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Slant 6-27-2013

• The Incredible Shrinking Oregonian in Portland is cutting home delivery to four days a week, moving from its iconic building, letting more than 90 people go from all floors and levels, already advertising for cheaper, less experienced staff, becoming a “truly digitally focused media company,” as Publisher N. Christian Anderson III puts it in an op-ed piece. The paper will continue to print seven days a week, but parent company Advance Publications Inc. of New Jersey has cut back print days in other cities, often with bad results. So, what is the profit margin that Advance is demanding? That’s the critical number. How greedy are the owners? Warren Buffett continues to buy daily and weekly newspapers, 63 in the Southwest in June 2012. He says, “I think newspapers have a decent future. It won’t be like the past. But there are still a lot of things newspapers can do better than any other media.” Buffett says he wants to buy more papers in cities where people are interested in their communities. Portlanders are interested in their community. Is The Oregonian

Karl G. Sorg of Springfield died June 17 at the age of 90 after a long and remarkable career as a lawyer, law professor, political activist and sometimes candidate for state and national office. He was one of those intelligent, educated and eloquent individuals who embraced socialism openly, despite the stigma attached to it by conservatives and even some liberals, past and present. Sorg’s activism helped us understand the Oregon Socialist Party’s modest, commonsense agenda: a more progressive tax structure, a living wage for all workers (including fieldworkers), stronger unions and bargaining rights, beneficial trade agreements, labor-intensive sustainable forest practices, single-payer health care, public utilities and prioritizing public education over prisons. Sorg’s socialism is hardly radical; it’s a blueprint for a civilized society.

• Good news that Karmen Fore will be joining Gov. Kitzhaber’s staff July 1 as the new transportation adviser. She’s leaving Congressman Peter DeFazio’s staff, where her latest assignment has been on the staff of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure committee in D.C. A Eugenean, she knows local, state and federal transportation issues and has the political moxie to make things happen. Transportation advocates in Eugene are cheering. 

• The Supremes have ruled on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Prop 8, and so we’re celebrating. SCOTUS said that that legally married same-sex couples deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law that all other married couples get. We hear from the ALCU that this doesn’t change the need to amend Oregon’s Constitution to permit marriage equality for same-sex couples. It’s not too early to start gearing up for a campaign in November 2014. 

• What we are not celebrating is the court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act. Every citizen deserves the right to vote, and that is just what the Voting Rights Act had enforced. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissent: “Just as buildings in California have a greater need to be earthquake- proofed, places where there is greater racial polarization in voting have a greater need for prophylactic measures to prevent purposeful race discrimination.” 

• The R-G is running endless stories on the size of seat cushions at Autzen, but we’d like to turn our focus to the education part of higher education: OSU just announced that the university is going open source. It is the first university in the Northwest to make the scholarly publications of its faculty members freely available. That’s good news for all of us who want access to all that excellent research. 

Thousands of bees died in a parking lot in Wilsonville after blooming linden trees were sprayed with Safari, a pesticide containing neonicotinoids. Could that happen here? Not in Eugene’s city-owned lands, thanks to the city’s decision not to use the poison. Now Eugene’s Beyond Toxics is pushing for a local ban on the chemicals. We’re hoping to see a neonic ban on the City Council agenda this summer. Beyond Toxics is still celebrating Kitzhaber signing HB 3364, the State Integrated Pest Management Act, into law on June 4. That law will strengthen and improve coordination among state agency programs that implement IPM on state-owned and leased properties, which means fewer toxics sprays on the state’s public lands. Save the bees! 

• CNN watchers later this year may have a chance to vote for Nancy Hughes, described as “a 70-year-old grandmother from Eugene, Oregon,” and her Stove Team International. A bundle of money goes to the winners. Lots of hurdles to come, but the first one was the weekend of June 14 when she was on the air as one of the weekly “CNN Heroes.” Her group, founded in 2008 and assisted by Rotarians in Eugene and around the world, has produced more than 37,000 stoves to improve the lives of 280,000 Latin Americans. This year she plans to open factories in Mexico and Colombia to build the miraculous Ecocina stove. Later in 2013 the CNN staff and then viewers will pick the hero of the year. Easy choice for us. Nancy Hughes is a high hero for EW and Eugene.