Baker City herald. (Baker City, Or.) 1990-current, October 02, 2019, Page 4, Image 4

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Baker City, Oregon
Write a letter
for public
Oregon offi cials can recite all the right things
about transparency and open government. Gov.
Kate Brown used her fi rst speech as governor to talk
about her work to promote transparency and made a
pledge to “strengthen laws to ensure timely release of
public documents.”
But the reality of getting public information can be
far different. The fees charged can be a wall, barring
the public from getting records. Appealing the refusal
of an agency to release records can be challenging for
the public to navigate. And many agencies in Oregon
don’t even track how they handle requests, so the
public doesn’t have reliable information about the
real-world performance of public records laws.
Fixing those problems are, in part, the role of Or-
egon’s public records advocate. And even there, staff
in the governor’s offi ce tried to put their thumb on
the scale. They told Ginger McCall, the state’s public
records advocate, to push Brown’s agenda without
telling anyone that was what she was doing. Un-
fortunately, that can be how transparency works in
Oregon. McCall is stepping down soon in protest.
Oregon’s public records advisory council was
scheduled to consider Tuesday a change in state law
to clarify that the public records advocate position is
supposed to be an independent advocate. The pro-
posal includes phrasing such as the public records
advocate “shall function separately and indepen-
dently from any other state agency.” It would also
give the power to remove the advocate to a vote of the
advisory council, rather than giving any power over
that decision to the governor as the law reads now.
Such changes will not make the regular grievances
against and violations of Oregon’s laws for transpar-
ency and public records go away. Public offi cials are
almost always happy to release information that
makes them look good. But if there is a hint of con-
troversy, the commitment can falter — despite what
any law says.
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Baker City Herald.
Columns, letters and cartoons on this page express the opinions
of the authors and not necessarily that of the Baker City Herald.
Your views
Editorial on 10th Street
striping misses the mark
Dear Jayson, what’s up with your
latest editorial? I don’t always agree
with your comments, but “Streets &
Striping” about proposed changes to
10th Street made me question your
journalistic standards and that was a
fi rst.
Your column states that “Lynette
Perry took to Facebook this week to
survey her constituents,” but she cer-
tainly did not. Her constituents are the
residents of Baker City which include
approximately 10,000 people. Lynette
has 1,015 Facebook friends including
me. This is a fraction of her constitu-
ency and as you mention, “hardly a
scientifi c survey.” In fact, it was not a
survey at all and only her friends could
You say it’s “an effective way for an
elected offi cial to get a sense of public
sentiment,” but one’s Facebook friends
are a limited group and commenters
are even fewer. Despite this small
number, you claim “The response to
Perry’s Facebook posts is compelling ev-
idence that Baker City residents prefer
the current 4-lane confi guration.” What
a stretch! Are we to believe her friends
speak for the public?
You state that asking for comments
on Facebook is “almost certainly more
effective than relying on people to
attend a City Council meeting.” What
do you mean by “more effective?” It is
a lot easier to dash off comments on
Facebook than to think through a re-
sponse, make the effort to attend a City
Council meeting, and publicly state an
You could be right, Jayson, the
majority of residents may not support
changes to 10th Street. Change can
be hard. Drivers generally don’t like
anything that slows them down. And
safety improvements can be costly. But
the job of a City Councilor is to consider
the safety and well-being of all constit-
uents, including those that are disen-
franchised, children, and disabled folks.
What about people who walk and ride
bikes to get to school, work, shopping
and medical appointments? Currently
10th Street is hazardous and unwel-
coming for these constituents and they
probably are not friends on Facebook
with city council members.
Gretchen Stadler
Baker City
Walden needs to face the
facts on Trump’s Ukraine call
It’s diffi cult to admit when you’re
wrong, but many Republicans in Con-
gress are going about it in a round-
about way. Congressman Greg Walden
is one of them. By vehemently deny-
ing that President Trump committed
impeachable offenses, they are really
trying to apologize for impeaching Clin-
ton. How else can these hyper-partisan
people justify their claims?
As a registered Republican, I’m
disappointed in Walden’s nonsensical
statement that there’s no justifi able
reason to impeach Mr. Trump; that
we need to get all the facts. He then
throws out a ridiculous distraction
about former VP Biden. Some critical
thinking would be in order here.
I disliked Clinton and have a low
opinion of Biden, but I’m totally
shocked by the hyper-partisan support
too many elected Republicans show
for our megalomaniac president. The
Biden family’s lack of discretion pales
in comparison to that of Trump and his
use of position to further his family’s
business interests.
Mr. Walden is right on one account:
Trump’s phone conversation with
Ukraine President Zelensky “wasn’t
President Trump’s fi nest moment.”
Trump has few good moments, actu-
ally. This is why countless people in
the White House spend an inordinate
amount of time trying to hide Trump’s
grievous errors. Walden chooses igno-
rance to be able to defend Trump.
Mr. Walden: remember when you
asked Congressman Cooley to resign
because he lied? Well...?
It’s time for honest Republicans to
speak up. Everyone should call out
Walden for his failure to be above board
on this issue. Trump and his hyper-
partisan courtesans are dragging our
country down. Several have spoken
up, including a decorated veteran and
Republican congressman from Illinois
who called Trump’s actions “repug-
I cannot think of much that is less
patriotic than, as Attorney General
Barr and President Trump have done,
to ask foreign countries to spy on our
country’s intelligence agencies.
One has to question whether Mr.
Walden actually reads the news. Say-
ing we must get at the facts and then
totally ignoring them and throwing out
irrelevant distractions is a disservice to
the Oregonians he’s supposed to repre-
sent and the country whose Constitu-
tion he’s supposed to uphold.
Rick Meis
America will surely survive another impeachment
By Doyle McManus
In 1973, as a student journalist, I stood
against the back wall of the ornate Senate
Caucus Room and scribbled notes as the Sen-
ate Watergate Committee held hearings on the
tangled misdeeds of President Nixon.
I listened as John W. Dean, Nixon’s former
counsel, said he had warned of “a cancer on the
In 1999, as a Times reporter, I stood in the
Senate Press Gallery and watched senators sol-
emnly pronounce their verdicts in the impeach-
ment trial of President Clinton, including, on
one count, a carefully choreographed 50-50 tie.
And last week, I watched House Democrats
launch the third formal effort to impeach a
president in the last half century, this time
against President Trump.
No two presidents are alike, of course, and
no two impeachment battles are alike. Nixon
resigned in disgrace in 1974 once it was clear
that he would be impeached by the House
and removed by the Senate. Clinton was
impeached by the House but acquitted in the
Senate, and fi nished his term as a largely
popular fi gure.
The obvious question is whether Trump’s
experience will be more like Nixon’s, ending
his presidency, or like Clinton’s, an ordeal he
turned into a victory of sorts.
Nixon’s offenses were weighty. In August
1974, the House Judiciary Committee ap-
proved three articles of impeachment, includ-
ing one for abuse of power stemming from
his attempts to use the FBI and the Internal
Revenue Service to investigate his political
Clinton’s offenses stemmed from his ex-
tramarital affair with a former White House
intern and his false denials under oath. The
principal charge was perjury.
In both cases, impeachment began as a
partisan affair — Democrats investigating
Nixon, Republicans pursuing Clinton. Most
Americans initially opposed removing either
president from offi ce.
But the two impeachments went in opposite
In Nixon’s case, two years of investigations
unleashed an avalanche of new facts: abuses
of power, an elaborate White House cover-up
and undeniable evidence that Nixon had
directed the entire criminal affair.
Yet public opinion shifted very slowly. Only
after the discovery of a “smoking gun,” an
Oval Offi ce recording of Nixon ordering the
cover-up, did a majority want him to resign.
Within days, Republican leaders told Nixon
that he had lost the support of his own party,
and he quit.
In Clinton’s case, an independent counsel
found that he had lied under oath to cover up
his affair. Most Americans didn’t see that as
just cause to oust him. When the House voted
to impeach Clinton in December 1998, only
29% of voters approved, few of them Demo-
Lesson One: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.) is correct: An impeachment effort
can succeed only if it has bipartisan support.
That’s why Republicans, not Democrats, are
the ones to watch now.
Most GOP lawmakers remain solidly
behind Trump. A few say the evidence that
Trump abused his offi ce for personal gain is
serious enough to investigate, a position short
of the all-out defense Trump would like. For
now, impeachment is only a Democratic cause.
Lesson Two: Facts, not arguments, drive
shifts in public opinion.
During Watergate, Republican politicians
edged away from Nixon as damning new evi-
dence of his guilt emerged. In Clinton’s case,
his fundamental crime — lying about sex —
seemed less signifi cant, and Democrats never
wavered in their support.
That makes the whistleblower’s complaint
ominous for Trump. The intelligence offi ce al-
leged that Trump blocked congressionally ap-
proved military aid to Ukraine to back up his
demand for dirt on Democratic presidential
candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who
had worked for an energy company in Kyiv.
The impeachment investigation will either
persuade more Republicans to voice concerns
(as with Nixon) or it won’t (a la Clinton).
Lesson Three: The offense must be “im-
peachable” — but there’s no consensus on
what that means. The Constitution cites
bribery, treason and “high crimes and misde-
meanors” as impeachable offenses, but doesn’t
specify them.
Gerald R. Ford offered the most practical
defi nition before he succeeded Nixon as presi-
dent: “An impeachable offense is whatever
a majority of the House of Representatives
considers it to be.”
Some Republicans have argued that
Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to help his
2020 campaign were “inappropriate” but not
But several elements make the allegations
look weighty.
Military support for Ukraine against Rus-
sia has strong bipartisan support in Congress.
If the House investigations fi nd that Trump
delayed badly needed weapons to bully
Ukraine into meddling in a U.S. presidential
election, more Republicans may think twice.
The irony is that the strongest evidence
against Trump, at least so far, is his own
words during a July 25 phone call with Ukrai-
nian President Volodymyr Zelensky. It’s why,
according to the whistleblower, White House
lawyers tried to “lock down” all records of the
conversation, a potential coverup.
Final lesson: Impeachment proceedings
are long, painful and ugly. But eventually a
resolution comes.
In 1999, at the end of Clinton’s trial, I
watched senators cross the aisle to hug
each other, elated that their institution had
survived. In 1974, Ford invited the House
Democratic leader who had spearheaded
impeachment, Rep. Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr.
(D-Mass.), to his swearing in as president.
“Christ, Jerry,” O’Neill said, “Isn’t this a
wonderful country?”
Our republic has survived two impeach-
ments in my lifetime. It can surely survive a
Doyle McManus is a columnist for the Los
Angeles Times.