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Slant 9-20-2012

• Lots of chatter out there about Gov. Kitzhaber’s continuing meetings with business, labor and other state leaders about restructuring Oregon taxes. Current projection is that a proposal won’t be ready for the 2013 session of the Legislature. Will we all live long enough to see a “reasonable” proposal pass? That’s the governor’s goal. In all the talk about small business, big business, etc., we want to interject the theme that a state’s strongest draw for economic success is an excellent education system. Oregon’s current tax system is seriously hampering public education. See our new column “Shortchanging Our Schools” by Anne Bridgman this week.

• The UO and its School of Journalism and Communications should be concerned about some current press issues with the football program. Coaches at USC and UW and our own Chip Kelly have decided not to talk to sports reporters about injuries. Practices have been closed to the press for a long time. UO concessions staffers don’t dare peek at the practices, lest they learn a secret formation and spill it to the enemy. So the reporters will go to unofficial sources, like the hometown paper of an injured Oregon star. How ironic when the UO sports marketing experts and Oregon media have played such a big part in building this program. It’s all about access and the bottom line, both for the college football entertainment industry and Oregon mainstream media. Meanwhile, on to the Arizona game, at 7:30 pm Saturday at Autzen.

• From threats to charge more than a million dollars for public records to County Commissioner Jay Bozievich telling EW he’ll only talk to a reporter if he gets a public records request, Lane County administration’s willingness to provide information to the public is sliding downhill faster and faster. Last week the county issued a press release about the investigation into Rob Handy by the Department of Justice. The investigation was dropped because the DOJ did not find enough evidence to prove that Handy committed official misconduct or any other crime. Handy and his attorneys were delighted, if unsurprised, at the finding. They were less delighted that the county didn’t bother to let them know about the investigation being dropped or ask them to comment before issuing the release. 

Pro-EmX supporters are finally getting some mainstream media attention this week, and we noticed our first “Yes on EmX” bumper sticker last week on the counter of a small business on West 7th Avenue. The fellow behind the counter told us he lives in Springfield, one block from an EmX stop, and the proposed west Eugene extension would have a stop just a block from his shop. We hear a lot about the potential impact of EmX construction on businesses along the route, but we don’t hear much about the transportation needs of the thousands of people who are employed by businesses along the route all the way out to Walmart and Target. Many of those workers have long commutes from Springfield, either by car or through multiple bus transfers. EmX would save workers time and money and reduce car traffic and parking issues throughout the metro area.

Did you know that red worms eat their body weight each day and can live for 12 years? And that tasty little ground cherries are much easier to grow than regular tomatoes? And that Tulikivi soapstone wood stoves can be also heated by electricity and used to store energy? We filled our heads with information at the BRING Home and Garden Show Sept. 16 and organizers tell us hundreds of people showed up for the inspiring 12-site tour all over south Eugene. Overheard comments: “This house is amazingly spacious for 640 sq. ft.” “We need the Extension Service now more than ever.” “Is that really edible?” and “I’m not ready for aging in place.” We were also reminded of how many small businesses today cater to the growing demand for green living choices. Even in this endless recession, specialists are finding work in stained concrete, tile, stone, metal, solar, acoustic and electrical engineering, architecture, horticulture, permaculture, backyard livestock and dozens of other trades and professions. The future will be a fascinating mix of high-tech and low-tech.

• Republican Joe Pishioneri is continuing his peculiar attacks on Democrat John Lively in the open race for House District 12. We’re surprised Pishioneri isn’t running a more sophisticated and defensible campaign considering all the bucks from conservative interests that are flowing in. One case in point: Pishioneri says Lively is “wrong on the issues” for supporting Measures 66 & 67 that raised taxes on high-income Oregonians. He was quoted in the Springfield Times saying such positions are “contrary to what most of the voters in District 12 believe.” Did Pishioneri’s campaign forget that District 12 voters approved those measures by 65 percent? The campaign also describes the measures as “job-killing,” but there’s no evidence that even one job was lost, and in fact many teacher jobs were saved. Joe’s sticking to his guns, but they’re not loaded.