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Day: August 10, 2018

Two arrested in biz burglary spree

Silas Andrew Scott (left), Richard Wayne Berlin (right)

Of the Keizertimes

Two Keizer men have been arrested in connection with a string of business burglaries in the city last month.

Since July 3, five Keizer businesses have been burglarized after hours and Keizer police suspect that the spree extended into Salem.

On July 3, Mobil Gas Station, 6160 River Road N., and Sonic Drive-In, 3775 River Road N., both reported burglaries. On July 6, Burger King, at 2655 Jorie Lane in Keizer Station, reported another burglary.

On July 24, the opening manager at Dairy Queen, 761 Lockhaven Drive N.E., reported a burglary. A window had been shattered to gain entry.

Finally, on July 30, Los Dos Hermanos, at 3590 River Road N., was burglarized. A GoFundMe campaign in support of the Keizer family’s restaurant has been launched at More than $2,500 had been raised in seven days with a $12,000 goal.

“Each business burglary occurred after the business had closed for the day. The suspects forced entry, usually breaking glass to make entry into the businesses,” said Deputy Chief Jeff Kuhns, of the Keizer Police Department.

On Wednesday, Aug. 1, a search warrant was executed at 1691 Eugene Court N.E. in Keizer that resulted in the arrests of Richard Wayne Berlin, 30, and Silas Andrew Scott, 27.

Berlin was transported to Marion County Correctional Facility where he was charged with three counts of burglary, three counts of conspiracy to commit burglary, possession of burglars’ tools, and tampering with physical evidence. He is alleged to have been involved in the buglaries at Sonic, Dairy Queen and Los Dos Hermanos. He has since been released from jail.

Scott was charged with burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and possession of burglars’ tools. He is believed to have been involved in the Burger King burglary. Scott is still in custody at the jail.

“We have reason to believe there may be more suspects involved and we know the criminal activity they engaged in extends beyond the city of Keizer. We are working closely with other law enforcement agencies,” Kuhns said.

Additional charges for the two men arrested and additional arrests may be forthcoming.

SKEF wants city to pick up field watering tab

Of the Keizertimes

The Salem-Keizer Education Foundation (SKEF) is looking for fields to host its youth soccer games, and has its eyes on the back 40 at Claggett Creek Middle School. However, organizers are asking the city of Keizer to pick up the water tab if the plan goes forward.

SKEF Executive Director Krina Lee and longtime Keizer youth sports advocate Clint Holland inquired about the possibility at a meeting of the Keizer City council Monday, July 16.

“We are desperate for facilities. There were some weekends last year when we were in 10 different facilities throughout Salem and Keizer,” Lee said.

Lee said SKEF and Holland were willing to put forth the time and effort to rehabilitate the fields on the campus using volunteers and private donations, but are trying to avoid the school district incurring additional expense for water to maintain if improvements are done.

Lee said the fields at the school are in such poor shape that physical education teachers are planning classes around the worst spots.

“We would have to reseed and level certain areas because the gophers are going wild,” Holland said. He estimated the campus could become home to three or four new fields.

At press time, city staff didn’t have a bead on how much watering the Claggett fields would cost, but doing so wouldn’t be a first. Around the turn of the millennium, volunteers rehabilitated fields at Whiteaker Middle School and the city paid the irrigation bill for the next seven years. The contractual agreement only lasted five years, but Keizer Public Works Director Bill Lawyer said it took the city “some time to catch up.” Since then, the Salem-Keizer School District has been billed for the water used to maintain the fields. To this day, cheers from the baseball and soccer fields at Whiteaker can be heard for blocks around the school.

In exchange for rehabbing the fields and establishing a concession stand to pay for continued maintenance, SKEF would ask for first right-of-refusal on Saturdays when its soccer season is in full swing.

Lawyer and Holland believe that there are already two water meters near the fields, one for the school  and one for the city, which would cut some of the costs associated with putting in new infrastructure.

After the meeting, Lawyer said he would not support using the park services fee the city collects on utility bills to cover the cost of watering the fields at Claggett.

“The fees are intended for use in city-owned park properties to increase the level of service, replace existing amenities and make additional improvements to the parks system once we catch up on all of the deferred maintenance,” Lawyer said.

City councilors seemed receptive to the idea, but withheld any action while waiting to find out what the exact costs to the city would be.

“I think it’s something that we really do need. I think it would be awesome,” said Councilor Roland Herrera.

Holland added he would be willing to assist in efforts to rehabilitate fields at Cummings Elementary School if a similar deal for water could be reached there.

A new conversation about school safety?

Of the Keizertimes

A stalwart city volunteer and a candidate for the Keizer city council tried to jumpstart a new conversation about school safety at the Keizer City Council meeting Monday, August 6.

Matt Lawyer, a volunteer on several city committees, and Dan Kohler, a candidate running to replace Bruce Anderson when his term expires in January, presented the findings from an online survey Lawyer conducted in recent weeks regarding school safety.

While somewhat limited in terms of scope and responses (roughly 420), Lawyer said the overwhelming majority supported increasing school safety through additional school resource officers provided by local police departments or through trained, armed private security.

“As a dad, I wanted to see what I could do about (school safety). So I gathered information about what parents expect and what they would be willing to pay for it,” Lawyer said. “The data supports a new conversation.”

The survey put three questions to respondents, do you support having additional school resource officers (SROs) or armed security in schools, would you support increasing additional police funding through fees to pay for the personnel and whether the respondent lives in Keizer.

On the question of SROs and armed security, 52 percent of the 421 respondents said they wanted both, 28 percent said they would prefer SROs and 9 percent favored armed security. Only 9 percent said they wanted neither.

Regarding funding, 29 percent said cost did not matter to them. Nearly 24 percent said they would be willing to add $3-$5 to the existing public services fee, 16 percent said they would support a $2-$3 increase. About a quarter of respondents didn’t want to pay more for increased security.

More than 91 percent of respondents lived in Keizer.

“I understand that this is sensitive but, as a parent with two kids, I can’t know I had a chance and chose not to ask the questions,” Lawyer said.

While no formal requests were made, Lawyer and Kohler said they hoped to see the city engage with the Salem-Keizer School District regarding the results of the survey and, if the district does not act, potentially put the issue on the ballot for Keizer voters.

“We aren’t proposing one thing or the other, but the school district has chosen to ignore it. We can’t sit around and do nothing,” added Kohler.

Lawyer said the goal is not to create a punitive environment, but to secure school campuses.

City councilors responses were mixed. Councilor Roland Herrera asked how the survey was distributed. Lawyer, Kohler, Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark, and state Rep. Bill Post all called for participation through Facebook, but Herrera said that responses from his circle would likely be far different.

Councilor Kim Freeman expressed concern over the limited number of responses and suggested making the topic central to a upcoming Community Conversation hosted by the Keizer Chamber of Commerce.

“I don’t know if you plan to present this to the district, but I encourage you to do it. I, like a lot of folks, am concerned about school safety. Do you envision us hiring more police officers? I’m not sure how the jurisdictional issue and how it comports with the district,” said Anderson.

Councilor Laura Reid, who is a teacher at McNary High School, took issue with the notion that the district was ignoring the problem.

“To say that they haven’t done anything or aren’t listening isn’t really fair. I would encourage you, as you proceed, to reach out to (Superintendent) Christy Perry regarding the district’s fact-finding and marry the two,” Reid said.

Even Keizer Police Chief John Teague chimed in when asked about his take on the proposals.

“Our interest in being in the schools is not to enforce the law, it’s to see the law enforced a whole lot less in the schools,” Teague said. “If increased security is the goal, then they should have armed security. You can get a whole lot more armed security for your dollar than you do cops. Whether that is palatable to people, I don’t know.”

Teague said he could envision an additional two SRO positions, but that would likely be the furthest reasonable extension of what KPD can offer.

Bullets win PGF Nationals

Of the Keizertimes

After the final out, celebration and photos, Taylor Ebbs tweeted “Best day of my life.”

The McNary sophomore had just won one of the most decorated softball tournaments in the country.

The NW Bullets, a travel team in Tualatin, defeated the OC Batbusters 7-1 to win the Premier Girls Fastpitch 14U Platinum Championship Saturday, Aug. 4 in Irvine, Calif.

Ebbs was 2-for-3 with a triple in the final game.

“This is one of my dreams and my goals and I accomplished my goal and my dream came true,” Ebbs said. “We really showed ourselves and how we play as a team and we showed how well we can do and our potential. We’re just really proud of each and every person on that team for stepping in and doing their job.”

After three pool play games, the double elimination tournament started with 66 teams on Tuesday, July 31. The Bullets shut out their first two opponents 5-0 and 8-0 on Tuesday but had to come from behind on Wednesday to stay in the winner’s bracket. Trailing 5-4, the Bullets scored three runs in the top of the seventh to defeat Acers Express 7-5.

The Bullets then topped Salenas Storm 2-0 on Thursday. Ebbs made a catch in deep center field for the first out in the bottom of the seventh.

“I didn’t think I was going to catch that ball,” Ebbs said. “It was behind me and it was in the right field gap. It was about five feet from the fence and we were playing pretty far in so I kind of snow coned it.”

The Bullets led from start to finish to defeat the Arizona Athletics 6-3 on Friday morning to advance to the semifinals.

Ebbs was 3-for-4 with a run and RBI in the victory.

Playing the winner of the loser’s bracket, the undefeated Bullets had two chances to beat Universal Fastpitch to advance to the finals. And the Bullets played like it, falling behind 9-2 after two innings.

“I think we were just tired,” Ebbs said. “Once we realized what was at stake, we got back in it and played our game.”

The Bullets answered with four runs in the third, three in the fourth and one each in the fifth and sixth to come from behind for an 11-9 win.

“We realized that the pressure wasn’t on us,” Ebbs said. “We have a lot of fight and I think that our fight just kicked in and helped us out.”

The Bullets, coached by Kayla Rice, have girls from Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

Ebbs has played for the Bullets for five years and in the PGF tournament for the past three summers. The 2018 14U squad is the first Bullets team to win the championship.

To the dog owners of Keizer

To the Editor:

I am an avid dog walker who has spent time, energy and money to train my dog.  We enjoy evening walks and love looking at the different houses and subdivisions of Keizer.  In the year and a half since I got my dog, I have been charged at by more than 10 different dogs of various breed in different locations in northeast Keizer. Some of these instances have been more than one dog at a time.  The most recent incident was at the Keizer Terrace Apartments on Sunday,  Aug. 5.

 We are charged at by dogs whose owners cannot hold their dog and the dog is dragging a leash as it runs at me, or the owner did not have their dog on a leash nor did they have vocal control of the dog, and it charges us from their private property.

 Most times, I pick up my 45 pound dog and hold her in the air, leaving myself exposed to the dog jumping on me. I yell loudly at the charging animal—No! Back! Down!—and usually that scares them a little so the owner can run up and grab their dog.  Some owners apologize, some grab their dog and walk away without speaking, one actually told both his dogs that were jumping on me that, “Not everyone wants to be their friends.”  He didn’t apologize.

The fear my dog and I experience at these occurrences is something I don’t wish on anyone else.  It is terrifying and has made it difficult for my dog to discern a good dog from a bad dog.  It actually changed the way she greets other animals.  She is very hesitant in meeting other dogs and she used to be happy and excited.

To this end, I am begging the citizens of Keizer: train your dog, leash your dog, control your dog!

If they are attacking me, they will attack others. I never want to harm an animal but in order to protect myself and my dog, I will begin defending us using a stick or pepper spray.   We have been lucky that neither of us have been bitten during these attacks.  I feel that luck running out.

Lillian Weaver

Manafort, Gates display worst of excess

As many in the nation have become transfixed with the Paul Manafort trial, another name associated with President Donald J. Trump, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the cabinet member who used federal government aircraft to transport, entertain and impress his recently-wed bride, has informed us that he and his boss are advocating for an additional $100 billion tax cut for the same recipients of the recent Trump administration tax cut.

Those with a measure of insight to what’s going on to rob America’s other 99 percent see the two events, the Manafort trial and the recent—and now newly proposed—tax cut as another cut from the U.S. flag as metaphor.  As the reader may already know, Manafort had grown super rich by taking public money while Mnuchin now seeks a legal version of what got Manafort into the crosshairs of special counsel leader, Robert Mueller.

In the latest version of what’s become an 18-month grab of anything not nailed down in Washington, D.C., this proposed cut would be brought about through what’s called executive fiat or an action without a vote of Congress.  It’s not only highly unusual but also contrary to the actions of anything known done by any democracy and would fall into the category of plundering the U.S. treasury while led by the guy given the assignment to protect it.  Mostly, it will enrich the U.S. elites as well as Mnuchin, Trump and other wealthy Trump cabinet members.

What’s really going on should be a warning to all of us, even those who will benefit from it, because it seriously threatens our nation as a constitutional government based on the rule of law and U.S. sovereignty.  It even has a name, that is, kleptocracy.  For those without a handy dictionary, kleptocracy refers to a ruler who uses his political power to steal his country’s resources.

Interesting to note that we often hold the view of ourselves as a people who do not abide the sort of nepotism and outright theft so common in other countries, including, for example, Brazil.  Another generalization we Americans hold dear has been that our practice in good government would be duplicated elsewhere. However, increasingly, shamefully and destructively, we have become a sanctuary for laundered money, shell companies and underhanded real estate deals.  Wealthy Americans plant their money offshore in 2018 and have done so for a couple of decades, just like their crooked counterparts in bottom-feeding nations that we Americans commonly view as disgusting and despicable.

Manafort is one of those Americans who has lead the way into the world of dark, shady and illegal deal-making.  He works well with thugs and despots at stealing from their citizens and then hiding their plunders.  Manafort helped sanitize Philippine Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Angola’s Jonas Savimbi, the Congo’s Mobuto Sese Seko, and Kenya’s Daniel Moi.  These crooks by Manafort’s means were able to receive arms and aid from the U.S. And, by the way, he’s helped Russian oligarchs who, along with Vladimir Putin, are busy trying to undermine America.

The tales of betrayals are foreboding for Americans as the Manafort and Mnuchin stories are just two of the many underway with a Trump administration where foreign countries are financing deals that profit the president’s own family along with the bank accounts of his entire retinue, most poignantly of late by the shenanigans of Tom Price and Scott Pruitt.  There’s an American elite who are active just like Manafort and others who, for personal gain and riches, send us into the toxic gasp of international kleptocracy.  The Trump administration is the most wildly corrupt ever while the Republicans in House and Senate do nothing about it.  Currently, the only hope for corrections and a U.S. rescue reside in the special counsel.

(Gene H. McIntyre shares his     opinion every week in the Keizertimes.)