Slant 8-27-2015

• We keep wondering when the major media and leadership of this state are going to call for significantly more money for public education. Just ask a good teacher. It’s all about more teacher time per student and that costs money. The leadership to get us there is more than political. It’s business, arts, sports — every aspect of the state. On the political side, Oregon House Republicans are complaining this week about Oregon schools’ poor performance and the lack of funding, and yet Republicans adamantly resist any efforts to reform our state tax code. How would R’s improve public schools? Weaken the unions and cut teacher salaries and benefits? Cut social services? Privatize schools with a voucher system? Slash PERS? Republicans haven’t come up with any reasonable solutions so far, just complaints. 

Back in the mid-1970s, corporations in Oregon carried 18.5 percent of the state tax burden. But today Oregon corporations pay only 6.4 percent, thanks to Measure 5 and other property-tax limits, plus an absurd bundle of tax subsidies and loopholes, each backed by a special interest lobby. We individual taxpayers are coughing up the $2.2 billion that corporations would be paying under a more fair tax code. See for shocking numbers that Republicans (and even some Dems) are trying to ignore. 

Fires are burning throughout the Northwest, and even if up until now you’ve been able to ignore this fire season on the news, the unhealthy, smoky air last weekend made it hit home. Back in the spring, the National Interagency Fire Center predicted “increasing to above normal” potential for wildfires across the drought-stricken West, including all of Oregon and Washington, which it said could put homes, businesses and ecosystems at risk. That prediction has come to fruition, and it’s put lives as risk too, with three firefighters dead in Washington and at least 39 homes burned in John Day, Oregon. This state is shutting down its climate-change inducing coal-fired power plant, but pondering a Coos Bay liquefied natural gas export facility that would take its place as our largest emitter of greenhouse gases. We need to connect the dots.

Chip Kelly watchers in Oregon should check out a recent Washington Post story on “Football’s most intriguing figure is also its most unknown” by Kent Babb. Chip’s disdain for the press clearly provokes the sports writers to dig for his story. This story weaves in an interview with Jennifer Jenkins, identified as his wife of seven years early in his career. All that really matters is whether his NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles, win.

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