Slant 5-15-2015

• As of May 12, only about 15 percent of voters have turned in ballots for the May 19 Special Election, which is surprising. We figured the Lane County vehicle registration fee and recent controversies on the 4J School Board would crank up interest in this election. But it’s not too late to get those ballots dropped off at one of those handy white ballot boxes around town. Procrastination appears to be an exclusively human frailty. If squirrels put off gathering and storing nuts, they would not survive winter — and we’d have fewer trees sprouting in odd places. Maybe this is not such a bad analogy. Voting is kind of like our community figuring out where to put (or not put) our nuts.

• Certainly the lawsuit brought by two young Eugene girls asking the court to require the state Legislature to do more to halt drastic climate change was a powerful public relations effort. Judge Karsten Rasmussen’s ruling against using the public trust doctrine in this way was no surprise. Can this case be won on any level in any of the 50 states where it has been filed? Or does that matter? Maybe the story of our kids pleading for action will shame our leaders into doing more.

Rep. Peter DeFazio is raging again against corrupt or misguided power on the national scene. Last week he sent us a letter critical of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system buried in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. He referenced a letter of warning sent to Congress by legal experts and that letter is now on our blog. This week DeFazio is lambasting the Koch Brothers, Monsanto and the big chemical and industrial food corporations pushing a new bill in Congress called the “Keep Food Safe and Affordable Act.” He calls it instead the DARK Act, “Deny Americans the Right to Know.” The bill would prohibit the FDA from ever mandating the labeling of GMOs, and blocking states from requiring GMO labels ­­— even states that already have them. Find a petition on Pete’s website at

Go Bernie! We need your voice from Vermont in this chatter for the presidency in 2016.

Geshe Thupten Jinpa packed all 500 seats at the Ragozzino Performing Arts Center at LCC on Mother’s Day. The former Tibetan monk and longtime translator for the Dalai Lama talked about the need for compassion, not just in our stressful personal lives but also in dealing with the chaos and violence of our times. He was asked about hospital nurses who are surrounded daily with suffering and death. Cultivate the emotion of empathy, he said, but don’t dwell on it. Transform empathy quickly into compassionate action. Do the best you can and then let it go. He has a new book, A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to Be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives.