School bond: Must we always build something new?

It seems ironic that Irv and Susan Townsend’s letter of Aug. 27 (“Small savings can cover your share of bond”) appears next to an editorial (“State squanders tax dollars.”) I feel like I already pay more than my fair share of taxes to the state of Oregon. I mistakenly thought my contributions, along with every other residents’, were substantial enough to cover our public school needs — even without those magical “lottery dollars.”

I was discussing this bond issue with a good friend, she made the point that when she was growing up and wanted something bad enough she would find a way to save up, cut out unnecessary expenditures, take on extra jobs, find ways to “earn” more ... attempting to sneak into Grandma’s cookie jar never crossed her mind. Proposing to add $500, or more, to my already healthy property tax bill is more than a little maddening no matter how you choose to sugarcoat it, not even if you break it down to pennies per minute. Do we live in such a disposable society that it is now cheaper to build brand new schools rather than fix or maintain what we have? If you haven’t noticed Baker City is hardly a cheap place to live. Making it any less desirable with even higher property taxes seems counterproductive to encouraging growth. When did it become my job to “find additional dollars?” Why do I need to make changes in my lifestyle? And please save the overused guilt trip, “But what about the the kids? — it is quickly losing its impact. Children are, if anything, resilient. I recall navigating between modular classrooms and 50-year-old hallways and was still educated without being traumatized. Meanwhile I am watching two people breathe new life into a decades old school. Not once have they asked me for money. Instead they are using available resources, grants, fundraisers, contributions, community participation, volunteers and other “old school” methods. Strange concept, huh?

I have always been open to giving but “fiscal responsibility” does not equal reaching into my pockets whenever a perceived need arises. Peace to all!

Mike Meyer

Baker City

McLeod-Skinner a better choice than Walden

Republican advisor David Winston’s recent op-ed called attention to the yawning gap that now exists between the needs of American workers and retirees vs. the understanding and mindset of those in power (“Elites failing to listen to citizens,” Sept. 3).

This immediately brings to mind our U.S. representative.

I believe that Rep. Greg Walden, chair of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, has a moral obligation to lead in answering our country’s most pressing needs: relief from global warming, relief from widespread poverty, and relief from incredibly expensive healthcare. Instead, he obediently follows the dictates of his political bigwigs, remaining either silent on or minimizing these key issues, thus betraying us by withholding the promise of his powerful committee.

As the op-ed pointed out, there are millions of frustrated and despondent people living paycheck to paycheck. In Baker County, 42 percent of working families cannot make ends meet.

I invite my fellow readers to go beyond Rep. Walden’s glib and superficial words on issues of most importance to us. Please take a look at all he’s ignoring, like the causes and consequences of global warming, 40 years of stagnant wages and growing inequality, and the millions who now live without health coverage.

And then take a look at his outrageous, budget-busting tax cut for the already wealthy.

In vibrant contrast, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, his opponent in the November election, has traveled 35,000 miles around the 2nd Congressional District over the past 14 months, listening to people’s needs and forming meaningful responses ... which Walden now refuses to debate.

Please look up Jamie on Facebook and on the internet. I bet you will conclude, as I have, that we urgently need to replace Walden with this empathetic, energetic, intelligent woman, who places top priority on the vital issues that confront us.

Marshall McComb

Baker City