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Letter to the Editor for Dec. 2, 2015

Why I support Owyhee Canyonlands protection

As a fifth-generation Eastern Oregonian (my great-great-grandparents came to the Burnt River Valley in 1863), I’m a strong supporter of the Owyhee Canyonlands proposal. Here are a few reasons why:

1. As supposed stewards of this planet, with the wherewithal to destroy/reserve it as host to its many forms of life, we humans simply can no longer engage in practices that threaten to destroy habitat.

2. In light of global warming, and the serious consequences that come with that warming, we simply must change our treatment of the planet in drastic and immediate ways. Protecting and preserving natural habitats must be at the top of every list of options, re: future uses of the land on which we depend. Any use with the potential to degrade our environment should be eliminated from consideration.

3. Decisions such as these will have very long-term effects. Do we, as humans with the capabilities available to us, have the right to negatively impact the lives of so many forms of life, including but definitely not limited to our own grandkids and great-grandkids? Permanent protection for the Canyonlands would help ensure that future damaging actions (mining, increased grazing and roading) would be eliminated.

4. The Owyhee Canyonlands is a beautiful, unspoiled landscape with an abundance of wildlife from native fish to the large herd of bighorn sheep (perhaps the largest in our nation). Mule deer, chukar and elk are three other species that depend on the Canyonlands habitat for continued life.

5. Studies from throughout the West have shown that protected public lands enhance local economies through increased recreation in the area and enhanced livability for us folks who choose to live here. As an example, the Eagle Cap Wilderness/Hells Canyon Wilderness has provided a recreational experience for folks over 40 years and the economic benefits resulting from its increased use continue for the local communities in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. For those of us who enjoy the beauty and the tranquility of the ECW/HCA on a daily basis, the benefits are immeasurable and we give thanks for the foresight of those decision-makers so many years ago.

Mike Higgins


PERS tab is growing

Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) reminds us of nothing so much as a maxed out credit card.

We can stuff the bills and the late payment warning notices in the back of a drawer, hidden behind discarded AA batteries and owners manuals for kitchen appliances.

But eventually we’ll have to come up with the money.

In the case of PERS, we use the pronoun “we” intentionally. That’s because the PERS bill, in a sense, belongs to every Oregonian.

Letter to the Editor for Nov. 30, 2015

It’s about greed and not about what’s good for us, environment

In reference to the recent article in the Herald about the FDA approval of genetically engineered salmon for our consumption … as if the FDA really knew, or even cares what is good for us or the environment. It reminds me of our government allowing farm raised salmon to be raised in Alaskan waters in crowded pens, poured full of antibodies to keep them from getting diseased in such conditions, and then dumping the fish in our markets. I’m sure the FDA approved of this also. Not only are the farm raised fish not healthy looking in the market, they don’t taste anywhere near as good as fresh, wild-caught salmon. Also, allowing them to be raised in pens in open waters has been known to cause huge problems with wild salmon runs that have to travel through waters polluted by farm- raised fish on their way to spawning grounds. Oh yeah, we can be sure that the government agencies are looking out for us. It’s all about money and greed here folks, not about us or the environment!

Peter Claflin

Baker City

My affinity for the tire store just keeps rolling on

When I was a kid there was little I enjoyed more than going to the tire store with my dad.

(Riding my BMX bike and pretending I was getting major air off every curb comes to mind as a competitor, but that’s about it.)

I could have — and quite possibly did — spend an hour or more wandering the dark aisles while dad was off discussing ply ratings and steel belts and whatever else had to do with the transaction.

I didn’t care about the mechanical aspects of the tire business, largely because I didn’t understand the mechanical aspects.

Letter to the Editor for Nov. 25, 2015

Border security our best move to thwart ISIS

As we head toward the future, which looks like some kind of war, I’m reminded of the Vietnam era. One of the conventional sayings was, “If we don’t fight them over there we will have to fight them over here.” I’m hearing it again. Sounds profound and wise, but is it?

A little geography might be appropriate here. The U.S.A has a big ocean on both sides, a weak southern neighbor and an ally on the north. Last time I checked ISIS was lacking a Navy and an Air Force. So how would it be that we would have to “fight them over here?” Well, they have to get here and it seems like the way they travel is by air on commercial airlines that land at an airport. It would seem logical that before they get on that airplane they would be vetted and when they landed at one of our airports we should check them out again and keep track of where they went and if they overstayed their welcome. If they can’t come we don’t have to worry about them fighting over here. If we control our borders we don’t have to fight them over here. If we start restricting the numbers coming over here the less we have to worry about fighting them over here.

We should hold off on the boots on the ground push because they are over there and they are changing the way the leftist governments of Europe think. They might have to fight them over there and might just decide to drop the disarmament of their populations. Possibly those coalitions to fight radical Islam might actually end up being coalitions instead of America and some tokens.

Steve Culley

Baker City

Letter to the Editor for Nov. 23, 2015

‘Odor patrol’ another infringement on our freedoms

Lilacs... the harbingers of spring, how I love their sweet, sweet perfume. I have many lilacs in my yard. So if this odor ordinance passes, when someone doesn’t like their smell or are allergic to their buds, will I be ordered by the “odor patrol” to cut them down? The cottonwood trees are very odorous and wreak havoc on allergy and asthma sufferers. Can the city be held responsible for maintaining so many of these trees along the river?

Most people diagnosed with allergies are allergic to many different pollens, dusts and danders. So those complaining of specific marijuana allergies, are you quite sure? Have you had a medical “scratch test” to verify your claim? Or are you simply harassing your neighbor because you do not agree with him? The people of Oregon have voted on this issue. Because the vote did not go your way, does not give you the right to disrespect the rights of those who are following the law.

It was suggested by Al Free that Police Chief Wyn Lohner has a “personal vendetta against marijuana.” It appears to me to be much deeper that. Wasn’t Lohner the author of rodeo cowboys and beer don’t mix related to the Beer Garden? In another article in the newspaper, Lohner suggested that postal and utility workers could peek into people’s backyards and report on vicious dogs, how they are controlled and who knows what else? See a trend here?

There is a solution for those of you who are above the law and the demands of the voters — you can comply like we all do or you can all get together and secede from Oregon. It could then be called “Lohner’s People’s Republic of Baker City.” This is not meant to be funny, it is dead serious. Our Constitutional rights are slowly being chipped away and our God-given freedoms are being disrespected daily. We need to wake up and be vigilant against those who would change our way of life to fit their own personal beliefs and agendas.

Patti Hanley

Baker City

Saving our public records

Oregon’s Public Records Law is an admirably concise and straightforward piece of legislation.

At least it used to be.

In 1973, when the Legislature passed not only the Public Records Law, but also the Public Meetings Law, the intent was obvious — that the public, which is to say every citizen — is legally entitled to attend meetings of public bodies and to have a look at every record government agencies produce.

A century in Pine Valley: Marcella Taylorís great life

What a life Marcella Taylor lived.

It’s not merely the longevity that stands out to me, although Marcella, who was 101 when she died Oct. 22, belonged to an extremely exclusive club.

The number of Americans who survive for a century is considerably less than 1 percent of the population.

Considerably less than one-tenth of 1 percent, come to that.

Letter to the Editor for Nov. 20, 2015

Pot odor ordinance too subjective to be fair

I have thought almost endlessly for days about the idea of an ordinance against marijuana odor.  I have also researched what other communitieshave done in response to a few complaining citizens.  I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be ridiculous.

I sympathize with the handful of residents that may be allergic to marijuana pollen. However, there are many residents allergic to a myriad of substances we frequently have in our air — cottonwood, lilacs, wood smoke, roses and grass clippings just to name a few. We don’t find ourselves discussing at length as a community how to handle these irritants. We don’t threaten to force people to remove trees, or bushes, or lawns for that matter because the neighbor has a health problem. We leave it up to the individual to either obtain allergy medication, stay indoors, or move away from the problem. Why would we treat marijuana any differently? Why the vendetta against a single plant? Like it or not, marijuana is legal to produce (excepting a couple of age and quantity related limitations) and should be treated as such. 

I am concerned that if a code is enacted it will be too subjective. I found Pendleton’s way of handling it (amending an existing public nuisance ordinance) to be very unreasonable. It’s only directed toward marijuana; the level of odor is not quantitatively measured. It is simply left up to whichever officer responds to decide on case-by-case basis whether or not it’s too odoriferous. How is this fair?  

In regard to the idea of mandating only indoor grows to control the spread of odor, there are already concerns about the ability of our power grid to handle it. I also discovered much evidence that covering a crop or moving it indoors simply condenses the scent, making it stronger than if the plants were raised in open air. 

I urge you not to open this proverbial “can of worms.” It should not be the business of legislators or law enforcement agents to manage. It teeters on the verge of a civil rights violation and will likely cause more trouble than it is worth!

Sarah Heiner

Baker City

Replace Sam-O showers

We applaud Baker City’s recently sharpened focus on improvements to the city’s only swimming pool, the city-owned Sam-O Swim Center.

Earlier this year the city set up a citizen committee — Councilor Sandy Lewis is the Council’s representative — to look at maintenance needs and other possible improvements to Sam-O, and make recommendations to the City Council.

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