Keep full-time Justice Court
Friday's paper details a possible plan by the county commissioners to reduce Baker's Justice Court down to a half-time position after all comments received at their Jan. 18 meeting were asking them to not reduce the court and leave it as it has been historically - a full-service court serving the needs of our city and county every day of the week.
Moving the criminal cases up to Baker Circuit Court, thereby eliminating the need for the public defender's contract, will do nothing short of clogging up the already full docket Judge Baxter handles plus creating big delays in getting cases adjudicated. Just remember that we (you and I) are still paying for the costs of these cases with taxpayer dollars no matter at which level they are processed, state or county.
Our Justice Court is the third equal branch of government giving our citizens a system of checks and balances at the county level as provided for in the original Oregon Constitution Article VII,Section 1. We have local control of the Justice Court by participating in the budget board hearings that establish the amount of funding for proper operation each year. We select a new judge each six years from among our local citizen candidates, and if we are very unhappy with our judge the remedies of recall and/or a judicial fitness and ethics violation complaint are available if necessary. This is local control we still have and we do not need to diminish our citizen oversight by reducing the Justice of the Peace to a half-time position.
The majority of comments trying to justify such action by the county commission relate to a budget shortfall. Baker County had budget problems in the 1980s when Larry Smith was county judge. He made a 10-percent across the board cut in all department budgets so everyone in the county government felt the pain. The Courthouse remained open and the people of Baker City and Baker County were not deprived of essential services. Ralph Ward was elected county judge and he managed to reinstate the cut budgets so life returned to normal.
I would suggest our county commissioners institute a 10-percent across the board cut in all budgets as their predecessors have done to balance the budget and leave our Justice Court intact as a full-service court.
Everyone please be at the Feb. 1 meeting of the Baker County Commissioners to voice your opinion. Once the government takes anything away, you'll never get it back. The people of Baker County are the losers.
Larry D. Cole of Haines is a retired Justice Court judge.
School budget needs some work
To the editor:
I unequivocally condemn the behavior of Lynne Burroughs, including her immature letter to the editor on Jan. 18 which was nothing more than a mendacious personal attack. Coming from a "drama" instructor and currently a card-carrying member of the teachers union, I was not surprised. I will continue to stand and engage with officials like Lynne Burroughs as David did Goliath.
Moving on to the issues, while researching the district's frivolous spending on new tech toys, I found what I believe to be problems. As I looked deeper under the carpet, contingency funds caught my eye adding up to million plus dollars. So the district increased numerous amounts of funds in different accounts including these contingency funds. Then they increased, and funded different accounts on the budget and left the employees and staff unfunded. The district then cried wolf, stating that they would have to cut over 15 plus positions if the tax bond did not pass. I find it fascinating that a larger district, like the La Grande school district, only has $366,000 in contingency funds. These contingency funds are for emergencies and rainy days, and are unaccountable and can lead to bridges to nowhere.
I find the 2011/2012 budget irresponsible, as well as this district and board for lobbying for a tax bond, and putting the school staff on the front line. Seeing firsthand how taxpayers' money is spent, it is clear to me that the district is not the best steward of the taxpayers' money. I look forward to working on a budget that represents the community along with providing a quality education, which the 2011/2012 budget does not.
I also will be exploring a possible recall of fellow board members who do not represent the best interests of the community and our students. We cannot afford to continue the failed policies of this school district.
Baker School Board member
Will voters reign in Washington, D.C.?
To the editor:
President Obama is hardly the poster child for income inequality that Marshall McComb makes him out to be. As an avid practitioner of crony capitalism, the president is a big part of the problem. In 2008, Wall Street donated far more generously to his election campaign than they did to Senator McCain's, and they have been cashing in their chips ever since. Just count how many former Wall Street executives are part of the president's administration.
Besides, the issue in this year's election is not going to change to income inequality; it will remain massive overspending by the federal government. For years, Washington, D. C., has been the home of spendthrifts, but in 2009, the money spigots were turned on full blast. We are well on a course where we add another trillion dollars to the national debt every year or two.
So in November, voters will decide: Do we continue on the present course until our financial situation resembles that of Greece, or do we begin to apply a little financial discipline to our federal government?