Slant 10-18-2012

It’s election time again and the state and local Voters’ Pamphlets are a hefty quarter of an inch thick. It’s all fascinating reading (especially between the lines), reflecting the brilliance and dimness of current political thought and our messy experiment with representative government, aka democracy. Every voter should read it, along with absorbing all the propaganda in print and on the web, in the broadcast media, around the kitchen table and at the water cooler. If that’s too much, we offer our humble perspectives in our endorsements this week. 

The Lane County Circuit Court write-in race has been particularly interesting to ponder since Judge Jay McAlpin’s filing error created a dynamic we have not seen before. The voters get to examine the political process that put McAlpin on the bench, for better or worse. Who’s a better “judge” of character and values, the legal establishment or the people? Ever wonder why so many judges retire in mid-term and we get so few open, contested judicial races? Many judges simply don’t trust ordinary people to pick their successors and would rather be part of the back-room political process leading up to gubernatorial appointments. Advantages and disadvantages can be found in both ways of seating judges. Now we have a voice.

Care to comment on our endorsements or add your own? We have two more issues coming out before the Nov. 6 election. Send your (short) observations and pitches to and we’ll run as many as we can.

• Last week’s cover story on faculty unionization at UO talked about how the average salary for UO profs is $80,000, which is accurate as an average, but it was pointed out to us by one prof that salaries vary greatly according to the discipline. Full tenured faculty in music, East Asian languages, art and architecture, for example, make closer to $60,000, while profs just starting out make much less. What’s skewing the average? Looks like faculty salaries in business and economics are much higher in order to compete with the private sector. Biz school faculty pay was topping out at $174,000 in 2011. Are faculty salaries too high? Absolutely not. Academic excellence should be one of civilized society’s highest priorities. Insanely, we favor coach salaries. See a chart of faculty salaries at uo.

Springfield Farmers Market has evolved into a permanent year-round indoor market and food business incubator called Marketplace@Sprout! (see Biz Beat this week) and it’s been a big, ambitious, collaborative effort. What about Eugene? The city has $500,000 in urban renewal funds earmarked for our Farmers Market, but is anything happening? We just get a runaround and finger-pointing when we ask about it. Let’s get it together, Eugene.

Another punt from our den of grumpy pigskin pundits: The first BCS rankings came out and put Oregon in third place. So what? Does not matter one whit. If the Duck footballers win the rest of their games, they will play for the national championship. If they lose, they won’t. Stick that in your tail-feathers, BCS.

• The case against Curtis Shimmin and the Kanabosm medical marijuana center is back in the news recently as Lane County seeks to confiscate Shimmin’s personal property through forfeiture, even though Shimmin hasn’t been charged with anything. And another medical marijuana facility was raided this month, this time in Tigard by Washington County sheriff’s officers. We’re seeing more tangled prosecution of victimless crimes, more big waste of valuable resources at a time when the state, county and local governments are struggling to keep basic public safety programs afloat.

We appreciate the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, but it’s confusing and contradictory for patients, growers and law enforcement. Replacing prohibition with regulation would eliminate the many frustrating issues surrounding OMMA: the doctor visits, the paperwork, finding legal suppliers and those dastardly $200 annual fees that now apply to even low-income people on disability. Let’s fix this mess Nov. 6.