Slant 11-26-2014

• As Tom Wolf once wrote, “a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich.” But apparently a grand jury won’t indict a cop. On Nov. 24, a grand jury in Missouri did not indict police officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed black man. As riots erupt in Ferguson again and across the country, we support both the anger of the protesters and the calls for peace. Before we criticize angry citizens and activists for their actions, remember the legacy of violence of those with power and weapons against those without, not just in the South but also around the world. What if the officer was black and he shot an unarmed white kid? What would the reaction be?

• The fight to protect the Amazon Headwaters from development has been going on for about 15 years and we are pleased to see this special and environmentally sensitive area will be preserved as natural parkland for generations to come. Recently, it looked like some new investors, Dynasty Holdings, would be able to develop the property or at least sell it to developers and turn a profit. In the end, the speculators agreed to $1.75 million for the three parcels, perhaps in part because of the big expense of developing the steep land with its creeks and wetlands. Plus, litigation was likely. Regardless of the reasons, the people of Eugene finally won this hard-fought battle. Kudos to all those who have fought to protect this fragile land, including citizens, city staff and members of the Eugene City Council.

• We came away from the City Club of Eugene panel Nov. 21 on implementation of Oregon’s new marijuana law with the obvious strategy for D’s to win in 2016. Turnout of eligible voters in Oregon hit 70 percent, probably the highest in the country. Those voters increased the D majority in the Legislature, reelected the shaky D governor, sent Jeff Merkley and all our Democratic congressmen back to Washington. So lefty strategists should put marijuana measures on every possible state ballot in November 2016. Guaranteed to bring out young, more liberal voters. Or are we living in an Oregon blue bubble?

• The latest Rolling Stone has a bone-chilling investigative piece on sexual violence in University of Virginia fraternities. Seattle papers are talking about a hazing “incident” in a University of Washington fraternity so serious that the fraternity and all its members have been suspended by the national organization. Nobody is describing the facts of the case, but depositions will bring them out. We wonder when college administrators will own these problems on their campuses and act with real courage.

The UO is getting hit hard with criticism for its hamfisted attempt to deal with the impending graduate teaching fellow strike. The GTFF union is asking, quite reasonably, for things like paid medical and parental leave for its members who, while technically working part-time, end up working at least 40 hours a week with classes, research and teaching employment. This leaves them with no time to take on additional jobs, and in many cases, they rely on what the university pays them. A secret UO memorandum has made the rounds on the internet and all the way to The Chronicle of Higher Education. The memo encourages other employees or former employees be scabs and take on the instructional work normally performed by graduate fellows, saying it could be handled by adjunct instructors, non-union grad students, recently retired faculty members or qualified administrators who volunteer. It also suggests that students be given the option of not taking final examinations or that such tests be reformatted to make them easier to grade. The UO’s faculty Senate voted last week to rebuke the administration for bypassing the faculty and for encouraging “the dilution and degradation of teaching standards.” A for the faculty; UO administration, you fail. 

Bunny the rescued pitbull we wrote about back in October has a home for the holidays. Mandy DeGuc of SevaDog Rescue tells us that not only does Bunny have a home, but as a result of EW’s article, five other pups were re-homed. Bunny got internet-famous when the emotional video of her rescue from the California desert went viral. If you see her video on Facebook or one of the many sites that picked it up, know that a rescue right here in Eugene got her a home.