Newspaper Archive of
The New Era Paper
Sweet Home, Oregon
January 25, 2012     The New Era Paper
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January 25, 2012

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lltll!!tll*!]!l!.lPllllli:tl!..i IlL[ll.._.llalll]lll!llUlillttm.mllllIik!]lll ,lkl:'!ll .i]learr,2 J m EGJl ]J  I!J.LIr!It).!.K.EF!m..'II L lJ!Lllli(.|,IllllllllJlll'lJl]II| - . . - -" ; . . . Page 4 :lt, ,, ra - January 25, 2012 Al.olg/IB birl. b 9- I(inll   |1 ]:T TOD00 To BL)il.LD A00To Z00BAS00? IT To 0000OVER FIRE. Our Files Looking back on more than 80 years of coverage in east Linn County,,, January 25, 1962 In the budget submitted to con- gress last Thursday, $6.100.000 is requested for Green Peter reservoir construction for the fiscal year be- ginning July 1. 1962. Other civil works program requests for this area included $60.000 for advance engineering and designing for channel improve- ment. $600.000 of Willamette River bank protection work. and $100.000 for general investigation in the Wil- lamette River basin. Bob Zike was installed as 1962 president of the Sweet Home-East Linn Chamber of Commerce. Retir- ing president is Osburn Shaw. In attendance at the meeting Monday night was approximately 430 persons. At the banquet Dan Ashton and Gerry Sevems were honored as Senior and Junior First Citizens. and Mrs. Lenore Keeney as Woman of the Year for 1961. January 28, 1987 Picking the lock on his hand- cuffs, a 16-year old juvenile boy escaped out of the back door of the Sweet Home Police Department Thursday aftemoon after being booked on a charge of robbery. After being recaptured he stat- ed he had been taught how to pick the lock on handcuffs, by a friend. with a safety pin. He was discovered at his grandmothers house in Foster. He was transported to the Juvenile Detention Home in Salem. The longest logs ever sold by Barringer and Associates were transported through Sweet Home last Wednesday en route to Bea- verton, then a final destination of LaPlata. Md. Two of the logs were 150 feet long. Three others were 120 feet each. They were Douglas fir and measured 36 inches at the butt and 12 inches at the top. The trees were estimated to be about 130 years old. Public information, meetings critical for citizens Public access to most govern- ment records and meetings is a le- gal fight and a necessary right. As taxpayers, we need to and should know how our money is be- ing spent. Government and school officials at the city, county, state and federal levels get paid by us, use our money to build buildings and fund programs that are supposed to pro- vide services we need. The reason state "and federal "sunshine" laws give .us access to public records is because sometimes we need to scrutinize them to determine how that money is being spent. Most private citizens don't have the wherewithal to do this. That's one reason why you buy newspapers. The press, historically, has stood in for readers and ,iewers when something smells. We check out the numbers and we report what we find if it is awry. [__.DIT00:.)RIAL i , I Though public records and ac- cess to government meetings is a long tradition in Oregon. it's not a popular concept with many public officials. In recent years, public access to records and meetings has come under increasing attack. And in some cases, especially on the local level, the laws are simply ignored. It is not uncommon for a newspaper reporter, even from The New Era, to feel the need to inform officials about open meeting requirements or laws pertaining to the release of public records. We hasten to add that. in recent years, our local city and school of- ficials have been relatively circum- spect in this area, which is com- A locally owned newspaper founded Sept. 27, 1929 Scott and Miriam Swanson, Co-Publishers www.sweethomenewsicom Office: 1313 MainSt., Sweet Home, Oregon Mailing address: The New Era, Box 39, Sweet Home, OR, 97386 Phone: (541) 367-2135 Fax: (541) 367-2137 WHO WE ARE Scott Swanson, Editor/Co-Publisher scott@sweethomenews.com Sean C. Morgan, Staff Writer sean@sweethomenews.com Miriam Swanson. Advertising Manager, Co-Publisher miriam@sweethomenews.com Christy Keeney, Classified Ads classifieds@sweethomenews.com Firiel Severns, Advertising Sales firiel@sweethomenews.com The New Era (USPS 379-100)is published each Wednesday. Periodical postage paid at the Sweet Home. Ore.. 97386 Post Office. Postmaster: Please send address changes to The New Era. Box 39, Sweet Home, Oregon 97386 SUBSCRIPTIONS In Linn County: $32 Elsewhere: $40 Snowbird: $38 NEWS QUESTIONS/TIPS Call (541) 367-2135or e-mail news@sweethomenews:com mendable. However. at higher levels of government, threats to the public's fight to know seem to continually pop up. Right now, in Salem, legisla- tors are considering two bills that would curtail that access. Neither has a bill number yet. but both are working their way through com- mittee hearings in Salem. One would close records list- ing the names and pension amounts paid to public employees through PERS. Oregon's Public Employ- ees Retirement System. The other would loosen restrictions on mem- bers of government bodies that are legally required to limit discussions of public business when a quorum (voting majority) is present, to open meetings. More on that shortly. This PERS issue is not new. After years of PERS records being publicly available (without adverse consequences), PERS officials in 2002 made an arbitrary, internal decision to Close the records of retirement benefits paid to public employees. Then-Attorney General Hardy Myers ruled in favor of the agency after The Oregonian news- paper protested - though numerous court decisions across the country have upheld public disclosure of this type of information. When current Attorney Gener- al John Kroger took office ii 2008, both The Oregonian and Salem's Statesman-Journal asked him to reverse Myers' ruling. Kroger did. but PERS then hired an outside at- torney, at public expense, to sue the newspapers to keep the records private. A settlement was reached last year and the records were released. but PERS then sent a letter to all 110.000 of its retired members telling them that "'court judgments require PERS to disclose" the re- cords, even though it agreed to the settlement. As Oregonian editor Peter Bhatia noted. "Truth is. the settle- ment ensued because there really isn't a legal argument that public pensions shouldn't be public, just as the salaries of public employees are public." So now legislators are stepping up to get those records cut off from public purview. Retired public ser- vants, perhaps not surprisingly, are not happy to have their pension payment amounts revealed to the public. But there is a reason why we should know if we have an in- terest in such - we're paying those pensions. WRITE A LETTER We encourage readers to express their opinions in letters to the editor on matters of public interest. Letters should be typed and may be submitted by mail, e-mail, fax or in person at The New Era office. E-mailed letters may be sent to news@sweethomenews.com. Please include a telephone number in case we need to contact you. Also, we require that you include your name and city of residence or your letter will not be published. There is no length restriction, but letters may be edited for lengbh and all letters will be edited for libelous content. We discourage letters that attack or complain about private citizens or businesses-on a personal level. Also, letters containing comments on topics deemed by the editorial staff to have been exhausted in previous letters will be edited accordingly Without that information, tax- payers have no way of knowing, for instance, that a local school dis- trict's top administrator, just hired on a six-figure contract, recently retired from that same job at 105 percent of salary. They dOn't know that a secretary who worked three days a week for 25 years and then went full time for the next three was able to retire on a PERS ben- efit calculated as if he or she had worked 28 years full time. Those are real-life scenarios. The Oregonian has discovered that one individual on a Portland fire disability was serving in Iraq. Another was found taking a full firefighter pension for years after the city had paid to retrain him and he was working full time as a res- taurant owner and chef. What if a reporter wanted to determine how many police and fire employees work hundreds of hours m overtime their last few years to goose their pension pay- outs for life? And What about PERS retirees who move to Vancouver to avoid Oregon income tax? Wouldn't it be desirable, as a reader, to know that a reporter working on a story on that topic has the means to get their side of the story, as to why they chose to do so, to be able to provide a fair. balanced report? If this bill becomes law. that would be impossible. We'd never know that any of the above hap- pened. PERS is important for other reasons. PERS obligations affect all Oregonians. Higher PERS costs mean less to spend on schools and other services. The contributions paid by cities, counties, school dis- tricts and state agencies to cover their employees' pension and health care benefits more than doubled last July. Collectively, that will gobble See Open, page 5