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Day: January 9, 2015

First medical marijuana facility opens in Keizer

Alpha Alternative Solutions, Keizer's first medical marijuana dispensary, opened on River Road on Dec. 20. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Alpha Alternative Solutions, Keizer’s first medical marijuana dispensary, opened on River Road on Dec. 20. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Ben Robison recently opened Keizer’s first medical marijuana facility.

The way he sees it, there won’t be much competition in the future in Keizer.

Robison opened Alpha Alternative Solutions at 3700 River Road on Dec. 20, nearly a year after he hoped to open.

Figuring out how to regulate such facilities was a hot topic for the Keizer City Council throughout 2014. A task force was set up early in the year in response to new state laws that went into effect. A moratorium ended up being set up, in essence buying city officials time to implement a plan.

Robison noted he was three days short of being grandfathered in before the moratorium went into effect, leading to a long delay.

“I’ve been renting for a good five months,” Robison said this week. “I’ve been trying to open since February.”

Robison noted he’s had a number of obstacles to overcome, starting with the stigma attached to medical marijuana dispensaries and how far away such facilities have to be from specific types of buildings.

State laws include the stipulation that a facility has to be at least 1,000 feet away from a school. In Keizer, the rule is 1,500 feet, in addition to being 1,000 feet from any public building and 1,000 feet away from any other dispensary.

“It’s extremely hard to find a location within those parameters, and to then find an owner willing to let you in,” Robison said. “We’re in one of the only locations available in Keizer. We were able to talk with the building owner here and talk about the science of medical marijuana so he had more of an understanding what we’re doing. There’s a stigma people (in such places) are just getting high.”

Nate Brown, director of Community Development for Keizer, noted during the Dec. 15 council meeting the facility would be opening soon.

“We processed our first medical marijuana dispensary application and are in the process of issuing that license,” Brown said at the time. “We don’t know how long until they open. It’s up to them. It’s their first one and our first one.”

Sam Litke, senior planner for Keizer, noted Robison submitted his application “just before Thanksgiving.”

Robison studied horticulture in high school in North Carolina and later at Chemeketa Community College after moving to Keizer seven years ago, with intentions to open a nursery. But plans changed when he saw his father die from leukemia.

“He took dozens of pills in the morning and dozens more at night,” Robison said. “He had five rounds of chemo in 90 days. He took an extreme amount of pills. Most of them were to counteract the side effects of other pills. From that, I saw the severe need for medical marijuana.”

After that, Robison started looking at the health benefits of various types of medical marijuana. One of his main goals with his own facility is to educate others about those health benefits.

“We try to educate people, not just sell,” he said. “We inform people what each drug does. To me, this is a pharmacy.”

Robison emphasizes he is not a doctor and that someone cannot just come in to get medical marijuana.

“They have to have a prescription from a doctor to come into the back room,” he said. “They have to have been approved by OMP (Oregon Medical Plan). People have to go to their doctor for approved ailments. They have to be continued ailments. We haven’t had anyone come in that has abused the system. That’s not the medical marijuana community.”

Robison only sells organically grown marijuana that has been tested at a lab in Albany. The testing shows the makeup of each plant, information Robison shows patients to help them decide which is correct for their particular needs.

The marijuana Robison sells is done on a consignment basis.

“If a grower has excess, they can bring them to a dispensary and get reimbursed,” Robison said. “We don’t make much profit. This is not as profitable as some people think.”

Robison and his staff keep a close eye on trends in their ever-changing industry. He has an attorney who tracks law changes pertaining to marijuana.

All employees at Alpha Alternative Solutions had to undergo background checks and fingerprinting at the Keizer Police Department. Though he’s had his battles with the city, Robison has nothing but praise for members of the KPD.

“The Keizer Police Department has been good to work with,” he said. “They have been very fair. Everyone there has been respectful and fair. We jumped through all the city’s hoops and are glad to be here. We have many patients who are glad they don’t have to travel as far now.”

Robison noted his dispensary is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, including Christmas. That goes back to his dad’s struggles.

“My dad had so many medicines, sometimes he would forget to refill and would have to wait two or three days for the pharmacy to open again,” Robison said. “I always want to be available to our patients.”

The Real Deal

McNary’s Harry Cavell puts up a shot in the Celtics’ game with South Salem High School Tuesday, Jan. 6. A 67-60 win for McNary puts it alone in first place in the Greater Valley Conference and at No. 5 in statewide OSAA rankings. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
McNary’s Harry Cavell puts up a shot in the Celtics’ game with South Salem High School Tuesday, Jan. 6. A 67-60 win for McNary puts it alone in first place in the Greater Valley Conference and at No. 5 in statewide OSAA rankings. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Ryan Kirch, head coach of the McNary High School boys varsity basketball team, expected the winner of a game with the South Salem High School Saxons to be the last team with the ball.

He was right, and for the Celtics, it meant claiming the top spot in the Greater Valley Conference with a 67-60 win Tuesday, Jan.6.

To be completely fair, McNary had some help. The Saxons handed over the ball five times on offensive fouls in the final 1:20 of the game and Celts Tregg Peterson, Harry Cavell and Trent Van Cleave combined to hit 9 of 10 from the foul line.

“We want to show them that we can play and compete and that they’re not running away with the title,” said McNary’s Cole Thomas prior to the game.

While the Celts get to bask in the glory of the win, if any Celt players have nightmares this week, they will surely come in the form of 5-foot-7 Saxon point guard Jacob Ramos. Ramos hit four consecutive three-pointers at the top of the night to keep McNary from running away on an early 12-6 lead. He also lifted South over McNary with three points (a bucket and a free throw) in the last seconds of the first frame. The teams started the second quarter with South up 23-20.

The Celts leapt back into the driver’s seat on buckets by Dunagan and Peterson and didn’t relinquish it again the rest of the night. However, South didn’t throw in the towel until the final minute.

McNary managed to extend its lead to seven points midway through the second period and doubled it, 50-36, by the end of the third period.

With about three minutes left in the game, South had managed to stop the bleeding and cinch up the gap to 54-50. Peterson put in consecutive two-pointers, but South answered both times – first with a two and then with a trey. The teams were at 58-55 when the Saxon frustrations began getting the better of them.

The Celts were ranked fifth in the state at press time, but the team was still working out some kinks over the winter break when a tough loss made for a good lesson.

The Celts were on a five-game win streak after the first game in a Summit High School tournament the weekend after Christmas. McNary had already taken down Bend High School 66-49 the first night of the tournament and players had their thoughts on playing for the championship, said Kirch.

Lebanon High School’s squad had other plans. The Warriors doled out a 59-54 loss to McNary. Things started out rough, said Celt Mathew Ismay.

“We weren’t ready and we weren’t knocking down shots early,” he said. “We also need to get more consistent with our free throws.”

Lebanon outscored the Celtics 12-1 in the first frame. The Keizer team took the game back in the second quarter and went into halftime up 22-19, but the Warriors’ 22-point fourth period sealed McNary’s fate.

“Our attitude and effort wasn’t where it needed to be, but the boys responded and got up the next morning and gutted out a tough game with Seattle Academy,” Kirch said.

McNary beat Seattle Academy 58-50 with junior Harry Cavell leading the offensive effort, pouring in 23 points.

Devon Dunagan had 16 points in the win; Tregg Peterson had 14 points; Ismay had three and Trent Van Cleave put in two.

The Celtics returned home for a game with Oregon City Friday, Jan. 2, and battled to a 64-50 win in a game where the outcome wasn’t certain until the final minutes.

McNary had a 20-11 lead after the first period, but the Pioneers started the second frame with a seven-point run cutting the Celts’ lead to two. McNary answered, but Oregon City kept it close with a three-pointer and the spread was never more than four points until halftime.

Celtic defense came to life in the second half, throttling Oregon City.

“I think we did a good job of playing good defense down the stretch. We closed out really well and played on the same plane at their team,” said Thomas.

Still, McNary’s seven-point lead headed into the final minutes felt shakier than it looked on paper. Again, the defense came through.

“It was one of our most consistent games and when it came down to the final minutes we were able to play good defense and get to the free throw line,” Kirch said. “We took a big step in playing consistently for 32 minutes.”

Cavell led the team with 21 points, but Peterson was right on his heels with 20. Cade Goff and Van Cleave had eight points each; Ismay had four and Dunagan had three.

With the win over South and a game at Sprague on tap Friday, Jan. 9. Kirch was most interested in seeing more Celtic consistency.

“We have a week with a team at the top of state rankings and one closer to the bottom. I’m looking forward to our preparation and concentration level to be the same regardless of who we play,” Kirch said.

New mayor, councilors take over (with VIDEO)

Cathy Clark (right) took over as Keizer's sixth mayor on Monday from Lore Christopher (center). Former mayor Dennis Koho (left) was the city's third mayor. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Cathy Clark (right) took over as Keizer’s sixth mayor on Monday from Lore Christopher (center). Former mayor Dennis Koho (left) was the city’s third mayor. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Four familiar faces were sworn in during Monday’s Keizer City Council meeting.

Cathy Clark was sworn in as the new mayor after serving on the council for eight years. Clark took over the seat previously held by Lore Christopher for 14 years.

Roland Herrera may be new to council, but the new council No. 4 seat holder is no stranger to how the city operates. After all, he worked for the city for 19 years before resigning in 2011.

Amy Ripp was sworn in for the No. 5 council seat. Like Herrera, it is Ripp’s first time on the council but the small business owner has been involved in various committees and community organizations over the years.

Brandon Smith made his return to the council. Smith, who took over the No. 6 seat previously held by Jim Taylor, formerly served on the council from 2007 until the first meeting of 2013. Since leaving council, Smith has served on the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board as well as the Storm Water Advisory Committee (SWAC).

Those expecting Clark to institute massive change will likely be disappointed.

“Thank you for being here tonight and supporting us,” Clark said after taking over the center seat on the dais. “We are a community of volunteers. We work with you as well as for you. We do this out of love. We love our city. We chose to be here. We are working together into the future. As we continue we will continue to sail this ship and keep it steady as she goes.”

Ripp admitted after the meeting she was nervous before the proceedings began.

“This is the biggest privilege I’ve ever been given,” Ripp said of serving. “I am beyond excited. I haven’t been nervous about it until tonight. I am less nervous now.”

Herrera has maintained from the start he put his 2011 incident behind him long ago.

“I’m ready to work hard,” he said. “I appreciate the support of the people of Keizer. I’m ready to get started. This has been a long time coming for me. I just wanted to take the high road.”

Smith feels he’s more prepared for his second term on council.

“I didn’t know a darned thing the first time,” Smith quipped. “This time I have the experience. I kept up to speed the last two years by being on the Parks Board and Storm Water Advisory Committee. Two years was not that much time off. It took me six months to decompress the first time I left council.”

Though he has the experience this time, Smith said he’s not going to push for radical changes.

“I’m not the person who comes in with a list of things we ought to change,” he said. “That’s not me. I want to keep an even keel and keep a good thing going.”

Monday’s meeting was mostly ceremonial, as there was no public comment and no agenda items requiring approval. Councilors selected former mayor Dennis Koho to serve as the 2015-2017 council president (Marlene Quinn declined a nomination for the post).

Councilors were also appointed to various committees. Ripp was appointed to the Keizer Arts Commission, Keizer Festival and Events (along with Quinn) and Traffic Safety/Bikeways/Pedestrians. Smith was appointed to the Audit Committee with Koho and Kim Freeman, as well as Planning Commission, SWAC (with Koho and Freeman) and Community Build Task Force (along with Quinn). Herrera was appointed as liaison to Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association and Iris Festival, as well as Keizer Points of Interest Committee.

As far as returning councilors, Koho was appointed to fire district quarterly meetings. Freeman was appointed to Personnel Policy Committee (with Quinn and Clark), West Keizer Neighborhood Association and Claggett Creek Watershed Council. Quinn was appointed to the Parks Board and the Community Build Task Force fundraising committee (taking Christopher’s place) and the Oregon Rail Study.

Clark was appointed to Economic Development and Government Affairs, Salem River Crossing Oversight Team, SKATS, MWACT, Keizer Heritage Association, SEDCOR Board of Directors and Mid Willamette Valley Council of Governments Board of Directors.

Once those appointments were done, councilors selected their representatives to the Volunteer Coordinating Committee, which oversees members of the various committees and groups in Keizer.

At the end of the meeting, councilors each appointed a person to serve on the Volunteer Coordinating Committee. Herrera appointed Mike Maghan, Quinn appointed Amy McLeod, Ripp went with Larry Jackson, Freeman chose Trish Crenshaw, Smith tabbed Lois Anderson, Clark went with Daisy Hickman and Koho chose outgoing councilor Joe Egli, which seemed to be a bit of a surprise to Egli’s wife Shelly.

Due to Oregon playing for the national college football title Jan. 12, the council work session scheduled for that night was moved to Jan. 26 at 5:45 p.m.

Dog shot, two arrested at longtime drug home

This dog was shot Thursday morning as Keizer Police Department officers served a search warrant on a drug house on Juedes Avenue.
This dog was shot Thursday morning as Keizer Police Department officers served a search warrant on a drug house on Juedes Avenue.

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Two people were arrested and an aggressive dog was shot early Thursday morning.

According to a news release from the Keizer Police Department, members of the KPD’s Community Response Unit (CRU) heard about complaints of drug dealing at 453 Juedes Avenue North in December and began an investigation. A search warrant was secured and served shortly before 6 a.m. on Jan. 8.

According to police, when officers entered the house, a 93-pound four-year-old American pit bull terrier-mix dog became aggressive and charged at the officers. Sgt. Jeff Goodman, believing serious injury was imminent for himself and fellow officers, shot and struck the dog at least one time in the left shoulder.

After being shot, the dog retreated into the garage and hid under a desk, staying highly agitated and not allowing officers near. The officers were eventually able to coax the dog out and placed him on a makeshift stretcher made specifically for dogs. Once muzzled, the dog was taken to Keizer Veterinary Clinic for treatment of a non-life threatening injury.

It was determined one of the people in the house, 50-year-old Tami Labee, had picked up the dog from its owner home about three hours before the search warrant was served on her home.

In talking with Labee, investigators learned sales of controlled substances have been taking place in the home for decades. The investigation revealed daily and numerous methamphetamine sales were occurring at the home, which is less than 800 feet away from Cummings Elementary School and is also close to several day care facilities.

John Teague, KPD police chief, said Thursday night the dog came at officers three times and noted drugs have been common at the home.

“The problem has been going on for 22 years,” Teague said. “We heard about it in December and CRU hopped on it.”

Investigator also discovered a neighbor had moved out due to issues related to the drug sales.

Investigators found scales, packaging material, drug records, methamphetamine and other evidence when they searched the residence. Labee and her 19-year-old nephew James Futrell, who both resided in the home, were arrested on one count each of unlawful possession of methamphetamine and one count each of delivery of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school. Both were taken to the Marion County Correctional Facility.

Mahalo! Parker leaving MHS

McNary varsity football head coach Isaac Parker, shown here talking with his team in 2013, has announced he is taking a coaching job at Lewis & Clark College. (KEIZERTIMES file/Eric A. Howald)
McNary varsity football head coach Isaac Parker, shown here talking with his team in 2013, has announced he is taking a coaching job at Lewis & Clark College. (KEIZERTIMES file/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Sometimes opportunity gets in the way of vision.

That’s the case for Isaac Parker, head coach of the McNary High School football program, who will be leaving McNary to take a job as offensive line and run game coach and as a recruiter for the Lewis & Clark College later this month.

“I took the job with a long-term vision and because what makes McNary so special is the tight bonds betweens coaches, kids and the community. That will be the hardest part to leave behind, the relationships,” Parker said.

Parker’s last day at the school will be Monday, Jan. 26. He was head coach for the football program for three years and a math teacher for two.

Parker said he was quite content with his position at the school when opportunity came knocking.

“Jay Locey (Lewis & Clark head coach) was looking for someone with ties to the Salem area and Hawaii for recruiting purposes and we happened to have several mutual friends. When some of the other people he was looking at turned out to be unavailable, those friends encouraged him to call me,” said Parker, a native Hawaiian.

Within a matter of days and a few brief conversations during McNary’s winter break, there was an offer on the table and Parker had a day to accept or decline.

During Parker’s tenure as a Celtic coach, the team made gains on the field after a few losing seasons, but perhaps the biggest growth was in making it to the playoffs each year under his guidance.

“The kids expect to play in the playoffs now. That’s something I pride myself on. We got there and we can make a big deal of it. It’s part of our identity again,” Parker said.

Parker was something of a surprise hire for the school coming from an assistant coaching position at South Salem High School, but he had been working on his vision for a high school program for a while before that.

About four years before taking over at McNary, Parker attended a coach’s workshop where Pete Carroll, current head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, was speaking. It was there that he came up with the slogan “Be Victorious” and the Celtic knot that has come to represent the Celtic football program.

“I think I still have the notepad I first wrote all of it down in,” Parker said. “Carroll said that the Xs and Os matter, but not as much as what you’re about. Football will take care of itself. That informed the type of coach I wanted to be – someone who grows and develops the whole person.”

Every single day of his time with the Celtics brought new lessons, some tough, some purely fun, but Parker’s biggest impact was as much on school culture as it was the gridiron.

He was the first in a slew of new coaching staff at the school in almost every sport and, nearly from the first day, spirits at the school began to rise. When he wasn’t focused on the football team, Parker could be seen attending other school performances or announcing for volleyball, basketball and even lacrosse games. He took it upon himself to coach student fans of the various sports the proper way to cheer respectfully for

The right’s idea of ‘governance’

By E.J. DIONNE JR.

This will be no ordinary Congress, so there are no ordinary ways for judging how effective it will be at governing.

That is, in any event, a preposterous standard to hold up as a brand spanking new goal. Isn’t governing what Congress was supposed to be doing all along? Imagine an everyday citizen making a New Year’s resolution promising that this year, for a change, he or she would actually show up for work.

The problem for the Republicans who now control both the House and the Senate is that they are divided between their†right and their†far right. The number of bona fide moderates can be counted on one hand — although,†if you wanted to be generous, you might get to a second hand. As a result, the Republicans’†own measures of success will be out of line not only with President Obama’s priorities, but also with what most middle-of-the-road Americans would take as reasonable tests of what it means for government to work.

House Speaker John Boehner’s battle to hang on to his job is instructive. Boehner prevailed, but 25 Republicans on the right end of his caucus opposed his re-election. These 25 almost certainly spoke for at least 40 or 50 members who think of Boehner as some sort of sell-out for his occasional willingness to pass bills with Democratic votes. Because Boehner worries most about pressure from his right, his definition of where the “middle” lies will necessarily be distorted.

The notion of Boehner as a moderate is belied by the new House rules he and the Republican leadership have concocted. They’re designed to rig the legislative playing field in favor of right-leaning policy.

One example: The new rules would provide for “dynamic scoring” of tax cuts, which sounds very cool and forward-looking but for the fact that their aim is to assert that tax cuts won’t cost what they’ll actually cost. This, in turn, will make it easier for the Republicans to shower money on their favored constituencies while pretending to be fiscally responsible. Dynamic scoring, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted, “could facilitate congressional passage of large rate cuts in tax reform by making the rate cuts appear — on paper — less expensive than under a traditional cost estimate.”

To understand the dynamic-scoring game, imagine a formula based on the idea that because infrastructure spending boosts the economy — which it most certainly does — we should pretend that an expenditure of $100 billion is actually, say, only $80 billion. Proving that this is about ideology and not economics, as Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., pointed out this week, the Republican rule doesn’t apply dynamic scoring to discretionary spending.

For good measure, the House leadership includes another rule  flatly designed to force cuts to Social Security’s disability program. If they want to debate such cuts, fine, but don’t sneak them in through the fine print.

Then there is the move by both House and Senate Republicans to change the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Currently, employers with 50 or more full-time workers have to provide health insurance to employees who work 30 hours or more, or pay a fine. Republicans want to limit the mandate to Americans who work 40 hours or more. In USA Today this week, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said the purpose of the change is “so more people can work full time.”

But the truth is that the change would have exactly the opposite effect. Currently, only  7 percent of American workers put in between 30 and 34 hours a week, but 44 percent work 40 hours a week. In other words, wrote Yuval Levin, a conservative policy analyst and a foe of Obamacare, altering the law in this way “would likely put far, far more people at risk of having their hours cut than leaving it at 30 hours.” So much for more people working “full time.”

Keep in mind that all these ideas come from the Republican mainstream, the people who tell us they are interested in “governing” and being “reasonable.”

How far have the goal posts been moved in the GOP? Just because Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say they want to avoid government shutdowns and debt-ceiling hostage taking, they are to be regarded as heroes of sane policy-making. But if we’ve sunk so low that this is now the test of “governance,” we are still a long way from the real thing.

(Washington Post Writers Group)

     

We are all Ducks now

On Monday, Jan. 12, we will all be Ducks. Even some diehard OSU Beaver fans will probably be cheering for Oregon—if not specifically for the University of Oregon Ducks as they play for the national champsionship.

For the person who has limited interest in such things, this game is huge for all Oregonians. Monday’s game is the very first title game of the Bowl Championship Series. Those with a passing knowledge of collegiate football know the name of Marcus Mariota—our Heisman Trophy winner.

Regardless of what team one roots for our chests should swell with pride that our college football team has reached the pinnacle. Win, lose or draw, we will have bragging rights forever—we were there first.

By 5:30 next Monday evening the streets will clear as eyes will be glued to television screens in Keizer and throughout the state. Fans who bleed green and yellow will have their paraphanelia at hand, ready to take to the streets in victorius celebration. For those who like to live on the edge, spending the evening in Eugene promises to be a raucous time.

The championship appearance will be a huge boon for the University of Oregon as well. Viewers from across the nation will see advertising for the university, they’ll see the beautiful scenery of our state. This will be a major public relations event for us.

Regardless of how the game turns out we are confident the Ducks will win or lose like a sportsman, with no snubbing of the other team and certainly no rioting in Eugene or anywhere else.  Because Oregon is different and we’ll show it on Monday night.   —LAZ

A drug’s cost and value

A Box of Soap
By DON VOWELL

This morning’s breakfast—an orange, a banana, some cheese spread on a slab of homemade bread, eight or 10 Whopper malted milk balls, a little milk, and one pill worth $133.33.  My doctor suggests that I take 60 of these each month to total $8,000. That will cost America’s health industry $96,000 this year.

I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking all stakeholders collectively if my continued health is worth that much.  If you think of the country’s health expenditures in total as drawing from a shared money-pit you can easily make the case that I have used far more than my share in the last year and a half.

With my usual lack of foresight, I chose a disease that is pretty rare, not attracting research dollars with telethons, marathons, and celebrity support.  As of yet there is no understanding of the causes and, before that gold-plated pill I ate with my breakfast, no effective treatment or cure.

My new pill was just cleared by the FDA for use a couple of months ago.  Not exactly a guinea pig, I am still among the first patients to whom this drug was made available.  If you watch the evening news, you are dulled by a cavalcade of ads shilling new drugs for which you should ask your doctor, invariably followed by a recitation of possible side-effects —high blood pressure, bleeding fingernails, loss of simple math skills, marital failure, and slow painful death followed by depression.  What a curious sales strategy.

The only side effects I was warned against were possible nausea and diarrhea, and those are usually temporary.  So far there’ve been no abdominal eruptions.  I’m also supposed to begin having my liver function checked monthly.  Now I feel duty bound to learn what my liver is doing in there after all these years of blissfully ignoring its existence.

I spent my working life employed by a company that sponsored many good insurance plans.  Now Medicare has also taken me under its wing.  My co-pay on the $8,000 monthly will be about $25.  Does that make any sense? Based on my retirement income, I could only pay full price for a couple dozen pills in a year.

That raises a lot of questions.  There will be some who share the same affliction but have no insurance.  Should they be denied this expensive new treatment?  I can’t make the case that I deserve it more.  Some who suffer the same ailment may never be diagnosed if they cannot afford to see specialists.

This new treatment does not claim to be a cure.  It only slows the progression of this disease.  How much postponement of the inevitable is worth $96,000 a year?   Would that same amount be more ethically spent on exams and wellness care for kids who otherwise can’t afford them?  Their whole life is before them.

This wonderful pill looks like an ordinary gelcap.  How was the price set at $8,000 a month?  Because there is so little demand for it I don’t think we’ll ever see the generic version sold at giant discount stores for $14.95.  Development and research costs must be recouped, I get that, but looking at the half-full little bottle of caps makes you wonder at the cost.  My pedigreed UW specialist seemed astounded that I would even hesitate.  Okay.  Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead..

(Don Vowell gets on his soapbox regularly in the Keizertimes.)

My Rose Bowl experience

By ROLAND HERRERA

I have always been a big sports fan but my favorite sport to follow is college football – specifically Oregon football. I have been blessed to attend some great Duck games all over the west and even when they lost the opening game of the 2010 season to LSU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

I had never been to a Rose Bowl game so when the Ducks made it to the inaugural semifinal playoff game of course I set my sights on Pasadena.

As a young man, I still remember the 1968 Rose Bowl when my hero (at the time) O.J. Simpson had a memorable game leading USC past Indiana 14-3. Then there was the 1970 Rose Bowl when Jim Plunkett led Stanford to a huge win over Ohio State, 27-17.

In 2010 the Ducks made their first appearance since 1995 but I couldn’t attend. They lost to Ohio State but redeemed themselves in 2012, beating Wisconsin.

After some convincing and using the “once in a lifetime” strategy, this would be the year we make the trip…and following Marcus Mariota’s emotional Heisman acceptance speech, we had to be there.

The Duck Rally in Santa Monica was unbelievable with more than 4,000 people there to cheer and party with “Puddles” the Duck Mascot, the cheerleaders, the marching band and alumni. There were plenty of Keizer folks there (Martins, Yamakas, Walkers, Morris, Butlers, Santos). It was all about yellow and green.

The best was yet to come.

The Rose Bowl stadium is a beautiful sight to see. I thought of all the times I had watched the classic stadium on TV, but here we were taking pictures in front of the famous granddaddy of them all.

We had great seats around the 15-yard line and were next to a some very nice Florida State fans. You could feel the excitement and anticipation. Looking around at 95,000 people was incredible.

The first half was tense but I had the feeling it was going to be alright. Our section was full of fun people from Oregon having a blast.

The Ducks scored six straight times they touched the ball in the second half, the last four on Florida State turnovers. Boom!

Speed won the day. The Duck defense had a great game, Darren Carrington did nicely, Mariota was Mariota and it was just a matter of time before mistakes ruined FSU’s day.

Aloha athlete Thomas Tyner had a good game. After his 21-yard touchdown run, the Ducks were riding high and the crowd was going nuts.

The better team won.

The whole experience was fantastic. If you have the opportunity, it’s well worth it. It is now off my bucket list. Olyvia and I thought it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, but here we are ready for the natty (National Championship game in Arlington).

We leave on Friday and thanks to my nephew in Texas, we got some pretty good seats.

Is this a great country or what? Go Ducks!

(Roland Herrera is a Keizer city councilor.)

Are Democrats stuck in 1979?

By MICHAEL GERSON    

The passing of Mario Cuomo brought bipartisan tributes appropriate to a rare political figure with a developed inner life. He was Catholic educated, and it showed. How many other politicians grappled with Thomas Aquinas? Even the loser is dignified by such a duel.

But the intensity of affection for Cuomo, especially among Democrats of a certain age, comes from his ideological clarity. In the history of American rhetoric, there are orators of national unity such as Martin Luther King Jr. There are orators of national purpose such as John F. Kennedy. Cuomo was an orator of ideological definition. His 1984 keynote at the Democratic National Convention provided progressives with the best version of themselves, as tribunes of the forgotten and excluded.

Populists must have felt similarly stirred at the Democratic convention in 1896, when William Jennings Bryan declared war on “idle capital.” Conservatives still regard a 1964 Ronald Reagan speech, “A Time for Choosing,” in much the same category. Cuomo’s “Tale of Two Cities” belongs in the company of speeches that defined a creed.

But it is worth recalling that Cuomo’s version of the liberal faith did not prevail, at least immediately. The year he gave that speech, a progressive Democratic presidential candidate lost 49 states.  It was Bill Clinton’s New Democratic overhaul of liberalism that ended his party’s long slump in presidential politics.

Democrats still debate if this was really an overhaul or more of a facelift. Like most effective party reformers, Clinton made significant shifts in tone and policy, without completely alienating his party’s base. Rhetorically, Clinton emphasized growth and opportunity over equality. Substantively, he embraced community policing, strong defense, reinventing government and welfare reform—the latter a truly dramatic deviation from progressive orthodoxy.

President Obama has now effectively undone everything that Clinton and the New Democrats did in the 1980s and ‘90s. Issue by issue, today’s Democratic Party is about where it was in 1979.

Obama’s initial political appeal was personal rather than ideological; he would transcend ideological debates without actually engaging them in any creative or interesting way. He ran for office in 2008 on the aesthetics of politics rather than policy or political philosophy. But he has governed as an utterly conventional, backbench Senate progressive (which, in retrospect, he was). He won re-election by motivating a fundamentally liberal coalition of minorities, young people, women and the college educated. And he has fully embraced this strategy as a cause. His second inaugural address is among the strongest assertions of a progressive vision uttered by an American president in a century.

In 2012, Obama demonstrated that the New Democrat accommodation is no longer required to win a national election—at least for him. It helped, of course, to face the CEO of Bain Capital in the aftermath of a financial crisis. It also helped that the Republican economic message was stuck in 1979 as well. But unlike a generation ago, when Obama’s liberal record would have cost him dearly, he was able to win re-election easily. We are a different nation. Middle America has shifted on some social issues, and the white portion of the electorate has steadily decreased.

Obama’s political triumph has been mainly personal. Since 2009, Democrats are down 70 seats in the House and 14 seats in the Senate. Obama’s positioning of his party has involved ceding groups and regions —particularly white voters in deep and border South—that once were coveted objects of New Democratic appeal. But Obama has demonstrated that a progressive can win a national election without making this outreach. He has proved, it seems, that Clintonism is no longer necessary.

Just as another Clinton (Hillary) has become the Democratic front-runner.

The American public regards her as nearly as liberal as Obama, while some progressive activists fear she is not. Her campaign is likely to be shaped by a series of questions: Can anyone other than Obama assemble the Obama coalition? Will she need to focus on doing better among white working-class voters in order to offset a downturn in minority voters? Would a return to New Democrat themes be helpful in places such as Florida, Colorado, Virginia and North Carolina, where moderate voters might make a difference? Can Democrats afford to write off those border states completely?

During the leftist, sectarian controversies of the 20th century, the charge was leveled: “Lovestone is a Lovestonite!” Is Clinton a Clintonite? Or have the political achievements of her husband been washed away?

(Washington Post Writers Group)