As the State Turns

By Johnny Beaver

stateturnssymbolWhy Did Tigger Stick His Head in the Toilet?

Collecting biomass is tough enough, but producing it (dammit you cow, poop already!) and transporting it? Good grief, we need a break! Or do you? Just last year Oregon spent about $5 million on tax credits for biomass folks, but Oregon Department of Energy (ODE) analysts are now saying that the costs for cow and other animal “doo” are actually a lot less than wood or some other biomass types. Their proposal is that the program would be extended to 2021, but that it would incur the wrath of the deadly “cost reduction,” which will take the piss out of these credits.

More details are sure to follow, as the ODE is hoping to get the state legislature to take the issue up next year.

Crisis at University of Oregon

No, not the ass-beating that Oregon State took at their hands over the weekend. That epic, painful 47 – 19 defeat that looked as embarrassingly awful as 30 – 3 at half time. No, not that one. Not the one that will haunt your dreams, and perhaps drive you to attack me on the street if I keep talking about it.

Actually, the crisis is of a nature that doesn’t involve Spandex, to my knowledge. The union Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, as it is known, representing over 1,400 workers, has been having contract issues with the university since its contract expired at the end of last March. Since then two strikes have been authorized without a walkout, but after another failed round of mediation last week they are once on the cusp again.

Seeking a 5.5% raise on minimum salaries each of the next two years, as well as two total weeks of paid parental and medical leave per year, the counter offer sits at a 9% raise over two years and a $150,000 a year hardship fund for all graduate students, not just those that are represented by the union. Grants would be available for $1,500 for birth and adoption, and $1,000 for a medical emergency. $1,500 for a birth, eh? That should cover the obstetrician’s mustache wax.

If a strike does occur, how will the school cope? Apparently there’s a plan, we don’t know what it is (must be super secret), but it would include tapping into ad hoc workers, offering easier *cough* I mean multiple-choice versions of finals, canceling them outright, doing away with final papers, etc. And of course, some people have scoffed at the idea, saying that you simply cannot replace trained educators at the tail end of a term and expect it to go alright.

Who gets paid, who gets screwed… find out next week. Or sooner even (see below)…

Jessie Jackson Visits PDX, Protestors Arrested

The outspoken Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke last weekend at the Emmanuel Church, taking some time out in his sermon to call on leaders in our government to go to Ferguson, Missouri. He spoke of nonviolence and shamed ugly, blind, and disfigured people by using those three things to describe those who act in an “eye for an eye” capacity. He appeared to be wearing a smart silver jacket with matching pants, white shirt, and a sensible red tie. Some other things happened and it was an all-around good time.

Around the corner (proverbially, of course), 10 people were arrested during a protest fueled by the grand jury decision that let off Ferguson officer Darren Wilson with just a resignation and the loss of his severance package. The arrests occurred after a large number of protestors obstructed a roadway and police were handed down orders to clear it. Those arrested face disorderly conduct charges for their act of civil disobedience (if I may call it that), while other unruly crowds possessed cool dudes and/or dudettes who threw bottles at police cars, prompting police to use a couple of flashbang grenades. I’ve never had one lobbed at me in person, but they look really awesome in the movies.

Anyway, fellow Oregonians, I believe we can take some lessons from these events: 1.) Jesse Jackson is one hell of a snappy dresser, and 2.) The biggest thing that can harm a protest’s ability to bring about change are the idiots that don’t know how to tell when violence becomes appropriate (note: it hasn’t), or are just there to use it as a cover to commit violence.

Whew. I knew I was going somewhere with this entry.

The Saddest Thing Ever

Cannon Beach had a dream: to have a sweet K-9 Unit that could find drugs and bite purse-snatching guys in the nards while they try to get away over chain link fences and stuff. Hell yeah. Cash was a fun loving pooch that just couldn’t shut the hell up. Unfortunately, they were no match made in heaven.

After four weeks of training, Cash, a Belgian Malinois, was given up on. Fired. Sent packing. And for what? So he was scared of loud noises and heights, was extremely skittish and hated jumping up on counters in search of some junkie’s stash… big deal. Apparently when he was supposed to be doing something that wasn’t, in fact, barking in your face, he’d be barking in your face. Hardly insurmountable stuff here, folks. His name was Cash for %@!’s sake. You non-millennials should understand the significance.

Tossed aside like yesterday’s leftover, coagulated Bagel Bites, Cash is now back in the custody of Clatscop County Search and Rescue, where he’ll get the love and respect he deserves.

As for the Cannon Beach Police Department, their excuse regarding the right type of pooch contains the phrase “ball-crazy.” I think that speaks for itself.

This Just In: An As the State Turns Update

Have I ever told you folks about the joys of writing for a weekly? Just after sending the issue off to the printer, a development in the teaching assistant strike situation… developed. Amidst the mountains of paperwork nonsense that traditionally appear at the end of the term, The graduate Teaching Fellows Federation went through with their strike – the first since they came on back 38 years ago. While the school promises that an “academic continuity” plan is in place, that’s sort of like a rich heiress saying “Oh, I’m sure we can go without the house staff for the day.”

Now, just in case you don’t know what a strike looks like: this one kicked off the festivities with a 500 member rally out in the rain in front of the university’s administration hall. They were backed up by some politicians, as well as representatives of other unions, such as the United Academics faculty union.

The strike itself is quoted as specifically being the result of stalled talks regarding medical and maternity leave benefits. Both sides have since agreed to meet Thursday, which is tomorrow. I swear to Zeus, though, if they promptly end the strike and I have to write another update, I’m going to pull out my hair and scream.

I mean, I hope everything ends expediently and amicably for both sides.