Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Month: May 2010

Disillusioned by budget process

To the Editor:

One of the three components of Keizer’s motto is volunteerism.  The city’s budget committee is taking this literally. They are volunteering the citizens of Keizer to pay additional fees to support an increase in city spending!

City Manager Chris Eppley’s recommended budget expects revenues to increase 1.8 percent from last year. The revenue increase is even larger if a sale of city real estate is included. Expenditures are expected to increase 9.6 percent. I am very disappointed in the lack of discipline and ability to make the difficult decisions needed to decrease city government spending in order to avoid an increase in service fees.

On the revenue side, I understand that the state law regarding impound fees changed and that NW Natural Gas changed its billing system. These changes resulted in a decrease in incoming revenues.  I also understand that the City will benefit from yet another 3% increase in property taxes in fiscal 2010-2011. The statutory increase is allowed even when property values decrease. A 3% increase from property tax revenues isn’t enough when spending is increasing at a faster rate than revenues. The City’s Budget Committee is looking for even more revenue by increasing licenses, fees, and service charges.

On the expenditure side, I am absolutely shocked at the arrogance of proposing a 9.6 percent increase in spending during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Sure, the expected service fee increase is only estimated to be $13.14 per residence. That isn’t the point. The point is that thebudget committee needs to make the tough decisions to decrease spending. I have lost confidence in the process: The police union voted to maintain their 2 percent salary increase and none of the officers were let go. City employees received salary increases last year and only a wage freeze this year. The Keizer Civic Center was over budget, it had the catering/kitchen issue, and the oversight of the retainage expense at the end of the project. The city has added positions over the past five years, e.g. assistant to the city manager.

This is  not a personal attack on any person or the city. I believe the people involved in this process are all well-meaning. I would ask that the city’s budget committee join the majority of businesses and families that have dealt with decreases in revenue by decreasing spending. If you are a citizen of Keizer and are happy with the status quo, watch Channel 23 on June 7th. If you are not happy, please come to the 7 p.m. public hearing when the City Council is scheduled to adopt the budget.

Phil Gerstner
Keizer

Patriotism exhibited during Iris parade

To the Editor:

What a refreshing and pleasant surprise I witnessed at the Keizer Iris Parade this year.

Being a part of the parade is one of the things I most enjoy each year and in the past I have had some unusual entries, such as a fire-shooting propeler truck and a boat-car.  This year my entry was a vintage World War II military vehicle on which was mounted an American flag.

As the parade progressed down River Road, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who stood, removed their hat and placed their hand over their heart, as the flag passed.  There were many elderly who would have struggled to stand but who honored their country and their flag with a smart salute or with hand over heart.  It was uplifting and made me proud of those patriots who still honor the American flag the way it should be honored.  To those proud Ameicans:  God bless you all.

Bob Gallagher
Keizer

Book sale helps Library continue

To the Editor:

Last week, the Keizer Community Library book sale at the Keizer Lions Club hall, raised $1,779.49!!  This is by far the most successful book sale fund raising event that the library has ever held.  For this success, I would like to thank the public for donating so many good books, puzzles, DVDs, books on tape, etc. and others for buying them.  And I extend my thanks to the press for providing important publicity and also to those who worked so hard transporting books, setting up tables and doing the many tasks related to a successful operation.

Finally, I would like to express gratitude to the library’s chief sponsor, the Keizer Lions Club, for year-round storage of book sale materials and a place to display and sell them.  Indeed, a number of Lions Club members helped with the sale itself.  Thank you so much!

The success of this book sale helps assure that the Keizer Community Library will be able to continue to serve the people of Keizer for yet another year!

Art Burr
Library Director
Keizer

IN THE RING: Term limits for Keizer mayor?

Dennis Koho, attorney and former mayor:
“No.  We ought to be able to elect whoever we want to office.

“Having said that, elected officials ought to impose term limits on themselves.
This city was founded on the notion that we have a lot of citizens who will
pitch in to help, and there is always someone who can do a good job given the
opportunity.  I think eight or ten years on the council without a break in service
is enough, and it is a huge contribution to the community.  I’d like to see
officials voluntarily step aside at that point.

“Having been in that position myself, my advice to them would be: let someone
else step up to do the job after that period of time. Go home and remind yourself
what your family looks like.  You’ve earned a break.”

Jacque Moir, retired city councilor:
“Terming limiting the Mayor’s or a Councilor’s positions could result in good folks talents being lost.  The voters are the ones who should decide who gets in/stays in office or not. They do so by casting their ballots and being informed.

“When candidate forums are available there is the opportunity to learn more about existing elected officials or those who are seeking office.  All one has to do with existing people to see if they should be reelected is to watch a few Council meetings or call an existing Councilor or Mayor and have a conversation with them.  They are also available now through email.  Remember these folks are serving in unpaid positions and are there because they wish to serve us.

Over the years we have had good people who have served us a very short time and those who have served us a very long time. So bottom line is, the ballot box is where we control who is in or out of office and we do not need to make things more cumbersome by adding ‘term limits.'”

Warren Franklin, KYKN radio personality:
S”ome years ago I thought there should never be a limit to the number of years a person is reelected to an office.  However, my mind has changed as I have seen what happens with many long time incumbents.  I believe new people in office bring fresh thinking, new ideas and keep the system churning.

“We have been fortunate in Salem and Keizer.  Mayor Taylor served three terms and did a wonderful job and Lore Christopher continues to work hard and do positive things for the community.  So, my comments aren’t pointed at either one of these two inspirational leaders.

‘However, they are, in my opinion, anomalies.  Not every person voted into office over many terms has this kind of positive impact after several terms.  All you have to do is look at our state legislature or congress and see what long term incumbents do to our country.  It is as though they forget about us and start doing what is right for them.  They become selfish and self centered.  As a result, we end up with major problems like not listening to the public when it matters the most.

“Lets work on term limits and remind the elected they work for us.”

James Willhite and Pat Ehrlich, vice presidents, Gubser Neighborhood Association:
“We do not support the imposition of term limits by law or ordinance.  In virtually all human endeavors from hiring a Mechanic, Doctor, Engineer or Lawyer, one would choose an experienced person over a novice.  Inexperience, no matter how good the intention, too often produces unintended consequences we would all be stuck with.

“The voters should be the ones to determine if a person has been in office long enough (and therefore be defeated) or should be returned for another term.  There is a lot to be gained from experience and knowledge of the operation of the city that is helpful in steering the course.  It a person is unhappy with the way an elected official is executing their responsibilities then we should let that official know.  It is through individual feedback we can try to change direction in government.”

Art Bobrowitz, Compass Rose Consulting:
“I would support term limits. In this age of hyper information and changing attitudes, how does a community grow and make the necessary changes? An innovative and competitive campaign can open up the political windows of a community to the “fresh air” of new ideas.

“The challenge becomes the number of terms. Some communities have limits of two terms. It would seem appropriate that three terms could work. Either way, good campaigns are a marvelous way to enlighten a changing community and give more people the opportunity to experience the challenges of public service.”

Stu Crosby, Multi-Tech Engineering:
“WHY ?

“Our Mayor is doing one heck of a job and is an outstanding representative of our City. No one works harder. I wouldn’t want to put a limit on that.”

Jeanne Bond-Esser, retired educator and parks board chair:
“Absolutely not! The electorate can always impose term limits on whomever they want — just bother to turn in their ballots and vote against the incumbent! With the dismal primary turnout this year (coupled with the absolute ease of Oregon’s vote-by-mail), it’s ridiculous to try to replace voting with some restrictive rule that alleviates the bother.”

JoAnne Beilke, Budget Committee member and real estate agent:
“I believe term limits are generally not a good idea.  The voters should decide if an elected official should be removed.  And this has been proven in elections.  Term limits let the staff do most of the decision and policy decisions.

“A free press always keeps the public informed about elected officials.  They are the ones we can keep accountable.  So my answer is not term limits.”

Vic Backlund, former GOP state representative and retired educator:
“”I don’t think it would be wise to impose term limits on our mayor, primarily because the voters already possess the power to limit the mayor’s terms by electing someone else mayor.

“Term limits deprives the city of valuable experience (experience is a very valuable asset).  A two or even three term  term mayor knows more about the “ins and outs” of city government than any rookie would know.  Actually, if a person were to view the number of mayors that Keizer has had since its inception in 1982, it would be apparent that there has been enough turnover to satisfy many of those who might want term limits.”

Rolling, rolling, rolling

Erin Hento is all smiles after pitching McNary to a 9-3 win over Rex Putnam in state playoff action from earlier today.

The Lady Celts express keeps on rolling.

McNary won its 21st game in a row earlier today with a 9-3 thumping of Rex Putnam in second-round action from the Class 6A state playoffs.

Sophomore Hailey Decker clubbed two more home runs, or numbers three and four in two playoff games, while senior Hannah Bouska added a solo shot. Sophomore Olivia Yarbrough doubled in two runs.

Senior starting pitcher Erin Hento won for the 17th time in 18 decisions.

McNary trailed heading into the fifth inning.

This game was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was rained out. It was re-scheduled for Willamette University before the Bearcats’ field was declared unplayable this morning. Ultimately, the game was played at the McNary softball diamond.

The Celts play the winner of Aloha-Tualatin in Friday’s quarterfinals.

New time, place for softball game

File photo

The McNary-Rex Putnam playoff softball game has been rescheduled for 3 p.m. today at Willamette University. Yesterday’s game was rained out with the Celts leading 6-0 in the fourth inning.

Today’s game, however, will be replayed in its entirety.

McNary advanced to round two with a win over Gresham on Saturday while Putnam rallied to beat Roseburg on Friday.

Turnaround Achievement winners overcome adversity

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

The 20 middle and high school students at Tuesday’s Turnaround Achievement Awards got there a lot of different ways.

Some had abused drugs, even going back to 6th grade. Others were involved in gangs, got pregnant way too young, or had problems at home. And still others just plain didn’t like school – and didn’t mind letting their teachers know it.

Don Lebold gives congratulations to Sheila Limas-De La Cruz, a Blanchet Catholic School eighth grader who took home a Turnaround Achievement Award. It’s sponsored by Town and Country Lanes, which Don owns with wife Ann.

The Turnaround Achievement Awards recognize those students who realized they wanted more from life, and put in the work to bring up their grades, improve their conduct and put themselves on a better path in life. The awards are sponsored by Town and Country Lanes and recognizes students from throughout Salem-Keizer.

It’s tempting to call Tuesday’s awards a happy ending for these children. But it’s more like a happy beginning.

“Life is all about choices,” said Keizer Police Chief Marc Adams, the luncheon’s keynote speaker. “Choices don’t stop coming. … Listen to that voice that tells you right and wrong.”

One who did was Chandra Timm, a 17-year-old McNary student who found herself beset with drug problems when she was just starting high school. She went from Ds and Fs on her report card to almost all-As. The one B was in Advanced Placement U.S. History.

“Now I realize how easy high school is if you just show up!” Timm said.

She’s headed to Chemeketa Community College and is considering the Peace Corps.

Debi Meier, a McNary counselor, said Timm was “the epitome of a turnaround.

“She’s gone from being a pretty mediocre student to top-notch,” she said. “Most kids who go off to an alternative program don’t do nearly as well as she has.”

Caleb Feiring, a Whiteaker Middle student, had a brush with the law not that long ago, and said he was “really messing up – headed down a path I didn’t want to go down.”
A juvenile court judge told Feiring

(Continued from Page 1)

“I could be there for a long time. I didn’t want to be in and out of jail.”

He said his teachers were “really helpful and supported me because they knew I was trying to make a change.”

Kyle Mabry, a Whiteaker teacher who nominated Feiring, said he has “worked very, very hard to get himself turned around and do the things he needs to do … to do the right thing.”

Jacque Walker, a health teacher, said such a drastic turnaround in just a year doesn’t happen all that often.

“You see maybe one a year, if you’re lucky,” Walker said, adding Feiring has improved his social skills and character along with his grades.

Victor Duarte of Claggett Creek Middle School was nominated by his principal, Pete Danner.

Duarte said he was getting into trouble with gangs and drugs, and Danner said his turnaround began when he realized someone was watching him.

“He recognized he had younger sisters in his family that were going to be looking up to him,” said Danner, who described Duarte as “an extremely polite, intelligent young man.”

“I started listening to people who gave me advice,” Duarte said. “They told me to start hanging out with different people.”

And Sheila Limas-De La Cruz admitted she just didn’t like the rules and structure that came along with school.

“A lot of talking in class, not really paying attention,” she said. “I looked at myself and said, ‘If I want to be the person I want to be, this isn’t a good start.’”

But Bob Weber, principal of Blanchet Catholic School, said she was the first middle school student at Blanchet to be nominated for the award

“She has improved … and become a leader,” Weber said of Limas-De La Cruz. “She is here today because of the support of her friends and family, but mostly because of her own hard work.”

Fire District approves supplemental budget

By HERB SWETT
Fort he Keizertimes

A supplemental budget about 4 percent more than the 2009-10 Keizer Fire District budget was approved by the board of directors Tuesday.

The supplement of $279,327 includes a recently purchased trailer several times the size of the old trailer, which the board plans to donate to Marion County Search and Rescue.

Fire Chief Jeff Cowan told the board that, even though only supplements of 10 percent or more of the budget require board approval, he wanted the district staff to be transparent with its proposals.

Regarding apparatus and capital improvement, Cowan reported a need for a tow vehicle for the rehabilitation unit. He said a used engine was available from the Salem Fire Department. He also said the staff was preparing to look at older pieces of rescue equipment and heart monitors and recommend replacements.

Whiteaker Middle Student, 13, dies

Whiteaker Middle School

A Whiteaker Middle School student died Friday night.

The 13-year-old boy was a sixth grader at the school. Authorities are still investigating the cause of death.

Keizer Police responded to a report of an unconscious subject at about 9:28 p.m. Medics responded, but were unable to resuscitate the child and he was pronounced dead shortly after.

Counselors were available for both students and teachers this week. Principal Laura Perez said it was conducted in a safe room. Roving substitute teachers were also on hand to relieve teachers who may need some time to themselves.

“This is particularly hard for those teachers who had him in class,” Perez said.

She sent a letter home to parents, informing them of a child’s death at the school and urging them to listen to any feelings of grief the child may be experiencing.

Lady Celts power their way past Gresham

Hailey Decker (pictured) rapped two home runs in leading the Celts to the win over Gresham. She also had a double, for three of her team's 14 hits.

Three home runs, including two by Hailey Decker, powered the Lady Celts softball team to an 8-1 win over Gresham in round one of the state playoffs.

Hannah Bouska also homered for McNary while Taylor Jones drove in two runs with a two-out single.

Erin Hento pitched a complete game for the win.

Decker, who went opposite field for her first home run, also added a double.

It was the 20th win in a row for McNary, ranked second in the state.

Next up is a Tuesday, May 25, game against Putnam, which defeated Roseburg on Friday. The game is at McNary and begins at 4:30 p.m.