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Slant 6-30-2016

• The Lane County Board of Commissioners’ June 28 discussion of giving themselves the authority to block some local ballot measures has us floored. Did it get forgotten by four of the five commissioners that Oregon citizens have a right to the initiative process that is protected in the state Constitution? Read more here.

 

It was not very reassuring when Eugene-Springfield Fire Chief Joe Zaludek answered a question about oil trains through our cities at the City Club of Eugene meeting June 24. He said we are “well-positioned for an oil train derailment … we have a lot of foam in reserve.” He added that we average two oil trains a week through here. In light of the recent derailment in Mosier, Oregon, luckily not the tragedy it might have been, we have huge concerns both about the quality of the rails and the quality of the trains. See activist alert for information on 350 Eugene’s “Stop Oil Trains—Vigil & Procession” at 7:30 pm Wednesday, July 6.

 

• A new study from the Oregon Center for Public Policy reveals that Oregon corporate taxes are much lower than they used to be. According to the report, “corporate income tax contributions have shrunk by more than half since the late 1970s,” while corporate property tax contributions have declined by 10 percentage points since the late 1980s. Interesting, considering that corporations have banded together to oppose IP 28, a proposed tax on businesses with Oregon sales of more than $25 million. The tax would fund schools and health and senior services, but corporations say they can’t take the financial strain. Corporations used to contribute much more to the state of Oregon, so where has all that money gone? Clearly, something doesn’t add up. We keep hearing the question, “Will IP 28 win in November?” It won’t pass if Oregon’s major media, led by The Oregonian, has its way. But we are still optimistic. Corporate Oregon has offered no better solutions.

 

• In the most significant decision from the Supreme Court on abortion in two decades, the court voted 5-3 June 27 to strike down a Texas law that made it difficult for women to access abortions. That decision should deter other states from passing clinic shutdown laws. As the Notorious RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) wrote in her concurring opinion: “When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux [for the want of a better alternative], at great risk to their health and safety.” Former Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis and her 11-hour filibuster almost three years ago to the day of the Supreme decision was vindicated, as were women across the country.

 

Tree spiking! Like a blast from the past, The Register-Guard reported on a case of alleged tree spiking at Swanson’s Brothers Mill in Noti earlier in June. The news story was based on an anonymous press release posted on Earth First! Newswire, not on actual police reports. The daily followed its article with an editorial calling the incident “stupid and reckless,” and then Travis Joseph, former aid to Congressman Peter DeFazio, now a shill for the American Forest Resource Council, piled on with a letter to the editor calling upon enviro groups such as Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild to “publicly condemn the radical, criminal behavior of their peers.” First off, yes, tree spiking is wrong — it can injure workers — but what criminal behavior? Beyond an online post there is still no evidence anything happened. Joseph is using the same guilt-by-association tactic racists use when they insinuate that all Hispanic people are illegal immigrants, all black people are criminals and all Muslims are terrorists and applying them to treehuggers. AFRC should publicly condemn its member businesses when they or their owners support radical anti-government, anti-public lands groups and politicians. Has Joseph condemned the illegal armed take-over of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge that led to the death of one of the occupiers? Last we checked he merely called it “unwise.”

 

• Yi Shen, a well known Asian market and restaurant on West 11th Avenue, has endured a flurry of vandalism over the past seven months, including broken windows. Owner Phung Hsieh, who opened the market in 1997, has looked into purchasing security cameras, but it’s a hefty investment for a small business. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help her mitigate the cost at gofundme.com/2boq918..