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Ted Cruz has nothing to offer

Imagine a politician so desperate to stay relevant that he runs out and takes the most contrary position possible to any rational argument. We don’t have to imagine, though, since we have Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, now a GOP presidential contender.

Cruz, who asked the American people during his announcement speech to imagine his notion of an ideal future, is in big trouble amid stagnant approval ratings. A February poll in Texas showed that even Texas Republicans are split between him and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for their party’s presidential nomination.

A year and a half ago, Cruz seemed like an unstoppable, albeit polarizing, force among conservatives, successfully bullying his colleagues into a government shutdown and stirring debate over whether his being Canadian-born was a bar to the presidency. All the while, his smirk seemed to promise an end to conservative woes.

Today, Cruz is in a very different place. Now, everything he does seems a little funny, out of step or downright odd.


Bills aim to fix program

One way Oregon’s counties help attract new business is by offering companies property tax relief for a period of years. It’s a good deal for businesses, and, despite the loss of potential property tax revenue, it’s good for counties, as well.

Forgoing taxes does take a toll, however. New and bigger businesses and new jobs often mean increased demand for local services and more students in local schools. The state works to soften the blow by sending some income tax dollars back to the counties as what’s called gain share.

The system is far from perfect, however, and now competing bills in the state Senate seek to fix the worst of its problems. While both are better than the status quo, the one sponsored by Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, and Reps. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, and Ann Lininger, D-Lake Oswego, is the better of the two.


Letters to the Editor for March 27, 2015


Build a society that reflects values of most Americans

The top 1 percent of Americans now receive $1 trillion more income each year than they would receive under the income distribution that existed in 1979, and they pay historically low taxes. The bottom 80 percent now receive $1 trillion less per year, or $11,000 per family.

This is because not nearly enough good-paying jobs have been created during the past 35 years, due to off-shoring and the increasing impact of automation and robotics, and wages have not kept pace with the remarkable increase in productivity that has occurred. The profits have unjustifiably flowed to the very top.

The result: According to a CBS News report, “Three-quarters of Americans said they’re finding it difficult to both save for retirement and handle their day-to-day expenses.”  

But we will learn none of this from the op-ed articles by the Heritage Foundation that frequently appear in the Herald (most recently on March 23).  The regressive right is intent on keeping our attention focused on cutting government spending, and not on the burgeoning inequality of wealth.  

I urge my fellow readers (and the Herald’s editorial board) to explore a much wider range of meaningful options. For example, the other day the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) released their “People’s Budget: A Raise for America.” It calls for sharply increased taxes on the wealthy to pay for expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit and for needed investments in our infrastructure, like education. And it calls for a carbon tax, allowing the market to allocate carbon reduction.

What the CPC budget shows is what Washington too often suppresses: There is an alternative. It’s time for We the People to call the shots, and not the regressive right and their wealthy supporters. It’s time for democracy, not oligarchy.  

We can afford to build a society that reflects the values and priorities of most Americans. We only have to choose to do so, and we can choose to do so in the coming 2016 elections.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

Mandated voting would lead to downfall of the system

Obama and the Liberal Left are now attacking our right to vote or not. The president, using the term loosely, is now considering a “Mandate Vote Act.” 

This would mean, no matter the circumstance, every person 18 and over must vote, or be held criminally responsible. This would certainly mean the downfall of America’s voting system,which proves to be already troubled.

This latest stunt proves Obama’s lack of leadership, his turncoat attitude toward Israel, and his “hug-a-thug”approach to ISIS has the left-wingers worried about the upcoming 2016 presidential election.

Why else would the president suggest such lunacy, if not a political ploy? Most Americans aren’t aware of the political brinkmanship that is destroying this country from within. And, I speak of both immature parties. Most voters unfortunately, vote using what I call the “60-second-smear” method. Meaning, many people vote using information can-fed to them through the media’s 60-second smear campaigns between favorite television shows.

Why would anyone want an uninformed voter to vote? People who are made to vote are not going to educate themselves further just because they “have” to vote. Moreover, most would just rebel and choose whatever  — not even reading what or who’s up for vote. Why would any rational person want a voting system like this? A person or party who knows that unless they do, they have no chance of winning the presidency, that’s who.

For anyone to suggest this sort of voting system will work, has a severe lack of cognitive ability. And, they certainly should not be running America or her military! I find this yet, just another attempt by Socialist/Marxists to destroy America from within. 2016 must be the year of change for our Administration. 

If a change does not happen, I fear the worst. What we need to do is get rid of the two-party/electoral college system and make every person’s vote count on all state, local and national elections. Making every vote count is the only fair way of voting. 

No law or action should be taken without an individual voting election and those who don’t want to participate, should not be penalized.

Stephanie Kinsel

Baker City


Ready to give late-night scammers a nice shock


I would swap every app on my cellphone for a single feature on my home phone.

Remember those tear-jerker TV commercials that AT&T aired in the ’80s, with the catch-phrase “reach out and touch someone?”

Well I don’t want to reach out and touch someone.

I want to reach out and shock someone.

And I don’t mean a figurative, emotional shock.

I’m talking physical shock.

Amps or volts or whatever it is that makes your eyes bug out and the fillings in your teeth ache.

Specifically I want to shock the person responsible for my phone ringing after 10 o’clock four nights running, jolting me out of REM sleep each time.

I don’t want to cause permanent damage or anything.


Integrate mental health care


Talk to mental health professionals and it’s clear many would like to see Oregon’s delivery of mental health care changed. 

Two bills now before the Oregon Legislature, Senate Bill 831 and Senate Bill 832, would do that and in the process would improve mental health care for Oregon Health Plan clients.

They should be approved.


Letters to the Editor for March 25, 2015

Focus should be on pit bulls instead of cougars or wolves

I see that there have been several cougar sightings around Baker City, dogs have been called out to find the cat, and of course wolves are always a hot topic. 

Some get a little edgy when heading out to the woods where wolves are active. After many generations of urbanization, it isn’t all that hard to understand the uneasiness that the wild world might cause in civilized folks. Other things are a little harder to understand. 

You can count on your fingers the number of cougar-related deaths in the country and probably on one hand the number of wolf attacks. Pit bulls, on the other hand, are a different story. A few minutes on the Internet or a smarter- than-you phone and you get a picture of real carnage, often involving young children.

I guess it is legal. I Googled myself, and the first thing that came up led me to my Oct.4, 2013, letter to the editor, with another person’s letter commenting on the little boy killed by a pit bull in Baker City. I didn’t know it at the time, but the pit bull came from John Day, where some of my grandkids are.

Not long ago I passed through Baker City and there was one of our well-educated “animal lovers” being pulled along by four big pit bulls. If they had decided to chase another dog, a cat or a child, there is nothing the owner could have done to restrain that much dog power. 

I guess the city passed some kind of watered-down dog ordinance but as far as I can tell the county is still messing around.  

Let’s not have another child death before our leadership gets off its butt.

Steve Culley

Baker City/John Day/Richland

Forest Service press release is ‘smoke and mirrors’ 

On March 19, a press release was put out by the U.S. Forest Service on “Focus turns to Forest Plan Revision public engagement as Travel Management [Subpart B] paused in the Blue Mountains” 

This press release is nothing new, and bordering on an open attempt to confuse and give a false sense of hope to the public on Travel Management.

1) Travel Management has been on the “back burner” of both the Wallowa-Whitman and Malheur National Forest since 2012; this article states nothing new, and is a disservice to pretend they have done something new.

2) This release gives the false impression that the supervisors and regional forester are giving some sort of relief to the people of Eastern Oregon, when no such relief is being given.

3) Subpart A of Travel Management on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is still being developed and the article fails to state that or how Subpart A will be used as a springboard to Subpart B and the closure of the mountains.

Most importantly — This is not the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision. Restricting motorized use fully is in the forest plan revision through the designation of routes and you are still fully looking at a closure of our mountains if it goes through as written with designation of routes.

The message is the same: No designation of routes, No obliteration of roads, and No reduction of road densities in The Blues, period, end of discussion.

I cannot stress enough, this is a nonstory and worse, it gives people the false impression this is some sort of victory. IT IS NOT! Your access is still in jeopardy and your vigilance is needed and required to keep your mountains open. Do not get sucked into the hype, because it’s all smoke and mirrors.

Chuck Chase

Baker City

I owed it to others to try to straighten this out

I was amazed by the misinformation in the Baker City Herald editorial on March 18, 2015. Tim Collins’ mistake was deciding he had the power to dictate sewer/water rates, only City Council can set rates. The person costing taxpayers thousands of dollars is City Manager Mike Kee.

Mike can’t understand a simple one-page contract. In depositions, Mike said “the City has no document that allows us to charge Langrells double for sewer/water.” Mike convinced four members of City Council, one an attorney, to enter into the lawsuit instead of returning the overcharged fees.

A double sewer/water rate was never part of the annexation. It was discussed, but never considered for the contract. The City offered the 10-year moratorium on taxes because none of us felt a need for more property in the city. We built in the county because we didn’t want to be in the city. None of the annexed property has been built on.

Judge Pahl’s ruling does not preclude the city from introducing evidence. It says Tim Collins has no authority to set rates and what was discussed during negotiations is not part of a written contract. The reason the city will not be introducing any evidence is because none exists.

I tried to get city managers to follow the terms of their contract for 10 years. My only choices were, allow the city to cheat me or take them to court. If I was the only one being cheated, I would have let the city get away with it. It’s only because I am a member of the Baker City Council that I felt I owed the other people, who the city is also illegally double charging, my obligation to straighten this out. 

I have endured one year of ridicule from the city staff, four members of the City Council and the Baker City Herald. I was wrongfully removed as mayor by those four council members. I risked paying about $50,000 in attorney fees.

If the mayor of Baker City has to go through this to be heard, what chance does an average citizen have?

Richard Langrell

Baker City


End records law exemption


Let’s hear it for state Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn. She believes Oregon lawmakers should live by at least some of the rules that apply to members of the Bend City Council and other public bodies in Oregon.

Parrish is working on legislation that would end the Legislature’s in-session public records law exemption. We can only say, more power to her.

It’s not the only thing lawmakers are exempt from while they’re meeting in Salem — the state constitution gives them broad freedom to do the state’s business without the sorts of restrictions applied to the governor’s office and most other state and municipal agencies.


Guest Editorial


The fight over the Confederate battle flag and whether it can be included on a Texas specialty license plate has made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the case Monday.


Letter to the Editor for March 23, 2015


Control of federal land? Be careful what you wish for

Our own worst enemy” — that’s what Baker County Commissioner Harvey thinks of the U.S. government. 

Harvey supports HB 3444, introduced by Republican State Representative Jim Weidner. The bill requires the United States to extinguish title to public lands and transfer title to the state.  

Harvey told the Baker City Herald (March 11 issue) that Weidner’s bill makes sense. “To me it is a good thing and it should be done.” 

Perhaps Harvey’s hopes are buoyed by precedent set in Utah. In 2012, the Utah Legislature, in a flight of pure fantasy, actually passed similar legislation and gave the U.S. government two years to comply.  So far Congress has, as far as I know, not even acknowledged Utah’s demand.

That’s not surprising. Even Utah’s own Legislative Counsel recommended against such legislation. I’m sure Legislative Counsel actually read the U.S. Constitution and found no clause granting authority to states to compel the U.S. government to do anything.

Apparently Weidner and Harvey have not considered the practical consequences of acquiring control of all those federal lands. In Idaho in 2012, the U.S. Forest Service spent $169 million on fire suppression. If Oregon acquired BLM and USFS lands, on which cattlemen graze their animals at a fraction of what grazing costs elsewhere, the state would most likely not continue such a subsidy, because it simply could not afford to do so.

Utah thinks it can go to court and require Congress to comply with its law.  Harvey agrees with that tactic. “You only do it when you absolutely have to. But we have no recourse. Our own government is becoming our own worst enemy. We have to litigate, we have no option left,” he told the Herald reporter.

Gary Dielman

Baker City


Why the federal budget matters


Voters often wonder if Congress can ever get spending under control. Well, both the House and Senate have introduced their latest budget blueprints, so we’ll soon know if they plan to keep kicking the can down the road — or get serious about reform.

Why care about the budget? Because it’s the only legislative document through which Congress addresses the entirety of the federal budget: all spending and taxes.

With more than $18.1 trillion in national debt and an annual deficit projected to grow from more than a half a trillion dollars last year to over a trillion dollars by the end of the decade, the budget presents a critical opportunity for Congress to address the key drivers of spending and debt.

Congress should put the budget on a path to balance to reduce debt and enable economic growth to raise living standards — for all Americans.


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