• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

EW! A Blog.

October 2, 2015 04:32 PM

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office released the names today of those who were killed in the Oct. 1 shooting at Umpqua Community College.

Officials identified them as Lucero Alcaraz of Roseburg, 19, Quinn Glen Cooper of Roseburg, 18, Kim Saltmarsh Dietz of Roseburg, 59, Lucas Eibel of Roseburg, 18, Jason Dale Johnson of Winston, 34, Lawrence Levine of Glide, 67, Sarena Dawn Moore of Myrtle Creek, 44, Treven Taylor Anspach of Sutherlin, 20, and Rebecka Ann Carnes of Myrtle Creek, 18.

It appears most of those killed were students at the college. Larry Levine was an instructor.

The sheriff’s office says that nine other people were injured, not seven as originally believed. The death toll is 10 people, including the shooter, Chris Harper Mercer. The Douglas County sheriff is among some of the many people and groups who will not mention him by name as part of an effort to decrease copycat killings and the motivating factor of fame.

The school has cancelled classes for next week and President Obama has ordered flags to be flown at half staff.

It has been put out that the Westboro Baptist Church plans to picket the funerals of the victims. A Facebook group has formed to bring together community members working to prevent that and to shield and aid the families.

UCC student Chris Mintz has received acclaim after his family told the media that he was shot while charging the shooter. 

The sheriff's office also released family statements on behalf of several of those killed.

Jason Johnson Family Statement

"Jason Johnson, age 34, was proud to be a Christian. Jason recently enrolled in school at Umpqua Community College. Jason's mother said that Jason was proud of himself for enrolling in school, and so was his mom. They felt that Jason had finally found his path. His family says that he will be loved and missed."


Lucas Eibel Family Statement

"We have been trying to figure out how to tell everyone how amazing Lucas was, but that would take 18 years.

Lucas loved Future Farmers of America volunteering at Wildlife Safari, and Saving Grace animal shelter. He was an amazing soccer player. He graduated Roseburg High School with high academic marks. He was a Ford Family Foundation scholarship recipient. He was a Umpqua Community College scholars award recipient. He was studying chemistry.

Memorial donations can be made to Roseburg High School FFA and to the injured victims."

Quinn Cooper Family Statement

"We are in shock this happened. Quinn was only 18 years old. He just graduated in June from Roseburg High school. Yesterday was his fourth day of college. Quinn was funny, sweet, compassionate and such a wonderful loving person. He always stood up for people. Quinn and his brother Cody are inseparable. Quinn was going to take his brown belt test on October 10th. He loved dancing and voice acting and playing Ingress with Cody, my oldest son. I don't know how we are going to move forward with our lives without Quinn. Our lives are shattered beyond repair. We send our condolences to all the families who have been so tragically affected by this deranged gunman. No one should ever have to feel the pain we are feeling.

We are hearing so many people talk about gun control and taking people's guns away. If the public couldn't have guns it wouldn't help since sick people like this will always be able to get their hands on a gun(s). We need to be able to protect ourselves as a community and as a nation. Please don't let this horrible act of insanity become about who should or shouldn't have a gun. Please remember the victims and their families. Please remember Quinn."

Thank you. The Coopers.

Treven Anspach Family Statement

"The Anspach family would like to thank everybody for their heart felt thoughts and prayers during this most difficult time. Treven was one of the most positive young man always looking for the best in life. Treven was larger than life and brought out the best in those around him.

In Justin's and Kim's words Treven was a perfect son."



October 1, 2015 05:57 PM

Oregonians are reeling from the news of a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg. What is known is that a shooter opened fire at classroom at the community college killing at least 10 people and injuring seven.

The Oregonian,which is maintaining live updates on the shooting reports that the shooter, said to be a male in his 20s, is dead. His identity and motive are unknown. 

Witnesses report the shooting was in Snyder Hall in a writing or speech class.

What isn't known is whether this latest shooting will press Oregon and the nation to finally do something about gun control and the state of mental health care. As President Obama said today, when speaking on the shooting:

"… each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It's not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. It does nothing to prevent his carnage from being inflicted some place else in America next week or a couple months from now."

After the Newtown shootings at Sandy Hook where 20 kids and six adults were killed, the Douglas County Sheriff came out strongly against any new gun control legislation.

Twitter updates on today's shooting can be found at The Douglas County Sheriff's Office has been using the #UCCshooting hashtag. 

There will be a candlelight vigil at Roseburg's Stewart Park tonight. At 2 pm Oct.2, Lane Community College will  be providing an opportunity for "people to share their thoughts and feelings and support one another" at Bristow Square on the main campus.

According to the Register-Guard, a student told the Roseburg News-Review (accessible only to paid subscribers) that "she saw her teacher get shot in the head. The shooter was inside the classroom at that point, and he told people to get on the ground, she said. The shooter was asking people to stand up and state their religion and then started firing away, she added. Moore said she was lying there with people who had been shot."

Three students who were injured in the shooting were brought to Sacred Heart Medical Center RiverBend in Eugene for treatment. Sacred Heart hospital, at its previous location, has dealt with the victims of mass shootings in the past. It treated some of the 25 victims of Kip Kinkel's 1998 shooting spree at Thurston High. 

Lane Blood Center has put out a call for emergency blood donors due to the sudden need for blood as a result of the injuries.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office said via Twitter that the reason it hasn't released the victims' names is because the shooting is "deemed 'mass-casualty event'; brings specific protocols into play. Protocol/notifications mean no name release for 24-48 hrs." 

A 4Chan posting purportedly from the shooter warning of the incident has been circulating on the internet but has not been verified. The New York Times says the FBI is investigating but also says "messages found on 4chan have a history of being false, misleading and intentionally wrong." 

Obama's White House address on the Umpqua shootings

September 25, 2015 11:21 AM

On Saturday, Sept. 26 starting around 1:45 pm at Kesey Square on Broadway, Eugene bike riders will cycle past Saturday Market carring photos of the 43 missing Mexican students from Ayotzinapa State Teachers College who were kidnapped a year ago. 

The full press release is below.

Solidarity Committe for Ayotzinapa of Eugene

contact LASC@efn.org  



Bicyclists to carry photos of the students while riding near Saturday Market 

On September 26, 2014, 43 students from Ayotzinapa State Teachers College were kidnapped, six others killed, and 25 wounded in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico.  Investigations reveal involvement of the mayor of Iguala and his wife, Federal police and military, and local criminal gangs.  The investigations by the national government have been discredited by outside investigators including Amnesty International.  With the 43 students still not credibly accounted there have been nearly continuous protests in Mexico involving tens of thousands of people.  The protests have centered around the families of the disappeared who this week went on a hunger strike in Mexico City.  One of the families is in the United States to speak with the pope.

 The Eugene group will bicycle near the Saturday Market carrying photos of the missing students.  They also will encourage the public to write letters to the governments of Mexico and the United States.  Of particular concern are the arms being supplied by our war on drugs to the Mexican military and police.

The Eugene riders will assemble at Kesey Plaza on Broadway and begin their ride between 1:45 and 2:00 pm.  

For background information see--



September 25, 2015 04:07 PM

Online "lifestyle content platform" GoLocalPDX has posted a story alleging that over the course of a six-month investigation it has found that "the tangled relationship between Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and her husband, Willamette Week publisher Richard Meeker unveils a lack of boundaries between her office and his business interests."

It is unclear who wrote the story, headlined "INVESTIGATION: AG Rosenblum and Meeker’s Ownership in Willamette Week is a Tangled Web," as it is attributed to news staff. EW has asked GoLocal for the writer or writers' contact.

In this week's "Murmurs" column WW says that Byron Beck, a former WWcolumnist, left GoLocalPDX earlier this month and was the last of GoLocal's first round of editorial hires when it launched in 2014.

EWcontacted Willamette Weekeditor and publisher Mark Zuzman for comment on GoLocalPDX's allegations that the alt weekly via Meeker "received favoritism and in other cases his company benefitted economically by avoiding paying costs that other news organizations, the public, inmates and attorneys were requested to pay for preparing documents." 

Meeker, who was WW's publisher for 32 years, stepped down in June of this year and will continue to supervise the company's papers in Santa Fe and Raleigh-Durham.

Current publisher Zusman tells EW via email,  "that story is incorrect" as to GoLocal's allegation there is a "lack of boundaries."

And he says as to allegations about public records requests, "The story in GoLocal is not only incorrect, but it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of public records statutes."

The GoLocal story alleges that because Meeker is married to AG Rosenblum, the paper gets a "free ride" on records requests while others "were charged thousands." 

The story incorrectly refers to Oregon's public records statute as Oregon's Freedom of Information Act.

According to the Oregon Department of Justice, "The statutory authority to request records of Oregon public bodies comes from the Oregon Public Records Law, not the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).[27] Nevertheless, public bodies should not deny a request for their records merely because the requester calls it a FOIA request."

GoLocal compares the lack of fees WW has been charged with fees an attorney and a prison inmate were charged, as well as charges it says it was accorded. Under Oregon's public records law, if a request is found in the public interest, fees may be waived.  

In the story GoLocal makes some other allegations about public records requests that demonstrate some confusion over the laws in Oregon. It is not however the first to look into overlap between Meeker and Rosenblum's positions. KOIN did a story in April of this year about WW's use of Backpage for classified ads, sex trafficking and Rosenblum's work on ending sex trafficking. The Oregonian, on the other hand, has pointed out when WW has called Rosenblum out. WW abstained from covering the AG's race in 2012 to avoid ethics questions. 

Despite the name "GoLocal," the news source lists a Rhode Island address on the Oregon secretary of state's website and the site GoLocal 24 says it runs GoLocalPDX along with Worcester and Providence sites. 

September 25, 2015 05:30 PM

Hike and paddle your way to protesting liquified natural gas in Coos Bay this weekend. Hike the Pipe says it plans to "seize the day, save the bay" this weekend. The rally is a culmination of the 232-mile Hike the Pipe effort to raise awareness about the impacts of the climate change inducing LNG project. The Sept 26 event starts at noon in Coos Bay at Ferry Road Park.

For Eugene participants, buses will leave Eugene’s First United Methodist Church parking lot, 1376 Olive Street, at 8:45 am Saturday. Email deveaulee@yahoo.com to reserve space. Shared cost of the bus ride is $15.

. NoLNGRally26th(tame)(1).jpg

The full press release is below

This Saturday, September 26th at noon hundreds of impacted community members and supporters from across Oregon will join together at Ferry Road Park in North Bend to rally, march and paddle against the proposed Jordan Cove Export Terminal and Pacific Connector Pipeline. The event itinerary is posted below.

This event will culminate Hike the Pipe, a 232-mile trek across Southern Oregon to raise awareness about the potential impacts of exporting fracked gas through our communities. Several of the hikers have been walking since Malin, in Klamath County. As our hikers approach Jordan Cove, we hope to show how this project will affect our safety, environment, and local jobs in fishing and oyster production here in Coos County.

12-2 pm Picnic and Rally at Ferry Road Park, off of Highway 101 in North Bend just South of the McCullough Bridge. If you are coming from the North, Ferry Road Park will be on your left.

1:30 Paddlers launch from the North Bend downtown docks, at the East end of California Street and head towards the bridge. We're asking that paddlers register at https://actionnetwork.org/events/event-5 so that we have a good estimate of how many people will be on the water that day.

2 pm: March departs from Ferry Road Park. Hikers from Hike the Pipe will lead the marchers to the top of the bridge.

4-6 pm: back to Ferry Road Park for celebration with live music.

We invite you to join us for any and all aspects of this event. Please contact us ahead of time if you would like to join us on the water so that you are safely equipped to do so!

September 21, 2015 11:18 AM

The American Association of Universities, of which the University of Oregon is a member, has released the "aggregate results of the Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, a survey it undertookin partnership with 27 universities.

The results show that an often-cited, and often-disputed statistic that says one in five women are sexually assaulted during their colleges years, is accurate at the UO and elsewhere. It also shows that half of the students at the UO don't think the school would take the report of a sexual assault seriously.


The AAU says it is up to the individual university to release its results. The UO has done so, and the school admits in its press release that "The UO data is consistent with results from two local surveys conducted by UO psychology professor Jennifer Freyd in 2014 and 2015."

Freyd, a UO professor well-known researcher on institutional betrayal, offered to conduct a climate survey for the school in 2014 because the school said, "university was concerned that the survey data could be biased because of Freyd’s personal opinions and because Freyd did not collaborate with UO employees who work with sexual violence victims on campus."

Freyd went on to conduct that survey and a second one was . The UO says it will use all the information in both the AAU and Freyd's surveys "to continue to improve its prevention, response and investigative efforts, as well as review policies to improve awareness and safety."

According to the UO, Freyd's 2015 survey showed that:

"One in five undergraduate women in the new survey reported attempted or completed unwanted sexual penetration, almost identical to 2014. However, there was a decline, from 35 percent to 28 percent, in the reporting of attempted and completed physical contact of any type in the new survey.  

Fifty-two percent of 795 undergraduates who completed the 2015 survey were "not at all" aware that the UO had Title IX officers to handle complaints about sexual issues; 50 percent did not know a bias-response team existed. There also was lack of awareness about student legal services and sexual assault support services."

The AAU survey showed that "14.5 percent of student respondents reported experiencing nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force, threats of force or incapacitation since enrolling." The survey found that incidents were much higher among women — 24.2 percent of undergraduate female students reported nonconsensual sexual contact, and 10.6 percent said they had experience nonconsensual penetration.

Like Freyd's survey, the AAU statistic for the UO showed that students are not aware of where they can get help: "Only 34.8 percent of UO students reported they are very knowledgeable about where to get help if they experience sexual assault or misconduct, and only 26.8 percent are very or extremely knowledgeable about where to report an incident."

And chilling in light of recent high-profile sexual assault cases on campus that involved the school accessing student counseling records — and in one case simply dropping the case for the summer, leaving the survivor in limbo — is the information that "less than half of students said they believe campus officials would take reports of sexual assault or misconduct seriously."

Full AAU results can be accessed here. The UO results are here. And information from Jennifer Freyd's survey is here

The UO's web page for reporting or getting help after a sexual assault is here.

September 18, 2015 03:21 PM

Friends of Family Farmers says that it "received confirmation this week of Governor Kate Brown’s intent to appoint the general manager of Oregon’s largest factory farm to Oregon’s Board of Agriculture."

The groups says that appointing a representative of a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) could have repercussions for family farmers, whose numbers are decreasing even as the numbers of cows are increasing.

FoFF says in a press release:

Marty Myers, Brown’s pick, is the general manager of Threemile Canyon Farms, a factory-scale dairy operation with corporate headquarters in North Dakota. Threemile houses over 50,000 dairy cows in confinement in Eastern Oregon, but has state-issued permits to expand to over 90,000 dairy cows. The factory farm, located near Boardman, produces twice the biological waste of a city the size of Salem, is one of the nation’s largest factory dairy operations, and likely Oregon’s single largest source of agricultural air pollution.

According to OPB, Threemile Canyon supplies Tillamook Dairy with the milk for its cheese. And according to the United Farm Workers, in the past the company has had labor issues, health and safety violations and gender discrimination allegations.

"In contrast to the vast majority of farms in Oregon, nearly 85 percent of which are family owned and operated," FoFF says, "Threemile Canyon Farms is owned by an out-of-state corporation, R.D. Offutt. Also in contrast to more typical Oregon farming operations, open manure cesspools at Threemile exceed 40 acres in size and release up to 2850 tons of ammonia gas each year. A U.S. Forest Service study in 2005 found these manure cesspools were a contributing source to acid rain and haze in the Columbia River Gorge."

Threemile Canyon Farms, LLC

Cows at Threemile Canyon Farms. Photo by Friends of Family Farmers.

The nonprofit farm group says in appointing Myers, Brown has passed over "dairy producer Jon Bansen, who also applied for the position. Bansen, owner of Double J Jerseys in Monmouth Oregon, raises 300 dairy cows on pasture and produces organic milk for the cooperative Organic Valley."

The Board of Agriculture is made up of 10 members and, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, it advises ODA "on policy issues, develops recommendations on key agricultural issues, and provides advocacy of the state's agriculture industry in general. In addition, the board issues a biennial report to the governor and Legislative Assembly regarding the status of Oregon's agriculture industry."

Friends of Family Farmers says that the board, "is currently exempt from oversight by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. In addition, its members are selected by the governor, but are not confirmed by the Oregon Senate," which the group says raises transparency and conflict of interest concerns.

September 18, 2015 02:30 PM

The House of Representatives voted to freeze funding for Planned Parenthood with a largely party-line vote of 241-187. According to Mother Jones:

Planned Parenthood is barred by law from using federal funds to provide abortions. The $500 million or so it receives each year from the government allows the group to provide family planning and other reproductive health services to mostly poor women on Medicaid. Ahead of the vote, conservative activists and lawmakers circulated a list of thousands of other family planning providers that could replace Planned Parenthood for the thousands of poor women who use its services. There is ample evidence to suggest that these alternatives to Planned Parenthood do not have the capacity to treat the group's patient.

The congressional kickback is largely in response to undercover videos that purported to show Planned Parenthood profiting from selling fetal tissue — allegations several investigations have shown to be unfounded. 

Today the House also passed H.R. 3504, the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, with a vote of 248-177 — with the exception of Rep. Greg Walden, the Oregon delegation voted against it. 

According to Oregon Right-to-Life, the bill "would require abortion clinics provide the same standard of care afforded to prematurely born infants. A failure to do so would become a federal crime. H.R. 3504 would also strengthen the penalties against an abortionist who overtly tried to kill an abortion survivor."

Planned Parenthood is calling for a "national pink-out day," posting on its Facebook page: "Had enough of the outrageous attacks? Join us on September 29 for ‪#‎PinkOut‬ Day! We're turning the world PINK in a massive show of strength and solidarity for reproductive health and rights. Visit istandwithpp.org."

Planned Parenthood provides affordable  reproductive health care, sex education and information to people across the U.S. and the world. 

September 17, 2015 12:43 PM

This just in from BoltBus: more trips to Portland and a route to Seattle.

Affordable premium bus carrier launches direct service between Seattle and Albany/Eugene, adds frequency from Portland

DALLAS (Sept. 17, 2015) — BoltBus, the popular bus line featuring premium onboard amenities and $1 fares, today announced it will expand service in the Pacific Northwest. Beginning today, BoltBus will offer direct service between Seattle and Albany, Ore., and continue to Eugene, Ore., providing customers with more travel options in the region. Prior to today, the Albany and Eugene markets were just served by Portland.

“We’re excited to offer direct service between Seattle and Albany, Ore. with continuing service to Eugene, as we’ve seen an increase in demand, especially from the large college population in the area,” said David Hall, general manager, BoltBus. “Seattle, Albany and Eugene are all popular destinations in the Pacific Northwest, and providing direct service between them allows customers to travel safely, affordably and reliably to these locations.”

In addition to launching direct service between Seattle and Albany/Eugene, the company has also increased frequency to Albany/Eugene from Portland, Ore. from five days a week to seven days a week. The daily schedules allow college students and residents to have more flexibility when traveling, and more convenient schedules to choose from. 

To travel on BoltBus from Seattle or Portland to Albany/Eugene, customers can conveniently board at the following locations:

  • Seattle: 5th Ave. South @ S. King St.
  • Portland: SW Salmon St. (between 5th and 6th Ave.)
  • Albany: Albany Transit Center at 112 SW 10th Ave.
  • Eugene: 5th Street Market at290 E. 5th Ave.

On BoltBus, customers experience free Wi-Fi, power outlets, leather seats and extra legroom while they travel. Bolt Rewards, a loyalty program, is also available to reward frequent riders with free travel. Riders who take eight trips on BoltBus are eligible for a free one-way ticket trip. For fare and schedule information, or to purchase tickets, visit BoltBus.com. 

September 17, 2015 01:22 PM

The University of Oregon has faced heavy criticism for taking the student counseling records of survivors who have sued the school — or even just threatened to sue the school — for mishandling their rape cases. While the Oregon Legislature has worked changed that, loopholes remain open. Oregon lawmakers are now taking the issue up on a federal level, according to today's press release.

Wyden, Bonamici Release Draft Bill to Protect Student Privacy

Oregon Lawmakers Ask for Input on Legislative Proposal to Protect Student Health Records

Washington, D.C. – Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., today released draft legislation to better protect student privacy on college campuses in Oregon and across the country. 

The draft bill would change portions of the federal law that governs student records by putting additional privacy procedures in place before a school’s lawyers can access a student’s personal information, including medical records. The current law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), allows educational institutions a significant amount of discretion in accessing student records without the knowledge or consent of the student.

The draft bill, the Campus Litigation Privacy Act, is modeled after guidelines released in August by the U.S. Department of Education that encourage colleges and universities to put individual policies in place to protect student privacy on campus. The department’s draft guidelines are not binding, and once finalized, schools can choose whether or not to adhere to the recommended best practices.

“The Education Department has issued important guidelines on this issue, but protecting student privacy shouldn’t be voluntary,” Wyden said. “Representative Bonamici and I are working together to ensure heightened protections become the law of the land and we are seeking input to make this proposal even stronger. Students should be able to seek health and mental health care on campus with confidence that their private records will be kept confidential.”

“Students’ health records are not adequately safeguarded, and if students don’t trust the confidentiality of campus-based services, we run the risk of discouraging students from seeking care,” Bonamici said. “I look forward to receiving feedback on this proposal and advancing legislation to strengthen privacy protections for students. I am pleased to be working with Senator Wyden on this important issue.”

FERPA governs student education records, including on-campus health treatment records, while off-campus health care providers must adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In legal cases, HIPAA includes additional protections, such as patient authorization, for patient medical records when the records are disclosed.

Earlier this year, Wyden and Bonamici asked the Department of Education to clarify the privacy protections for students on college and university campuses regarding access to their health records.

A summary and text of the draft bill are attached. Submit comments until October 17 here.

September 16, 2015 04:02 PM

Local birder Noah Strycker has set a world record for most species of birds spotted in one year.

New World Record for Most Species of Birds Seen in One Year

Audubon Blogger Noah Strycker Notches 4,342 Species, Will Continue through 2015

THATTEKAD BIRD SANCTUARY, India (September 16, 2015) – Today, globetrotting birder and Audubon blogger Noah Strycker (@NoahStrycker) entered the record books with the most species of birds seen in the same calendar year. He surpassed Alan Davies and Ruth Miller’s previous record when he spotted a Sri Lanka Frogmouth for bird number 4,342. Noah began his “Big Year” on January 1 in Antarctica and is expected to reach his goal of 5,000 birds well before December 31. He has been recording his journey for the National Audubon Society in a blog called “Birding Without Borders” as well as marking his findings in eBird. His full list of species seen so far can be found here.

“It has been amazing to connect with birders through the Audubon blog,” wrote Strycker. “I've been blown away by the feedback and response it has received! There are millions of bird lovers all over the world. In 2016, I get to relive the whole adventure while writing a book about the experience. Instead of a travelogue, the book will be a reflective, fun narrative about birders and our place in the world.”

Countries visited: 27 and counting

First bird seen: Cape Petrel, January 1, Trinity Island, Antarctica

Most memorable sighting: “In Brazil, near the Pantanal, I visited a Harpy Eagle nest and waited four hours until one of the eagles showed up. When it arrived, it was carrying half a coati (a raccoon-like animal) in its dinner-plate-sized talons. Seeing that eagle swoop in was one of the most dramatic and memorable birding moments of my life.”

“Noah’s big year shines a light on the beauty and wonder of birds – and on all the threats they face in a rapidly changing world,” said Audubon VP for Content Mark Jannot. “One out of every eight birds worldwide is globally threatened, and we hope Noah’s blog will inspire more people to help save them.”

According to BirdLife International, one out of eight birds across the globe is threatened, with up to 200 species facing imminent extinction. Habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and increasingly the effects of climate change have resulted in the decline of birds everywhere. Bird populations tend to reflect the health of their ecosystems at large due to their heightened sensitivity to the quality of their surroundings.

Follow the rest of Noah's journey at audubon.org/noah.

The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

September 14, 2015 10:19 AM

Advocates for the unhoused in Eugene are rallying at Wayne Morse Plaza (8th and Oak) and care oming before the City Council tonight. They point to a recent statement of interest filed by the U.S. Department of Justice that says "making it a crime for people who are homeless to sleep in public places, when there is insufficient shelter space in a city, unconstitutionally punishes them for being homeless."



SEPTEMBER 14, 2015



The US Department of Justice on August 6, 2015 exerted new federal muscle against local governments that criminalize homelessness .   In a United States Letter of Interest in a Boise Idaho case, DOJ stated unequivocally that enforcement of anti-camping laws when there is inadequate shelter is unconstitutional.

Lane County’s One Night Homeless Count has repeatedly validated that Eugene has hundreds of unsheltered homeless citizens. The city's official website confirms this.  Consequently, Eugene's enforcement of its anti-camping law, 4.815,  is unconstitutional.

In the DOJ "Conclusion" in the Boise case, US Attorney Sharon Brett stated, " If the Court finds that it is impossible for homeless individuals to secure shelter space on some nights because no beds are available, no shelter meets their disability needs, or they have exceeded the maximum stay limitations, then the Court should also find that enforcement of the ordinances under those circumstances criminalizes the status of being homeless and violates the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution."

"Thus, criminalizing homelessness is both unconstitutional and misguided public policy, leading to worse outcomes for people who are homeless and for their communities," admonished the DOJ. 

Citizens, both housed and unhoused will attend the 7:30 PM Monday, September 14, 2015 meeting of the City Council to demand  a moratorium on 4.815, Eugene’s anti-camping ordinance and that all outstanding tickets be suspended or dismissed.  The group will also demand a moratorium and suspension of 4.807 Criminal Trespass 2, a "quality of life" charge, and of the Parks Exclusion (Restricted Use) which is given without judicial review in violation of the 4th Amendment "due process' clause.  

The final demand is to put a moratorium on interrupting anyone who is settled to sleep on public land who is not blocking pedestrian or vehicular traffic from dusk to dawn  It is intended that the moratoriums remain in place until Eugene develops laws, policies and practices that comply with the US Constitution,  Oregon Law and International Law.  

August 28, 2015 04:05 PM
Photo by Amber Hogan
Photo by Amber Hogan

On March 27, 2014, journalist Serena Markstrom stood outside the Register-Guardnewspaper, pregnant and unemployed.

Today, Aug. 28, 2015, she filed a complaint against the paper in Lane County Circuit Court seeking economic and non-economic losses of $525,000. The case centers on claims of gender discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation and violating the Oregon Family Leave Act. You can read the full document below.

Markstrom, who also goes by her married name Serena Markstrom Nugent, was fired from the paper where she had worked for 12 years and instead of a baby shower, former fellow employees at the R-G gathered to say goodbye on a rainy sidewalk in front of the newspaper’s Chad Drive offices.

Markstrom had worked at the daily paper in Eugene, Oregon since college and was well known in the community for her lively entertainment reporting and social media presence.

In the months before the paper fired her, Nugent had been pulled from her longtime music and entertainment beat, a beat the court filing says “for which she was recruited, trained, experienced and exceptional” and put on newsroom beat that covered all of rural Lane County. As EWwrote at the time of the change in her beat:

Such switches, as well as downsizing of newspaper newsrooms, have become more common in recent years as print newspapers deal with a changing world of internet publishing and social media. Moving writers to beats they are unfamiliar with is often seen as a strategy to get rid of experienced, higher-paid writers and replace them with newer reporters at a lower pay scale.

The complaint goes on to say that The Register-Guard failed to provide Markstrom any “meaningful help,” for more than seven months, but her editors were nonetheless supportive until “all of that changed dramatically when she notified The Register-Guard of her need for pregnancy related family leave.”

The court document does not say that Markstrom never made any errors in her time at the R-G and in fact points several of them out, rather the argument is that the newspaper “precipitously re-characterized any of Ms. Markstrom's mistakes in the months before  her pregnancy as serious performance deficiencies.”

After the R-G presented Markstrom with a “lengthy performance improvement plan that threatened her with termination in the very near future over issues that it had never previously brought to Ms. Markstrom's attention as sufficiently problematic to justify discipline, let alone termination” her doctor removed her from the workplace for the rest of her pregnancy, the court filing says.

After Markstrom submitted her request for Oregon Family Leave Act intermittent leave to deal with pregnancy related illness, the complaint says that Wendy Baker — a member of the Baker family, which owns the R-G, who is legal counsel and director of human resources at the paper — instructed Markstrom’s editor to “promptly document any and all of Ms. Markstrom's conduct &rdquo that the editor, Ilene Aleshire, “could be critical of because, according to Ms. Baker, The Register-Guard ‘needed to get this  done soon,’ before Ms. Markstrom "got into her pregnancy and … claimed pregnancy discrimination."

Ultimately Markstrom was fired for being "dishonest, insubordinate and having destroyed company property” after checking her email while on pregnancy related disability leave.

According to the complaint, Aleshire told Markstrom that she could not ‘do any work, including checking emails and voicemails,’ while she was on disability leave.

However, Markstrom's complaint says she understood this to mean that she could not work — which might include checking work-related emails and voicemails. “She did not understand this to be a total prohibition against accessing her email account for personal matters.”

The R-G and its union — Eugene Newspaper Guild Local 37194 of the Newspaper Guild/Communication Workers for America — had previously been in a legal battle that the complaint says “led to a judgment authorizing Guild members to use their Register-Guard emails for union and personal matters.”

Markstrom still writes and currently freelances a parenting column for a local start-up lifestyle magazine, Lane Monthly.

EW has contacted Wendy Baker and Dave Baker at the R-G for comment. Wendy Baker says she may comment after she has seen the lawsuit. EW will be updating this blog online if more information, including a response from the R-G arises, and following up with an news story in print.

Update: the R-G has done a story on the lawsuit. EW will be coming out with a print news story on Thursday.

Full disclosure: Camilla Mortensen attended Serena Markstrom's wedding and the writers are friends.

August 27, 2015 12:55 PM

Ever notice that the Register-Guard writes a lot about Duck football? Like three stories a day. R-G readers must like football (and crime and the weather, based on an informal survey of what shows up on the web).

Last week the web editors must have gotten just a wee bit football crazed, what with a game coming up Sept. 5 and all.