By Terri Harber
Members of the Baker County Republican Party have asked the Baker County Commission not to pursue funding for the area's early learning hub.
Local GOP officials approved a resolution in September opposing the move and presented it in public during Wednesday's commission meeting.
"We'd like to see the county opt out," said Suzan Ellis Jones, chairwoman of the local party. "We feel it isn't good for the kids."
Some of the members' objections are based on not wanting government to target all families - not just those in need of assistance - and that theprogram would compete with private sector day care and preschools.
Another reason cited in the GOP resolution: "We believe there is no such thing as a good model for expanding Socialism."
They say the hubs are too closely tied to President Barack Obama's Early Learning for Every Child initiative, which was partially funded with money from the Affordable Care Act. They don't want to see any of this money pass through the state to fund a local hub - if that were to happen.
The state Republican Party stated in its platform for 2013 that it opposes "universal public preschool and birth-to-five early learning hubs."
"There's a lot of misinformation and ambiguity," said Commission Chairman Fred Warner Jr.
Baker, Malheur and Wallowa counties serve as the Eastern Oregon Community Based Services hub. The Malheur County Education Service District is the fiscal agent and Kelly Poe, of Malheur County ESD, is the program administrator.
The Early Learning Council replaces the Oregon Commission on Children and Families and all of the related county commissions. The county advisories are being replaced by regional service hubs, such as the tri-county development of the Eastern Oregon Community Based Services Hub.
The hubs would answer to the state council.
Baker County partners in this hub include the school district, the health department and the public library.
The hub has a Baker County steering committee as well as similar groups from Malheur and Wallowa counties.
All groups involved with the hubs will work together to identify the needs of at-risk children and families.
Warner said the hub would receive $50,000 if selected for the pilot year. Being selected during the first year also would allow the hub to better compete for other funding sources to aid parenting, preschool and early intervention efforts, he said.
"The most significant advantage to being selected in this first round would be our ability for all stakeholders to enhance collaborative efforts," well ahead of many other Oregon communities, Warner said later.
What the program also allows is "local control," a way to better fulfill needs that are pronounced within the three counties within the hub, he said.
The local Republican officials also want the commissioners to act on another resolution, titled "in support of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution."
It includes a passage stating that "Firearms also known as 'Assault Weapons' are also protected by the Second Amendment as part of 'a well-regulated militia.' "
The resolution states objection to government officials at all levels seeking restrictions or bans on firearms and ammunition, and asks that focus instead be on sentencing, "speedy trials and increased punishment and incarceration for those who commit violent crime."
The commissioners plan to take up these matters in December, specifically the Second Amendment on Dec. 4 and the hub on Dec. 18.
People can express their thoughts about these matters at that time, Warner said.