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Slant 4-26-2012

Our endorsements issue will be next week, May 3, for the May 15 primary, and we’ll have stories on some of the big races, including the most recent developments, and we plan to have room for more of your election letters next week. Hang on to those ballots that should be arriving in the mail soon. 

The R-G’s endorsement of Andy Stahl April 22 was no surprise. The daily has been relentless in its attacks on Pete Sorenson in recent years, swallowing whole hog and with undisguised glee the timber industry’s strategic attack on environmentalists on the County Commission. Sunday’s peculiar, even bitter Earth Day editorial was more against Sorenson than for Stahl, who really doesn’t deserve equal billing as an environmentalist.

Convoluted political shenanigans permeate local government, and they also permeate local media. On the government side, ambitious Democrats are positioning themselves to eventually take Peter DeFazio’s place in Congress and Sorenson is in the way. On the media side, the R-G editorial board has dug itself into a hole with its unfair treatment of Sorenson and of Handy over the years, and it would be inconsistent to support them now. The daily’s kind words this week for Republican opponents of Rep. Phil Barnhart is another example of pandering to the right.

To top it off, Sorenson and fellow Commissioners Rob Handy and Bill Fleenor made enemies at the R-G with their strong and successful support of EW becoming a “newspaper of record” in 2010. The R-G even hired a Portland law firm to fight the decision. A threatening letter to the county from attorney Jack Orchard dated April 22, 2010 read, “It is The Register-Guard’s earnest hope that the county commissioners carefully reconsider the path they apparently wish to follow. As [R-G Chief Operating Officer] David Pero’s most recent letter indicates, all alternatives available to The Register-Guard are under active consideration, including litigation.” The threat was ignored and now it’s payback time. Is this what Pero meant by “all alternatives”?

As for the power of the R-G endorsement? Let’s not forget that the daily endorsed Jim Torrey, not Kitty Piercy in the 2008 mayoral race, and favored Bobby Green, not Rob Handy for commissioner. The voters disagreed.

• If you happened to find the slick mailing from Matthew Robinson in your mailbox, you might have picked up the “big lie” strategy that’s such a nasty part of American politics today. The son of Republican candidate Art Robinson (who is again running against Peter DeFazio for Congress in November), Matthew is running as a Democrat against DeFazio in the May 15 primary. His mailing blatantly attacks Peter for his strengths, most of which are rare in government today. Remember the “Swift Boat ads” against John Kerry in his presidential campaign? Same ugly strategy.


• On April 19 author, journalist and documentary filmmaker Alex Kotlowitz came to the UO to talk about journalism and storytelling. He reminded journalists and journalism students of the danger of assuming people have a single story — people are more complicated than that. Storytelling creates empathy, according to Kotlowitz, and the way to truth is through telling stories, he says. Facebook is great for sharing news, but what is it your FB friends link to? In-depth stories. Support your local storytellers. Also, check out Kotlowitz’s documentary The Interrupters, if you haven’t already.

• The proposed social host ordinance submitted to the Eugene City Council leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Instituting a hefty fine on first offenses might be too severe for students, especially those who might make different choices after a warning. Including public spaces in the ordinance makes us wonder if that could affect the freedom to assemble. It’s unclear what the consequences would be for a college student unlucky enough to be around, but not participating, while rowdy roommates break the rules. Written correctly, this proposed ordinance would deserve serious consideration, but as is, it would create a policy that could have unintended negative consequences.

• The UO faculty is moving forward with unionization, now that the administration appears to have gone along with the unionizers’ wish that all faculty belong in one group. That’s a great development, and hopefully the first step in a long path of working together to strengthen UO’s academic core.

Ganjanomics. With half the Duck football team smoking weed, according to ESPN, perhaps Eugene should reconsider what might keep the wheels of this city turning. The athletic program says Duck football pays for itself, but we think all that grass the Ducks are toking may be Eugene’s real all-star moneymaker. We took an in-house poll and came up with three reasons why pot makes Eugene green: 1. Live reggae music: We got tons of it; it’s better under the influence of weed, and that concert ticket money keeps the venues open. 2. Video game companies: Eugene has a few. As the Ducks know, gamers prefer ganja and so do game designers. 3. Duck football: Sometimes you gotta smoke bowls to win bowls. Go Ducks.

• One of Eugene’s greatest events grossed more than $91,000 April 14-15 for the Eugene Public Library. It was the annual used book sale at the Fairgrounds. About 50,000 books were for sale for $1 and $2, no more. Linda Ague, chairman for her second year, was pleased to report that this year’s gross was about $10,000 more than 2011.  She said at least 300 volunteers made it all happen. 

SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, editor@eugeneweekly.com