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Slant 6-16-2016

• Guns and hate. We are so tired of being speechless about mass murders. The June 12 attack on the gay and Latinx (aka Latino/a) community at a gay Orlando nightclub by an American man of Afghan heritage has been called a case of “homegrown terrorism.” Look at Orlando (current toll 49 dead, more than 50 wounded), look at San Bernardino, (14 dead, 20 wounded), Colorado (12 dead, 58 wounded), Newtown (28 dead, 2 wounded). All massacres with assault-style rifles. This was an act of hate at a place the queer community should have felt safe. We can’t blame this on outsiders. This is on us.

• Next time you are in downtown Seattle, check out Occidental Square, a small, heavily used public space. Inexpensive bright green chairs offer respite to visitors enjoying the life of the square and the city. Eugene’s Mayor Kitty Piercy has spoken about another public square with dozens of red chairs as a possible model for our own Kesey Square, which now seems to be on hold as far as its future use. Occidental also holds a small bandstand for scheduled live music and simple outdoor games, even foosball. We understand that an upright piano presumably with protection from the rain has drawn public pianists to Occidental in the past. None of this is expensive. All it takes is imagination.

• There are changes afoot at the local daily again. The Register-Guard announced it has a new publisher and chief executive for its RG Media Company. Logan Molen, formerly senior vice president and chief operating officer of The Bakersfield Californian, starts July 12, taking over from Tony Baker, the R-G writes in a June 11 news story. Baker has been interim publisher since the “resignation of Editor and Publisher N. Christian Anderson III last December.” Neither the paper nor Anderson ever commented on his abrupt departure. Anderson lists himself as “consultant and adviser to growing organizations” on his LinkedIn profile and deleted references to his employment at the R-G.

Also in abrupt departures at the daily, Mark Baker, longtime reporter, “Living Here” columnist and member of the Baker family, appears to have parted ways with the R-G. The daily paper is owned and primarily run by the Baker family, and Mark Baker is the youngest grandchild of Alton F. Baker Sr., the R-G’s publisher from 1927 to 1961. Baker started writing for his family paper in 2002, and more recently, Baker’s “Living Here” columns appeared frequently on the paper’s front page. 

• It strikes us as odd that in a June 8 Oregonian article about IP 28, reporter Jeff Manning drew from a report by Oregon’s Office of Economic Analysis without saying in the story that the report is a draft, not a published analysis. Looking at the report itself, it has the words “preliminary and incomplete, do not cite” plastered at the top. Despite this, Manning goes on to cite the report and quote businesses that oppose the proposed tax that would benefit Oregon schools. We’re not all that surprised that businesses impacted by the tax are saying they’ll simply pass the cost on to their customers. That’s bound to encourage a “no” vote from their customers. But if this is really a “sales tax in disguise,” one that businesses could avoid paying by increasing costs, why would they oppose the tax at all? 

• Oil trains aren’t the only fossil fuel explosions Oregonians have to worry about. The battle against liquefied natural gas came to Eugene on Tuesday, June 14 when Southern Oregon community members protested the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export project at the Eugene regional office of Williams Company, the Oklahoma-based corporation that would build the natural gas pipeline for the project. Landowners along the proposed pipeline route and their allies declared “people’s eminent domain” on Williams — eminent domain gets used on landowners to use their land for projects like pipelines — and set up a mock pipeline easement on the company property, “notifying the company that in the interest of the public good, they are denied the right to continue harming rural communities with their dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure projects,” according to Southern Oregon Rising Tide.