Category: SW Editorial

Salem’s Vision and Mission

We applaud City Manager Steve Powers for initiating and funding a strategic planning process for the City of Salem. The council is now about half-way through the process that should be completed later this year. It’s been sorely needed. Our city council has been drifting for years with little direction. They have not taken the time to step back and chart a course for the future with measurable goals that represent the highest aspirations of our city. Now that’s changing, and at a good time, with new city leadership and new city management. That being said, the process thus far has had a few hiccups. There was the “stakeholder charrette” that became a vehicle for the mostly well-connected to try to exercise undo influence on the process. Luckily, enough ordinary citizens saw what was happening and pushed back to the extent that the results of the charrette have now been largely discarded, and the planning consultants do not plan to hold another one. But another flaw in the process that has gone largely unnoticed is the “Vision” and “Mission” that the City Council developed in a work session on January 30th with no public comment or participation. The city staff and city council are now using this Vision and Mission as if it has already been adopted, despite having had no public comment or approval in a regular council...

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Keeping the Public in the Public Lands

The public lands, whether federal or state, belong to all of us. At a time when many Republicans in Congress are demanding that the federal government cede control of extensive public lands to the states, and others are calling on the states to privatize their own public lands – such as Oregon’s 82,000 acre Elliot Forest – it is essential to mobilize public support against such short-sighted policies. Of the 2.28 billion acres of land that comprise the United States, the federal government owns 637 million acres (28%).  The great bulk of these lands are in the West, with 52% percent of Oregon’s 61.6 million total acres federally-owned and managed by agencies such as the National Park Service, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management.  The State of Oregon’s own public lands total a relatively modest 780,000 acres. Some public lands are managed to preserve – and provide access to – unspoiled wilderness, others allow visitors to engage in a wide range of recreational activities, while still others are used for natural resource extraction and grazing.  There is no question that these lands are a source of enjoyment and of great wealth for the people of our country.  Their use also comes at substantial cost, since all of these activities must be responsibly managed, and human created and natural disasters on the public lands, such as pollution...

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What About the Salem Police bond ‘Plan B’?

On May 16th, Salem area residents will decide whether to pass a bond financing the construction of a new, modernized police facility. The bond proposal is dubbed “Plan B” because it is the second time the city has come to the voters for money for this project. The first time, in November, Salem Weekly opposed the measure. Six months later, however, we find ourselves solidly ambivalent. The unsatisfying compromise reached by City Council has won over some initial opponents of November’s measure but the bond measure continues to remain controversial. Proponents and opponents of Measure 24-420 are generally in agreement on a few things. The current building housing the library, police facility, and City Hall was not constructed to withstand a significant earthquake and will likely collapse when the plates of the Cascadia subduction zone give way.  People also appear to agree that the police facility itself is too small and outmoded to serve the Salem area effectively. In addition, many are satisfied that the City Council trimmed the size and cost of the facility since November’s original proposal. Measure 24-420 reduces the size of the facility by 33,000 square feet to 115,000 square feet. Commensurately, the cost of the new project has dropped  $20 million dollars to $62 million. This concession mitigates some, but not all of our concerns. Curiously – and perhaps foolishly – the Council refused to compromise...

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STOP THE SALEM-KEIZER SCHOOL BOARD TAKEOVER

Having just ousted a conservative majority from the Salem City Council with the election of Chris Hoy in the March special election, the last thing we need to do is to let the extreme right take over the Salem-Keizer School District. That could happen on May 16th if voters are not aware of the threat and do not reject the social conservatives who are running for three seats. We already have one extremist social conservative on the School Board, Marty Heyen, who unfortunately did not draw an opponent when she ran for the school board in 2015. She is married to the Chair of the Marion County Republicans, Jeff Heyen. It was Jeff Heyen who worked hard to recruit three conservative candidates to run in the May 16th election. Since there are only seven members of the Salem-Keizer School District Board, electing three more social conservatives to the school board would constitute a majority. Two of the conservative recruits are totally unqualified for office. Jesse Lippold is running in Zone 3. He also goes by he name Jesse Olsen and he does not even live in Zone 3, but he promised the Marion County Elections Office he would move there before the election. He is 21 years old and has no experience in education. Jonathan Baker is running in Zone 5 and also brings no experience to the job....

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GIVE HIM A CHANCE TO SUCCEED? Give me a break…

In a democratic society it is customary at the end of a hard election campaign for the losing “loyal opposition” to wish the winner good luck and, for the good of the country, utter parting words such as, “If you succeed, the country will succeed.”  In the best of times, one can wonder at the sincerity of such concession speech statements — but credibility is particularly strained following the election cycle that just elected Donald Trump as the U.S. President. Supporters of the winner often exhort constituents of the other side to “Give him a chance to succeed…”  As we observe initial structuring of the new administration, the question is immediately raised:  How should success be defined?  And, in particular, we are driven to ask:  Who gets to define it? We see a President forming a cabinet with (among other things):  a Defense Secretary who reportedly “likes to brawl,” an oil man Secretary of State who has received a medal from the Russians, a Labor Secretary nominee who has aggressively battled any minimum wage, an Energy Department secretary who wanted the agency dissolved, a climate change-denying EPA Director who wants to downsize or eliminate all consumer protection measures, an Attorney General apparently willing to commit perjury, and an Education Secretary in favor of privatizing many schools and ignoring the desperate needs in our once-envied public education system. Observing the...

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