Residents need to get involved with city business

With all the political turmoil we have seen of late and with Baker City facing serious financial difficulty I felt compelled to run for city council. The people have spoken and I did not make the cut. Oh well. That being said I want to thank all of you who favored me with your vote. I appreciate your support.

Though not gaining a seat in this election I came to realize how many of you share my concerns for the problems facing us as a community. January opens with a new council. Perhaps we can aid them in their responsible position. Rather than be frustrated by decisions made by the council, attend some of the meetings. If you have knowledge of an agenda item your voice is important. Unfortunately many councilors were known for not reading their packets. These contain information related to the topics facing a vote at the forthcoming meeting. It is hard to make an informed decision when one turns a blind eye to the details.

An initial question for our new councilors might be, “How many have read and understand the city charter?” This is the guiding document for the operation of the city. Should you want to read this document I encourage you to visit or call the city manager’s office for a copy. If you go to the city web page and click on the button labeled “Municipal Code” you will see a new page. The top item on the left is “>Charter”. There you can download and print the document.

Somewhere over time an important concept was lost and this is it — the city is run by you. The council is voted in to protect and advance your interests. They direct the city manager and city staff in all aspects of city operation based on information provided by our city employees. If the councilors feel they have not received adequate information regarding a proposed action they should defer making a decision. Disturbingly, over the years the staff directs and the council accepts. Any time there is a pattern of unanimous passage of items, beware!

Rick Rienks

Baker City

McLeod-Skinner thanks supporters, urges action

I’ve spent this past week immersed in family and reflection.

I am so grateful to my family — for the sacrifices they made so I could pursue this vision of bringing people together around our shared values. We’ve spent much of the past week catching up and re-connecting — going to parks, watching movies, talking, and laughing.

I am grateful to my amazing team — who worked so hard to accomplish our goal of bringing people together for our common purpose. I often said I was just one member of a remarkable group. Thanks to those who are working on wrapping up this campaign and debriefing on the lessons learned.

My thanks to all of you who have supported us and participated in some way — believing that we can forge a path forward together and helping to make it possible. I am grateful to each and every one of you.

Our vision of bringing people together, across the political divide, endures. We can work together to build healthier and strong communities. We have built an infrastructure to bridge the divide.

Please stay engaged.

I will continue our efforts with two areas of focus:

1) Continuing to connect people and communities — bringing people together around issues impacting our communities; and

2) Holding government accountable — raising key issues, monitoring voting patterns, and promoting campaign finance reform.

I ask for your help with this work. It sets the stage not just to win elections but, importantly, to rebuild trust. Government can be a force for good in our lives.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner


Power lines and the potential for catastrophic wildfires

Besides being uninvited and running their high voltage powerlines through Baker Valley (and the rest of Eastern Oregon) scarring not only the viewscape of the BLM’s Oregon Trail Interpretive Center but desecrating our national heritage by destroying parts of the trail itself, Idaho Power still insists on railroading their project through our valley, giving us nada, not even a substation. There are plenty of other reasons to tell Idaho Power to go take a hike but two words concerning this project should be of worry: Wildfire and Paradise.

Although the cause of the Paradise apocalypse is still under investigation all signs indicate that this is yet another fire started by Pacific Gas and Electric and even if PG&E didn’t start it California officials finger 17 out of 21 major fires on PG&E in Northern California last year. Most of the fires started due to poor maintenance of power poles and failure to trim vegetation around power lines. PG&E is not Idaho Power and, thank God, Baker is not in Northern California but under the right conditions Baker also could also be rendered into smoking ash piles.

Any wildfire originating from Idaho Power’s negligence — and there will be negligence — Idaho Power’s proposed pass-the-buck plan is to not only lay the burden on local fire districts to fight IP’s fires but landowners may be on the hook for fires caused by transmission lines crossing their land. Baker County requested that Idaho Power pay for a specialized unit and equipment to respond to fires caused along this transmission line; however, Idaho Power has refused this request. Idaho Power insists they are a responsible corporation but if we are supposed to trust their integrity that our community will not get burned down because of their promises, then why aren’t they offering our community fire protection? Remember the fish ladders Idaho Power was supposed to put in on their dams on the Snake? Half a century later the ladders still have not been installed. What makes people think Idaho Power will protect us from wildfires they start when their track record is one of repeated deceit?

Idaho Power only answers to its stockholders, not to a community that they could care less about and annihilate simply because of their arrogance and a limitless hankering for profits. Idaho Power, take your powerlines, go back to Idaho and torch your own nest.

Whit Deschner

Baker City

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