Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Recall wouldn't improve our thriving school district

Anyone who reads the local paper knows how well the Baker School District is doing over the past few months. This performance is no accident. Parents, teachers, administrators, local businesses, members of the public and the school board have all had a role to play over the years. It's up to each voter to decide what recalling board members would accomplish. I personally believe better performance is unlikely to be an outcome of a recall. Instead, a crippled board and reduced performance is more likely.

We already have an election in May that allows voters to make direct decisions about makeup of the school board. Unless the three remaining board members can come to unanimous agreement, the vacancies of Mark Henderson and/or Lynn Burroughs will remain open. Additionally, as current vice chair, I will become presiding officer if Lynn Burroughs is recalled and there will not be three votes for Kyle Knight or Jim Longwell to serve as chair. The board could be deadlocked on many serious considerations over the next several months. We are just entering into contract negotiations with the teacher's association. We have another serious budget cycle to address, specifically with a poor projection for Oregon's economy and resulting state funding, as well as the increase in PERS liabilities for retirees and current employees. We are addressing the question of the achievement compact as related to the state's response to a federal waiver from the annual yearly progress process. We have serious business and it shouldn't be sacrificed to salve personal vendettas, which is really at the heart of the recall.

Finally, there is the question of the censure of Kyle Knight. I will not support a reversal of the censure. We need to be able to trust that all board members, for example, can keep confidential negotiations confidential. Voters elected Mr. Knight to productively contribute to board discussions about budgeting, educational policy, instructional strategies and contract negotiation. We hope that retaining Directors Burroughs and Henderson will impress upon Mr. Knight the need for board members to serve only the interests of faculty, staff, students and the community.

Andrew Bryan

Baker City

The author is a member of the Baker 5J School Board.

Knight's censure was a spiteful act, and a mistake

Why was Kyle Knight censured? A few questions you should ask yourself before voting.

Why weren't any charges brought against Knight if he did something illegal?

Why wasn't the district sued if Knight's actions subjected it to so much liability? Maybe the liability was blown out of proportion.

Did he jeopardize the investigation of theft of school funds by informing the public of this? Evidently not.

Why was it so important that the public not be aware of this crime?

What was the true reason that Kyle Knight was censured, and who suggested censuring him after embarrassing the superintendent by not keeping his confidential secret about a theft of school funds?

Why did Lynne Burroughs have to withdraw a wrongful appointment? Was it because it was made the way "we usually do things" in the good ole boy way? Why was there not a disciplinary action for this willful disregard of ethics?

Knight invoked the wrath of Burroughs and Henderson by not going along with their way of usually doing things. Kyle was new to the board and didn't know how things had always been done before.

Was the censure really made in the best interest of our kids and our schools?

Was the censure a spiteful act because he didn't agree with Burroughs and Henderson, and wasn't afraid to speak up?

I have never met Kyle Knight, but I voted for him to represent me on the school board. I have been satisfied with his representation. I believe this censure had nothing to do with any allegedly wrongful acts by Knight, but was purely a spiteful act to punish him for not bowing down to his elders.

Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson have had the opportunity to correct this wrong deed, but have refused to act. It's sad that a recall is the only way to correct this spiteful censure. And that's why I'm voting for the recall of Burroughs and Henderson, and urge you to join me in returning Kyle Knight to his rightful status as a full board member.

Terry Speelman

Baker City

School board is doing great; recall is a disgrace

I spent my career of 34 years as a science teacher at Baker High School. During those years I got to know a lot of school board members of 5J. It has always amazed me how those busy people could take time out of their lives to solve the many problems of 5J. And there is no fiscal reward.

I served on several teacher committees negotiating with the board dealing mostly with teacher salaries. Always I found board members to be friendly, intelligent, and deeply concerned with the education in 5J. I disagreed occasionally, but there was never any rancor from either side. When I left those meetings, it was with the same feelings of respect and admiration toward the board as I had entered the meeting. People who serve on school boards to me are heroes.

I do not know personally either of the two board members up for recall, but the way the schools are doing is evidence that this board is excellent, at least a 3-2 majority is.

In my opinion the problem in this case is Kyle Knight. He claims that his toes were stepped on. No, he stumbled badly.

This recall is a disgrace.

Allan McCullough

Baker City

Kyle Knight has wasted public resources

Noting that the originator of the "no" campaign, Dr. McKim is a longtime taxpayer. So assessing letters to the Baker City Herald I discovered a heavy preponderance of "no" advocates to be longtime taxpayers.

So Kyle Knight proved how easy it is to squander other people's contributions for a personal matter. Bad precedent. The money could have gone toward enabling young minds to deal more effectively with life. With anger at Knight's wastefulness I voted "no."

Betsey McCullough

Baker City

Burroughs, Henderson get credit they don't deserve

I'm tired of seeing Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson get credit they don't deserve. They had nothing to do with Haines having a teacher of the year. The teacher did that! What these two school board directors ARE responsible for are bad business decisions. They increased Walt Wegener's admin office budget by 25 percent. The 5J "technology" budget jumped 125 percent under their watch. Don't even get me started on the fact that they raised six-figure-salaried Wegener's pay, but the classified staff haven't seen a raise in five years. Our kids aren't seeing our tax dollars put to work - not with Burroughs and Henderson agreeing to a benefits insurance policy with premiums more than double what other districts pay. This is bad management pure and simple.

A $10,000 recall is a financial bargain if it means getting these two out of office. Vote "yes."

Shawn Overbay

Baker City

Burroughs, Henderson blame but don't explain

I read last week's letters to the editor with dismay. Barbara Johnson is angry that Kyle Knight didn't accept the blame for trumped up accusations he was never guilty of. Melinda Sherrieb feels it's fine he was "censored," a violation of his civil rights, because she didn't like his comments. Eloise Dielman believes an opinion that opposes hers on this recall is ridiculous. Nice.

The last time I noticed, we live in America where our freedoms are protected by law. And last time I checked, Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson are the ones being recalled for their illegal actions, not Knight. If you read the ballot, you'll see a myriad of legal reasons for their recall. You'll also see that they can't address a single one of those reasons head-on, so they continue to deflect, distract and attack.

The cost to our rights, values and children's education by keeping these two in office is incalculable. The cost of a recall is small by comparison. Preserve our rights and vote "yes."

Cindy Frazier


Exercise our rights and vote 'yes' on 5J recall

It has been suggested recently that the cost of a special election necessitates a "no" vote, specifically regarding the school board recall. I disagree. Recall elections are a part of the democratic process andndash; one of the more direct democratic processes a voter can participate in.

Democracy has never come cheap. Our ancestors fought and died for the privilege to vote our elected officials in, and to vote them out as needed. This is a right that we have and we must exercise it in order to maintain its status as a right. If we allow elected officials who misrepresent those that voted them into office, to continue without reprimand we are not doing our duty as citizens under our democratic system.

Mark Henderson and Lynne Burroughs have not lived up to the expectations of those who voted them on to the school board. I urge a resounding "yes" vote when your ballot arrives.

Jon Burton

Baker City

Questions unanswered; I'm voting 'yes' on recall

The Dielmans' recent letters, along with those of other Burroughs and Henderson supporters, reveal that they don't consider hiding public information from voters to be "malfeasance." They find the opinion of the 1,000 people who signed the recall petitions to be "ridiculous." How arrogant and frankly, frightening. But then, that line of thinking is what made Henderson and Burroughs the subjects of a recall to begin with.

Since Kyle Knight's censure and banishment from district information, all the public has seen from 5J is the puppies-and-rainbows news they've allowed the media to see. I still have questions! Most of us do.

To this day I still don't know how long the theft of our taxpayer dollars continued at 5J. How long did they know before we knew? How much money was taken? How long was the employee kept on administrative leave after she confessed? Did she continue to draw a salary during that leave? Did she get a severance package? Why do dozens of 5J employees believe theft has been an ongoing issue there? Why are the 5J superintendent and finance guy so adamantly against giving Knight access to information and therefore, against the recall? Finally, why was no neutral, outside accountant ever brought in to do an audit?

We should have known these answers months ago. I'm voting "yes" on the recall.

Jacob Payton

Baker City

Avoid political spin and vote 'yes' on recall

It's interesting to see the recent flurry of "no" on the recall letters, so many of which come from those associated with 5J administration or, like the thousands of dollars the anti-recall camp is spending, from outside our area. None of the letters mention the actions Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson are actually being recalled for!

I couldn't care less that Lynne Burroughs directed a good play at the local theater or that she could have retired years ago. I do care that she has spread a message across town and in her ballot statement that she somehow was forced into implementing an illegal censoring of an elected official.

I care very much that she's made all the authors of these support letters believe that Kyle Knight broke the law and she only stepped in to protect the district. Guess what? It's pretty clear that Kyle Knight broke no law to begin with. It's also pretty clear that Burroughs did when she censored him, and Mark Henderson backed her play.

It's not at all surprising to see the same administrators who received a pay increase writing letters to the editor against the recall. The leader of the teachers' union also threw his support against the recall. It's important to note that Mark and Lynne head the labor negations committee - the pieces are falling together.

If you want to avoid the 5J political spin, just get down to brass tacks and read your ballot. Vote "yes" on the recall!

Irene Mack

Baker City

I voted 'yes' on recall with a clean conscience

I've read many letters and comments concerning voting on the recall of Burroughs and Henderson, and I have to say, I would certainly be ashamed if I told, or believed, the lies the "no" campaign supporters were telling. The actions of Burroughs and Henderson should warrant a recall, and with the obvious vote coming up soon, the only vote that makes any sense is a "yes" vote. I already voted that way, and I can sleep well supporting the right side, with a clean conscience.

Todd Arriola

Baker City

Here's hoping animal abusers are punished

Having read the article concerning animal abuse, one would not expect to find this degree of lowlife and cowardice in our town. I, like others, became incensed at this kind of behavior. Having given this some additional thought, I turned it into hope. I hope that those responsible for these crimes against animals are apprehended soon. I hope that the names of those responsible are circulated throughout the community. I hope we know when their court date will be. I hope the courtroom is filled with Baker City citizens. I hope the judge throws the book at these cowards.

And last, I hope the judge sentences these cowards to be with me for 15 minutes.

Norm Doyle

Baker City

I'm voting 'yes' on recall to repair the division

Opponents of the recall such as Donna Landon call the 5J recall effort divisive in their letters. I disagree. Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson created the division in the community when they showed no regard for the voting public. I view the recall as a means to repair that division and move on. To cast aspersions at the recall effort seems to me much like attacking a mother for giving a disobedient child a timeout, or protesting a judge for punishing a criminal. It makes no sense. I can't tell anyone how to vote, but I'm definitely voting "yes" on the recall.

Nancy Clair

Baker City