Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Rewriting history?

To the editor:

Remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood, and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in TARP money, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes?


Yeah, me neither.

Kevin Lee

Baker City

A better option for nuclear power?

To the editor:

I have long been an opponent of nuclear power. I have always believed

that the threat of an accident is too great and that storing nuclear

waste for thousands of years isunrealistic. In addition there are

numerous instances of contamination by leaking water or steam.

Now my attitude is evolving. I know now that these problems are specific to the Light Water Reactor.

I've been reading about a new reactor: the Liquid Fluoride Thorium

Reactor. Proponents of the LFTR claim that meltdown is impossible. The

LFTR is not cooled by water, eliminating leaks of contaminated water or

steam. The spent fuel decays in as little as 300 years.

For more information go to the website:


I am still opposed to the construction of any new light water reactors.

Al Free

Baker City

Schools could avoid layoffs

To the editor:

It's interesting how things are playing out with the Baker School

District. Most casual observers see our school system strapped with

financial troubles from either not receiving enough money from the

taxpayers, or by the District spending too much. The District wants us

to believe the state is not allocating enough money and therefore, the

only option is to go to a four-day week and ask local taxpayers to

approve a new tax levy. The problem with this, aside from the fact most

taxpayers are not in the mood to pay more, is that the four-day week

only saves money from taking a day from the cooks, janitors, bus

drivers and a few others.

So, now we'll have teachers and administrators working a half day on

Fridays while our children are home. The District claims it will

attempt to negotiate some of the Fridays as furlough days with the

unions in order to save more money. However, should any of the

negotiations fail or the levy not pass, the District will likely lose

approximately 20 employees. The District and School Board want us to

believe that if we don't pass the levy, they will have no choice but to

lay off all these employees.

If the overall attempts were being made in the "best interest of the children," I'm sure the approach would be different.

In 2008 the School District formed a committee of community members to

provide a list of cost-cutting measures. In January 2009, they produced

an 18-page Facilities Efficiency Report with recommendations requiring

no staff layoffs and requiring restructuring of services. Very few of

these recommendations have been implemented.

While the national average of employee benefits to salary is 20 to 30

percent, the Baker District pays nearly 56 percent. Cutting this to

say, 42 percent, would save the District approximately $1.24 million

per year. Reducing it to 30 percent would save approximately $2.3

million per year. It would not require staff layoffs, more money from

taxpayers, and most importantly, not affect the education of our

children. I guess they prefer to tell us the District has a "revenue

shortfall" rather than a spending problem?

Mike Ogan

Baker City

It's time to cut farm subsidies

To the editor:

Are there world-class hypocrites in our midst?

The Feb. 25 Herald reports that Fred Warner Jr. and the Baker County

Commission allocated $6,000 of taxpayers' money, some of which I paid

for in my taxes, to help the Water and Stream Health (WASH) committee

"seek a grant to continue progress toward analyzing the water storage

needs in the Powder River Basin." Mr. Warner asked, "is it realistic to

think the federal government will pay up to 80 percent of these costs,

plus 95 percent of construction?"

How many Baker County residents would benefit from WASH? A handful of farmers and ranchers.

These predominantly, if not 100 percent, Republican farmers and

ranchers are part of the biggest welfare class in terms of dollars this

country has every seen. These welfare queens enjoy low- and no-interest

loans; price supports; government cash grants; state and federal

agencies created for no reason other than to serve their business

interests; giveaway grazing allotments; the list is long. And it is

these Republicans who scream the loudest about cutting the cost of

government. What they mean is they want to help cut for the poor and

the elderly, for education, they want everybody else's programs cut,

but not their welfare benefits because they're farmers and ranchers, a

privileged class.

The Republican-led House of Representatives, in passing the

trillion-dollar budget cuts that would fall hardest on those who are

weakest among us, is doing exactly what these hypocrites have asked

for. It isn't the elderly, or single moms, or young people trying to

get an education who soak the U.S. Treasury. It is powerful business

interests, farmers and ranchers, will their millions of dollars, tax

lawyers and their lobby in Washington. We could go an astonishingly

long way toward balancing the budget simply by cutting farm subsidies

to these welfare queens, and hypocrites, among us.

Max Vollmer

Baker City