• We are saddened by word that Sister Janice Jackson, a longtime Eugenean, died Jan. 13 in Lake Oswego; she was 86. Sister Janice was a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, an activist order of Catholic women who have battled for social justice in Oregon since coming here from Canada in 1859. The sisters fought a 1922 Ku Klux Klan-backed law banning religious schools in Oregon all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — and, in 1925, they won. After getting her master’s degree in counseling from the University of Oregon in 1971, Sister Janice founded the Eugene nonprofit Sponsors, Inc., which helps people released from prison rejoin society. At a time when religious activism has become synonymous with hate-filled zealotry, her life serves as a beacon of hope.
• The incredible costs of incarceration were spelled out in the City Club of Eugene program Jan. 17. Clearly, as a society we should be trying harder to keep people out of the prison system. Captain Clint Riley, the Lane County jail commander, said about 90 percent of the people in Lane County jail suffer drug or alcohol addiction or mental health problems. The jail is the largest mental health facility in Lane County, Riley said. Does that make sense? Andy Ko, director of the Partnership for Safety and Justice, and Laura Johnson, director of program development for Sponsors, talked about the human costs of incarceration, the impact on families and children.
• Democrats in Congress OK’d a big victory for President Donald Trump: the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, also known as a new “NAFTA” trade deal. Ten Senators voted against it, including Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. But the only Oregon congressional member to vote against the legislation was Rep. Peter DeFazio. He was one of 41 dissenters to vote against the legislation, voting along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar. In a Dec. 19 statement, DeFazio said although USMCA improves on NAFTA, it “will continue to promote pro-polluter, climate-denying policies.” That sounds a lot different than Sen. Ron Wyden’s statement hailing a bipartisan passage.
• Next step in the Juliana v. United States case brought by locally based Our Children’s Trust, according to lead lawyer Julia Olson, is to ask the full Ninth Circuit to consider the case after a three-judge panel has ruled 2-1 to dismiss. This case is probably a long shot. The judges on the panel were all Obama appointees. So this is the dilemma: We have no political will to do anything about climate change, and the judiciary says it is not its job. Meanwhile, the front page of the Jan. 18 New York Times had a story about a $119 billion sea wall that might shield New York from rising seas caused by climate change. Somebody needs to do something, and we know it won’t be Trump
• Political rumblings: Lots of house parties and small introductory events for Laurie Trieger, who is running for Pete Sorenson’s seat on the Lane County Commission. Up I-5, Portlanders have lots of questions about what Sam Adams is doing, running to be a Portland city commissioner after serving as mayor and leaving in disgrace. (Sam is originally a Eugenean, having grown up here and graduated from South Eugene High School.) Lots of political watchers wonder if more candidates will take on Mayor Lucy Vinis. The City Council races are heating up. Filing date is in March.
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