LETTER: My testimony before city council

[Delivered at Nov. 16 Keizer Ciy Council meeting]

Madam Mayor, councilors and Keizer city staff,:

First of all I want to address the ongoing issue of the “statement of value.” I believe the statement of values for our great city should be very clear, very concise and very simple. 

“All people shall be treated with dignity and respect.” Period.

All means all. If we must resort to listing specific people or groups, then “all” loses its meaning and strength. I believe Keizer is the most “welcoming to all” city in Oregon and I’m proud to be a Keizer resident. 

This then leads me to the topic that is the most important tonight that we as citizens of Keizer and the state of Oregon should be discussing: The governor’s latest orders. 

No government leader in the history of the United States has ever said “we’ll come to your house, your private home, cite and/or arrest you” for having a family dinner. Just think about that for a moment. There are people present here tonight who represent families that have six or eight, or even 10 or 12 or more. To ask them to not get together for the grand celebration that is Thanksgiving, is something I can’t believe I’m even hearing. It’s not only unconstitutional, and unheard of but in my estimation, it represents inequality and inequity at its most heinous and isn’t that what the statement of values that’s been discussed here in council chambers is supposed to be all about? 

Add to that the plight of the workers. That hundreds, if not thousands, of hard working, lower wage people, perhaps as early as this Wednesday will lose their jobs is so heartless and callous, I can hardly believe it. What also stuns me, as a representative in the Oregon Legislature, is the Executive branch has “weaponized” a state agency, Oregon Health Authority (OHA,) without input, or frankly anything from the Legislative branch. OHA has “police powers” that even supersede the real police! Our governor has turned Oregonians against Oregonians. 

I do not want to put the city of Keizer into an awkward or uncomfortable situation but I am asking the council to consider making Keizer a truly welcoming place for workers and employers. For businesses. For families. I am asking that we as a community just ignore this latest order. That Keizer be a shining example of hope for Oregon. 

I am asking my fellow Keizerites to be smart. Wear your mask when appropriate. Keep your distance when you can. Cover your mouth when coughing. Wash your hands—a lot. Do the things that we all know are safe and effective at stopping the spread of this virus. Just don’t let that common sense go out the window by not having your family and friends over for dinner. Celebrate Thanksgiving as you see fit and as the founders of this nation meant: in freedom.