Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Rosemary Abell would greatly benefit Baker School Board

Rosemary Abell did not grow up in Eastern Oregon so she does not have the connections some of the other candidates for 5J school board have. What she does have is an outstanding record of leadership and involvement in education.

Besides her own impressive educational background, she has worked in several positions at the state level, including a science assessment specialist for the Oregon Department of Education.

On the national level, she has worked as a peer reviewer of state plans addressing both the Approving America's School Act and No Child Left Behind. Since 2001, she has worked on national, state, and district projects as an educational consultant. I have known Rosemary for several years, but the more I have learned about her involvement and hard work, the more I am amazed that we have a local person with such a record who is willing to serve our community on the local school board.

Baker 5J would benefit greatly by having Rosemary Abell on our local school board.

Maryalys Urey

Baker City

Food and farm guide benefits growers, consumers

As a small farmer in Baker County, I have really benefited from the Eastern Oregon Food and Farm Guide. This guide helps connect consumers to local food producers like me. It helps connect farmers, ranchers and gardeners to the local products and services they need. The guide is a print and online directory and guide to local eating and good living and this year there will even be an interactive PDF for iPad!

Oregon Rural Action publishes the guide each year in June to promote local food production and consumption. This year, with funding support from the Oregon Department of Ag Specialty Crop Grant program, the guide is expanding. Now folks from across Eastern Oregon (not just NE Oregon) will be included.

ORA is hoping to reach at least 100 listings of farmers, ranchers, food processors, bakers, canners, restaurants, wineries, schools, hospitals, community gardens, farmers markets, grocery stores, farm stands, caterers and others who grow, make, sell or serve locally produced food and farm products. Dedicated volunteers and interns are calling, visiting and contacting folks to sign up. Anyone can be listed just by joining ORA at a basic membership of $30 per year. This membership supports the over $3,000 printing cost for the guide and the organization.

Sign up online to be listed in the farm guide at www.tinyurl.com/oraffd2013 or call 541-975-2411. More info is at www.oregonrural.org.

Valerie Tachenko

Baker County

Obamacare: Propping up the paper industry all by itself

Obamacare is now the law of the land, we are reminded. From its inception, it has been remarkably controversial, with some people swearing that it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, while others demand its immediate repeal. But Obamacare has had one positive effect, one which no one else seems to have commented on.

Think it through. In its final form, the legislation setting up Obamacare ran to well over 2,000 pages. But the Department of Health and Human Services probably issues 100 pages of implementing regulations for every page in the legislation. So thousands of copies must be printed and distributed of the thousands and thousands of pages of Obamacare regulations. Now think about how much paper is used to publish all of this. And think about how many trees must be grown to provide the wood pulp to manufacture all that paper! So how much carbon is being removed from the earth's atmosphere every year from the printing of all that regulation? Tons of the stuff! Obamacare is obviously helping in the fight against global warming!

This is why we need more Democrats in government, for they are the ones who love to churn out regulations by the ton, arranging all the aspects of our lives in mind-numbing detail, from the greatest to the least. The more regulations our Democrats produce, the more paper is consumed in printing them out, and the more carbon is taken out of the earth's atmosphere.

We only need to take care that they don't overdo it, and remove so much carbon that it will trigger another ice age.

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Proposed smoking ban smells of government overreach

If the phrase "government overreach" means anything to our city councilors, they should decline to take up smoking-in-the-park as an issue.

I'm not a smoker. But this isn't about smoking. It's about the city not being able to keep its nose out of anything.

There's no financial benefit to the city in taking up the issue. Smoking is on the decline these days, and there are already (unenforced) littering laws on the books to deal with smokers who toss their butts on the ground.

The new councilors probably think it's a great "feel good" issue to get behind. Someone needs to remind them that, in government, doing nothing is always better than doing something for no good reason.

One of the councilors has opined that simply banning smoking seems too harsh. So the idea of marking off designated smoking areas has been floated. Now, common sense says that these areas will have to have signs and there will have to be butt cans and the dumping of same, and clean up on a regular basis. This "feel good" issue becomes a dead loss to taxpayers.

If not for the make work project of an intern, this issue probably wouldn't have been brought up. But now it has the dreaded momentum. It'll probably become an ordinance. Of course, enforcement is another story. Chief Lohner won't have his officers do anything extra, so it will be left up to citizens to confront other citizens. That conversation will probably go something like this: "Hey, jerk, you can't light up here! It's the law!"

The current conversation, by the way, is probably something like this: "Excuse me, sir. I'd appreciate it if you didn't smoke here. My pregnant wife and kids are picnicking, so if you don't mind...."

In the end, nothing will have changed except that Baker residents will have become a little less tolerant of each other. And the council will have wasted time and money to jump on the anti-smoking bandwagon (the parade for which passed a couple of years ago, in case you weren't paying attention.)

It has a name: It's called government overreach.

Doug Darlington

Baker City

Everyone deserves clean and healthy city parks

I am writing in response to the April 26 opinion piece "No need for ban on tobacco."

Baker County is currently ranked last among all counted counties in the 2013 National County Health Rankings. With nearly one in four Baker County adults smoking, we should be compelled to act. With over one third of 11th-grade boys using smokeless tobacco, we should be compelled to act. With birth mother smoking rates double that of the state and national rates, we should be compelled to act.

Prohibiting smoking indoors is a great first step, but a 2007 report from Stanford University shows comparable air pollution and health risks from outdoor and indoor smoke. Therefore, not only does outdoor smoke exposure pose a health risk to park users, but smoking and using tobacco in public places generates unsightly litter and gives children the impression that smoking and tobacco use is an accepted practice.

Tobacco free parks are consistent with the mission of the City Parks and Recreation Department to "andhellip; enhance its natural resources, parkland, and recreational opportunities for current and future generations." Our parks are full of people who choose to enjoy our natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and small town life. Isn't it then the right of every community resident to be able recreate and gather in public spaces that are clean and healthy? With a town surrounded by such physical beauty, we should be in support of community values and begin to take the necessary steps to reverse Baker County's health trajectories. The policies and environmental change, such as the one under consideration by the City Council, will help do this.

In the next month the city council will hold meetings to discuss tobacco free parks. Voicing support through attendance, emails, or letters will assure them that the community supports decisions that enhance shared spaces in Baker County and healthy environments for our future generations.

If you are ready to quit tobacco please call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or go to www.quitnow.net/oregon/.

Torie Andrews

Tobacco Prevention Education Coordinator

Baker County Health Department