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Slant 8-23-2012

• The Eugene Celebration Parade begins at 10 am this Saturday at South Eugene High School, heading up High Street. Good places to watch are along High and Pearl between 11th and 18th. Expect abundant political entries this year. Rep. Peter DeFazio traditionally shows up with his wheelbarrow and shovel to scoop up the virtual horse crap. Will Pete’s November opponent Art Robinson be in the parade tossing “healthy” radioactive dust from his float? Probably not, but joining DeFazio this year will be state Sen. Val Hoyle and her growing flock of radiant (but not radioactive) redheads called “Gingers for Hoyle.” The ever-popular Peace Train will likely return and coal train protesters are planning an entry this year (see Activist Alert), fueled by the news of a deadly coal train derailment in Maryland, one of 20 this year nationwide. Local dignitaries will grin and wave, and we might see the “legalize it” folks there pushing Measure 80, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act — if they remember to show up. See a parade map and all the Celebration details in a special section inside our paper this week.

 • Thanks to an economics professor’s wicked blog UO Matters and Register-Guard reporter Diane Dietz’s stories, we read the embarrassing account of the UO hiring a Denver political consulting firm for $25,000 to persuade UO students to add more than $300 a year to their fees for additions to the student union and the recreation center. Students voted “No” to this proposal twice in the last year. Fortunately, daylight shut the deal down. Makes you wonder if anybody in Johnson Hall is reading the national stories about student debt, no jobs to pay it off and asking whether higher education is the next “bubble” in our economy.

Paul Quillen and Volifonix are the two finalists this year in our third annual Next Big Thing contest. Come hear them and cheer them on at 1 pm Saturday at the Eugene Celebration Eugene Weekly/KRVM Stage on Willamette. We had a great music contest this year and we want to thank all the exceptional musicians who submitted their original singles. Most of the top 16 bands and performers on our CD this year braved the heat and performed at the Lane County Fair for our judges and crowds of fairgoers.

Speaking of the Lane County Fair, we hear the Oregon ACLU has complained to the Fair Board about cookies, cakes and candy at the Fair. What? It seems the bakers and candy makers had to agree this year to donate their leftover contest entries to the Eugene Mission. The ACLU says it’s a “constitutional violation” to “require individuals participating in a county service or project to support a religious institution.” It looks like the rules were softened as a result of the complaint. We like the idea of homeless folks benefiting, but not this way. How about a bake sale to benefit FOOD for Lane County? The issue, along with a controversial proposal to have the 2013 Fair move to the last week of July, will be on the Fair Board’s Sept. 11 agenda.

Gov. Kitzhaber cut through the national political garbage on health care with a recent upbeat message to his Oregon supporters. He says the Affordable Care Act is “a huge step forward” and “Oregon is taking a step further.” It’s still not the public option supported by many of us, but Dr. John won a waiver from the federal government in May to let us deliver Medicaid in Oregon through “coordinated care.” He defines this as “puts patients first and allows health providers to work together as a team, focusing on prevention, improving care and finding solutions within the community.” He says pilot projects around Oregon implementing this kind of care are already reducing emergency room visits and acute care for people with chronic conditions, including asthma, heart disease and mental illness.

• As we expected when Libertarian VP candidate James P. Gray stopped by EW last week, we have some pretty different viewpoints, especially when it comes to economic policy. But one thing’s for sure: The two major parties aren’t discussing doing anything new and constructive when it comes to the money pit of failures that is the war on drugs. This underscores why it’s important to keep more voices in the national presidential debates instead of using a rigged system that ensures only Democrats and Republicans get that most important element of national exposure. It’s time for the Libertarians and the Green Party to stand at the podium, too.

We label it “barbaric” when female rape victims in Africa and the Middle East are blamed, shunned, beaten or even imprisoned if they complain. The U.S. equivalent is when politicians seek to deny abortions to women who are impregnated by rapists. Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin is in that camp and he’s not alone; he’s just more outspoken than most. Republican leaders are distancing themselves and their money from Akin, not because they disagree, but because they don’t want this misogynistic attitude making headlines in an election year when Congress, the White House and the future of the Supreme Court are all on the line. 

SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, editor@eugeneweekly.com