Keizer’s Public Square

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

Turf fields: For everyone and paid for 

Ground has been broken for the two artificial turf fields at Keizer Rapids Park. At a ceremony last week Keizer city officials along with Marion County Commissioners congratulated themselves for joining together to use $4 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to create the utilitarian fields at the west Keizer park. 

When the county and the city made the decision to combine some of those funds to develop the fields, that $4 million price tag was doable. Since then, inflation has increased the cost of the project, leaving it $1.5 million short. 

That shortfall is the City of Keizer’s to make up. 

Where that money will come from will be the topic of intense discussions, especially at the city council. 

This is the time for the city’s leaders to get financially creative. That should include looking outside the region for deep-pocketed sponsors. 

That also includes an endless campaign to rally the community behind the project, much as was done with the Keizer Cultural Center (see Keizer Heritage Center) and The Big Toy. 

To get the community strongly behind kicking in more money to complete the complex, they must feel that the fields are for them too, as opposed to organized sporting groups. Since the earliest days groups such as soccer and other sports clubs have been mentioned as the target audiences for the complex. Some may see the millions in ARPA funds as free money, but it isn’t—it is taxpayer money appropriated by Congress. In other words, it is our money. 

Much like the now dead Lava Dome, there were heated discussions about how and when the Keizer community could use those covered Little League fields. That issue caused the developers of the dome to pull up stakes and look elsewhere. 

The turf fields cannot be allowed to be an elitist project, leaving Keizer-based sports organizations out in the cold. Let our kids play fairly and squarely. 

The Keizer Heritage Center, born in 1916 as Keizer Elementary School was moved to its current site and renovated top to bottom with hundreds of thousands of dollars from people in the community. Yes, that community money matched a quarter million dollars from other sources; but, the community had buy-in. The community needs buy-in with the turf field complex as well. 

To reach the $1.5 million needed to complete this project city leaders along with business groups (such as Keizer Chamber of Commerce) should past the mid-Willamette Valley for potential sponsors that make sense, such as reaching out to athletic supply companies (Nike, anyone?). What would it take to contact Wilson, manufacturing of equipment, the likes of which would be used on the turf field? 

Once completed the turf fields and its amenities will be a beautiful addition to the city and Keizer Rapids Park. This is a wonderful opportunity to sell naming rights to the complex. The Nike Sports Complex in Keizer has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? 

Let’s assure the complex is unitarian and paid for. — LAZ 

Social security should never be a political football


Social Security entered my life at an early age. My parents had me as their first child when they were well into several decades of their lives. So, when they were forced back then to retire at age 65, they wondered how they would manage their financial affairs between themselves and three minor-age children. Meanwhile, I was fresh out of college and into a teaching job whose reimbursement by one-year contract was just short of poverty and thereby in no financial position to help them. 

Well, there was some good news, although just barely: my parents would earn monthly checks through Social Security. They had worked for business owners all their lives but had no savings any more than an income from a private retirement program. They were not alone in being financially marginalized as I found out later by my wife’s parents who had been life-long farmers who sold their land at no great financial gain while their Social Security checks were close to no more than token financial help. 

The tale of these two stories (parents and in-laws) is the plight of millions upon millions of Americans already facing their retirement years in 2024. What’s worse is that the outcome of the controversy over Social Security’s future remains uncertain and continues as a thin lifeline into an uncertain future. It joins Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, which, apparently, are also on life support in a Congress determined to find federal budget “savings” regardless of consequences for the have-nots in today’s America! 

Those facts do not make a federal budget any easier when it comes to preserving Social Security, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act in a Democrat’s vision for the future. However, it does draw attention for some among us to a TV interview where Donald Trump said he would seek to terminate these programs. But then we know Trump makes many statements whereupon, when called upon to clarify them, he retracts or later on which he’ll double-down endlessly. However, Biden’s receiving of discourteous comments from GOP members of Congress during the 2024 State of the Union Address was not truthful as several members of Congress as declared MAGA Republicans have also been recorded more than once declaring their intent to end Social Security, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. 

The average American may be tempted to dismiss President Biden’s assurances on the safety net programs as Democrat boilerplate. After all, don’t Democrats always promise to protect Social Security and Medicare? Yet, Biden has staked out a significantly stronger position than that of former President Barack Obama who apparently liked to talk about topics of controversial consideration with prognosticating pundits who regularly gaslight the American public on their latest thoughts as to what will become of Americans in social programs. 

A person can get overwrought by the weight of facts. Nevertheless, here’s one regarding Social Security: As of 2020, 69.8 million Americans receive benefits from programs administered by the Social Security Administration (close to 20% of U.S. population). Over the years of my life, I’ve developed a supportive view of the importance of Social Security as a financial lifeline for so many among us who have no other means of paying their bills. Thereby, anyone with an active imagination can, upon speculation of what will happen to these Americans without any income whatsoever (and also loss of help with medical costs), may want to review documentary photo shoots of places in the world where the peoples therein have no means of support or, conversely, the “happiest places in the world today,” (by a recent United Nations survey) Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden where they need not worry about it. 

(Gene H. McIntyre shares his opinion regularly in the Keizertimes.) 

The GOP’s Afghanistan 


House Republicans hammered President Biden last week for his catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, and rightly so—it was one of the worst foreign policy calamities in American history. But if Republicans cut off U.S. military aid to Ukraine, they will precipitate an equally disastrous foreign policy debacle—and they will own it in the same way that Biden owns the exit from Afghanistan. 

The heart-wrenching images of Taliban forces marching into Kabul as desperate Afghans fled are seared into the minds of the American people. They have formed an indelible stain on Biden’s reputation. 

Republicans should look at the damage the fall of Kabul did to Biden’s good name and imagine what the fall of Kyiv would do to theirs. 

Already, their delays in new aid have tilted the battlefield in Russia’s favor. Last year, Russia made no military gains on the ground, whereas Ukraine succeeded in wiping out nearly one-third of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet by the end of this January. But as aid has stalled on Capitol Hill, Russia has started taking territory again. If the Republican-controlled House doesn’t pass military aid soon, Ukrainians will start to run out of key weapons systems – and Russia will start making major advances on the ground this year 

Knowing that Kyiv’s stockpiles are running dry, Russia is preparing an offensive to start when the ground dries in late spring. Right now, U.S.-provided HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) hold Russian forces at a distance. But if those missiles, as well as small-arms ammunition and 155mm artillery shells, are not replenished, Russia will begin to break through Ukrainian defenses. 

Today, U.S. air defense systems keep Russian bombers out of the sky and allow Ukrainian forces to shoot down Russia’s drones and missiles. But if Ukraine runs out of missile defense interceptors, Russian planes will be able to bomb Ukrainian front-line positions with impunity. They will also be able to attack Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, plunging Ukrainian cities into darkness and crippling the nation’s economy. Then, they will almost certainly start carpet-bombing Ukrainian cities, forcing Ukraine to use its dwindling supply of interceptors to defend its civilian population and leaving its front lines exposed. 

Eventually, as the interceptors run out, the civilian population will be left defenseless. Imagine the sight of manned Russian bombers flying over Ukrainian cities and devastating them. The result would be a humanitarian catastrophe. Russia would inflict civilian casualties on a scale unseen in Europe since World War II, intentionally targeting schools, hospitals and residential buildings to break Ukraine’s will. A massive wave of refugees would begin fleeing the country, further demolishing the economy. 

With air superiority, Russia could target not just Ukraine’s population and civilian infrastructure but also its domestic defense industry. Ukrainian-produced weapons such as the MAGURA V5 sea drone have been used (along with U.S.-made long-range anti-ship missiles) to smash Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet and force the Russian navy to withdraw from Crimean ports and Ukrainian territorial waters. This has allowed Ukraine to resume grain exports, which are critical to its economy. But if Ukraine runs out of anti-ship capabilities, Russian naval forces will return—allowing them to target the critical port city of Odessa, cut off grain shipments and target civilian populations in western Ukraine, who will be newly exposed because of the depletion of Ukraine’s air defenses. 

While Ukraine would not likely fall this year, the conditions would be set for a Russian victory in 2025 – just as (Republicans hope) Donald Trump takes office. So, Ukraine’s catastrophic collapse could well happen on the GOP’s watch, not Biden’s. Imagine the outrage as stunned Americans watch Russian forces marching into Kyiv, slaughtering and pillaging as they did in Bucha at the start of the war. Whom do Republicans think Americans would hold responsible for the atrocities playing out on their screens? 

Indeed, the political repercussions in many ways would be worse this time. At least in Afghanistan, Biden could argue that the time had come to pull U.S. troops out of harm’s way. But in Ukraine, there are no U.S. troops in harm’s way. Republicans would have abandoned Ukraine not to save American lives but to save money. That might not be as popular a decision as they think when Americans are seeing the lifeless bodies of Ukrainian women and children on their televisions. 

What about the possibility of letting Europe make up for these weapons shortfalls? The simple answer is: Europeans don’t have the stockpiles to do so. “Only the U.S. has the available stocks of ammunition, armored vehicles and their ammunition, and air defense interceptors to affect the trajectory of the conflict dramatically over the coming weeks and months,” says Fred Kagan, the director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, where I’m a senior fellow. 

Here’s the bottom line: Without U.S. aid, Putin’s forces will begin marching toward Kyiv and Ukraine will become the next Afghanistan. So for Republicans, a time for choosing has arrived: Unless you want to be blamed for the fall of Kyiv the way Biden is blamed for the fall of Kabul, send military aid to Ukraine. 

(Washington Post

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

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