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Day: June 11, 2010

Big box battle may be on ballot

Opponents of a big-box store in Area C of Keizer Station may put the question to voters. (Photo Illustration by Andrew Jackson of the Keizertimes)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A Keizer neighborhood group is considering seeking a ballot measure to ban big-box stores in the city.

Kevin Hohnbaum, a co-founder of Keep Keizer Livable, said his group will meet next week to decide whether and how to go forward with the notion.

He mentioned it at a Keizer City Council meeting Monday, where councilors went forward with a procedural change some members said would make any retail cap allocation changes more transparent.

“I think there were some surprises,” Hohnbaum said. “… I’ve gotten a lot of favorable comments from people.”

What his group is considering is a ban on new big-box stores of more than 80,000 square feet in the city of Keizer. Target at Keizer Station, for example, stands at about 123,000 square feet.

At this point Hohnbaum considers 80,000 square feet to be “an acceptable compromise.”

He said the tactic is coming into play “because the city council continually doesn’t demonstrate that they hear what people are saying. We believe the people of Keizer don’t want another big-box store in Keizer.”

His group backed Marty Matiskainen’s unsuccessful election bid against Councilor Brandon Smith in 2008, and Hohnbaum didn’t rule out endorsing candidates this year as well.

“There would be the possibility of supporting some candidates who demonstrate that they are willing and able to make independent decisions and listen to what the community says, and communicate clearly,” he said.

The four areas of Keizer Station – A, B, C and D – have caps on how much retail square footage is allowed in each. A Council decision made in 2008 raised the maximum building size allowed in Area C from 10,000 square feet to 135,000 square feet, and neighbors feared what they considered the worst: A Walmart or similar large store on the edge of their residential neighborhood.

The most recent decision altered the process by which a developer would request further changes to the four caps, moving it from the text amendment process to a master plan process. Opponents of a big-box store in Area C – which is bordered by Lockhaven Drive to the north and Chemawa Road to the west – feared the move would accommodate an even larger store.

Developer Alan Roodhouse, who controls part of Area C, said the store he would be proposing would be about 116,000 square feet. He declined to name the tenant.

Hohnbaum testified at Monday’s meeting that the latest change, “although proper in the eyes of the law, is not the clear communication that the council promised the citizens of Keizer.”

His son, Andrew Mulholland, told councilors he doesn’t “entertain any illusions of stopping a big box store from destroying our city. … I am here to tell you that your actions taken on this issue will not be forgotten.”

Teresa Thompson questioned how building a large-format store in Area C would affect property values.
“I’ve never heard anybody say, ‘I want to build my house next to a big-box store because my property values will go up,” she said.

Trish Crenshaw testified in favor of a big box store, saying she chose to move back to her old neighborhood despite drastically increased traffic and more police calls to the nearby McNary High School campus.

“It would bring numerous jobs to the city of Keizer, and right now Keizer needs that,” she said.

Jeff Anderson said crime will inevitably rise in the area, and said Walmart employees are generally paid less than at unionized groceries. Anderson is secretary-treasurer of the local United Food and Commercial Workers union.

“McNary might … need a lot of police calls, but you build a Super Wal-Mart on this location you’ve going to have to literally think about a police substation out there because a lot of crime follows them,” he said.

Councilors Mark Caillier and Cathy Clark voted against the most recent process change.

Keizerite headed to observe Swiss elections

Ross Day

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A local political activist’s name has apparently gotten around.

Ross Day, executive director of Common Sense for Oregon and a Keizertimes columnist, headed off to Switzerland at their government’s invitation this week to observe their elections on June 13.

Some heavy hitters will be on the trip with Day, including John Fund, a Wall Street Journal columnist and a senior editor for The American Spectator.

Common Sense for Oregon is a conservative-leaning nonprofit that champions the initiative and referendum system along with free-market economic principles.

Day, an attorney, has been going to court promoting the initiative system for years. And he noted Switzerland was the first “modern democracy … to actually include an initiative and referendum provision” system in its constitution. Oregon was the second state in the union to allow citizen initiatives and referendums, doing so in 1902.

And if you’ve ever opened your ballot and lamented the sheer number of measures on the ballot? Don’t get Swiss citizenship. Day’s research indicated a 2007 election there which had 23 federal measures, six local and nine at the canton level. Canton is the Swiss equivalent of a U.S. state.

He called the phenomenon “ballot fatigue.

“I’m anxious to see what allows them to avoid ballot fatigue – is it cultural, or the way they are presented?” Day said. “What is it that (allows the Swiss to) avoid ballot fatigue that seems to be a problem here in Oregon?”

Day has been working in the area of initiative and referendum law for a decade now, which he says may have brought his name to the Swiss government’s attention. Day recently filed an amicus brief in Doe v. Reed, a Washington case before the U.S. Supreme Court which could clarify whether petition signers’ names could be available under public records requests.

Day, who owns a firm which circulates petitions for ballot measures and initiatives, said he wants to see how the Swiss go about circulating petitions, getting ideas for how electronic petitions could be used and how technology advances affect voting generally. He noted Switzerland has been experimenting with electronic voting for years, even through cell phone text messaging.

He called e-petitions “for lack of a better term, the most pure form of circulating petitions. The idea is that you’re going door-to-door, neighbor-to-neighbor, getting petitions. Being able to e-mail those petitions out as opposed to having paid circulators is probably the most akin to going door-to-door.”

He’ll also watch ballot counting in Bern, spend time in Zurich and meet with petitioners themselves.

“Direct democracy means something entirely different there,” Day said. “The sense I get, at least from my studies, is that it’s a little more valued in that the culture believes, ‘We’ve got this. We’ve got to protect it, so we better use it.’”

And even though, he said, most initiatives and referenda fail in Switzerland, “Apparently the Swiss enjoy having the final say.”

The trip is hosted by the Initiatives and Referendums Institute of Europe. The six-day trip won’t allow for too much sight-seeing, he said, but plans to “enjoy just soaking up the culture.

“And my wife is unbelievably jealous.”

Sunset clause added to city fee hikes; some still displeased

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer City Council got an earful from a few displeased residents over the fee and rate increases used to balance the upcoming city budget.

Some, like a sewer franchise fee increase, was expressly intended to balance the general fund budget. Councilor Brandon Smith successfully amended this, along with a new stormwater utility fee, to sunset in one year, meaning they would fall back to 5 percent in one year. Because the two increases didn’t pass unanimously – Councilors David McKane and Mark Caillier voted no – they’ll be back for second reading at the Council’s June 21 meeting.

Others, like raising the stormwater utility rate, were described as essential to meeting state and federal clean water mandates.

All in all the impact to Keizer’s utility customers will be about $26 per year, Finance Director Susan Gahlsdorf said.

While the all-funds budget – which includes funds for utilities, streets and other non-general fund revenues – increased by some 9.6 percent, City Manager Chris Eppley pointed out that the general fund actually decreased by about $270,000.

Ross Nelson was unimpressed. He testified at Monday’s Council meeting, saying that staffing and spending levels should match the city’s population growth.

“My salary is identical to what it was in 2007. In fact, it’s lower because my benefits have been cut … You need to have the courage to cut more,” Nelson said.

“There’s nothing harder than laying someone off,” testified Sandi King, who was vice-chair of this year’s budget committee, “… but there comes a time that either via attrition or layoffs, something has to give.”

While Keizer’s property tax rates are frozen at $2.08 per $1,000, Dwight Reinwald testified that a fee increase is analogous to a tax.

“I don’t buy the shell game. … A tax by any other term is a tax,” he said.

Some councilors defended the fee increases, noting that more than $250,000 was actually cut, mostly from materials and services and by freezing pay of non-union staff.

“Our economy has changed the way some people behave,” said Cathy Clark, a council member. “And we need a police presence. … I’m going to vote in favor of this because I believe it’s important we maintain the police services we have to keep folks like my senior mother safe.”

Mayor Lore Christopher also played the mom card, saying hers was disappointed in the fee increases, and also took a dig at the Keizer Police Association – the officers’ union – for not accepting a pay freeze.

“Our police officers had the option of not taking that 2 percent increase and they elected not to do that,” Christopher said. “And that has cost all of us.”

Councilor Richard Walsh said he knew supporting the fee hikes would make him a target, but warned that further cuts would take a heavy toll.

“If we take away one more thousand dollars, the next place was taking out all the bathrooms in our parks,” he said. “… Those are the types of things we’ll be losing if we try to make up $150,000 more than we’ve already cut.”

Ora Lee Katherine Beard

Services for Mrs. Beard will be at 1 p.m. Friday, June 11, at Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service in Salem. Interment will be at Restlawn Cemetery.

Mrs. Beard, of Keizer, died Saturday, June 5, 2010. She was born in Pueblo, Colorado, and was one of three children born to Amil and Julia Frey. She graduated from Ordway High School and completed one year at Pueblo Junior College. While attending college she was employed by New Era Weekly Newspaper.

Her parents sold the farm to move to Oregon, but her father died before the move happened. Her mother, sister and her made the move in December of 1947. She was employed at the Oregon Department of Transportation for 39 years and retired on April 30, 1990.

She married Melvin G. Beard on December 28, 1956 at the First United Methodist Church on State Street. They were married for more than 40 years.

Ora Lee was a member of Beta Sigma Phi of the Marion-Polk Council for 53 years. She enjoyed spending time with family in various activities, especially shopping trips to Portland and trips to Hawaii; Leavenworth, Wash.; the Colorado Rockies and a visit to the family farm in Lincoln County, Colorado.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Amil and Julia Frey, and her husband, Melvin Beard. She is survived by her sisters, Flora Kuntz and Juanita Bryan; brother-in-law Duane Kuntz; nieces, Nova Smith, Nina Stockwell, Tamie Warner; Nephew Randy Bryan, and 4 great-nieces, and 2 great-nephews.

Communication problems

The 2010-11 city budget has been finalized and approved by the city council.  That doesn’t mean the people like it.

There was impassioned testimony from citizens at the council session imploring the councilors to assure that the city lives within its means just as the private sector does.

But does it?  Many American households have been in deficit spending mode for years, relying on easy credit cards to pay for the things they didn’t have the cash for.  That’s not an option for the city; it is not allowed to have a deficit—it has to keep its spending within the limits of what revenues come in.

What got a lot of people upset was the information that the 2010 budget showed an increase of almost 10 percent.  How can this be? many people thought.

The city manager and councilors informed the live and TV audience, the general budget actually was less than it was last  year and almost a $1 million less that it was in 2007.  That information was lost in all the budget discussions while it should have been front and center to mollify the residents.

The city has a communications problem.

More and more is heard discouraging words from the public:  the city council is out of control with its spending. Residents will say that if they don’t know that the just-approved budget is actually less than last year.

This illustrates the lack of coherent communication from the city and the council to the citizens of Keizer.  It is not just the budget that has elicited citizen complaints regarding information coming from the city.

In the past citizens have been angered by perceived lack of notice, especially about changes in Area C of Keizer Station.  It is impossible for the city to personally and individually inform citizens with news of budgets or projects.  However, the city can make effective use of news releases and the bully pulpit of public officialdom to get their message out to the public.

The quarterly newsletter the city mails out should be used to tell citizens of proposed ordinances, projects and budgets.  Keizer’s Channel 23 can be utilized to broadcast a weekly update of city news.  The city also should adopt a process in which it erects a sign for every proposed land use project with information about the project, its size, a site map and information about public input.  This mode of communication is relatively inexpensive and is used by many other governments.

Everything the city can do to keep its citizens informed should be done.  An informed citizenry is an engaged citizenry; the aim is not to tamp down input or debate, but to assure that all sides are talking from the same set of facts.

—LAZ

Danielle ‘Dani’ Coleman

Ms. Coleman, of Keizer, died Wednesday, June 2, 2010. She was 22 years old.

An alumna of McKay High School, she was born in Portland and has lived in Marquam, Mt. Angel, Salem and Corvallis.

Survivors include her son Matty, fiancé Tim Keeton, mother and step-father Christina and David Ellsworth of Salem, father Greg Coleman, brothers:  Matt, Anthony and Seth Coleman and Brady Goodall, all of Corvallis, step-father and spouse Tim (Siniva) Paxson; grandparents:  Tim and Jyl McCormick of Salem,  Gordon and Colleen McDonald; aunts and uncles:  Mitch and Ann Coleman, Dayton; Jon (Michelle Robin) Coleman of Mt. Angel, Thom (Anya Eck) Coleman of Brooktondale, NY; Beckie (Tom Naganuma) Calhoun of Portland and Elizabeth Calhoun of Seattle; Tamlyn Freeman, Sheri Magallanes and Richard Cooper.  Her cousins are Dara (Trevor) Abel; Mitchell, McCord, Krystal, Susan & Morgan Coleman, Jyliann Calhoun Derek Robin, Elisabeth Copler, Brandy Murray, Rickie Sprayberry and Stephanie and Keith Rivers.

A celebration of her life was held on Wednesday, June 9, at Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.  Contributions in Matty’s behalf may be made to Matty Landon Coleman at any U.S. Bank branch.

Governor candidates both have issues

To the Editor:

To win, it would seem, there’s at least one hurdle each that the two major-party candidates for Oregon governor must surmount.  That’s if a Democrat will succeed to an unprecedented third term or a Republican without any public office-holding experience will grasp the gubernatorial brass ring.  Incidentally, a third term governor has never happened in state history, while election to the office by someone without experience requires a trip back in time to the 1930s.

In the case of John Kitzhaber, he left the position after two terms in a huff, grumbling angrily that the state was “ungovernable.”  His arguably greatest challenge now is to plainly answer these questions: What’s changed, Dr. Kitzhaber?  How so?

The guy without office-holding experience, Chris Dudley, has so far mainly shown his ego for office.  As an opener, it’s reported, he’s not even practiced his citizenship by voting in public elections.  Meanwhile, he’s light as a feather on specifics about where he stands on critical issues of the day.  In fact, when asked, he’s only been able to say that, if elected, he will consider this or that major matter.

He has made it clear, however, that he supports the private sector in most any and every venture each player there may seek.  So, the key question for Mr. Dudley is this: Are you going to work on behalf of all Oregonians or just some of the already-wealthy ones who’ve bankrolled your campaign and might just be, with you in the capitol, looking for special favors?

Unless a third party candidate succeeds to the office, how these two candidates get at these matters will determine the election’s outcome.  Everything else just may be “frosting.”

Gene H. McIntyre
Keizer

Baseball is life

To the Editor:

Baseball teaches a lot about life. Take for instance the unfortunate bad call by umpire Jim Joyce at a not so close play at first base.

This happened with two outs in the ninth inning.  The runner was clearly out, but in the opinion of the umpire, Jason Donald was called safe. This mistake cost Detroit Tiger pitcher, Armando Galarraga, a perfect game in the record books. It was still a perfect game!

There are many lessons to be learned from this game.  First, if this play had happened in the second inning, it would not have been so dramatic. Timing is a very critical factor in life. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is an example. Some folks think there should be instant replay in baseball, just like football. If there were and that play overruled, then we would not have witnessed the emotion and character of two extraordinary men.  We would not have seen an umpire, with tears on his cheek, apologizing to the pitcher for a blown call nor for the pitcher forgiving the umpire for his mistake.

Although Galarrago was extremely disappointed, and rightfully so, he told Jim Joyce “nobody’s perfect” and graciously accepted the apology. Being able to admit your mistakes and being able to forgive has to come directly from the Bible. In life there are many great and heroic actions that people do and don’t receive credit for it. I guess we have to live with disappointment and the fact “nobody is perfect.”

Bill Quinn
Keizer

McNary band takes its act on the road

By LANCE MASTERSON
Of the Keizertimes

The McNary band’s road show drew rave reviews.

As part of its outreach, the band recently played before Weddle, Kennedy and Forest Ridge elementary schools.

“We absolutely loved it,” said Samantha Ragaisis, principal of Weddle School, when asked about last week’s performance. “It was an educational experience in instruments, sound and music. The band was fantastic.”

Similar praise came from Judy Day, third grade teacher at Kennedy.

“The kids loved it and were surprised about how the individual instruments sounded,” said Day. “I thought it was great because (McNary band director) David Hodges helped the children see what a band does, showing how the melody is carried, for example, and making the students think beyond what they heard.”

And therein lies one purpose of the road show: To get youngsters to think about music.

“We go to not just play for the kids, but to educate them about music,” said Hodges. “We talked about what components are necessary for something to be called music.”

Students were also introduced to various instruments and the roles they play in a band.

As for selections, they came from “Star Wars,” “The Teddy Bears Picnic,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Perfect Storm.”

But learning opportunities weren’t limited to the younger set.

“Our band students learn how much influence they have on younger students,” said Hodges.

Hodges added: “So they work not only on playing well, but also in being good examples for younger students. They also might learn something about music as they listen to what I teach the younger kids.”

Band members also learned the importance of working together as they set and tore down several times a day.

But the sheer entertainment value of music was never overlooked.

“They enjoyed it,” said Forest Ridge Principal Gary Etchemendy of his students’ reaction. “(The McNary band) played several songs that were familiar to the students, which immediately got their attention. Many students were moving to the beat during their performance.

“I thought the band did a nice job of showcasing the different instruments and reinforcing instruments and reinforcing concepts taught in music.”

A bit of promotion was also in evidence.

“We also encouraged the younger students to be in music as they grow older,” said Hodges.

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Presented by Copper Creek Mercantile

M. Marker

Mariesha Marker, a former Lady Celts softball player, signed with the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch League for the coming season.

“You know, it’s every collegiate athlete’s dream to keep going after their four years, and I get the chance to play with and against some great players,” said Mariesha.

Mariesha is one of three catchers on the Bandits’ roster. One of her teammates is legendary pitcher Jennie Finch.

Upon graduating from McNary in 2006, Mariesha went to Long Island University (LIU) in New York. She helped the Blackbirds win a school-record 39 games in 2010 and advance to the regional finals for the first time in school history.

Mariesha enjoyed an outstanding senior season as the starting catcher for LIU.

She earned National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Northeast Region Second Team honors after boosting her batting average 80 points from last season to .373. She smacked a career-high six home runs while adding 15 doubles and three triples.

“I worked very hard in the off-season, talking a lot of extra hitting outside of practices,” Mariesha said of the improvement. “I also paid attention to the little details that you sometimes miss as a younger player. When you are (an underclassman), you can get pulled into the outcome because you’re looking for immediate gratification. As I got older, the process seemed to click a bit more and my approach was great.”

Defensively, Marker threw out 39 percent of opposing base stealers. With six steals of her own, Mariesha moved into seventh all-time on LIU’s career stolen base list.

She also received All-Northeast Conference honors for the second straight season and was a member of the NEC all-Tournament squad.

“Mariesha had a terrific year for us,” said LIU head coach Roy Kortmann. “She capped it off by hitting .428 in the NCAA Regional as we reached the regional final for the first time in school history. An exciting offensive player, I think she is still getting better.”

Kortmann added: “She will be playing professionally with the best players in the world and will represent LIU and our program very well. Mariesha gets to live out a well earned dream.”

Mariesha still can’t believe the dream is hers. She got the call without trying out for the Bandits.

“I was going crazy once I got the call. My hands were shaking and I tried to read this book that I was so into, but my mind was racing with the opportunity that just changed my whole summer plans. It was an outstanding feeling,” she said.