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Day: May 16, 2014

Officer could be added

File photo
File photo

Of the Keizertimes

As originally proposed, Keizer would be getting two additional patrol officers as part of the 2015-16 budget.

One of those positions could end up being added earlier.

Well, kind of, sort of.

During the first budget committee meeting of the year May 6, city manager Chris Eppley proposed adding three new positions later this year: a computer forensics person for the police department, a code enforcement officer and an information system technician.

At the same time, Eppley proposed adding two patrol officers the following year. However, some committee members asked about moving up that timeframe.

Eppley worked with Finance Director Susan Gahlsdorf and had a revised proposal for the May 8 budget meeting: adding a patrol officer this coming fiscal year – but not until January.

“We do listen to this group,” Eppley said. “At least a chunk of the group wants to pay for at least part of a patrol officer position. Susan has come up with a methodology that does work, but it requires some sacrifices.”

For one thing, anticipated PERS (Public Employees Retirement Systems) increases of 16 percent would have to be around 8 or 10 percent, which would represent savings of $50,000 to $60,000. Gahlsdorf said such savings would make the position sustainable over the long-term.

“PERS has to come in lower than anticipated in September,” Eppley said. “That could happen. If we take the other three positions and push (starting dates) to October instead of September, that creates $20,000. We have $20,000 set aside for a readerboard at the civic center. If we incorporate that reserve, we could fund that position.”

Gahlsdorf said a traffic officer costs about $110,000 for a full year, including all benefits. The officer would be using a motorcycle the Keizer Police Department already owns. Hiring midway through the budget year would mean a cost of about $55,000.

“The position would be budgeted to start in January,” Gahlsdorf said. “The officer reasonably could generate $20,000 in revenue, plus you’d have $20,000 in savings by pushing the other positions to October, plus the $20,000 put aside for the readerboard.”

Gahlsdorf said the city’s long-range budget plan assumes a 16 percent increase in PERS beginning July 1, 2015 and for the next two years, as rates are locked in for a two-year period.

“If rates come in at 8 percent or less it will free up those funds to pay the cost of this police officer position during that two-year period,” she said. “That is the level of sustainability we need.”

Since the PERS rates for the future won’t be known until September, Gahlsdorf said the hiring date for the three other new positions will be set for October, not September.

“We can’t turn back the clock at that point and hire before we even know what the PERS rates are going to do,” she said.

So if PERS comes in at 16 percent, what would happen with the $40,000 created by pushing back the hiring dates and the readerboard funds?

“The $40,000 will stay in the general fund and be available for other uses during the year or in future years,” Gahlsdorf said. “A budget adjustment could be done during fiscal year 2014-15 to use those funds for other things.”

Mayor Lore Christopher liked the idea.

“I’m in,” she said.

City councilor Jim Taylor appreciated the work done between budget meetings.

“This just shows what a great staff we have,” Taylor said. “This committee came up with a request. We thought there wasn’t the money. This doesn’t adversely affect a thing, aside from the one month delay.”

Councilor Dennis Koho, chair of this year’s budget committee, had some reservations.

“I don’t want to throw cold water on this, but I will,” Koho said. “Our wish list also includes helping out the parks and the library. Those issues are gone with this proposal. You lose the (spending) flexibility if you spend it on a police officer.”

The budget committee wrapped up on Tuesday.

Truth in advertising

To the Editor:

The various companies vying for your and my communications business irritate the heck out of me.

They make questionable claims for the superiority of their product while burying facts in print almost too small to read.  In one example, a guaranteed price for three years of Internet service is made meaningless by the fact that it requires ‘bundled services.’ And don’t assume that the advertised claim for high speed Internet service means that what they offer is better or even comparable to what you have now.  I checked and it wasn’t.  All of this is before you even consider the fine print and what may be hidden there.

And how about the lady who asserts in every TV commercial “If we can’t beat the price on any comparable mattress, the mattress is free.”  Sounds good, doesn’t it? Marketing practices are such that finding a comparable mattress can be difficult but, even if you could,  what is to prevent the seller from offering it for a dollar less or even one cent less?  I’ll bet they don’t give away many mattresses.

Art Burr

Sehr gut! Gustav’s coming to KS

An artist's rendering of the Gustav's Bargarten German restaurant expected to open in Keizer Station next February. (Submitted)
An artist’s rendering of the Gustav’s Bargarten German restaurant expected to open in Keizer Station next February. (Submitted)

Of the Keizertimes

Where some will see a 5,500 square foot building at Keizer Station, Suzeanne Mager sees a new BMW coupe.

For sure, the owner and president of Portland-based Gustav’s German restaurants doesn’t see the Volkswagen van she learned to drive on.

In March, Gustav’s officials signed a lease with California-based Donahue Schriber for a 5,500 square foot building, which will go at the corner of Ulali Drive and Stadium Drive in Keizer Station. Benner Stange Associates Architects, which has designed many of the Keizer Station buildings, will be the architect of the new restaurant, which will be between Men’s Wearhouse and McDonald’s.

“There should be a groundbreaking in the next six to eight weeks, then six to eight months for construction,” Mager said. “We’re hoping for a February 2015 opening.”

Mager has been doing plenty of time over the past 18 months figuring out where to expand to and how to spruce up the looks of the brand.

“It’s been a while in the works,” Mager said of coming to Keizer. “We’re looking forward to something new. Vice president of operations (Rene Briede) and I have spent the last year traveling and researching, evaluating what we wanted to do with Gustav’s. We evaluated what the brand looks like and where to go.”


Mager looked as far north as the Seattle area and as far south as the Eugene area before deciding to put her fifth restaurant in Keizer, the first new Gustav’s in 10 years.

The Gustav’s Bargarten will be the second “sit-down” restaurant in Keizer Station, following last July’s opening of Outback Steakhouse.

“This will be about the same size,” said Jack Steinhauer, director of Development and Acquisitions for Donahue Schriber. “The Outback is almost the exact same size, at 5,633 square feet.”

Mager has noticed the growth at Keizer Station.

“The development is great,” she said. “The Salem area has been hungry for something updated and newer. A lot of operators there have moved from other sites. When they moved to Keizer Station, sales went up and outperformed their business plans and continue to do so. Plus they have great anchors there like Target, the REI that just opened and the (upcoming Kaiser Permanente) medical facility. They are national brands that have a lot of resources to understand demographics and do their homework.”

Steinhauer is pleased to see a different style of restaurant come to Keizer Station.

“It’s great,” he said. “We’re looking to increase the variety of overall food at Keizer Station. This is a great local brand with a great local following. This will bring yet another option to the customers at Keizer Station.”

Nate Brown, director of Community Development for Keizer, has seen initial plans for the restaurant.

“We are working with the architect on the building details, and from first take it is going to be a gem,” Brown said.

Mayor Lore Christopher likes the sounds of that.

“I just can’t wait for the German food,” she said.

The building size and the Bargarten name on the end are two signals of a big shift for Gustav’s, a company created in 1992 by Suzeanne and her father Horst, who purchased his first restaurant in Portland in 1963.

“My first car was a Volkswagen van,” Mager said. “It’s not that it’s bad; it’s reliable and runs forever. Gustav’s is 22 years old. Every brand updates. We’ve been behind on that. We haven’t made the moves to update and to stay fresh and crisp. It’s not that we have a bad business. We’re doing $13 million a year in business, which we’re grateful for.

“But my job is to make sue the brand and our concept remains relevant,” she added. “I put a new team around me. What will the new Gustav’s look like? We’re looking at going to Seattle and Eugene. I want to do something different. The current restaurant is like a VW. I want to keep the German aspect but with modern engineering and something sleek, like a BMW coupe.”

Mager said “in a lot of ways” Gustav’s is going back to the way it started.

“We had a lineup of 21 beers,” Mager recalled. “We had 10 to 13 sausages, which we made. We had salads, pastas and soups, more like a German bistro. It was not a heavy dinner. That morphed into big plates of food. I don’t want to mess with what’s working, but people now want more options. I don’t want our restaurants to be thought of just for special occasions. A lot of people associate German food with heavy.

“My vision is something lighter, more everyday,” she added. “We will still have schnitzels, sausages and fondues. The concept is a more modern, contemporary German fare. We want to do something lighter. This is more social, more bar-centric, like you’re going to a beer garden in Germany and you can see everyone.”

In a way, the Keizer Station Gustav’s Bargarten will serve as a testbed.

“Our history is we have moved slow,” Mager said. “We want to refine it and make sure it’s working. Then the goal is to take it on the road to other markets.”

Agenda for Keizer City Council meeting







Monday, May 19, 2014 

7:00 p.m. 

Robert L. Simon Council Chambers 

Keizer, Oregon 





This time is provided for citizens to address the Council on any matters other than those on the agenda scheduled for public hearing. 


a. Caruso’s Italian Café Liquor License – Change of Ownership/Trade Name (Delaney Madison Grill) 

b. Porter’s Pub Liquor License – Change of Ownership 

c. Keizer Development Code Text Amendment Implementing the Interchange Area Management Plan (IAMP) 


a. RESOLUTION – Authorizing City Manager to Sign Street Light Conversion Documents with PGE and Authorizing Disposition of Surplus Property 

b. Construction Schedule of the Community Build Play Structure Located at Keizer Rapids Park 


a. RESOLUTION – Authorizing City Manager to Enter Into Intergovernmental Agreement with Salem-Keizer School District 24J (School Resource Officers) 

Page 2 May 19 2014 Keizer City Council Agenda

b. RESOLUTION – Authorizing City Manager to Enter Into Intergovernmental Agreement with State of Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training 

c. Approval of May 5, 2014 Regular Session Minutes 


a. PROCLAMATION – Sons of American Revolution Day 

b. Oath of Office – Keizer Police Reserve Jacob Colvin 


This time is provided to allow the Mayor, City Council members, or staff an opportunity to bring new or old matters before the Council that are not on tonight’s agenda. 

a. New Business or Old Business Issues 


To inform the Council of significant written communications


June 2, 2014 

5:45 p.m. – Public Forum 

Parking Regulations – Allowance for Parking of Tow Truck in Residential Areas 

6:45 p.m. – Urban Renewal Agency Meeting 

2014-15 Budget Public Hearing 

7:00 p.m. – City Council Regular Session 

2014-15 – City of Keizer Budget Public Hearing 

June 9, 2014 

5:45 p.m. – City Council Work Session 

Tour with Keizer Points of Interest Committee 

June 16, 2014 

7:00 p.m. – City Council Regular Session 


Upon request, auxiliary aids and/or special services will be provided. To request services, please contact us at (503)390-3700 or through Oregon Relay at 1-800-735-2900 at least two working days (48 hours) in advance. 

Various impacts in Keizer during annual Iris Festival throughout this weekend

The KeizerFEST tent starts going up last Friday, May 9. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
The KeizerFEST tent starts going up last Friday, May 9. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

There will certainly be some dancing in the streets this weekend.

It’s Keizer Iris Festival weekend, highlighted by the parade down River Road starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. A pet parade starts at 9:40.

The theme for this year’s 27th annual festival is Dancing in the Streets.

While the parade is staying the same, the big news with the annual celebration this year is events being moved from Keizer Station to Cherry Avenue.

A full list of activities for the weekend is in the official guide to the Iris Festival, produced by the Keizertimes last week. The free guide is available around the community and was sent to Keizer households last week; extra copies are also available at our office, 142 Chemawa Road N.

Sgt. Trevor Wenning with the Keizer Police Department said the change in location for most Iris Festival activities led to a revamping of traffic flow.

“We’re going to have officers out there at certain intersections directing traffic in one direction,” Wenning said. “We need to keep that flow going. In the past we had traffic going all four directions. This year some motorists will have to turn in the direction of the Salem Parkway or I-5. Those who live in the neighborhoods along (the parade route) may be inconvenienced, since they may have to go a few blocks out of the way. But we really need to alleviate congestion from the parade route itself.”

Lockhaven Drive North will close to all traffic between River Road North and McClure Street North at 6:30 a.m. to set the parade’s staging area. Parade entries won’t be allowed to go westbound on Lockhaven Drive. Those needing to get to the staging area must take Chemawa Road to Windsor Island Road North, then proceed eastbound on Lockhaven to their designated staging point.

River Road will close to north and southbound traffic from Plymouth Drive to Lockhaven Drive at 9 a.m. Vehicles on Chemawa Road, Dearborn Avenue and Manbrin Avenue will be allowed to cross River Road periodically before the parade.

Northbound River Road traffic will be diverted to Cherry Avenue via Plymouth Drive. Southbound River Road traffic will be diverted eastbound on Lockhaven Drive. Northbound Cherry Avenue traffic will be diverted onto Alder Drive.

The parade travels south on River from Lockhaven Drive to Glynbrook Street. River Road will begin reopening around 12:30 p.m. as the parade continues southbound.

Following the parade, the main efforts for officers will be getting people to Salem Parkway or I-5.

“After the parade is over, we won’t have traffic coming to River from Chemawa or Dearborn,” Wenning said. “We will divert traffic to Verda, where they will be directed towards the Salem Parkway or I-5.”

In the past, traffic could turn left off Plymouth Avenue onto Cherry. This year, that will be a right-turn only situation. Traffic needing to go northbound there – for example, people associated with floats in the parade – will be able to turn left, but will be diverted at Alder Drive. Motorists coming from the Salem Parkway onto Cherry will not be able to turn onto Plymouth Drive.

Wenning said patience will be necessary for everyone, including his officers.

“We will do our best to get them where they need to go,” he said. “People will need to remember they are one of tens of thousands trying to do the same thing.”

Wenning noted the KPD will have extra patrols during Iris Festival weekend.

“During the weekend festivities traffic safety officers from the Keizer Police Department will be out looking to take impaired drivers off the road,” he said. “The goal is to make our roadways safer for everyone traveling.”

A portion of Cherry Avenue was closed Wednesday evening. Funtastic Carnival has carnival rides set up on Cherry, with the KeizerFEST tent located next to the Keizer Lions pump station. Vendors are on the other side, with the family stage located just east.

“It’s going to be a little cumbersome at first,” festival chair Joe Egli said. “But people will get used to it quickly. This is our first year here. We’ll get all the kinks worked out, so it will be quite a bit easier next year. Safety is our main concern.”

Another challenge this year has been parking. The main parking area for the festival will be off Alder Drive, a bit southeast of the activities. Christine Dieker, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce that puts on the festival, said there should be some paid parking by the PGN Lounge at 4090 Cherry and there could be additional areas along Alder. Some nearby offices along River Road aren’t open on the weekends so that would open up some parking, but not for Thursday and Friday.

“We’re going to discourage using businesses’ parking along River,” Dieker said. “We want to leave those spaces for their customers. We will put some signs up.”

Dieker said there will be a free shuttle service starting Friday night, taking people from the festival area, down River Road, up Chemawa and ending at Keizer Station before circling back.

Other highlights of the weekend include Marion County’s first full marathon (see related story, pg. 1) on Sunday, two car shows on Sunday, the Poker Run motorcycle ride on Sunday, various musical activities on both the main stage and community stage throughout the weekend, the Carnival Fun Center all weekend and a K-9 demonstration on Saturday afternoon.

Push Big Toy project to June 2015, Caillier says


Of the Keizertimes

Barring a surprise next Monday, it seems pretty clear the Big Toy project at Keizer Rapids Park is being delayed nearly nine months.

Mark Caillier, the general coordinator for the community build play structure project, made his recommendation at the May 7 Community Build Task Force meeting.

“Right now it’s scheduled for September,” Caillier said. “With the parks master planning process, we’re not going to be able to meet that date, so I was asked to look at other dates. Most of you have heard the dates of June 10 to 14 (2015). It’s not that we couldn’t do it earlier, but April and May in Keizer the calendar is absolutely full. June 10 is the last day of school next year. I don’t see anything else in that time period.”

The final decision is expected to be made at the May 19 Keizer City Council meeting, but a reversal among the six councilors and mayor Lore Christopher would be unexpected. Councilors Marlene Quinn and Jim Taylor spoke in favor of the delay from this September to next June at the CBTF meeting, while Christopher had expressed support for a delay earlier in the week.

Members of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board also recommended the delay in a 6-1 vote Tuesday (see related story, pg. 2).

For months it looked like community members would build the play structure from Sept. 17 to 21 in the ‘big tree’ spot between the amphitheater and the boat ramp. However, in January Christopher requested looking at a site in the 28 acres of orchard at the front of KRP along Chemawa Road. That area is in city limits but not within the city’s Urban Growth Boundary, a lengthy process that would include updating master parks plans.

“This is an opportunity to grow the project,” said Quinn, who chairs the CBTF. “Our consultants were given three options originally. They asked about the orchards but were told they were untouchable. The community needs to help us vet the process through the master plan to see where the best place is for this project.

“Yes we are disappointed,” Quinn added of the delay. “But we have to understand, the consultants gave us a timeline. We were overwhelmed about the timeline and still are. We won’t know about grants until July. This gives kids the opportunity to be there and also to have the whole summer (next year) to play on it.”

Taylor noted he’s come around to the idea of a delay.

“When I was first told this might happen, I was really

Keizer’s big weekend

Keizer’s biggest community event—the Iris Festival—is happening now with the main attractions coming this weekend.

The big story for this year is the move of the KeizerFEST grounds from Keizer Station to the Keizer Lions Club-Cherry Avenue area. Development at the shopping complex next to the freeway forced the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, organizers of the festival, to find a new home.

The KeizerFEST tent is already up and ready to invite the region under its tarp to enjoy music, food and socializing. The Iris Festival tent is the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s like a reunion, friends seeing friends they haven’t seen for a while.  It’s a good time for Keizer to collectively let down its hair and celebrate all that is good about our community.

The move to the new location necessitates the closing of Cherry Avenue N.E. beteween Alder Drive and Manbrin Drive. Cherry Avenue wll be closed through Sunday night (the carnival rides and midway will be set up in the street itself). Drivers will need to see detour signs; hopefully the closure of Cherry Avenue will be met with a shrug rather than a rant.

The festival is offering a variety of entertainment, contests and activities for every member of the family. Live music on the main stage and on the community stage promise to showcase some our best local talent.

The cornerstone of the festival is, of course, the parade.  At 10:30 Saturday morning more than 100 entries will combine to form one of the state’s largest parades: bands, floats, dancers, dignitaries, horses—the works. The grand marshall this year is Keizerite Robert L. Robison, who received two Purple Heart medals at a ceremony earlier this year for his service in the Korean War.

For more than 25 years the event has punctuated the city’s identity as the Iris Capital of the World. Fans of the bearded iris can visit Schreiner’s Iris Gardens on Quinaby Road, just north of Keizer, which has a full schedule of events of their own through June 1.

The chair of this year’s festival, City Councilor Joe Egli, has run a tight organization and seen that all the details  have been looked after. Whether the festival has found a new permanent home on Cherry Avenue remains to be seen. The Chamber and the city’s Festival and Events Committee should develop a workable plan to turn the five-acre plot on th north side of the Volcanoes Stadium as a long-term home for the Iris Festival. There would be no street closures and it would again be seen by thousands of vehicles a day passing on the freeway. Until then we wll enjoy the festival as it returns to central Keizer.


House District 25 primary election

To the Editor:

I am a Marion County PCP and as such I have had the opportunity to meet the candidates running for office this cycle. As most of us do, I look for two things in a legislator: competency and integrity.

I do confess to having a dog in this fight since I know Bill Post personally, but that gives me better  than average insight into his qualifications. I can say without reservation that given Mr. Post’s extensive background in the highly competitive broadcasting industry, his grasp of Oregon politics and the issues that impact all Oregonians, along with numerous other accomplishments, I believe  he meets the  competency requirements to effectively discharge the office of state representative.

I can also vouch for his integrity not only as an avid listener to his radio show that was so informative regarding issues of importance to the state and the nation, but also as someone I attend church with. He is my Sunday School teacher and after approximately seven years in his class, I can say candidly that I have every confidence in his integrity.

As for his opponent, Barbara Jensen, I know little, having met her only once at a central committee meeting. I  have reservations about Mrs. Jensen based on her extreme lack of voter involvement, apparently lackluster performance in  state information and data technologies, and some very questionable campaign strategies  that most certainly betray a lack of integrity, or at best extremely poor judgment, neither of which look good on a resume.

Needless to say;  I urge District 25 voters to cast their ballots for Bill Post.

Brad Morrison

McNary multi-purpose field benefits all


I would like to respond to Mr. Zaitz’s editorial “Even the Playing Field” in the May 2 Keizertimes.

First I would like to clarify and correct some of the information presented and then share why this project is an excellent investment of time, energy and, yes, finances, for our entire community.

First of all, the projected cost cited by Mr. Zaitz of $2 million is the anticipated fair market cost of such a facility.  Our actual costs will be about half of that figure. Early estimates have the project coming in on budget at about $500,000 in cash with an additional $500,000 in material, labor and skills, donated by area construction and field development professionals (in-kind donations). Those numbers will change depending on the type of product selected by the committee and the actual amount of donated labor and materials.  Absolutely no district, city or state funds will be used for this project as it will be spearheaded by the McNary Athletic Booster Club, a non-profit organization.

Mr. Zaitz insinuates that funding a multi-purpose field short-changes kids interested in other things—such as theater and music. If that logic holds true, we should never fund improvements or accept donations for any program because there may be students not interested in that particular activity. During the past several years, we have dedicated thousands and thousands of dollars and hundreds of volunteer hours along with four full-time teachers, all designed to improve our fine arts department—in the process, developing one of the most dynamic and forward thinking programs in the state. Was that a waste of funds and times simply because some members of our school, its various programs, our community, feeder school students, club athletes, PE students or local non-profits have no interest in or connection to the fine arts program at our school? Of course it wasn’t.  This multipurpose field is the same. It’s a great investment and an improvement that will support a huge portion of our community.

I will readily concede that current use of the McNary grass football field is poor. It is limited to about 20 athletic events and 12 marching band practices per year. We do not allow the JROTC or physical education classes to use the field and we tightly restrict community use during the fall and winter months due to poor irrigation and the need to “protect” the natural sod as much as possible.

The editor suggests that the synthetic turf field “will primarily be used for six  or so football games.” We currently use the natural grass field about 40 times per year. A synthetic surface at McNary could host over 2,500 different events, classes or practices per year. Most importantly, it would effectively double the amount of physical education classroom space we have at McNary. As childhood obesity continues to increase, improved PE facilities, in the form of a multi-purpose field, at McNary becomes even more important.

Once a synthetic turf surface is installed, the effective number of activities a multi-purpose field can support is only limited by the number of hours in the day. Marching band could practice on it daily from August thru mid-November (65 practices), PE and JROTC could use the field as classroom space and for drill practice any time weather permitted (90 days x 4 teachers x 6 classes = 2,160 class periods). Baseball and softball teams would be able to practice their infield and outfield on days during the off season, when their grass surfaces are too muddy (50 x 6 teams = 300 practices), community events and local programs such as club lacrosse, Keizer Youth Soccer and football programs would be assured of increased opportunities for use, especially on the weekends (24 Saturdays with multiple events). Community programs such as Red Cross, Iris Festival, Parade of Lights and The United Way would have increased access to a multipurpose field, all weather track, covered bleachers and improved facilities. We would also be able to host more of our feeder school events such as football, track and field, and jog-a-thons.  Anecdotal data shows that the earlier and stronger these high school relationships are established with younger students, the greater the likelihood those same students will experience academic success and reach graduation.

Finally, Mr. Zaitz suggests that two major projects in Keizer (McNary’s multi-purpose field and the Big Toy project) will deplete “the philanthropic wallets” of our citizens and businesses. I have more trust in the Keizer population. Four other area high schools (North Salem, South, Sprague and West) have installed fully donated turf fields in the past several years. My fellow principals have seen no appreciable drop off in donations or support to their schools. To the contrary, the improved school facilities and increased usage have actually led to increased school revenue in the form of facilities rentals, concessions and general visibility. There has also been an increase in enthusiasm around donations to school programs.  Additionally, the large amount of in-kind donations for both projects will minimize the true out of pocket or cash expenses that have Mr. Zaitz concerned. In my four years as the McNary principal and through my participation in both Keizer Rotary and the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, I have learned that citizens of our community stand behind important projects and provide support when needed.  I, for one, have every confidence that they will do so now and in the coming months.

A conservative estimate demonstrates that nearly 100,000 sets of Keizer feet could land on the surface of McNary’s new multi-purpose field each year. The average life expectancy of that field will be 10 years. That’s a million kids and adults, ranging in age from 5 to 75 using a state-of-the-art facility right in their own backyard.  As a consumer and community member, I can happily support a year-round, fun, social, lifelong activity or educational opportunity that only costs a dollar per use. Keizer community members have expressed support for this project and the editor of the Keizertimes should as well.

(John Honey is principal of McNary High School.)

Donald Sterling is no victim of racism


Jason is one of the few people I remember from my grade school days.

I remember him because he was the first African American student in the same grade and same classroom as me. This was in the late 1980s when I was growing up in the suburbs of St. Louis, Mo. I attended private, Catholic schools for the first eight years of my education and there simply wasn’t a lot of diversity in my classrooms, or the school as a whole.

The main reason I remember Jason is because of his hair. It was buzzed short and probably no more than a quarter-inch at its thickest. Yet, every day he would pull out of his back pocket an ovoid rubber comb with a loop he could slide a finger through. Those combs were all the rage then, and I understood wanting to be part of the cool crowd, but Jason was already a cool guy without it. What puzzled me more was Jason running that comb through his hair multiple times every single day.

It took me quite a while to summon up the courage, but I eventually asked him why he did this.

“It doesn’t look any different after you do it,” I told him.

“You just wouldn’t understand,” he replied.

Better understanding was my purpose in asking at all, and it frustrated me to walk away empty-handed. I was asking him to help me get there, but he felt either that I would never be able to understand, or that it wasn’t his responsibility to school me on the matter. The former, I felt was an insult. The latter was beyond my developing comprehension at the time. Why wouldn’t he want me to have a better understanding?

More than three decades later, Trayvon Martin was killed by an overzealous, and increasingly disgusting, neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman. In the wake of that injustice, African American actor Lance Gross penned an open letter to Zimmerman. He suggested that by killing Martin, Zimmerman inherited all the struggles of black men in this country.

One passage in particular resonated with me: “You will feel people stare at you. Judging you for what you think are unfair reasons. You will lose out on getting jobs for something you feel is outside of your control. You will believe yourself to be an upstanding citizen and wonder why people choose to not see that … But you will have to wake up the next day, put on firm look and push through life.”

Reading that, and then thinking about Jason, pitted my stomach. It still does as I write this. Any answer short of Gross’s open, brutal honesty from Jason probably would have fallen short for me. Regardless, he likely hadn’t lived long long enough to give it voice, and I sure as hell wasn’t worldly enough to understand it if he had.

A recent columnist in these pages suggested that a despicable man should not be ousted from the ownership of an NBA team after making outright inhuman comments about minorities. The owner achieved a godlike cognitive dissonance with his remarks. He’s making money off the hard work and skills of many minority employees.

In a coded way, the writer suggested that the owner has become the victim of reverse racism. In other, more direct phrasing: Feel bad for the old, white, heterosexual male. He needs protection, too.

One day, I’m going to be an old, white, heterosexual male. I was never given a say in the matter. What I can choose is to strive mightily to empathize with people who do not look or act like me. It isn’t motivated my guilt, it comes from seeking the value in my fellow travelers – gender, race, creed or sexual preference be damned –  and wanting to learn all I possibly can from them.

I don’t expect to change that writer’s mind about his position. I generally find him to be a thorough and driven thinker on a lot of issues. But, on a personal level, I can’t allow it to stand without rebuttal. He doesn’t speak for all old, white, heterosexual men. At the very least least, not this soon-to-be one.

We’re pushing through this life together, and each of us needs all the allies we can muster.

(Eric A. Howald is Associate Editor of the Keizertimes.)