Letters and comments for September 27, 2008

By Observer staff September 27, 2008 11:49 am

Kramer, Addison, Loomis, Hays



People writing election letters are advised to read The Observer’s election letters policy before submitting their letters.

We’ve received several letters that consist of attacks — many unverifiable — on candidates without endorsing anybody. The Observer policy that was established in August and has been reprinted several times states that “Letters attacking one candidate without endorsing the other candidate will not be published. Accusations made against candidates that are not easily verifiable will require documentation.’’

The policy applies to letters about candidates for local, state and national offices.

The World Wide Web has resulted in a very different tone in many of the letters being submitted to newspapers. For example, some of the letters we have received have claimed that Sen. Barack Obama is opposed to the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms. 

Obama has said he supports the Second Amendment. Letter writers are free to take issue with his current statement, question his voting record and voice an opinion in that regard, but reciting undocumented information that is being circulated on the web is not acceptable. Another example are the accusations that Obama is a Muslim.

The same policy holds true for people who oppose Sen. John McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin. Rumors and e-mails abound, such as those about the books Palin allegedly had banned in Wasilla, Alaska, but they won’t be recited in letters published in The Observer. The lengthy banned book list, by the way, was de-bunked. 

In 2000, John McCain himself was the victim of a malicious rumor that was circulated during his campaign for the Republican nomination for president.

The web is ripe with misleading and unverifiable information. Web sites and

e-mails are not held to the same standards that apply in newspapers.

Information about Obama’s stand on guns, accusations being made against Palin, or the validity of campaign ads is available online at www.factcheck.org.

The Observer wants to offer a forum for readers, but not a web-style free-for-all where anything goes. The letters column is a place where readers can voice their opinions on candidates and offer their endorsements.

When submitting a letter to the editor, state your opinion about candidates, but please don’t try to use The Observer’s letters column for spreading misleading and unsubstantiated accusations.

– Ted Kramer


First, I’d like to express nothing but appreciation to the Baker City Herald and The Observer for the recent coverage of the national Travel Mangement Plan as it is being implemented in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. The opinion from the editorial board at the Herald may differ somewhat from my own but, differing opinions are fine. The Travel Mangament Plan is a very important topic, and especially so in this region of Northeastern Oregon and we should all be discussing this topic among each other.

As I read the editorial, I noticed one point of misinterpretation that needs clarification. The editorial mentions that I believe that the county could have some sort of veto power over the decisions made by the Forest Service, and I never said that nor do I think that is true. That would imply that I think the county government has supremacy over the federal government, and this is not true.

The point I was trying to make is that the county should retain full status as a governmental entity and work with the Forest Service government throughout this Travel Mangement Plan in the local forest lands.

The current agreement with the Forest Service and the five counties of northeastern Oregon has all five counties consolidated into a single entity and that single entity has accepted the designation to the status of “cooperating agency” under the lead of the Forest Service, for the expected two-year duration and implementation of the Travel Management Plan on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

The county governments are not required to accept the lowered status to that of an agency. The counties need to first retain their independence and governmental status and then enter into a relationship of coordination with the Forest Service, working government to government, just as Congress intended. (see 43 USC 1712 for starters).

Brian Addison

Baker City

The Observer frequently publishes articles relating to cougars. Regardless of the primary topic of the article, it seems that somewhere in every one of those articles there is a paragraph saying something like “cougar populations have soared since the ban on hunting with dogs in 1994.”

Until your article in the Sept. 18 edition, these articles have not put this assertion into context, which makes it seem that The Observer is promoting a political agenda in its news stories.

In this recent article, it is mentioned that the bounty on cougars ended in 1967 at which time there were only 214 cougars in the state. By 1994, the population was 3,114, a 14-fold increase in the number of cougars in Oregon during that 27-year period. Today it is 14 years after the ban and the population is about 6,000 cougars, not even a two-fold increase in their numbers. In other words, the growth rate in the population of cougars has actually lessened since the 1994 ban on hunting with dogs.

There is more complexity to cougar population dynamics than I’m presenting here, but when The Observer repeatedly publishes half-truths that feed the public’s misconception that the only reason that cougar population is increasing is because of the 1994 ban on hunting cougars with dogs, they are doing a disservice to the community and they are compromising their journalistic integrity.

People should feel honored when they have a cougar encounter. Sure, it’s scary, but if cougars were really set on making a meal out of you, there would be a lot more cougar attacks than there are. My research indicates that there has never been a cougar fatality in Oregon. We are blessed to live in an area with an abundance of cougars and other wildlife.

Courtney Loomis


Self-anointed “candidate of change’’ Barack Obama has earned the support of world anti-gun, Hungarian-born billionaire socialist George Soros, who has his vast fortune to bankroll gun control schemes around the globe and has spent millions financially backing Obama since his U.S. Senate run.

Obama has voted for all gun control legislation that he has had a chance to vote on. He supported the Washington, D.C., gun ban before he took a different stand after the Supreme Court ruling. Washington, D.C., became the murder capital of the country. Only criminals had guns, which were smuggled in. Citizens were left defenseless. Criminals commit gun crimes, not law-abiding citizens.

Then there is the far left media in Obama’s corner, helping to push his agenda by claiming he is for Second Amendment rights. In my opinion nothing is further from the truth.

Vote for John McCain.

John Hays

La Grande

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