Recall ballots were mailed to Baker City voters Friday; they are due back to the county clerk Dec. 18. So far, the two sides have spent nearly $20,000 combined on an effort with its roots in the Baker City Council's practice of offering a prayer at its meetings a practice uncommon but not unheard of in some other Oregon cities.



Of the Baker City Herald

The political committee seeking to recall Baker City Councilor Gary Dielman has raised about $17,200 to support its efforts.

Dielman said he has raised $2,159 and spent all but $129.

The committee, Citizens for Responsible Government, reported $13,525 in cash contributions and expenditures of slightly more than $12,000 through Nov. 5.

Committee Treasurer John DeShiro said Tuesday that the group has received about $3,700 since Nov. 5.

Oregon law requires political committees to submit a series of reports showing how much money theyve collected and spent.

The most recent report, which Citizens for Responsible Government filed last week, only required the committee to tally its income and expenses through Nov. 5.

Since that day, the committee has received approximately $3,700 more, all in unsolicited donations, DeShiro said. The largest single new contribution was a $1,000 check, said DeShiro, who is also the chief petitioner for the recall effort.

The committee will have to file another report, with up-to-date amounts, by Dec. 13, said Baker City Recorder Laura Harryman, who also serves as the local election official for the recall.

Dielman, who said he is a one-man committee, didnt collect or spend any money by Nov. 5, and he doesnt have to file a report until Dec. 17, the day before mail-in recall ballots are due.

Those ballots were mailed today.

Both the committee and Dielman will have to file final financial reports no later than 30 days after the election, Harryman said.

Dielman said he has received donations of $1,000, $409.50 and $350, three contributions of $100 each and two of $50.

He used the money to buy newspaper advertisements.

Dielman declined to name any of his contributors. He will have to include those names on his financial reports.

The money Citizens for Responsible Government collected through Nov. 5 came from five contributors, according to the committees most recent report.

Charles Sellier and Dean Spence spent $5,000 each; Terry Schumacher contributed $2,500; DeShiro spent $1,000; and Roland Campbell donated $25.

The committee has used the money to buy radio, television and newspaper advertisements, DeShiro said. It also paid to mail pro-recall letters to each of Baker Citys 5,700 registered voters.

DeShiro said the ad campaign will continue until Dec. 18, the day ballots are due at the County Courthouse.

Sellier said members of Citizens for Responsible Government asked him if he was willing to donate.

He said he decided to contribute because he doesnt believe Dielman is willing to compromise with the council members and citizens who disagree with him.

Dielman claims the councils practice of starting its meetings with an invocation is unconstitutional.

Sellier referred specifically to the City Councils June 27 meeting, which he attended.

During the citizens participation portion of that meeting, Schumacher asked Dielman to respect the opinions of the five members of the seven-member council who had voted to continue the invocations.

Dielman told Schumacher he would continue to protest the councils practice, which he believes discriminates against non-Christians or anyone who attends a meeting but doesnt want to participate in the invocation.

After he asked Dielman to cease his protest, Schumacher turned from the lectern and started to walk back to his seat.

Dielman asked Schumacher to remain standing so he could respond to Schumachers request.

Sellier said he felt Dielman really attacked Schumacher. Sellier described Dielmans response to Schumachers request as a tirade.

Sellier said he thinks Dielman should have let the matter rest until the next council election, scheduled for 2002.

Sellier said he thinks Dielmans continuing protest has diverted the council from more important issues, such as the economy.

Like Sellier, Schumacher said his conversation with Dielman during the June 27 meeting motivated him to contribute to the recall effort.

Schumacher said he believes Dielman tried to embarrass and intimidate him during that meeting.

I was very frustrated with the way he responded, Schumacher said.

Dielman said he doesnt think he bullied or intimidated Schumacher.

All I did was ask him questions and give him facts, Dielman said. I wasnt receptive to his suggestion that I quit fighting for the rights of all citizens.

Dielman suggested residents listen to the audio tape of the meeting and draw their own conclusions. The tape is kept at City Hall.



Of the Baker City Herald

The Baker City Council isnt the only council in Oregon that starts its meetings with an invocation.

The city is in the minority, though, at least in Northeastern Oregon.

The Baker City Councils practice of also reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is much more common among Oregon city councils.

There is, however, no such thing as a standard procedure among city councils in the state or in the nation, for that matter.

Stephanie Nixon, a research assistant for the League of Oregon Cities, said she cant say with any certainty how many of the states 222 incorporated cities include an invocation on their city council agendas.

Nixon said the League receives very few inquiries about the practice.

None of the city councils in the other major cities along Interstate 84 in Eastern Oregon La Grande, Ontario and Pendleton say an invocation or recite the Pledge prior to their meetings.

The same is true in Richland and Union.

City councils in Elgin, Halfway and Sumpter recite the Pledge, but do not have an invocation.

The Bend City Council started reciting the Pledge earlier this fall at the behest of a councilor, said deputy city recorder Kim Parsons.

Bends city council does not have an invocation.

Three cities whose councils start their meetings with both an invocation and the Pledge are Redmond, in Central Oregon; Bandon, on the southern Oregon Coast; and Columbia City, along the Columbia River northwest of Portland.

Bandons and Redmonds procedures are similar to Baker Citys.

In Bandon a member of the local clergy usually offers the invocation, said City Recorder Marie Ducharme.

Redmonds ministerial association coordinates its members schedules so local clergy can give the invocation at City Council meetings, said Nancy Blankenship, Redmond city recorder.

Baker City has a similar arrangement with its local ministerial association.

The Columbia City Council also opens its meetings with both an invocation and the Pledge, but usually a city official says the prayer, said Linda Guy, the citys traffic court clerk.

The Oregon Senate opens its daily sessions with an invocation, presentation of the American flag, and the Pledge of Allegiance, said Judy Hall, Secretary of the Senate.

In the Oregon House of Representatives, one of the 60 representatives sponsors each days opening ceremony, on a rotating basis, said Peggy Gilmore, office manager for the House chief clerk.

Some representatives choose to start the session with a prayer, while others may ask for a moment of silence or even have a constituent sing a song or perform a dance routine, Gilmore said.

We try to keep it simple and short, she said.