Boy, what a nice weekend so far, eh? The sunshine. The warm weather. The flowers blooming. Just another nice mid-valley February day — until you start to think: Is this TOO nice for the middle of February, even here? Am I enjoying the results of climate change? Should I feel guilty about enjoying the day? Should I be doing something about this? Let me answer this question for you. Yes. And no.
Now that we’ve settled that, let’s move on to the selections in this week’s Weekend Reader:
Are you feeling older than your chronological age these days? Are you blaming the pandemic? You’re not alone — and you’re not wrong. A story this week in The New York Times explains this phenomenon — which also can afflict those fortunate souls who haven’t suffered through a bout with the coronavirus. However, none of this tells me what’s going on these days with my lower back.
These are good times for Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the nation (the company’s stores include Fred Meyer). The company says it expects sales growth of at least 13.7% over the next two years. But the good times haven’t always trickled down to the company’s workers, according to this new story in The New York Times: Many of the company’s workers report being homeless, relying on government food stamps or visiting area food banks. One profiled worker supplements his Fred Meyer income by routinely selling his blood plasma. The company, for its part, says the company had raised its national average hourly rate of pay to $16.68 from $13.66 in 2017, a 22 percent increase, and that its benefits package included health care, retirement savings, tuition assistance and on-demand access to mental health assistance.
You might have noticed the recent story in the Gazette-Times about Linn County Attorney Doug Marteeny suing Gov. Kate Brown over the governor’s increasing use of her clemency powers. Among the arguments by Marteeny and the Lane County attorney is that Brown is not following the clemency process outlined by state law, which requires involving prosecutors and crime victims. Now, of course, it’s hardly news these days to see a Linn County official suing Brown, but this particular case raises important questions. So it was good to see Noelle Crombie of The Oregonian/OregonLive check in with an outstanding story exploring the issue from a number of perspectives. The story is exclusive to subscribers only, but you can buy an online subscription to The Oregonian for half the cost of a digital subscription to the G-T. (And, of course, I advocate that you do both, if you can find room in your budget.)
The editorial board at The Oregonian/OregonLive had praise for the compromise plan that would govern management of the Elliott State Forest in southwestern Oregon. As you might recall, the plan turns the Elliott into a publicly owned research forest managed by Oregon State University with limited timber harvesting and protected acreage for wildlife. Legislators will get to weigh in on the plan this session: It’s the focus of Senate Bill 1546-1.
If you haven’t been following the career of longtime Democratic legislator Betsy Johnson — who’s now running as an unaffiliated candidate for Oregon governor — columnist Steve Duin has an entertaining introduction in The Oregonian/OregonLive. It looks as if Johnson’s campaign should be relatively well-funded — and she’s drawing support from both sides of the aisle. Her entrance into the race gives it a wild-card factor.
I don’t know what’s worse: The fact that, according to a new federal survey, Oregon has the worst drug-addiction rate in the United States or the fact that this news doesn’t come as a surprise. Lynne Terry of the Oregon Capital Chronicle has the details. Perhaps the only consolation is that, if you add in the rates for alcohol addiction, Oregon falls to No. 2 in the nation. (Only Montana has a higher rate of addiction to drugs and alcohol.) Actually, you know what? That isn’t any consolation at all.
Let’s wander over to the Weekend Reader national politics desk, which calls your attention to a New York Times story about how redistricting has led to a historic decline in the number of truly competitive House of Representatives districts. Out of 435 seats nationally, the Times reports, fewer than 40 are now considered competitive, based on 2020 presidential election results. What’s happening, of course, is that Republicans are gerrymandering with abandon — and so are Democrats, including in Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District, which was redrawn so that it’s now friendlier to Democrats. (The story mentions retiring Rep. Peter DeFazio and quotes Linn County Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis, who knows something about redistricting — Linn County was shifted out of DeFazio’s Fourth Congressional District and now is part of Kurt Schrader’s Fifth District.)
Here’s the latest about the efforts by Alden Global Capital to buy Lee Enterprises, the publisher of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and the Albany Democrat-Herald. Alden Global, the hedge fund notorious for buying newspapers and then instituting rapacious cutbacks in their newsrooms, made a hostile offer late last year to buy Lee. Lee, to its credit, is fighting back. The two parties met in a Delaware courtroom on Monday to argue whether an Alden affiliate legally nominated two candidates for Lee’s eight-member board of directors. Lee rejected the nominations as improperly made. The judge said she would rule soon on the issue because Lee’s annual meeting is scheduled for March 10. If Alden loses, it likely will have to wait a year before again trying to gain seats on Lee’s board. Click here to read more of The Poynter Institute’s coverage of this battle, although you have to read to the bottom of this particular newsletter.
The week before the court hearing, the two sides sniped at each other over Lee’s quarterly earnings report. Rick Edmonds of The Poynter Institute has the details.
Somehow, last week I missed this long essay by David Brooks in The New York Times about the gaping divisions in the ranks of American evangelicals — and the dissenters who are looking for ways to bridge those gaps. It’s still worth your time.
Finally, this week: James Parker’s end-of-the-magazine “Ode” essays are among the highlights of each edition of The Atlantic. His entry for the March issue, “An Ode to Being Late,” comes down firmly on the side of tardiness.
That’s it for this weekend. Enjoy. But not too much.
Looking for something to do? Check out my curated list of mid-valley arts and entertainment events.