Your Weekend Reader for Oct. 14-15

by | Oct 14, 2023 | Miscellaneous, Weekend Reader | 1 comment

By the time you read this, Saturday’s “Ring of Fire” eclipse — the partial solar eclipse that left a path from Oregon to Brazil — will be over. I thought I would track down my eclipse glasses from 2017 and peek up at the skies this morning, but then I got up, looked up at the cloudy skies, and forgot about it. And that was pretty much the reaction throughout Oregon, although some locations around the state got lucky — in Eugene, for example, cloud cover parted just long enough to offer a peek at the spectacle. If you want to relive the event from locations with sunnier skies, here’s the NASA livecast of the eclipse, with the cool footage coming about an hour in.

Why do I no longer wear Nike shoes when I go running? It’s because my favorite local store finds it very difficult, if not impossible, to stock them. And why is that? It’s because Nike has a strategy that focuses on direct sales and tends to cut out smaller stores. Matthew Kish from The Oregonian/OregonLive has a fascinating story about Nike’s sales strategy, its critics, and why the company might be risking losing the hearts and minds of everyday runners.

State Rep. Dan Rayfield, who has represented Corvallis in the House of Representatives since 2015 and who has most recently served as speaker of the house, announced this week that he was running for state attorney general. His filing had been widely expected after Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced she would not seek another term. At first glance, Rayfield would seem to have a relatively easy path to election right now — no other Democrat has filed as of yet and Republicans struggled to nominate a serious candidate in 2020. But at least one Republican in the field could challenge Rayfield: Will Lathrop, a Newburg attorney with Eastern Oregon roots, already has raised $250,000 for his campaign, and has experience as a prosecutor, which Rayfield does not have.

Shortly after Rayfield made his official announcement, two Corvallis candidates announced that they would run for Rayfield’s House District 16: Sami Al-Abdrabbuh, a Corvallis School Board member, teacher, and engineer; and Andrew Struthers, a former Corvallis city councilor who lost an incredibly tight ranked choice voting race to be Corvallis mayor.

There were a couple of developments you might have missed this week in the continuing story of the Pac-12 collapse: First, Pac-12 reporter Jon Wilner uncovered a court document in which the conference commissioner, George Kliavkoff, stated that UCLA and USC had, in fact, already relinquished their board positions after announcing they would be joining the Big Ten. That flies in the face of another statement that Kliavkoff made regarding the lawsuit that Oregon State University and Washington State University have filed against the conference. That lawsuit argues, in essence, that those two schools — the only remaining members of the conference after this season — should have the right to determine what happens with the remaining assets of the conference.

The departing Pac-12 universities are fighting back: In a Monday court filing reported in The Athletic, the University of Washington seeks to intervene in the lawsuit filed by OSU and WSU, arguing that its interests are not adequately represented by any existing party in the lawsuit. If that motion is granted, UW would move to dismiss the lawsuit, filed in Whitman County (Washington) Superior Court. The other nine Pac-12 schools filed a brief supporting UW’s motion. A hearing on UW’s motion could be held on Wednesday, Oct. 25. (Stories from The Athletic require a subscription.)

The departing Pac-12 universities also issued a joint statement on Monday. Here it is:

“As we share another memorable fall season of Pac-12 athletics, we recognize the complex challenges of the current situation. Our court filings show how our schools are in full compliance with the Pac-12 Bylaws, which prohibit a member from leaving the conference before August 2024 but allow schools to announce a withdrawal that will happen after that date. We are looking forward to engaging in further candid and constructive conversations that will allow us to reach a fair resolution and position our communities for future success.”

Allow me to translate: “It’s not enough for us to kick our conference to the curb for millions in additional TV money; we also would like to scrounge around the wreckage of the conference we’re abandoning for a few additional bucks.”

Did that come across as bitter? I didn’t mean it that way.

In any event, officials for OSU and WSU issued their own statement, which is just a little less direct than my translation.

“The departing schools continue to undermine our efforts to secure the future of the Pac-12 Conference. They are relying on flimsy arguments to try to escape accountability for their actions. It won’t work. Their decisions directly damaged the Pac-12 and are causing real harm to the Conference, OSU, WSU, student-athletes, and the people of Oregon and Washington. We did not create or seek these circumstances, but OSU and WSU will continue to take whatever actions are necessary to protect our universities, ensure accountability and transparency, safeguard the Pac-12 Conference, and preserve our options moving forward. The future of the Pac-12 should be decided by the schools who stay, not those who go.”

We also learned this week (well, maybe this is old news) that OSU and WSU are engaged in mediation talks with the other 10 schools. I wonder how that’s going.

If you’re like me, you enjoy stocking up on Girl Scout cookies during the limited time they’re on sale. This year, though, pack a little extra cash when you’re buying your Thin Mints — prices nationally are going up to $6 from $5. (I seem to recall paying $6 last year for my boxes, though, and OPB’s Scott Horsley reports that some West Coast troops raised their prices last year.) Always on the hunt for the sunny side, Girl Scout troop leaders are saying that the price increase gives them the chance to teach another lesson in entrepreneurship to their young charges. You have to admire that spirit, as you search your billfold for another buck. And remember: Thin Mints freeze great. Stock up to guard against future price increases.

OPB has put together a solid two-part series on homelessness in Oregon. Part one takes a deep dive into the roots of the problem, dating back more than a century. Part two examines potential solutions; it turns out that one possible solution, crazy as this sounds, involves finding housing for people who are homeless. Of course, that’s a more complicated process than it sounds — and there, as they say, is the rub. (Full disclosure: In my expansive free time, I work with Unity Shelter, the Corvallis nonprofit that works on low-barrier shelter for people who are homeless. Unity Shelter, by the way, is the beneficiary of Saturday’s 2 Towns Ciderhouse’s Harvest Party; if you’re planning to attend, stop by and see us — and sign up for some of the raffle prizes we’re giving away.)

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