Oregon politics got a little less interesting last Thursday, when the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld a ruling kicking journalist and would-be candidate for governor Nick Kristof off the ballot because he failed to meet the residency requirement for the office. The court came to the same conclusion that Secretary of State Shemia Fagan had reached earlier — that Kristof had not proven that he had established Oregon residency by November 2019. (The Oregon Constitution requires candidates for governor to live in the state for three years before their election.) Kristof threw in the towel on his campaign shortly after the ruling was issued.
Kristof’s departure from the race sets up a two-way showdown between Democratic front-runners Tina Kotek, the former speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, and Tobias Read, the state treasurer, as Julia Shumway reports in the Oregon Capital Chronicle. Kristof’s success at fundraising suggests he could have been a formidable foe to those two Democratic stalwarts — and my guess is that we haven’t seen the last of him in Oregon politics.
Hillary Borrud of The Oregonian/OregonLive offers a slightly different take on the governor’s race, and still believes that the 2022 campaign could be a wild ride: Borrud’s sources tell her that Kotek has emerged as the clear Democratic front-runner, that no front-runner has emerged on the Republican side and that the big wild card remains Betsy Johnson, the longtime legislator who’s running as an unaffiliated candidate — and who already has raised more than $4 million, about four times more than Kotek thus far. If Republican primary voters nominate a candidate who can run a credible statewide campaign (unfortunately, not a sure bet), a candidate presumably could win the race with just over a third of the vote.
Here’s another update on the battle between Lee Enterprises, the owners of the Gazette-Times and Democrat-Herald, and Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund that has launched a hostile takeover bid: A Delaware judge ruled this past week that Lee had acted correctly in rejecting two Alden nominations to Lee’s eight-person board of directors. But the ruling wasn’t exactly a slam dunk for Lee: The judge said that Alden had simply missed the deadline for making nominations. The battle between Lee and Alden, which has a well-earned reputation for buying newspapers and then gutting their newsrooms, isn’t over, not by any stretch: Alden’s campaign to take over Tribune Publishing lasted for years — and eventually succeeded.
A report from a nonprofit organization released this past week argues that the small-scale nuclear reactors being developed by Oregon’s NuScale Power are “too late, too risky, too expensive and too uncertain.” An Associated Press story about the report, from the Ohio-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, also includes reaction from NuScale officials: “This report provides a wholly uninformed view of the value of advanced nuclear energy technology in meeting our energy needs and climate goals,” wrote Diane Hughes, a NuScale vice president. You’ll recall that NuScale is built on technology that was developed at Oregon State University — and the vast majority of the company’s employees still work in Corvallis.
Do you want to increase the odds that you’ll be happy as you age? Well, of course — just looking at the question as I typed it made me wonder who would answer “no.” Arthur Brooks, a Harvard professor, has been writing a weekly column about meaning and happiness for The Atlantic. In the most recent edition, he reports on the seven habits that lead to happiness in old age. None of the seven will come as much of a surprise — but the good news is that none of them seem completely out of reach.
Climate change was a factor in a couple of stories I noticed this week. First, beavers, among our favorite animals here in Corvallis and Oregon, are invading Alaska at a remarkable rate, according to this story from High County News. There’s considerable debate in Alaska as to whether this a good thing, but there is at least one red flag here: The beavers are headed north because of climate change.
And you might have noticed this story from earlier in the week: A new study has found that the current drought in the American Southwest is the worst in 1,200 years — and human-caused warming is part of the reason. Henry Fountain of The New York Times has the story. In Oregon, the lead meteorologist for the state Department of Forestry believes rain is likely to return to the state in March and April, despite the recent dry spell. Overall, though, the state remains in a drought, reports Lynne Terry of the Oregon Capital Chronicle.
Speaking of climate change, alert readers may recall that last week’s Weekend Reader began with a reference to last weekend’s beautiful weather, and then wondered if it was wrong to enjoy what could have been a symptom of climate change. A couple of days after that, I came across a passage in Louise Erdrich’s most recent novel, “The Sentence,” in which the book’s narrator describes an early-evening November stroll through Minneapolis streets:
Snow had not yet fallen, for it was still unseasonably warm. Already, passing through these tranquil streets, I experienced nostalgia for the present, a sense of dreamy disturbance, then despair over how climate change is already altering our world with supple ease and toppling what is precious, normal. The act of walking down a beautiful November street, comfortable in only a thin sweater, was an infected sort of pleasure.
Like so much of Erdrich’s writing, that seems exactly right. That’s it for this week.
If you’re looking for entertainment pleasure this weekend — infected or not — check out my curated calendar of mid-valley arts-and-entertainment events.