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Slant 5-15-2014

Election turnout is likely to be awful for the May 20 Primary since there’s not much on the ballot other than County Commission races, so if you’re ever wanted to make a difference, this is your time to shine. Every vote is bigger and badder when the turnout is small. Only about 12 percent of the ballots were in as of May 12. It’s peculiar that Lane County has more Democrats than Republicans and yet we’ve elected a right-wing, anti-environment majority to run the county. Progressives float good candidates, but too many people with good intentions end up tossing their ballots in the recycling bin. Don’t be one of those people.

• County Commissioner Faye Stewart has a reputation as a “nice guy,” but a flyer circulating this week by the Oregonians in Action is pretty nasty with lots of name-calling (“hostile,” “extremist,” etc.) and other misleading accusations against challenger Kevin Matthews. Is Stewart worried, even desperate? To top it off, the flyer has a big Eugene Weekly photo of Matthews that Matthews has permission to use, but Stewart and his supporters do not. 

• Two observations on our simmering campus sex abuse scandal: A respected retired Seattle sportswriter who attended the UO writes: “I’m sure the three Quack urchins will wind up on somebody’s basketball roster SOON.” The June issue of Vanity Fair offers an article called “Shame and Survival” by Monica Lewinsky. She challenges “all those who hung a scarlet A around my neck” for her consensual affair with President Bill. Good reading for the young women in Eugene.

• “What can we do?” was the big question May 9 when David Cay Johnston powerfully presented the history and numbers on income inequality in America to the City Club of Eugene in the packed ballroom of the Downtown Athletic Club. As he put it, “this society takes from the many and distributes to the few,” a path that could lead to the end of our democracy. Get people to the polls, Johnston urged, and don’t let legislatures gerrymander districts. These are relevant instructions for our local May 20 election date. But all his solutions, including a carbon tax, seemed pale compared to the problem.

• The UO Foundation objects to the idea of divesting in fossil fuel stocks, but Stanford University is taking a big step in that direction by selling off its investments in the coal industry, one of the worst sources of air pollution linked to climate change. Jon P. Anderson, chair of the UO Foundation Board, says “We don’t feel divestment is the best strategy at this time.” So when is the best time? Twenty years ago would have been better. Stanford has an $18.7 billion endowment and its decision to divest should encourage students and faculty at UO and elsewhere to keep up the pressure. The UO is echoing the chant heard around the country: “Delay, delay, keep the dollars flowing.”