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Day: November 3, 2017

Father, daughter die in duplex fire

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By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

A GoFundMe page has been created for a Keizer family, whose father and 6-year-old daughter passed away days after a fire engulfed their duplex on Thursday, Oct. 26.

Telese Hoerauf, a neighbor who started the GoFundMe, said she was having a normal Thursday night when she heard knocking next door and cries of “Daddy, daddy.”

Brixa Ruvalcaba (Submitted)

“I heard panic in one of the girl’s voice and could hear that she was scared,” Hoerauf said. “I was thinking maybe they got locked out of the house or something. I opened my front door and came outside and could see smoke coming out of the house.”

The oldest of the five Ruvalcaba kids, a 7-year-old girl, had rescued her 2-year-old twin brother and sister and 4-year-old brother. However, her 6-year-old sister and father Miguel remained in the house.

Their mom wasn’t home.

Hoerauf said she did everything she could to help, including calling 911 and entering the house on her hands and knees. But there was too much smoke.

“I ran over there and grabbed the kids and ran them over to my house,” Hoerauf said. “I got on my hands and knees and tried to go to the back bedroom where the little girl had said her sister was. My husband opened the sliding glass door and tried to get to where the dad was but it was way too smoky so we had to go back out and then went back in for a second time. Then there was even more smoke.”

Keizer Fire District were dispatched to the fire in the 1400 block of Rozilla Court Northeast at 11:40 p.m. Salem Fire also responded as Miguel and the young girl were pulled out of the fire unconscious at 11:52 p.m.

“When we arrived there was heavy, heavy fire and smoke,” said deputy fire marshal Anne-Marie Storms, who added the cause of the fire is under investigation but the garage is the main focus.

The couple on the other side of the duplex evacuated their home unharmed with their 7-month-old child but Storms said there was damage to one of the bedrooms, bathroom and smoke throughout.

Miguel and his daughter, Brixa, were taken to Salem Hospital in critical condition before being transferred to Legacy Emanuel and Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland. Miguel died Saturday. Brixa then passed away Sunday.

Hoerauf and her husband have lived next to the Ruvalcaba’s for about a year. Their children played in the cul-de-sac together. Miguel would share fruit and vegetables.

“They were very, very nice people,” Hoerauf said.

Hoerauf started the GoFundMe page on Saturday, Oct. 28 and has raised more than $7,500. Along with money, the family is accepting clothing.

One girl wears size 14/16 and shoe size 4. One boy wears size 6/7 and shoe size 1. The 2-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy wear clothes size 3T and shoes size toddler 7. The mom wears clothes size 4XL and shoe size 12. They are looking for size 5 diapers or pullups. Donations are also being accepted at Weddle Elementary School.

“I couldn’t do more to save them so me and my husband feel that this is what we can do to help them more,” Hoerauf said.

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Law professor on SKSD mandatory reporting: New guidelines have ‘extremely bad consequences’

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By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Recently-expanded mandatory reporting guidelines in the Salem-Keizer School District (SKSD) – that require teachers to report instances of consensual sex between students – prompted some students to question whether their free speech rights were being squelched.

Keizertimes asked University of Oregon School of Law Professor Leslie Harris to review the training materials given to teachers and explanations provided by the district for the changes. In her opinion, trampling free speech isn’t the primary concern.

“The advice (given to the district) is extreme protect-yourself-from-liability kind of advice that has extremely bad consequences for students and teachers, and particularly for young people in difficult situations who need help,” said Harris.

In addition to teaching, Harris is the author of widely-used textbooks on family law and children and the law. She also directs the Oregon Child Advocacy Project, which provides education and assistance to attorneys advocating for the interests of children.

Harris said that while students may feel their free speech rights are being impeded, the bigger issue is the district’s interpretation of Oregon’s child abuse reporting statute.

Prior to the changes, teachers were required to report cases of suspected abuse or neglect, but the new guidelines pushed out by the district expand reporting to include students talking about consensual sex, students asking about options for birth control for themselves, student pregnancy, and even in cases where students have been kicked out of their home by parents after sexual relationships are discovered.

“Oregon defines sex abuse in relation to certain criminal statutes, which not all states do. You have to have reasonable cause to believe that abuse as defined in one of those criminal statutes has occurred,” Harris said. “I can’t seriously imagine that either police or DHS (the Department of Human Services) upon receiving a report of a teenage consensual sex relationship are going to arrest them. That may be because I lack imagination, but you could do a lot of harm to a student by bringing charges and putting them through this process.”

Moreover, Oregon law provides exceptions for students within three years of age, also known as Romeo and Juliet laws. In the training materials, teachers are told that while age differences might be considered by police, DHS, or the district attorney when conducting an investigation, it does not apply to mandatory reporting.

“The slide says don’t worry about that, the district attorney will worry about that and I think that’s just wrong, you have to have reasonable cause to believe a crime was committed,” Harris said.

Harris also took issue with the district’s assertion that teachers are required to report when their own children talk with them about sex-related topics.

“Parents, even teacher-parents, have constitutional rights to teach their children and that certainly includes talking about sex. To suggest you have to report those conversations is incorrect,” Harris said. “I doubt very seriously that the legislature intended for parent-teachers to report their children. I doubt very seriously that the legislature intended for a kid who has been kicked out of his home by a parent to be turned in rather than the parent.”

Even if a parent gave their student permission to talk with teachers about the issues covered under the new guidelines, it wouldn’t protect teachers from the mandatory reporting requirements, Harris said.

In an interview last week, SKSD spokesperson Lillian Govus said it likely wasn’t intended for teachers to report conversations with their own children, but that it wasn’t up to the district to interpret the intent of the law.

“We just did the training because we believe it’s a clarification of the law and we’re not asking teachers to go out and find out if kids are having sexual intercourse,” said SKSD Superintendent Christy Perry.

Still, Harris contended that the effects of the new guidelines contradict accepted best practices.

“What is the sense in setting up a policy saying we don’t want children talking to teachers? It’s really, really sad and it’s contrary to what everyone says would be best practices. The teachers are in the position of having this edict. Even if they are willing to defy it, it will have chilling effect on the students,” Harris said.

She saw the free speech angle as something of a red herring, but added that the courts have frequently found that children have the same speech and privacy rights as adults, but that the “contours and boundaries” are different depending on the situation.

She said it would be hard for teachers or students to fight the new guidelines in a one-on-one basis, but that a larger entity could seek additional clarification of the mandatory reporting guidelines.

“An organization like the teacher’s union could ask the attorney general’s office for an opinion on this,” Harris said.

Keizertimes contacted the president of the Salem Keizer Education Association, the teachers’ union, regarding whether the union planned to address this issue in upcoming meetings, or if it had any comment on the new policy. No response was received by press time.

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Celtics to open playoffs at home

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By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Surrounded by his teammates who have become like brothers, Hakam Nagra sat at midfield for as long as he could, trying to fight back the tears after a 57-6 loss to West Salem on Friday, Oct. 27, thinking he had played his final home game at McNary.   

But thanks to a top 16 finish in the final OSAA power rankings, Nagra and McNary’s other 22 seniors will get another shot to go out at home as winners when the Celtics, No. 14, host No. 19 Grants Pass on Friday, Nov. 3 in the first round of the state playoffs.

“To get one back home is a real blessing,” Nagra said. “Everybody is amped. Everybody is watching film. Everybody is going hard at practice. I’m really excited going forward.”

McNary and Grants Pass, both 6-3, have similar resumes. Grants Pass finished third in the Southwest Conference behind two of the top 10 teams in the state, falling to No. 5 South Medford 40-21 and No. 7 Sheldon 62-20.

The Cavemen’s other loss came to Sprague, 54-27.

McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen and Nagra both compared Grants Pass to McMinnville, who came from behind to defeat the Celtics 39-35 in the final minute on Oct. 6.

“Their linebackers play close,” Nagra said of Grants Pass.

“They have a three-man front. They don’t blitz very much. There are some key weaknesses in the defense. They’re not very big either so it’s a good matchup for us.”

Grants Pass is led on offense by junior quarterback Blain Hobbs, 6-foot-6-inch senior wide receiver Tayler Phillips and three senior running backs—Vincent Washington, Richie England and Teigan Jokumsen.

“They’re not mind-boggling good,” Auvinen said. “They do everything well. They’re well coached. Their margin of victory is probably a little bit more dominant than their games are. They seem to win games by three touchdowns that are pretty close. That tells me they’re making plays when they need to.

“They also do a good job of getting turnovers. They compete. I think we match up real well. I think the kids are excited for the playoffs.”

McNary is hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2013 when the Celtics defeated Roseburg in the first round, which is also the last time McNary won a playoff game.

The Celtics were the 14 seed then as well.

While McNary is undefeated on the road this season, the Celtics are 1-3 at home with the only win coming against North Salem to open the season.

“Maybe sometimes people get too amped with everyone here to watch us,” Nagra said of the team struggling at home.

“They’re focused on wanting to look good than actually paying attention in the game and getting something done. If you go away, you have something to prove, it’s your job to get it done. If we switch that mentality around like we do at away games at home, than we’ll get it done.”

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Sex reporting will do more harm than good

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Salem-Keizer School District’s decision to enforce a standing Oregon law is causing quite a stir. The law the district is instructing its teachers and staff to follow is Oregon statute 163.315, which says a person under the age of 18 is incapable of consenting to a sexual act.

The child abuse mandatory reporting guideline requires teachers and other school employees to report if they believe two students under the age of 18 are having sex, even if one of their own children is involved.

The renewed focus on this issue came after a member of the community  asked for clarification of the statute.

Every story has two sides. The school district responded to a question and decided that the existing state law needed to be heeded. Teachers were informed by the school district that they would need to take additional mandatory reporting training.

The response from teachers and students alike was swift and generally opposed to the school district’s focus.

Rightly, some teachers expressed that many students turn to them or school counselors to discuss intimate details of their lives including sex. That’s because some households do not welcome discussions of sex, especially discussions of gender identification.

Teachers invite and welcome discussions with students because they understand how home life can be for some kids. Some parents think the schools should take the lead on sex education; others think that sex education should stay at home. The point is moot: what some think should happen is not happening and everyone needs to adjust accordingly.

Many students feel that their teachers, coaches or counselors are the only adults they can discuss topics such as sex with. That trust should not be shunted aside so the school district can tell the community they are following the letter of the law.

What would a reasonable person think? Kids shouldn’t be having sex? That train left the station centuries ago—heck, even Romeo and Juliet were in their early teens, you can bet no medieval adult was reporting them to the throne.

Underage people having sex with each other is not new. The parents of every generation dating back 75 years have lamented their children’s lascivious ways. For a reasonable person who is concerned about teen pregnancy, statistics show that rates are down sharply over the past decade. Research also shows that the Millenial Generation is putting off many things that define a person as an adult, and includes sex.

Mandatory reporting laws are good when it concerns victims. An underage person having consensual or non-consensual sex with an adult is illegal and should be reported and prosecuted.

The truth is that in 2017 our kids are facing more deadly issues, especially the nation’s current opioid/heroin problem. We can ask our teachers to report when they hear of kids having consensual sex, but we would rather our teachers report on drug use.

Oregonians may not be dying at the hands of heroin and opioids at the rate of some other hard hit states, but the danger is very real here. It is not just opioids and heroin on which we must remain vigilant—still, too many kids help themselves to prescriptive drugs they find in their home.

We don’t think underage sex is harmless. There are sexually transmitted diseases to be concerned about. There is the shaming and bullying that girls are subject to when words gets around that they are active. There are gender identification issues as well as body issues that can be negative. Those can create long-term, low self-esteem issues that can last for years. No, underage sex is not harmless, but it needs to be put in perspective.

The message, like don’t do drugs, is don’t have sex. We should work very hard to keep our kids away from and off of drugs. Parents and our schools should work in tandem to talk to their kids and their students. That will work best if our kids feel comfortable talking to their parents or an adult, otherwise the whole issue is shoved underground where we can’t get at it.

  —LAZ

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Real news about a fake dossier

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By DEBRA J. SAUNDERS

After months of going after “fake news,” President Donald Trump has found a story about a “fake dossier” that he clearly takes to be real news.

Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn this week, Trump said that a Washington Post story connecting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign to a dossier that alleged his 2016 campaign had ties with Moscow was a “disgrace” and “a very sad commentary on politics in this country.”

The president has long maintained that stories linking Vladimir Putin’s Russia with his campaign were “fake news” and that investigations into possible collusion between Moscow and his camp were part of a “witch hunt.”

On Tuesday, the Post tossed some fuel into that fire when it reported that the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee had paid for opposition research by the firm Fusion GPS, which had commissioned a dossier that alleged Russian operatives had “been cultivating, supporting and assisting” Trump for at least five years.

The dossier—really a collection of memos that included unconfirmed salacious gossip about Trump—was written by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. According to news reports, the FBI has confirmed portions of the 35-page document, but information about a “clandestine meeting” between Kremlin representatives and a Trump lawyer in Prague has been discredited.

The Post story sent ripples through Washington. Shortly after the story went online, New York Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Kenneth P. Vogel took to Twitter to grouse about Democratic operatives lying to them.

“I do think it’s weird that the DNC never ‘fessed up,” observed Republican political consultant Mike Murphy.

DNC Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa told the Post that Chairman “Tom Perez and the new leadership of the DNC were not involved in any decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie (a DNC and Clinton campaign law firm) was working with the organization.” Be it noted Perez did not become chairman until February 2017.

Former Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted, “I regret I didn’t know about Christopher Steele’s hiring pre-election. If I had, I would have volunteered to go to Europe and try to help him.”

There’s a mystery in the story—who is the Republican client who hired Fusion GPS to gather dirt on Trump during the contentious GOP primary? According to The Washington Post, the opposition research firm later passed the information on to Perkins Coie attorney Marc E. Elias.

Murphy, who ran a super PAC that supported former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the 2016 primary, said he does not believe rumors that a Bush supporter was the original contractor. “If it was JebWorld, I think I would have known about it.”

“How does something like that end up on the desk of the FBI?” asked Mark Corallo, a GOP communications strategist who briefly worked on Trump’s private legal team. “It’s a political document, please.”

The FBI has some explaining to do. Former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump later fired, took the dossier so seriously that he stayed behind after a Jan. 6 briefing to discuss it with then President-elect Trump. In addition, both The New York Times and Washington Post have reported that the FBI had agreed to pay Steele to continue gathering more information on Trump and Russia. The FBI ended the arrangement after news reports outed Steele.

Tom Fitton of the government watchdog group Judicial Watch tweeted, “Hmm, Clinton campaign operatives talk to Russian officials to find dirt on @RealDonaldTrump… is that collusion?”

While the Post article is based on anonymous sources and there has been no investigation, Trump seems to have already made up his mind about the story. “Well, I think it’s very sad what they’ve done with this fake dossier,” Trump said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, whose bid to discover who was paying Fusion GPS may have set into motion The Washington Post story, responded, “Now that we know who funded the Steele dossier, the next step is for the FBI and Department of Justice to comply, quickly, with the Intelligence Committee subpoenas for documents showing how intelligence agencies used information from the dossier and what steps they took to verify its veracity.”

(Creators Syndicate)

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Is our democracy under threat?

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By GENE H. McINTYRE

Ideally, if democracy in practice is the mainstay of a functioning government, the power must come from and remain with the people.  Elections are held and citizens are able to vote for the candidate they feel will best represent their wants and needs.  The central principle behind a democracy is that of representation. It was the foundation for the U.S. Constitution as that was the character of the nation they intended after a revolution that  freed the people from venal and corrupt British monarchical rule, conditions the founding fathers did not want to re-establish in their new country.

Freedom is a large part of democracy. Freedom of thought, worship, speech and action (assuming action is peaceful and within the limits of established law) are the backbone around which our government is built. Freedoms in the American context have been those by which individuals can grow and develop and pursue their personal dreams and goals.  A democracy seeks to foster growth in the arts, sciences, literature, invention and innovations of all kinds, believing that when people are free to work as they see fit they will have the opportunity to contribute to their community and the society-at-large.

Some of us, including this opinion writer, are inclined to see serious threats to our 200-plus year effort at establishing and sustaining a democracy.  We see that the central and state governments are being pushed and shoved around by the special interests that receive their marching orders from corporations and other special interests and it’s the lobbyists from these and themselves that end up telling our representative what to do and actually writing far too many of our new laws and policies. Reforms in this area of operations are long overdue to preserve what’s left of our threatened U.S. democracy. The worst of these abuses today can be seen in the industries of banking, energy, investment housing, defense and arms contracting, corporation agriculture and high-end real estate dealings.

What some of us see close to dominating all public life in these United States is called kleptocracy.  Essentially, it is a term used to describe a form of government so corrupt and incompetent it’s totally opaque.  Although a pejorative term, kleptocracy denotes a government wherein the common people are burdened with heavy taxation so that those in charge, the rulers and their cronies, can amass more and more enormous amounts of money in their personal accounts.

A kleptocratic regime ends up with a major portion of government funds in the hands of a few corrupt officials with lip service or no service given to the needs of the state and its people.  Creeping authoritarianism is allowed to happen when more and more citizens grant absolute and unquestioning authority and provide obedience to the ruling authority.  Such a regime starts as duly elected but slowly and surely gravitates to all means possible in control of the state and its people. Ultimately, the upshot of all this is that radical groups form to stop the corruption and denial of services to most, including now, as mainly hate groups like White Nationalists, Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, Breitbart News and others as well as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Haqqani, ISIS, Taliban and others overseas that intend to overthrow established order.

When a nation’s elected and appointed leaders continue to hold onto their investments and appreciate huge gains in their private wealth, when the personal-gain financial transactions that people in power carry out go unnoticed and ignored, when money transfers are placed in secret bank accounts overseas, when tax facts are hidden, when subordinates are compromised into silence by payoffs and gifts, when family members of the ruler become the arbiters of power, status and privilege, and those persons in charge, and at the ruler’s strict direction plunder for themselves and their wealthy pals, the nation’s money and resources it spells kleptocracy.  Take a long and hard look around my fellow Americans.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)

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Eva J. Blake

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Dec. 13, 1921 – Oct. 4, 2017

E. Blake

Eva J. Blake passed away on Oct. 4, 2017.

Blake was born in Pond Creek, Okla., on Dec. 13, 1921. She married Homer E. Blake in Long Beach, Calif., in 1947. They moved to Keizer in 1975. The couple had five children, three boys and two girls, named Dan, Sherri, Jeanie, Lon and Dean.

She was a longtime bookkeeper for St. Edward Catholic Church and enjoyed knitting in her spare time.

Interment was at Claggett Creek Cemetery.

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