Day: December 17, 2010

Petition against cell phone tax raises mayor’s ire

To the Editor: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  1st Amendment, US Constitution I had an interesting encounter with the mayor of Keizer, OR on Friday evening, December 10th.  I was petitioning against a new cell phone tax that will increase Keizer residents’ cell phone taxes from anywhere between 200-600% and was NOT voted in by the residents. The city council just voted this on Monday, December 6th. She was heading into the store when she identified herself as the mayor to me, after I asked if she would sign the petition.  A few minutes later, she was storming out, having complained to a manager about my presence there.  It appeared to me that she was throwing a hissy fit, and ranting that I was speaking “against the city council,”  that she would never shop at the store where I was petitioning ever again, and that she would post on facebook to her 400+ friends to boycott the store as well. I have never seen a public official behave so poorly, rudely, intolerantly, and even tyrannically as she did, in her speech and conduct.   She certainly did not show...

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New tax challenged

Editor’s Note: This editorial has been corrected. A full correction has been added at the bottom of this column. The city council voted at its last meeting to approve a three percent fee on cellphones used in Keizer.  The resulting $900,000 will be used to offset the city’s ever-growing 9-1-1 expenses.  About $300,000 of that money will be shared with the Keizer Fire District. It seemed like a simple vote for law enforcement in Keizer.  The revenue from the cellphone fee will allow the city to pay for its 9-1-1 obligations which have been paid for out of the city’s general fund.  That’s the same general fund that pays for the police department.  The department is down by three officers.  The city council did what it had to do to close the gap. But some don’t see it that way. A new group, Citizens Against New Telecom Taxes, jumped immediately into action to void the cellphone tax. Keizer homes have been getting robocalls with messages about taxes going up 300 percent and more.  Petitioners are out and about gathering signatures to be an initative on a 2011 ballot to stop the new tax. Mayor Lore Christopher, incensed about political petitioners in front of Albertsons, called earlier this year for a boycott on her personal Facebook page of the store because she thought Albertsons supported the repeal of the cellphone...

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Is Keizer ready?

The tornado that struck Aumsville on Tuesday should be a warning to all of us.  If a tornado can hit there than one could hit Keizer, too. That’s why we all need to be diligent regarding our emergency plans.  Every household and every car should have an emergency kit. A tornado, wind storm, or a snow storm can knock out power across the city.  An emergency kit is insurance that one would have the necessities:  water, batteries food, blankets and other items needed if electricy goes out or one’s home is destroyed. If a storm damaged homes, caused injuries or left residents without shelter, we all need to be ready to help those in need of services. The city, EVAK (Emergency Volunteers Assisting Keizer) and the Keizer Fire District are ready to jump into action if a natural disaster befell Keizer. A catastrophic natural disaster would presumably keep public safety officials busy.  Thankfully no one was seriously hurt in the Aumsville tornado, but we can’t count on that kind of luck.  That tornado damaged some businesses and homes. If a weather disaster hit Keizer would we all be ready?  If a person’s house is demolished their neighbors and relatives would take them in.  But what if there was mass destruction of property? We know that tornadoes don’t just happen in Kansas.  They happen in our own backyard.  That’s good...

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1,056 keys ready for students

The piano lab at McNary High School is open for business.  The lab will be used by students to improve their piano skills. Twelve Roland F-110 pianos were set up in a separate space off the main choir room.  The digital pianos are able to link together to create a teaching laboratory.  Instructors will be able to connect students to one another who can communicate via headsets.  A unique feature of the pianos is that the keyboards can be split in half which allows two students to practice at the same time yet hear only their own playing. The total cost of the pianos was $18,000.  Half of it was donated by the Keizer Rotary Club and some individual club members.  The Rotary Club donated the money as long as their were matching funds raised.  The challenge was met by a variety of choir fund raisers. Part of the agreement for a donation from the Rotary Club was to keep the purchase local, in Salem or Keizer.  The local dealer of Roland pianos is Uptown Music, which contacted the company and upgraded the piano option. The original cost of the piano purchase was $12,000, but for models with less capability. Roland brought the cost down, and Uptown Music donated the shipping cost and provided free installation. Lindsey Elwell, a junior at McNary, is leading the lab with teaching assistance...

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Keizer’s telecom license fee

By MARK CAILLIER I have been involved in public safety for 37 years as a police officer, commander, professor, consultant and volunteer city councilor.  I feel it is important to provide some information regarding the 3 percent telecom business license fee recently passed by the Keizer City Council.  The license fee will provide approximately $600,00 to Keizer Police Department and $300,000 annually to the Keizer Fire District dedicated to 9-1-1 related systems. The City of Keizer has one of the lowest property tax rates in Oregon at $2.08 per $1,000 of property value.  We already use over 80 percent to support public safety.  Keizer is run very efficiently and has far fewer staff (30-50 percent) than any other full service city even close to our size.  We already cut Keizer’s general fund by 6.2 percent for fiscal year 2010-11 with the police department taking a 3.7 percent cut; both budgets are the lowest since 2006.  In 1999, our police force had 37 officers.  Today we have a 20 percent increase in population, 38 officers, three officer openings and a hiring freeze. The 9-1-1 system is much more than a convenient telephone number.  It involves radio communications, mobile computers, computer information systems, interagency agency communication and system support all in an effort to provide us emergency assistance.  Currently we spend more than $600,000 is diverted from the Keizer general fund...

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