Author: Helen Caswell

SILVERTON SCHOOL BOARD CHASTISES ‘DIRT’ COMPLAINANT

At the July 11 meeting of the Silver Falls School Board, several board members expressed concern that member Todd White filed a complaint with the Oregon Ethics Commission without bringing the matter to a board meeting first. On June 15, two days after that month’s board meeting, White complained about the conveyance of 25 truckloads of dirt to the home of board chair, Tim Roth in the course of an artificial turf project on McGinnis Field in Silverton. (see All The Dirt – June 23,2016 ) All the Dirt: Silverton property transfer results in ethics complaint During the July...

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A commitment to be representative in Salem’s ward 1

On May 17, Cara Kaser won the seat to be Salem city councilor in Ward 1, an area that includes downtown and several neighborhoods, including parts of West Salem. Cara’s 4-year term begins in January 2017. We caught up with her to learn how her thinking may have evolved since the election. SW: How does it feel to know you will be Salem’s next Ward 1 councilor next year? CK: After several weeks post-election, it’s finally setting in that I’ll be the next Ward 1 City Councilor, and that I’ll be working to represent the interests of roughly 20,000...

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Marion County prepares for pot vote

What vote? I thought pot was legal! Measure 91 passed in November 2014 by more than 56% of Oregon voters. It legalized recreational marijuana for adults in the state. In some cities and counties, though, voters voted the measure down or approved it only marginally. A few months later the 2015 Oregon legislature passed HB3400, a bill that said that in locales where the measure failed by less than 55%, city or counties could “opt out” of the statewide recreational program. In Marion County, Measure 91 failed by 51.56%. This allowed commissioners Kevin Cameron, Janet Carlson and Sam Brentano,...

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All the Dirt: Silverton property transfer results in ethics complaint

A School Board member in Silverton has filed a complaint with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission over the transfer of 25 truckloads of dirt, arguably worth thousands of dollars, to the Chair of the School Board, Tim Roth. The Superintendant of the school district says the transfer was not improper and that Roth was doing the community a favor in taking it. Oregon’s Ethics Commission has regulatory jurisdiction of areas of public official conduct such as the use of public office for financial gain and conflict of interest. It considers cases involving ORS Chapter 244, Oregon Government Ethics law. The...

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Corporate oil spent big $ to defeat Clean Fuels in Oregon, study shows

A study released this spring suggests that corporate oil interests, many of them out-of-state, spent more than $2.2 million trying to kill 2015’s seminal Clean Fuels Legislation, known as SB324. The report, “Dirty Energy, Dirty Money” was authored by Common Cause Oregon, who did not endorse the legislation and was not involved in efforts to pass or defeat it. It outlines those who financed the effort to defeat the bill, names which legislators accepted funding from these sources and says that money in politics creates a deeply unlevel playing field for broad but underfunded citizen interests dedicated to the...

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Abortion under fire: movie showing in Salem

Q: Did the Roe v. Wade decision ensure the right to abortion in America? A: It was intended to, but is now under formidable assault. Since 2011, politicians have passed more than 280 abortion restrictions at the state level. Next week the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon’s Marion-Polk Leadership & Advocacy Team will present the film, TRAPPED, 2016, an examination of the struggles to keep American abortion clinics safe, legal and open under this assault. It won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking at Sundance this year. “From 2011 to 2013,” says director Dawn Porter,...

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Cinema story: One shines, the other doesn’t

It all goes to show that art and entertainment is subjective that this viewer vastly prefers a less successful romantic comedy playing in Salem to a markedly more successful one. But the history of the two movies also suggests that indicators that don’t always predict quality may unduly influence critics and movie industry insiders. At this point Love and Friendship, 2016, a costume comedy based on an early Jane Austin novel and directed by Whit Stillman is doing a credible job as a small commercial art film. Meanwhile Maggie’s Plan, 2016, written and directed by Rebecca Miller is both...

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Salem Police Department aims for diversity

“In this career path, you have the opportunity to influence someone’s life for the better,” says Valeria Ramirez. “Whether it’s picking up a drunk driver off the street, where you’re perhaps preventing a car crash, or investigating a domestic violence situation, I have a passion for law enforcement.” Ramirez, whose parents were born in Mexico, is a teenage member of the Salem Police Department’s Cadet program, which trains young people to work in law enforcement. The Cadet program is one of many ways the SPD is extending itself to encourage interest in a policing career and to develop recruits...

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Don’t gather at your Salem city hall

A city rule clarification adopted in October 2015 formally limits public use of Salem’s City Hall “Atrium,” the wide covered courtyard inside the civic center. Also affected is public use of the breezeways adjacent to city offices. Now, officially, neither is available for public assembly. The policy to clarify city management of the space was introduced by City Attorney Dan Atchison last fall. Prior to the vote, councilors reviewed a staff report in support of the clarification. The report that said the Atrium, while open to the public and for visitors coming to the Civic Center Plaza for specific...

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Unexpected county service provides income

A waste facility located in Marion County is bringing income into the area by burning medical waste, including medical waste from out of state. The business is an energy-from-waste (EFW) facility located in Brooks just off Interstate 5. One of several facilities overseen by Marion County Environmental Services department, it is privately owned and operated by Covanta Marion, Inc. In addition to processing about 550 tons of garbage each day, (about 90% of the county’s garbage,) Covanta also serves as the only location in Oregon approved to accept medical waste for decontamination and destruction. In Fiscal Year 2014-2015, Marion County received $67,000 in revenue for processing out-of-state medical waste, according to Jolene Kelley, Public Information Officer for Marion County. The waste came from various locations in Washington state and was transported by trailers. Both the Washington Department of Ecology and Washington State Department of Health regulate and inspect the transport of medical waste in Washington. In Oregon, four state agencies  regulate the process: The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Department of Health Services, Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Oregon Department of Transportation. Marion County receives income from the Washington state’s medical waste not only for Marion County’s receipt of it, but also from income gained from burning it for energy. Like other burning that occurs at the Covanta facility, medical waste is incinerated at temperatures...

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