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Letter to the Editor for July 9, 2014


Privatizing federal land would limit our freedoms

The same night that the Republicans held their debate for county commissioner there was an article about Seneca Jones, a timber company, buying part of the Elliot Forest, which is a part of the state forest lands that were laid out to support schools and colleges. Evidently the state land board got frustrated fighting with environmental groups so decided to show them and sold about 800 acres to the private company. That land which used to belong to the people of Oregon will now have no trespassing signs posted on it. 

I mention this in response and support of Bob Whitnah’s letter in the Baker County Press. He is dead on. If you like the freedom of movement you grew up with in the West then pay damned little attention to the periodic Sagebrush Rebellion stuff that periodically comes out of Nevada. Privatizing federal lands would be extremely difficult with 435 congressmen, 100 senators, nine Supreme Court justices and a president  all having a say.  The Seneca Jones situation illustrates exactly what would happen if federal lands ever reverted to the states. With the wealth of the country becoming ever more concentrated in the hands of a few it wouldn’t be long before the super-rich bribed, contributed to elections and bought their own state legislators and worked out a deal to privatize and own what is now collectively yours. In Oregon those with the power would number less than 100 to do this, on the county level three elected officials might be able to do it.  

The western United States is unique in all the world for providing freedom of movement for its citizens. I grew up western and will fight to keep that heritage. The idea that I should be surrounded by no trespassing signs on my land is unacceptable. That doesn’t mean I am always happy with the way my lands are managed but at least I have a say. Once they are in private hands I have none.

Steve Culley

Richland


Thanks, John


When you own the town’s ice cream shop you’re going to get a lot of smiles from your customers.

Who can frown, after all, at the man who hands you a double scoop of rocky road or huckleberry?

But John Osborn did a lot more to make people happy than whip up milkshakes at Charley’s Ice Cream parlor at Main and Broadway.

Osborn, who died July 2 at age 61, was helping Baker County’s children long before he weighed his first bag of jelly beans or jawbreakers at Charley’s.

He was an assistant Scoutmaster for a quarter century.

He served on the sale committees for the Baker County Fair, as well as the Baker County Fair in Halfway.

He coached youth baseball and softball for many years.

John later turned his restaurant into a Thanksgiving soup kitchen, where he served free meals to people on the holiday.

It’s little wonder that John was nominated for Baker County Man of the Year in 2010.

We hope Charley’s continues to dish out treats for sweet tooths of all ages.

But the place won’t ever be quite the same without John Osborn standing behind the counter, asking you what’ll you have.


Punishing Internet imposters


Oregon isn’t among the nine states that make it a criminal offense to impersonate someone online.

It should join that list.

Not every person who has his or her name co-opted by a Facebook imposter suffers any real harm, of course.

But the potential for irreparable damage, whether to a victim’s reputation or bank account, more than justifies adding to the state’s criminal statutes.

Some existing laws could encompass certain types of online impersonation — fraud, identity theft and harassment, for instance, are all illegal in every state.

Still and all, the difference between a harmless prank — creating a Twitter account or Facebook page under a friend’s name and posting silly pictures or slightly embarrassing quotes, say — and permanently sullying a person’s name isn’t always distinct.

In a recent case in Baker City, someone created a Facebook page pretending to be former City Councilor Gary Dielman, who’s an elected member of the Baker County Library District board and of the Baker County Democratic Central Committee.

It’s not clear what the imposter did, other than exchange online messages with at least one local resident.

But with no state law in place that deals explicitly with online impersonators whose motivations aren’t blatant, Oregon is too inviting a place for imposters who might be trying to pull something other than a juvenile prank.


Find Bigfoot? No. Move Mt. Hood? Why not?


Nobody on the cable show “Finding Bigfoot” can actually find Bigfoot, but they can, apparently, move an entire volcano a couple hundred miles.

Which seems to me even more implausible than the notion that an unidentified bipedal primate has been slinking around the forests of the Northwest for decades yet not one has been clipped by a Camry on the freeway.

Wolves can’t even avoid that fate, and wolves are more nimble than any biped.

I watch “Finding Bigfoot.”

I would describe this as a guilty pleasure except I don’t get a great deal of pleasure from the experience.


Hobby Lobby: Convenience, not freedom


As we celebrate our nation’s independence today it’s appropriate to also consider how much progress we’ve made in ensuring citizens have the full measure of freedom — America’s DNA, you might say.

During the 20th century the debate about freedom in the U.S. focused on fundamental matters.

Should women vote?

Should African-Americans be able to sit in the front seat of a public bus and go to the same schools as white students?

We answered those questions, and our answers — that freedom must always trump gender and racial heritage — were the correct ones.

Today, by contrast, a major topic among the national discourse is whether a relative handful of corporations ought to be compelled, by force of federal law, to buy their female employees four types of contraceptives (out of 20 available) even if doing so runs counter to the business owners’ religious beliefs.


Letter to the Editor for June 30, 2014


Two-parent family remains best option for society

Sociologist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, “Much of the social history of the Western world … has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.” We have inherited from our ancestors something which works: the two-parent family. A man and a woman marry for life and provide a home for their children. It’s not perfect; we humans aren’t perfect. But numerous studies have established that this is the best environment for raising happy, healthy children — it works.

Then a generation ago along came no-fault divorce and the sexual revolution. Both sounded good at the time, but once adopted, they have led to the single-parent family. Single parents want to raise happy, healthy children, of course, and many do. But they are laboring under a handicap. They are trying to do by themselves a job best done by two people.

Mr. Sowell, a black man, was appalled at the destructive effect this change has had upon the people of his race, particularly the young men. Huge numbers of them spend significant amounts of time in jail, and all too many are murdered in gang violence. They make the neighborhoods in which they live hells on earth.

Some claim that this is evidence of racism in our society, but it’s not. The rate of out-of-wedlock births in our inner cities is around 70 percent. The refusal of these young black men to marry the mothers of their children deprives them of the civilizing impact young women can have on them, and significantly increases the odds that their sons will share their unhappy fate. For them, the single-parent family most decidedly does not work.

We whites should not feel complacent. As the rate of our out-of-wedlock births continues to increase, our young men are sharing the same pathologies afflicting young black men. We’re just not as far down that path as they are.

Western civilization has tinkered with the institutions of marriage and of the family, and the results have not been good. But we have not learned from our experience, and continue to replace what works with what sounds good.

Pete Sundin

Baker City


Another chance for Langrell

Five months ago we recommended Baker City Mayor Richard Langrell give up his largely ceremonial title but remain a city councilor.

Langrell has declined to do so.

But now it seems some of his colleagues might be willing to rescind their decision, made in January 2013, to elect Langrell as mayor.

(In Baker City the elected councilors, not the voters, choose the mayor.)

At the end of Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Councilor Clair Button said he believes at least three of the seven councilors have asked Langrell to step down as mayor.

The Council might discuss the issue, and possibly vote on a measure to remove Langrell as mayor, at its next meeting, July 8.


Letters to the Editor for June 27, 2014

We need to organize to fight global warming

A small group has been meeting to discuss the changing climate and the global warming that is causing it and what we can do about it. Soon we are going to call a public meeting of people seriously concerned about global warming who, like us, feel that we should be organized.

When I approached my nieces about joining such a group each declined, saying in effect: “My plate is too full already.” These are young women with young children who will be adults, doing the world’s work 40 years from now. That is, they will be only if enough of their parents come to realize that efforts to save the habitability of the Earth is the most important work of their entire generation. No other generation ever had a more important task.

Many disbelieve “all this global warming stuff,” citing evidence of one-time rivers and forests in the Sahara and palm trees and crocodiles in North Dakota as proof that the present warming is but one more normal variations of Earth’s climate. However, there is one critical difference between now and then. This time the warming is caused by 35.6 zillion (however many that is) tons of carbon we have put in the air, and which we must slow down adding to until the Earth’s various carbon traps catch up. This we do by such things as switching from gas to electric autos, from coal to solar power, and greatly reducing the number of jet flights. We must somehow get the coal and petroleum corporations to leave in the ground $20 trillion worth of coal and crude that they would like to have us buy and burn.

Sooner or later we must have the government in our struggle and on our side. For this we must be organized, for being organized we are a movement, and movements move governments as nothing else does. Enough people concerned with global warming can keep the Earth habitable for when your kids are running it. You young parents, we need your talents, your energy and your numbers.

Dan Martin

Baker City

I’m a veteran who received excellent care from VA

I am a veteran. I receive all of my medical care since 1999 at the VA medical facility at Boise. My experience with this VA medical facility is quite different than that reported in a recent editorial which appeared in the Herald and which is being reported in most of the major news media.

I have received excellent and timely care consistently during this time span. While under the care of the VA medical system I have suffered two events which could have been either life devastating or fatal. One involved prostate cancer and the other a blockage of a carotid artery. Both of these events were dealt with in a timely and efficient manner.

I believe that the news media has a duty to investigate and report a complete story, not just what gets people’s attention.  There is a bright side to the VA medical facility story that should be addressed. I know. I’ve been there.

Sig Siefkes

Baker City


A watershed moment in history turns 100


Exactly one century ago from Saturday, the world changed in a way it never had before.

Perhaps it is hyperbolic to deem June 28, 1914, the most momentous day in human history.

But if this indeed qualifies as exaggeration then it is of the mildest variety — the antithesis of, say, referring to “You Light Up My Life” as the best song of the 1970s simply because it sold the most records.

What happened on that day, in Sarajevo, Bosnia, a city little known outside Europe, is a frail teenager named Gavrilo Princip fired a pistol into a car.

Princip’s bullets killed two people: Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie.

Franz Ferdinand was the nephew of Franz Joseph, emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.


Feds: Slow down on ESA plan


The federal government can devote about as much time and money as it wants to writing rules and laws, yet bureaucrats seem to believe the citizens affected ought to be able to read reams of badly written jargon in a couple of months.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and 42 other lawmakers think citizens are being shortchanged.

We agree.

Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should heed the legislators’ advice and give Americans more time to comment on three proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

These changes, which were unveiled on May 12, could result in more public and private land being designated as critical habitat for threatened and endangered species.

If enacted, those changes could have a major effect on the use of public and private land in Baker County and elsewhere in Oregon.

We’re thinking here in particular of the looming possibility of the sage grouse being listed as threatened or endangered, a decision the Fish and Wildlife Service is supposed to make in 2015.

And yet with so much potentially at stake, the two federal agencies proposed to give the public just 60 days to comment on the changes to the ESA.

Walden and the other lawmakers suggest adding six months to the comment period.

That’s a reasonable request.


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