• There’s an important election in November. What can I do? Go to the Blackberry Pie Society website and it will tell you “how to channel your political energy most effectively and speedily.” Members of this smart and savvy “society” in Cottage Grove are sending postcards to voters in swing states, phoning voters in swing states and more. Who knows how much these efforts will affect the Nov. 3 election, but we do know it is worth a try. Locally you might want to make some calls for Rep. Peter DeFazio’s campaign. Right-wing challenger Alek Skarlatos has recently raised more than $1 million, is endorsed by Commissioner Jay Bozievich and Lars Larson, and his Fox and Friends interview was tweeted out by Donald Trump Jr. (before Jr.’s account was temporarily restricted for tweeting a video with false coronavirus information). Let’s send Skarlatos back to Dancing with the Stars, shall we?

The Oregonian teamed up with ProPublica and OPB for a knockout story about the timber industry’s efforts to influence and override scientific research out of Oregon State University. “How a public institute in Oregon became a de facto lobbying arm of the timber industry” is an investigative deep dive into the Big Timber, its shills and the efforts to debunk science. The story mentions local concerns about pesticide sprays near Triangle Lake and features the Seneca timber spokeswoman Casey Roscoe apparently pushing for a study that the timber industry hoped would show Oregon’s state logging regulations protect our drinking water just fine. They don’t, and the study reflected that, though Oregon Forest Resources Institute used your tax money to play that down. Remember, without journalists diving into stories like this, you don’t get information about what happens to your tax dollars and public lands. 

We need big structural reform in this country. That’s our conclusion after listening to two hours of virtual City Club of Eugene meetings about local law enforcement. For instance, David Zeiss, co-founder of CAHOOTS, says this great organization is getting so much national attention that they have a queue of reporters waiting for interviews, but it also has a problem with staff turnover because CAHOOTS workers are not earning a living wage. Eugene police officers start at a salary of $64,542.40 annually. Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner asked how to raise a generation of crime-free kids and how to keep kids in school. We need to pour more resources into public education in America. Good for the City Club for putting these issues out there. Now, let’s get to big structural reform and better funding for organizations like CAHOOTS. Sen. Ron Wyden, who has a long history of working on health care reform, announced he is introducing a bill — the Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) Act — to “encourage the use of health care, rather than law enforcement, to respond to individuals who are experiencing a mental health or substance use disorder related crisis.” The bill encourages other states to adopt Oregon’s best practices through increased Medicaid funding. 

• The Oregon State Legislature is preparing to convene for a second special session. But It turns out that it may not be so special after all. With Republicans threatening another walkout the Senate may be reduced to considering only technical budget issues. House Speaker Tina Kotek, a Democrat, is pushing to address police reform, but her efforts will likely be stymied. Can Oregon Republicans be so obtuse as to walk out on police reform? Can Senate President Peter Courtney marshall his Democratic senators? Stay tuned; the “special session” kicks off Aug. 10.

• Despite COVID-19, sports leagues (in particular, the Power Five conferences), want games to go on. But some Pac-12 football players are threatening a boycott if the NCAA doesn’t meet certain demands to provide more safety in the game. The four-item demand list is available on The Player’s Tribune website. The athletes are calling for the collegiate sports system to implement safety and health protocols, protect all sports, end racial injustice in college sports and society, and provide economic freedom and equity. On Aug. 2, Oregon football player Daewood Davis announced on Twitter that he’s united with the cause to protect his fiancée and son.