Month: September 2014

Keizer’s future

To the Editor: In a past issue of the Keizertimes we learned our city is forever stuck with a $2.08 maximum property tax. With the proceeds generated from that tax, our city council has to split tax money to provide a city administration, public buildings, public works, public parks and an adequate police force. Our water system is paid for by a user fee. Another major source of revenue for the city is fees it imposes on utilities. Although the city council does a pretty good job because of our city manager, Keizer will never have anything but a bare bone existence unless something is done. That means we will never have a full service, up-to-date, library or two fire districts. Without dedicated volunteers we would not have any kind of a library nor fire districts. So what is the future plan for making Keizer better and where does this planning take place? What Keizer needs is a robust economic development team to seduce business, in my opinion. This means expanding our urban growth boundary with or without Salem’s approval. It is time for Keizer to play hard ball with Salem or seek another remedy. Of course it is acceptable to remain only a bedroom city if this is what we want to do.  We can have more tiny lots with smaller houses and more apartment dwellings like the...

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One bill? So what?

To the Editor: So Senator Jeff Merkley has written only one bill—now why is that a bad thing?  And it seems a bit surprising that this is perceived negatively by those who who oppose government intrusion into their lives. Art Burr...

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Pope Francis’ American messenger

By E.J. DIONNE JR. Leaders can make decisions that signal big changes in the political, religious and ethical landscape. In naming Bishop Blase Cupich as the new archbishop of Chicago, Pope Francis did just that. Cupich, now the bishop of Spokane, has been described in media accounts as a “moderate” within the Catholic Church. Temperamentally, this is exactly what he is, an advocate of dialogue and civility. He’s also wise about rejecting labels. Parrying at his first news conference after his appointment was announced on Saturday, he offered this response when asked if the moderate tag fit him: “I am going to try to be attentive to what the Lord wants. Maybe if there is moderation in that, then maybe I’m a moderate.” Those nicely reticent double “maybes” shouldn’t fool you into believing that Cupich avoids speaking his mind. He has been a courageous voice inside the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops against a culture-war approach to evangelization and politics that pushes so many away from the Gospel. He has also been as tough as any prelate in his candor about the church’s profound failures during the sex abuse crisis. “Catholics have been hurt by the moral failings of some priests,” Cupich wrote in 2010, “but they have been hurt and angered even more by bishops who failed to put children first.” He knows the church will never get...

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Introspection time for evangelicals

By MICHAEL GERSON WASHINGTON — Christian conservatives are often the subject of study by academics, who seem to find their culture as foreign as that of Borneo tribesmen. And this is a particularly interesting time for brave social scientists to put on their pith helmets and head to Wheaton, Ill., Colorado Springs or unexplored regions of the South. They will find a community under external and internal cultural stress. It is fair to say that some cultural views traditionally held by evangelicals are in retreat. Whatever the (likely dim) future of political libertarianism, moral libertarianism has been on the rise. This is perhaps the natural outworking of an enlightenment political philosophy that puts individual rights at its center. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy described this view as the “right to define one’s own concept of existence.” Whatever else traditional religious views may entail, they involve a belief that existence comes pre-defined. Purpose is discovered, not exerted. And scripture and institutions — a community of believers extended back in time — are essential to that discovery. This is not, to put it mildly, the spirit of the age. It was not, as far as I can tell, really the spirit of any age. But many evangelicals believe it was, subscribing to the myth of a lost American Eden. There has certainly been a cultural shift in America on religion and...

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The mystifying 2014 election

By E.J. DIONNE JR. There is something deeply satisfying about the troubles punditry is having in nailing down exactly what’s happening in the 2014 elections. The careful statistical models keep gyrating on the question of whether Republicans will win control of the Senate this November. The prognosticators who rely on their reporting and their guts as well as the numbers are sometimes at odds with the statisticians. The obvious reason for the uncertainty is that many of the key Senate races are still very close in the polls. This should encourage a degree of humility among those of us who love to offer opinions about politics. Humility is a useful virtue not always on display in our business. The unsettled nature of the election also sends a salutary signal to the electorate. As Howard Dean might put it: You have the power. Voting will matter this year. It is not my habit to agree with Karl Rove, but he was on to something in his Wall Street Journal column last Thursday when he wrote that “each passing day provides evidence as to why a GOP Senate majority is still in doubt.” Rove’s focus, not surprisingly, was on money. Democrats have been spending heavily to hang on to their majority, and he interpreted this as an imperative for Republican candidates and donors to “step up if they are to substantially...

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