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Day: March 20, 2015

Audio journal presents look into Celt senior’s life

McNary High School senior David Henderson is the first subject on the McNary Radio Diaries, a new production of the Keizertimes. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
McNary High School senior David Henderson is the first subject on the McNary Radio Diaries, a new production of the Keizertimes. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

In January, I met with McNary High School senior David Henderson and handed him a small voice recorder. We’d never met before, but I wanted to know more about his life as a high school student.

“My first thought was it would be interesting, but I wasn’t sure about putting my thoughts out there for other people,” said David, 17.

His second thought was: “Why me?”

If he had asked me that question at the time, I would have told him I wanted the exactly type of person who would ask that question. In the end, he answered it for himself.

“I figured that maybe I was qualified to do it. I’m sure there are other more interesting people, but why not me?” Henderson said.

For about three weeks, David recorded some of his thoughts about school, life and faith, among other topics. The result is the first episode of McNary Radio Diaries. You can listen to it online at keizertimes.com.


http://www.keizertimes.com/downloads/Radio-Diary-FINAL-Master.mp3


The goal of McNary Radio Diaries is to give voice to students who might otherwise not see their name in our paper. The ones who may not speak up often in class, but still have a lot on their plates and even more on their minds.

Initially, David found it odd to walk his dogs while talking into a recorder, but he warmed up to it surprisingly quickly.

“It felt nice to just talk and not worry about boring other people,” David said.

As I listened to the raw audio of David’s recording, I found myself cheering him on. Even as he sometimes struggled with words, I could feel his frustrations with things like standardized testing and the relief that came with little victories.

When I talked with David a few days ago, I asked him what he learned from being part of this project.

“That I can have opinions, and they might be ones that people want to listen to. In school sometimes, it doesn’t always feel like that but maybe (my opinions) actually do matter,” he said. “Also, be open about how you feel about things, even if you feel like nobody else would care. That’s the stuff you should be putting out there.”

The grin that spread across my face hurt my cheeks. That was precisely the point.

(Final note: If you listen to McNary Radio Diaries online, I would love to know what you think. Please send critique or feedback to [email protected] Lastly, I would like to thank Haris Khan, a junior at McNary, who is a Pro Logic ninja and helped me greatly with this project.)

It’s the people

While parts of the world seem to be losing their heads and spinning out of control, Keizer keeps its cool and continues on a modest path. We’e a community that celebrates our kids  we  roll up our sleeves when our schools and organziations need help.

The continuing crisis caused by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraqi is troubling, but it is far away. What goes on with Congress between the two parties and with the Obama Adminsistration is maddening but that too is far away. When national and international events are out of our control we hunker down and concentrate on our local neighborhoods.

That is certainly in evidence here in Keizer in winter 2015.

Keizer schools have been and will hold a variety of fundraisers from the Whiteaker Middle School Cabaret that raised money for that school’s choir programs and travel expenses.

Clear Lake Elementary held its annual auction recently to raise funds for an asphalt athletic track for students as well as local neighbors who utilize it for their fitness routies.

Earlier this month the McNary High School Fine Arts fundraising event, Knight of Arts, sold out and raised close to $40,000 for the arts at the school including a closed-camera system for the Ken Collins Audtiorium.

The Keizer Parks Foundation held its annual Pinot for the Parks wine event last week, as well. The foundation’s mission is to raise funds for the city’s 19 parks. The money raised at the Pinot event is earmarked for the big playground project at Keizer Rapids Park.

The McNary Athletic Boosters Club is finalizing fund raising for artifical turf at the high school’s Flesher Field.

It is not only money that Keizer gives to community projects and schools. It also gives time and muscle.

The big playground community build project will take place over five days in June. There are about 2,000 shifts available for the community to work. Community members will dig, wheelbarrow, nail, paint, cater and morae during what promises to be the biggest single community volunteer event ever.

About 40 volunteers toiled on a blustery day to clean up the landscaping at Keizer Civic Center.

The Keizer Chamber of Commerce will seek hundreds of volunteers to help set up and operate the Keizer Iris Festival in May.

Keizer residents take pride in their community and it is proven every time a dollar is donated or an hour is volunteered. We remain focused on working for the good of the community.

Keizer is experiencing no violent protests, no chanting of racist slurs, no shootings. We can feel positive about our community but we must always be mindful that not everyone in the world has it so good.

  —LAZ

Paper is balanced

To the Editor:

 Regarding Jim Keller’s view (Letter to the Editor, March 13) about liberal bias on the part of the Keizertimes, I note in the same paper, approximately 24 column inches devoted to supporting Keller’s conservative views (Michael Gerson) and 15 column inches reflecting what would appear to a liberal view (Gene McIntyre). The bias, if there is one, seems to be the other way (like Fox News?)

Art Burr
Keizer

GOP should be equal partner

It is hard to know what a Republican stands for these days.  With a newly won Congressional majority the only unifying theme in bills they have introduced seems to be “How can we harm Obama?”  It hasn’t helped them much so far.

Each time they defer to the more extreme Tea Party bloc they get embarrassed. The attempt to link destruction of President Obama’s immigration actions with Department of Homeland Security funding went down in flames. Now they are dealing with an ill-considered letter to the leaders of Iran signed by 47 Senators. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark, barely more than two months in the Senate, composed a letter to Iran’s leaders warning them that any agreement restraining development of nuclear weapons might be thrown out by the next President.    

Senator Cotton is on record believing that only a military solution will be effective. He also revealed an incomplete understanding of Constitutional law and geographical uncertainty about which country might include Tehran. The real surprise is that senior Republican senators hitched their wagons to this very green star.  They have elevated a young senator who got some percentage of Arkansas’ votes to the same footing as our President. It makes them seem unhinged by their hatred for Obama.

This act diminishes America.  In showing contempt for President Obama and Iran they also show contempt for China, France, Germany, Russia and United Kingdom, all of whom believe that the current leaders of Iran are more open to negotiation than previous rulers.

The Logan Act of 1798, too long to be quoted here, names penalties for citizens claiming without authority to represent the United States in foreign affairs. Outside of that these senators have condemned an agreement that hasn’t even been made yet.  Would they have foreign nations believe that they should from this point forward deal directly with the dissenting side of the Senate?

As the only office voted on by all Americans, presidents have always represented the nation in foreign affairs. Ninety-four percent of pacts with other nations have been executive agreements. Just about all those agreements have been honored by succeeding presidents.

Born in a small eastern Washington town to Goldwater Republicans, I am genetically pre-disposed to be a Republican. There don’t seem to be any modern Republicans that I recognize. Efforts at fiscal restraint should include corporate welfare and tax fairness, and even the Department of Defense.  Conservation used to be something that Republicans championed.

We live in Keizer. Oregon Republicans are now searching for a course that might return them to equal partnership in Oregon government.  The party is fractious enough right now that they were not even able to plan from one conference. The Dorchester Conference was considered ideologically impure by more conservative Republicans who organized the “freedom rally.”  A party divided portends more trouble ahead.

With a base of only about a quarter of registered Oregon voters Republicans must attract voters both Democrat and non-affiliated.  Stump speeches about “failed Democratic policies” won’t be enough. Stump speeches delivered from a position of moral superiority and moral certainty won’t attract much support.  Though I am of an age that longs for return to a remembered and possibly imaginary purity we are in a different America.

So, Republicans, give us something we can support. Assume that we understand today’s problems and say what you would do to make Oregon better.

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

Promise of kicker refund isn’t so certain

Some good news for Oregon’s beleaguered middle class and those whose incomes are even lower: Oregon’s Office of Economic Analysis has announced that there will be a re-awakening of the kicker law to the tune of $349 million. Of course, as always when the government hints of a break for taxpayers, this may be a false alarm if revenue ends up coming in short of the prediction.

Whatever the case, it means that we must wait until the current budget cycle ends at midnight on June 30 to find out whether our tax burden has been lightened.  Possibly, divine intervention must occur to make it happen; however, if it does, it will mean a 5.1 percent rebate on an Oregon taxpayer’s liability in taxes to the state in 2014, figured after deductions were computed to determine the amount owed.

Among the 50 states, Oregon’s the only one with a “two percent kicker” law, requiring the entire surplus to be returned to the taxpayers if actual tax collections are greater than two percent of what was predicted when the two-year budget cycle began.  Should your head spin a bit in trying to sink your teeth into how this is done, be aware that this money will not, as has been the practice in past years, be delivered by way of a special check sent to each taxpayer.  Rather, your 5.1 percent “refund” will be realized by you when you file by April 15, 2016, your taxes for 2015.  Yes, Oregon government wants to use your money as long as it can, even if it belongs to you on July 1, 2015.

I considered myself to have been a rather silly fellow.  I thought that if we generously gave up the state’s kicker law on individual returns we could help Oregon’s social programs and schools to improve their benefits to all citizens in need and students at every level, pre-K through graduate school.  I laugh now at how simple-minded and misled I was by way of viewing that the kicker would be used to meet public needs.

What changed my mind about the kicker are the examples of where huge taxpayer dollar amounts have been wasted by those in charge of spending in public agencies and education organizations.  A few of them are:

• Mismanagement at the Willamette Education Service District.

• The farce of hiring a former Chemeketa Community College administrator now receiving PERS benefits to help find a new CCC president who was “found” at the school as CCC’s interim president.

• The supremely high cost of planning for a Columbia River Crossing about which nothing but costly meeting and plans drafting have been accomplished.

  The Cover Oregon debacle.

• The Gain Share giveaway and Business Energy Tax Credit debacle where overburdened taxpayers must pay to make up the losses.

• The costly but worthless Oregon Education Investment Board and staff.

• University sports costs versus  quality university education.

• The Kitzhaber timber advisor’s taxpayer-paid cash cow.

I’m confident a number of Oregonians could add to the list of examples provided here.  Yet, nothing or next to nothing is ever done to make those of us who pay our taxes feel better about what happens to the money we’re forced to give the state every year.  Those responsible for corrupt practices should be held accountable.  Yet, as it all festers and putrifies, nothing is done to correct, weed out or punish the wayward guilty.

I will believe the state is honest about the math used to calculate the kicker and what I am owed back when my tax debt for 2014 is duly reduced.  The governor’s office under Kitzhaber, his girlfriend and their alleged accomplices have led me to further disillusionments from where trust in government doing the right thing in Oregon can no longer be taken for granted.

(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)

CRU cracking down on Keizer Station theft

Sign4
KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

In the past, the Community Response Unit of the Keizer Police Department was focused on drugs.

Since being brought back early last year, CRU’s scope has expanded. One of those expansions has been the Organized Retail Crime position, targeted at ongoing thefts at businesses in Keizer – particularly at Keizer Station.

Figures from the KPD show the need for such an emphasis. One store in Keizer Station reported more than $130,000 in thefts last year, while another store reported $10,000 to $15,000 in losses due to theft in one month.

Further KPD figures show an average of 90 reported criminal incidents annually at the shopping center right off Interstate 5 each year since 2011, with 103 in 2012, 107 in 2013 and 101 last year.

More troubling: figures show that through the end of February, there have already been 59 reported criminal incidents so far this year.Of those calls, 34 percent involved an arrest.

In terms of shoplifting criminal incidents thus far in 2015, there have been 32 total in Keizer, with 22 at Keizer Station. That means nearly 69 percent of shoplifting incidents in the city so far this year have been at Keizer Station.

In preparing the data, KPD’s crime analyst Cara Steele includes an important note: “A consistent rise in reported incidents indicates better reporting by merchants and increased patrols by Keizer Police.”

Steele noted officer Kevin DeMarco, the ORC officer in CRU, is laying the groundwork for relationships with Keizer Station merchants as well as other police departments.

“He’s developing relationships with businesses in Keizer Station,” Steele said of DeMarco. “He’s been getting good feedback. It will change. We have been making some good stops. Kevin has done an exceptional job with the relationships.”

DeMarco said those in organized retail crime rings often travel up and down I-5, hitting shopping centers.