.

Consider the recently passed low carbon fuel standards. This will significantly increase gasoline prices; with similar rules, California endures the highest gas prices in the country. Our rural legislators patiently explained the highly negative impact this measure will have on the rural parts of Oregon, but the urban legislators were on an ideological binge and it became law anyway, a fine example of the tyranny of the majority.

But this is basically a feel-good measure. It will have virtually no impact on global warming, its stated purpose. About all it accomplishes is that it allows its supporters to tell each other how virtuous they are, how enlightened.

There is virtually nothing we can do about that 1964 decision. The Supreme Court is reluctant to undo its previous stupidities. Earl Warren has spoken; therefore it is so. However, we can learn from this experience. The next time Progressives propose some measure (such as a $15-per-hour minimum wage?) we should give that matter a hard look; see if the supposed good it does isn’t far outweighed by its unintended negative consequences.

Pete Sundin

Baker City


Rethinking my opinion on background checks

That Oregon’s government should require almost everyone who wants to buy a gun to first undergo a background check is a legislative idea that sounds good.

But there are plenty of good ideas that make for bad laws.

Or at best, unnecessary ones.

For instance, more people die in car crashes in Oregon than are killed by someone who bought a gun illegally.


Letter to the Editor for April 8, 2015

County needs to defend itself against Forest Service

Regarding the discussion at a recent Board of Commissioners meeting concerning relationships with the U.S. Forest Service, I think it is important to keep several things in mind. One, the track record of the Forest Service in past years when the county was a cooperating agency is not a good one. Too often the Forest Service has adopted an “it’s my way or the highway” approach and Baker County has suffered as a result.  

Two, our experience has been no different than that of many counties in many states where the Forest Service has attempted to implement its national agenda regardless of the needs and desires of local residents and elected officials.

A county’s status as “cooperating agency” allows the Forest Service to assume it can and will get its way and that local officials, as the name implies, will “cooperate.” The only position the county can and should take if it hopes to have any impact on negotiations at all is to become a coordinating agency. That may be the only tool which will force the Forest Service to actually listen to local concerns.

 The last county commissioner election sent a message. That message, in part, was that voters expect — actually demand — that their elected county commissioners vigorously defend the public’s access to public lands. Chairman Harvey gets it and I would be, as I suspect many others would be, extremely disappointed if his fellow commission members don’t “get it” also.

Jerry Boyd

Baker City


School spending and strange political bedfellows

Don’t feel badly if the recent debate in the Oregon Legislature over how much money the state should spend on public schools has left you a trifle woozy.

In a reversal of typical partisan roles, Republican legislators have pilloried the majority Democrats for shortchanging the state’s schools by hundreds of millions of dollars.


PILT is key for the county

It’s a yearly pest as predictable as the dandelion and the mosquito, but with much more serious potential consequences — Baker County officials wondering whether this is the year Congress pulls the budget rug from under their feet.

This year, as in the past, lawmakers eased the county’s fears by continuing a federal program that’s been a vital source of money for the road department for the past 15 years.


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