Your weekend reader for Aug. 21-22

by | Aug 21, 2021 | Journalism, Miscellaneous | 0 comments

Educators under siege, new developments on the coronavirus, “Jeopardy!” in crisis and the official opening of the Corvallis to the Sea Trail: They’re all part of your weekend reader.

Melissa Goff, the recently fired superintendent of the Greater Albany Public Schools district, was featured as part of a recent New York Times story about the new wave of culture wars at schools. The story quotes Goff as saying she has never seen so many political issues converge on schools: “It was every place you turned.” The story, by the way, quotes an email the paper received from Eric Aquinaga, the Albany school board chair, saying Goff was fired was not for her position on equity and diversity, but rather for “divisiveness” and “underlying problems created by the district administration.” OPB has posted a similar story, but it’s not nearly as thorough as the Times story.

Here’s a story from last weekend’s Oregonian/OregonLive that’s still worth reading: It’s about how a lack of leadership from both state and local officials allowed the contagious delta variant to overrun Oregon. Now, to be fair, state officials like Gov. Kate Brown are in a no-win situation in terms of imposing unpopular restrictions like indoor mask requirements in public places. But, as this story explains, it became clear weeks ago that many local jurisdictions weren’t going to take action on their own — and, experts say, imposing a mask requirement earlier likely would have prevented delta cases and saved lives. Now, of course, Oregon is experiencing its highest COVID numbers since the start of the pandemic — and experts say the worst is yet to come. The story is an Oregonian/OregonLive subscriber exclusive, but as I’ve argued before, the paper should consider putting all of its coronavirus coverage outside its paywall.

Conservative activists in Oregon are launching an effort to try to overturn a pair of election laws the Legislature has passed: The group, Oregonians for Fair Elections, has filed referendum petitions that, if successful, would allow voters to pass judgment on the new laws. One of the laws under fire ensures that voters cannot be labeled “inactive” — and therefore ineligible to receive ballots — simply because they haven’t voted. (Ironically, a Republican — former Secretary of State Dennis Richardson — was against labeling voters inactive because they hadn’t voted.) The other law allows mail-in ballots to be counted if they’re postmarked before Election Day and arrive at election offices within a week after the election. Oregonians for Fair Elections says the two new laws would make Oregon’s elections less secure. OPB’s Dirk VanderHart had the story.

I don’t watch “Jeopardy!,” but for whatever reason, I’ve been closely following what has turned out to be its deeply bungled search for a replacement for Alex Trebek. Megan Garber from The Atlantic weighed in on the latest developments, and focused on a key irony: The game show, which rewards contestants for their knowledge of facts, failed (for whatever reason) to discover key facts about its new hosts.

Speaking of television, there’s plenty of good buzz surrounding the new Netflix show “The Chair,” which is being billed a sharp satire of campus culture wars — and a satisfying romantic comedy to boot. Here’s a Times story about the show and its creator, the writer and actress Amanda Peet. And here’s a review of the show from The Atlantic.

And here’s a burst of good news closer to home: The Gazette-Times’ Troy Shinn recently reported on the official opening of the Corvallis to the Sea Trail, a 60-mile-or-so trail from Corvallis to Ona Beach south of Newport. This project has been in the works for a half-century or so, and you can understand why it took so long once you look at the coalition of public and private landowners that had to get on board. It’s a major accomplishment, however you look at it, and the army of volunteers who worked on it over the decades (Gary Chapman, take another bow) have created something of lasting value.

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