Slant 9-17-2015

Civic Education in Oregon was the topic at the City Club of Eugene Sept. 11, but important as civic education is, the elephant in the room that day was funding for public schools in Oregon. Superintendent Jodi O’Mara of the Mapleton School District spoke of her desire to return the kids to a five-day week; they only go four days this fall. Superintendent Colt Gill of the Bethel District said 60 percent of his kids are in poverty. What additional demand does that put on his schools? New District 4J Superintendent Gustavo Balderas said, “We are doing great things with what we have.” Maybe we should take the long view, hoping that civic education will teach the next generation to increase “what we have,” but who wants to wait that long? We don’t.

• State Sen. Floyd Prozanski won’t be facing a recall since the campaign to unseat him failed to get enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. This was a big waste of time and more than $50,000 by Patricia Michaelson-Duffy, the chief petitioner, who was funded in large part by the Oregon Firearms Federation. It would be logical for gun dealers who belong to the OFF to support mandatory background checks for private gun sales between non-family members — more walk-in business for them doing the paperwork — but the firearms industry is paranoid that any regulation, even something moderate and commonsense, is a step toward “taking away our guns.” That’s nonsense, but fear led these petitioners to rely on blatantly false claims, saying the Oregon Firearms Safety Act “bans virtually all private transfers of firearms.” Not enough potential petition signers fell for this cynical campaign and it may have actually backfired. Prozanski, Rep. Val Hoyle and other backers of the legislation garnered a lot of heart-felt support from their constituents during this little drama.

• We see Register-Guard Associate Editor Paul Neville is still on the editorial page masthead this week but not for long. After more than 30 years at the paper, Neville, likely the most liberal voice on the R-G editorial page, is on vacation, and when he comes back he will be director of development and communication at St. Vincent de Paul, working alongside Executive Director Terry McDonald and his former R-G colleague Sue Palmer, who now oversees economic development at the agency. We asked Neville about this and he tells us, “There have been lots of changes at the newspaper in recent years, some I’ve agreed with and some I haven’t, but the main reason I’m leaving is I was offered a great job with an organization that I’ve always deeply admired.” He says he couldn’t pass on a chance to work with people like McDonald and Palmer “and all the other folks at SV who have made a huge and growing difference in this community in recent years. It was an unexpected and invigorating opportunity for a second career that I could not pass by.”

• Speaking of our favorite daily rag, we’ve noticed a lot of typographical errors in the R-G lately. Along with the misspellings and punctuation boo-boos, a Sept. 14 editorial headline read, “A high-profile treasurer: Wheeler plans to fun for mayor of Portland.” Well, fun really deserves to be a verb, as in “let’s go fun around under the covers.” Here at the Weekly, we don’t have a dedicated proofreader, so maybe we should not be threwing stones.

• Last week in Slant we wrote about Ashland’s efforts in the past to deal with transients and the homeless by sending a crew of volunteers downtown to engage and interact with them. We don’t know how well that worked over time, but we did hear that some of the transients were uncomfortable with the friendly intervention and stopped hanging out downtown. Our city center does draw a criminal element that shies away from public attention. On a related note, Eugene has several empty buildings that could provide shelter from the elements. How about that huge and vacant bow-truss former operations building on the EWEB property?