Keizertimes. (Salem, Or.) 1979-current, October 23, 2015, Image 1

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    SINCE 1979 • VOLUME 37, NO. 47
OCTOBER 23, 2015
Sign code
c hasing Dark
More payroll
tax talk
Chasing Dark is an ongoing series looking
at heroin and other types of drug abuse
in Keizer. Be sure to pick up next
week’s paper for the next installment.
Lies heroin tells him
Editor’s note: The names of the people
in this story have been changed to
protect their privacy. This article also
contains adult language and content
that is not suitable for children.
Of the Keizertimes
Spencer has felt like a god lately.
“I’ve lost three friends to heroin
overdoses in the last eight months, but
it doesn’t scare me. I feel like I can't
die and I've always felt that way when
one of them goes,” said Spencer, 24.
What he mostly feels, when he gets
news of another overdose, is anger.
“I've had to breathe for many
people by doing CPR and that is
something that sticks with me, but
I'm more angry that they didn't know
their limits,” he said.
The lie of invincibility is just one
of many the drug has whispered in his
ears since he was 18 years old.
Unlike those who have sought
the refuge of heroin after a supply of
pain-killing opiates dried up at the
doctor’s offi ce, Spencer’s fi rst dances
with heroin came
the drug circuit
as a student at
He started with
doesn't believe it's
a gateway drug,
instead it was one
spoke on a wheel
tastes for certain
“It wasn't like we moved from weed
to other drugs, we just messed around
a lot with a lot of different drugs.
There were groups that smoked pot,
some that drank and others that did
meth and heroin. We would switch off
every couple of weeks. We found what
we liked and just stuck,” Spencer said.
“Heroin isn't even my drug of choice,
it's just the one
that grabbed me
by the balls and
got me in trouble.”
S p e n c e r ’s
concerned with
Spencer’s use of
marijuana as a
teen, but her eyes
grow wide and she
— Spencer expresses shock at
learning his next
stop on the circuit
was methamphetamine.
“This whole experience has been
a roller coaster and you just don’t let
go,” Beth said.
Spencer said he started smoking
“I remember telling
myself I would
never touch needles
and I wouldn't do
heroin, specifi cally.”
pot out of desires to escape problems,
but he became more addicted to the
party scene and the people living in
it. He met one acquaintance, former
McNary student Brandon Crist, as a
“We had German class together
and we were misfi ts. We hung around
the same circle. We hung out and
smoked pot a bunch together, but he
was never like a best friend,” Spencer
In late September, Crist was found
dead of an overdose in Salem. Spencer
had seen him at a Salem methadone
clinic mere hours before Crist took
his lethal dose.
“He wanted me to get him
something (heroin). And I knew it was
the wrong place and wrong time. He
tongued his medicine and spit it out
to sell for money to buy heroin. Most
of us have done something like that,”
Spencer said. Tonguing medicine is the
act of slipping pills under the tongue
or in the cheek and pretending to
swallow them.
at the KHC
Please see LIES, Page A2
How transit payroll tax works elsewhere
Of the Keizertimes
Having a payroll tax help
pay for transit costs has long
been done both north and
south of the Salem-Keizer
The idea of implementing
a 0.21 percent payroll tax for
increased Salem-Keizer Tran-
sit District bus service is on
the Nov. 3 ballot. The tax, if
passed, would bring in about
$5 million and restore week-
end service, extended week-
night service and fund student
bus passes.
Comparing a transit sys-
tem in the Salem-Keizer area
to the TriMet system in Port-
land isn’t exactly an apples-
to-apples comparison due to
factors such as size differences
between the two areas.
A more apt comparison
comes when looking at the
Lane Transit District, the
transit system in the Eugene-
Springfi eld area.
In Eugene, a payroll tax has
been used since 1970 to help
bring in funding. Accord-
ing to the LTD website, the
transit district serves a rider-
ship of about 300,000 people.
By comparison, Salem-Keizer
Transit serves a ridership of
about 400,000 people.
Given LTD’s history with
the payroll tax, the Keizertimes
reached out to Andy Vobora,
director of Customer Services
and Planning, to learn more
about the payroll tax and what
services it’s helped provide in
the Eugene-Springfi eld area
over the decades. Vobora has
been with LTD since 1983.
According to Vobora, LTD
started with a .6 percent pay-
roll tax in 1970. After the state
enacted a cap of .8 percent
back in 2009, the LTD board
of directors recently approved
the phasing up to that level
to start in 2016. In the early
1990s, a self-employment tax
was added.
Slides shown by Salem-
Keizer Transit offi cials at last
week’s Keizer City Council
work session showed LTD
collects $31.5 million a year
via the payroll tax. Vobora
confi rmed those numbers are
“We collect just over $30
million a year in the payroll
Big week for
McNary VB
Craig Murphy fi le photo
A Lane Transit District EmX bus waits for passengers during the opening day of EmX service in
the Gateway area of Springfi eld in January 2011. LTD gets about $31 million a year from Eugene-
Springfi eld area payroll taxes.
tax, plus $1.7 million for the
self-employed tax,” he said.
The effort to enact a pay-
roll tax in Salem-Keizer is
being met with fi erce oppo-
sition from the Chambers of
Commerce in both Salem and
Keizer, which have organized
several sign-waiving rallies
against the idea, run TV ads
and adopted the mantra “It’s
simply unfair.”
Vobora said the picture
seems to be a bit different
about an hour to the south.
“It’s always been mixed,”
Vobora said of the business re-
action in Eugene-Springfi eld.
“The business community (in
the 1960s) said we need tran-
sit and we’re willing to fund it
through the payroll if needed.
As I’ve been out in the com-
munity over the decades, it’s
one of those things where a
lot of businesses see the need
for good transit and see it as
part of business.
Please see TAX, Page A9