Author: Salem Weekly

Republicans: own your mess -Salem Weekly Editorial

In one of the oddest election seasons in recent history, progressives and many conservatives have come to agree on one thing: that the caustic and divisive rhetoric that spews from Donald Trump’s mouth is creating a dark age of overt intolerance. Republicans and Democrats are coming together to renounce his aggressive words and tactics. Some Democrats, ever in pursuit of a cause, have even urged their cohorts to switch party registration for the primary, voting instead for one of Trump’s opponents. We don’t encourage this, and this is why: Though Trump is a bombastic narcissist and a habitual liar, and though his proposed policies would play hell on minorities and the downtrodden, we do not see the other Republican candidates as better. If anything, they are more partisan, more anti-choice, more tied at the hip with big-monied donors, and just as likely to leave a lasting legacy of intolerance by appointing right wing ideologues to the Supreme Court. Trump’s opponents are just as eager to destroy unions, stop gay marriage, and kill even the most meager attempts at gun control and immigration reform. They are just as adamant about reducing government regulations, subverting affirmative action, and ignoring climate change. Even more than Trump, his conservative counterparts never fail to mix a good shot of religion in with their government, and they never miss an opportunity to spout their misguided...

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Is racism over in America? -Salem Progressive Film Series

As soon as Barack Obama won the presidency, conservative pundits began insisting that the election proved that there is no longer a real problem with racism in this country. The new film White Like Me puts that claim to serious question, highlighting the ongoing existence of “white privilege” and illustrating how racism continues to be used by conservative politicians to achieve their political and social agendas. In a brisk 68 minutes the film, to be presented as part of the Salem Progressive Film Series, makes a compelling case that right-wing politicians and other conservatives have done a masterful job...

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Forest for the trees -CRISIS in Oregon’s privately-owned timberlands

by Helen Caswell Economists, foresters and environmentalists concerned about toxic drinking water, habitat degradation and economic equity say Oregon’s system allows large private corporations to use industrial agriculture methods that deforest thousands of acres of Oregon forests, contaminate water and accelerate climate change. They say these calamaties are the result of a law, the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA) and the vigorous lobbying of international timber corporations in the Oregon legislature that keeps the law toothless and the Oregon Department of Forestry complicit. The Oregon Department of Forestry disagrees. “To be blunt, the Oregon Forest Practices Act is an...

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Faces of Salem cannabis

Text and Photos by Helen Caswell On January 1, the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program said that 77,620 medical marijuana patients were registered in the state, including 3,934 in Marion County. Last month, the Oregon Health Authority released a report on marijuana use, attitudes and health effects that said that 10% of Oregon adults report they currently use marijuana, including recreationally. Who are these people? Below are a few.     Julie Brown is a medical patient from Albany who uses medicinal cannabis to help cope with the effects of Graves’ disease, an immune system disorder. “With cannabis I am able to eat and sleep,” she says.  She visits Salem for marijuana, she says. “Some dispensaries in Albany don’t even cater to medical patients any more, they cater more to recreational. So I have to travel further for my meds. I find I come to Salem a lot to check out the dispensaries.”     Joe from Kaiser is a recreational customer. “I like that recreational is legal now,” he says. “It’s safer to buy from dispensaries than it was before. For me, I work in restaurants and after a stressful day, this means that I can go home and relax.”       Bri Frizelle is an employee at Herbal Grasslands, a South Salem cannabis dispensary that serves both medical and recreational customers. A recreational customer, Frizelle values the...

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European Tour of Good Ideas

by Helen Caswell First of all, don’t expect the new Michael Moore documentary, Where to Invade Next, to be a movie about war. The title refers to Moore’s concept of ‘invading’ European countries to steal their good ideas about work time off, education, incarceration of drug offenders and what to feed our children. “We have problems no army can solve,” Moore says in the opening minutes, and he proceeds from one European country to the next and one inspired solution to the next, sharing the innovative approaches a dozen societies across the Atlantic have adopted. Where to Invade Next...

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Consensus “is about the process” for Salem City Council

Cara Kaser, City Council Candidate for Ward 1 says “Salem has been steadily building momentum to finally embrace its unique identity as the major metropolitan area of the mid-Willamette Valley.” A web designer for the Oregon Department of Forestry, Kaser has served on the board of the Grant Neighborhood Association since 2009, where she addressed city council on issues including the Salem River Crossing, the siting of cell towers in residential neighborhoods, historic preservation issues and budget cuts to neighborhood services. If she had to name her top two interests in Ward 1, Kaser would list “investing in a vibrant, thriving, and economically resilient downtown, the heart of our city, and also in helping to make Salem more livable for everyone through building a robust bike, pedestrian, and transit transportation system.” She also wants to focus on “finding innovative ways to house our homeless residents.” Kaser’s professional life previous to web design involved her working in the historic preservation field at the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, both as coordinator for the National Register of Historic Places program and also as an Outreach Specialist. “I still love historic  preservation,” she says. She was appointed to the City’s Historic Landmarks Commission in 2014. Her husband, Eric, works as an Application Developer at Salem-Keizer Public Schools and is also very involved in the community. “The rehabilitation and opening of the Union...

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City of Salem hones communication skills

One of the goals set by Salem city council in July 2015 was to explore the city’s communication strategies. The council said it sought more community involvement and participation in decision-making, and it wanted to raise awareness among citizens of their opportunities to provide input as well as find ways to actively share information with the community. In response, the city hired EnviroIssues, a Portland firm that gives guidance on community outreach and public involvement. The firm began its research in October, by conducting an anonymous online survey of nearly 500 Salem residents, holding interviews with more than 60...

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Chamber continues to oppose minimum wage hike

The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce has asked the Oregon legislature to prevent a raise in state minimum wage this session. In a January 22 letter to the Senate Workforce and General Government House Business and Labor committees, Chamber CEO Dan Clem asked that no legislation to raise the minimum wage be passed in the 2016 short session. Clem said the central question the Chamber asks when determining its position on an issue is whether it will “strengthen or hinder the ability of the private sector to grow and create jobs for area residents.” The letter contended that any raise to minimum wage in Oregon “places the majority of the cost of a war on poverty on an already vulnerable class of employer, Oregon’s small businesses.” Since 2007, the federal government has mandated a minimum wage of $7.25/hour, but most states impose a higher wage, and cities and counties may also decide to raise the minimum wage in their areas. At $9.25/hour, Oregon’s minimum wage is the eighth highest in the U.S., the Chamber says. “The likely result of a substantial payroll increase on our small business members will be higher costs, slimmer margins and a lessened ability to compete across multiple markets,” Clem’s letter said. ”Higher payroll will result in higher costs all along the supply chain, which in turn will raise prices of products for consumers.” A...

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Van Gogh takes the stage at Willamette University

By Whitney Hilliard Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portraits tell the story of the fiery-haired artist, but the portraits don’t reveal the story of the man who experienced love and rejection with a landlady and her daughter. Willamette University’s theatre department invites audiences into the world of a young Van Gogh through Vincent in Brixton, a play that tells the story of Van Gogh before he was an artist and was trying to be an art dealer. Director Susan Coromel says Vincent in Brixton, which was written by Nicholas Wright, features great storytelling. She says the play touches on aspects of...

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Two on the Fringe -The Salem Pimpernel

by Jay Gipson-King I Only Ask to Be Free Aumsville Community Theatre inaugurates its new space with a charming and thoughtful play, Butterflies Are Free, written by Leonard Gershe and directed by Kevin Crawford. Aumsville, which has long been in search of a home, has finally found a permanent space in downtown Stayton in a converted school house. The new digs are as intimate as a Portland black box, but it has clean lines, which goes a long way to making it feel professional. Unfortunately, like Brush Creek, there is no indoor plumbing. Butterflies Are Free, set in a...

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SW Art Picks

Grand Reopening Show Elsinore Framing & Fine Art 444 Ferry St. SE  Gallery 444  503-581-4642  Elsinore Gallery is celebrating 30 years in business with a new look, a great show, and a new focus on local art and artists.  The month long celebration kicks off with a special exhibit of original works by local artists who have shown at the gallery previously.  Artists include Cynthia Herron, K.C. Hancock, Craig Erickson and others. An opening reception for the show will be from 5-8pm First Wednesday March 2nd.  In addition, a Grand Reopening Celebration is scheduled for following Saturday, March 5th. ...

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Magic and dreams and good madness

by Judith Walden Besides awesome coffee and edibles, a trip to the Governor’s Cup this month will give art lovers the opportunity to see the work of an artist who is new to Salem.  Heather N. Henry, whose show  “Storytellers and Whimsical Beings” runs through March, is a recent transplant from the Midwest.  Her husband is originally from the Pacific Northwest and with their children now adults and out of the house, they decided to relocate to this area.  She says, ”My husband and I are very recently empty nesters, which means I now have more time on my...

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SW Music Picks

by Julie Eaton Saturday, February 20th – 9pm at The Half Penny: Crash of the Rhinos – Rock  Marion-Polk Food Share Fundraiser. Yeah, I’m a do-gooder, so you know I’ve got to pick this one. I don’t like people going hungry. There’s enough to stress about in this world. Two food collection bins will be at The Half Penny from Monday, February 15th until Tuesday, February 23rd. This effort culminates with the February 20th Crash of the Rhinos show. There will be a suggested $5.00 cover charge at the door that will go entirely to the Marion Polk Food...

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Nothing Changes without Change

by Julie Eaton Covering the live music scene in Salem has been getting more interesting lately. Lots of changes, new characters, and some established players are gearing up for a much anticipated comeback. I have definitely noticed it’s taking much longer to put together the events calendar. Personally, I’m all for this town getting a little shake up. I’ve never been a fan of the status quo. First off, a couple places have diversified their format to include regular live music events. The Silver Spur on Silverton Road has always been a popular place for epic line dancing experiences....

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lively literary life in Salem

Great news, o lovers of the written word, there is a lively literary life in Salem. Please support it.   ~Editor   Silverton Poetry Festival Friday, February 19 – Sunday, February 21. In its 16th year, this is Oregon’s premier poetry festival. Reading at various venues will be Eleanor Berry, Don Coburn, Deborah Akers, Cindy Stewart-Rinier, Cindy Williams Gutiérrez, Steve Jones, A. Molotkov, Donna Prinzmetal, and Jana Zvibleman. There will also be an Open Mic/Favorite Poem Project event where all are invited to bring a favorite published poem to read that has some personal significance. The Open Mic will follow. There is still room available in the poetry writing workshop, led by Cindy Stewart-Rinier, scheduled for Saturday, February 20. Go to www.silvertonpoetry.net or the SPA Facebook page for the complete schedule.     Ongoing activity Talking About Art, KMUZ Community Radio, 100.7 FM and 88.5 AM, 2nd, 4th and 5th Fridays at 9am. Host Joel Zak will expand his Salem visual art focus to include the literary arts and will feature interviews with local artists and occasional live studio performances with artists and contributing poets and musicians. Go to http://kmuz.org/category/talking-about-art/ to learn more about the show and read through Joel’s archives.   Hallie Ford Literary Series, Hatfield Room at Willamette University, various dates. Exceptional poets and authors from across the country are presented throughout the school year. Go to...

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Tax Fairness -Salem Weekly Editorial

The recently failed ballot measure to fund enhanced Cherriots service in Salem with a modest payroll tax elicited much hand wringing in certain circles about the measure’s “unfairness” to the business community.  The Chamber of Commerce decried the proposal as a threat to small business and claimed, disingenuously, that the State of Oregon was not included in the tax, even though it pays Cherriots five million dollars per year in lieu of taxes.  It would be much better, the Chamber argued, to fund Cherriots with a property tax levy that would have to be renewed after five years. How a property tax levy would be fairer than a payroll tax remained unclear.  It would not have impacted the State, which, as before, would pay no property tax in Salem.  In addition, since the property tax is a flat tax that impacts all property owners, regardless of income, it is, in fact, very regressive.  The Chamber’s proposal also did not address the growing problem of “compression,” which results from local property tax rates on many properties reaching the legally-mandated cap of ten dollars per thousand.  Such limitations on property tax rates have undermined the long-term utility of the property tax as a means of financing the City’s general fund services such as the police, fire, and parks departments, the library, and residential street maintenance. To find revenue to cover growing...

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Can Salem Build a home for its homeless?

by Helen Caswell Housing First “People living day to day on the street are only able to live in survival mode,” says Pamella Watson, who is a member of the Salem Homeless Coalition, is chair of the Homeless Task Force at First Congregational Church of Christ, and is one of Salem’s “arta-pottie ladies.” “These people are consumed with looking for their next meal, looking for a place to sleep. So if you are able to get them into shelter, you allow them to get out of survival mode and start addressing issues.” Salem homeless advocates like Watson are increasingly...

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This Changes Everything -Salem Progressive Film Series

“Back when I started discussing climate change in 2006 and 2007,” says former Oregon Secretary of State, Bill Bradbury, “there were a lot of questions about if it was real or not. There was always a group of doubters who would come to presentations and ask questions. The doubters have disappeared now.” Bradbury, who has served as Oregon state Senator, Oregon state Representative, Senate Majority Leader and Senate President, is referring to the more than 400 ‘Climate Change in Oregon’ presentations he has given since being an early participant in Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Change training sessions. “Public...

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Bill aims to fund Salem transit

In the weeks prior to the November 2015 election, as the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce lobbied against the payroll transit tax measure proposed by Cherriots, it released a statement saying it intended to initiate an alternative method – a legislative effort that would fund transit. The idea, said Nick Williams, Director of Public Affairs for the Chamber, was to “help fund small metro and rural area transit services in Oregon, including Salem Keizer Transit” in a way that wasn’t unfair to employers. That effort by the Chamber and a number of sponsors has resulted in a legislative concept submitted by Representative Bill Post (R – Keizer) on January 14 – now HB 2078. “What I hoped to do with this bill,” Post says, “is provide for some new funding for small- to medium-sized transit districts that do not have payroll taxes in their funding, so that would for the most part be Cherriots, Rogue Valley and perhaps Coos Bay and North Bend.” Post’s bill is supported by, among others, Salem Health, which also opposed the November payroll tax measure. Other backers are the Oregon Transportation Association and Rogue Valley Transportation District. In the legislature, sponsors include Rep. Jodi Hack (R-Salem), Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland) and Rep. Betty Komp (D-Woodburn). Post’s bill would establish a way for districts like Cherriots to request funding grants to pay for services. Among...

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Salem Library Axes Popular Magazine Exchange     

On January 1 the Salem Public Library cancelled its popular magazine exchange. The program began as a simple “drop one, take one” system set on a bench in front of the Friends Bookstore. The concept was, for example, for people to leave a Time magazine and pick up a New Yorker.  The exchange soon blossomed, and patrons were finding such gems as The Economist, National Geographic, The Nation, New Republic, Sports Illustrated, Smithsonian and many others – a reading feast, free and for the taking. The interest was so high the exchange was moved to a table in the hallway on the North side of the store.  At that point the trouble began. According to Library Administrator Julie Sowles, “The magazine exchange table was removed because many donors were leaving large quantities of materials falling outside the parameters of the table’s purpose which was a ‘leave one, take one’ exchange of clean, popular, current magazines… The table was popular as a paper recycling drop off spot, but not as popular as a magazine pick up spot.” Sowles further cites the burden on staff to manage the table – approximately 4 – 8 visits per day to sort and straighten.  There was also additional recycling for the city.  She does not, however, put a monetary cost on these services. Despite these arguments, many patrons disagree with the decision.  Kelly Lawrence,...

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