Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Day: May 26, 2018

Keizer United sets new course

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

For almost two decades, Keizer United has been a fundraising arm for a rotating cast of other, small non-profits located in Keizer.

In some ways, that was a useful set-up. For instance, it allowed organizations to pool fundraising resources. However, the changing roster of supported agencies left Keizer United itself without a tangible identity.

It came to a head when the current chair of the group, Meredith Mooney, met with Mayor Cathy Clark last year in the wake of being denied financial support from the city during budgeting season.

“Cathy asked, ‘What is Keizer United?’ We got together later and I told her what I thought it could be,” Mooney said.

Mooney envisioned a new mission for the group as a meeting ground for a wider array of interests and fostering force for collaboration. Keizer United would become a Community Partnership Team, supplying lunch and inviting anyone on a mission to serve the community to join them.

“Whether you are a neighbor or on city council, you are welcome at this table for a meal but, more importantly, organic collaboration,” Mooney said.

That might seem like a hazy realignment of Keizer United’s mission, but it’s already yielding tangible results. At a Keizer United meeting Monday, May 21, two of the featured presenters were Salem Harvest’s Elise Bauman and Simonka Place’s Kathy Smith.

Salem Harvest connects famers and backyard growers with volunteer pickers who harvest crops from fava beans to fruit for other area organizations like the Marion-Polk Food Share.

“There is lots of food being wasted at the farm level because their contracts are filled, the food isn’t pleasing to the eye or the demand dries up,” Bauman said.

An estimated 400,000 pounds of locally-grown food is wasted each season. Volunteers who help harvest are permitted to keep half of what they pick and the other half goes to families and organizations in need.

Farmers and volunteers can sign up at the group’s website, www.salemharvest.org.

Simonka Place serves women in need of shelter and supportive services on River Road North in Keizer. Smith attended the meeting in hope of finding out how the women the shelter serve might give back to the community that has supported them over the years.

“Keizer is an amazing community. We don’t even have to ask and donations come pouring in,” Smith said. “We want to show how much we appreciate that generosity.”

Bauman said she had reached out to the group once before but talks sputtered over transportation issues. In the intervening time, she’d found local churches willing to donate their vans to help transport groups of harvesters to local sites.

“I think it would be empowering for our women to go and be involved in harvesting the food themselves,” Smith said.

By the end of the meeting, the two women were talking about a path forward.

Another recent success was matching Keizer Elementary School, which needed bike helmets for students riding to school with a reduced-cost helmet program offered through the Keizer Traffic Safety, Pedestrian and Bikeways committee.

“We want to create investment in the community and be part of the solution instead of just complaining about the problems,” said Gary Steiner, a current member of the board who was also one of the Keizer United founders two decades ago.

When it came time to request funding assistance from the City of Keizer this year, Mooney had no reservations in making the ask, and it was approved with a $2,000 matching contribution from the Salem Leadership Foundation.

Mooney said working with CPT organizations in Salem helped lay the groundwork for the changes at Keizer United.

“There are a handful of CPTs in Salem and they get $5,000 from the city divided among them. They are able to leverage that into $265,000 in donations and other in-kind services. We want to do something like that in Keizer,” Mooney said.

Is a constitutional crisis in our future?

It comes as a surprise to this writer that only two U.S. presidents have been impeached.

The first was Andrew Johnson who became president immediately after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, and Bill Clinton, who ended his presidency having, after all, served two full terms. Regardless of its spare use, there is talk in the land now about another possible impeachment.

President Andrew Johnson was impeached by the House of Representatives on 11 articles of impeachment that detailed his “High crimes and misdemeanors” in accordance with Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution.  The U.S. Senate acquitted Johnson by one vote and he completed his term in office.

President Bill Clinton was impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice by the House in 1998.  Clinton’s impeachment trial was held in the Senate where he was acquitted of all charges in early 1999. The Whitewater scandal along with an Arkansas real estate deal that spun a tale possibly associated with the suicide of a White House lawyer, the firings of White House Travel Office personnel, and Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky delivered enough political and legal damage to bring his impeachment.

Here and now, President Donald Trump finds himself in the throes of several high-profile controversies that appear likely to bring serious trouble to him.  What began as an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has evolved into an ever-enlarging, ready-to-erupt volcano of scandals involving an adult-film star, influence peddling, and, among other rumors, what Trump knew about allegations of sexual abuse by the New York attorney general.

What has President Trump done to fight for his survival?  He’s out regularly on the campaign trail where he attacks Democrats but does not mention his problems while he implores his followers to support the oft-repeated witch hunt charge. He badgers Congress for more legislative triumphs than his one victory with the tax cut package while he brags about a stock market and employment gains over which he has no direct control.  He keeps signing executive orders and presidential memoranda although few of them have survived to appear in the Federal Register.

Meanwhile, there are a number of Trump-related shortcomings that deeply trouble this writer.  A few examples, from the many, include President Trump’s misguided efforts to sabotage health care coverage for millions of U.S. citizens, worsening the devastating effects of climate change, gutting clean air and water protections, giving tax cuts to billionaires and huge corporations, destabilizing statements and actions on the world stage, attacks on our news media, organizations and reporters, interference with the Russia investigation which involves Russia’s attack on our democracy, self-serving efforts to cash-in on the presidency and thereby enhance his family’s wealth, disdain and contempt for the rule of law, and so on.

Impeachment in the U.S House could arrive from deliberations there by a newly-seated Democrat majority after the upcoming November election.  However, given a U.S. House impeachment, conviction is unlikely to follow because the Democrats are unlikely to realize a two-thirds head count required for a conviction in the U.S. Senate.  Even if there is a conviction, it’s believed Donald Trump will defy it as it is further believed he will defy all orders that precede it, including depositions, subpoenas, indictments or any other U.S. legal system maneuver.

Donald Trump has made it clear multiple times that he wants an unlimited term in office and made no bones about his admiration for other world leaders who possess life terms.  Writer opinion: He will never leave the White House without being forced out and it’s plainly clear to see already that there are few members of Congress who have enough of what it would take to oust him.   A constitutional crisis will predictably follow while it remains anyone’s guess, due to lack of a U.S. precedence, as to how that problematic condition will play itself out.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)