Officials haven’t proved value in paying Greg Smith

Recently the Vale, Oregon-based newspaper the Malheur Enterprise published an exhaustive piece of investigative journalism on how Greg Smith, a representative in the Oregon Legislature, has convinced many municipalities in Oregon to spend millions of dollars hiring his economic development company. How can one man and one staff member possibly serve so many masters at one time? Apparently our local officials haven’t even asked themselves the question.

For several years Baker County has been awarding a $96,000-per-year contract to Greg Smith for economic development. According to the Baker City Herald (6-12-2019), County Commissioner Bill Harvey said “he doesn’t think that’s an excessive cost given Smith’s accomplishments.”

Just what are those accomplishments? Harvey cites Smith’s efforts to “encourage” the Safeway-Albertson’s corporation to reopen the Albertson’s grocery store. Harvey also gives Smith credit for the opening of the new Grocery Outlet store.

The problem with such assertions is that Harvey offers no evidence that the reopening of Albertson’s and the opening of Grocery Outlet would not have happened without Smith’s efforts.

It seems to me that the only way to prove that Smith has earned his $96,000-per-year contracts is for CEOs to say that without Smith’s involvement that their businesses would not have located in Baker City.

County Commissioner Bruce Nichols is quoted in the Herald saying that economic developers can’t be expected to “make someone want to move to Baker County.” Nichols believes it’s not always possible to determine how much credit to give to an economic developer. “There’s a lot of money thrown at a problem that doesn’t always show much in results,” Nichols told the Herald.

If you can’t prove that Smith is earning $96,000 per year, then why have our County and City officials for several years been so cavalierly “throwing money” at him?

County Commissioner Mark Bennett told the Herald that local business owners have told him that money would be better spend creating a workforce capable of filling jobs. I agree.

Gary Dielman

Baker City

Idaho Power skews data to back unneeded B2H

This is a response to Mitch Colburn’s June 7 Letter to the Editor:

Dear Mitch, thank you for your opinion reminding us all here in Baker County how grateful we should be not only to Idaho Power but having you as their spokesman. I read your editorial and between your lines and realized how desperate you are cleverly seeking both a new pair of glasses and a new job, letting us know how frantic things have got at Idaho Power. Please if you need new glasses I’ll be happy to pay for a new pair so you can replace those horribly scratched pair of rose-colored ones you keep judging us through.

Growth, you claim, has come to the Northwest but please don’t broad brush us into your assessment. Most of us here in Baker City and County do not subscribe to your carcinogenic idea of growth. I’m worried, Mitch, that you are doing your job so well that, thanks to your misinformation, the Power Line might actually go through our county. Should this happen, you’ll be out of work. But don’t worry, you can move here. There’ll be plenty of work and new places to live. Consider your options:

• Job 1: Spokesperson for the perils of Electromagnetic fields.

Since the project will devalue property under the wires, building sites will be dirt cheap. You won’t even have to leave your house to go to work. From there you can become a spokesperson for people who suffer from EMF exposure from powerlines forced upon their property and the effects the EMFs will have on them. You can explain to them how Oregon Statute 469.480 requires a committee to report on the adverse effects the EMFs powerlines cause. Who presently knows better than you, Mitch, why Idaho Power thinks they can ignore this law. You’d be a shoo-in for the position.

• Job 2: School Presentations.

Would require you to travel to schools and demonstrate Corona effects, the dangers of transmissions noises and the benefits of why a company such as Idaho Power would want to fudge on just how loud transmission lines can be.

• Job 3: Become a writer.

Your next title? “Book Cooking: My Favorite Recipes.” Explain how to skewer data, like averaging numbers to falsely state or bend your case. Show how to be right every time by conducting your own “in-depth” studies, funding them and working backwards from your targeted results. You could even demonstrate your fact that, “Most towers would be about half as tall as a typical wind tower.” Well, Mitch that’s interesting but not too helpful. I GoogIed it and the average is 328 feet. Half that is 164 feet, not a height I would want to jump from, but you can Mitch. It would be a great promotion stunt. It should be a best seller.

• Job 4: Project manager.

Digging out, moving and relocating entire Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in front of the power line route that currently places power lines in front of and in plain view of Center’s current location. Person filling position will appreciate how important the Center is to both this nation’s heritage and a major factor in Baker’s City’s economic well-being.

Which, Mitch, brings up another point. The Interpretive Center. Please explain to me how Idaho Power can be so arrogant as to run the power lines in front of the Center? This route is not about Idaho Power. The Center wasn’t built to showcase your power lines and how they will adversely affect a small community. How can you straight-faced claim that this power line will expand local businesses and sprout new ones when, by running lines in front of the Center will squelch people’s desire to visit and spend money in the area. You’re telling me that you’re willing to crush an established tourist industry and merely say that by having power lines running through this county — with no substation — will somehow create new industry is incredulous. Why have you not been hit by a flying pig?

You state it is Idaho Power’s position to take this job on. Who asked IP to do it? No one, of course, just like no one asked you to take your job on other than yourself because it bettered your financial standing. Ditto that for Idaho Power. Does Idaho Power take credit for the irresponsible growths of the Treasure and Magic Valleys. Don’t you realize that by combining the two you have created the “Tragic Valley?” We here in Baker don’t want or need the chaotic world that Idaho Power and you, Mitch, are intent on creating here in Baker Valley.

Send B2H B2H.

Whit Deschner lives in Baker City.