Keizer Public Square

Public Square welcomes all points of view. Published submissions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Keizertimes.

What’s most important?


Surely there are things to consider and ruminate on other than Taylor Swift’s love life and who is competing on reality television shows. 

There is a whole world out there that too many of us miss on a daily basis. It is easier to mutter and complain; unfortunately we do that over things we individually have no control over. Ah, but we do not? 

For some people life happens to them, there are the rare few who grab life and mold it to their desires. That includes being part of how the world is shaped and run. Yes, it is easier to complain than be part of solutions. That is a stark fact especially when it comes to politics, government and voting. 

Oregon’s electoral system makes it easy for eligible citizens to vote: a ballot comes in the mailbox, preceded by pamphlets outlying issues and candidates. One marks the ballot and deposits it into a convenient drop off site. Yet, usually less than a majority of registered voters in the state exercise that right. That is all the more true when it comes to local and regional elections. 

Voter turnout for elections with bonds and levys are embarassingly low. Non-voting citizens allow others to make choices that affect daily life. The same holds true for municipal office elections. 

Citizens should realize they can have any type of government they want. It happened last year in Salem when a proposed payroll tax was trounced at the polls because it would affect the paychecks of that city’s employed. Voter turnout for that special election relied on the self-interest of the citizenry. 

Governing bodies make policy decisions that translate into how tax money is spent, from city councils all the way to the state legislature. Not only does our democracy make it easy to vote, it makes it easy for individuals to have their voice heard. 

In Keizer, the council and all the city committees hold public meetings and allow for residents to speak to them directly about concerns and desires. While it can be intimidating to sit at a table and address public officials, the alternative is to stand by as decisions are made in the public’s name. 

At ground level, councilors and city leaders are our friends and neighbors. None of them wake up in the morning plotting how to make life miserable. They listen to their constituents and want to do their best to deliver the services they need. 

A well-informed public is key to achieving quality government. That entails keeping abreast of proposals and actions discussed by city leaders. The press is not the public’s enemy. News is fact and should not be imbued with opinion. 

The public has the right, and duty, to ask questions of their elected officials, be it in person or via correspondence. 

Taylor Swift will do what she does regardless of what the public thinks, but your elected leaders will respond to the people who put them into office. Some politicians rely on the fact that the public won’t engage. 

There is a lot of elements that make up our society. Be a part of it, engage with it and you can have what you want.

Drug addiction as a public health crisis could fix the failings of Measure 110 

By TIM NESBITT Of Oregon Capital Chronicle 

After listening to hours of contentious testimony about Measure 110 in a Legislative hearing last week, it struck me that everyone who testified for and against the recriminalization of hard drugs was coming from the same place. 

All acknowledged, at least implicitly, that opioids like fentanyl are dangerous, that persistent use of them is bad for mind and body and that addiction to such drugs destroys lives, bereaves families and tears at the fabric of a humane society. 

Another observation: Those who shared the most compelling stories of family tragedy and personal loss, whatever their views of Measure 110, appeared to agree that our addiction crisis is a public health crisis, in which access to effective treatment is the most urgent and compelling response. 

Beyond this first response, however, we lose our way. We diverge in our assessment of lessons learned from the “war on drugs” and in our willingness to consider the range of responses that will be necessary to overcome this human crisis in our midst. A return to the public health model could help get us back on a common track. 

Public health advocates are fond of talking about upstream and downstream distinctions when it comes to chronic disease and systemic health problems. Tackling the causes of those problems — whether unhealthy diets, unsanitary living conditions or unequal access to early diagnosis and care – is often the most effective way to control what would otherwise overwhelm our capacity to respond to downstream needs of epidemic proportions. 

But this is not a distinction that opponents of restoring criminal penalties for harmful drug use seem willing to acknowledge. They oppose even light-touch penalties for persistent use, such as the enactment of a class C misdemeanor charge, with options for diversion to treatment, proposed by Democratic legislators on the Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety Response. Measure 110’s supporters focused instead on the downstream need for more and better treatment options. 

Yes, we need to ramp up our capacity for effective treatment. But we also need to recognize the multiple upstream causes of today’s addiction crisis and how those causes exacerbate the challenges of the moment. 

It’s in this upstream environment where Measure 110 has become a problem of our own making. 

Tolerance of the use of unprescribed opioids and related hard drugs has made them easier to obtain and harder to interdict. Further, allowing the use of such drugs in public has fostered revulsion and resentment in response to a problem that requires our understanding and engagement. Meanwhile, most of those cited for public use are not opting for treatment. It’s as if we’ve seeded the rain clouds of a watershed that was already threatening to overwhelm our social infrastructure and embraced a “don’t look up” mindset in the ensuing flood. 

A better-funded effort to expand our capacity for treatment is clearly necessary; but it’s also insufficient. In a society governed by Measure 110, we may never be able to stem what has become an epidemic of addiction by continuing to rely on late-stage, voluntary treatment models. 

Measure 110 doesn’t deserve all the blame for our current crisis. It’s just one of many contributing causes, including the toxic potency of drugs now on the street. But it’s a mistake we made – and one we need to fix. 

I was one of the majority of Oregonians who voted for Measure 110 – in part because of the injustices and failings of a punitive criminalization regime and in part because of wishful thinking about the capacity of those in the throes of addiction to respond to offers of treatment. I wouldn’t vote for it today, nor would I want to go back to the laws in effect before its passage. 

Let this be our lesson learned from Measure 110. We can’t afford to focus only on building out and improving our treatment systems without doing a better job of interdicting the supply and availability of dangerous drugs, setting limits on what we will tolerate when it comes to the use of such drugs in public and intervening early on with those on the path to addiction. 

What last week’s hearing confirmed for me is that some version of criminal penalties for persistent use, with meaningful diversion options for effective treatment, will be necessary at this juncture to address the upstream failings of Measure 110 and fix the greater harms it has created in its wake. 

Political fantasy versus political reality 


A fantasy or mind trip can be fun, sometimes providing a breakthrough moment with something we’re trying to do. By definition, a fantasy is brain activity imagining things, especially those things considered impossible or improbable. Words such as these are fantasy synonyms: creativity, fancy, invention, originality, and visions. 

One such fantasy that’s occurred to this writer was inspired by a recent article in the Keizertimes (Congress comes to Keizer, Feb. 16). The member of who represents the local congressional district appeared in person at the newspaper during which visit she said she “sees a couple of reasons for the political divisions” here. That statement may just be the most underexaggerates statement of 2024! 

What’s facing the voters of Oregon, and all U.S. voters this year deals with the continuation of our U.S. Constitution, U.S. rule by law and our way of life, or end of same. When the issue is defined in its most simple, direct form what we have for the 2024 presidential sweepstakes is a person running for President of the United States who stands by and supports the way our government has worked for the last 200 plus years and a contender for the job who favors a totalitarian or authoritarian government with one-man rule who rejects democratic practices, denies his opponent’s legitimacy and encourages acts of violence. 

Briefly defined, a totalitarian or authoritarian form of government prohibits any and all forms of opposition and practices absolute control over the lives of its citizens. Its head person may have many different titles, including president, commander, or even king or queen; whatever the title, he is actually a dictator. Voting is not allowed or is allowed only for a chosen few citizens, or, if voting is allowed, restrictions are imposed on who can vote while election outcomes, if untoward, are banished. A democracy is a form of government that’s approved by the whole population or all eligible members while its officials are elected representatives to the offices they hold. 

Americans of our time in consequential numbers are mildly, to greatly, dissatisfied with the length of time it often requires to get most anything done and that means things of determination take longer to come into existence. These persons of impatience with the processes involved in a democracy have come forth now in quest of ending the way democracy is practiced in the United States which condition of democracy in practice elsewhere is not now facing an overthrow and replacement, three of which are Denmark, Norway and Sweden, where satisfactions with democracy prevail whereas other former modern democracies, including Hungary, Turkey and Venezuela indicate an end to it. 

The fantasy in this writer’s mind is that here, in the United States, we return to political parties as they used to be. What used to be was that the major political parties, that is, mainly the Democrats and Republicans, seek to define and present platforms represented by their most electable members who thereby stand for office here, take the pledge of office seriously if they win the election, and seek to work with other elected representing their respective districts. 

Under a return to what’s surmised in our country as far and away the most desired form of doing things, we could return to the calm and peaceful lives we formerly appreciated and enjoyed. Again, the dissatisfied among us would run for office, report for duty and debate-negotiate to bring about ends that are accepted to work for what they didn’t get done their way in the next election. 

Contact Keizertimes Staff:
[email protected] or 503-390-1051

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