Mix it up

To the editor:

It was very inspirational to see your article, andquot;Go Meet Someone New,andquot; showing students andquot;mixing it upandquot; at lunch, i.e. eating with someone they didn't know in Friday's paper, Nov. 17. As a recent clinical social worker, one of my most frequently used homework assignments for those suffering with depression, adjustment difficulties, life transitions, isolation or grief and loss issues was for them to go to a coffee shop or public meeting place and spend a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes entertaining ideas with someone that they had never met. The shifts in their affect and overall general mood were often more than remarkable.

How about a andquot;mix it upandquot; at coffee or lunch movement for adults to coincide with the same day now designated for students? Don't adults need a Teaching Tolerance program, too?

Bob Weber, MSW


Why I voted 'No'

To the editor:

This letter is to my friends and fellow Baker School District 5J taxpayers who voted andquot;Yesandquot; on the recent bond measure to build a new middle school on Hughes Lane. I voted andquot;Noandquot; as I have followed this issue from the very beginning, spring 2004, and have done my homework, meeting with the leadership of the task force and two school board members. I could cite dozens of reasons for my andquot;Noandquot; vote. My information says it is possible to totally restore and modernize the present buildings or locate a new building on the land the district already owns. Here are only three of many issues.

First, the building site on Hughes Lane is as bad as you can get. Hughes Lane is a designated truck route with a speed limit of 35 and a challenging intersection at Highway 30. Hughes Lane is far away from the majority of the students who will have to be bussed or driven by parents.

Second, the 5J administration has made a huge issue about the new middle school being closer to the Sports Complex and the high school. The truth is that the existing campus is closer to these sites than the proposed site. Here are the figures: The distance from the proposed site to the complex by car or bus is 1.9 miles and 1.5 miles to the high school, via Hughes to 10th through an unfriendly intersection. The distance from the current campus is .9 miles on friendly residential streets.

Third, the recent bond issue included little money for the $8 million needed for renovation of our elementary buildings, which was a very large priority on the survey conducted in April 2006. The taxpayers will not go for another bond issue in several years. I feel we can do both middle and elementary schools if we work together using common sense. The positive side of the recent bond issue is that taxpayers will go for a pretty stout figure.

The recent decisions of the Baker 5J regarding real estate dealings and the appointment of a new school board member remind me of the Union-Baker ESD buying an airplane.

John Burgess

Baker City

You killed our cat

To the editor:

On Nov. 15, a driver so carelessly took our precious cat andquot;Smittyandquot; from us. Whoever you are, I hope you slept good that night because my husband and myself didn't. Smitty was my son and family's kitty. He came to live with us because of a new baby. My grandkids loved their kitty very much. If only you and other drivers would slow down and really try to avoid hitting animals because they are usually someone's pet that was really loved.

We will miss our Smitty greatly, a very loving and giving cat, who woke us up every morning. Not a mean bone in his body. Perhaps the next time you hit something, it won't be an animal. It may be someone's child.

The hit-and-run scene is on Highway 86, with three houses right close to one another.

Think twice next time!

John and Linda Chandler

Baker City

Support higher ed

To the editor:

The availability of higher education in Eastern Oregon has always been an important issue, but it is becoming even more crucial to the economic growth and sustainability of our communities.

I am writing today as someone who has personally benefited from the access that Eastern Oregon University provides. As a proud EOU alumna in the first graduating class of the Masters of Business Administration program I also work for EOU's Distance Education Center in Baker County. I am grateful to have completed my MBA without relocating to an urban area and while remaining fully employed and engaged in local activities.

Until EOU invested monumentally to establish and implement a nationally recognized graduate program, this educational opportunity was virtually unavailable to myself and to my classmates. I appreciate the cooperative effort of EOU administrators and faculty and the support of the Oregon University System in further developing the MBA programs to serve Oregon's eastern region.

It was a wonderful experience. I participated in seminars and group projects with students from Bend, Vale, The Dalles and Pendleton longtime professionals and emerging leaders committed to continuing learning. Our instructors were inspiring and fully engaged in their subjects; it was a privilege to work with them.

While Baker County's natural and financial resources are limited, our human resources and potential are not. When access to higher education is available locally it supports economic development by retaining human capital in our communities, developing it further and then reinvesting in Eastern Oregon.

I encourage everyone to promote local college opportunities and to raise awareness of the resource that we have in EOU and their MBA program. We can call attention to the value of regional public higher education by voicing our support of successful local programs. andquot;Live, learn and do at EOUandquot; is an invitation to support the only Oregon university with a mission of regional service: service to us.

Liz Burton

Baker City

What do we want

for our community?

To the editor:

I think we're starting to lose sight of what we really want for our community and certainly of who we are willing to become in order to achieve those wants.

The discussions at the City Council meeting of Tuesday, Nov. 28, ended with, among other things, a vote being taken that enabled our City Council, as a last resort, to actually condemn someone's private property in order to facilitate the Leo Adler Parkway right of way. Not because the property is dangerous or an eyesore or in default of some kind, but just because andquot;we want itandquot; we want it and they have it and they won't give it to us, even for a fair market price, so, we have the right to take it ... don't we?

Is that really the kind of people we are choosing to become? Is our memory so short that we can't remember being appalled by the inhumane treatment of others in the not-so-distant past; where basic freedoms were denied and greedy land-grabbing tactics were perpetrated enabling one group to take possession of another group's property, homes and belongings in order to facilitate the andquot;greater goodandquot;?

I've been in favor of a andquot;river walkwayandquot; ever since I first heard Peggi Timm talk about it almost 30 years ago, just as I am now in favor of having the Leo Adler Parkway extended and completed but not like this. The whole idea of the Parkway is to make Baker an even nicer place to live, isn't it? I mean that is what we want, to make it nicer and ever more pleasant for us all, isn't it? But how is it possible to accomplish this if we are going to make it less than pleasant for some of us? Is it our imagining that while causing suffering for another we can still attain a place of peace for ourselves?

My experience tells me, andquot;It just don't work that way.andquot;

Tom Novak

Baker City

Why rush land swap?

To the editor:

I just wanted to comment on the article in the Wednesday, Nov. 29, edition of the newspaper regarding the land swap between the city, Leo Adler Memorial Parkway Inc. and Baker Garage.

I support the Leo Adler Memorial Parkway, and I also support Baker Garage as a fellow business owner.

What I can't support is rushing through a land swap involving $43,000 of taxpayers money. It looks awfully suspicious that this has appeared on the council agenda at the end of so many councilors' terms and involves a co-councilor's business.

The City Council has agreed to spend $148,000 on preliminary design and engineering services for this area. Let's wait and see what the designers come up with. We may be giving up something we won't be able to get back.

Gail Duman

Baker City

Editor's note: Gail Duman was elected in November to serve on the Baker City Council. Her term begins in January.

Treat property

owners equally

To the editor:

The specter at the recent City Council meeting of the council first voting for the power to condemn property for the park and parkway then voting (without Councilor Daugherty participating) to partially fund a deal worked out privately between LAMP and Councilor Daugherty has left a very poor impression with the community.

After assurances from the council prior to their vote authorizing the city to condemn property for the park/parkway project that the city could only pay andquot;fair market valueandquot; based upon independent appraisals, the council agreed to commit public funds to a private andquot;dealandquot; with fellow Councilor Daugherty to reconfigure and acquire a small amount of property for the parkway/park project. The Council refused to require any appraisals demonstrating that the deal represented andquot;fair market value.andquot; The deal enhances the value of the reconfigured property to Mr. Daugherty and provides a purchase price, on a per-square-foot basis, close to that of a recent commercial land sale in the heart of the Lake Oswego area.

The solution to this problem is simple. The Daugherty andquot;dealandquot; should be abandoned. Tabor Clarke of LAMP should transfer U.S. Bank's land gift for the park to the city now. There is no reason for this gift to remain out of public ownership. This solution ends the use of city staff for a messy, unjustified and unpredictable construction project for Mr. Daugherty and will restore the public's faith in fair and open government.

The long-awaited park/parkway public planning process may begin with a clean slate. Should some of Councilor Daugherty's commercial property be needed for the project, he can negotiate with ODOT, based upon a fair market value appraisal process. If land is needed, and agreement to purchase and/or swap cannot be reached, Councilor Daugherty will be subject to the city's right of condemnation, which he voted for.

I own commercial property bordering the proposed project, and this is what I expect a process fairly applied to all property owners, is fair to the public, and protects private property rights.

Let's respect the public and begin this exciting project anew.

Pamela C. Van Duyn

Baker City

Craft a win-win

land swap instead

To the editor:

The rush to approve the Baker Garage land swap is not a sweet deal for the taxpayers.

The pathway is a wonderful amenity. As an advocate for Baker City's citizens, whose money is being committed, all I want to see is the best use of those funds. A land swap with Baker Garage is a great plan, however it would make more sense to discuss options that benefit both Baker Garage and the taxpayers of Baker City.

Dr. Hofmann states that the new Resort Street lot could be used for access to the city property. That access would require a road that would have two, if not three, sharp-angled turns to reach the developable land and would greatly reduce the usable parking space and may not comply with public safety access requirements or engineering standards.

One option that has not been discussed would be to swap part of the city-owned property to the south of the Baker Garage lot for the Resort Street piece. The city and LAMP would have a large enough piece of land to have a usable and highly visible public parking area as well as access on the already established and publicly owned right-of-way the alley which is over 250 feet from the intersection. The lighting and fencing that was installed following the last land swap with Baker Garage could be re-used by re-setting it at the new property line, giving Baker Garage the security they require and saving the taxpayers a tremendous amount of money. It's a win-win alternative.

Measure twice, cut once is very sage advice and applies well to this discussion. Let's measure the benefits of all the options, look for the solution that benefits all parties in the long run and is fair and equitable. There is no real danger of losing the federal grant dollars by having a publicly supported, openly discussed plan of action. The federal government grant stipulations can easily be met by looking at all the options and selecting the one that makes the most sense for the grant monies and our own.

Beverly Calder

Baker City

Editor's note: Beverly Calder was elected in November to serve on the Baker City Council. Her term begins in January.

Energy and immigration

To the editor:

A recent letter in BioScience pointed out that biofuel sources such as corn, canola or wood are not going to be the magic bullet that some hoped for in solving our energy problems.

The major difficulty we face with respect to biofuels lies in the fact that in the United States we consume more than twice as much energy as is collected in green plants each year. Another is that it takes 29 percent more energy to produce a gallon of corn ethanol than you can get back out of it. If we used our entire corn crop to produce ethanol it would replace only 6 percent of consumption. Ethanol production from cellulosic biomass (wood, etc.), using current technologies, is even more wasteful, but may hold promise if technology improves.

Our currently unsustainable population is projected to be more than 400 million by 2050. In 1850 it was 30 million. In the face of looming energy and water shortages it is long past due for a reappraisal of shortsighted policies that result in rapid U.S. population growth. A return to the goal of zero population growth should be a part of any strategy seeking to avert the human suffering our present course will produce.

More than 60 percent of our population growth is due to immigration, which is adding more than 1 million people a year. Without post-1970 immigration, our population was projected to never reach our current 300 million and would have peaked at 250 million.

Getting there: The authors recommend andquot;Energy conservation and development of renewable energy sources, such as solar cells and solar-based methanol synthesis.andquot; Working on our personal energy conservation policy is perhaps the easiest, cheapest thing we can do to help.

We know the basics: Reduce fossil fuel and total energy use, reuse and recycle. An immigration policy that reduces legal immigration is necessary, and enforcing employer sanctions would be the most rational, humane and effective approach to stopping illegal immigration. We can reassert control over our future if we urge our representatives to support renewable energy, reduce mass immigration and enforce employer sanctions.

Christopher Christie

Baker City