Who’s in charge here?

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By MATT CHAPPELL

Has anyone been following what’s going on out at Keizer Station these days? Many may not know just how Keizer Station came to be.  You see it had always been the city’s goal to develop the land out by the freeway. So when the economic boom of the 1990s set in, developers started eyeing its development with the city wanting to get in on the action.

Now there had been many strong indicators that something was wrong with the economy. The prices of property rose so dramatically that there was talk of over-inflation and manipulative interference by banks and other investors. You see, the deal had to be struck quickly while the money was still available, because it might not be available in the future. Something was not right and things were too good to be true…..”so let’s move on this” so to speak.

Developers, unlike the city, could wait if they wanted, pick and choose whether to develop or not, but the city, on the other hand, saw what seemed to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. The developers were actually doing the city a favor by investing in Keizer.

But in all fairness, as businessmen they saw the risks associated with this undertaking and had drawn the line when it came to how far in they were willing to go. But by this time, the city was hooked and eager to “make this happen.” Nevertheless it got the developers to agree to a business deal with the city which would make the impossible all of a sudden become possible—that is, for the investors as well. You see, they needed some sort of economic guarantee. After all, they had the capital, but who was going to close the deal? It’s like if I bring a large amount of money forward and tout the economic payoffs. If the other party becomes eager to get in on it, they look for ways to participate…especially when it could rake in the revenue and forever change things in our lives so to speak. You mortgage the house if necessary, right?

Well the city had decided to use the “full faith and credit” of Keizer residents (us) to make this venture happen. They took out bonds (public funds), which are supposed to be used for general purposes and not for business deals, making the choice saying that “we’re willing to go forward with this whether we get paid or not because we’re so certain and sold on this that we’re willing to take the loss if necessary (this was supposed to be a sure thing) because we could always foreclose on the properties and own some big time real estate.”

Now the loan was made under an agreement that the city would pay back or take responsibility for, or own their choices for any losses that may occur, whether the developers pay it back or not, the city was staking claim that it would assume all responsibility for this investment, an investment which would have never occurred except at the risk of the city to begin with. We only have to ask ourselves just how we the people ever agreed to this venture to begin with.

The loan was made under a high credit risk during a time when money was practically being given away by the banks, resulting in government ownership and bailouts. Again, the developers were not going to develop. Basically the mayor, city council, city manager and staff were so desperate to build and so sold on Keizer Station—whose layout was developed in haste and designed not for what fits Keizer, but for maximum revenue—that “they” (we) were willing to take the loss. This is what has become termed a “no fault loan.” and now it wants to claim the property (for what it’s worth) for itself. Our city is at risk of being run into the ground by “Big Business” and our city officials are in bed the whole way.

It was so very impulsive, dangerous and unthoughtful that under the circumstances, Keizer Station would not be here today without their insistence. This is how a city goes bankrupt. I mean, you break it you own it, right? We have totally unaccountable, irresponsive leadership in Keizer: a runaway government with a whole lot of misled and disappointed residents. If you ask me, the residents of Keizer on one hand are victims here; on the other the majority of people who have gone along with this by voting them in are to blame. It’s going to take a lot more than the Lord’s Prayer to settle accounts. After all the mayor’s own rosy words tell us where not to put our faith…”Ultimately, we’re not the one’s in charge”…oh yeah?  What’s going on? Who’s in charge here?

(Matt Chappell lives in Keizer.)

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