Letters to the Editor for the week of Sept. 25-29

September 28, 2006 11:00 pm

Another Baker transplant story

To the editor:

I have read with interest the donor stories this past week in the Herald.

I want to share a heartwarming message concerning a former Baker resident. ( I have her consent.)

Elizabeth Cavallo Burroway lived here, graduated from Baker High in 1942, worked for the local phone company, moved away, and returns intermittently for visits.

In recent years she has lived in Reno, Nev.

Three and half years ago, when she went on dialysis, her name was placed on a transplant list in San Francisco. "Liz," as she is known, continued her positive attitude that someday she would be the recipient of a new kidney.

That day arrived this month, on Sept 4, 2006.

"Liz" received in San Francisco, not one kidney, but a double transplant!

She is home in Reno now, doing well. Her husband, Stan, monitors the 12 medications she takes presently.

For anyone who would like to forward a cheer card or get-well wishes, they may obtain her address by calling this Baker City number: 523-2851.

Phyllis Badgley

Baker City

A peculiar aroma

To the editor:

Having just returned from pure air in Montana, I noticed a peculiar aroma as I approached our fair city. My wife explained to me that the smell was emanating from the vicinity of the Courthouse and was caused by something going on at the Mountain Valley Mental Health group with everyone involved, including board members, refusing to tell our Baker County Commissioners or us taxpayers anything about it. These folks should stop their stonewalling and do their very best to clear the air before this causes us all to become mentally ill.

Carl Kostol

Baker City

I closed cafe of my own free will

To the editor:

I want everyone to know that I closed the Parkway Cafe of my own free will. The city did not shut me down. The city has done nothing besides its "job," but sometimes I think it takes its job too far. (With the help of many "concerned" citizens who stick their noses into other people's business). It's hard to go through every day feeling like a bug under a microscope. I also feel new and existing businesses should be treated equally as far as following the rules. If things are "unsafe" or "necessary" for a new business, then the older buildings should have to comply also whenever possible. I also want to note that I think very highly of Chris Ruddell. He has been more than fair to us.

I went to the city when I first thought about opening a business. My problem started with going to the wrong person. His answer to my question of "What do I do to have a cafe with living quarters?" was "Nothing, just open up." I thought that was too good to be true and guess what! After opening, the nightmares began.

It has been one thing after another, adding up to countless hours and dollars that we were not prepared for. The last straw was when a customer (I know who you are) drove past our private parking sign, ate at our cafe and then turned me in to the city for "letting" him park there, which resulted in me getting a $500 fine. Silly me, I thought the people who parked illegally were supposed to receive the fine.

There are too many reasons to list as to why I closed up. I just went into this thinking, "When it ceases to be fun, I will quit." Thanks to many things, the fun ended and so did my dream. I am keeping my options open so maybe you will see me again this spring. Until then I want to thank my loyal customers (who are more like friends). I miss you.

Deb DeMastus

Baker City

Put regular city citizens on boards

To the editor:

I hope when the city council meets tonight, that it establishes criteria for filling new board members to the Baker City review board. By name the implication would be that it should be filled by property owners or residents within the city limits. Not Baker County or Malheur County residents. Secondly, preferential seating should be given to someone who does not derive an income from the purchasing of building permits. This would alleviate the appearance of any quid pro quo.

A town with the population of Baker should field some qualified candidates with common sense. You don't need a four-handicap to be on the golf board nor an airline transport rating to be on the airport commission. Anything less than this will probably be appealable grounds when the Eltrym case goes to trial.

Paul Dolan

Baker City

Remodel all of the schools for less

To the editor:

On Jan. 31, 2006, we were told a preliminary figure of $10.5 million would build a new middle school for $9.5 million and $1 million to fund energy-saving improvements at the district's elementary schools. I believe this was the first mention of doing any work on the elementary schools.

The 2005 Facilities Analysis by Gowland, Johanson and Zimmerman architects on page 27 under Project Summary states, "The following cost analysis reflect the changes that would need to be made in efforts to make both schools function for the next 50 years." The cost for the Helen M. Stack Building is $2,674,800 and for the Central Building $4,409,540 for a total of $7,084,340. The Project Scope on page one states, "The premise behind this study is to review the Helen M. Stack and the Central School Buildings. This study reviews the Architectural, Structural, Mechanical and Electrical deficiencies and the costs associated with each to bring these buildings up to current standards and to prepare each to serve as an educational facility for a minimum of 50 years."

The bond measure that will be on the ballot in November is for $19.8 million, $18.8 million for a new middle school on the far north end of Baker City and $1 million for work on the elementary schools and the high school. The recent study done by the same firm in Payette on the elementary schools states they will need $8 million in the next 20 years. I doubt this will be done out of cash flow as it has not been done in the past 20 years on existing buildings.

This administration (superintendent, school board and some of the task force members, not all) are asking the taxpayers for $18.8 million to build a new middle school. The cost to renovate the two existing historic buildings is $7,084,540, according to the 2005 Facilities Analysis. This is a whopping difference of $11,715,660. For that amount of money or less we could very likely totally renovate all of our elementary schools for another 50 years of service.

I strongly believe the taxpayers of Baker School District 5J will vote this measure down in a very emphatic way.

We need to regroup and do the right thing for our schoolchildren and taxpayers. The voters will support a sensible, well-thought-out program.

John Burgess

Baker City

Stonewalling public

To the editor:

The Board of Directors of Mountain Valley Mental Health Programs Inc. stonewalled its employees when they came to it urging that it do something about Director Tim Mahoney. And now the Board is stonewalling citizens who are questioning its decision to retain Mahoney at the cost of losing the majority of its most experienced and qualified staff, a staff that worked successfully for many years with some of our community's most vulnerable citizens.

I tried to find out how the administrative structure of MV could possibly have let that happen. So I called up Board Chair Dr. Larry Levinger and asked if I could see MV's policy manual to find out what guidelines it contains for dealing with employee-management relations. (I had heard from former employees that such a manual exists, that it requires employees to acknowledge in writing having read it, yet employees have neither been issued a policy manual nor asked to sign a statement saying they've read it.) He informed me very emphatically that MV is a private, non-profit corporation and, therefore, doesn't have to, and will not, share anything with the public.

While I agreed with him that MV is not required to let the public see its policy manual, I expressed the opinion that, since 97 percent of its funding comes from tax dollars, MV should be more open to public scrutiny. He let me know in no uncertain term that he was not sympathetic to my suggestion.

I asked Levinger if I could walk the five blocks from my home to the MV office and see MV's application to the Department of Human Services to build and operate in Baker City a 16-bed secure mental health facility. In spite of the fact that the application is now a public document, he denied my request saying, if I wanted to see the application, I could get it from the DHS office in Salem.

I now have an inkling of understanding about why many of MV's employees in the last few months have felt impelled to leave MV's employ rather than continue working there.

Gary Dielman

Baker City

Voisin for House

To the editor:

We really need to change the faces in the Republican-led do-nothing congress. Their smug opinion that to get our votes they only need to endorse whatever our sadly-inept-but-arrogant president proposes has worn thin. Greg Walden is a typical example of a congressman who has taken the voters for granted far too long. He shares responsibility for the debacle in Iraq, the obscene federal deficit, and the many other ills the administration has foisted upon us. It is time for him to go.

Carol Voisin is a bright, articulate bundle of energy who will be a breath of fresh air in the House. She will not be a rubber stamp for anyone.

Bruce McMillan

Baker City