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Guns, school safety take center stage in joint town hall

Of the Keizertimes

It didn’t take long for state Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer) to get called out for a recent online dust-up during a town hall meeting with state Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) Tuesday, April 3.

In fact, it only took two questions before an attendee asked what kind of example Post was setting regarding bullying.The question stemmed from Post’s posting of a link on his Facebook page to the the Secretary of State’s website as part of a larger issue on how the initiative petition process works. Names, addresses and phone numbers of the chief petitioners seeking a ballot measure that would reduce the availablility of assault-style weapons and the size of magazine capacities in Oregon.

However, Post’s decision to spread the information through social media prompted the petitioners to be inundated with phone calls by others who had seen the information.

In retaliation for Post’s action, a Texas writer revealed Post’s phone number and social security number on Twitter, a tactic known as doxxing.

“There was no doxxing, I got doxxed,” Post said at the town hall in response to the question about the example he set. The doxxer also alluded to knowing information about Post’s wife and son, but followers of the Texas writer on social media used the tactic to dig up additional phone numbers and began calling Post’s family as well as his chief of staff and campaign treasurer.

By choosing to assign their names to the petition, Post reasoned, the chief petitioners had made themselves fair game. “The minute you sign that petition you are a public figure,” Post continued in his defense.

Public figures are more traditionally defined as public officials or any other person pervasively involved in public affairs. It would likely even stretch the definition of a limited public figure, which is someone that thrusts themselves in to the forefront of public controversies.

After dealing with that controversy, much of the meeting revolved around issues related to school safety.

Post said he’d had recent conversation with a group of retired police officers that had an interest in volunteering as security officers for Oregon schools.

“We would pay for self-locking doors and bulletproof glass,” Post said.

When asked where the funds for such security measures would come when “teachers are underpaid and we have students without desks and without books,” Post said money collected from the state taxes on recreational marijuana would cover the expense.

Post also alluded to support for the idea of arming teachers.

“There wouldn’t be a sign saying there are guns, it would be a word-of-mouth thing and the kids would take care of it for us. They would spread the message among their friends and the bad guys would go down the street,” Post said.

Other members of the audience pinned the problem on mental health issues, a lack of teaching regarding the “Golden Rule,” and proposed a return to mandatory uniforms as a way of “equalizing” student populations.

“I know that people want to get in their corners and divide ourselves. It starts with how we try to interact with others and set the example. I don’t know where you start, but the best place is at home,” Thatcher said in response to the lack of mutual kindness.

Thatcher also said she had a conversation during the recent short session with students from the Eugene area who would welcome a return to uniforms.

Other questions from the approximately 30 or so attendees ran the gamut from issues affecting individuals to process questions.

In response to a question regarding school vouchers, Thatcher said she is open to ideas, but “I want the money to follow the child.” She also mentioned the Joint Committee on Student Success as a point-of-contact.

When one attendee asked Post whether a group of legislators knew better than a jury how to evaluate non-economic damages, Post admitted he didn’t have an answer to the question in the moment.

When asked about the status of a new bridge crossing the Willamette River between Salem and Keizer, Thatcher responded, “All I can say is that another part of the district advocated for 50 years for the Newberg-Dundee Bypass and the first dirt was just moved.”

When asked what the legislators or constituents could do to help with getting good information into the hands of legislators, Thatcher said she wanted to know why constituents wanted a certain vote, not just which way they wanted her to vote.

Post said he also disregarded cut-and-paste emails where the text was provided by another group or organization and the constituent merely attached their name to it.

“If you take the time to send me an email, I will respond to every one of them,” Post said. Both legislators prefer communication by email.