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Archive for February, 2007

More evidence that the Commentator doesn’t own its distribution racks

February 19th, 2007 by Niedermeyer

It’s called Global Talk and it’s “the first UO multilingual publication.” The production quality is fairly low, but it’s not a bad magazine… the theme in this issue is love and relationships, and it exposes the reader to seasonal and relationship-based cultural happenings in different countries and phrases in different languages. You can find their website here.

Here’s the point, and I’m sick of making it. If you see a rack with a giant pile of one magazine on it, how about you find somewhere else to put your shit. I’m all for the diversification of campus media, but this isn’t the way to do it. If President and Founding Editor Nicolino Applauso doesn’t want to see a grievance filed, a scenario which would sadden me as much as it would him, he should see to it that his delightful little brainchild stays out of our racks.

“Spend More, Stupid” Trumps “Waste Not, Want Not”

February 19th, 2007 by Ian

As Ted previously reported, the Commentator budget has been cut by this year’s Programs Finance Council. Knowing that the executive would recommend a ~11% reduction, the OC’s Board of Directors have wisely decided to focus most of the cuts on our administrative expenses rather than production costs– the organization’s first responsibility, after all, is to put a magazine out.

It appears that the PFC’s decision was based entirely upon the fact that the Commentator ended the 2005-2006 year under budget: we printed 12 issues, used color and glossy coating sparingly, and limited our print runs to what we believed would be the exact number people would pick up if distributed. In other words, we tried to not waste money. This sort of institutional frugality is completely at odds with the way in which actual government programs operate. If you’re funded by the government, your organization must, at every opportunity, maximize costs. This is the only way of ensuring that any future increases in service levels will have a chance of being adequately funded.

The unfortunate irony of this is that, had the Commentator printed an unnecessarily high number of copies last year (and thus acted irresponsibly in all but one interpretation of the word), the PFC would have had no choice but to increase our funding. When we recognized about halfway through the year that we would come in under budget we were urged by multiple people to artificially increase our print runs in order to bring our costs up to an acceptably high level. The thought of doing this was, quite frankly, repugnant to us.

So, instead, our funding was cut. This despite the fact that our current year’s spending is essentially on target to zero out our budget (and that the cuts do not even compensate for the two year increase in current service levels). PFC Co-Chair Micah Kosasa acknowledged that the current year’s spending is more likely to reflect future spending than the previous year’s, but nevertheless refused to take our current balances into consideration. Three of the committee members could not even be bothered to say one thing during the hearing– they simply give their Ayes when asked to. This uninterested attitude was perhaps best typified by Chair Oscar Guerra, who at one point was paying more attention to his cell phone than to a Commentator staffer responding to one of his questions.

This sorry situation is emblematic of the institutional inefficiency of government in general and the ASUO in particular. Programs have absolutely no incentive to cut costs or reduce waste, which of course is why the Incidental Fee will continue rising steadily. The question of whether or not to appeal the PFC’s ruling will, of course, be decided by the OC’s Board of Directors. There is a case to be made for fighting what was clearly a flawed ruling and there is also a case to accept the budget as is and further reduce whatever costs we can. In the long run, however, an editorially independent publication like the Commentator must at some point become fiscally independent as well. Because if the 2004-2005 budget process proved anything, it’s that some student politicians simply cannot handle the responsibility of funding a publication whose very job is to critique them.

Can Hippies Shop at Wal-Mart?

February 19th, 2007 by Sho

Wal-MartBarbara Handley, a local self-described “hardcore enviro-hippy-anarcho- primitivist-poet-goddess” steps outside of the standard Eugenian hippie dogma to support shopping at Wal-Mart. Well, to be more precise, she doesn’t endorse satisfying all your consumer needs at the big box retailer, but rather she points out that the local Wal-Mart Supercenter on West 11th Avenue provides a wide variety of organic and local foods. More importantly, these products are available at affordable prices, which is ideal for families living on limited incomes:

On[e] of my pet peeves, which I’ll be ranting about one of these days, is the way sustainability and healthly food are luxuries for the affluent in the U.S. Organic food is terribly expensive, bicycles and trailers for a family cost far, far more than an old beater car, and supporting small local shopowners may not be a realistic option for families who truly have no slack in their budget. Wal-mart makes it possible for people with lower incomes to buy locally produced organic food at prices that are comparable to conventional food. I’m quite honestly in favor of anything that makes sustainable options available to a larger group of people.

Barbara also provides a categorized list of all the organic and local foods found at our local Wal-Mart.

It seems like capitalism and radicalism can find some common ground here in Eugene.

(Photo: Dystopos)

OC Issues dumped yet again

February 17th, 2007 by Niedermeyer

Some 200 issues of the Commentator were dumped from in front of our office for the second time in 48 hours. Clearly someone has a problem with what we print, and what we advocate for, and yet they can’t be bothered to actually express their critiques and have resorted to trying to silence our voice. The Commentator condemns these totalitarian activities in the strongest possible terms, and urges students and their elected leaders to join us in rejecting this campaign of intimidation against our publication. People who are inspired to destroy the hard work of others rather than entering into honest and open debate represent an existential challenge to the marketplace of ideas, and a rejection of the social and political values of everyone who believes in democracy and fair play. Fuck you, whoever is doing this. Fuck you.

OC FUNDING SLASHED

February 16th, 2007 by Niedermeyer

The PFC voted today to approve the Executive reccomendation of an 11% decrease for the Commentator’s budget. Despite considerable discussion, the PFC was unwilling to consider either a 2.5% increase, or level funding. The proceedings were strictly by the book, but next year the “Senate Midterm Grades” feature should run sometime after the PFC hearing. Not that the whole affair wasn’t brutally viewpoint neutral. Incidentally, 90% of the Commentator’s budget is printing costs, and an 11% cut will make a noticable dent at a time when we’re distributing over 1,000 issues before the folowing issue comes out. Luckily, we had an incorrigible optimist in Vice Chair Micah Kosasa, who cheered us up to no end by calling it “a bump in the road.”

The whole evening was rendered complete by sitting in on the Survival Center’s budget hearing, where the proud co-directors of a program with an $18,000 budget got all huffy over 50 bucks coming out of the “Community Gardening” line item. “I feel like we asked for something, and it just got sent back,” pouted one Survivalista. So did we, so did we. Best moment of the night (except for the Ty thing, maybe) was the PFC approving a line item marked “Propaganda.”

PFC votes down stipend model reform

February 16th, 2007 by Niedermeyer

The EMU Boardroom was packed tonight, as the PFC voted to table the proposed stipend reform indefinately. The meeting got off to an unexpected start, when At Large Member Matt Rose asked Chairman Oscar Guerra to step down for sending this email. When Guerra declined, the matter was brought to vote, and soon Vice Chair Micah Kosasa was running the meeting.

The crowd set the tone for the evening, beginning by dumping the entire stock of magazines in front of the Commentator office into the adjacent recycling bins, and ending with an angry rant from Ty Schwoefferman. If the PFC had any faith in the proposed reform, it evaporated into the stuffy atmosphere. At Large Member Annie Blomberg called it “a work in progress,” PFC Senator Sunowen was adamant that she didn’t want to see groups lose money, nobody wanted to be associated with the idea, and its merits weren’t much discussed. Matt Rose made the motion to table, and it was passed. The PFC decided to hold a forum on the issue. That’s when Ty started shouting “THIS IS THE FORUM. THIS IS THE FUCKING FORUM!!” Then I passed out. When I came to, people were still talking about it. I left.

PFC To Discuss Stipend Reform

February 15th, 2007 by Niedermeyer

More correspondence from our pals at the ASUO, this time from PFC Chairman Oscar Guerra.

Dear ASUO Programs,

I am writing to inform you about discussion that has been taking place during Programs Finance Committee meetings. As most of you know, for the past three consecutive years the Programs Finance Committee has decided to correct it’s allocating mistakes by directly attacking Programming Stipends. This year, the discussion has continued and the revised version that will come to discussion in our next meeting is attached to this e-mail. In basic terms, all programs are looking at a $25 deduction from every Director and Program Coordinator position per month. Additionally, several programs that currently qualify for one Director stipend position will need to meet different dollar amounts in Administrative and Programming expenses. The result of this clause will be a complete loss of stipends for some Programs that have already been allocated during current PFC hearings.
I feel, as a PFC member and Chair of PFC, it is my duty to communicate with my constituents and inform you about the detrimental consequences PFC’s decision can bring upon programs. More importantly, programs the ASUO funds contribute to the cultural and physical development of our campus community and if the University of Oregon Administration cannot or simply does not support this financially, PFC should not take it upon itself to change the face of programming in the middle of the hearings process. I highly recommend that all your staff and program support attend the Programs Finance Committee on Thursday, February 15 and contribute to the discussion that will be going on. The Stipend Model is anticipated to come to a vote after the nights budget hearings (approximately 9:00pm).
If you have any questions, contact me or the rest of the PFC body.

Thank you for your time,

Oscar Guerra

It is good news to hear that PFC is voting on a Stipend reform model, regardless of how mild. The problem is that there will be a million group members present screaming bloody murder, and if the tone of Guerra’s letter is anything to go by, the PFC will probably be more than happy to bow to pressure and vote it down. If you’ve got the time, you should try to come down and voice your support for this “step-in-the-right-direction” reform. In fact, come by at 7:15 and cheer on the Commentator as our budget comes before PFC facing an Executive recommendation of an 11% cut (which, incidentally is about the sum of our non-printing costs.) The PFC meets in the EMU Boardroom, across from the Commentator office on the 3rd floor of the EMU.

Oldboy at the EMU

February 15th, 2007 by Sho

Old Boy Movie PosterI just saw this on the University front page: There’s a showing of the Korean film Oldboy at the International Resource Center in the EMU at 7 pm tonight. If you haven’t seen this kick-ass film, well… it’s definitely not like many other movies you’ve seen. Lots of revenge, blood, fried dumplings, an octopus, and an amazing fight scene involving a dozen thugs versus one guy and a hammer.

The ending is not to be missed, though I recommend drinking heavily beforehand.

ASUO Outsources Common Sense: Sign Up Now!

February 15th, 2007 by Niedermeyer

This arrived today… it speaks for itself.

Dear Students,

The ASUO Senate is currently initiating a review of the budgeting process. We are seeking interested students who would be willing to dedicate several hours to ASUO Review Groups and make recommendations to the ASUO Senate. If you are frustrated with the process, have identified current challenges that should be addressed, or otherwise would like to provide input or get involved, consider working with us during this process. If you cannot dedicate the time necessary to serve on a review group, we will still be seeking your input.

The Review Groups will be charged with the following:

• Collecting information about the current challenges facing the ASUO budgeting process,
• Critically thinking about current and potential inefficiencies or other problems,
• Working with stakeholders to build a consensus,
• Collaborating with the other review groups, and
• Reporting their findings clearly and honestly to Senate

If you have any questions, please contact Senate.
ASUO Student Senate
EMU Suite #4
541.346.3749
senate@uoregon.edu
http://uoregon.edu/~sen

I strongly encourage anyone out there with half a brain to step up to the plate on this one. They need the help… what, do you want them to beg?

UO Hires Insurance Agent For Athletic Director Position

February 14th, 2007 by Ian

The UO has hired Pat Kilkenny, a prominent donor, Univerity alumni and businessman to be the next Athletic Director. Incidentally, the Moshofsky Center’s field is named after Kilkenny, who “spearheaded” donor efforts to buy out previous Athletic Director Bill Moos’ contract.

Pat Kilkenny at 2/14/07 Press ConferenceTo his credit, Kilkenny came across as a genuinely nice guy in the press conference. He made numerous self-depricating jokes and exhibited a likeable charm that will surely play well with other donors. He admitted that he will need “lots and lots of help” in the upcoming months due to his inexperience, but also stated that he was determined to leave the program in a better state than which he inherited it. Kilkenny has been hired for a two year term– a fairly short period of time in terms of AD contracts. President Frohnmayer refused to categorize the hire as an “interim” one, focusing instead on Kilkenny’s business qualifications and history as a generous booster.

So the question is, why is the UO hiring someone who is essentially a wealthy fan with no significant prior sports management experience to helm the University’s Athletic Department?

My feeling is that Frohnmayer and many of the prominent donors desperately want the new basketball arena to get built and believe Kilkenny will be the guy to bring the funding in and get the project rolling. Kilkenny said in the press conference that building the arena “is kind of a pet project of [his]”, and that he’s assuming “the University will still cash [his] checks.” He clearly seems like the sort of man who will be good at wooing donors and getting them fully on board for the project.

The real question is how good of a job Kilkenny will do in, uh, everything that doesn’t involve bringing in money. As a University alumni and Duck fan will he be able to make tough personel and administrative decisions? Will Mike Bellotti and Ernie Kent’s staffs continue to be treated as deities or will accountability be introduced? In a light moment he listed firing people as being a “a core competency of [his],” but I think he may find that firing people in the insurance business and firing them from a public University are two very different things.

Illinois to Ban MySpace from Schools and Libraries?

February 14th, 2007 by Sho

MySpace for DummiesIn another example of won’t-somebody-think-of-the-children idiocy, an Illinois state senator has submitted a bill that will prohibit access to MySpace and other social networking sites in all public schools and libraries. This proposed legislation follows on the footsteps of the currently stalled federal Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006.

Obviously, there are notable problems with this new bill.

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New UO Athletic Director to be Announced at 11:00

February 14th, 2007 by Ian

A live video feed will apparantly be available for free on O-Zone.

Plenty of Problems at the Museum of Art

February 13th, 2007 by Sho

Friday’s R-G had an article on a newly released report by a private consulting group on the University’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, which revealed several problems with the current state of the museum including a mismanaged staff, inadequate financial reporting, and a fragmented organizational structure.  After a $14 million remodeling, one would have hoped that both the physical and organizational aspects of the museum would have been improved.

The Siren steals our rack, talks some shit, sucks some ass

February 12th, 2007 by Niedermeyer

Long-winded invective after the jump.

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We’re all going to be millionaires…

February 12th, 2007 by Andy

The Socialist French presidential candidate recently presented her 100-point platform for French death…er I mean prosperity. Among her economic policies is her pledge to raise the minimum wage to 1,500 Euros a month, or $1,950 a month, which is $12.18/hr. The current minimum wage is $10.75/hr, which might help explain the French 10.5% unemployment rate. The US rate is currently 4.6%. Unfortunately, most liberals believe they can legislate themselves whatever they want, including our own socialist government, the ASUO. If raising the minimum wage is such a good way to help the poor, why not make the US min. wage $12.18/hr? But why stop there! If we lobbies government to make it $520.83/hr, everyone could then make one million dollars a year!

While there has been many, many, studies and papers that prove raising the minimum wage only hurts the poorest of the poor by transferring their wages to other workers, this doesn’t stop governments from ‘taking action.’ When the wage is increased, young workers and women are disproportionately affected too. We can look to the French as a gauge where this country will be economically after more socialist legislate in passed in the future. Good thing I took that Youth Riot Control class…