Slant 10-06-2016

Great egrets with their all-white plumage are drifting back into the Willamette Valley for the winter. We see them around Fern Ridge, in oaks and wetlands along the Long Tom River, about the same size as the great blue heron. Wildlife biologists tell us more have been coming here, but they don’t know why. Plume hunting for women’s hats nearly wiped out this beautiful bird, but the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1913 saved them.

• “Talk, talk, talk,” as Chuck Sheketoff put it, has been the only solution put forward in Oregon since Measure 5, the property tax limitation passed some 25 years ago, did such damage to public education and social services.  He was speaking to the City Club of Eugene on Sept. 30 in defense of Ballot Measure 97, which goes up or down in next month’s election. A founder of the Oregon Center for Public Policy, Sheketoff says no better proposal has come forward yet and none is in sight. He mentioned the hours of talk former governor John Kitzhaber sponsored in Mahonia Hall with no real tax reform resulting. Paul Nicholson, bike shop owner and former Eugene City Council member, spoke against 97, calling it “badly drafted … we need better legislation.” Like Chuck and the legislators we respect, we’re tired of talk. We’re ready to vote.

Creepy clowns? They’ve reached the Northwest, or we’ve been told, just in time for Halloween. Eugene police sent out a press release recently saying the cops “have been getting media calls regarding the national stories about ‘creepy clowns,’ and are aware of information online at #Wenotclowninaround.” EPD says, “Police are also aware of concerns from the public regarding clown sightings in Oregon, but have not received information to suggest that there is a credible threat in Eugene.”

• The good news on climate change: the European Union voted to approve the Paris accord, meaning that the agreement can now seek to limit greenhouse gas emissions and keep global temperature increases “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). The bad news: Climate Central, an independent association of scientists and journalists, just announced that we passed a point of no return. Atmospheric carbon levels have permanently passed 400 parts per million, and it looks like they won’t go down to more friendly levels “ever again for the indefinite future.”

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy is leaving office after 12 years, and her years of service to the city and also in the Oregon Legislature were recognized in the U.S. Senate Sept. 14. Sen. Jeff Merkley addressed President Obama in his remarks, saying, “I have been particularly impressed by her work to save our environment.” He goes on to note her work on environmental justice, sustainability and climate change — Eugene has reduced its city carbon emissions by 10 percent, Merkley says. He concludes, “We need more leaders like Mayor Kitty Piercy in office. I thank Mayor Piercy for her hard work and dedication to public service and wish her the best in her well-deserved retirement.” It’s good to see moments of sweetness in a political climate that is otherwise so toxic. Read Merkley’s full remarks in the Congressional Record here