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Half my life at the Herald, and I’m still loving it

It came to me, in one of those rare and random numerical epiphanies, that I have worked at the Baker City Herald for more than half my life.

These occasions are rare for me because numbers and I have had a troubled relationship. A long one, too, that dates to my introduction to algebra, which was roughly akin to a teenager who throws up on his date’s dress while trying to pin on a corsage before the homecoming dance.

This relationship — the math one, I mean, not soiling a poor girl’s new gown — might have contributed to the early retirement of multiple math teachers.

It certainly emptied a lot of red ink pens. Although the teachers eventually resorted to the ink-saving tactic of just scrawling a question mark next to my answers. It was as though my attempted solution to the problems veered so far from any recognizable principle that even the experts couldn’t figure out what I was trying to do.


Letters to the Editor for Feb. 25, 2015

Baker County shows integrity in fighting for public access

Integrity: “An adherence to moral principles, honesty.” 

Where has that gone, and why can’t we find it in the discussion on the motorized access restrictions to the Blue Mountains?

Some work in shades of gray, elected to positions they feel they need to protect to continue their paychecks and their positions of power. Some work in backdoor deals to protect their business venture to access resources they need to keep themselves afloat. Some work in “partnership” with groups that strive to see general motorized use removed from the forest under some moral calling of protectionist dogma that inflates their egos and swells their pocketbooks with lawyer fees. When companies begin to state “why does the public need to be there” and civil servants tell businesses that “any interference or preventing the Forest performing road closures will jeopardize timber outputs on the Forest,” we see the lack of integrity from both elected officials and civil servants alike.

For the record, the counties do not “lose their seat at the table” if they refuse to sign the MOU accepting cooperating agency status with the Forest Service. This narrative has been passed around by county officials far too long. What it does require is elected officials doing their jobs and being held personally accountable for their actions. Instead of giving themselves political cover when they sell our access down the river.

One county has shown personal integrity to protect its residents to see a forest plan revision developed that protects the quality of life for all their residents, not just the few influential companies that benefit from the “go along to get along” mentality, and that is Baker County.

Integrity isn’t about doing what is easy, or personally advantageous. Integrity is standing behind the words you say and doing what is right. That seems to be sorely missing from a great deal of elected officials and civil servants nowadays.

John D. George

Bates

Why should Baker give up financial benefits of pot?

Lumber mills gone, potato contracts — poof, mining and logging at a virtual standstill, boarded up storefronts... So what does that leave Baker County? I can think of cattle, hunting, fishing and tourism (a short list agreed but I bet I’m not far off). Suddenly in steps marijuana. Not the marijuana of “Reefer Madness” but the legal, regulated, taxable kind — a veritable gold mine if the cards are played correctly.

I am somewhat amazed at the talk of a “pot sales ban.” Not only is it inviting a lawsuit (something I hardly think the city can absorb) but literally throwing tourist dollars out the window. 

It’s not the dark ages anymore, although after reading that Baker City denied chronically ill patients local access to an inexpensive natural medicine proven to alleviate pain and combat the horrific effects (including nausea and appetite loss) of chemo therapy / radiation — I’m not too sure. Shame on you.

I can’t help but picture the fierce opponents of anything marijuana with their fingers wrapped around a whiskey bottle, beer or wine glass (I’m pretty sure which one causes more misery — you can look up all the comparisons if you have doubts).                      

Did Baker attempt to opt out of legal, regulated liquor sales or legal, regulated tobacco, gambling, firearms? If not, why not? Please tell me the difference? If you want to talk about crime, the children... I refer you directly back to alcohol, tobacco, firearms and gambling — “existing templates for regulation.”

Sorry I got off track, back to the tourism angle. Marijuana has a couple of fairly benign, well-documented effects: eating = local restaurants and grocery stores, sleepy = local motels and coffee shops. Baker City also has a main arterial to Idaho and, guaranteed, Nevadans and Californians will be coming.

Don’t let Ontario or La Grande snatch all the tourist money. If Senate Bill 542 comes to fruition Baker City would also reap the benefit of local taxation on sales. From what I’ve seen and read (crumbling roads...) I doubt Baker can afford to ignore any kind of potential revenue,  but then again...  

Mike Meyer

Baker City


Get tough with public records law

Oregon’s public records law is failing.

If you’re a member of the public, anyway.

The law is working pretty well for government officials.


Letters to the Editor for Feb. 20, 2015


Wolves: Good for national parks, bad for livestock 

Twenty years after being reinstated in Yellowstone National Park, wolves are moving into Oregon. We are still trying to figure out if reintroducing wolves to the Northwest is a good idea.

Wolves are endangered. This allows them to repopulate what was once their vast hunting ground. The beautiful creatures have been settling in nicely in many of their previous homes. In Yellowstone, wolves naturally glide into the ecosystem. Now that the elk numbers have dropped to around 5,000-6,000 head, the increase in the wolf population has also begun to level off. Elk herds are now at healthy levels. With wolf threat imminent, only the strong survive. Wolves are obviously an integral part of a wild ecosystem.

Unfortunately, outside national parks wolf numbers continue to rise, even though deer and elk numbers have dropped. So why does what works inside Yellowstone not work outside? It’s actually a fairly simple answer: livestock. Sheep and cows are easy prey. While some studies show that only small portions of cattle deaths are predator-caused — mostly not wolves — a study done by Oregon State University revealed that when cows are exposed to wolf scent, a condition similar to PTSD occurs. Stress can cost a rancher $261 per head annually in weight loss and lower pregnancy rates. Wolves may not kill as many livestock as other predators, but their effect on herd health will drive up production costs. Small ranchers risk going out of business, while large operations must increase prices to cover the added costs. When that happens, consumers see it at the grocery store.

In a natural environment wolves can match their numbers to the availability of game, while at the same time keeping the herds healthy. When it comes to an ecosystem where food supply is essentially unlimited, wolves cause major damages, especially to producers’ and consumers’ pocket books. Repopulating the wolves in national parks is beneficial to the animals there; however, spreading these creates to areas with livestock is detrimental to a very large community, which includes livestock, wild game and people.

Aiden Coomer

Baker City

Obama needs to call out radical Islam for its actions

There’s a lot of empty talk about Islam. Who are the good Muslims and who are the extremists. According to the Koran, the holy book, Islam means “submission” not “peace.” If you’re not a Muslim you’re a pagan or infidel and are to be killed. That’s what the book says.

I understand that at times the Koran can be changed to please some new revelation, which makes one wonder about its facts. A reading of the Koran placed against the events of Muhammad’s life indicates “revelation” changed according to circumstances of his life. An entire doctrine grew up around the radical change in his teaching. The doctrine of “abrogation” which means “annulment.” It’s simply a newer revelation from Allah that can cancel and replace an old one because the newer ones are better.

Looks to me like the radical are closure to scripture than the good people. I also believe it is time for Obama to call these so and act. Quit protecting them, and putting down the Christians every change he gets. Lots of red flags coming out fo the White House. After the prayer breakfast it makes one wonder over Obama’s true beliefs and faith.

Richard Fox

Baker City


‘Saturday Night Live’: An American institution


“Saturday Night Live” is the greatest TV show in American history.

I didn’t know, until Sunday night, that I believed this.

But then I watched NBC’s 3 1/2-hour extravaganza commemorating the program’s 40th anniversary, and was convinced of SNL’s unique position.

Actually I watched 2 1/2 hours of NBC’s 3 1/2-hour extravaganza Sunday night, and the rest later in the week.

The problem is the special started at 8 p.m. Most nights my eyes start drooping before 9 and my wife ends up nudging me and asking when did I learn to read with my eyes closed.


Let us vote on cougars


The perennial, and so far futile, effort to add geographic flexibility to managing cougars in Oregon has returned to the state Legislature.

This year’s proposal is pretty much identical to the one that failed to gain traction in the Capitol in 2013.

Actually there are multiple proposals — Senate bills 126 and 453, and House Bills 2050 and 2181. The basic idea in each case, though, is the same: To give voters in each of Oregon’s 36 counties the chance to allow hunters to use tracking dogs to hunt cougars.


Kitzhaber as victim? No way


John Kitzhaber, Oregon’s first four-term governor — albeit barely — will go, but not quietly.

Or with a great deal of dignity.

Kitzhaber announced last Friday that he will resign at 10 a.m. this Wednesday.

Secretary of State Kate Brown will replace him as governor.

Kitzhaber’s resignation letter is brief, covering just the essentials.

But the written statement he read early Friday afternoon is not.


Kitzhaber scandal comes too late for the voters


I’ll bet Dennis Richardson wishes Oregon voters picked their governor this February instead of last November.

Possibly some of the 733,230 people who voted for Richardson’s opponent, John Kitzhaber, giving Kitzhaber an unprecedented fourth term, also regret Oregon’s electoral calendar.

The initial scandal involving Kitzhaber and his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, started a month or so before the election, but it seems almost trivial compared with the revelations of the past couple weeks.

Most of the pre-election stories focused on things Hayes did years before she met Kitzhaber.


No rush on pot sales ban


The Baker City Council wisely delayed any decision Tuesday on Police Chief Wyn Lohner’s proposed ordinance banning commercial sales of marijuana in town.

There’s no hurry.

The city’s moratorium banning medical marijuana dispensaries — the only kind allowed right now under Oregon law — is in effect until May 1.


Letters to the Editor for Feb. 11, 2015


Abortion rates are lowest since Roe v. Wade

I always read Mr. Sundin’s letters to the editor. He makes me laugh and then I get sad. If only life were like his latest letter predicted it would be, life would be wonderful. Unfortunately, it is not.

Since Mr Sundin does not quote his sources for his statistics I will quote mine: https://guttmacher.org/media/nr/2014/02/03/index.html. The Guttmacher is an organization which deals with statistics. In 2011 the abortion rate was the lowest it’s been since 1973 when Roe v. Wade legalized abortions. Abortions are being performed at an earlier age, eight weeks, thus risk to the mother’s life is much less and an eight-week collection of cells cannot survive outside the mother’s body. Thus, they are not children quite yet. Not all mothers love their children, Mr. Sundin. Some beat them, try to cook them in ovens or as was done recently in Portland, throw them into rivers to drown. Not all mothers should have children and most importantly, men have no right in telling a woman what she can or can’t do with her own body. Would you like Congress to make a law that after the age of 25 all men get castrated? Think about it. 

Iva M. Mace

Baker City

Even an old paper can shed fresh light on Baker

Being an extremely curious newbie to this fresh world called Baker City I wanted to let Jayson Jacoby know how much I appreciated his article/editorial of Jan. 23: “In 1898, Portland gushed over Baker City, Sumpter.”

It not only revealed some incredible history (who knew about the “Panic of 1893” — or that Baker City was at one time larger than Pendleton? — certainly not me!)  but also showed how the news, even in 1898, can mislead. 

Thank you, Jayson, for the research and dissection of the local history, I applaud your unbiased look at the newspaper industry. 

I also want to thank Kim Lethlean and Leo Poe for sharing their April 28, 1898, copy of The Evening Telegram with you. Without that sharing I would have been denied a local history lesson, an incredibly entertaining story and outstanding journalism.

Mike Meyer

Baker City

Tell your county leaders: Coordinate, not cooperate

First of all I would like to thank the County Commissioners from Baker and Wallowa counties for sticking up for its citizens and rejecting the Forest Service’s attempt at getting them to sign a Cooperation Agreement trading their rights just for a seat at the table.

I hope the rest of the counties that are involved in the Blue Mountain Revision will take a hard look at what the two above counties have done to protect the rights of the county. Ask your Commissioners to give the Baker and Wallowa County Commissioners a call and find out why they made the stand that they did.

Wednesday was a meeting day for most County Commissioners and I am sure that some of them made a decision one way or another. People out there concerned about losing their roads need to call or email their respective County Commissioners and ask about just where they intend to take the county. If it is anything but “Coordination” get ready for a big loss of roads in your county.

 It is crunch time we either stand our ground or lose a major portion of your roads and trails access. Be proactive and go to the Commissioner’s meetings, make an appointment with them, email or text them. The Tribes said it all, no Cooperation for them, it is government to government using coordination, why not us, don’t we deserve the same as the Tribes?

Chuck Chase

Baker City

Writer gives Baker          well-deserved accolades

Thank you for Betty Duncan’s letter of Feb. 4. She gives well-deserved accolades to Baker City. As a lifelong Baker resident, I agree completely, as I love this town and its people, same as Betty does.

I will share a quote written to me recently from a former Baker resident: “Baker City is such a wonderful slice of classic small town Americana that any holiday there seems heartwarming and special.”

Phyllis Badgley

Baker City


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