Midday Scan: Occupy's Olympia debut; UCLA sacks Rick Neuheisel; U of O sinks into mediocrity

Occupy rattles the doors in Olympia; University of Oregon president glad he's fired; UCLA sacks the UW's greasiest former coach

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Washington State Capitol

Occupy rattles the doors in Olympia; University of Oregon president glad he's fired; UCLA sacks the UW's greasiest former coach

Occupy protesters in Olympia, marking the first day of the special legislative session, are Network's Howard Beale writ large — mad as hell, they're not going to take it anymore. Occupying Peter Finch's character, however, also means inhabiting Paddy Chayefsky's satiric screenplay. As the Seattle Times Andrew Garber and Katherine Long write, protests were the day's defining theme.

"Drums, shouting, and expletives reverberated in the marble halls of the state Capitol on Monday as hundreds of protesters disrupted the first day of the Legislature's special session," Garber and Long write. "After storming a hearing room earlier in the day, protesters refused to leave the Capitol building Monday night until being hauled out one by one by state troopers."  

At one point, troopers estimated the crowd at 3,000. Protests included an inspired cameo from the Northwest's version of Mother Jones. "Dorli Rainey, the 84-year-old woman who became a national icon of the Occupy movement when she was pepper-sprayed by Seattle police this month, was cheered when she told demonstrators that the state should enact an income tax, rather increase the sales tax." 

Do the Olympia demonstrations foreshadow a particular outcome? In Network, Beale's anger is panoptic and generalized, making him simultaneously tragic and comic. Garber and Long write, "State Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, said the protests were unlike anything he'd seen since he was first elected in 2008. Typically, people demonstrate on the Capitol steps for or against a specific bill, but Monday's protests were much broader — 'touching the essence of something deeper,' he said. Instead of asking for specific changes, the protesters were seeking large-scale changes to the system, he said."  

Richard Lariviere, the just-sacked president of the University of Oregon, can take comfort in the example of Henry Suzzallo. Suzzallo, who was fired by the University of Washington Board's of Regents in 1926, was a gadfly leader who fought with Republican governor Roland Hartley over labor rights and university funding. On Monday, Suzzallo's Oregon heir stood principled and magnanimous, paying the price for sharp elbows.

The Oregonian's Bill Graves writes, "Lariviere, who will get a year's salary, $245,700, in severance, said he would rather be fired for seizing new ideas to promote higher education than keep his job and 'watch ourselves glide into mediocrity.' He said Pernsteiner and the board have chosen a 'manage to lowest common denominator approach' to higher education that will not get the system where it wants to go." Good news for Lariviere, who is off to teach Sanskrit (!): Just a few years after Suzzallo's firing, the massive, Carl Gould-designed library on the UW campus was named in his honor. History, at least, redeems.  

If character is fate, then character has a new poster boy in Rick Neuheisel. On Monday UCLA fired the former University of Washington Husky coach, just as Arizona State let go of Everett native Dennis Erickson. During his time in Seattle, Neuheisel did not exactly win friends and influence people. "In 2003, Neuheisel infamously was involved in a betting pool on college basketball, an NCAA rules scandal that rocked the UW athletic department. He was fired by then-Athletic Director Barbara Hedges for a series of lies, most notably one denying that he had interviewed to become head coach of the San Francisco 49ers when, in fact, he had," Sportspress Northwest reports.

"After Hedges fired Neuheisel, he sued the NCAA and the UW for unfairly terminating his employment contract. During a trial to resolve the matter, it was revealed that the NCAA failed to turn over crucial evidence to Neuheisel’s attorneys. The development bolstered Neuheisel’s claim that the NCAA acted improperly during its investigation that eventually led to his firing"  

The annoying epilogue? Neuheisel settled with the UW and NCAA for $4.5 million and the forgiveness of a $1 million loan.

Has Occupy City Hall devolved into a homeless camp? (or was it always a homeless camp, masquerading as an Occupy venue?) Publicola's Jonah Spangelthal-Lee interviews the go-to activist, Michael Dare, who offers a semi-resigned assessment.  "After clashes with police at Westlake sent most of the protesters packing up to Seattle Central Community College on Capitol Hill in October, Dare and another small band of Occupiers took the city up on its invite to camp on City Hall Plaza. 'None of the other occupy movements were invited to city hall,' he says. 'The movement has splintered. There are those of us who think we’re traitors' for accepting the mayor’s offer, Spangenthal-Lee writes. "Dare now describes the small City Hall camp has become 'more of an operations center than a protest site' after Occupy City Hall got off to a rough start. 'We turned into a homeless camp [at City Hall]. We scared away the occupiers,' he says, adding: 'The homeless are part of the 99 percent.'" 

Scaring away the Occupiers is, well, not a winning strategy if you're pro-Occupy. Is there an endgame? "When asked how long he plans to stay at City Hall, despite the fact that he has fewer than a dozen protesters in his group, Dare says, 'The mayor’s offer for us to Occupy city hall is open ended. We’re here until this ends and things change. I’m certainly ready to make it through the winter. I’ve got a very nice tent.'" 

Lastly, this morning's Oregonian features a sad coda to a period of Cold War history. As Stuart Tomlinson writes, "The news that Josef Stalin's only daughter died in Wisconsin last week closed a haunting chapter of the Cold War that began when Svetlana Alliluyeva famously defected to the U.S. in 1967. But to her daughter in Portland, the death of the woman who became known as Lana Peters was the loss of her best friend and confidant." Why is it melancholy? "Stalin's legacy appeared to haunt her throughout her life, though she tried to live outside his shadow."   

Link Summary

Seattle Times, "Olympia's budget special session begins"

The Oregonian, "University of Oregon president plans to teach Sanskrit after state Board of Higher Education sends him packing"

Sportspress Northwest, "Neuheisel, Erickson axed; Wulff could be next" 

Publicola, "'We turned into a homeless camp. We scared away the Occupiers'"

The Oregonian, "Portland granddaughter of Stalin remembers her mother as a talented writer and lecturer in her own right" 


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson