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Archive for June, 2011

Man Faces Charges from 2010 Accident

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

The University of Oregon community has been no stranger to death over the past couple of years.

In March students mourned the loss of University of Oregon student, Alexis Pennington. As reported by the Oregon Daily Emerald, Pennington died of meningoencephalitis. At her memorial service on March 30, students and teachers, teammates and family spoke of how Pennington had touched their lives.

Pennington’s death was barely a year after that of David Chai, who lost his life in a head-on car crash. When the story first broke, KVAL reported that nine people had been injured in the accident which happened on Highway 101.

Brandon Schooley of Eugene was believed to be the driver of the vehicle which caused the accident. The three passengers in Schooley’s vehicle and all of the other vehicles occupants were treated at various hospitals: Sacred Heart at Riverbend, Good Samaritan in Corvallis and Peace Harbor in Florence.

Chai’s family was able to make it to Oregon from Korea, before his death a week after the incident.

According to KVAL and KATU, Schooley is now facing criminal charges, a year and a half after the accident.

On KVAL’s website, the big question is why the 18-month delay and why the driver is being charged with assault? One user, YouBetccha, asks “7 counts of assault? what did he beat up the survivors? “

UO to hire new administrator for DPS, a necessity evidently unforeseen in May

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

The UO has just announced that it will hire a new interim manager in the coming year for the Department of Public Safety. As in a new administrator (thanks to UO Matters for the link).

According to the announcement, “DPS will conduct a search to fill whatever position(s) it determines are necessary and appropriate to meet its needs beyond June 30, 2012.” As in, perhaps hire new administrators.

When I interviewed UO President Richard Lariviere back in May, I asked him about the possibility of additional administrators for DPS. He responded thus (page 30 of this document):

And I’m not sure there’s any additional administrative staff. That’s the first time I’ve heard … Your assertion is the first time I’ve heard that there will be more administrative staff. Where did that come from?

He went on to say it was “The first (he’d) heard” of the possibility there would be a new administrative hire. For me this raises the following questions:

  1. Is planning for this transition so short-sighted that the UO’s central administration actually didn’t know changing the structure of the department would require additional administrators a month ago?
  2. Did they know and just not tell Lariviere, or UO spokesperson Julie Brown, who was also in the room?
  3. Perhaps did they leave the interview with me and think “Additional administrators? Now that would be a heck of an idea!”?
  4. Or were they being dishonest with me?

Frank/Paul Joint Effort Against Marijuana Prohibition to Be Introduced Tomorrow

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Tomorrow, Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) will introduce bipartisan legislation to end the federal prohibition of marijuana. Under the new legislation-to-be, each state would be able to legalize, regulate and tax it (or not) as they see fit, without interference from the federal government.

News broke earlier today, when the Marijuana Policy Project made a press release announcing the legislation, which was later confirmed by a spokesperson for Rep. Frank.

Here’s some more info from the press release:

Other co-sponsors include Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). The legislation would limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling, allowing people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal. The legislation is the first bill ever introduced in Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition.

Rep. Frank’s legislation would end state/federal conflicts over marijuana policy, reprioritize federal resources, and provide more room for states to do what is best for their own citizens.

(more…)

Oregon: Relatively Free

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Oregon is the 8th freest state in the union, according to a recent study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The study, which ranks New Hampshire and South Dakota tied for #1 and New York #50, ranks states based on their social and personal freedoms, analyzing a number of public policies specific to each of the states and taking care to ensure that fiscal policies are analyzed based on cost to the taxpayer.

Oregon, specifically, is ranked #24 in economic freedom and #1 in personal freedom (believe it or not).

Despite the low taxes, government spending in Oregon remains much too high, resulting in relatively high state debt. Public safety, administration, and environment and housing look particularly ripe for cutting. Gun control laws are a bit better than average. Marijuana possession is decriminalized below a certain level, and there is medical marijuana (cultivation and sale are felonies, though). [...]

The state’s cigarette taxes are higher than most, and its smoking bans were recently tightened. Oregon’s spirits tax is the highest in the country and quite extreme (though interestingly, its neighbor, Washington, is the only other state three standard deviations above the national average).

The study also outlines some policy recommendations for Oregon in order to reach an optimum freedom ranking:

  1. At the state level, spending on the inspection and regulation bureaucracy, natural resources, and government employees’ retirement is well above national norms. We recommend cutting spending in these areas and reducing public debt.
  2. Eliminate occupational licensing for massage therapists, funeral attendants, pest-control workers, elevator installers and repairmen, boilermakers, fishers and related fishing workers, agricultural product graders and sorters, farm-labor contractors, and other
  3. Maintain, if not reduce, the minimum wage, even in the face of future inflation.

Oregon’s storied history of high property/income taxes and nonexistent sales taxes probably also contribute to our relative ranking, but from where I’m sitting, we’re doing fairly well. The full study can be downloaded here.

(Hat tip to the Oregonian for pointing us to this study.)

This Week in News: Ass and Weiners. Is this really news?

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

News is meant to inform its citizens about recent, important events and provide relevant information.  For example discussing the candidates running for the upcoming 2012 presidential election or in local news, Oregon had a chemical fire in Albany and U of O and OSU held commencement ceremonies for their 2011 graduates.   Recently however the news cycles seem to be dedicating its news time to more…. asinine stories.

Sir Mix- A-Lot likes big butts, and he along with the rest of America and the U.K.  observed the royal wedding, but talk circulating afterward was not about Kate but instead Pippa’s ass.  Within days sites and fan pages for the glorious bum popped up including Ass Appreciation Society, a Facebook page dedicated to nothing but, Pippa’s ass, with over 50,000 fans and more than 200,000 facebookers ‘like’ this page.  Yes there are more stupid facebook pages than this, but what is shocking to me is how many people actually want Pippa’s ass, some even going as far as having plastic surgery to obtain that Pippa’s-ass-s0-tight-you-could-bounce-a-quarter-off-it.

Linked to this article via Huffington Post, this site reports that since the royal wedding, British cosmetic surgeons have seen a 60% increase in butt-lifting surgeries, with one cosmetic clinic listing, “The Pip Package Perfect Posterior” as a treatment.  People wanting this type of cosmetic surgery are paying as much as $12,000, now that is what I call a priceless ass.  It is sad that women wish to look like someone else rather then accept who they are, rather than making a lifestyle change to achieve the sort of results and happiness they want, they look for an instant gratification solution to their problem, because, any other way is deemed  “too hard”.  A person can wish to have an ass like Pippa, JLO, Jessica Alba or Kim Kardashian, but they should also know A.) these people are celebrities which means they have money. B.) Since they are A, then they can afford C.) a personal trainer, gym membership, or surgery to give them that sculpted tush.  Having a good butt takes effort but everyone turns 50 eventually and the skin and muscles naturally start to lose collagen and elastin, then by 85 both genders look the same anyway, so really your are just wasting time and effort.  Get over it jiggly ass, at least you are not facing losing your career like Anthony Weiner.

Politicians, media outlets, and radio have all been a buzz about, well Weiner’s weiner,with Obama himself saying that if it were him, he would resign.  I understand that this man is in a position of power and that he has a duty to uphold his office and serve the people.  From what I can gather, aside from being slightly vouyeristic and a little creepy, I do not think this man deserves as much flack as he has been given.  He sent pictures of his penis to a women over twitter, this was stupid, but I do not think it should end his career.

The man is with child and married, but Bill Clinton was married and as I recall Kobe was engaged at the time of his scandal, but both of these men made it through their scandals and still went onto to have successful careers.  Despite how much backlash and disapproval these men received from the media and American people at the time of their scandal, overall it did not hurt their lasting reputation with the public.

I agree that if Weiner is mentally unfit to serve properly for his office he should resign, but it does not appear that he has done anything to show mental impairment.  He made a poor decision and he has made steps to atone for his actions, politicians want him to resign because that is less competition for them.  Honestly all of these politicos who give the scandal press time are just trying to smear more excrement across Weiner’s platform, they don’t care about justice, they care about having people voting for them for re-election.  This story is NOT news.  I think the other politicians are just jealous of Weiner’s package, as we all know, elections are nothing but a dick measuring contest  anyway.  Sorry if you don’t measure up boys, but talk about something else, like your own campaign. We at the Commentator are still waiting to hear back on the size and girth of Sarah Palin’s penis and will be reporting back to you with more information.  If you would like to learn more about Weiner’s penis photos or Pippa’s ass,  you can watch the Today show, for more relevant news follow the Commentator.  Cheers!

Space-Wasting Infographics

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Hey y’all, sorry our blog content has been lacking. It’s finals week, and we’re all pretty busy trying to pass and/or graduate.

In the meantime, however, here are some sweet infographics to tide you over. They were all collected from one of the best Twitter accounts out there, @justinfographix. Enjoy!

Also, if you’re not yet, you can follow us on Twitter, @oregoncomment.

EMU Fee Stalled Pending Referendum

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

The student fee to fund the new EMU — which was going to charge current students for a building they were never going to get to usewill not be implemented next year. Not until there is a student referendum, anyway.

At a state Board of Higher Education meeting Friday, UO President Richard Lariviere withdrew the controversial proposal before it came up for discussion. Student leaders attended the meeting and were prepared to lobby against the fees, which ultimately would cost students $300 a year.

The money would be used to improve the aging Erb Memorial Union and expand the Student Recreation Center. Together, the projects are expected to cost $161 million, with $112.5 million coming from student fees.

UO student body President Ben Eckstein and other members of next year’s student government objected to the fees because students were not given the chance to vote on them. Some members of the state Board of Higher Education also had expressed reservations.

As a result, the university decided to wait and hold a vote on the fees after students return this fall, said Robin Holmes, the UO’s vice president for student affairs.

This is good news. Unlike the previous ASUO president, this one actually cares what students think. Nominal victory. But the administration, speaking through VP of Student Affairs Robin Holmes, seems to think everything will move forward without a hitch.

Stalling the fee will lose the project around $600,000 — $30 per student for fall term. Holmes is confident that the project will still move forward, however.

“I don’t anticipate this slowing us down,” Holmes said. “It’s okay to do the referendum and show we have student support and more forward with it.”

Our favorite anonymous professor over at UO Matters seems to think that admin agreeing to a referendum means they know the outcome. It’s very possible that students will still have to pay for a building before they can use it, including many who will not be around when it is completed. But at least students are being given a chance to express their opinion officially, and the outcome of a project is contingent on this student support or lack thereof.

Two Minute Hate

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Didn’t get enough HATE from the Commentator HATE Issue, currently on stands? Check out this two minute hate from a guy who may be promoting a book, but really hates all of us.

Hat tip to the Eugene Weekly blog for posting this and being in my Google Reader. And providing endless entertainment of all forms.

ASUO Senate Recap

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Oh lord, Senate was boring tonight (as usual). But yeah, okay, let’s see, what happened tonight…

The Art History Association made a request to move some money from one thing to another within the group, Senate just kind of approved that by acclimation.
AAF Ad Club requested money to put on some sort of event in Allen Hall tomorrow evening at 5:30pm, mostly they needed it for pizza because they are getting some from the Pizza Research Institute – apparently a lot of their members are vegans so this was a priority – and Senate decided to make this the requisite issue they spend a ton of time bickering about. They spent roughly 15 minutes arguing about details and ended up approving $247 ($200 less than what the group asked for) by a vote of 9-6-1.
Safe Ride asked for some money for gasoline and stuff, it was approved unanimously because people don’t like being assaulted.

After that they moved onto confirmations. There were three executive appointees: Nathaneal Keohane (DFC), Rachel Bracker (EMU), and Shabd Khalsa (ACFC). All three appointees were approved by a 15-0 vote amid great thunderclaps of applause. Senate discussed summer officer elections, apparently there was some confusion as to who is to hold seats over the summer – some clerical error – but it seems that people actually do know, so that’s okay. After that there was some boring stuff like approval of minutes, ASUO Prez Ben Eckstein talked a bit about officer updates, and people just kind of wanted to leave.

Entertainment: B-
Official Business: C+
Bickering Quota Met: A-
Diverse People Appointed to Senate: A
Overall Grade For This Meeting: B+

ASUO Senate: SHOGUN SHOWDOWN

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Click Here FOR THE FINAL COUNTDO… Senate of the year

Tuition. It’s going up. Again.

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Hey guys, tuition is going up. Again. By 9 percent.

The increases would leave the University of Oregon with the highest annual tuition and fees of $8,879. The university estimates that tuition and fees combined with room, board, books, supplies and other costs would put the total price tag for next year at $21,846. For an out-of-state or international student, tuition and fees would triple to $27,700, pushing the annual price to about $40,700.

Oh, so that’s why we have so many Californians on campus.

Still think the status quo is a good idea?

Under the governor’s proposed budget for 2011-13, the Oregon University System is expecting to get about $743 million from the state, $222 million less than it had requested. The proposed tuition increases would raise an additional $60 million next year, bringing the system’s total tuition revenue to $803.6 million for 2011-12.

Oregon needs solutions. Put down your picket signs and start thinking outside the box.

The Oregon University System and the Second Amendment

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Today’s Ol’ Dirty has a letter to the editor tackling an issue that has been oddly absent on this blog as of late: concealed carry on campus. In a letter titled, “Students should have wider gun liberties,” undergraduate student Andrew Saldana attacks the Oregon University System’s illegal policy on firearms on campus while outlining the importance of students and faculty being able to protect themselves.

People should be able to be in charge of their own protection. If an individual wants to take precautions to protect themselves, they should be able to do so as long as it is in accordance with the law. Nobody else is obligated to come to your aid if you’re in crisis — not even the police, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling stating that the police are in place to protect “society at large” not any one individual(s). Even if it weren’t the case, as demonstrated above, the response time of police is too slow to prevent people from dying.

The current policy restricts those who wish to protect themselves from doing so in an effort to stop those who do not follow the law already. Gun-free zones are indeed only gun-free because good-natured people who wish to obey the rules abide by them. Many, if not most, mass shootings take place on areas deemed “gun-free.” In reality, all gun-free zones accomplish is the disarming of those who do good and leave them at the mercy of those who wish to do harm. I implore you to view the testimony of former Texas Rep. Suzanna Hupp in relation to the effects that policy and legislation restricting carry can have.

The reality of the state of concealed carry on Oregon university campuses is that it is legal, according to state law (See ORS 166.370). It is only the Oregon University System that doesn’t allow concealed carry on campus — that is to say, you will get suspended, expelled or face other disciplinary action if you are licensed to carry a concealed handgun and do so on campus.

Oregon Commentator editor emeritus CJ Ciaramella wrote a blog post for The Weekly Standard on May 5, 2010 regarding this topic, and conducted interviews with representatives from the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus and the Oregon Firearms Federation. Which team is ahead?

Currently, 26 states ban handguns on campus, even by those with concealed carry permits. Twenty three other states leave the decision to individual colleges. Only Utah explicitly prohibits public colleges from banning licensed handguns on campus.

Pro-concealed carry individuals and groups, like Saldana above and representatives from the Oregon Firearms Federation, argue that allowing individuals to carry on campus adds another level of protection for students, allowing them to defend themselves with more rapidity and agility. Those against concealed carry on campus argue that campuses are already relatively safe, and introducing guns on campus will serve to create more dangerous environments.

But let’s not forget the reason that Saldana wrote the letter in the first place. On May 26, the Emerald printed a story called, “University, law enforcement prepare for campus shooting scenario.” The story focuses around what DPS, the Eugene Police Department and SWAT can do in case of an on-campus shooting. As our favorite anonymous professor points out, the story serves to prop up the mission of the Department of Public Safety, which is to get more money to create an on-campus police force (maybe he and we are both too cynical, but whatever).

The SWAT team will be activated in such a scenario, but SWAT officers might not necessarily be on duty at the time and may have to travel from their homes to the police department to gather their equipment before heading to the scene of an incident. Klinko said this process could take up to 40 minutes, depending on where an officer lives.

Eugene has no full-time SWAT officers; the team members have regular duty assignments in addition to their SWAT duties. Additionally, there are not enough vehicles to allow SWAT officers to take their cars and equipment home with them. Despite the department’s efforts, financial constraints prevent the department from being as prepared as it would like to be.

This predicament was expressed to the Oregon House Judiciary Committee by EPD Chief Pete Kerns during testimony earlier this month.

This is where Saldana’s point peaks: in order for Eugene to accurately prepare for an on-campus shooting, a significant amount of money and time would need to be poured into the creation of an on-campus SWAT team. Students would still need to rely on the Department of Public Safety and the Eugene Police Department for their protection. That’s the ultimate disconnect between pro- and anti-concealed carry on campus: those who favor concealed carry on campus believe students should be able to defend themselves, while those who are opposed feel that students and those with concealed carry licenses are somehow not equipped to handle the magnitude of that task.

This files well into the next common argument, which is the blunt, flat, “guns are dangerous” slogan that is heard over and over from anti-gun advocates. In order to receive a concealed carry license in this state, it requires not only a class and a test, but also a willingness to follow the law in order to carry a weapon. It’s not the individuals who have gone through the process of receiving a concealed carry license that universities need to worry about — it’s those who don’t have the training, those who come onto campus with malicious intent, those who got their guns illegally, or who don’t have the training or credentials to carry their weapons on their person. The responsible individuals who sought out their concealed carry license are by definition equipped to handle the magnitude of their own safety. That’s the point.

Finally, these are our rights. These rights, just like all other rights we are legally entitled to, are granted to us from the United States Constitution. These individuals already have the right, through the same process, to carry their weapons almost anywhere else in the state. University campuses should be no different. Ciaramella hits the nail on the head here:

Indeed, if students’ First Amendment right to free expression does not end at the school gates, as the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines, why should they be denied their Second Amendment right to self-defense?

As more and more policies are put into place to create a campus bubble, an ivory tower where only certain ideas and practices are allowed (smoking ban, Pacifica Forum, the Bias Response Team), the future for concealed carry on campus seems fairly grim. Students and administrators need to realize that universities are supposed to prepare students for the so-called “real world,” where people smoke cigarettes, say things not everyone agrees with and, yes, carry concealed weapons. It’s time for us to wake up and realize that we shouldn’t be sheltered from the realities of the world outside the gates of our university. It’s time for us to demand that we be able to exercise our rights.

It’s time to stand up.