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Day: July 25, 2012

Retired cop joins crowded field for vacant council slot

E. Bishop

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Eamon Bishop has announced his candidacy for Keizer City Council, seeking a vacant position in a crowded race for Position No. 3 against Marlene Quinn and Matthew Chappell.

Bishop, a retired police officer who is currently on the Traffic Safety Commission, doesn’t like what he’s seen out of the city council the last few years on several recent battles, most notably over fire districts and big box stores. He said those issues share a common thread: In his opinion, the council majority didn’t take into account opinions of nearby neighbors.

“I would have gone out to Clear Lake, where the people are most affected, and asked them, whether through the neighborhood group(s) or other means,” he said of Keizer Fire District’s effort to annex Marion County Fire District No. 1’s Keizer turf.

Living close enough to Keizer Station to refer to it as his backyard, he said there’s room at the freeway for more development but doesn’t want the community to look like Lancaster Drive, Salem’s busy retail strip. He said more can be done to effectively direct customers from there to the downtown core on River Road.

Bishop wants to find ways to improve communication between the council and public. One way is accepting email as formal testimony.

“Most households have two workers now, people have children with sports and school activities and unfortunately at evening time they’re worn out,” Bishop said. “So there isn’t a lot of interest in attending these meetings because of that.”

He would also look to provide information online before meetings as to the upcoming topics. While agendas and supporting documents are placed on the city’s website prior to sessions, he said he would want more insightful information available.

Bishop supports a fiscally conservative approach to local government, citing three Ps: Police services, public works and planning as his priorities. While he enjoys the arts himself – Bishop has a painting hanging in the Keizer Civic Center as part of the Mayor’s Art Gala – he said funding optional programs like that should be on the back burner until the economy improves.

Bishop said his experience as a police officer would help him lead on budget and labor issues. He retired as a commander at Sherwood Police after a stint in Springfield.

“I’ve also been very conservative in looking for ways to spend less money as a police department – we did lots of things like in-house publishing and maintaining our cars instead of replacing them when we could get away with it,” he said.

His website is eamonbishop.com

Also seeking the position, being vacated by Mark Caillier, are Matt Chappell and Marlene Quinn.

Veterans parking gains momentum

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

An effort to recognize veterans with a simple thank you – a parking space just for them – has caught fire.

John Rizzo founded the nonprofit organization that is putting them up. He started watching a program on veterans injured and being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was convinced he had to do something.

“By the end of the show I had tears in my eyes,” Rizzo said. “And I thought there has to be a way to thank these people more than once a year. They had such positive attitudes, even though the rest of their lives were going to be burdened from this war.”

Rizzo, who served in the Vietnam war as a flight medic, started at home, convincing the Keizer City Council to put one up at city hall. The sign simply says “Veterans Parking Only.”

Since then Rizzo’s group has put up some 39 signs – an impressive feat when you consider the group has been in operation less than a year.

“It’s grown up now,” Rizzo said. Many are in the Salem-Keizer area, with businesses like Keizer Liquors, Mommy and Maddi’s, McNary Golf Club and the Keizer Renaissance Inn among those offering them. The Elks and Veterans of Foreign Wars have also embraced the concept, with a sign going up at the Keizer Elks Lodge.

The City of Newberg recently ordered one for city hall, and took the idea a step further.

“The city of Newberg has offered one free sign to every business that wants one,” Rizzo said. “I think that’s terrific.”

Other cities in Oregon with at least one include Salem, Tualatin and John Day. The first Veterans Parking signs to go up out of state will be in Cass County, Minn. Rizzo was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the idea has spread.

And even if vets don’t feel the need to use it, Rizzo said the sign is designed as much to remind the public as it is to reward service.

“If you served honorably we ant to thank you every day – whether you use it or just drive by it, you are thanked,” Rizzo said. “I hope (the public) appreciates the fact that others did serve, especially now protecting us against further terrorist attacks,” Rizzo said.

The program is funded by donations. Signs cost about $40 and to have it installed is an additional $20. About $5 goes back to the organization.