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

Day: October 15, 2010

Middle schools host afterschool rallies

Claggett Creek and Whiteaker middle schools will participate in a Lights On Afterschool rallies Thursday, Oct. 21.

Rallies will be held at each school beginning at 3 p.m. to highlight activities offered in afterschool programs and their benefits. Students and their families are welcome to participate.

Claggett Creeks’s rally will include interactive breakdancing and jerk dancing performances, the Da Vinci Girls Club, Lego robotics, craft clubs, leadership club, a homework zone and a dance.

Whiteaker’s programming includes a pumpkin carving and decorating and other harvest activities. Snacks and parent information booths will also be offered.

The future of our water

Fluoridation of Keizer’s water has risen as an issue before the city council, but not for the reasons of the past.  In the middle of the last century, when cities wanted to add fluoride to the their water systems, a cry rose up that it was a communist plot and it was unAmerican.  Of course it was not a communist plot and the argument can be made that the teeth of millions of children are healthier due to the fluoride they receive via their water.

In a work session this week councilors heard from both sides of the fluoridation debate.  City Council Richard Walsh is pushing for the city to cease adding fluoride to the city’s water system for both health and financial reason.

The city of Keizer spends approximately $50,000 a year to add fluoride to the water system.  An update of the system can push that to $80,000 a year.  Walsh says that the city can better spend that money in other areas such as law enforcement or city amenities.  The council is scheduled to pick up the issue again at its Oct. 18 meeting.

Before taking a final vote the city council needs to be sure it has all the information to make a decision.  It’s nice to hear from dentists but the councilors need to hear from scientists and experts who can expound on fluoride’s effect on health.

Adding fluoride to city water is an relatively inexpensive way to maintain our citizen’s dental health, especially those in lower income brackets who may not be able to make regular visits to the dentist. But there many ways to get fluoride besides water:  fluoride supplements and toothpaste, for example.

Those testifying against fluoridation say that it can be a danger to those with thyroid and other problems.  How many people are adversely affected by fluoride?  How much does someone have to ingest each day before it is a danger—four glasses?  A gallon?  Several gallons?

Who drinks water from the tap?  Does the proliferation of bottled water in our society mean fewer people rely on the city water for drinking?  Who does fluoride help?  Experts say that fluoride is beneficial to the dental health of the young aged from about four to early teens, especially those in lower incomes.  We want to see citizens stay healthy but when it can adversely affect even a small percentage of them it makes sense to stop and take a serious look at fluoride in our lives today.

Fluoride is not a plot, but when it is harmful and the money can be spent in other areas, it is time to give the entire discussion a 21st century make over.


Money for bikers

As you will read in this week’s edition, taxpayers will end up paying about $3,200 for costs associated with the Good Vibrations motorcycle rally this past summer.

It’s not a lot of money in the scheme of the budget, and with big events come the need for more security (most of the cost is associated with police overtime).

But it says a lot about the Keizer City Council’s priorities.

For months we’ve heard the sound of violins at city hall: Serious discussion of police layoffs, no money for the volunteer-led library, no funds to string up holiday lights along River Road, cuts to police training, etc. There’s also been chatter that water rates could be raised for the second year in a row next year.

We do, however, have enough money to pay off a breakfast tab for visiting bikers (about $300 after donations via the Good Vibrations Task Force fell short). And pay (now or later) 14 police officers to guard the parade of motorcycles from Keizer to Salem.

Bringing an event like Good Vibrations is a boost for tourism. But anecdotal evidence suggests the parade from Keizer to Salem is a good illustration for what happened: Motorcyclists slept at Keizer’s only hotel, then drove a few miles south – past Keizer’s business community – to the beer garden and other Good Vibrations festivities on the Salem waterfront.

Who could blame Good Vibrations organizers and attendees? The city waived fees estimated at $1,600 to print brochures about the community, allowed the group free reign of our civic center, amphitheater and parks. Heck, we even bought them breakfast.

It’s strange: We essentially paid people well-off enough to (a) own a motorcycle and (b) have the time and money to travel to a motorcycle rally to come visit us, even as we shrug off promoting literacy, access to the information superhighway and dressing up our town for the holidays.

We wanted to roll out the red carpet for people who came to visit. That we did. Next time, let’s break off a piece for those who decided to stay.

Lady Celts remain undefeated

Of the Keizertimes

Halfway through the season, the Lady Celts are the 5-0 envy of every other team in the Central Valley Conference.

Of course, that also makes them a  highly-valued target.

“The teams are all going to be that much sharper, the coaches will have made the adjustments they’ve needed to make, and it’s going to make the second half of the season that much harder,” said Dustin Walker, McNary head coach.

It’s not a position the team is taking for granted.

“West Salem is going to have their horns out now and we’ll use that to push for the three-game win. Sprague has been getting better throughout the season,” said Whittley Harrell, senior libero.

North Salem High School, the only team in the conference McNary has dropped a game to will also be nipping at their heels.

In some ways, the team is still dealing with that early-season hiccup, said Megan Holland.

“We’re never going to underestimate anybody again. We’re going to keep our intensity up, keep playing our positions and knowing our positions,” Holland said. “West Salem underestimated us earlier, but they’re going to come back even harder.”

The Celts capped their first run through the Central Valley Conference with a win over McKay High School Tuesday, Oct 5. McNary won 25-17, 25-15, 25-14.

“It was a really good game. We missed a lot of serves but we kept at it,” said Deven Hunter, a junior.

Given the craziness that usually surrounds homecoming week, Walker was impressed with the girls’ focus throughout the match.

“Any one of the teams can show up with something unexpected on any given night and we’ve made a point of preparing for each team. It showed in the McKay game,” Walker said.

Senior Madi Cavell led the team in kills, 10, and digs, 11, and added three blocks. Harrell put in 11 digs. Hunter recorded 10 kills and three blocks. Holland had 18 assists and and three aces. Keri stein also put down three aces.

“We knew who we need to watch out for and adjusted our game,” Harrell said. “Moving forward we just need to remember to play our game and not our opponent’s.”

If Republicans are really serious…


What are the big problems that consume our political system and drove our recent financial crisis?  And what is the one factor that connects them all?

You guessed it – the distortions caused by their treatment under the current income tax code.  Plus the ability to address these problems by ditching that code in favor of a modified version of the Fair Tax – a national sales tax.  Here we go with more of the reasons the Republicans should make its adoption their core focus:

Health care. We don’t need no stinkin’ Obamacare.  Nor do we need all the other convoluted solutions trotted out by various Congress-types from one end of the political rainbow to the other and in-between.

All we need to do is get rid of the income tax, whose double bag of goodies for employer and employee – a historical accident from the era of wage and price controls – leads to overutilization, ever-rising prices, poor outcomes and a lack of competition and consumer control over their own care.

Dump the current code, and suddenly, consumers are the buyers of care – not their employers.  They call the shots – not health insurers and providers.  Despite what you hear about health care, when confronted with choice, consumers will make smart decisions that balance price and quality.  We’ll see more capitated contracts directly with providers – say, $60 a month for basic care, with an emphasis on prevention, delivered largely by nurse practitioners with doctors at the ready – combined with what used to be called “hospitalization.”  And we’ll all be just as healthy, if not healthier.

Debt. How come we never just hear about how much companies actually made – i.e., profit?  Why do investors have to wade through terms like EBIDTA, “free cash flow,” and other ways of dressing up their financial reporting?

And most important, why did we have a Wall Street debt crisis?  Lots of reasons.  But one biggie is the current tax code’s massive preference for debt over equity.

It’s why Wall Street and Main Street firms alike overleveraged and why private equity firms swooped in and grabbed great brands, hollowed them out, loaded them with debt and dumped them back on the market for sorry suckers to invest in.

Move to a consumption tax, and you’ll find much more equity investment in companies.  With strong foundations in equity investment, and greater clarity and transparency in earnings – not to mention incentives to offer returns through dividend payments rather than rampant speculation – we’ll find safer and sounder investment decisions based on economics, not tax-favored leverage.

Retirement Security. One of the complaints you’ll hear about replacing both the income and payroll taxes with a consumption tax is that you’ll lose the concept of Social Security as a pension-type system, where payments out are related to what workers put in.

It’s all a crock.  Your money is not sitting in an account somewhere.  The Supreme Court has made clear that the government isn’t obligated to provide you a dime of the cash you think you’ve stashed in the system for decades.  It’s not a question of whether future benefits will be reduced, but by how much.

Time to end the fiction and provide a minimum safety net benefit for everyone under a certain age yet to be determined.  Even those older would be subject to future benefit reductions.

Of course, the amount of those cutbacks would be less than otherwise necessary because we’ve already established that, under a consumption tax combined with rebates, we’re going to encourage family formation and child-bearing.  Which means more future workers to pay into the system and prop up future retirees.

But something even more important happens with a consumption tax system:  you and I now have an incentive to save for the future rather than spend and buy and hand a chunk of our purchases to Uncle Sam.  Which means we can expect everyone to play a greater role in putting by for their own retirement.

(Which, BTW, also contributes further to capital formation and job creation, which is how these virtuous cycles, with the emphasis on virtuous, tend to work.)

Isn’t it nice when everything works together like it’s supposed to?

Bob Maistros writes for North Star Writers Group.

Keizer needs to enforce all codes

To the Editor:

I found this article surprising that after several complaints City of Keizer community development department “ordered” La Hacienda Real to repaint their building a more “muted” color.  I personally never found the original color offensive (too vibrant) and that it complimented the restaurant’s interior design.  This establishment serves wonderful Mexican cuisine and has been a real plus for the Keizer community.

If the Community Development Department is going to be vigilant on color code enforcement of business buildings, I would like to see them become more vigilant on code enforcement of vehicles parked improperly in residential zones, especially RVs that are never used (and often not licensed) but use the Keizer streets for storage of these unused, unwanted vehicles.  Not only do these vehicles devaluate surrounding properties, they also hinder monthly street cleaning which then affects sewer drainage – something Keizer residents pay dearly for.

One can register complaints with the code enforcement office, which will send out violation notices and sometimes involve the police to issue “warning” citations, but in the past 12 years I have never seen this particular Keizer Development Code enforced in my surrounding neighborhood—Arcade Ave.N.E., Kimberly Ct. N.E., Lisa Ct. N.E.).

Chris Koch

Kim Thatcher should be re-elected

To the Editor:

Kim Thatcher should be re-elected as your Oregon State Representative for House District 25 because she understands the threat to public safety posed by foreign national criminals (criminal aliens) living in Marion County.

Marion County on October 1st had 287 criminal aliens incarcerated in the Oregon Department of Corrections prison system, more than any other Oregon county.

Of the 531 inmates incarcerated at the Marion County Correctional Facility (MCCF) on October 11th, sixty-two prisoners were criminal aliens, approximately 12 percent of the jail population.

During the 2009 Oregon State Legislature legislative session Rep. Thatcher sponsored and supported House Bill 3440 that would have required the MCCF to verify the immigration status of prisoners in the jail and allowed the Marion County Sheriff to enforce federal immigration laws pursuant to an agreement with the federal government.

Kim Thatcher, showing her empathy for crime victims, sponsored HB 3440 at the request of Craig Cox in memory of Judy Cox who was killed by a criminal alien who had been convicted numerous times for drunken driving.

Voters should reelect Kim Thatcher as their- State Representative for the public safety of all House District 25 residents.

David Olen Cross

Big box store limit likely to make ballot, backers say

Of the Keizertimes

Organizers of a proposed ballot measure limiting where big box stores could be built in Keizer are “confident” they’ll have enough signatures to put the issue before voters.

Keep Keizer Livable, founded in 2007 in response to a proposed big-box store at the southeast intersection of Lockhaven Drive and Chemawa Road, have raised about $6,673 in total contributions, according to ORESTAR.

If it makes the ballot, Keizer voters would make their voices heard in a special election in March 2011.

Members have been canvassing neighborhoods for the past several weeks. And Kevin Hohnbaum, a co-founder of Keep Keizer Livable, said last week his group has attained the minimum number of signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

But the group is shooting for about 800 more. They need 2,739 qualifying signatures to make the ballot, and estimate they currently have about 3,300.

“I’ll be happy if we get up over 3,500,” Hohnbaum said.

If you’re a registered voter in Keizer there’s a decent chance a group representative has knocked on your door in recent weeks. Hohnbaum said the most resistance to signing the petition to put the measure to voters came from more affluent neighborhoods.

The reason voters give? “They don’t want to limit any business,” Hohnbaum related.

“We tell them we’re not limiting business,” Hohnbaum said. “All we’re doing is keeping our neighborhoods livable. Even though it’s been painted as a big-box ban, it’s not a big box ban.

The word “ban” has been a sticky widget for the group, Hohnbaum said. The exact text reads as this:

“No retail building larger than 65,000 square feet, including indoor space and outdoor and temporary display space, shall be permitted in the City of Keizer outside of the area identified in the City of Keizer, Keizer Station Plan as Area A of Keizer Station, which is bordered by Labish Ditch to the north, Chemawa Rd. NE to the south, Interstate 5 to the east and Portland & Western Railroad tracks to the west.”

“All it does is limit where the big-box stores can be built,” Hohnbaum said.

He said he’s heard “frustration” from visiting residents door-to-door. Keizer Mayor Lore Christopher, along with several city councilors, have publicly called for residents not to sign the ballot measure, saying it would hurt the area’s business climate.

“We’re hearing lots of frustration with city hall, with city council, with the mayor, with city staff … lots of feelings that people aren’t heard,” Hohnbaum said.

They’ve also been taking in money – and spending it, with ad buys in the Keizertimes and the Statesman Journal. Unions are the source of much of the group’s funds, with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 putting in $3,000 in separate contributions, and the Marion-Polk-Yamhill Labor Council putting in $1,000.

Local grocery chain Roth’s Fresh Markets has also chipped in $2,000.

“It was certainly a risk on (Roth’s President Michael Roth’s) part to step out, and we appreciate that,” Hohnbaum said.

Milne makes her case for re-election to county commission

Marion County Commissioner Patti Milne at a Keizer Rotary Club meeting earlier this month. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

Patti Milne, a Republican from the Woodburn area, is running for her fourth term as one of Marion County’s commissioners.

The Keizertimes spoke with Milne recently and got her take on a wide variety of issues affecting county residents.

Q: What accomplishments are you proudest of in your time on the commission, particularly the past four years?

A: “It’s been ongoing to just really bring Marion County into the 21st century and to be more responsive to the citizens and the taxpayers, to bring in accountability, transparency to county government that was so needed. That’s not just something you say, ‘I accomplished it this year, and you move on.’ These are ongoing … We have new department heads, a lot of other new faces at the county, and I think we’ve really raised the level of knowledge and expertise people bring to their jobs. we have wonderful leadership of the county and they’ve been supportive of new ways to do things …

“I implemented a rainy day fund, I have pushed very hard for reserve and contingency funds and that we maintain appropriate levels in those funds so when there’s an emergency, we have the ability to respond to those needs. Department audits is something else I led the charge on, and doing audits, it’s not about looking for criticism, it’s about helping our department heads and supervisors, actually everybody in any given department, again, what do we do well … and how do we find better ways to do things?”

Q: What, if anything, needs to happen to make the Wheatland and Brooklake intersection safer?

A: “That’s what always happens. You have a horrible accident like that, a terrible fatality, and people for years have been saying it’s such a dangerous intersection. We do have a transportation plan at the county. It’s basically, kind of a 20-year plan, it is updated pretty much in tune with the year’s budget, an opportunity to reassess what should be the priorities. This kind of an accident … What I would want to know, however, is more details about this particular accident – speed, were there any substances involved. But it’s just a horrible, horrible accident. My huge priority is the Woodburn interchange. now there’s a multi-car accident waiting to happen. … We really need a better way to determine, and get some of these really important transportation projects, through the system and accomplished much more quickly … It’s time to make that happen.”

Q: What can the county commission do to create jobs?

A: “Government at all levels really, really needs to be working to create the environment that welcomes businesses. our land use laws and regulations really ought to be more supportive of economic growth than they are. Right now, we’ve got a ‘You’re not Welcome’ mat instead of the ‘Welcome’ mat. People talk about a balanced approach. Absolutely protect productive farm ground. We need to give our farmers much more opportunity to diversify their farm operations so they can respond to changing economies, and of course we’re looking at worldwide economies. We have to help everyone, farmers included, to be much more pro-economic vitality.”

Q: What’s your position on a potential Keizer urban boundary expansion?

A: “With Keizer and Salem being next door to each other, it’s which way do we go? Who’s going to get the UGB expansion? It’s a very dicey discussion, and when you look at the map you can see where the two city limits are may not be where one would think. We want to make certain that, and of course you’ve got the farmground, let’s look at what their needs are. And here again, when the cities go through these processes, just like Woodburn, the city needs to be in the driver’s seat.”

Q: Having joined the commission in 1999, when construction was already underway, is there anything you feel you could have done differently as far as oversight of the Courthouse Square project?

A: “I asked questions all along the way, before I was elected and then after I was elected because I wanted details of what was happening, and obviously the effects of decisions that were made. I was repeatedly told to just sit down, be quiet, the decision was made and it was going forward. I was not given information I would have liked to have had, quite frankly. … Something happened somewhere, and that’s what we’re trying to find out now. If somehow, I didn’t give the oversight I should have, that’s nonsense. That’s absolute nonsense. But we are taking the responsibility today to make decisions for the future. … My preference was it wasn’t built in the first place, but it wasn’t my decision.”

Q: What lessons have you learned from watching the Courthouse Square situation unfold? How could the commission improve oversight?

A: “First of all there has to be a reason to build it and it has to be a cost-effective process with tremendous public involvement, that the funds are available to build it … This whole issue of transparency and sharing information, it’s absolute with me. I’m here to serve the public. Everything we do is public knowledge, the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s always been the way I approach things. I think you check and double-check.”

McNary defense needs to shut down Saxon running game

McNary’s Kyle Knight tackles West Salem’s Brett Smith during the Celts 44-20 loss to the Titans Thursday, Oct. 7. (Keizertimes/ERIC A. HOWALD)

Of the Keizertimes

McNary wide receiver James Lowells’ game plan for varsity football team’s clash with the South Salem Saxons bears a striking resemblance to Chicago politics: hit early, hit often.

“Our linebackers need to hit [Jake Fohn] a few times early and make him think twice about running,” Lowells said.

The Celtics travel to meet South Salem Friday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m.

Fohn rushed for 212 yards and four touchdowns on 33 carries in the Saxon’s recent barnburner with Sprague High School.

“He can’t have a big game,” said McNary’s Zac Fegles, a sophomore.

Combined with double threat Junior Espitia, Saxon quarterback, who completed 9 of 14 for 139 yards and carried the ball himself 14 times for 84 yards last week, the Celts will be facing a formidable opponent. South currently holds the No. 3 slot in the Central Valley Conference while McNary is resting at No. 5.

“Defensively, [South] likes bring people in off the edges, but we should be able to give them some grief if they play man against the receivers,” said Rick Ward, McNary head coach.

McNary is still trying to get its ground game moving in the right direction, which would help alleviate pressure on Celtic quarterback Kyle Ismay. Ismay completed 33 of 51 for 358 yards in the team’s clash with West Salem last week, but the Celts’ rushing attack was all but nonexistent.

The Celts will be returning to some basic plays that have worked well against the Saxon defense in the past to get the cylinders firing, Ward said.

“It starts with the line and they’ll step up like they have in previous games,” said Celt Kyle Knight, a senior. “We also need to capitalize on their mistakes more and make fewer on our side of the ball.”

On the receiving side, three Celts – Garren Robinett, Justin Gardner, and Lowells – rolled up more than 70 yards each in the West Salem game.

In addition to the work on the field, Ismay said he’s hoping to see the McNary crowd return to the stands.

“When I was growing up the Celtics were the team to beat. I want people to know that we’re good, and I want the community to get back into it. If they do, I think it will make our job that much easier,” Ismay said.