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Month: March 2010

IN THE RING: Is Keizer’s level of policing too low, too high or just right?

This week’s question was:

“Is Keizer’s level of policing too low, too high or just right?”

Jeanne Bond-Esser, retired educator and parks advocate:
“I’m not sure how one ever really answers this, but I certainly don’t think our level of policing is too high.

“Is there an ‘acceptable’ level of crime? Or, a point of diminishing returns? In other words, a level of crime or (in)security which does not diminish as more police officers are added? I suspect that if we doubled the number of officers, we’d still have some level of crime — but where that optimum cost/benefit point is between what we have now and double the force, I don’t know. I suppose if we added a couple of officers and tracked crime rates, we could quantify any additional benefit.

“As I understand, there are professional guidelines based on population and other factors. Again as I understand, our force level falls below those guidelines, (although with all the empty houses in my neighborhood, West Keizer, I wonder what our population really is right now).

“So, lacking any valuable insight on staffing, I’ll instead report the outcomes I’d like: Continue to staunch, slow — better yet rid us– of the community-ruining and seemingly intractable invasion of gang and drug activity. Continue to keep our parks safe for folks to walk and play in. Catch thieves. Help keep Keizer a place where law-abiders feel safe and at ease and ne’re-do-wells feel very vulnerable and nervous.

“Then ask the Chief how many officers he needs.

“(And if/when our main complaint is speeding, we’re probably there.)”

Phil Bay, retired insurance agent and former city councilor:
“The police dept. level of service is doing just fine.  They run a very fine department and Chief Adams is also doing a great job.  Let’s work on reducing the drug crime in our city.   Drug crimes include users, sellers and alll the crime that goes on to support their habits.”

Marlene Quinn, event planner:
“Too low as it is with most cities. So would that be a budget priority yes. But probably won’t be for awhile and as I read the nixle reports it seems to me that the crime in Keizer is not improving so those two extra officers would help a lot. Less crime would mean more families moving to Keizer which is what we want. So the city does need to work on hiring those two new officers. Too bad the civic center went over budget or we would have had the money for at least one more officer.  I hope that if they have to lay off any city employees it is not the police force or the parks department.”

Art Bobrowitz, Compass Rose Consulting:
“Public safety is an issue that has many perspectives. Keizer is a growing community. While that may not mean actual people moving to our neighborhoods, it can relate to people who visit, shop and do business with Keizer businesses and services. The creation of the Chemawa exchange has also increased the number of vehicles now part of the Keizer perspective. Now add to the equation the push for increased use of Keizer parks. All these issues can be a challenge for any public safety organization.

“Keizer leaders need to support public safety with the resources necessary to meet a growing community perspective. They should have the personnel necessary to be as effective as other city services. Public safety is an attitude. A reactive police force is not as effective as a proactive public safety organization that truly represents a safe community.”

Kimberly Strand, owner/broker of Willamette Valley Real Estate:
“I think this is a great question for the police department!  Are you feeling over worked, do you feel you need additional officers to be more effective.  From a citizen stand point Keizer is a safe and wonderful place to live and I notice the police presence in the community, I think they are doing a great job!”

IN THE RING: Should health care reform opponents focus on repealing the bill, or move on to other pressing issues?

Each week the Keizertimes asks community leaders a question about current events. To see more of this week’s answers or answers to past questions log onto www.keizertimes.com and click on In the Ring.

This week’s question: Should health care reform opponents focus on repealing the bill, or move on to other pressing issues?

Art Bobrowitz, Compass Rose Consulting:

“The major problem I see is more than repealing the bill is how will we pay for it? This legislation will probably wind up in the court system. States are already lining up with litigation.

“The majority of the funding for this bill will come from borrowed money and future generations. This bill has the potential to bankrupt this country. Moving on to any other issues would be senseless. We are being told to start paying on a piece of legislation whose benefits will kick in four years from now. If you like this idea then you wouldn’t mind buying your next car on a four-year twenty-seven hundred page contract. The purchase price will be increasing along the way but you don’t get to pick up your new car until 2014. Surely everyone would like a deal like that.”

Dennis Koho, attorney, former Keizer mayor:

“Move on – anything else is merely political posturing. Opponents of the bill just lost. Can they seriously think we believe they now have the votes in the House and the Senate to undo what the Congress just did? Or that they have somehow convinced the president that he was wrong all along and is now willing to sign their repeal bill? Whether voters love the bill or hate it, we understand math well enough to know that won’t happen.

“I would prefer opponents spend their efforts pinpointing areas where the bill can be improved or where it may have gone too far and work to fix those specific areas. Unfortunately, I think we are in for many more months of name calling and political gamesmanship from both sides, and I want Congress to be better than that.”

Vic Backlund, former state representative:

“At this point I don’t think it would be productive or logical for opponents of the health care reform law to try to repeal it. After all, it just passed. In addition, a Democratic majority in the U.S. House and Senate, plus a Democratic president, would never support repeal. Further, it will be a while before the intricacies of the new law will be understood. But, after the law has fully taken effect, and if opposition to the law remains strong and widespread and if Republicans regain majority of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, repeal at that point might be considered. In the meantime, the Congress should move on to other issues.

“Interestingly enough, I’ve read that there are some legal scholars who think portions of the health care reform law are unconstitutional. Also, there’s the possibility that the reconciliation approach to getting the health care reform law passed is itself unconstitutional Thus, it’s conceivable that legal challenges will be mounted.”

Jacque Moir, former Keizer City Councilor:

“This is a hard question to answer. This was done in such haste that I question what was tacked on? What is it really going to cost? Who is this really covering? What are the ramifications if a person does not want to be included in this program? I also think that people should look at the actions of the folks who are elected to represent all of us. How much arm twisting occurred and what deals were made? I am afraid we will never know all that has been added to this legislation. I believe early on I heard the term “transparency in government”– where is it? If there is more debate on this program maybe more information will come out regarding what is actually in this legislation that was passed. The big question is are the states prepared to handle another “unfunded mandate”?

“This [bill] is historical in every way through the whole process. I question the way the whole thing came about. I watched a lot of what they televised, but I have a feeling the work was all done behind the scenes and who knows what occurred. It will be interesting to see what the legal rulings are if it goes that far. I fear that again we will only hear what they want us to hear. To answer the questions if it has all been done illegally then it needs to be repealed. If not, then work on making it the best legislation possible fixing whatever is wrong with it. The biggest fear for me is what is it really going to cost us? We may or will be living with this for a long time.”

Docs in talks to build on block

The City of Keizer’s urban renewal agency is looking to sell about two acres of land in Area B of Keizer Station, identified in yellow above. (Graphic by Andy Jackson)

City could sell land for office-type building

By JASON COX

Of the Keizertimes

A local government agency is proposing selling some Keizer Station land to a private firm, and signs point to a medical facility being the most likely occupier.

A public hearing will be held April 5 before the Keizer Urban Renewal Agency, which consists of the mayor and city council. The proposal calls for selling roughly two acres of land to a firm called RJMEW Development, LLC. The Oregon-based corporation is registered to Caleb Williams, an attorney in Salem. Williams declined to comment.

The land in question is at the corner of McLeod Drive and Lockhaven Drive. [MAP: 1] The proposed sale price is $1.4 million.

Mum seems to be the word on who the ultimate tenant is. But a prior statement by Mayor Lore Christopher leaves a telling clue.

At the Oct. 15, 2009 meeting of the Gubser Neighborhood Association, meeting notes indicate Christopher said Salem Radiology would likely occupy the land in question.

But neither officials from the city or Salem Radiology would confirm this.

Salem Radiology Executive Director R.A. Neitzel declined comment, saying any story was “premature.”

When reached Tuesday, Christopher simply said she “would love to have them there, and we’re trying to work out the details,” noting the jobs created would be a high-wage type of employment.

City Manager Chris Eppley declined to get into details, but noted the most likely occupier would build an office-type building that would not generate particularly high traffic.

He said the Keizer Urban Renewal Agency owns about a third of the land, and the city’s street fund owns about two-thirds. Revenue from any land sale would be split accordingly, Eppley said. It would most likely require a side street off of Keizer Station Boulevard, he added.

“We’re excited about the transaction,” Eppley said. “We’re excited about the business associated with any future development of that site. We’re excited about new jobs coming to Keizer that would be directly associated with this sale and its consequential development.

“These are all good things. These are the kind of things you really hope urban renewal does.”

Faith of the founding fathers

I’ve been wondering about the relationship between religion and government.  Most of the existing theocracies in the world are Islamic and have cost us much, either by military occupation or measures taken to prevent that necessity.

I was given a tract that contained statements of faith by our founding fathers, supposedly proving that we were created as a Christian nation.  Moved by the eloquence and conviction of those statements, I was all the more impressed by their author’s wise determination to avoid creating a nation ruled by a church.

St. Augustine defined pride as “the love of one’s own excellence.”  That would be the worship of self, not God.  It is a mystery why men of no discernible intellect or accomplishment are yet so self-assured of their theological correctness that they use that faith as a bludgeon to correct others.  It is what makes a man fly a plane into a building, carry poisonously stupid signs outside a soldier’s funeral, or slaughter those with whom they disagree, all in the name of a God who has asked only that you treat others as you would be treated.  I don’t know why zealots feel they must impress their beliefs on others.  Maybe it is easier to believe the unknowable if others share that belief.

If pride is the deadliest of sins, then humility is the first virtue.  It removes the obstacles to faith.  Humility is the understanding that you are not more important, not more valuable, and not more loved by God than anyone else.  That neatly explains the rarity of the truly humble man.

I risk excommunication from my home church by telling you that I have been wondering about religion lately.  Did God create religion for the benefit of man, or has man created religion for the benefit of God, or his own self?

It is hard to understand why God might create one true religion and many decoy religions.  It is easy for a proud nation to think that other nations are theologically deceived.  It is more problematic to believe that Catholics are right and Presbyterians are wrong, or that Mormons have found a truth that escapes Methodists.  These differences persist all the way to the level of father and son, brother and sister.  Whose faith shall govern?  You may end up thinking that no two persons believe precisely the same.

Hence the need for humility.  In a crowd of six billion, there is some possibility you are not the Truly Enlightened One.  My faith, poorly formed and still evolving, has come near to putting me at peace with the world.  It has grown as the inescapable response to all that is given to me.  I am not unique.  These blessings are there for all who see them.  The sun rises, flowers bloom, birds sing, and love grows on every continent.

My church is filled with decent and unassuming people.  I am deeply grateful that the differences among us are not just tolerated, but treasured.  That goodness doesn’t end at the door of my church any more than it ends at the American border.  What a gift it is that our founding fathers created a country where I may say that.

Don Vowell lives in Keizer.  He gets on his soapbox regularly in the Keizertimes.

The economy appears to be better

To the Editor:

The big box development in Area C at Keizer Station seems to be moving off the back burner.

The City is reallocating budgeted funds for one established city board for the purchase of land, currently privately owned in Area B of Keizer Station.

Big box development in Area C is a done deal and has been since a text amendment process was utilized to streamline the process of approving development that was not clearly delineated in Keizer’s Development Code.  To be fair and balanced, it should be remembered that part of that text amendment was a commitment, all be it verbal, that the master plan, required for development in Area C, is to benefit from community participation in its development.  The community, if it really cares about the vitality of Keizer beyond the boundaries of Keizer Station, should exercise this opportunity to positively enhance this development.  As a caveat to that statement, the community should be aware that, as with passage of the text amendment, the die has potentially been cast and input that will make its way into the master plan could be as monumental as determining what color and message can be expressed in signage for the development.

Has the City made a one hundred eighty degree turn on its stated position, that non-budgeted expenditures would not be funded?  Funding for purchase of land in Area B is being reallocated from the River Road Renaissance budget, thus rendering it a social club until such time as that funding is reimbursed to Keizer Urban Renewal Board upon sale of that nicely packaged parcel of Area B.  The property owner whose property will be purchased by the City is benefiting from the precedence set when assembling properties for the development of Area A of Keizer Station, all except one property owner.  Precedence in this case is a benefit to a private citizen.  The interesting element of this land packaging will be to see what the composition of the development team is that may purchase the property.  There may be more to it than is visible on the surface.

Again the economy appears to be getting better.  Let’s hope that it is for the general benefit of Keizer and its residents.

Marty Matiskainen

Keizer

Put Urban Renewal on Channel 23

To the Editor:

The recent Keizertimes editorial (Show how decisions are made, March 19) provided a just and fitting case for televising the Keizer Urban Renewal Agency meetings and should be heeded by the city council.

Given that this agency is making “decisions on how to spend millions of dollars” and “it is paid for by the taxpayers” we should be able to watch the discussions on Keizer’s Channel 23.  The city council’s pride and support of the work performed by the agency should now be matched the same pride and support in televising these meetings.

Greg Frank

Keizer

Bad politics

To the Editor:

Now that we have had a vote by the majority of the Congress to pass the national health bill it is time to take a deep breath and relax. It seems to me the majority of the people of this country got what they wanted. In November, the people voted to put Obama in the White House and gave the Democrats majorities in both the Senate and Congress. Obama made some promises to change government and to reform health care. The people decided and voted.  There was no doubt who won. It is time for the Republicans to get over their rejection at the polls. If the majority of the people dislike what the Democrats have done they will vote them out of office and the Republicans will have their chance to ram through their own policy just as they have done in the past.

I personally dislike the partisanship that we have witnessed. The arguments about health care, both for and against, was all about politics.  When you have every Republican voting against the health care bill, you know it is politics. What a bunch of robots.  Much of the key elements in the health bill were promoted by the Republicans a few years ago. At least a few Democrats had the guts to vote against the bill. I am disgusted that the Democrats had to bribe senators from Nebraska, Louisiana, Florida and Connecticut to gain votes. How about the two-faced Republicans who voted against the stimulus bill and then show up with pork from that bill they received for their districts? Shame on them! No wonder people are appalled with politicians from both parties.

Bill Quinn

Keizer

Stop adding fluoride to our water

To the Editor:

Fluoride dumped in the water supply is a waste product of aluminum and fertilizer industries. Why are we still paying to add this poison when most of Europe has discontinued it? Toothpaste is the sensible way to get fluoride to teeth without exposing the rest of the body to greater risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, brittle bones, hypothyroidism, and increased uptake of lead and aluminum, among other dangers.

Reverse-osmosis water filters remove fluoride, but are expensive. Let’s make our water free to drink for everyone.

Laura McMahon

Keizer

It’s fourth and goal for AD

Mike Maghan (KEIZERTIMES/Lance Masterson)

Interview by Lance Masterson

Mike Maghan is leaving McNary High School after 15 years as its athletic director.

While at the helm, he hired all but one coach, Kim Phillips being the exception, and instituted the school’s Hall of Fame and Captains Academy to instill leadership skills in girl athletes. Three McNary teams also won state championships.

Maghan attended Oregon State University and earned a degree in forestry. He got into teaching because he liked kids and wanted to coach basketball. By 23, he was athletic director at a Catholic school in Salem.

It’s a position that obviously agreed with him, as this is Maghan’s 31st year as an AD.

Maghan came to McNary from Dallas High School. Though officially retired as of November, he remains in place until June. It’s possible his successor will transition with Maghan for a couple of months before he rides off into the sunset. Interviews for the position begin shortly.

The Keizertimes talked with Maghan shortly after the McNary varsity girls basketball team took fourth place at the Class 6A state tournament. This same team, with the exception of three athletes, placed fifth at state last year. Maghan was asked to assess the Lady Celts.

“I would say chemistry-wise, an A-plus. Probably one of the best teams you can ever be around. The kids were just really tight, good chemistry, good students. The epitome of what we call student-athletes here,” he said. “They knew what it took. This is the highest finish ever for a (girls) basketball team. Our girls’ softball team finished first at state in 1990. Other than that we haven’t had any girls team place higher than fifth place until now.

“I’ll tell you another thing I appreciate about the girls basketball team. You go to one of their games, and every one of those kids is a Keizer kid. They all have the same zip code. They’re loyal to their community. They’re loyal to their school. Go to any other high school in Salem and you won’t find that. Kids will be transferring, going here to there. That’s the sick part about what we’re doing right now. I hate it. We’ve got kids at other schools; I know that. We’ve got kids from other schools here; I know that. But that team, all those kids were Keizer kids.

KT: So what about next year’s girls team?

MM: We have a JV team that is very athletic and an unbelievable freshman class coming in next year. Probably the best freshman class since these seniors were freshmen. We’ll be a little young, and we’ll be a little inexperienced, but we’ll be in the top two or three in our league next year. I still think they’ll make the playoffs.

KT: Describe your philosophy as an athletic director?

MM: Boy, that’s a good question. I demand our coaches give our kids a meaningful experience. Whether it’s an important game or whether it’s just to promote learning, I want our coaches and our kids to be learning as they’re going through this. And when they’re done, I want them to have a meaningful experience. We know that athletics is not the only thing. We teach the whole kid here. I guess my philosophy in a nutshell is that we’re trying to develop young citizens that are going to contribute some positive things to our society … You take them from their freshman year through their senior year, and they’re going to say this has been a heck of an experience.

KT: What is it that sports and competition should teach young athletes?

MM: Our school district philosophy doesn’t really talk about athletics very much in our strategic plan. But if you look through the strategic plan, it talks about everything we try and teach in athletics. Again, it’s going back to promote learning. It’s going to talk to people about positive healthy lifestyles. It’s going to talk about people skills, how to get along with other people. After watching a couple of teams at the state tournament, you can see programs that have it and you can see programs that don’t have it.

What are they going to get out of it? They’re going to learn to compete, which is important because the world is pretty flat right now. They’re competing against people from throughout the world, not just the United States or Oregon. So they’re going to have an edge.

KT: What will you  miss about being a high school athletic director?

MM: I’m going to miss working with wonderful people. I’m going to miss Heather Latham (his assistant). This person right here basically does my job for me.

My coaches that I’ve had long-term relationships with. I’m going to miss not being there and talking to them about their seasons and talking about their players. Talking about the good things that happened during the day. I’ll miss those experiences. And I think the biggest thing I’m going to miss is just watching kids grow and evolve, watching the Taylor Jones and Megan Hingstons of the world, from scared little freshmen to very mature, very confident seniors. I think for the girls that’s big. I’m going to miss our girls programs. I’m going to miss watching young coaches, like Matt Espinoza (of the varsity boys basketball team), develop. He’s going to be a great coach.

KT: What is it about the position that you won’t miss?

MM: I’m not going to miss the games anymore. I’m getting kind of gamed out. A friend of mine retired and he told me he likes the people, he likes the coaches and the kids are fun. But the games were driving him nuts. I purposely got away from being at every game.

KT: What challenges do you see coming to high school sports in the near future?

MM: The funding issue is huge. We’ve been battling funding for the last couple of year. Having Redmond in the league has really crunched us. We kind of made a promise to the community that we were going to take charter buses over the hill to alleviate safety issues. Even if it wasn’t charter buses, it still would have been expensive. I think we’ll probably save in the neighborhood of $50,000 to $70,000 a year just in travel alone to Redmond. Triple that and that was Redmond’s budget. The biggest challenge that I see is just keeping funding stable for our athletics.

KT: Any other concerns?

MM: I don’t like the idea of our kids being able to go to any school. We have boundaries, and I think we ought to be going to school where we live. I mean, that’s how we ought to do it. If there’s some kind of a special program or whatever, I can understand that. But don’t use that as an excuse to go to another school. I’m proud of the fact that our kids basically have all of the same zip codes. That tells us we’re dealing with Keizer kids.

KT: What about the coach-parent relationship?

MM: Our coaches have integrity. I’m hoping our community continues to support them because they are professional coaches. They are certified. They do know what they’re doing. It’s just a matter of parents trusting them and having parents be parents. That’s a tough enough job as it is. Instead of having parents be critical of our coaches, or being critical of our officials, or critical of the administration, parents should think of coaches as partners in the development of their child. So it’s just another set of adult eyes on your kid.

KT: What were some of your favorite moments as the McNary athletic director?

MM: Watching my sons here. Seeing all their games. Watching them grow and graduate. Being able to have your family where you work, it’s amazing.

The other thing, it’s just working with some unbelievable coaches. Being able to work with a Vic Backlund, for example, who has 35-plus years as a baseball coach and is one of the most respected coaches in the state of Oregon and maybe the nation.

Working with Tom Smythe, a football legend, and watching him carry us on his shoulders toward a couple of state championships when many people thought his methods weren’t always orthodox.

The whole atmosphere of our coaches and our teachers here at school. It’s a family-affair kind of thing.

So what do I remember the most? I learned how to become a better administrator. I’ve learned how tough it is to live and work in the same city. It’s tough to go to the store now without someone stopping you and giving you their opinion, which is fine. But in three months it’s not going to matter.

KT: So, what are your retirement plans?

MM: I can tell you that PERS works real well. First of every month they’ll be putting a check in my bank account, so I won’t be missing a beat. It’s the same pay. So it’s a wonderful thing. Some people resent that, I know, but I’ve been doing this for 35 years. I didn’t make millions of dollars a year. Right now, I’m very satisfied with my career.

I plan on continuing to teach at Portland State University. I teach a couple of classes a year there through their master’s program for teachers. I’d like to something like that locally.

I work with the OSAA. I did their game management, their clocks, at all 22 games of the 6A boys and girls basketball tournaments. I’m sure I’ll do more things like that with the OSAA.

I’ve got a buddy of mine who is into sporting goods and he kind of wants me to help represent his company. Not sure I want to do that, but I’ll try anything once and see how it works.

As for personal business, I’m going to help establish an endowment for my former high school basketball coach who passed away about two months ago. We’re going to put on an elite boys basketball tournament at Santa Clara University or in that area. It will rival the Les Schwab Tournament and will be one of the better basketball tournament on the West Coast.

I’m going to fish my butt off. I love to travel. And I’m going to visit my grandson in Sacramento.

We’re going to have some fun; I’ll tell you that. My wife is going to give me a year to figure out what I really want to do.