Baker City herald. (Baker City, Or.) 1990-current, June 08, 2021, Page 4, Image 4

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    TUESDAY, JUNE 8, 2021
Baker City, Oregon
Write a letter
Commit to
a truly open
Here’s an editorial for the people who work in
Oregon government. They can be excused for not get-
ting as wound up about government transparency as
journalists or other members of the public do.
But Oregon governments, from the governor’s of-
fi ce down to library boards, are supposed to be trans-
parent. They are in a number of ways. But they don’t
always put their heart into it. Sometimes they don’t
follow the law. So when one part of Oregon govern-
ment calls out another part of Oregon government
for not being transparent, we pay attention.
The Oregon Secretary of State’s Offi ce recently
released a follow-up to an audit it did in 2019. That
original report encouraged the state — and in
particular the state’s Department of Administrative
Services, or DAS — to enhance the transparency in
the state’s budget.
If it’s not easy to fi nd out where the state gets its
money or how it spends it, that’s a problem.
The department did implement a number of rec-
ommended changes since that 2019 audit. It worked
with the Legislature to allow additional money to
beef up the state’s transparency website. And it hired
a consultant to compare what Oregon does against
some of the best practices of other states. That’s good.
But DAS is not monitoring a practice of state agen-
cies to use non-budgeted positions. And it’s not using
its position on the Transparency Oregon Advisory
Commission to encourage the commission meet
regularly and release transparency reports required
by law in a timely manner, the report said.
For instance, there’s a requirement in state law
that the commission shall report to the Legislature
on completed improvements to the transparency
website and ways to improve it further by Feb. 15 of
each odd-numbered year. The Legislative Fiscal Of-
fi ce missed that deadline in 2019. It apparently has
missed it again this year. At least, we couldn’t fi nd it
on the offi ce’s website.
EO Media Group recently emailed the two mem-
bers of the Legislative Fiscal Offi ce assigned to the
commission to ask what was going on. No response.
The impact of the pandemic on state staff could
have certainly been a reason. There could be other
parts of a heavy workload that they chose to priori-
tize. It would be nice, though, if they were transpar-
ent about why they aren’t fi lling a transparency
obligation required by state law.
One other thing struck us about the way the
Department of Administrative Services — which it
is important to note is overseen by Gov. Kate Brown
— responded to the audit. DAS chose to respond to
some of the audit recommendations with what state
auditors called “extraneous responses.” DAS declined
to even disagree or agree with some of the audit
Do some employees at DAS not have a commit-
ment to transparency in their heart? Is Gov. Brown
going to insist they act like they do?
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.
Letters to the editor
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accuracy of all statements in letters to the editor.
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legal reasons.
Mail: To the Editor, Baker City Herald,
P.O. Box 807, Baker City, OR 97814
Biden’s budget batters the Army
By Thomas Spoehr
No wonder the Biden administra-
tion chose to release their 2022 budget
just before a long holiday weekend.
It’s a common Washington practice for
releasing news that offi cials hope will
go unnoticed.
Biden’s defense budget offers little to
improve any of the uniformed services,
but it would absolutely devastate the
readiness of the U.S. Army.
The Army’s 2022 budget needed to
be $180 billion just to keep pace with
infl ation. The Biden budget offers only
$173 billion, a loss of $7 billion in pur-
chasing power.
It’s a budget calculated to take the
Army back to the fi nal years of the
Obama administration, when readi-
ness was miserable. After years of over-
use and inadequate defense funding,
Vice Chief Gen. Dan Allyn informed
Congress in February 2016 that only
three of the Army’s 58 brigade combat
teams were fi t to go to war.
Biden’s budget would cut crucial
combat training, curtail needed end-
strength growth and slash equipment
programs. If all of this were to go
through, it would reduce soldiers and
units to the poor readiness levels of
2016, if not worse.
No element of the Army escapes
Training for brigade combat teams,
the Army’s primary combat force, is
cut by 30 percent. Army leadership
tries hard to put a positive spin on this,
stating they intend to focus training on
lower echelons such as companies, in-
stead of brigades, but the result will be
inevitable — fewer units ready when
the nation needs them.
Similarly combat training center
rotations — the crown jewel in the
Army’s training program — are cut
from 26 in 2021 to 17 in 2022 (15
Regular Army and 2 National Guard).
The Defender-series of joint exercises
with NATO allies, which the Army
considers to be a tremendous success, is
slashed by $339 million. This will harm
readiness and coordination among our
European partners.
Not just training gets the ax. Most
equipment programs are either put on
life support or just cut outright. The
Blackhawk, Apache, and Chinook heli-
copter modernization programs are all
slashed, cut by at least a third. While
most civilians probably wouldn’t opt
to ride in an older model helicopter, it
looks like soldiers won’t get that choice.
Procurement of key platforms like
the armored Joint Light Tactical
Vehicle, which replaces the unsurviv-
able HMMWV, are throttled way back
to about 1,200 per year in 2022. At that
anemic rate, the Army will need until
2055 to retire the HMMWV from its
ranks. By then it will be 75 years old,
the equivalent of driving the 1946 Wil-
lys CJ-2A jeep today.
The replacement for the venerable
1960s era M113 armored personnel
carrier was supposed to be the Ar-
mored Multi-Purpose Vehicle. After
years of fi ts and starts, it is fi nally
ready for mass production, yet the
Biden budget proposes buying none
in 2022. For the foreseeable future,
then, soldiers will be forced to operate
a vehicle their grandfathers used in
When he was Army chief of staff,
Gen. Mark Milley frequently stated the
Army was too small and the regular
Army needed to grow to a size of at
least 500,000. Many experts, includ-
ing the bipartisan National Defense
Strategy Commission (which included
the current deputy secretary of defense
and Pentagon comptroller) agreed,
saying, “Simply put, the United States
needs a larger force than it has today if
it is to meet the objectives of the strat-
egy.” But Biden’s budget puts all efforts
to grow the military on hold. In fact, it
proposes cutting the overall force by
almost 5,000.
All these cuts stand in sharp contrast
to the average increase of 16 percent
that the Biden administration proposes
for every federal department other
than Defense and Homeland Security
— the two departments responsible for
America’s national security. How odd
that those two should be targeted for
what are effectively net decreases in
America’s adversaries are rapidly
increasing and modernizing their mili-
tary capabilities. They are also doing
their utmost to intimidate their neigh-
bors: think Vladimir Putin in Ukraine
and Xi Jinping in the South China Sea.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration
proposes dangerous cuts to military
This is no way to keep us safe.
Fortunately, Congress will get the fi nal
word on this budget. Let’s hope they
think it through better than the White
House has.
A retired U.S. Army Lt. General, Thomas
Spoehr is the director of The Heritage
Foundation’s Center for National Defense.
Those collecting unemployment
benefits should be looking for work
Editorial from The Pittsburgh
Businesses are scrambling to fi ll job
vacancies as the country continues to
reopen from the coronavirus pandemic,
but the reality is that there simply are
not enough people looking for work.
The state of Pennsylvania made the
right move to pull back on the relaxed
standards for unemployment benefi ts
and to reinstate the requirement
that those collecting benefi ts must be
actively looking for work.
When the pandemic began more
than a year ago, Pennsylvania relaxed
some of its rules related to unemploy-
ment compensation. In addition to sus-
pending the “waiting week” in which
claimants did not receive benefi ts dur-
ing their fi rst week of unemployment,
the state also lifted its work search and
work registration requirements. Those
collecting unemployment compensa-
tion during the past year have not been
required to prove that they applied or
searched for a new job.
With most restrictions on businesses
now being lifted as more people are
vaccinated, and since plenty of jobs
are available, the state Department of
Labor and Industry announced that
starting in July the job search require-
ments will once again be in effect. It’s a
decision that makes sense.
If businesses are to rebound from
more than a year of upheaval and
uncertainty, they will need to fi ll the
millions of job openings across the
country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported that in March the number of
job openings nationwide reached a high
of 8.1 million, while the number of new
hires remained fl at at about 6 million.
The gap of some 2 million between job
openings and hires was the largest
margin on record.
Businesses in many sectors — no-
tably the restaurant and hospitality
industry as well as retail — are offer-
ing bonuses and perks to try to fi ll job
openings that have caused them in
some cases to reduce operating hours
because of limited staff. They should
also remember the concept of supply
and demand and consider a hike in
hourly wage rates to attract prospec-
tive employees. In the end, it is about
what the market will bear.
Some say the shortage of workers is
linked directly to the pandemic-related
extension in the unemployment com-
pensation coverage period, as well as
to the payout of “extra” unemployment
benefi ts that amount to about $300 a
week. But there was a labor shortage
even before the pandemic.
Unemployment compensation is
designed as a stopgap to help individu-
als and families stay afl oat fi nancially
while they recover from a job loss. Re-
covering from a job loss, over the long
term, means (for most people) fi nding
a new job. With businesses reopening
and the economy inching back toward
something resembling normal, state
offi cials are right to once again require
those collecting unemployment benefi ts
to actively search for work.