Letters to the Editor for April 23, 2014

Written by Baker City Herald readers April 23, 2014 08:09 am

Bennett is a proven, capable county commissioner

Incumbent Mark Bennett has proven to be a very capable and effective Baker County Commissioner. Mark and his wife, Patti, operate a cattle ranch in the Unity area.  

He was appointed to fill the commissioner vacancy created when Carl Stiff resigned due to health reasons. Mark has in the past been appointed to a number of important positions in the Baker County government. He has held the position of director of the Baker County Planning Commission, manager of the Emergency Operations, lead representative for Baker County for the location of the Boardman to Hemingway electrical power line, interim city manager for Unity, lead member of the Natural Resource Advisory Commission. The commission must know and understand how to deal with the various federal and state agencies that are present in Baker County.

Mark has gained extensive knowledge and understanding through contact with these agencies. Mark has successfully carried out the duties of the positions he has held.  

I first met Mark 22 years ago. We worked as deputies at the Baker County Sheriff’s Office for eight years. I found him to be an honest, capable, and dedicated individual. Mark has the ability to remain calm in very stressful situations, and is determined to solve difficult problems in a fair and impartial manner. Mark believes that the people of Baker County know best how to manage the land and resources of the county.

I do not believe that you will find anyone more capable of carrying out the duties of Baker County Commissioner than Mark Bennett. I would encourage you to vote for him in this upcoming election.  

Amos Rasmussen

Baker City

Herald stacks deck against Harvey with editorial before ‘neutral’ forum

The Republican forum last week had all Republican candidates vying for two Commissioner positions. Our partisanship was very transparent. The Republican Committee has not endorsed any candidate prior to the forum, and won’t prior to the primary election. The committee cannot endorse one Republican candidate over another Republican in a primary. It’s against our bylaws to do so.

The AAUW and Baker City Herald-sponsored forum has been promoted as a neutral forum. The Baker City Herald just this past week endorsed Fred Warner. This action seems to be putting Bill Harvey at a distinct disadvantage going into this so-called neutral forum with one of the sponsors making a public endorsement a week prior to their event. This was a very unprofessional decision on the part of the editorial board of the Baker City Herald. If they were a governmental agency, this would be a definite conflict of interest issue under Oregon statute; instead it’s just small town politics as usual.

Suzan Ellis Jones

Bridgeport

Time for a change in county government: Elect Bill Harvey

Isn’t it time for a change in county government? Chair of the County Commission that is. At the national and state levels we, the people, have learned that top positions of authority should not be “professionalized.” We have wisely, therefore, limited the number of terms that an official can serve consecutively in these important positions to two, for instance president of the United States and governor of Oregon. Mr. Warner has now had three terms and is running for his fourth. Winning this election would certainly qualify Mr. Warner as a professional politician.  

It is fortunate that we have a man with outstanding qualifications who is a willing replacement to give Mr. Warner a well-deserved rest.  Bill Harvey is a successful professional contractor who is a long-term resident of Baker County and has served on many official public assignments. His willingness to set a successful business aside for the benefit of our community is a true measure of Mr. Harvey’s sincerity. Mr. Harvey is well versed on both the U.S. Constitution and the Oregon Constitution and understands that they are the basis for governmental decisions.

In a business situation, and this truly is, the voting public would serve as the board of directors and the commission candidates as potential company president. Competent members of the board would search for a president they believe would best serve the company under the current circumstances. Personal friendships, family ties, party affiliations etc. would not compete with company success in the selection process.  If we voters will follow this simple procedure we will serve our county well now and in the future.

Jasper Coombes

Haines

Fred Warner deserves to be re-elected

Fred Warner Jr. deserves to be re-elected! He is knowledgeable, and understands the complex issues facing Baker County.

Warner’s background heritage of several generations gives him insight to make intelligent decisions that influence current Baker County problems.

Fred has demonstrated competence, fairness and leadership extraordinaire.

I recommend your vote that will enable Fred to continue fine service to Baker County. Our future can “win with Warner!”

Phyllis Badgley

Baker City

Vote against Warner, don’t let Democrats hijack Republican primary

I find it very interesting that the Baker County Democrat Party Chair is supporting Fred Warner, but then again I’m not surprised. It’s important to understand that Marshall McComb is associated with Occupy Wall Street Movement, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Act Blue, which has raised more than $430 million USD for Democratic candidates at various levels of politics, making it the largest single source of funds in United States politics. Below are some of McComb values from his website at www.progressivevalues.us.

“The property rights argument wears thin when one sees some of our fellow citizens going hungry.”

 “Progressive taxation is fair: Those who benefit most from the common wealth should pay the most to sustain it.”

“We can support the energy and spirit of the “Occupy” Movement for economic and social justice, and the Contract for the American Dream cobbled together by the “Rebuild the Dream” coalition headed by Van Jones.”

“We can support President Obama and other leaders in achieving some measure of economic justice”

Are these the same values of Fred Warner? Is that why Fred listened to McComb and Dielman and watered down the GOP Second Amendment resolution to protect only hunting rifles?

Is that why McComb distributed yard signs and registration forms in my neighborhood? Why does the Baker County Democrat Chairman support Fred Warner? Could it be they both endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2008, or they both support Democrat Senator Ron Wyden? Could it be that Fred Warner was a registered Democrat last year and now a Republican? Is McComb going to join with the already 150-plus Democrats in Baker in temporarily registering to Republican?  Remember when you get your ballot who is trying to hijack this “Republican” primary and who they are supporting. Send a message to the Democrat Chair: Vote Against Fred Warner.

Bobbie Danser

Baker City

If county wants control of land, it needs to change law or go to court

Some of the candidates for Baker County Commissioner claim they will take control of federal land in Baker County. Yet not one candidate has proposed a legal way to accomplish such a takeover. That’s because, I believe, Baker County Commissioners and Sheriff have no veto power over how USFS and BLM administer federal lands.  

All the law makes the feds do is give notice of changes contemplated, request written opinions, and require meetings where the public can voice opinions. Also, the feds are required to “coordinate” with local officials. But coordination just means touch base with. It does not confer veto power.

Getting 6,000 signatures in opposition to closure of Forest Service roads, for example, can put a lot of pressure on the feds. But Congress has given the final decision to the Forest Service to decide what is in the best interest of the nation.

My opinion is that the only way our local administrators can affect national policy is to work through our representatives and senators in Congress to introduce legislation to change the laws, the most egregious of which is the lack of stable payments to counties in lieu of taxes. 

Oh, yes. One other way is for Baker County to file a lawsuit in federal court, as Utah has done. Excluded is at the point of a gun, the Nevada way.

If candidates for Baker County Commission have other specific ways to get the feds to do what we want, I’d sure like to hear them. 

Gary Dielman

Baker City

Mark Bennett has been a strong voice standing up for Baker County citizens

As long as I have known Mark Bennett, he has always been a strong supporter of Baker County’s citizens, not just the city residents, but the rural population too.

As planning director, Mark was the voice of reason when Planning Commission members were not well-informed, especially about proposed mining operations. Mark stood up for my husband and me in a zoning issue with the state, and has supported responsible land use decisions, and has worked hard on the Idaho Power powerline that BLM opposes because of sage grouse habitat.

As a rancher in Burnt River, Mark understands what the overreaching policies of the BLM and Forest Service have done to the ranching and logging industries. I have long admired his ability to deal with the bureaucrats in a positive and productive manner. Mark is one of the few people I know who takes the time to read, and can actually comprehend, the 1,000-plus pages of the government’s EIS documents. Mark’s understanding and input has been invaluable for those of us who sit on the Baker County Natural Resources Advisory Committee. We have worked through the BLM RMP, sage grouse plan, and Forest Service Travel Management Plan, Snow Basin timber sale and are currently working on the Blue Mountain Forest Plan revision. Mark, acting in his position as a commissioner, has worked tirelessly to curtail the Forest Service and BLM road closures. He is a strong supporter of Baker County’s position that R.S. 2477 roads that predate the Forest Service and BLM, are county roads and must remain open for the public.

Mark has consistently supported all Baker County resource users. Ranchers, farmers, loggers, miners and recreationists who live in Baker County or the surrounding areas, spend their money at Baker County businesses. The more successful the resource users are, the more successful Baker County businesses are.

 I urge everyone who cares about Baker County to vote for Mark Bennett. He is a strong leader, and a voice of reason for  Baker County’s citizens.

Jan Alexander

Unity

Warner has failed to use coordination, but Harvey will get the job done

I was on the Baker County Natural Resources Advisory Council (NRAC) when outgoing commissioner Brian Cole introduced Fred Warner to us; that was about 11 years ago.

What is NRAC? It is a council of resource users (ranchers, miners, loggers and recreational people) appointed by and voted on by our county commissioners, and here is why we have an NRAC:

It’s called coordination. The federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) specifically provides that the Secretary of the Interior “shall” coordinate land use inventory, planning and management activities with the land use planning and management program of other federal departments, agencies and of state and local governments within which these lands are located; that statute is 43 USC 1712(c)(9).

FLPMA further provides that if after coordinated planning a federal plan such as the Travel Management Plan, sage grouse and the Blue Mountain Forest Plan revision is inconsistent with the local county plan the Secretary “shall” assist in resolving the inconsistencies. The statute also provides that the Secretary must assure that the federal plan is consistent with state and local plans to the maximum extent possible.

Now folks, this is is called coordination, not cooperation and collaborations. Warner has had 11 years to really coordinate; Bill Harvey will get coordination done in six months or less.

If we are going to have free access to our public lands and use our natural resources to their fullest potential, then we will have to require coordination.

Ed Hardt

Baker City

Current county commission is doing well; no need to make changes

The background of the candidates running for Baker County Commissioner seats in our upcoming election should be given careful consideration. I know most of the candidates and I have at least spoken with all of them before. I have no doubt that each candidate possesses the necessary skills to manage Baker County government effectively and in a different time I would have no problem voting for any of them.

However, change for the sake of change generally does not turn out too well. The saying “if it’s not broke then don’t fix it” has always held true more often than not. Baker County government has been functioning pretty well and I don’t see any need for fixing something that is running smoothly. 

The driver of our economy has been agriculture throughout Baker County’s history. All the current commissioners have strong agriculture backgrounds and a lifetime of experience dealing with federal and state entities concerning agriculture as well as private and public property rights.

With the encroachments by federal and state authorities against our individual and public rights, increasing restrictions on access and use of our public lands, on private and public water rights, on forest  lands and timber harvesting, livestock grazing and even private land use it is evident that we need a Baker County Commission with strong agricultural backgrounds. Our Eastern Oregon economy has been attacked and devastated by over-restrictive environmental regulations. The constant assaults have all but eliminated entire industries in Eastern Oregon and caused major changes in demographics of our population creating more unneeded stress for our school system and social services.  

The current commissioners are all strong supporters of the small communities in Baker County. For example, Mark Bennett lives just outside Unity, and he is very active in helping that community handle problems all Eastern Oregon small communities have with their water, sewer and solid waste needs. The small cites in our county need commissioners that genuinely understand the issues our small cities have dealing with state and federal authorities.

Bruce Nichols

Baker City