County commissioners need to represent all constituents

The Baker City Herald newspaper had an article concerning the $1,000 donation for the right-wing group American Stewards of Liberty. I am concerned that the Baker County Commissioners are choosing to accept this money to buy information from this right-wing group. This decision by the Baker County Commission does not represent the diversity of opinion in Baker County. We are not all for the right-wing militia groups.

Some of us support protecting our forests and wildlife here in Baker County. By accepting this money and associating with the American Stewards of Liberty, the Baker County Commission is going outside not just the county of Baker, but the state of Oregon, for right-wing money.

The group American Stewards of Liberty is an organization that works to promote a right-wing, specific, limited agenda for land use. This agenda is similar to the right-wing group American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC, which is “described as an organization that gave corporate interests outsized influence.” Do we want corporations the right to control our issues with wildlife and forests here in Baker County? No, we do not want them to control our issues.

This means of representation by the Baker County commissioners is one of limiting themselves to a specific special interest groups, and not representative of the diverse, and complex citizenry of Baker County.

We appreciate that the Baker County Commissioners, Mr. Bennett and Mr. Kerns, expressed concerns about using county money to buy information from ASL. That is good that they will not use taxpayer money for this issue. Thank you, Bennett and Kerns for supporting all of us here in Baker County.

The Baker County Commissioners must allow the citizens of Baker County to read their comments before they are submitted. The Baker County Commissioners must represent all of us in Baker County. We must all have a voice in this county, not just the right-wing militia groups.

Lee Newman


Flying Confederate flag is a disrespectful gesture

As of late, I have notice several vehicles displaying large American flags alongside of Confederate flags around our town. Nothing wrong with pride in one’s heritage, my great-great-great-grandfather was A.P. Hill. (look him up). I doubt most of these folks have ever lived or ventured into the South.

But flying the battle flag of the Confederacy is akin to one displaying the flag of the Star of David along side the swastika of Nazi Germany.

Values, beliefs and morals are as different as, well, a civil war. Good folk died on both sides for their beliefs, no doubt. But it’s over. The South lost and the Union was preserved. Slaves were freed and we became the United States once again. Our Constitution protects the rights of ALL men. The South disagreed with that Constitution our forefathers penned and seceded from the Union because of their disagreement.

Flying that flag now is like hanging a picture of your ex-wife on the wall and telling your new wife, the ex will rise again.

For God’s sake, let it go, celebrate our free America and our democracy. To do otherwise just demonstrates bigotry and supports that divide and encourages hatred and racism. Celebrate our diversity and freedom as a nation under God. A God who loves and desires a relationship with us all, regardless of our race or nationality.

Thomas Wilcoxson

Baker City

Commissioners need to come clean on $1,000 donation

My letter is in praise of the Panhandle Community Alliance for its recent letter complaining that the Baker County Commission is “not representative of the diverse and complex citizenry of Baker County.”

I’ve been complaining every since Commissioner Bill Harvey took office in January 2015 that he is a “one-agenda” politician. That agenda is to force the federal government to turn over public lands to state and local entities. I have asked Harvey repeatedly, to no avail, for his fiscal plan that would show just how Baker County would pay for management of those public lands.

I have pointed out to commissioners Tim Kerns and Mark Bennett that, since January 2015, they have followed Harvey’s lead as if he has a ring in their noses, when on any motion made at a County Commission meeting, Kerns and Bennett can out-vote Harvey two to one.

On a recent issue that has quite a few Baker County citizens upset, Kerns and Bennett are still in lock step with Harvey. The three of them are refusing to let the light of transparency shine on the deplorable acceptance of a $1,000 donation used to ally Baker County with the radical, out-of-state, anti-government Stewards of Liberty organization.

Citizens want to know where the $1,000 came from. In a May 19 email, Bennett sent a “clarification,” which informed us citizens that the “privately contributed funds” are none of the public’s business.

Oh, really?

And quite a few citizens are tired of election politics that keep many voters from participation in the election of the three Baker County Commissioner positions, the only public officials out of a total of about 19 in this county that are elected on partisan ballots.

A political committee, “Kick Politics Out Of Baker County’s Business,” was formed May 16 to promote Initiative 2016-1 for the Nov. 8 general election. By collecting 427 signatures, the initiative will ask voters to make the three Baker County Commissioner positions non-partisan, so that every registered voter, no matter of what political party, will have a say in who is elected to the Baker County Commission.

Gary Dielman

Baker City

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