As the State Turns

By Ygal Kaufman

stateturnssymbolBenton County Objectively The Least Bad
Numbers were released last week that show the Oregon unemployment situation by county. Benton County has the lowest unemployment in the state with 5.3% out of work. Harney is in the worst shape with 11.1, though even their number is in decline. Obviously Benton’s numbers are anchored by OSU, among other large employers, though it’s worth noting that other major population centers such as Eugene, Bend, Portland, Medford and Salem were all significantly higher (Lane 6.9%, Deschutes 8.4%, Multnomah 6.3%, Jackson 8.6% and Marion 7.2%, respectively). All of the numbers for those counties are in decline compared to the same numbers last year.

The positive jobs numbers were enough to make almost nobody remark, “Hey now I don’t feel so bad about how much money we flushed down the drain on the Cover Oregon website!”

Witham Oaks Back in the Crosshairs
Corvallisites seemed to have finally acquiesced to the Witham Oaks development project; they approved Campus Crest in March by a vote of 6-3 by the City Council. As we and every paper in town have covered to absolute death, the project would provide housing for up to 900 in a city that, by all accounts, could really use it.

But it was not without detractors, and now a group of them have launched an appeal with the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). The decision is likely a half a year away, but both sides will be given a chance at oral arguments on their side’s behalf.

The petitioners cite environmental concerns as chief among their issues with the project, but they have several they plan to bring to the appeals board.

Proving once again that in Corvallis, you stand a slightly better chance of having someone advocate on your behalf if you’re a duck or a frog than if you’re a student on a budget looking for somewhere to live. “First World problems…” is the expression, I believe.

Wait, I Lost track, Are GMO Crops the Same Thing as Gluten?
Jackson County recently passed a ban on GMO crops. Now opponents of the ban, which depending on who you ask are either totally reasonable and following the science faithfully, or are “puppets of Big Agriculture,” are suggesting the debate is not nearly over.

Oregonians for Food and Shelter is one of the groups who oppose the ban and they say there’s good reason to think it won’t stand. They cite the “right-to-farm law” which they say protects the many farmers who already have seeds in the ground and would have to plow them under based on the new ban.

Proponents of the ban contend that the law was well written and is not subject to the right-to-farm, which they assure is meant to protect farmers from suburban sprawl, not reasonable legislation.
Of course, both sides are also accusing each other of being in the back pocket of _________ (insert evil interest here). And they’re both probably right. The debate, like my understanding of whether or not gluten is bad for me, continues to evolve.

Oregon Senators Sign Letter Which Means Nothing to People Who Don’t Care
If marketing realities and brand damage can’t sway Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder into changing the offensive name of his team, surely pressure from NFL Commissioner instigated by a letter from Congress will do it… right?

Never to be seen as behind the times, both of our honorable senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, signed on to a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell that urges him to pressure the team into changing their name. All the signatories to the letter from the Senate were democrats.

When reached for comment, neither Merkley nor Wyden was asked when they will weigh in on the Philomath Warriors’ logo.

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