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Day: May 4, 2018

White House doctor down


When he ran for president, candidate Donald Trump promised to hire “the best people” and said he would look at potential cabinet members’ “track record, great confidence, love of what they’re doing, how they get along with people, references.”

In many ways, Dr. Ronny Jackson, Trump’s choice to be the next secretary of Veterans Affairs, fit Trump’s list— until the doctor pulled his name from consideration last week after enduring a torrent of ugly if unsubstantiated allegations, which he denied.

Track record, love of the work and references? The rear admiral had worked his way up from serving as a combat trauma doctor to the White House physician. He clearly loved his work, and could boast of glowing praise from President Barack Obama, who wrote, “Ronny does a great job —genuine enthusiasm, poised under pressure, incredible work ethic and follow-through. Ronny continues to inspire confidence with the care he provides to me, my family and my team. Continue to promote ahead of peers.”

Missing from Trump’s requirements was an important distinction —that his picks be qualified. That ought to top the list for a post that oversees the federal government’s second largest department—smaller only than the Department of Defense—with more than 360,000 employees.

In 2016, Trump didn’t say he’d pick people just because he likes them—but that seems to be the big motivator here.

Trump liked Jackson. He especially liked the way Jackson had the White House press corps stammering and too quick to reject good news during a January press conference about the president’s good health.

Trump recognized Jackson’s lack of experience during a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday. “Now, I know there’s an experience problem because of lack of experience,” he said.

But Thursday on Fox and Friends, Trump suggested no one is qualified for the job. “You could take the head of the biggest hospital corporation of the world, and it’s peanuts compared to the VA,” Trump said by phone. “So nobody has experience. You know it’s a big monster.”

Of course, Jackson withdrew from consideration, not because he lacked CEO-type experience, but because of damaging stories about his handing out sleeping pills on foreign trips, alleged drunkenness on the job, including a car wreck, and a toxic management style.

Jackson denied the allegations as “completely false and fabricated. If they had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 years.”

Trump has argued that there was a campaign to smear Jackson, and there is reason to believe the doctor had enemies.

A 2012 personnel assessment documented an intra-office rivalry between Jackson, then head of the White House Military Office, and the then-White House physician. News reports cited unprofessional behavior between the two officers and low morale—overall morale was rated as 2 on a scale of 1-10.

A year later, after corrective actions that supported Jackson, the inspector general found that staff rated the unit considerably higher. The White House suggested the toxic work environment was all on the other guy.

The same 2013 report also noted the perception among staff that Jackson “had blind ambitions to be the next physician to the president” and his actions were “purely politically driven for his self-advancement.”

Critics who believed Jackson had overstated Trump’s health in January just found another talking point.

Ditto those who believe Trump chose Jackson to head the VA because of the glowing health report delivered, as Brookings Institution senior fellow Kathryn Dunn Tenpas noted, with Trumpian “hyperbole.”

On a human level, the episode left a stain on the 23-year career of a one-time combat physician. “You can’t blame the man the way he was getting beat up by anonymous sources and innuendo,” said Joe Davis, communications director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Jackson’s personnel assessments address the toxic work environment issue, but charges that he mixed work with alcohol and was loose with controlled substances need more explanation from the White House. If they are false, the White House should document these reports as irresponsible.

The White House should respond, if not for Jackson, then as an act of self-protection. Jackson’s example serves as a warning to highly qualified people that Trump’s opposition will go to great lengths to destroy them.

Ergo, Tenpas argued, Trump cannot pick people mainly because he likes them and they passed an FBI check. He has to be more careful. He should find a VA head like his Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, she said, who was “flawless” in terms of his credentials.

Hours after Jackson’s announcement, the Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo as secretary of state. Pompeo was a highly qualified nominee of the Gorsuch mold, and still the White House had to exert muscle to wrangle Republican votes to push him over the hurdle.

Note to the White House: Getting nominees through the Senate is not going to get easier, so up your game.

(Creators Syndicate)

The steep price of the DC circus


One of the many costs of the Trump era is the dumbing down of our political discourse. The incoherent spoken and tweeted outpourings from President Trump and the daily outrages of his administration leave little time for serious debate about policy or meaningful dialogue about our larger purposes.

In a normal environment, the Republican Congress’ assault on food-stamp recipients, the administration’s waivers allowing states to erode Medicaid coverage, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s proposed rent increases for some of the country’s poorest people would be front and center in the news.

But poor people lack the media cache of Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen or a president who rants uncontrollably over the telephone to his favorite Fox News show.

News outlets are entirely justified in lavishing coverage on the sensational and the personal, since developments in these areas are a part of a bigger story that could undermine the Trump presidency all together. Nonetheless, the circus that Trump has brought to town is nearly as much of a threat to a well-ordered political system as is Trump himself.

Nothing is significant for long, everything is episodic, and old scandals are regularly knocked out of the headlines by new ones. It’s a truly novel approach to damage control.

And governing? It seems almost beside the point. Thus does the unraveling of regulatory protections for workers, the environment and the users of financial services rush forward with little notice.

This is where the Trumpian circus benefits the Trumpian project. If there are too many scandals for any one of them to seize our attention for long, all of them taken together allow what are potentially very unpopular policies to take root without much scrutiny.

Yes, good journalists are on top of what’s happening. But their stories usually get buried beneath reports about the latest presidential statement contradicting an earlier presidential statement.

Also consider this: Budget Director Mick Mulvaney last week made a brash admission about his time in Congress. “If you were a lobbyist who never gave us money,” he said to an audience of banking executives, “I didn’t talk to you.”

In a more innocent age, this confession would have provoked sustained indignation over how our political money system fundamentally corrupts our politics. (And imagine if Hillary Clinton had said such a thing.) But Mulvaney’s words just seemed to slide by.

Mulvaney should write thank-you notes to Trump, Cohen and Daniels. Also to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who had to justify his unjustifiable uses of public money before Congress, and Ronny Jackson, who withdrew from consideration to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs after allegations (which he denies) related to, among other things, his improperly dispensing drugs and his own use of alcohol.

But if the severity of every abuse is relativized, something less tangible but at least as important is lost as well. We are ignoring the imperative of shoring up the philosophical underpinnings of liberal democracy.

Intellectual confusion and ambivalence now haunt the West. Older and once vital systems of thought — in Europe, Christian democracy and social democracy; in the United States, New Dealism and free market conservatism — have an ever-weaker hold on the popular imagination.

This vacuum is filled by strange concepts that hark back to the irrationalism of the 1930s. They include what to supporters of liberal democracy are oxymoronic ideas such as “illiberal democracy” or “authoritarian democracy.”

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has the intellectual courage to raise the specter that lurks behind these terms in her new book, “Fascism: A Warning.” She notes that fascism arose at “a time of intellectual liveliness and resurgent nationalism coupled with widespread disappointment at the failure of representative parliaments to keep pace with a technology-driven Industrial Revolution.”

In the wake of World War I and the Great Depression, she adds, “the promises inherent in the Enlightenment and the French and American Revolutions had become hollow.”

Albright is not a catastrophist (and neither am I). But she doesn’t mind being called an alarmist. She notes “that for freedom to survive, it must be defended, and that if lies are to stop, they must be exposed.” We can’t just “close our eyes and wait for the worst to pass.”

Yet at a moment when we need politics to be thoughtful and engaging, we have a government whose profound swampiness only further deepens public doubts about democracy and encourages us to view public life as mere spectacle. It’s a very bad time to be distracted by a circus.

(Washington Post Writers Group)

Today brought to you by visionaries

Two American fiction writers and movie producers who had a positive influence on my formative years were Stanly Kubrick and Gene Roddenberry.  They both contributed expansively to the science fiction film genre that delighted and expanded my interests as a youth in outer space and its exploration. Incidentally, both were born in the 1920s and died in the 1990s while both inspired 20th century efforts at expanding human knowledge beyond the Earth-bound as well as inventions that have improved our human lives here.

Star Trek watchers will remember the mind-bending idea of a transporter beaming people from ground to spaceship Enterprise danger levels surpassed the ability of the crew to cope with them. “Beam us up, Scotty!” is not yet a reality although we humans have added to our repertoire of abilities to go from ground to airborne. Roddenberry’s greatest contribution to modern times, however, may be argued the reforms in social progress he displayed in Star Trek episodes. For just two examples, he had women serving in command roles on the Enterprise and he blended several races on the bridge to steer the spaceship through adventures in other worlds and galaxies during the 1960s.

It has been exactly 50 years since 2001: A Space Odyssey was released to the world. Director Stanley Kubrick provided in visual form a vast array of technologies we enjoy today.  These would include the iPad-like video screens, Skype-like phone service, Artificial Intelligence (AI) similar to HAL, the lunar lander, the space shuttle, and the space station. 2001 was breath-taking in sci-fi symphony format, pushing the limits of narrative and special effects toward what some considered a meditation on technology and humanity.  It was the “ultimate trip” for members of America’s counter culture youth as well as those like me who enjoyed it as the best science fiction experience to that time.

The April issue of Smithsonian magazine displays a photo of the room that’s a precise replica of the one in 2001 where the film’s hero, Dave Bowman, enters as an astronaut and departs, reborn as a star child.  It’s just one of the scenes from the movie that left the viewer awe-struck; that one as an attempt to explain the question so often asked by humankind: “Where did we come from and how did we get here?”

Human ingenuity had been shaping a new technological future before the Kubrick and Roddenberry productions; yet, the work of these two men most certainly served to speed thing up: their efforts have inspired and accelerated man’s advances.  Other transformative events such as immunotherapy on the verge of killing cancer by unleashing the human body’s natural defenses and AI, moving to a place where machines may outpace thinking humans, are well underway. Then, too, renewable energy stands on the precipice of saving us from exhausting the resources through conservation and re-application so the planet can be saved for the human race and all creatures great and small.

A personal interest in outer space was inspired by an event in the 1950s.  A grassy knoll near my home as a child was a place where cardboard sleds could be used to enjoy a downhill ride.  On one occasion, while sitting atop the knoll with half a dozen fellow sledding enthusiasts, our attention was suddenly focused on a round, saucer-shaped, shiny object with a small dome hovering motionless some 100 yards away.  It hovered in place for a minute or two and then sped off at a speed so rapid, it was there one moment and gone the next.  Didn’t see any little green men but later learned from testimonials and news accounts that other people had also seen what we saw and called them “flying saucers.”

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)

Phyllis Deane Berrum

June 22, 1939 – April 24, 2018

P. Berrum

Phyllis Deane Berrum, a resident of Keizer, Ore., for nearly 50 years, died peacefully in her sleep last Tuesday, April 24.

Phyllis was born and raised in Stockton, Calif.  She graduated from Stockton College High School in 1957 and received a teaching degree from San Francisco State in 1961.  Soon after college, she met and married Henry (Bud) Berrum and moved to Minden, Nev.

She took a teaching job in Carson City and thus began a long and distinguished career in education.  That career was briefly interrupted with the arrival of her two children. In 1968, she and Bud moved the family to Albany, Ore., followed by a move to the then unincorporated town of Keizer, the following year.  She taught fourth grade in Gervais, then Monitor.

In 1983 she and Bud divorced. At that time, she advanced her career by training as a reading specialist, eventually obtaining an advanced degree from Oregon State University while working for the Reedville School District and then for the State of Oregon.

She was generous to a fault with her time and her talents. She loved life, laughter, dancing, travel and continuing to learn. She was an avid reader, a wicked pinochle player, and in her later years relished working as the secretary and volunteering with the food bank at Faith Lutheran Church in Keizer. She will be greatly missed by family and friends, including her special friend Michelle Deplois and her dog, Coco.

Phyllis was preceded in death by her brother, Jerry Coon. She is survived by her brother and sister in-law, Larry and Lenore Coon of Stockton, her daughter, Stacey Berrum of Ashland and her son and daughter-in-law, Scott Berrum and Laura Lull of Hermosa Beach, CA.

A service will be held at Faith Lutheran Church in Keizer on Saturday, June 2, at 11 a.m.  A light lunch will be served after the service. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation ( or the Oregon Humane Society ( in her name.

Marjorie Ann Gustafson

August 6,  1939 – April 24, 2018

M. Gustafson

Marjorie Ann Gustafson was born August 6, 1936 in Oregon City to Louise L. and George L. Melum.  The family including younger sister Barbara Melum Hanson moved from Canby to Toledo, OR where she graduated from Toledo High in 1954. During her school years she was a Rainbow Girl, a forestry lookout for the Lincoln County Fire Patrol Association, studied the clarinet and piano. At an early age she was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer which resulted in several surgeries, loss of an eye and radiation therapies at UOMS now OHSU in Portland OR. This required long road trips and stays with her grandmother in Oregon City.

She attended the University of Oregon where she joined the Sigma Kappa sorority, then moved to Portland University while working as an office clerk in a medical doctor’s office before taking the vacation of a lifetime to Hawaii.  She then settled down and married her high school sweetheart, Thomas Walker, also from Toledo, in 1961. They moved around with the U.S. Air Force and then landed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where first born Valerie Leigh Walker in 1962 followed by Bradley Evan Walker in 1963 were born.

After her second marriage ended, Marjorie and her two children relocated to Willark Park in Keizer, OR from Springfield. She cared for her aging parents who retired from their farm in Canby in addition to raising her two children. Marjorie became involved with the WPGC, Wednesday night bowling league, joined PEO sisters, supported Deepwood and the Holiday Greens Show.

She ended her working career with the Marion Polk County Food share in 2010. She was able visit her two grandchildren in California over the years. Marjorie is survived by her daughter, Valerie, granddaughter Mychala Barnes, grandson Niki Barnes, niece Suzanne Hanson and her dear friend Debi Mott.

A graveside service was held May 1 at Mt. View Cemetery in Oregon City at 11 am. In lieu of flowers please make a donation in Marjorie’s name to the OHSU Casey Eye Institute. Assisting the family is Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.

Dorothy Elaine (Rush) Nolan

February 2, 1926 – March 26, 2018

D. Nolan

Dorothy Elaine (Rush) Nolan went to be with the Lord on March 26, 2018 in Milwaukie OR at the age of 92.

Dorothy was born in St. Louis, Ore., on February 2, 1926 to George T. Rush and Lena Seifer. She graduated from Gervais High School and afterwards went on to attend college for a few years.

On October 8, 1946 at the Sacred Heart Church in Gervais, OR, she married her true love Alford Nolan. Together, they lovingly raised five children.

Dorothy was preceded in death by her husband Alford and son Danny. She is survived by her children: Tim, Aleta (Tom), Susan (Joel), and Jonalyn; as well as three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Dorothy was a very active lady. She was an extremely hard worker and would tackle any challenge. Amidst the plethora of occupations she held you could include: librarian, berry farm owner and homemaker.

When she wasn’t hard at work, she would volunteer her skills at a variety of locations in which her caring heart could be seen. Some of the locations she spent her time at include St Edward’s Altar Society, Salem African Violets Society, Willamette Valley Porcelain Artists, and she also belonged to the Questors – Chapter 845.

In her down time, Dorothy loved to garden and do china painting. Her passion for her flowers and gardening was rivaled only by her love for her family. Family gatherings were a delight for her and she enjoyed actively investing in her relationship with her friends and family. Her dream was to express her love through her family.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Epilepsy Foundation Northwest and to the Defeat Diabetes Foundation in Salem Oregon.

Larry J. Byers

June 6, 1950 – February 1, 2018

Larry J. Byers of Keizer, Oregon passed away on February 1, 2018. He was born June 6, 1950 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, as a member of the Cherokee Nation.

L. Byers

Larry grew up in Southern Oregon, where he met and married his wife, Suzanne (Petsch) Byers in 1967. He attended Southern Oregon College and Portland State University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Education and his Master’s Degree in Educational Administration. Larry moved his family to Keizer, Oregon when he began his career at Chemawa Indian School in 1976. Larry’s passion for the youth he served spanned several decades, during which time, he continued to teach and coach football, wrestling, basketball and baseball. Larry was known for his dedication to his students, and is remembered for greeting them each morning as they arrived for class, honoring his athletes at the Exchange Club, and guiding them to find success in their lives. He was an innovator in this way, and worked with the university system to enable his scholars’ pathways to a higher education. Larry was proud to have capped his career as a Supervisor/Superintendent at Chemawa after a 30-year tenure. He was also instrumental in establishing Bureau of Indian Affairs national educational policy before he retired.

Larry’s love for his family was paramount. He talked with pride about his children, and his grandchildren were the loves of his life. Annual spring break getaways, visits to Disneyland or time spent with the grandchildren visiting their Nona and Papa were the highlights of his life. With the move from Southern Oregon, Larry made new relationships but never parted with the “Bunch,” a group of steadfast friends. The Bunch have gathered since their college years for an annual retreat, playing softball, golf and enjoying fun times reliving many memories. Larry was a long-time member of the Salem Golf Course, spending many a day out on the green or sharing stories in the clubhouse. He was also a member of the U.S. Bowling Congress and bowled at the local, state and national levels.

Larry and family were members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Salem.

Larry is survived by his wife, Suzanne; his mother, Norma, and sister, Carol; son Joey and his wife, Yvonne, and their children; and daughters Jodi and Janelle.

His father, Joe, preceded him in death.

A memorial will be held on May 20th at Salem Golf Course from 2:00 to 4 p.m.

Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service is in care of arrangements.

Lego thief busted

A suspected thief who burglarized a Lego-themed Keizer store was caught and arrested as he tried to sell the goods to another store in Oregon City later the same day.

Keizer police officers responded to an alarm at Bricks and Minifigs at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 24. The store is located at 3670 River Road N.

Investigating officers discovered a window had been broken and someone had entered the business but no one was found inside. An employee of the business met with officers and determined that a cash register and five sets of Star Wars-themed Legos had been taken for a total value of about $1,000.

The suspect, and the vehicle he arrived in, were captured on surveillance video.

Shortly after 3 p.m. the same day, the investigating officer was contacted by the Oregon City Police Department (OCPD) because an individual was attempting to sell Star Wars Lego sets at the a Lego-themed store in Oregon City.

Deputy Chief Jeff Kuhns, of the Keizer Police Department, was still waiting on reports from Oregon City at press time. He hoped the reports would reveal how the employees of the Oregon City store knew to call police when the suspect tried selling the stolen playsets.

Working with a Keizer Police Detective, Oregon City officers developed probable cause and arrested Keith Leroy Fletcher, 52, of Portland, for first-degree theft.

Fletcher’s vehicle, a 2013 Nissan Sentra, which is thought to be the same vehicle caught on surveillance, was impounded and OCPD officers were applying for a search warrant to look for additional evidence related to the crime.

Fox on the Fairway premieres

Wendy Braun lays a big kiss on Jordan Reid in a scene from The Fox on the Fairway, debuting at Keizer Homegrown Theatre on Friday, May 4.

Of the Keizertimes

When Linda Baker, founder of Keizer Homegrown Theatre, read The Fox on the Fairway, a farce by Ken Ludwig, she knew just the man to direct it—2005 McNary graduate Kevin Strausbaugh.

“When I was at McNary, I did a bunch of directing classes and she (Baker) always said I had a natural talent for directing,” Strausbaugh said. “She saw this show and how ridiculous and silly and farcical it is and knew that I would bring this show justice.”

Strausbaugh calls Mel Brooks one of his biggest influences.

“I’m a very eccentric person,” Strausbaugh said. “I love this kind of humor. I actually have a few little bits in here that are from Mel Brooks movies. Anyone who is also a Mel Brooks fan, like myself, will get them, but if they don’t, it’s still funny.”

The Fox on the Fairway opens Friday, May 4 at 7 p.m. at Keizer Homegrown Theatre, 980 Chemawa Rd. NE. with additional shows May 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 7 p.m. and May 6, 13 and 20 at 2 p.m.

“It’s just a constant punch line, line after line after line of punch lines,” Strausbaugh said.

The play centers around rival country club presidents, Henry Bingham of Quail Valley Country Club, played by Jeff Minden, and Dickie Bell of Crouching Squirrel Golf and Racquet Club, played by Lyndon Zaitz.

After five years of losing the annual interclub tournament, Bingham places a large bet with Dickie, believing he has a sure thing winner in a new member, only to discover the morning of the tournament that Dickie has stolen the new member.

In danger of losing his shirt, job and wife, Justin, a newly hired assistant who also happens to be a strong golfer, enters the picture with a chance to save Bingham’s bet. Justin, however, is distracted by his new fiancee, Louise, a waitress at the club, and their antics put his golf performance in jeopardy.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Minden said. “It’s hilarious. The show is so much fun to do and everybody’s been so much fun to work with and we’re still laughing two months into rehearsal at all of the jokes. It’s going to be a really funny show.”

Jordan Reid has found it easy getting into the character of Justin.

“I’m a very anxious person by nature,” Reid said. “I just had to delve into my inner crazy. It’s pretty intense and pretty fun. When you get to play a nervous character, you get to stutter a lot, which is something I do naturally.”

Kiley Smith, who did theatre in high school in Stayton, plays Louise. It’s her second Keizer Homegrown show after taking part in Heaven Can Wait last November.

“We have so much fun,” Noel said. “We’re all laughing. There’s a lot of energy in this. We all just have a great time together.”

Wendy Braun and Becky Nielson make up the rest of the cast. Nielson plays Bingham’s wife—Muriel and Braun plays Pamela, a loyal Quail Valley booster.

“I have the best cast I could ask for,” Strausbaugh said. “There’s a lot of bits in the show that the cast created themselves. Every cast member has added their character to the show and that is something every director dreams to have. I honestly think I have the perfect cast.”

Tickets are $15 and available at the door or online at Brown Paper Tickets,

Doors open 30 minutes prior to the start of the play. Seating is limited.

McNary Routs South Salem

McNary’s boys lacrosse team (9-4) closed its road trip with a 12-11 win in overtime over Ridgeview on Saturday, April 28.

Jonathan Williams had seven goals in the victory. Kory Pagels added two.

The win came after McNary lost a lead in the final two minutes to fall to Sisters 12-10 earlier in the day.

Chad Pinney and Williams each had four goals. Spencer DelaCruz and Ezra scored the other two goals.

The Celtics also defeated Mountain View 12-10 on Friday, April 27.

Williams again led the effort, scoring three goals. Pagels also had a hat trick. Barton and Pinney each scored two goals. DelaCruz and Ezra Cauthon both had one.

The Celtics throttled South Salem 17-3 on Wednesday, April 25.

Williams and Cauthon each had four goals in the rout. Barton, Shepherd and DelaCruz all had two. Pagels, Pinney and Layton Thurlow scored as well.

McNary hosts West Albany Tuesday, May 8 at 8 p.m. to finish the regular season.