Baker City needs a new city council

To the editor:

Are the people in our wonderful Baker City paying attention to what is going on? What does our city council have in store for all of us next? What makes anybody think they care if our children are safe or not, whether in our schools or public parks? What makes anyone think they will require people to clean up their property when the city can't clean up its own? Why does Baker City Council promote the non-union management while cutting the benefits to the men and women who actually do the physical work? Do people like the way the mayor treats people when they are addressing the council? And why do the other councilors put up with that?

The answer to these things?

A new council.

We need an elected council that will treat all people with respect, no matter what they own or how much money they have. We need an elected council that can budget money and not just write the check because the money is there. We need an elected council that knows the possibilities of our young and will keep safe the wisdom of our elders. We need fresh thinkers. Elected people who are not stuck in their ways or trying to get on some glory boat to get their name in some magazine.

I hope to see an elected city council that is like good parents. They know how to manage money so that all can prosper, know how to nurture the young and not forget about the old. A council that can take action on a plan from a vision, not just keep talking about the vision.

To me it seems all we have right now is a council that has gone as far as the vision. We need elected people who can follow through. The current council hasn't done it. Past elected people have not done it. Let's give the people who have never served our community a chance to take action and move forward. If we keep putting on the old shoes, we will only keep getting sore feet.

Rose Hendersen

Baker City

Lifelong resident agrees with new one

To the editor:

John Watson's letter Wednesday extolling Baker City was right on. He caught the spirit of small town living and stated the reasons I, too, love this town and its people.

I've found Baker City residents to be thoughtful, kind and considerate. Their compassionate nature allows them to share, whether it be a casserole, a monetary gift or bounty from a garden.

Community hearts and pocketbooks seemingly have a common connection.

Residents share each other's grief and conversely rejoice in the birth of a new baby next door!

In Baker City, volunteering is looked upon as a privilege, not a duty.

These values stole my heart long ago in Baker City ... so I remain here where my roots are firmly established.

Phyllis Badgley

Baker City

City doesn't look pro-business

To the editor:

I am very disappointed by the recent involvement of our city council and city officials in the closure of the Eltrym Theatre. This historic structure is one of the jewels in the crown of historic Baker City and should be viewed accordingly.

Rudyard Coltman has agreed to install sprinklers in the areas of the theatre open to the public. The La Grande building inspector has deemed the current state of the Eltrym as andquot;unsafe to the public.andquot; Why not grant a conditional certificate of occupancy, including a deadline to install the sprinklers in areas accessed by the public? As Mr. Coltman has already agreed to sprinkler installation in these areas, such a move on his part should assuage the combined public safety concerns of the building inspector, the city council and city officials.

If the city council is truly pro-business and economic growth, should not every effort be made to preserve current business activity in our town?

If movie-goers are forced to travel to La Grande or Ontario, does it not seem logical that other spending will occur in these towns as well, thereby depriving Baker City businesses of needed income?

The city council has reached a settlement with the owners of Smith Ditch.

As this settlement is far below the costs the city expended cleaning up the mess left by the breach of the ditch, residents in the city have been forced to pay $1.60 for every man, woman, and child to make up the shortfall. If we can be so generous to one business, why can't we support the Eltrym?

I respectfully request that the city council and the city officials reverse the decision closing the Eltrym Theatre.

Sue Hollis-Shade

Baker City

Why Baker?

To the editor:

Since moving here and opening our business, the most often asked question my wife and I get is, andquot;Why did you choose Baker City?andquot;

Those of us who have lived away from the historic charm, intimate friendships and convenient proximities of small town life think the answer is pretty obvious. But there's more. Songwriter Neil Young in a recent composition, andquot;It's a Dreamandquot; suggests that the desirable elements of a small town existence are andquot;fading away.andquot; We think not so in Baker City where you still hear train whistles and clock tower bells. Carefree kids ride their bicycles, play in the river, smile and even speak to adults. And motorists are mostly kind to pedestrians.

But on warm summer evenings we especially enjoy the clip-clop of Ron Colton's draft horses. What a treasure this man is! What a joy to offer his service to visitors, family and friends. Most of us equate horse-drawn carriages with New York, Paris, Vienna and Rome. Ron predictably blends his knowledge of local history with his cornball jokes, reminding us all of what a special place this is. The quiet tree-lined neighborhoods and the solid tuffstone building facades are great. But more memorable are the smiling faces of our friends and neighbors waving and laughing as the carriage passes by.

This is why we chose Baker City. It's not only a dream. It's a choice to live a life where relationships count for something more . . . where the pace is palatable and simple things have greater meaning. In the process, these kinds of daily experiences become compatible with civic pride and a strong sense of community. If you live here you already know it is something very rare indeed.

John Watson

Baker City

Ron for governor

To the editor:

Last Saturday the Harney County Republican Central Committee had a radio spot and a brunch for Ron Saxton. The radio spot in Burns prior to the Harney Brunch went very well with Representative Tom Butler supporting Ron splendidly and myself assisting as well. Ron handled everything with true poise, knowledge and class all the way through the excellent brunch and Qandamp;A period.

Ron had just come from an outstanding barbecue put on by the Baker County Republican Central Committee with 275-300 people and Senator Gordon Smith, Representative Greg Walden, Senator Ted Ferrioli, Representative Tom Butler in addition to Ron Saxton. What a line up and congrats to Jan Kerns and her group. That's the way to do it. But ... Jan's group's events are always top notch.

Ron left Harney County for the Deschutes Republican Central Committee Roundup on Saturday night. That is always a great event as well.

From Hood River to Wasco County to Baker, to Harney, to Deschutes to Klamath and Jackson counties in the 2nd Congressional District, Ron Saxton is making a difference in the way Eastern and Central Oregonians view the governor's position. Ron will be a governor for all of us. I urge you to take the time to meet him and find out for yourself why he will be Oregon's next Governor.

Tim Smith

Harney County

City didn't act too fast on Eltrym

To the editor:

My wife, who is a paraplegic, and I went to the Eltrym shortly after it had been remodeled. We found the new arrangement so disagreeable and unsafe that we have not been back since. In addition to the well publicized lack of a sprinkler system, the fire exits on the side and back are a disaster waiting to happen. Both involve a larger than normal step down and the alley exit has a grate below that would swallow the tires on a wheelchair. As such, they do not meet ADA requirements and should have been corrected during the remodeling and occupancy not approved until they did. The ADA, by the way, also has the power to close the theater.

A Google search and Wikipedia produced a number of fires that originated in schools, theaters, night clubs and related venues. The outstanding fact about all of these fires was the loss of life, often in the hundreds. The cause of death was the absence of appropriate fire escapes and locked doors. People confused by the smoke and fire would also stampede and jam the exits which allowed only a few to escape. Others died jumping out of windows. Today's fire and safety codes are a result of these tragedies.

Many have complained about the closing of the Eltrym by the city. Actually, the city delayed closing the Eltrym for quite a while before acting. Having been told many times about the unsafe and not to code conditions, had a fire happened and people burned to death, just imagine the liability of the city and the owner. Under the circumstances, the city acted properly, albeit belatedly.

For those who like the movies I would suggest that perhaps they contribute the dollars necessary to install the sprinkler system in those areas not covered by the owner's proposal. The amount of their contribution could be used as a credit on their tickets or popcorn.

That way it wouldn't be such a drain on the owner, movie-goers would get a break on their tickets and munchies and Baker would again have a hometown theater. Considering the three dollars a gallon and the time required to drive to La Grande, Pendleton, Ontario or Boise to see a show, it should be quite a bargain.

Jon Croghan

Baker City

Reconsider ban on dogs in city park

To the editor:

Please reconsider the ban on dogs in city parks, and embrace them instead. Those who ignored previous ordinances will most likely ignore the new, unfriendly, andquot;No dogs allowedandquot; signs. Leash laws and bans only work if they are enforced.

Instead, let's make the parks friendly again. Let's raise funds to erect stands for disposable clean-up bags. Let's make the parks a place for dog owners to meet. Let's give dogs a place to play outside of their confinement to small city lots it's a reward both for dog and owner in the form of exercise.

In my experience, humans make more of a mess of their habitats than most animals. And some humans make a mess of their animals. Instead of punishing respectful, conscientious citizens and their canine companions, let's punish those who do not manage their dogs.

Let's substantially increase both civil and criminal penalties for owners of dogs who attack humans and/or other dogs.

Let's ban smoking in the parks and enforce litter laws.

Let's encourage people to clean up after themselves and their dogs.

On the other hand, perhaps denying humans entry is the only way to keep the parks safe and clean.

Jason Bland

Baker City

Eltrym a key part of the community

To the editor:

As a young person with very few things to do, I feel the city council should not close the Eltrym Theatre, down because it means more to me than just seeing a new movie. To me, it means spending time with friends, family and even co-workers for a great time. Baker City needs something like the Eltrym Theatre all the time, and that is where I first saw andquot;The Little Mermaid.andquot; It used to be my favorite movie. The theater gives all of Baker's citizens memories that they will treasure for a long time. I think I speak for us all when I say the Eltrym Theatre was a major part of our small town.

Makayla Williams

Baker City

Central Building poses fire danger

To the editor:

I am more interested in the safety of our kids than in preserving old buildings. I retired from maintenance with Baker School District after 20 years. I have no ax to grind, and these are the facts.

In my last letter I touched on the Helen M. Stack building, and across the street is the Central Building. In the Central Building, the worst nightmare in this old relic are the double walls and the double ceiling between the next floor above. You can crawl up between the walls in the halls over tinder dry wood. From there if you wanted you could crawl between the floor above and the ceiling below from one end of the building to the other. On each floor, there is almost three feet between the ceiling below and the floor above. A huge fan (1912 vintage) in the basement pulls air throughout these spaces from the basement to the attic. What really amazes me is that these old buildings haven't burned down years ago. If fire ever got into the double wall, double ceiling system, the building would explode. Fire would go from the basement to the attic in seconds, fed by the big fan. I don't think the kids and teachers could make it out of the building without jumping out the second-floor windows. We try hard to keep these areas secured. In my tenure, we had three fires in Central. They started in the wrong place, thank God.

I notice with interest the building inspector shut down the Eltrym Theatre. At least we had a choice to go in there and watch a movie. Our kids don't have that choice when they enter the middle school buildings. When will the building inspector and fire marshal inspect two of the most important buildings in our community.

Our children and grandchildren are our most precious members of this community. At least the building inspector and fire marshal can tell us whether the Central and Helen M. Stack buildings meet andquot;life safetyandquot; standards.

Reliable architects, engineers and district staff have reported how serious this issue is. Take a tour Thursday at 6 p.m. and see for yourself.

Chuck Chase

Baker City

Employees voiced concerns to board

To the editor:

This is in response to letters sent in by concerned citizens who care about what is happening at Mountain Valley Mental Health. It did not have to evolve into the sad state of affairs that it is.

In the beginning, there was a group of over 12 concerned key employees and contractors who came together to voice our concerns via a survey which the Board of Directors of MVMH sent out. Instead of welcoming this information and meeting with all of us to discuss our issues, we were made to feel that we had done something wrong.

Our concern was for the welfare of MVMH and the decline we were experiencing. We cared about keeping mental health profitable and the welfare of our clients. We all loved our jobs and were appreciative of our wonderful benefits of working at MVMH.

Instead of working with all of us, they hired an attorney to fight against us. We didn't want a fight, we wanted resolutions to the problems as we saw them.

I'm so sad that most of the great employees who worked at MVMH have left and have found other jobs elsewhere. I would have been so different if they had only met with us and talked to us.

Kathryn Williams

Baker City

Eltrym worked with city first time

To the editor:

The Eltrym Theatre was remodeled and made into three showrooms by Rudyard Coltman, owner. This was done in good faith while working with, consulting with and adhering to all of the guidelines set forth by Larry Rockenbrandt, Baker City and County's building inspector.

Mr. Rockenbrandt was building inspector for City of Baker from January 1993 until June 2002. One must assume that having held such an important job for nine years, Mr. Rockenbrandt was hired by and had the confidence of the mayor, city council, city attorney, city manager and other appropriate department heads and was thought to be competent in his job.

At what point did Mr. Rockenbrandt become incompetent in his long held position? How many other buildings, historic or new, did Mr. Rockenbrandt make mistakes on? Should all of Mr. Rockenbrandt's work between 1993 and 2002 be reviewed for errors, oversights and misinterpretations or is it just the Eltrym Theatre? Historically, there is nothing to suggest that Mr. Rockenbrandt's work was anything but top notch.

Susan Castles

Baker City

Fascists, but who?

To the editor:

In another one of his andquot;pot calling the kettle blackandquot; moments, President Bush recently said andquot;This nation is at war with Islamic fascists ?.andquot; Bush's andquot;War on Terror,andquot; which creates many more terrorists than it destroys, is a general war on Muslim resistance to illegal American and Israeli occupations. His increasingly inflammatory rhetoric, along with American threats and aggressions, and our government's support for Israel's recent spate of barbaric war crimes, makes one wonder just who are the terrorists and fascists?

Simply put, fascists are warmongers and bullies, but fascism is more than that. Fascism is associated with militarism and belligerent nationalism. It acts to preserve the privileges of business, large landowners and the elite classes. It features authoritarianism and the rejection of liberal values. Encyclopedia Britannica states andquot;Fascism repudiates above all the idea of peace and harmony.andquot; Mussolini wrote andquot;War alone brings up to their highest tension all human energies?. The whole nation must be militarized... I consider the Italian nation in a permanent state of war.andquot;

Sounds like our never ending andquot;War on Terrorandquot; and the bellicose, nuclear-armed countries of Israel and the U.S. They possess two of the largest militaries, and they regularly use their power to terrorize nearly defenseless but still independent minded peoples around the world. Since World War II, the U.S. has engaged in at least 60 invasions or interventions, most in contempt of international law. We have repeatedly used sanctions and high tech weapons against civilian populations, killing tens of thousands of innocents. Israel has reduced much of Lebanon and the Gaza Strip to rubble, and continues to commit atrocities against Lebanese and Palestinian civilians. It uses military force to illegally occupy Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, and has thumbed its nose at no less than 63 U.N. resolutions, including those which require it to end the military occupations.

According to the F.B.I., terrorism is andquot;the unlawful use of force or violence committed by a group or individual, ? against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, ? in furtherance of political or social objectives.andquot;

So I ask you, who are the terrorists? Who are the Fascists?

Christopher Christie

Baker City