I assume you’re still keeping tabs on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so I’m not going to offer you a batch of related stories on that topic in this edition of the Weekend Reader — except I hope you noticed this story from The New York Times about how the last vestiges of a free press in Russia are falling under pressure from the Kremlin. I don’t think I need to offer any additional comment.
The Oregon Legislature ended its even-year short session on Friday. The Oregon Capital Chronicle has a good wrap-up story on the session, which resulted in some big spending (thanks to an unexpected tax windfall), major policy overhauls — and a little less political discord than originally expected. There’s a bit in the story that I didn’t realize — at least 30 of the legislators who served in this session are retiring, the Chronicle reports. Combined with the dozen legislators who retired mid-term, that means about half of the legislators who convene in 2023 will be either new or with just this one short session under their belts. No mid-valley legislators are on the list of announced retirees, with the exception of the follow featured in the story just below.
OPB’s Dirk VanderHart had an interesting political story from the Legislature about Democratic Rep. Marty Wilde, who represents a district that includes Eugene and pieces of Linn County. As VanderHart explains, Wilde argued that his District 11 had been gerrymandered a decade ago by Democrats so that it favored Democratic candidates. In last year’s redistricting, Wilde’s district was redrawn so that it now gives a big advantage to Republican candidates. Wilde now says he won’t run for re-election in a district he probably can’t win — and spent much of this year’s short session as a thorn in the side of his fellow Democrats.
Speaking of gerrymandering, I don’t know how I could have missed this earlier, but I did: The New York Times has created an online game that challenges players to redraw districts in a fictional country (Hexapolis) so that either the Yellow Party or the Purple Party gains an advantage. If you’re successful at the game, you may have a future in U.S. politics.
One more note about redistricting: A new survey from the Pew Research Center suggests that most Americans don’t care much one way or the other about it. So imagine my embarrassment about spending three full paragraphs on the topic.
The Oregon Capital Chronicle’s Alex Baumhardt recently took a deep dive into plans to develop three big industrial chicken farms around the Scio area. Neighbors, including area farmers, are concerned about the plans, but — as Baumhardt explains, opponents may be swimming against the tide: The Willamette Valley has been a popular spot for broiler chicken production for decades, and the demand for chicken is only growing — Americans eat twice as much chicken as they did 50 years ago.
A long-lost hand-drawn map by William Clark (of the Lewis and Clark Expedition) has been located — it apparently had been misfiled in historical archives. But, as Brian Oaster of High County News reports, the map offers evidence that Clark was, in the words of a historian, an “aggressive” colonizer.
The week of rain we just experienced may have eased your mind about drought conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Not so fast, reports Kale Williams of The Oregonian/OregonLive: About 1.7 million of Oregon’s 4 million residents still live in a drought-affected area.
Here’s a compelling and urgent essay from Megan Garber of The Atlantic about what she calls “the great fracturing of American attention.” Garber makes the case that resisting distraction might be the major challenge of the moment. Give that some thought the next time you’re tempted to indulge in a doomscrolling session on the internet.
Finally, this is a busy weekend for mid-valley arts and entertainment events, with three theatrical productions on area stages (well, one is virtual) and what should be a lively classical-piano recital Sunday afternoon. So you might consider checking out my curated and regularly updated calendar of arts events. Enjoy — and I’ll see you next weekend.