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August 5, 2016 05:01 PM

"The ultimate con artist," "The master of impersonations." In Eugene?

Eugene’s Downtown Athletic Club recently severed its relationship with its general manager Carlo DiMaria. According to an email sent to DAC members on Aug. 2 from DAC owner Rob Bennett, “We were made aware that Carlo intentionally misstated experience on his resume.”

However David Markland, an L.A.-based event producer, says he has reason to believe that Carlo DiMaria didn’t just intentionally misstate his experience. Markland alleges that DiMaria is longtime confidence man Fred Brito.

The man known as Fred Brito has a history of cons dating back to the mid ’80s, according to a timeline Markland maintains on his blog, “The Lies of Fred Brito.” Prior to that Brito, “bounced in and out of prison … by the mid-80′s he had shifted to inventing and assuming identities,” a 2005 LA Times article says.

Brito, as he is mainly known despite a litany of assumed names, was the subject of a 2007 NBC Dateline special, “The Ultimate Con Artist” detailing his history of cons from working as a court-appointed psychiatrist to high-profile fundraiser and even a Catholic priest who married couples and performed baptisms. One of the couples faced off with “Father Fred” on a 2007 episode of Dr. Phil after discussing how it felt to be married by someone who was not an ordained clergy member.

Markland says he is troubled by the fact many of Brito’s former employers don’t pursue cases against the fraudster, possibly because they are embarrassed at hiring a conman — even one who has fooled the UCLA medical center and state officials — or because Brito uses his gift for gab to convince people he would have a lawsuit if he was exposed.

Ironically, according to Dateline, Brito is a pretty likeable guy. Those whom he had conned say that he has a “good heart” and his homilies as a priest were “great.” In fact, when the DAC parted ways with DiMaria, the athletic club wrote, “While he has some done some positive things during his short tenure at the DAC, providing false information is not acceptable, and we are unable to move forward in our relationship.”

It’s not illegal to lie on your resume, though lying about credentials can lead to liability issues for employers and can of course lead to the employee’s work relationship being terminated. Eugene police says there is no record of an arrest or charges filed against either a Carlo DiMaria or a Fred Brito.

An anonymous source who contacted EW alleges that DiMaria is Fred Brito and that his approximately three-month tenure at the DAC led to the departure of several longtime employees. Markland’s source, cited on his blog, tells him that DiMaria “created such a hostile workplace that several of the tenured staff left in that time." A glance at the DAC’s staff roster on its website shows that between July 29 and Aug. 3 at least three employees working in membership are no longer listed.

EWhas called and emailed Bennett and Sarah Bennett, who are part of the DAC’s leadership, to confirm if they know if DiMaria is actually Fred Brito and has not heard back. The Bennetts' voicemails say they are out of town through Aug. 9. On the morning of Aug. 3, when EW began looking into the story, DiMaria was listed as the contact for the DAC on the Chamber of Commerce website, but by that evening his name had been removed.

Markland says he has been tracking Fred Brito ever since he began writing about him for the site Metroblogging L.A. more than 10 years ago, and people have been sending tips to his current “Lies” blog including Brito’s employment at an IHOP in Kansas City to a Beaverton, Oregon, Burgerville. According to the blog, Brito gets tripped up by disclosure of his past criminal history or the lies on his resume — according to Dateline, Brito was a five-time convicted felon by the time he was in his twenties.

Brito says in his Dateline interview that when he provides a reference, the number given forwards to Brito’s own number and he changes his voice and gives himself glowing recomendation.

A resume obtained by EW that Brito allegedly used to obtain his position at the DAC,  lists G. “Carlo” DiMaria as the applicant. It says he worked for “Southwest Hospitality Corporation” for about 30 years and says that the company was merged with Starwood Hotels in 2012. EW has contacted Starwood. The resume also says DiMaria served in the Marine Corps. According to the L.A. Times article, Brito enlisted in the Marines as Freddrick Esparza from 1973 to 1977, the same dates DiMaria provides on the resume.

Brito has claimed in interviews with the L.A. Times and in online videos (see below) that the fact he has a criminal record precludes him from getting second chances and leads to his fabricated resumes.

EWhas emailed and left phone messages for Brito, but has not had messages returned. 

Facebook photos from the Downtown Athletic Club appear to show Brito in the background, however DAC has yet to confirm if the athletic club hired the man known as Fred Brito, thinking they had hired G. Carlo DiMaria, a name Markland lists as among Brito’s many aliases. Brito has said in online postings that he has changed his name to Gomez DiMaria. EW's source says the man in the photos at the DAC is the man in the Dateline video, and says, "I knew 'Carlo' in Eugene and he is the same person who appears in the Dateline episode as Fred Brito." 

Markland says he is unable to confirm the identity from the Facebook photos.

Left: A man who is allegedly the conman Fred Brito at a DAC celebration for longtime employees in June. Right: Fred Brito from a Twitter profile image.

Markland lists Brito’s alias as including: G. "Carlo" diMaria, Giancarlo di Maria, Carlo di Maria, Freddrick Esparza, Father B. Gomez de Esparza, Father Federico Brito Gomez de Esparza, Federico Gomez de Maria, Freddrick Mark Brito, Federiqkoe DiBritto III, Father Fred Esparza, Fred Brito Gomez and Fred Gomez.

Brito has tried to parlay his conman career into seminars and public speaking gigs as can be seen in the video below, which also features the Dateline episode.

July 29, 2016 03:45 PM

Remember when Malheur occupation leader John Ritzheimer got all pissed off about all the dildos people were sending him and his fellow “patriots” who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in an armed occupation in early 2016? It seemed like men with guns couldn’t get any weirder.

They did. And the strangeness continues.

Back in April, Ryan Bundy got nailed for braiding his sheets into rope — just a rancher, practicing, he argued, — and hoarding boxer shorts and food. Given the Bundys forgot to pack enough underwear for their 41 day occupation, boxer hoarding is understandable.

Now Ryan Bundy, who is currently held at the Multnomah County Jail, has declared himself an “idiot” in court documents. Oregon Public Broadcasting calls his filings, which OPB uploaded,  “the latest in increasingly defiant and strange behavior from Bundy.”

Using a lot of lowercase letters, Bundy writes in a motion filed to U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown, “I, ryan c, man, am an idiot of the ‘Legal Society’; and; am an idiot (layman, outsider) of the ‘Bar Association’; and; i am incompetent; and; am not required by any law to be competent.”

Calling himself a member of the “bundy society” he defines man as “a sacred union between consciousness/spirit, flesh-bone blood and bio-electricity/energy created by that sound of which in the standard written English language is commonly translated as ‘God’ …”

A little further down, he writes, “I am neither “person”, nor “child”, nor “human being” as defined by Black’s Law Dictionary, the unholy bible of the Legal Society.”

Bundy also mixes in some bits from the Declaration of Independence and the Bible.

The long, strange document also claims his home state of Nevada and Oregon are not within the United States and are in fact  “sovereign union states” because the jurisdiction of the U.S. is limited to the “District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories and federal enclaves within the states.” He also writes the Malheur refuge is not under U.S. jurisdiction.

In other filings he asks for $1 million dollars in order to accept the “role” of “defendant” or “inmate,” and a million to be judge or bailiff.

Bundy is representing himself in the government’s conspiracy case against him and other occupiers. One of the occupiers, LaVoy Finicum was killed during the occupation's resolution. 

 

July 21, 2016 04:18 PM

Update: This email went out on July 22 from the Festival of  Eugene email account:

"Racism cannot be tolerated. The 2016 Festival of Eugene is canceled. Our sincere apologies for those hurt and affected."

***

Allegations of racism have arisen against Festival of Eugene organizer Krysta Albert. 

Many of the allegations center on a comment of "U r exactly why we call u people niggers" made to Jamie Clark on a Facebook thread belonging to Nancy Berge that has been screen captured.

Albert's Facebook page has been removed and the Festival of Eugene event page has comments from sponsors saying they are pulling their support.

In response to EW's request for comment, Albert writes:

The Festival has consulted an attorney and we are in the process of issuing a Press Release. Suffice to say these allegations are untrue.

The Festival of Eugene, ran by a dedicated team of volunteers, does not in the past, present nor future discriminate against anyone for any reason; neither race, color, creed, national origin, religious, sexual preference or orientation or political. Nor has it participated in racism, bigotry or any other type of discrimination or hate. The Festival is about celebrating diversity, social tolerance and inclusion of all. For those who have participated in this event in years past know this to be true.

Recent FaceBook posts have subjected our event to speculation and allegations. The recent posts are under review by FaceBook and our FaceBook administrators.

It is always good to keep in mind social media is fertile ground for drama and speculation. The Festival its' reputation to be based on its history, mission and good will to the community at large.  

Albert also posted on the Festival of Eugene page (a different page from the event page) saying she didn't write or endorse the comment.

Kelly Asay, publisher of the news website Eugene Daily News has weighed in in Albert's defense, writing that her Facebook page was hacked and Facebook is looking into it.

In response to Assay, the Facebook page Diverse Eugene writes,

"Regarding Eugene Daily News's statement that racism would be 'completely out of character' for Festival of Eugene organizer Krysta Albert, we offer this quote from the Register-Guard, May 4, 2016: Reader comment about Donald Trump's visit to Eugene. 'I, for one, and absolutely voting for this man! And I would love to hear him speak! -- Krysta Albert' We're not sure how Ms. Albert expressing avid support for a racist politician translates to 'racism would be completely out of character for Krysta Albert'."

Others have argued that Albert has made similar posts, including longtime Eugene activist Alley Valkyrie who is now in Portland. Valkyrie writes in a public post that "I blocked her after she made very similar racist comments as well as anti-homeless comments on the thread of a mutual friend."

In one Facebook message conversation Albert says it was photoshopped and elsewhere she has posted she was hacked.

July 13, 2016 10:36 AM

Not enough smashing and grunting at the U.S. Olympic Trials? The Queensland Outback Barbarians are coming from Australia to Springfield top play the Eugene Stags Saturday, July 16.

Eugene, Cascades and Coast Sports Commission says:

"The Queensland Outback Barbarians wrap up a North American rugby tour in Springfield when they take on the Eugene Stags this Saturday. This international friendly match has been in the making for over two years. The Barbarians are completing an international tour here in Springfield and are coming off a recent 72-7 victory over the Calgary Canucks. The Stags are excited to test their skills against a high caliber team from a country with a strong rugby history. Attendees are encouraged to wear a jersey of any sort to the match.”

The rugby match takes place 1 pm, Saturday at Agnes Stewart Middle School (South 32nd Street in Springfield). The cost is FREE and a post match social will be hosted at Docs Pad located at 710 Willamette Street in Eugene.

Eugene, Cascades and Coast says, “The Eugene Stags are a Division III rugby club that competes against teams from Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The Stags have been very competitive and completed last season with a top 3 finish in their division.”

July 8, 2016 11:06 AM

Last night at a Don't Shoot PDX  rally in Portland a counter-protester pulled a gun on people marching to recognize the recent shooting deaths of by police of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. 

Castile and Sterling, both black men in their 30s, were shot by police in Minnesota and Baton Rouge. Sterling's shooting was documented on video and Castile's girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, posted a video of the aftermath of his shooting saying he had been reaching for his wallet. Reynolds' young daughter was a witness to the shooting, Reynolds ssys in the video.

In Portland, a man The Oregonian has identified as Michael Strickland pulls a gun on several protesters. Freelance journalist (and former EW intern) Mike Bivins caught it on video. 

Bivins says in the video that Strickland told him he runs a YouTube channel called Laughing at Liberals.

You can watch Bivins' entire Periscope video here.

Although later in the video you here people chanting "Black lives matter," Black Lives Matter PDX (BLMPDX) clarified on its Facebook page that "the march last night was organized by Don't Shoot PDX. Membership in our organization is open only to Black and African identified folks but there are frequent opportunities for collaboration."

The Oregonian reports that Strickland will be arraigned this afternoon:

"Michael Strickland, 36, is facing misdemeanor menacing and second-degree disorderly conduct charges, according to jail records. He was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center late Thursday night, and then released on his own recognizance, jail and court records show."

Portland activist and former mayoral candidate Jesse Sponberg attempted to defuse the situation and Bivins documents the police detaining Sponberg. 

Sponberg posted about the incident on his Facebook page:

July 8, 2016 09:58 AM

The shootings of Philano Castile and Alton Sterling have us reeling. The killing of black men by police offices continues, despite the outage about Freddy Gray, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice. The shootings of police officers last night in Dallas were another shock. People post the videos and memes on Facebook and ask "What can I do?" 

What can we do Eugene/Springfield? How can we change this? The shootings may be in cities far away, but we all know racism happens here, police shootings happen here. Write us your thoughts letters@eugeneweekly.com. 

And for those of you who want to recognize what happened with others who feel the same, there is a memorial today. 

This message was posted by the UO Black Student Union letting people know about a vigil Friday July 8 for the families and communities of Baton Rouge and Minneapolis:

In light of recent police shootings, particularly those of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, we, the Black Student Union, along with the Black Women of Achievement, are holding a memorial tomorrow. We will meet in the amphitheater promptly at 1:45 pm for a moment of silence and prayer. Following, we will march to 13th and Agate to stand in solidarity along the corners, before planting stakes in the Hamilton Hall Lawn. We will give everyone a black bow to wear, hold photos, and plant stakes to represent the countless lives lost under the hands of police officers. If you can, please wear a black shirt.

Please join us to recognize and honor the black lives lost in these tragedies. We also ask that you pass this message on to others who may want to attend. Thank you and we hope to see you tomorrow.

The Eugene-Springfield NAACP adds that, "We at the Eugene/Springfield NAACP stand in solidarity with the families and communities involved," and "Folks are also welcome to leave flowers at the Mims memorial located at 330 High Street."

The Mims Houses commemorate "two of the oldest structures and black-owned properties in Eugene."

July 5, 2016 05:51 PM

Mahmud Hafiz travelogue writer and a senior journalist from Bangladesh dropped by EW’s offices recently to talk journalism and the Bangla, aka Bengali, language. Hafiz, a contributing editor to the news portal Bangla News 24 came to Eugene for his son’s graduation from the University of Oregon. He will be writing a travelogue about his experiences.

Hafiz says Bangla News 24 and its editor-in-chief Alamgir Hossain pioneered online journalism in Bangladesh and the news site is updated from all over the country. The site is partially available in English.

In addition to discussing journalism, Hafiz came to speak to EWabout Bangla, a language he says, “for which people died.” According to Hafiz, UNESCO declared Feb. 21 as World Language Day “remembering our sacrifice.”

Hafiz explained that when India was divided into India and Pakistan, it was originally divided into East and West Pakistan, united by the Muslim religion but divided by the land mass of India itself. In West Pakistan (now Pakistan) Urdu was spoken but the language of East Pakistan was Bangla.

The Bengali Language Movement arose when the government of West Pakistan attempted to impose Urdu as the state language. On February 21, 1952, five students and political activists were killed during protests near the campus of the University of Dhaka. Hafiz said that each year on that date in Dhaka there is a procession of people wearing black shirts carrying wreaths to commemorate the sacrifice.

Bangla is the official language of what is now Bangladesh and according to Hafiz has more than 300 million speakers around the globe ranging from Bangladesh to India to New York City.

While in Eugene Hafiz presentedEW with an impressionistic painting of a street in Bangladesh. EW will post links to Hafiz’s travelogues when they are available in English.

Journalist Mahmud Hafiz presents EW Editor Camilla Mortensen with a painting from Bangladesh

July 1, 2016 06:50 PM

According to a Register-Guard headline today, your car and its airbags have a hitherto-unknown superpower.

Rapture.

A "50 Percent Chance of  Dangerous Air Bag Rapture" to be precise.  What can we say? Jesus, take the wheel.

h/t retired editor EW Ted Taylor

June 29, 2016 11:48 AM

The Lane County Board of Commissioners’ June 28 discussion of giving themselves the authority to block some local ballot measures has EW floored. Did it get forgotten by four of the five commissioners that Oregon citizens have a right to the initiative process that is protected in the state Constitution?

The RG broke the story this morning, and according to the daily, "Under the unusual proposal, the commissioners would gain the authority to preemptively block any countywide ballot measure that they deem not to be 'of county concern,' before it goes to voters or the courts," and the "board voted 4-1 to have county staff start drafting an ordinance on the issue."

The RG quotes Commish Jay Bozievich as saying, "he would like the county’s proposed ordinance to apply to measures that haven’t yet qualified for the ballot — which would include the Community Rights measures. That could be considered a retroactive change to local election law."

It's not clear in the language what is "county concern" and if county concerns might ally more strongly with corportate interests, such as the timber industry, over community groups concerned with pesticide sprays or GMOS.

Commish Faye Stewart Stewart "said he doesn’t understand the purpose of championing local measures that won’t survive a legal challenge."

The county must have a crystal ball, as it seeks to prevent ballot measures the commission thinks won't stand a legal challenge … before they actually go through the legal system. 

The RG reports that Pete Sorenson was the lone dissenting voice on having staff draft language for an ordinance. 

Sorenson tells EW while no actual vote was taken, the "dominant flavor" was to move ahead with an ordinance. He says were the commission to move ahead he has two questions he would like answered. First, "Is there a problem?" He says he doesn't think Lane County has had a lot of problematic local measures. 

Second, Sorenson says there is already a system in place for dealing with ballot measures that are passed by citizen votes but might have portions of them that are unlawful or beyond the scope, and that process throws out nonlegal portions of measures. He calls the proposed ordinance a "solution in search of a problem."

The ordinance could "suppress rights people currently enjoy," he says, and to change rules on a process that is already under way, such as the Community Rights initiative is "frowned upon."

Sorenson says if the proposed ordinance goes forward there would be a public meeting.

You can watch a video of the meeting here.

Here is the proposed languge, which you can find on the commission agenda under:

COUNTY COUNSEL

A. Announcements

B. DISCUSSION/ Potential Changes to Lane County Initiative and Referendum Process. (Stephen Dingle, County Counsel) 

The language reads:

Whereas, initiative and referendum powers are reserved to the people of the State of Oregon, and are further reserved to the legal voters of home rule counties regarding matters of county concern, by the Oregon Constitution;

Whereas, ORS 250.155 recognizes the reserved right of home rule counties to establish the procedures for exercising county initiative and referendum powers;

Whereas, a charter amendment or ordinance that is not a matter of county concern will be declared invalid after passage upon challenge;

Whereas, Lane County believes that conducting elections for and funding expensive litigation to defend initiative measures that will be declared invalid after passage wastes valuable and limited resources of Lane County taxpayers.

June 22, 2016 05:38 PM

A former Lane County resident was treated to drug dealing Eugene-style this week. We're not going to give her name — in case her wannabe drug hook up reads this blog — but "C" moved the Lubbock, Texas a couple years ago and retained her 541 area code number. 

We're going to guess the man who wants to be her "homie" was off by a digit late the other night when he texted C. 

The exchange started with a 2 am text: "Malcolm?" and C, sleepy and on Ambien thought it was in response to her quest to buy a horse trailer that has led to texts from unknown numbers wrote back.

"Interested buyer in Lubbock," she typed into her phone.

The response? "This is Aaron. I have much loot to throw at you."

Still, addled with insomnia, C said she would text back in the morning.

She woke up, realized what had happened and posted the exchange on Facebook, noting, "Pretty sure I accidentally told a Eugene drug dealer I was an interested buyer last night."

Rather than follow up on the exchange, she left it there. But Aaron was not to be deterred — after all he does have "unlimited everything" and wifi. 

"How you doin big homie?"

C is still horse trailer shopping and probably a little more careful about telling folks she's an "interested buyer." 

 

June 22, 2016 11:01 AM

Someobody lost a piglet and Oregon State Police, responding to a report that it was a dog running along I-5, say, "There were no identifying collars, tags, or information on the pig to assist in notifying the owner" of the piglet.  That's right, a pig with no ID. 

Here's to hoping the little piggie goes, "Wah wah wah all the way home."

On June 21, 2016 at approximately 10:15 pm, OSP received the report of a dog running southbound in the northbound median of Interstate near MP 191 south of Eugene (between Franklin and Glenwood).

Troopers arrived in the area and discovered the animal reported was not a dog but a piglet. The female piglet is approximately 30 to 40 pounds in size and white with black spots. It is estimated she is approximately 3 to 5 weeks old. There were no identifying collars, tags, or information on the pig to assist in notifying the owner. The pig was taken into custody and transported to the 1st Avenue Animal Shelter in Eugene.

The owner is asked to call the OSP Springfield Area Command at 541-726-2536 or the 1st Ave Shelter (Greenhill Humane Society) at 541-844-1606.

June 14, 2016 12:22 PM

Mark Baker, longtime reporter, "Living Here" columnist and member of the Baker family, appears to have parted ways with The Register-Guard.

The daily paper is owned and primarily run by the Baker family, and Mark Baker is is the youngest grandchild of Alton F. Baker Sr., The Register-Guard's publisher from 1927 to 1961, according to an RG newstory about Baker's hiring as East Region reporter in 2002.

Several sources notified EW of Baker's departure but not the details of the split. As of June 14, Baker's name no longer appears listed on the RG's online masthead and his "Living Here" column is no longer on the online dropdown news menu where it previously appeared. 

EW has reached out to Mark Baker for comment, as well as to Wendy Baker, the RG's director of Human Resources, but has not received a reply from Mark Baker. When asked if she could confirm whether Mark is employed or affiliated with the paper, Wendy Baker responded, "No, thank you."

Mark Baker has made no statements on the issue an his Facebook or Twitter accounts as of the posting of this blog. Baker's "Living Here" columns appeared frequently on the paper's front page. His Facebook profile still lists him as a senior writer at the RG.

June 3, 2016 02:16 PM

Hood River News is reporting a multi-car oil train derailment at the town of Mosier near the Columbia River. Flames and smoke are visbile. Mosier School and 60-70 homes are under evacuation. I-84 has been shut down both directions. The Oregonian is also posting updates.

Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue tweeted out this photo.

Reports say it is a Union Pacific train involving 11 cars filled with oil, with several burning. The train was carrying Bakken crude from North Dakota. It's unclear if any oil has spilled into the river.

Environmentalists have long predicted the possible disastrous effects of an oil train derailment near the Columbia River.

Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign Director Lena Moffitt released the following statement:

“The Sierra Club’s thoughts and prayers are with the train’s crew, their families, and the families of the communities affected by this disaster. “History has repeatedly shown just how deadly and dangerous oil train crashes can be. Simply put, transporting oil by rail -- or by any method -- is a disaster waiting to happen. The safety and wellbeing of our communities must be put ahead of profits for Big Oil.”

Sen. Ron Wyden has also issued a statement:

“It’s clear with this crash – as it has been for years – that more must be done to protect our communities from trains carrying explosive hazardous fuels. That’s why I’ve repeatedly called for more resources and notification for first responders, and why I’m continuing to push for my bill to move unsafe cars off the tracks and away from communities.”

Update: According to the latest press release from the Oregon Department of Transportation, 14 cars were involved, booms have been placed in the Columbia to contain the sheen of oil that can be seen in the river, no people or structures were harmed. 

The press release links to a Union Pacific website giving updates. It says the DOT-111 railcars had been upgraded to the higher CPC 1232 standard. 

Think-tank Sightline Institute says that higher standard is no safer than the older railcars.

May 27, 2016 04:38 PM

Eugene Weekly — an award-winning alternative newspaper in the beautiful Pacific Northwest — seeks a 30 hour-per-week calendar editor with a news reporter’s sensibility to edit EW’s “What’s Happening” calendar. Our calendar fills Lane County in on the area’s vibrant arts, music, political, entertainment and everything-in-between scene. 

EW is looking for a person who can handle the doldrums of data entry (the bulk of the job) but is hoping to move up to a career in news reporting and feature writing.

The calendar editor should be excited to highlight both highbrow and grassroots events in the community in short, fun blurbs each week in addition to the data entry.

The ideal candidate will be highly interested in news reporting, organized, detail-oriented, determined and versatile as well as have infinite amounts of patience.

Copyediting skills a plus. Must not be married to the Oxford comma. The position starts as soon as it is filled.

We’re a feisty office with a fierce dedication to covering community issues with an alternative flare. 

This opportunity comes with a $15 an hour salary, excellent non-financial perks (mainly free food and endless coffee).

The job starts at 30 hours a week but will become a full-time position with benefits. Send resume, cover letter and clips by June 10 to editor@eugeneweekly.com as an MS word or a .pdf attachment by June 10. Web links are also accepted. EW is an equal opportunity employer.