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Slant 10-9-2014

• National sportscasters were speculating about Phil Knight’s giant gift to the UO during the losing Duck football game, so it must be time for a local announcement. The rumor we’ve heard is that $1 billion from the Knights will go the UO this month with some kind of match requirement. If true, that could help attract a superman or superwoman president, or maybe not.

Kevin Matthews lost to incumbent County Commissioner Faye Stewart in the May Primary by a 14-point margin (2,069 votes) but has launched a write-in campaign as a protest to Stewart’s poor environmental record representing the East Lane District. In a much closer race, Dawn Lesley lost by a just a tiny fraction of a point (74 votes) in her effort to unseat Commissioner Jay Bozievich in West Lane, but Lesley is not asking for a write-in vote. Lesley made that decision soon after the long recount, saying resources would better “be channeled into a strategic, winnable effort,” and she’s focusing on helping the Jeff Merkley Senate race. Lesley learned a lot from the campaign, and is left in a good position to run again in 2017. Meanwhile, Bozievich continues to build on his record of regressive decisions.

Matthews tells us his campaign is a “long shot,” but he’s bothered by Stewart ending up unchallenged on the November ballot with only 17 percent of the registered voters giving him the nod in the primary. He says the grassroots “Write in Kevin” campaign “gives a way to express how we feel, for all of us not satisfied with the top-down crony capitalism of the Lane County incumbents.” He’s added bright yellow “Write In” stickers to his lawn signs. To help in his campaign, email info@friendsofkevinmatthews.org. 

• Think “authenticity.” That’s our word to describe Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and his guest, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who rallied progressive Democrats in Eugene Oct. 6 in the EMU on campus. She was here to boost his re-election on Nov. 4 against Republican Monica Wehby, not so authentic. Merkley is the son of a millworker from southern Oregon, Warren is the daughter of an Oklahoma janitor. Both talked about rescuing America’s middle class, including students, from debt, declining standard of living and the loss of purchasing power. We were struck that this should be the agenda of conservatives in this country. Warren radiated that rare talent for connecting with her listeners often demonstrated on both the Bill Maher and Jon Stewart shows. They love her and so did the Eugene crowd.

• The Oregon Drive Less Challenge began this week, a statewide effort to get Oregonians to cut 1 million miles from their driving over the next two weeks (see drivelessconnect.org). This week also saw a press conference by BEST (Better Eugene-Springfield Transit) calling on local leaders and the community to “respond to transit challenges and opportunities.” BEST President Eric Gunderson says the organization has had more than two dozen community meetings and “hundreds of individuals said that transit is important to the community’s people, economy and environment.” Other speakers touted public transit’s importance to low-income residents, students, the elderly and alter-abled, and to people who just want to live more sustainably. BEST will release its final report in January with recommendations on “how the community can move forward together in making our good transit system ever better for all,” Executive Director Rob Zako says. We appreciate what BEST is doing, particularly since the whole concept of public transit is under attack locally and nationally.

• Get us to our wonderful farmers markets for riches resulting in part from record-breaking heat, a rare climate change plus. Local tomatoes, heritage and ordinary, are still stacked, along with strawberries picked that morning. Grapes have never been sweeter. Pears. Winter squash. A pallet of peppers, red, yellow, orange, green, some roasting while we watch. Quince, the awkward fruit itself, and organic quince butter to be eaten with cheese on a cracker, at the Bergs stand at the downtown market.