Day: May 23, 2014

The project that never starts?

So the Big Toy is being delayed. Again. It’s embarrassing, sad…and yet so predictable. Clint Holland has been vocal in his opposition to the delay, with the main concern being the 3,000 children who helped design the play structure were promised last fall the structure would be built this September. During the May 13 Keizer Parks Board meeting, Holland opined the project won’t get done next year, either. Before you dismiss Holland’s comments as hyperbole, consider the merit behind them. Delaying the build date from September 2014 to June 2015 isn’t the first delay for this project. Plans for the play structure kicked into high gear when Will Stitt brought the idea up at the December 2012 Parks Board meeting. Parks Board members, led by Richard Walsh, immediately loved the idea. Plans were made to fast track the project. One of the early discussions was about funding. How much would it cost? Who could help foot the bill? Then it was discovered the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department had a Local Government Grant with a lot of money available. It was a perfect fit. The only problem: the application was due in April and plans in early 2013 were still in the preliminary stages. So the decision was made to push the project back to 2014. The idea was to spend the rest of 2013 getting details nailed down,...

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Move on

U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane’s ruling that Oregon’s referendum banning gay marriage is unconstitutional is welcome and should close the door on the discussion in Oregon. It’s time to move on to other issues that people can argue and debate about. Oregon becomes the 18th state to allow same-sex marriages; the writing has been on the wall since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. With the exception perhaps of some southeast states, gay marriage seems to be on the march to be allowed in most states within a few years. Those people who oppose same-sex marriage will continue to try to find ways to rescind recent court rulings across the country. Opponents should take note that Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum decided not to defend the voter-approved gay marriage ban before Judge McShane.  McShane and the U.S. Ninth Court of Appeals both ruled that outside groups had no standing in the case of four gay couples against the state seeking to overturn the ban. Judges in some of the nation’s most conservative states—Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma, Arkansas—have struck down same-sex marriage bans. States such as Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana have been ordered to recognize gay marriages from other states. Many people can’t understand why others put so much effort into denying happiness for others. The pursuit of happiness is one of...

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We cannot forget we are still at war

By CAMERON SMITH Every day I feel privileged to serve as the director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs. After three tours in Iraq as a Marine, I find great strength and solace in continuing to serve our military and veterans’ community. At the same time, I am humbled by the mission at hand. For the first time in history, we are serving four generations of veterans who have served in our military, fought our battles in five major wars and stood guard over our peace. As a state and nation, we should all feel the weight of that responsibility – perhaps no more so, than as we approach Memorial Day. If we cut through the clutter of the start of summer and screaming sales, Memorial Day is an opportunity for us to honor the memory of our fallen friends, family, and heroes. How can we ever forget their service and sacrifice? Across the ages, from the beaches in Europe and on Pacific islands to the mountains and jungles in Asia, countless Americans have stood up to serve and have laid down their lives. At the most basic level, they fought to protect the one on their right and the one on their left, but ultimately their fight protects us all and preserves the values we hold dear. And we cannot forget that we remain a country at...

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Boko Haram hides behind religion

A Box of Soap By DON VOWELL Mother’s Day got me thinking about terrorism this year.  Like many of you I was humbled by the debt of gratitude owed my mother, the mother of my children, and all the mothers I know.  Then in Nigeria nearly 300 mothers had their children stolen. Until now “War on Terror” has meant military intervention in Middle East countries, expensive shakedowns at airports, and NSA looking at our communications. That’s an unfair characterization, but even behind-the-scenes intelligence work and prevention haven’t stopped acts of terror around the world. How could we stop terrorists in an African nation of which we know little from stealing children or burning a village and gunning down 300 innocents? Terrorism will end only when it ceases to gain anything but swift retribution. In this particular instance, a group known locally as Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls to use as leverage for political power.  They could not have done this without serious weaponry.  They might not have done this without a spurious claim of religious justification. They wouldn’t have done this if they believed their government would refuse to bargain for the captives’ release.  They may not have done this if there were no black market customers for girls and young women. Prominent display of weapons is central in every evil, grinning picture of Boko Haram.  Religious fanatics...

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A field doesn’t make us competitive where it counts

Reflections from personal experience remind this writer that high school principals too often are first and foremost jocks or wanna-be jocks while the academic-minded among their number are small in comparison.  Those memories were most recently brought to mind by a local turf battle between he who seeks to spend a whole lot of precious school dollars on an artificial football playing surface and another who’d like to see spending on activity interests for youth in the community more equitably disbursed. We currently have a principal advocating for what must be high on his pet projects list which is to change the school’s football field from natural  grass to artificial.  He argues his supporting points in a Keizertimes May 16  opinion piece.  They do not convince the skeptic because they add up mainly to speculation about how the changed field will better serve everyone in the community.   Since those of us who know how tight and possessive the Salem-Keizer School District is with its tax-supported public property, it would come as a huge surprise if, upon installation of a new playing field’s surface, all comers were welcomed and liberally allowed use of the field outside of school-scheduled activities. As public facility a district’s high school is, it now narrowly serves the near-exclusive use by the school.  Why the administrator there continues such perceived exclusionary controls, one is left to guess.  It occurs to this opinion writer that it has to do with the prevailing culture in our local high schools where the chief-in-charge sees his role as securing and maintaining a tight grip on everything he “owns.” What this society of...

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