Slant from Bill Walton to all the allergens in the air

We asked what should be on our new mayor’s to-do list — some folks responded directly to us, and other responses you can read in this week’s letters. Mayor-elect Kaarin Knudson, trained as an architect, is hearing from one older reader who recommends that repairing our sidewalks, especially in high traffic areas, be a high priority. He’s not the only one; one of our college readers tells us that navigating the world in her wheelchair is made difficult by uneven sidewalks and poorly designed curbs. If we want a non-motorized, walkable, friendly-to-all city, this should be a priority.

Pollen season is well upon us, and according to Oregon Allergy Associates, grass pollen is very high right now (as opposed to merely high) with pollen counts over 200. In case you think the light rain helps, interestingly enough, the allergy folks say that “when there are light showers early in the grass pollen season, there is fragmentation of the grass pollen causing more allergic and asthmatic symptoms as the small particles reach deeper into the airways.” Check for more info. 

• The University of Oregon isn’t big on press releases, so a lot of folks didn’t realize that Anita Hill was in town in May — Hill was #MeToo before it was a thing. Her testimony at U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas’ 1991 Senate confirmation hearings made her a leading figure in the fight for women’s rights and against gender-based violence. At 6 pm June 3, failed Oregon gubernatorial candidate Nick Kristof will speak at the UO about his new book, Chasing Hope: A Reporter’s Life at the William W. Knight Law Center, room 175. Aside from the whole governor’s race debacle, Kristof is a The New York Times columnist, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and produces wine and cider on his Yamhill farm. If you can’t make it in person, you can check out the live stream via the website.


• The world lost a unique and shining star with the passing of basketball and cultural icon Bill Walton this week. Many of us in Eugene felt especially close to Walton: He played some of his best basketball up I-5 with the Portland Trail Blazers, he did some of his best commentary on basketball and the universe in Matthew Knight Arena, and he surely enjoyed Grateful Dead shows nearby. He twice led UCLA to national championships and, despite endless injuries to his feet, he played pivotal roles for two NBA championship teams, including the only title won by the Blazers. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993. Yet Walton, who died May 27 at age 71 after a prolonged fight with cancer, was so much more than that. A Deadhead to the core — he would follow the Grateful Dead any chance he could — Walton also was an activist, a philosopher of sorts and a TV basketball commentator whose meandering, off-beat banter either charmed or flustered fans. Always, Walton was entertaining, and his zest for life (not to mention his basketball commentary) will be missed.

Shame on The Washington Post for not reporting in a May 23 story, updated on May 25, the name of the law firm that thought it would be a great idea to blame the 9-year-old victim of a concealed camera installed by a flight attendant, since arrested, in the toilet of an American Airlines passenger jet. According to American’s court filing against a lawsuit by the victim’s family, the girl using the toilet “knew or should have known [it] contained a visible and illuminated recording device.” American has since fired Wilson Elser, a prestigious national corporate defense litigation firm with a branch office in Portland, whose lawyers filed the shameful defense. The name of the Wilson Elser lawyer whose signature appears on the court filing is Coleman M. Proctor, who certainly knew or should have known better than to do this — as should the four other Wilson Elser lawyers whose names are listed on the filing: Kathryn A. Grace and Patrick J. Kearns, both partners in the firm; Kevin L. Littlejohn II, an associate; and Sarena L. Kustic, a recent law school graduate listed as “of counsel” with Wilson Elser. Shame on you all.

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