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Slant 7-10-2014

 Marijuana legalization in Oregon is likely to be on the November ballot (we will know for sure Aug. 2 when election officials verify valid initiatives) and we’re already hearing concerns about kids eating THC-laced cookies and candy, along with being exposed to even more messages that pot is OK. Well, we like to think that legalizing and regulating pot will pump millions into education, including programs that teach kids about the dangers of drug use while their brains are still forming. And, according to Denver, Colo., law-enforcement data, crime has dropped by more than 10 percent since legalization went into effect. Meanwhile, here’s an idea for households with kids around: Get rid of those arsenals and fill those lockable gun cases with smokeables and edibles.

• Hey Lane County Commission: Why do you hate poor people? As we go to press the County Commission, in the absence of progressive Commish Pete Sorenson, is going hog wild on Eugene’s efforts to require businesses to offer paid sick leave. Having employees coming in sick and sneezing on your food is a bad idea. So is putting parents in a position where missing a day of work to stay home with a sick kid means losing a day of pay they need to feed that kid. Paid sick leave is not the government intruding on business, it’s the government looking out for the health and well-being of this city. 

Rollin’ Coal? Sounds like the title of a protest song against dirty coal trains but it’s the name of a polluting practice that is sweeping the nation, or at least the internet. An article on the website Vocativ delved into the phenomenon last month, looking at thousands of Facebook, Instagram and other pages devoted to tweaking the engines of diesel trucks so they belch out black smoke, preferably onto a Prius, according to the many internet memes. Not only are black oily diesel fumes bad for your lungs, they are also illegal in Oregon where exceeding visible emissions limits is against the law.

• We wrote about the VA medical system in this column June 12 and asked our readers if they have any experiences to share about the Eugene VA Clinic on River Avenue, which was not named as one of the problem facilities in Oregon. We’ve heard mostly positive comments in the past. So far, the only complaint we’ve heard was secondhand and anonymous — a retired Vietnam War nurse had her eyes treated for cataracts, one eye at a time, and it reportedly took weeks between eye surgeries, during which time her activities were severely curtailed. She says the local VA optical department has a big backlog. Any other stories out there?

Almost a year ago, EW and its readers noticed that the Columbia Gorge wasn’t the only place potentially explosive oil trains were rolling through — tankers of crude oil run through downtown Eugene. Our public records request for how many trains and how much oil was turned down by the state attorney general’s office and instead we documented the trains with the help of local videographer Micah Griffin. As the number of oil trains and the number of explosions increased and concerns grew, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued an emergency order saying trains carrying more than 1 million gallons of North Dakota crude need to tell states where they go. The Oregonian newspaper took up the cause and, on July 8, the state fire marshal posted reports on where the oil trains are moving around the state. You can access them at wkly.ws/1sb. The bad news is that trains carrying less than 1 million gallons aren’t listed, so we still don’t know how much crude cruises past Fifth Street Public Market and through the Whit.