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Day: November 12, 2010

Paying for 9-1-1

The city council will consider giving the city of Keizer the authority to assess fees on wireless providers to offset costs of 9-1-1 and public safety communications.

The council is not expected to actually impose fees at Monday’s session.  The ordinance would only allow the city to impose fees on gross revenues of telecommunication companies that provide wireless phone service in the city.

Currently the city is subsidizing its share of 9-1-1 costs from the general operating budget to the tune of more than $600,000 annually. That is money that can be used to bring the Keizer Police Department to full personnel strength and other general fund items such as parks.

Franchise fees that phone companies pay to the city help pay for Keizer’s share of the 9-1-1 costs.  More people are opting out of land lines for cell phones; cellphone and wireless providers do  not pay a franchise fee to the city.  The result is that dwindling franchise fees are paying for increasing public safety communications which includes the 9-1-1 emergency service, communications systems, and a records management system.

The current communications franchise fee is not sufficient to fund the city’s share and is not sustainable with decreasing land line usage.

Public safety is the top priority for any government and the 9-1-1 system is a key part of saving lives and responding to crimes.  The system is part of our daily lives and the citizens depend on it.   The city and the city council are correct in addressing this issue and considering the fee for providers.

The telecommunications companies will undoubtedly oppose the imposition of any extra fees on them.  The chances are good that any new fees will be passed along to their customers. That’s where things will get sticky with the public.  If a new fee is actually imposed in the future and the providers pass it on to users there will be a cry about increased taxes.  Franchise and other fees are not taxes—they are fees charged for the privilege of operating in the city.

In our view you can’t put a price on public safety.  The alternative to a wireless fee to help offset 9-1-1 costs is to do nothing and continue to fund Keizer’s share out of the general fund.  Local citizens want to see a fully staffed police department but that is going to be increasingly hard to do without fairly charging for a system that everyone has the right to use but only land line users bear the brunt of.

Providers of wireless communications need to help pay for the system.  If there was a way to have everything the citizens want without imposing a fee the city would be doing it.

On Monday the city council will only consider giving the city authorization to set a fee.  If every type of phone can dial 9-1-1 then every type of phone should help pay for it.

—LAZ

Eagle project is huge success for library

To the Editor:

I am extremely grateful for the help of the Keizer community in the completion of my Boy Scout Eagle project. I could not have completed my Eagle project without the help from many members of the community. The goal of my Eagle project was to collect 5,000 books. We collected over 8,125 books, CD’s, DVD’s, and books on tape. These materials will be added to the library’s collection or sold to fund library operations.

I received help from many different sources. I want to thank those family members, fellow scouts, leaders, friends, and library staff that passed out flyers and then collected, counted, and sorted donated items.

I would like to give a special thank you to three local businesses. Roth’s Fresh Markets, True Value Hardware, and the Keizertimes allowed me to place collection bins at their businesses. The bins received many donations. At the end of the project, True Value Hardware offered to keep a collection bin in their store for continued donations.

I would like to specifically thank the following citizens and associated businesses: Rick and Iva Curry with Budget Rent a Space. They graciously donated a storage unit for storage and sorting activities. Mark DeWilde with Select Impressions helped prepare and then donated thousands of flyers. Lyndon Zaitz of the Keizertimes helped significantly. He helped promote the project with coverage in the Keizertimes, housed a collection bin, and coached me on leadership skills. Lastly, I would like to thank Art Burr, the Keizer Library Director, for all of his support. He volunteers countless hours for the library. He patiently helped me by providing ideas, advice, sorting help, and other volunteer sources. He was an enthusiastic supporter of my project from day one. I could not have completed the project without his help.

This project sparked my interest in the library’s operations. I hope the project also increases the interest of all Keizerites. Perhaps that interest will grow enough to place the library funding issue on the special March ballot.

Again, thank you to everyone. I could not have done this without you.

Grant Gerstner
Keizer

Book drive will help community library

To the Editor:

I would like to call attention to and express my appreciation for the very successful book drive that was arranged and supervised by McNary High School sophomore Grant Gerstner for the benefit of Keizer Community Library.

This project, which was designed to meet his  Eagle Scout qualification requirements, was completed October 31 and  resulted in the donation and collection of more than 8,000 books and related items (books on tape and CD, VHS tapes and DVDs, etc.).  In accomplishing this, Grant was aided by his family, other scouts,  their parents and by members of his church.  Well done, Grant!

Art Burr, Library Director,
Keizer Community Library

The reality of state employee pay

By KEN ALLEN

The election is (finally) behind us, a new governor will take office in January and soon thereafter two important events will occur: the 2011 Oregon Legislature will convene and the state of Oregon will sit down with our union and others to open bargaining on new contracts for state employees.

The legislature being in session is an important backdrop in this round of negotiations, as it’s well known the state faces serious budget challenges in the upcoming biennium. And, as is often the case, many are calling for the budget to be balanced on the backs of the state’s workers, whom they see as overpaid.

There are two problems here. One, the state’s budget gap of $3.2 billion is exponentially larger than the kind of numbers we’ll be bargaining. Two, quite simply, state employees are not overpaid.

Indeed, there have been several independent confirmations that Oregon’s state workers are in fact underpaid when properly compared to their counterparts in the private sector — including academic studies, a state report and exhaustive articles by both the Oregonian and the Salem Statesman Journal.

When I say “properly compared,” the key component is examining jobs that require comparable education, experience and duties. It’s this type of “apples to apples” comparison that’s frequently lacking in debates of public vs. private sector compensation. Conservative talk show hosts, in particular, love to rail on about “average wages” of the public sector vs. the private sector, knowing full well that the private sector includes millions of entry level and/or otherwise minimum wage jobs not found in the public sector.

We understand these negotiations will be scrutinized closely. As you read and hear about them in the months to come, I ask you to keep these thoughts in mind:

• In Oregon, state employees are under-compensated an average of four percent — again, relative to comparable people in the private sector. You can like that or not, but it’s the statistical truth.

• The key concept for making the comparison is total compensation — the combination of wages and benefits received. Historically, for a number of reasons, public employees have traditionally chosen to receive a higher percentage of their compensation in the form of benefits (which, of course, means their average salaries are even lower relative to the private sector). But total compensation is the true comparable tool.

• Given the above, it is disingenuous to simply take a snapshot in time, look at one aspect of total compensation (read: benefits) and denounce that aspect as being “too high.” Any such discussion must take place within a historical context.

A perfect example is the current debate over the six percent PERS pickup, which began in the 1979-81 state contract. Opponents of the pickup argue this benefit has grown to be “too much” — frequently they bemoan the fact that it has “compounded over all these years.” But state employees gave up six percent in wages in exchange for the pickup, so if the pickup had never occurred, state wage schedules would have included that six percent compounded over the same number of years. In other words, it’s a moot point from a financial impact standpoint.

Our state faces real budget issues, and our members understand this. We are working hard to help identify areas where the state can make savings, and we call on incoming Gov. Kitzhaber to listen to these ideas from frontline state employees. As we enter this crucial round of contract talks, we need to understand we’re all in this together.

Ken Allen is the Executive Director of Oregon AFSCME.

Leroy J. Gooch

L. Gooch

Mr. Gooch, of Salem, died Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. He was 91 years old.

Born March 26, 1919, in Brookfield, Mo. he moved with his family to Walla Walla, Wash. in 1937. They moved to Oregon later that year, settling in the Salem area. He wed Iris Phillips in 1940. Mr. Gooch worked as a building contractor until retiring in 1984.

He was preceded in death by his wife. Survivors include: his son, Daryl (Sue) Gooch; two daughters, Linda (Louis) Walker-Choate and Doneva (Larry) Miletta of Salem; grandchildren, Darren (Jennifer) Gooch of Warrenton, Shelley (Brian) Watts of Salem, Mindy Walker of Keizer, Jonathan (Jamie) Walker of Salem, Brandon Miletta of Culver City, Calif., and Amber Miletta of Salem; and six great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Friday, Nov. 5, at Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Oregon Hunters Association or the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Some thoughts on Veterans Day

By JIM WILLIS

“A Veteran is a fellow citizen; an ordinary person who at one significant point in his or her life made out a blank check payable to the United States of America for any amount up to and including their life.”

The author of these words is anonymous, but their understanding of the commitment made by our Veterans is clear, concise and meaningful to anyone who ever wore the uniform of our Armed Forces.

These same Veterans took an oath on enlistment in which they said, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  So help me God.”

Our Veterans swear this oath to neither king nor state.  Our men and women in uniform swear allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, a document encompassing the vision of liberty and the rule of free men under law – a radical concept for some even today, but one that has kept America free and strong and a beacon of hope for people around the world for more than 200 years.

Our veteran’s bravery, their resourcefulness and their patriotism, mark them as America’s finest citizens; Americans who stepped out of the crowd and swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.  They served under our flag and in allegiance to these words; some bled and others died for them.

Some Veterans count their service as the time when they were at their very best and in some cases struggle to find that standard of service during the rest of their lives.  While still others count their time in the Armed Forces as the standard that set the principles, values and ethics that dictated how they would live the rest of their lives.

No matter how our honorably discharged Veterans and their families were affected by their military service, the fact remains that they did not serve for glory, or power, or wealth, but for freedom, and that the simple recognition of service well performed – a sincere thank you – means more to most Veterans than any other reward.

Veterans, thank you for your service.

Jim Willis is director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Rosa Marie Jenkins

R. Jenkins

Ms. Jenkins, of Keizer, died Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010. She was 88.

Born Oct. 4, 1922, in Delta, Colo. to William and Rosa Clark, she later moved to the Salem area. She enjoyed cooking, gardening, crocheting and preserving jams.

The family wishes to thank Avamere Court Retirement Community for their care.

She was preceded in death by four siblings, Charles Clark, Helen Earl, Evelyn Patton and Martha Clark. Survivors include: four children, Larry Large of Alba, Texas, Ron Tripp of Salem, Donna Zeeb of Keizer and Ruth Ann Richardson of Salem; eight grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and her dog, Buffy.

At her request no service was held.  Arrangements are by Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.

Job applications: online or in person?

By SHARON PRELL

Most industries are making finding a job harder and harder because of online applications rather than being able to just walk in and put a face to the name. The company websites are complicated when it comes to naming the application and placing it on theair website. Usually, it’s under “careers” and this is usually at the bottom of the page. Wouldn’t it be easier to just go into the store and be handed a piece of paper that you can fill out right there?

By the time you get to the application online, you see that they show and mark off how many categories you have to go through to complete the process. It doesn’t seem like much until you start and then realize each categories—up to seven— has around three parts to each one. The format determines how fast or slow you finish each part and by the time you get to the next category, you’re left saying “Really?” This usually happens more towards the end of the categories when you’ve answered a few questions basically reworded about 20 or more times.

On the other hand, walking into a store where you want to work makes you feel like you’re getting a sense of the atmosphere. You ask for the hiring manager, introduce yourself, ask if they are hiring, and ask for an application. You might even ask what they would suggest applying for. You give them a card (if you have one) to remember you by. End by saying “Have a nice day,” shake their hand, as you did in the beginning and find a place to fill it out or go home and bring it back as soon as possible. With a application in your hand, you can fill out a simple one- or multi-paged  application and look at everything before you start, unlike online applications.

Which one would you rather go through?

Sharon Prell lives in Keizer.  She graduated from McNary High School in 2010.