Slant 12-17-2015

• Watch and for updates on the French investigation into possible track scandals, including selection of wee Eugene as the site of the IAAF World Championships in track in 2021. The Oregonian has done a long investigative piece and the UO Foundation’s lawyers have sent Bill Harbaugh (uomatters) a warning letter for his references to the French investigation and the funding mechanisms by the state of Oregon and the Foundation. It’s a big deal.

• At COP 21, aka the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, nearly 200 countries reached consensus on an agreement to fight climate change with a goal of stopping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and, if possible, below 1.5 degrees. Is the Paris agreement perfect? No. Parts of it are not legally binding, but it’s remarkable when so many countries that agree on so few things can come to consensus. And it’s a huge step forward in a global effort to save the planet. The first step is admitting you have a problem, and we’ve done that, now we need to move forward to fix it. 

• We were pleased to hear Mayor Kitty Piercy on public radio last week talking about climate action and homelessness alongside the mayors of the much bigger cities of Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco. The two-day West Coast Mayors Summit led to a pledge to take more progressive action locally and regionally on environmental and social justice issues, which are inseparable. Mass transit, for example, benefits both air quality and transportation options for low-income people. And pollution, of course, affects poor people and the houseless much more than rich people. Piercy talked about Eugene’s climate and sustainability goals and progress toward housing 365 homeless vets this year. We can certainly do more, but it’s apparent that real progress will come not from Congress, but through pressure from the local level.

• Follow closely, because this is a weird one. Once upon a time, a timber-funded lawsuit attacked specific members of the Lane County Board of Commissioners. Judge Michael Gillespie made a wacky, weird ruling Rob Handy, Pete Sorenson, Faye Stewart and former commissioner Bill Dwyer used serial emails to form a quorum and deliberate and that violated Oregon’s public meetings law. Conveniently enough, only Handy and Sorenson were named in the Seneca timber-funded suit, so Stewart was not found guilty. The conservative board majority voted not to appeal the judge’s ruling, a strange vote since many believed the ruling would not stand. 

Fast forward a couple years, and Rob Handy is arguing in court that Jay Bozievich, Sid Leiken and Stewart used sequential private meetings to make a decision about him. With apparently no sense of irony or shame, Boz, Leiken and Stewart are now appealing to the Oregon Supreme Court to rule that sequential, written communications or private meetings between a quorum of an elected body do not count as deliberating toward a decision. The serial meetings ruling was ridiculous in the first place, so striking it down is fine by us, but we’d like to hear from the commissioners just why they thought the serial meetings ruling was just dandy back in 2011 but don’t like it now. Maybe because the lawsuit and their votes were a political attack and not for the benefit of the county?

• Anybody know a skilled shoemaker who can figure out why UO basketball players have so many foot and knee injuries? The Register-Guard sports section keeps telling us how many players can’t play because of physical problems. Probably no correlation to the beautiful shoes they wear to pound the courts.

• The “Common Corpse” headline in one of the cheeky New York City tabloids tells a story that is good news to more and more Oregonians. A fierce grassroots effort in New York state by parents and teachers with one in five students opting out of Common Core testing has forced the Board of Regents and the politicians to decouple test scores from teacher evaluations, and that’s only the first step in what many consider the death of Common Core testing. The same sentiments are rumbling from the bottom up in Eugene and other parts of Oregon.

 • Our paper is so popular in Veneta that some guy has been stealing big stacks of them at Ray’s Food Place and hauling them off in his large white pickup truck “with handwritten scrawling on the tailgate,” according to a Veneta reader who confronted him. We’re not sure what this “skinny, clean-shaven” guy is doing with hundreds of our papers, but he’s probably not reading them. Compost for a backyard growing operation? We recommend fresh, hot chicken shit for his garden.

Heavy weather has caused all sorts of havoc in the Northwest. Falling trees, landslides, flooded highways, power outages. Worse days and nights are likely ahead and most of us (except for Mormons and survivalists) are not very well prepared. Might be a good idea to get to know your neighbors — even the obnoxious ones with the ankle-biting kids — before you need them.