Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Knight's done nothing wrong

To the editor:

During the School District's last meeting, Chair Lynne Burroughs claimed Board member Kyle Knight had violated his oath of office. After reading Friday's BCH article and others, I see no wrongdoing on Knight's part.

Burroughs and Board member Henderson are upset Knight spoke about an employee using a district purchase order for personal purposes. You'd think they'd be upset about the theft instead. Burroughs accuses Knight of violating their Code of Conduct, "Content discussed in executive session is confidential." To my knowledge, an executive session wasn't held regarding the theft. Everything the Board says and does during meetings is open to public scrutiny. The letters they write and emails they send are also open to the public. We have a right to be aware of this personnel issue. Knight followed the Code that states he must "be open" with "no hidden agendas" and "respect the right of the public to be informed about District decisions and school operations." In attempting to muzzle Knight and suppress information, I believe Burroughs is the one violating her oath. Not only did Burroughs illegally attempt to keep this meeting behind closed doors, but she gave Knight a letter saying he'd forfeited his First Amendment rights, and instructed him to sign a gag order. This is the U.S.! A person doesn't sign away his constitutional rights to serve in office!

Burroughs accuses Knight of "disrespecting" other members. This may come as a shock, but disagreeing with fellow members on policies and decisions he believes are wrong isn't disrespectful - it's his job. The Code states members will "respect the right of other Board members to have opinions and ideas that differ." All I've read in Knight's statements are discussions of Board business. Burroughs, on the other hand, released a letter targeting Knight. Henderson tells the press Knight wants "to gain power at the expense of our kids." That's character assassination.

We elected Knight by a landslide to represent us. When Burroughs threatens to exclude him from Board communications and shun him until he resigns, she's telling us as voters they couldn't care less about the trust we placed in Knight - they'll substitute their own will. Wow.

Kerry McQuisten

Baker City

Catholic Church isn't a democracy

To the editor:

I'd like to offer some clarifications to assertions made by Dr. Tylka in her March 30 letter regarding Catholic teaching on contraception.

Many hold the mistaken view that the authoritative hierarchy of the Church was turned upside down by Vatican II. However, turning to the Vatican II document "Dogmatic Constitution on the Church" we see clearly that the authority of bishops and priests over lay people remains in place. For example, Chapter III of this document is actually entitled "The Church is Hierarchical," and gives the Biblical background for this structure. It states that "(Jesus) willed that (the Apostles') successors, the bishops namely, should be the shepherds in his church until the end of the world."

The document does state that bishops and priests must keep the best interests of the people in mind, that they are servant leaders. However, this does not mean that our bishops must take a vote and do things the way the majority wants. Rather, a bishop is to keep his eye on what is best for the people he leads, not considering himself. Ordination imparts the grace necessary for a bishop or priest to perform the duty of leading his flock. Without an authoritative leader who can override popular opinion, our morals would be left to the whim of passing fads. Because of the apostolic nature of the Catholic Church, we are able to avoid the pitfalls of moral relativism.

Catholics' opinions on contraception certainly do vary, but the Catholic Church's teaching has been constant on this issue since its beginning. Pope Paul VI upheld the centuries-old teaching of the sinfulness of contraception, despite popular opinion; he could legitimately do this precisely because he was the Pope. The Catholic Church recognizes the ultimate authority of the Pope because the Church is NOT a democracy.

Dissent within the Catholic Church has caused confusion about the morality of contraception, but for those willing to learn the reasons which underlie the teaching, there is a treasure of great beauty and profound wisdom.

Jay Boyd

Baker City

Count the full cost of fossil fuels

To the editor:

Conservatives decry the Obama administration's promotion of alternatives to fossil fuels, which they claim are much more expensive than coal, oil, and gas. But are they really more expensive once one factors in the side-effects of fossil fuels?

Side-effects like the cost in lives and fortune to invade Iraq, which we never would had done, if it weren't for all its oil reserves.

Side-effects like the cost to deal with the recent extreme weather disasters, such as drought ( Texas), fire (Texas, Florida and New Mexico), hurricanes (Gulf Coast), floods (North Dakota), and this spring's tornadoes.

Side-effects like the potentially unlimited cost to deal with rising ocean levels due to global warming of the polar ice caps.

Alternative fuels make sense to the environmentally-conscious CEO of Fed-Ex. He just announced that FedEx plans to convert many of its delivery trucks to all electric with a savings of 75 percent over fossil fuels. My Prius hybrid (gas and electric) gets 52 mpg on the freeway at 65 mph.

The Fram oil filter ad - "Pay me now or pay me later" - was based on simple common sense.Benjamin Franklin said much the same thing over two centuries ago: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Again, just plain common sense.

If diplomat, scientist, and inventor Franklin were alive today, would he ignore the scientific community's alarm about the consequences of failure to address global warming?Or would his famed common sense, as well as scientific sense, tell him, Where there's smoke there's fire?

Yet ignoring the total cost of continued burning of fossil fuels at the present pace is exactly what the Republican energy policy promotes. I call it the Drill! Drill! Drill! Dig! Dig! Dig! Burn! Burn! Burn! policy.Such a policy proposes to use up these finite resources now with no thought to the environment and the needs of future generations.

Common sense tells us to work together to minimize the total cost of continued burning of fossil fuels.

Gary Dielman

Baker City

Enough is enough on forest rules

To the editor:

I was recently quoted in the Baker City Herald as stating, "my type of recreation would be devastated by the road closures." I would like to clarify and add that mining, ranching, hunting, fishing, camping, berry picking, mushrooming, going for a mountain drive, and most of all, cutting firewood, are activities which will be severely impacted. In other words, in one way or another everyone living in Eastern Oregon will be affected by closing half our forest roads. To eliminate nearly 4,000 miles of forest access while additionally limiting our wood gathering to within 300 feet of an "open" road is unacceptable.

Who are the big losers with these closures? The people of Eastern Oregon. Why do we live here? Because we choose to live here. Why do we choose to live here? Largely because we enjoy outdoor recreation and feel our kids should have the opportunity to grow up with an accessible forest at their back door. Every road closure chips away at freedom and takes us farther away from why we live here and what Eastern Oregon is all about.

How long are we willing to just sit back and watch our forest access (freedom) slip away without fighting back in every way we can? We have watched as our (multiple use?) forests have been increasingly saddled with regulations and access has been restricted through wilderness designation. We can't go here, we can't go there. We can't camp for over 14 days in a 30-day period on the Wallowa-Whitman! What's next. When are we going to wake up to what's happening?

We are on the road to losing it all. Come on folks, it's time to get excited! Enough is enough. No more!

There will be an important informational meeting April 6 highlighting how to file an appeal on the TMP. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and will take place at the Blue Mountain Conference Center, 404 12th St., in La Grande. I hope to see you there.

Tork Ballard

Baker City

Forest becoming 'land of no use'

To the editor:

As a member of the Baker County Travel Commission, my wife and I traveled and inventoried about 90 percent of the roads in the Ruckles Creek and Eagle Creek drainage, over the last four years, on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest at the request of the Baker County Commissioners. We traveled 4,000 miles, taking photos and GPS readings to add to the proposed Wallowa-Whitman Travel Management Plan

I was shocked when the former Wallowa-Whitman forest supervisor used none of the accumulated data, after indicating that he would do so. The plan that the Wallowa-Whitman tendered was not only the most restrictive, but they altered that plan and closed even more forest to use. The plan soon in effect will effectively ban hunting, berry picking, camping, woodcutting, mushrooming and all other activities normally found in the national forest. Instead of the "land of many uses" (Forest Service past slogan), the forest will become a "land of no use."

I recommend that the Wallowa-Whitman implement Alternative Plan 3, endorsed by the Baker County Commissioners, as a more equitable and workable forest travel plan.

Martin Stroy