Author: Lyndon Zaitz

Shakedown

One would hope Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican congressman from Texas, was an outlier last week when he spoke about a $20 billion fund set up by BP  at the president’s behest to compensate those affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill: He apologized. Not to the millions on the Gulf coast whose lives are forever altered, but to a top BP executive. He also said: “I think it’s a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.” Why might someone say this? As the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee Barton receives hefty campaign contributions from energy firms. But BP gave more money to Obama than any other federal candidate. As would be expected when someone makes such a colossally out-of-touch remark, politicians from both major parties rushed to condemn his statement. What got less attention was a press release from the Republican Study Committee, consisting of more than 100 congressional Republicans, including the Northwest’s own Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington’s 5th District. Headlined “Chicago-style Shakedown Politics” the press release attempted to both insist BP pay for the damage the company has done while also condemning President Barack Obama for taking actions to actually force them to pay up. This statement certainly does not reflect the anger directed at the British oil...

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Just the facts

In the news business, the outlet that gets the news out first wins.  If this television station scoops that station by 10 minutes; or, that newspaper beats that radio station, it means more viewers/readers and certainly bragging rights. The tragic death of a teenage boy in Keizer last week was covered by local media and TV stations from Portland.  There was a fount of misinformation, all in the name of “getting it first.” At press time this week, there still is no final medical examiner’s report, so any reports of a choking game, a suicide or an accident are premature and it does no one any good to report it as any of those things. The family of the young man must be frantic, trying to figure out what happened.  It doesn’t help when they, their neighbors and their friends all see news reports that their child committed suicide or was involved in some fatal game. It is the name of the game to scoop one’s competitiors in the news business, but each outlet should endeavor to report the facts, not the...

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Public input on budget

The Keizer City Council and the Budget Committee have some tough decisions to make as the city’s annual budget is planned for 2010-11. Just as tough as making the budget numbers work will be facing concerned, even angry, citizens who don’t want a police officer cut.  They also want to know how the city got into the financial pickle it is facing. The Keizer residents who testify before the Budget Committee and the city council will want to be heard as they plead to save the budget items that are important to them.  The sense in Keizer is that everything should be done to keep the police deparmtent intact. Police Chief H. Marc Adams spoke before the Keizer Rotary Club recently.  He told club members of the number of calls officers make each week, ranging from violent crimes to vandalism to property crimes.  He reminded the club that Keizer sits on the Interstate 5 drug route that runs from Mexico to Canada.  Fighting drugs is where the police department spends a lot of manpower and resources. The fight against drugs is important but residents also want to be sure that a patrol car pulls up shortly after a 9-1-1 call.  It doesn’t matter if someone calls because of a noise, a suspicious person or an actual crime, Keizerites want the security a full-staffed police department offers. That is why...

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Earth Day at 40

The 40th Earth Day was observed on Thursday, April 22. The concern about pollution and the environment begat Earth Day and eventually the creation of the  Environmental Protection Agency under President Nixon in 1970. Global warming and climate  change were not major issues then—it was about cleaning up our skies and our waters. The environmental movement of the early 1970s  spawned our current green revolution—reducing, reusing, recycling and lessening our carbon footprint  Opposing sides will debate whether man’s carbon footprint contributes to global warming and climate change.  Some say global warming  is just a step in Earth’s natural pattern.  While they debate we should all do our own little part in reducing waste and our carbon footprint as much as possible.  We can do our part right here in Keizer. Plastic bottles should be recycled rather than be thrown into the trash where it ends up in landfills.  We have called for the city to look into banning plastic shopping bags in Keizer.  Hundreds of thousands of plastic bags are used in Keizer each year, many of which also end up in landfills.  While some of the plastic shopping bags  are reused as garbage bags at home, reusable cloth shopping bags is a simple solution to reduce our local carbon footprint. We here in Keizer should care about carbon footprints because we can.  If we can reduce the amount...

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Yes on home rule

On its face, the home rule charter seems a process-oriented method of reorganizing county government. It’s more than that. In this space we have argued the City of Keizer should consider dividing the electoral populace into wards, thereby making councilors accountable to their own neighborhood. What’s good for the city is good for the county. Residents of North Marion and other rural areas – and Keizer, for that matter – deserve a commissioner who will fight for their specific interests. That’s one reason we support Measure 24-292. The opposition argues that countywide commissioners represent all of the county’s interests, but the county is too large and too diverse to expect there to be one “right” decision for everyone. What works for Turner may not be kosher for Keizer, and what’s best for state workers in Salem may not be ideal for farmers near Aurora. The commission should be designed to reflect this, even if – by mere coincidence – the current commissioners hail from different areas of the county. In addition, localized races could put the short-on-money, long-on-shoe-leather candidate in a more competitive position against a financially affluent candidate. Running a countywide election is no small feat. The average person with a full-time job has to raise significant funds to reach voters countywide because there aren’t enough evenings and weekends to knock on every door in the county. The...

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