As the State Turns

By Johnny Beaver

stateturnssymbolLadies and Gentlemen, Marcus Mariota

When I was a youngster, I remember a brief foray into the land of giving a crap about sports. Football being one of them, the Heisman Trophy was a symbol of prestige and badassery. It was legendary. Also, I had no idea what it was. I just knew that the Topps cards, or whatever they were called, that featured something about it were worth a whopping more five cents according to some sort of outdated almanac I clung to. After all, I was eventually going to pull a card out of the foil that would make me rich. That way I could buy every last one of the Ninja Turtles action figures. Hot damn!

Flash forward a million years, I still know very little about the Heisman. However, I’ve at least become aware that it is the single most honorific award a college player can get—and that Marcus Mariota of Ducks ball-chucking is now the first Oregon player to earn one. Mariota, a native of Hawaii and a first winner in that respect as well, did a bunch of really excellent ball maneuvers that resulted in a Pac-12 record of 53 touchdowns. Six of which, I believe, were against Oregon State in the recent Civil War game. So technically, we helped.

Oregon’s Food Access Policies: How Good Is Better?

Back in 1939, a pilot program that would later become food stamps, SNAP, was tested in Portland due to severe hunger problems resulting from the Great Depression. A decade and a half ago, the legacy of hunger continued in the state of Oregon, as it possessed the highest rate of hunger in the entire country. Officials scrambled to correct the problem by implementing a number of policy changes, but how have those changes fared?

Not so great. In fact, the percentage of Oregonians facing hunger is almost as high now as it was back in 2000. Though we are no longer dead last, instead placing 17th (yay?), that’s largely because other states’ numbers have worsened, as opposed to ours getting any better.

More specifically, let’s look at food insecurity. A common term in Oregon, it is defined by the USDA  using a few different metrics, including access to food, whether or not a home will run out of food, and whether or not anyone has eaten in over 24 hours. Fifteen percent of Oregon households have been estimated as food insecure, but it’s not all bad. Many involved in the fight against hunger in Oregon cite improvements in SNAP policy as great leaps forward, including making it easier to get benefits on several fronts by altering things such as income caps.

SNAP is definitely putting food into the bellies of those that desperately need it, but most agree that it is more of a successful band-aid than a long term solution to the poverty behind hunger. Until such a solution comes, check out some of our local food banks via if you’re interested in helping.

No on Measure 92… Again

Despite an automatic recount and some rather, shall I say, paranoid attitudes from Measure 92 supporters in the area, it is officially dead. This marks the second time that Oregon voters have rejected a GMO labeling bill. Perhaps when the issue arises for a third time, voters will be presented with a package that correctly defines GMO as GE (genetically engineered), as well as defines what that term actually means, yadda yadda. Basically, swapping out “us vs. them” hysteria for a balanced, scientific approach in order to replace nationwide failures with victories.

Pigs will fly.

Uber Update

Last week saw another rapid-fire change in the Uber vs. Portland battle: Uber requested a change in venue and got the lawsuit moved to federal court, claiming that they stood to lose over $100,000 in profits if Portland successfully forced them to follow the existing taxi regulations. Some polls have been conducted showing public support of Uber, largely as a result of dissatisfaction with local cab companies.

Of course, PDX cabbies are like, “oh, hell naw.” Radio Cab’s Twitter (they claim it was someone with  unauthorized access) started pushing for taxis to join forces in logging the license plate numbers of Uber drivers so that they can be submitted to their insurance companies. Because personal auto policies only very rarely allow drivers to use their cars for commercial transport, it stands to reason that some of these reports will get these Uber drivers dropped from their insurers—and therefore rendered unable to drive in the state.

Personally, all this back and forth just makes me want to stay at home.

GTFF Strike Resolution

The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation’s eight-day strike at the University of Oregon ended last week as a labor agreement was struck. Though the GTFF failed to secure paid leave, they picked up a five percent pay increase for minimum wages (retroactive to September of this year) in addition to another five percent increase next year. The agreement also added a $150,000 fund that all graduate teaching fellows would be able to soak their weary bones in to help replace lost wages during medical/parental leave. This includes up to $1,500 for child birth, foster placement, or adoption, as well as $1,000 for general medical leave.

The GTFF says that though this is a great victory, they will continue to fight for paid sick leave.