Day: June 11, 2010

Big box battle may be on ballot

By JASON COX Of the Keizertimes A Keizer neighborhood group is considering seeking a ballot measure to ban big-box stores in the city. Kevin Hohnbaum, a co-founder of Keep Keizer Livable, said his group will meet next week to decide whether and how to go forward with the notion. He mentioned it at a Keizer City Council meeting Monday, where councilors went forward with a procedural change some members said would make any retail cap allocation changes more transparent. “I think there were some surprises,” Hohnbaum said. “… I’ve gotten a lot of favorable comments from people.” What his group is considering is a ban on new big-box stores of more than 80,000 square feet in the city of Keizer. Target at Keizer Station, for example, stands at about 123,000 square feet. At this point Hohnbaum considers 80,000 square feet to be “an acceptable compromise.” He said the tactic is coming into play “because the city council continually doesn’t demonstrate that they hear what people are saying. We believe the people of Keizer don’t want another big-box store in Keizer.” His group backed Marty Matiskainen’s unsuccessful election bid against Councilor Brandon Smith in 2008, and Hohnbaum didn’t rule out endorsing candidates this year as well. “There would be the possibility of supporting some candidates who demonstrate that they are willing and able to make independent decisions and listen to...

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Keizerite headed to observe Swiss elections

By JASON COX Of the Keizertimes A local political activist’s name has apparently gotten around. Ross Day, executive director of Common Sense for Oregon and a Keizertimes columnist, headed off to Switzerland at their government’s invitation this week to observe their elections on June 13. Some heavy hitters will be on the trip with Day, including John Fund, a Wall Street Journal columnist and a senior editor for The American Spectator. Common Sense for Oregon is a conservative-leaning nonprofit that champions the initiative and referendum system along with free-market economic principles. Day, an attorney, has been going to court promoting the initiative system for years. And he noted Switzerland was the first “modern democracy … to actually include an initiative and referendum provision” system in its constitution. Oregon was the second state in the union to allow citizen initiatives and referendums, doing so in 1902. And if you’ve ever opened your ballot and lamented the sheer number of measures on the ballot? Don’t get Swiss citizenship. Day’s research indicated a 2007 election there which had 23 federal measures, six local and nine at the canton level. Canton is the Swiss equivalent of a U.S. state. He called the phenomenon “ballot fatigue. “I’m anxious to see what allows them to avoid ballot fatigue – is it cultural, or the way they are presented?” Day said. “What is it that (allows the...

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Sunset clause added to city fee hikes; some still displeased

By JASON COX Of the Keizertimes The Keizer City Council got an earful from a few displeased residents over the fee and rate increases used to balance the upcoming city budget. Some, like a sewer franchise fee increase, was expressly intended to balance the general fund budget. Councilor Brandon Smith successfully amended this, along with a new stormwater utility fee, to sunset in one year, meaning they would fall back to 5 percent in one year. Because the two increases didn’t pass unanimously – Councilors David McKane and Mark Caillier voted no – they’ll be back for second reading at the Council’s June 21 meeting. Others, like raising the stormwater utility rate, were described as essential to meeting state and federal clean water mandates. All in all the impact to Keizer’s utility customers will be about $26 per year, Finance Director Susan Gahlsdorf said. While the all-funds budget – which includes funds for utilities, streets and other non-general fund revenues – increased by some 9.6 percent, City Manager Chris Eppley pointed out that the general fund actually decreased by about $270,000. Ross Nelson was unimpressed. He testified at Monday’s Council meeting, saying that staffing and spending levels should match the city’s population growth. “My salary is identical to what it was in 2007. In fact, it’s lower because my benefits have been cut … You need to have the courage...

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Ora Lee Katherine Beard

Services for Mrs. Beard will be at 1 p.m. Friday, June 11, at Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service in Salem. Interment will be at Restlawn Cemetery. Mrs. Beard, of Keizer, died Saturday, June 5, 2010. She was born in Pueblo, Colorado, and was one of three children born to Amil and Julia Frey. She graduated from Ordway High School and completed one year at Pueblo Junior College. While attending college she was employed by New Era Weekly Newspaper. Her parents sold the farm to move to Oregon, but her father died before the move happened. Her mother, sister and her made the move in December of 1947. She was employed at the Oregon Department of Transportation for 39 years and retired on April 30, 1990. She married Melvin G. Beard on December 28, 1956 at the First United Methodist Church on State Street. They were married for more than 40 years. Ora Lee was a member of Beta Sigma Phi of the Marion-Polk Council for 53 years. She enjoyed spending time with family in various activities, especially shopping trips to Portland and trips to Hawaii; Leavenworth, Wash.; the Colorado Rockies and a visit to the family farm in Lincoln County, Colorado. She was preceded in death by her parents, Amil and Julia Frey, and her husband, Melvin Beard. She is survived by her sisters, Flora Kuntz and Juanita Bryan;...

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Communication problems

The 2010-11 city budget has been finalized and approved by the city council.  That doesn’t mean the people like it. There was impassioned testimony from citizens at the council session imploring the councilors to assure that the city lives within its means just as the private sector does. But does it?  Many American households have been in deficit spending mode for years, relying on easy credit cards to pay for the things they didn’t have the cash for.  That’s not an option for the city; it is not allowed to have a deficit—it has to keep its spending within the limits of what revenues come in. What got a lot of people upset was the information that the 2010 budget showed an increase of almost 10 percent.  How can this be? many people thought. The city manager and councilors informed the live and TV audience, the general budget actually was less than it was last  year and almost a $1 million less that it was in 2007.  That information was lost in all the budget discussions while it should have been front and center to mollify the residents. The city has a communications problem. More and more is heard discouraging words from the public:  the city council is out of control with its spending. Residents will say that if they don’t know that the just-approved budget is actually less...

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