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Day: March 9, 2012

PACs flush with cash as election looms

KEIZERTIMES/Andrew Jackson

This story has been corrected. See end of story for full correction.

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Supporters of Keizer Fire and Marion County Fire District No. 1 have spent more than $17,000 – and have plenty more cash on hand – to persuade voters their agency should protect the Clear Lake neighborhood.

Voters have until March 13 to submit their ballot for two special election measures which would, as written, take territory in north Keizer from MCFD and give it to KFD. Marion County Fire District has filed suit in Marion County Circuit Court, which could affect the election’s ultimate outcome.

The political action committee supporting the measures, Friends of Keizer Fire District, has $6,570 on hand, while opposing committee Keep Keizer Safe has $3,908, according to figures from the Oregon Secretary of State’s office. Numbers were current as of Tuesday, March 6.

Major contributors to Friends of Keizer Fire include the agency’s union, which has contributed $5,000. In contrast, Marion County Fire District No. 1’s union has not made a contribution. The union and agency have had extensive problems, with the union voting no confidence in Chief Kevin Henson just last year. The union also unsuccessfully backed two candidates to replace board members Randy Franke and Orville Downer. Union President Kris Boyer didn’t return a request for comment.

Franke said he was mystified why MCFD’s union would sit out the election.

“You’d have to ask them why they’d sit out a situation that’s going to cost union jobs in the end if we lose,” Franke said.

Robert Blackmore, Keizer Fire’s attorney on this issue, chipped in $10,000. Joe Van Meter, president of the KFD board, said Blackmore’s contribution was to cover sending information to all Keizer households because the group missed a filing deadline to have arguments for the measure included in the county’s voter pamphlet.

For MCFD, the department’s volunteer association is its biggest contributor, chipping in $6,500. Board members Randy Franke, Bernie Otjen and Wayne Miller have all made cash contributions. Franke said some 40 individuals, mostly from the Clear Lake area, have contributed $100 or less.

In major spending, Marion County Fire spent $2,581 with Astley Consulting Group, $1,058 with Towers Marketing and $732 with Jackie Franke, wife of MCFD Board President Randy Franke.

Randy Franke said his wife has been active in local Republican politics as well as his campaigns for county commissioner for decades.

Full disclosure: Both have purchased advertising with the Keizertimes, with MCFD spending $630 and KFD purchasing $1,857.

Both PACs have also spent cash on printing and mailing.

The print version of this story erroneously reported Keizer Fire spent some $5,000 with a firm called Adams and Associates. While the spending did take place, it occurred in 2009 and was unrelated to the current election. We apologize for the error.

Gun privacy bill is big win for Rep. Thatcher

Rep. Kim Thatcher (File Photo)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Rep. Kim Thatcher’s bill restricting disclosure of concealed handgun license holders’ information now awaits the governor’s signature after passing both chambers of the Oregon Legislature.

Even more restrictive legislation passed the House last year, but didn’t get through the Senate. This year’s version, House Bill 4045, adds exemptions to the law: For example, information could be released under a court order, if the license holder allows for it, or a public body determines a “compelling need” to disclose. Several criminal justice exemptions also are in the proposed law; for example, a crime victim could find out if the perpetrator had a license, and news organizations could learn if a person convicted of certain crimes had a concealed carry license.

Thatcher admits the “compelling need” passage gave her heartburn, but was pleased to see the bill make it to the Senate floor.

“I want to make it very clear that that is a very high threshold meant to cover rare circumstances not contemplated in the other exemptions,” Thatcher said.

The bill got broad support in both chambers, passing the House 44-14 on initial hearing and 54-6 on concurrence. The Senate passed legislation 24-5.

“People in the community around Oregon rose up and said, ‘Hey Senate! Hear this!’” Thatcher said. “Finally we’re starting to get some movement.”

On the House floor last week, Rep. Phil Barnhart, D-Eugene, said the compromises led him to switch his vote from a no on the original version to a yes on the amended bill.

“This is one of those situations where private information, for the most part, should be kept private,” Barnhart said.

And Rep. Jeff Barker, D–Aloha, added that a CHL doesn’t necessarily even mean the holder has a gun.

“It’s about records, and it’s a good bill,” Barker said.

Too many inconsistencies

By MIKE WELTER

The Vineyards 1 Home Owners Association board has gathered a considerable amount of information from both fire districts as well as the city on this annexation plan.  We feel this plan has too many inconsistencies and unanswered questions.

Currently we have auto response by Keizer Fire District (KFD) and Marion County Fire District #1 (MCFD1) from Chemawa Road north to the city limits.  If MCFD1 is no longer at the Clear Lake station they will have to respond from further away if KFD is tied up.  This could delay response times up to 10 minutes or longer. Delayed response time equals a higher probability of property loss.  If both measures pass, Keizer Fire says they will have two ambulances in service but that’s less than we have now between the two fire districts.  This takes a valuable resource from the center of the city where the majority of their ambulance calls originate and moves it to the northern fringes of the city.  This equates to less resources and delayed response times to those in need for a medical emergency.

Who gets the Clear Lake station and equipment:  Keizer Fire has stated that the station and equipment would come to them at no cost and this is in their analysis presented to the city.  However in their City of Keizer Withdrawal of Clear Lake Area Fact Sheet they state that the legal standard is to effect an equitable distribution of assets. If the distribution cannot be agreed to, there is a process to quickly decide the distribution by a neutral third party arbitrator.  On Keizer’s own web site they state two different scenarios. Since Marion County Fire still has more than 80 miles to cover it seems highly unlikely that all of the station and equipment would come at no cost to Keizer Fire, however it appears that KFD has budgeted only for their best case scenario with no backup plan.

More inconsistencies come from the city.  During council meetings the mayor insisted that the Clear Lake residents would be able to vote on the matter.  The problem is that with all of Keizer voting on it, the voice of the residents affected is diluted.  The council was presented with over 600 resident’s signatures opposing the annexation and ignored them.  However one letter signed by three people from the homeowners association requesting the annexation was given unquestioned validity.  Keizer Fire Chief Jeff Cowan is a board member of  one of those associations.  It also appears from various emails, city council meetings, and, most recently, Lore Christopher’s  letter in the Keizertimes that the mayor has a personal agenda against Marion County Fire.

Further questions come from Keizer Fire District.  Chief Cowan said in the July Keizertimes, “A vote brings the process up to the gold standard of the will of the people.”  Apparently that does not apply to the people of Clear Lake as at a legislative hearing both MCFD1 and KFD were asked if they would abide by a vote solely by the residents of Clear Lake.  Chief Cowan’s response was that this was unacceptable while MCFD1 said that they would abide by it.  In Keizer Fire’s Withdrawal of Clear Lake Area Fact Sheet they state that “it is correct that Keizer Fire is feeling budget pressures. This is a survival issue for Keizer Fire.”  However in other areas, they refer to this annexation as net neutral stating that all the tax revenue would go to run the Clear Lake station.  Which is it?

I have repeatedly asked for a business plan for the annexation.  Twice I was told by Keizer Fire that this was done in executive session and could not be provided.  Then I was told that they have been running a station since the 1940s and they would deal with it when they get to it.

Send a message that enough is enough and vote no on Measures 24-325 and 24-326.

Mike Welter lives in Keizer.

Threats will not derail CCC’s mission

By CHERYL ROBERTS

Three threats of violence against Chemeketa Community College have raised concern, frustration and questions about the security of college students and employees. Many students have had their schedules changed without notice and classes canceled. The time spent investigating these calls has interrupted our ability to educate students who are investing energy and money to improve their lives. Students are outraged that selfish individuals are thwarting their education.

We hear from students and alumni all the time how Chemeketa has improved their lives. We have profound experiences of the community coming along side to support us when we need help. Now we are in a predicament and need you in a different way. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office is devoting significant resources to the case. Anyone with information helpful to solving the case can contact the Sheriff’s Office anonymously at 503-588-5112.

I wish we had a magic wand to protect us all from danger, but that is not possible, and it would be naive to pretend we will always be completely immune from risk.  I refuse to accept that these situations will derail us from our mission to transform lives. We are well-prepared to anticipate and respond to threats, and I want to share some of the steps we’ve taken to make Chemeketa as safe as possible –

1. Our Director of Public Safety has over 30 years of law enforcement experience. He has forged partnerships with local law enforcement professionals with whom we collaborate on matters of crime prevention and emergency response.

2. We have a threat assessment team in place that works closely with law enforcement to provide early warning of potential dangers.

3. Our emergency management committee has been rigorous in organizing and training staff to respond to emergencies effectively. This includes quarterly training sessions where personnel practice responding to simulated emergency situations.

4. We practice clear and open communications, so we have established a text message alert system which currently notifies over 5,000 students and staff of emergencies and closures affecting Chemeketa.

5. We have in place a crisis response team that is prepared to help us address our emotional needs should a traumatic event occur.

We will continue to respond swiftly to any threat and ask the community to join us in cooperating with law enforcement to bring this unprecedented situation to a close. Again, if you have any information that may be helpful, please contact the Sheriff’s Office anonymously at 503-588-5112.

Cheryl Roberts is president of Chemeketa Community College.

Vote yes on annexation

I am a Keizer resident and very concerned about this annexation issue.  I have been around the Keizer Fire District my entire life and I am writing this letter in support of the annexation of the Clear Lake area to the Keizer Fire Department.  Keizer Fire District is a department filled with people of compassion, honesty and integrity.  The entire KFD cares a great deal, not only about Keizer and its citizens, but about all of the Salem and surrounding areas.  Each and every employee of KFD would help out anyone, from any agency, at any time.

I have a few points to make concerning this election.

Point one: The annexation of the Clear Lake area was brought to the fore by two Clear Lake Home owners’ association requests for Keizer Fire to be their fire district.   That point seems to be being overlooked by both fire departments.  I acknowledge that one of the associations has withdrawn their support however that occurred very recently and very late in the game.

Point two: Marion County Fire District has said they will need to lay-off  20 staff if Keizer obtains Clear Lake.  Perhaps MCFD should look at their budget.  In looking over the minutes of MCFD, I ran across minutes dated Sept. 15, 2010 concerning the fiscal year 2011-12.  I would encourage citizens to follow this link to the minutes and read ‘New Business’ paragraph 3.  (http://www.wvfra.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/MCFD1-2010.09.15-Minutes.pdf)  Please make note after reading this that Marion County currently is, and has been for some time, aware of their budget deficit.  Blaming KFD (for actually responding to the written requests of its citizens) seems to be just a diversion at this point for MCFD.  In Sept. 2010, the blame was on City of Salem as you will read in the above article via the link.  MCFD has known they have a funding issue for quite some time.   If you follow the link, I think you may come to the same conclusion.

My last point is this, if MCFD were as concerned with the citizens of Clear Lake as they say they are, why then do they continue to increase their legal fee budget each fiscal year.  Wouldn’t it be better spent on equipment or training.  I think it might behoove anyone interested to ask to see a line item of the budget for ALL legal fees over the last two to three years.   In looking over the MCFD minutes, I noticed a citizen asked to see their legal fee budget and questioned where the money came from and exactly where it went.  After reading a few months of minutes, I came to the conclusion that MCFD tried to muddy the waters and not give an accurate accounting of the legal fees and where that portion of their budget went.  I believe their response skirted the actual questions this citizen went to the Board meeting to ask.  It is my understanding that the MCFD budget for 2008 and 2009 legal fees was $54,640.00.  In 2009-2010, it is my understanding that the legal fee budget jumped to $275,026.00.  In 2010-2011, it is my understanding, that it was a projected reduction to a smaller sum, it was only $250,000.00.  Perhaps the citizens of Marion County Fire District should be asking where all that money is going and for what reason.  Perhaps then MCFD could retain 20 staff personnel.

Please vote yes on both sides of your ballot.  Keizer is a great city to live it and having unity will only make it better.

Karen Anderegg Van Meter
Keizer

 

Currently, the people who live in the Clear Lake area of Keizer pay approximately $500,000 in taxes to Marion County Fire District #1.  My question is: Do they receive $500,000 worth of service or do they subsidize the rest of the district and to what extent?

I heard testimony at city council meetings from people who live outside of the Clear Lake area who wanted to maintain the current system because, I assume, they like the subsidy. I recall some folks were from Turner and several who live north of the city limits. It would be interesting to see how many people who write letters to the editor actually live within the Clear Lake area. It has been reported the average saving per household in the Clear Lake area will be $90 per year if the Keizer Fire District is allowed to annex. That amounts to $90,000 per year and that is a nice saving.

Bill Quinn
Keizer

Vote no on annexation

I live in northeast Salem and I have friends that live in Brooks.  We all frequently shop at many Keizer stores.  The messages on this fire campaign have us greatly disturbed.  When you vote for this measure you’ll be hurting those that live in Marion County Fire District #1.  Let Keizer serve Keizer means you don’t care about us, shoppers that help keep your businesses alive.  We feel we’re not welcome to shop in Keizer anymore.  And it obviously means you don’t care what happens to even your own family members and friends that may live on Wheatland or Quinaby Roads or anywhere outside of Keizer.  I can’t vote on this but if I could I’d vote no.

Amber Farrell
Salem

 

“Fire District dispute a confusing mess!”  The legislature didn’t make it any clearer when they recently met.  For now I’m voting no and hope everyone else does until the legislature fixes it where the affected residents are the ones who have the deciding voice in whether they want to change or not.  Because I believe Clear Lake residents deserve to have the deciding vote I’m voting no.

Jason Wood
Keizer

 

I woke up this morning to read headline news on the Clear Lake Annexation and a quote that Keizer Fire lied to Vineyards Phase 2 Home Owners Association, “… we felt we were lied to by Keizer Fire.”  And last week the Keizertimes (Feb. 17) reported “The city staff has done no analysis of how Keizer would be better served by Keizer Fire District instead of Marion County Fire District.”

I don’t believe everything that campaigns tell me but these newspaper stories have me convinced that everyone should vote no.

David Adams
Salem

 

If the city of Keizer is successful in taking part of Marion County Fire District’s tax base and giving it to Keizer Fire then the resources of Marion County Fire will be reduced and everyone loses–—not only the Clear Lake and Keizer residents but all the residents in the 80 plus square miles where Marion County Fire provides services.  The river doesn’t surround Keizer, we’re not an island!  I want two good fire districts available with all their assets at my disposal when I need help.  Please, consider the consequences and vote no!

Ron Hicks
Salem

 

Removing fire personnel and an ambulance from the city of Keizer is not providing better service to the community!

Choosing to annex the area served by Marion County Fire District from the Clear Lake station is an unsafe choice as Keizer Fire District is at its load limit now. Spreading the resources thinner while call volume increases will mean longer response times.

Earlier this year Keizer Fire was so busy running multiple calls they had to leave fall patients on the floor for an extended period of time until they could complete other emergency calls to respond. On one occasion the first arriving crew took 23 minutes to arrive and the other was just shy of 19 minutes. Keizer Fire never called for mutual aide instead they allowed the patient to wait.

In November they were unable to get an immediate response for their second out fire engine which took 33 minutes to arrive on scene after being called three times for a response.

Voting no on all measures will keep all firefighters, all ambulances and all available resources within the City of Keizer.

David Zahn
Keizer

 

Here are ten reasons to vote no on the Clear Lake annexation issue that is on the March 13 ballot.

1. Residents of Clear Lake do not have an independent vote in determining their own fate.  The Keizer city council and the Keizer Fire District both fought to make sure that the residents of Clear Lake did not have an independent vote.  Why? Because they knew that the majority of the residents don’t support this forced annexation.   Another important thing to note is that Marion County Fire District #1 filed a lawsuit to get Clear Lake residents the right to an independent vote.  The city council and Keizer Fire District have fought those efforts.

2. The residents of Clear Lake enjoy great medical and fire protection so there is no reason to change.  Keizer Fire District is promising if they win they will provide great service to the area.  Marion County Fire District #1 is already providing great service.  The old saying couldn’t be more true, “If it ain’t broke.  Don’t fix it.”

3. If this forced annexation is successful it will severely cripple Marion County Fire District #1’s ability to maintain the current level of fire protection for the rest of their area.  One fire district shouldn’t benefit at the expense of another especially if it isn’t done to improve service.

4. If this measure passes Keizer Fire will be spreading their already thin resources across an even greater area.  The area currently serviced by the Keizer Fire District will receive less service as Keizer Fire moves a large part of its resources to the Clear Lake area.

5. Keizer Fire will lose a valuable back up resource for mutual aid coverage of medical and fire calls.  In the past six months alone Marion County Fire Districts #1’s medic (Medic 33) has assisted Keizer Fire 100 times.

6. This action is about money not service.  Keizer Fire needs money. They couldn’t pass a tax on our water bill.  They couldn’t pass the 911 tax on our cell phones.  So now they are trying to steal another fire district’s area to balance their budget.

7. There are still pending legal challenges to this vote.

8. This action initiated by Keizer Fire and supported by the Keizer city council has already wasted over $400,000 in tax dollars.

9. This annexation isn’t supported by the two biggest Home Owners Associations in the Clear Lake area.

10. If this forced annexation is successful it sets a precedent that other fire districts across the state could use to take over their neighboring fire districts territory.  We all lose when one fire district forcibly tries to take over another.

I strongly urge you to vote no on these ballot measures.

Mark Jennings
lives in the Clear Lake area of Keizer.

 

Marion County Fire District #1 opposes the actions of Keizer City Council and Keizer Fire District to deny Clear Lake residents a deciding vote on who provides fire service.

If Clear Lake residents want to change from MCFD#1 to KFD, they should have the deciding vote.

These ballot measures are not about protecting Keizer citizens, providing better emergency service or even saving taxpayers money.  It appears these measures were initiated to help KFD’s growing budget deficit.

For over 60 years, the Clear Lake area and Keizer have been well served by both MCFD#1 and KFD.  If the ballot measures pass, the level of fire and emergency resources will be reduced.

Two Clear Lake home owners associations have said they are completely satisfied with the services provided by MCFD#1 at Clear Lake Station are and they don’t want to change.  In the March 5 issue, the Statesman Journal quoted Vineyards Phase 2 Home Owners Association, “… we felt we were lied to by Keizer Fire.”

Further, the Clear Lake neighborhood has the backing of the entire MCFD#1 resources.  It is a ridiculous and uneducated statement for anyone to claim that the Clear Lake area of Keizer currently receives inferior public safety services.

If the City of Keizer is successful in taking part of our tax base and giving it to KFD then the resources of MCFD#1 will be reduced and everyone loses.  Not only will Keizer residents be affected but they will be lowering services for their family and friends that live in the Marion County Fire service area.

Who is supporting Keizer Fire in this forced annexation? According to Secretary of State Elections (Orestar) Bob Blackmore contributed $10,000 on Feb 17 to support these measures.  This is the same Lake Oswego attorney advising the city of Keizer and the Keizer Fire District on this hostile takeover.

If these measures pass, Keizer Fire says they’ll receive the Clear Lake station and equipment.  This statement is not true.  According to Oregon law, a separate legal process will determine the division of assets.  If the courts award KFD any assets, they will also determine the price they pay for those assets.

Unfortunately, citizens have been receiving a lot of conflicting information.  A complaint was filed with the Secretary of State’s Election office regarding KFD President Joe Van Meter statement in an email that ‘The Facts below are verified through the State of Oregon, Secretary of State Elections Division.”  On 2/23/12 in response to that complaint the Secretary of State Elections Deputy Director wrote “This office never ‘verified the facts’ of the Keizer Fire District fact sheet.”

MCFD#1 is committed to providing superior emergency services to all customers within our district.  We take this responsibility very seriously.  The current actions of the Keizer City Council defy common sense.  The city provides no fire protection or emergency response services nor has expertise in these areas.  The Keizertimes on 2/28/12 reported “The city staff has done no analysis of how Keizer would be better served by KFD instead of MCFD.”  Yet the City passed these measures onto voters.

Keizer residents are best served by both districts; receiving immediate response from both MCFD#1 and KFD.  Less ambulance service, longer response times, fewer firefighters—ll reasons to vote “no.”

Regardless of the political banter you hear or read you can trust MCFD#1 to protect your community.  That is who we are.  That is what we do.

Randy Franke
Salem

Tennis, the Keizer way

To the Editor:

I would like to congratulate Mayor Lore Christopher and the Keizer City Council for unanimously passing a resolution to build tennis courts at Claggett Creek Park. This facility will feature four regulation tennis courts and the first four dedicated kids courts in the Pacific Northwest. The United States Tennis Association approves the design of the facility and will likely fund up to twenty percent of the cost to build this cutting edge facility.

This project exemplifies the Keizer Way. The city will end up investing $50,000 in already pledged park funds that can only be used for park improvements. This sum represents 15 percent of the total cost. The Keizer Tennis Association will have to come up with the rest of funding, estimated at $302,000. The KTA will also maintain the facility at minimal cost to the city.

This proposal is very thorough and has city staff support and now city council  support.  The tennis courts will take up  0.8 acres of a 10.8 acre park while preserving soccer and all the current amenities except for possibly one baseball backstop. The backstop could be located to a different area of the park.

It’s important to have a central location that is visible and accessible to the community. Tennis is a perfect fit for Claggett Creek Park.

I would also like to thank the KTA board of directors, Keizer city staff, the USTA, the Boys and Girls Club, Keizer parks advisory board members, Keizer Parks Foundation, Claggett Creek Watershed Council, Keizer Rotary, the West Keizer Neighborhood Association, KTA volunteers and parents, McNary High School tennis coaches and players, and the following local sponsors for supporting tennis: Pinnacle Physical Therapy, Lady-Jean Ramsey-Stratford, DMD, Lakepoint Law Firm, Copper Creek Mercantile, the Optimist Club of Salem, BSH Consulting, LLC and Governor Vic Atiyeh.

Rick Hammerquist
Keizer

Mr. Hammerquist is a former president of Keizer Tennis Association.

Thank you to Dessert sponsors

To the Editor:

The Keizer Rotary Club sponsored its annual International Dessert on Thursday, March 1, for 14 Rotary exchange students from around the world. The Dessert was made possible through the sponsorship of local businesses and organizations. They were:

AccurAccounts, Inc., Amy McLeod, RE/MAX Equity Group, Big Town Hero, Clint Holland.

Greg and Debbie Ego, Rasmussen Spray Service, Heltzel & Williams Law Firm, Highway Fuel Co., Huggins Insurance, Keizer Collision Center.

Keizer Fire District, Keizer Veterinary Clinic, Keizer Vision Source, Keizertimes, Koho & Beatty, Attorneys at Law, Loren’s Sanitation.

Mark Baker, McNary Estates Newsletter, R. Bauer Insurance, Ramsey Dental Clinic, Rick Day, Advantage Precast, Roger Jenson, Aggregate Machinery.

Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, Ted Anagnos, Merrill Lynch, Wheat, LLC, and Willamette Valley Bank

We thank them for their generosity.

Laura Perez
Keizer Rotary Club

Unbelievable, irresponsible and disrespectful

The March 2, 2012 issue of the Keizertimes had an article on the front page “Group Withdraws Support for Keizer Fire.”  This article indicated the Vineyards Phase Two Home Owners Association was withdrawing their support for the Keizer Fire District Annexation of the Clear Lake area.  This after they initiated the whole process several months back with a letter to the Keizer Fire District requesting annexation. This right in the middle of the election for voters to decide the issue.  What an insult to the citizens of Keizer.

Now that the Keizer community, Keizer city council, Oregon Legislature, local newspapers, attorneys, courts, both fire districts and the voters have had a long and expensive debate about the issue-—they, the board of directors for Vineyards Phase II Homeowners Association, claim they didn’t have a good understanding of the issue?  Do they have a good understand of the more than $200,000 in costs to both fire districts in legal expenses? Do they have a good understanding of the $30,000 they cost the city of Keizer for the election?  Do they have a good understanding of the conflict created between two professional fire districts all because of their actions?

I don’t understand how they could possibly be so uninformed at this late hour with the election in process? How incompetent can they be after all the months of debate and controversy?  Who are these people to pull a stunt like this?  This action is completely irresponsible and disrespectful to the entire Keizer community. Neither the city of Keizer nor the involved fire districts have the time and money to waste attending meetings, hearings and associated legal fees for such a last minute withdrawal because of outright incompetence.

When you make a decision as a board, you need to make it wisely, up front-—with the proper research and facts before you cost an entire community, professional staff and your own member’s statewide embarrassment.  What could possibly have caused you to make such a decision with the ballots in the mail and on kitchen tables?  Unbelievable! And, very sad.

John P. Rizzo,
Keizer