Slant 11-13-2014

What happens if the kicker kicks next year? Our news brief this week talks about how the Constitution-mandated tax rebate could be a big problem for the state budget. What we hear through the English ivy vine (Eugene’s equivalent to the grapevine) is that Phil Knight might be holding back on giving the UO big challenge bucks this year because it could trigger the kicker and the state could lose up to $300 million in the next biennium, hurting education. Crazy scenario. If big donors sell stock and give the money to Oregon universities, donors will pay taxes and boost state revenue. If donors just give stock to the universities, there’s no tax to pay. Regardless, an infusion of a billion or so into the Oregon economy will generate new contracts, new jobs, new spending and uh-oh, new taxes.

The kicker was intended to prevent excess growth in government, but instead it’s added uncertainty to the economy, exacerbated the gap between rich and poor (the rich get most of the rebate bucks) and kept Oregon from building a rainy fund to get us through recessions. Let’s support efforts in Salem to get rid of it.

• Here’s the ultimate test of popularity in Oregon. This comes from a pregnant mom, mother of two girls, that her baby boy probably would not be named Marcus (as in Mariota). Too many others are using that!

• Will helping the unhoused help bridge the town and gown divide between UO and the city around it? Last week community members brainstormed with academics at a roundtable sponsored by the Department of Philosophy. Some of the ideas included direct aid such as the UO participating as an Egan Warming Center, permission for car camping in Autzen parking lots when unused for seasonal athletic events, allowing university land to be used as a homeless rest stop and the hiring of the unhoused for positions for which they are qualified. Other ideas were more academically oriented like course credit for supervised undergraduate fieldwork in support of the homeless, grad and faculty analyses of city policies and practices as they impact the unhoused with reports to the Eugene City Council and in general, more intentional university interaction with the problems that exist in the off-campus community where undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff live. Check out for more on the effort.

Looking back on the elections, it’s clear the reelections of Gov. John Kitzhaber and Sen. Jeff Merkley and other progressives were due in part to the active role of Planned Parenthood and other organizations that support women and families. These groups rallied voters and helped define the candidates and their positions on women’s health and economic equity. Statewide, Planned Parenthood sent out 420,000 direct mail flyers, made completed phone calls to 24,655 households and endorsed 55 candidates. Volunteers put in thousands of hours in 572 shifts. Impressive.

• Ever been inside Cabela’s at Gateway Mall in Springfield? It’s a surreal store that can provide culture shock for tofu-eating, yoga-contorting, Birkenstock-clad lefties. At Cabela’s you check your guns at the door and stuffed dead animals are everywhere, including deer with their nut sacks intact. How do taxidermists do that? Ping-pong balls? A scruffy buck’s butt stares you in the face when you descend from the discount “Bargain Cave” upstairs. Weird things on the racks up there: one leg of a pair of thigh-high hip waders. The clerk doesn’t know what happened to the other leg. Maybe there’s a one-legged shoplifter out there? She figures somebody will buy the leg eventually because, well, it’s a bargain.

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