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September 29, 2016 07:36 PM

Eugene Weekly has gotten word that local racist Jimmy Marr has been arrested for disorderly conduct in Springfield.

EW correspondent Jennefer Harper, a CodePink activist, took photos of the arrest and says police are now searching Marr's home.

Harper says she was walking to the Community Alliance of Lane County, Standing Up for Racial Justice and NAACP Stop Hate! rally outside Willamalane Center when she encountered Marr's house where he was blasting offensive speech such as "hate is good" from a loudspeaker on his roof.

This blog will be updated when more information is available. Springfield spokesman Niel Laudati confirmed the arrest.

September 29, 2016 11:42 AM

Eugene Center for Ethnobotanical Studies is hosting a kratom rally 9 pm, Friday Sept 30 at Kesey Square with informal speakers followed by a march to the federal building on 8th.

Organziers say that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency "has filed a notice of intent to schedule and ban kratom by midnight, Sept. 30. Countless people depend on this safe and effective herbal remedy related to coffee, sacred to Buddhists, who have used it safely for thousands of years. Many of you depend on this healing leaf for your general well-being, pain and suffering, depression, anxiety, PTSD, opioid dependency and more."

Go to ecfes.org for more info.

September 27, 2016 03:43 PM

Ken Darling, a descendent of Eugene Skinner has retained the law firm of Hutchinson Cox to intervene in a court action that seeks to determine if  the deed restriction on the county-owned "Butterfly Lot" prevents the land being used for a Eugene City Hall.

Darling says in the press release, included below that the land swap the city and county now have under discussion would "violate my great-great grandparents’ intentions for their gift of property." The release says another living Skinner relative will join Darling in intervening in the pending lawsuit.


Skinner Descendants Will Intervene in Deed Restriction Case

Ken Darling, the great, great-grandson of Eugene and Mary Skinner, has retained counsel in order to assert the continuing validity of the restriction his ancestors wrote into their 1856 deed of land in downtown Eugene to Lane County. To do so, Darling will seek leave to intervene in the court action recently filed by the Lane County and the City of Eugene for a legal determination of the issue.

“Eugene and Mary Skinner dedicated the land to the county for use as a county seat. If the county were now to transfer part of the land to Eugene for a city hall, the Skinner deed restriction would be violated,” said Darling. The deed restriction was at the center of a similar dispute in 1909. At that time, the county court, ordered the city to tear down and remove the city hall and jail building that had been built on the property, and the city complied.

The issue remained dormant until 2007, when the Lane County Circuit Court Administrator wrote a letter to the county and city officials opposing the sale of what is known as the “butterfly parking lot” because of the court’s “long-standing plans to build a new courthouse on this lot.” The letter characterized the deed restriction as “specific, permanent, and exclusive.”

Darling continued, “the land swap the city and county now have under discussion would likewise violate my great-great grandparents’ intentions for their gift of property. I feel an obligation to them and to the memory of my mother, Helen Skinner Darling, to do what I can to make sure the conditions on the Skinner dedication are honored, now, 160 years later.”

At least one other living Skinner family descendant will join Darling in intervening in the pending lawsuit.

September 26, 2016 03:16 PM

Avoiding the debates? St. Vinnie's is offering retail therapy for tonight's presidential debate. Press release is below.

Vinnie’s provides ‘politics-free zone’ during tonight’s debate

Sale from 6-8 p.m. tonight offers 50 percent off all books, clothing

     Many Lane County residents will be glued to their television screens for 90 grinding, hyper-tense minutes tonightwatching Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump go head to head in the first presidential debate. But for those sick and tired of the debate hype and looking for an alternative, St. Vinnie’s is offering half off on all clothing and books from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.at its Division and Seneca stores in Eugene and at the Thurston and Q street stores in Springfield.

     “We’re providing a politics-free-zone for all those long-suffering souls who fervently wish this election season was in their rear-view mirror, said Paul Neville, public relations director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County. “Getting half off on any items from our huge selection of books and high-quality brand-name clothing may be just the diversion people need.”

    The Division Store is located at 201 Division Ave., and the Seneca Store is at 705 S. Seneca in Eugene.  The Thurston Store is located at 4555 Main St. and the Q Street Store is at 1999 Q St. in Springfield. Maps and additional store information are available at http://www.svdp.us/what-we-do/retail-thrift-stores/





September 23, 2016 04:03 PM

Oregon school districts, including local districts 4J, Bethel and Springfield, might get reimbursed for money spent on lead testing that took place this summer. At the time the districts commenced the lead testing, there was no guarantee from the state that they would receive funding to cover the cost of the tests.

According to a notice sent from Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor to Oregon superintendents, the Oregon Legislature has set aside $5 million to help schools pay for lead testing in drinking water. Charters schools are eligible for the funding, according to the notice.

The notice goes on to say that schools must meet a list of criteria in order to qualify for receiving the funds. The criteria include that the testing agency used must be accredited by the Oregon Health Authority, and that testing must have taken place between March 1 and December 1 of this year. 

4J estimated the cost of its testing would amount to $25,000 or more. Earlier this year, 4J found high levels of lead in the drinking water of a handful its schools, and subsequently decided to test drinking water in the entire district. 

According to current information available on the district's website, testing is still in progress in many schools throughout the 4J district. It is unclear how much repairs will cost the district once it is determined which fixtures need to be replaced.

September 19, 2016 04:39 PM

The Register-Guard's online edition is at this moment in time winning at headlines:

Man covered in marshmallow creme-like stuff arrested for vandalism at Voodoo Donuts

There are visions brought to mind by the words "covered in marshmallow creme-like stuff" that are not going away.

Sidenote: It's Voodoo Doughnut not Donuts, but when you're having fun with criminals covered in creme, typos happen, we get that.

On the chance the R-G makes the headline less fun for print, we've preserved the sordid pastry story below.

A man at a popular downtown donut shop found himself in a sticky situation early Sunday morning, literally covered in a “sticky white food substance” after being accused of painting the store with it.

Ean Mandrake Card, 20, had been banned from Voodoo Donuts, but Eugene police said that he returned around 6:45 a.m. Sunday to smear what appeared to be marshmallow creme on the store’s patio furniture and windows.

Eugene officers found Card on Oak Alley near East 11th Avenue a short time later, where he was covered in the white stuff, police said. Card was arrested and booked into the Lane County Jail on charges of third-degree criminal mischief, second-degree criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

September 19, 2016 04:56 PM

Lane Community College Employees Federation (LCCEF, the classified staff union) is having a rally 5:15 pm, Tuesday, Sept. 20 outside the second floor of of Building 3 on the LCC main campus. 

The LCCEF represents essentially all non-managerial and non-faculty staff at the college: Custodians, administrative support staff, public safety officers, IT staff and more. According to the LCCEF, "The Board of Education will be inside Building 3, in Executive Session, preceding their September Board Meeting, which starts at 6:30."

LCCEF union president Bob Baldwin says there will be a possible strike vote in October.

Baldwin said in a statement: “Since February we have attempted to have a meaningful dialogue but there has been a total unwillingness for any movement or compromise from the board. They have placed personal politics over the good of the college.”

LCC board of directors Vice Chair Rosie Pryor says the board has to balance the needs of employees with needs such as keeping tuition low for students. She says the "good news is it is all a process and negotiations haven’t broken down from our perspective."

Pryor says she thinks a rally is great, calling Lane employees "passionate" and "dedicate." She's optimistic about negotiations, Pryor says, and there is another mediation session later this week.


Full disclosure: EW editor Camilla Mortensen teaches a journalism course at Lane.

September 19, 2016 04:21 PM

Apparently Bomba Estéro's "Soy You" was a hit in 2015, but some of us didn't notice it until Torben Kjelstrup's music video hit computer screens last week.

The catchy electro-cumbia song is a ode to empowerment, an idea that shines through to non-Spanish speakers in the video.

September 16, 2016 04:38 PM

Back in July, local white supremacist Jimmy Marr Tweeted a photo of himself playing the bagpies in the back of a truck he adorns with anti-Semitic, racist and pro-Trump slogans. He also tweeted a photo of himself shaking the hand of a Eugene Police Department officer. Marr's Twitter handle is @GenocideJimmy.

Recently that photo has been ciculating on Twitter and Reddit and creating an outcry with hashtags such as #whodoyouprotect #whodoyouserve and outcry from both local residents and people across the country concerned with the implications of a police officer shaking the hands of a racist. 

Marr's racist propoganda and messages like "diversity is white genocide" have placed him in the headlines before and he appears to enjoy the notoriety. Marr's truck and its slogans recently drew national attention with a photo of his "Jew Lies Matter" slur and his more recent: "Trump: Do the white thing."

EW asked EPD about the photo: 

Following the recent shootings of police officers across the country, the man in this photo showed up in the parking lot of the police department with his pickup truck playing bagpipes.

One of our officers entered the parking lot and approached the vehicle. From his vantage point the officer did not see the back of the pickup with the comments about Jews. The man reached out to thank the officer for his service. “The officer did exactly what he's supposed to do, which is to respond in a professional and courteous manner to someone who wants to greet them and in return shook the man's hand,” Acting Police Chief Sam Kamkar. Unbeknownst to the officer, another person was in the parking lot and at that instant moment snapped a photograph of the officer shaking hands with the subject.


EPD has also responded to Twitter users:

September 15, 2016 10:12 AM

Drivers on I-5 near Sutherlin have been confronted with the disturbing sight of an effigy of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton dangling from a noose on a crane, surrounded by signs bearing statements like "Vote Trump."

Photo courtesy Scott Beckstead

KVAL news talked to the man from Sutherlin, who mounted the political display:

The man who put it up, Billy Pitner, says Hillary Clinton has committed a crime that he wanted to bring attention to. "I'm allowed to have my feelings, right, wrong, or indifferent,” Pitner said Sunday evening. “Here you are. Got your attention, didn't it?”

News sources around the country from New York Daily News to the Kansas City Star  have picked up the story.

As EW wrote in this week's Slant column: 

Incidents like this as well as the recent sightings of local white supremacist Jimmy Marr driving around the state with signs reading “Trump: Do the White Thing” and other racist statements have made national headlines (and made Oregon look bad). It’s not just us; it’s nationwide. Has voicing hate become acceptable? Don’t just drive by when you see racism. Speak up. Call it out.

September 14, 2016 03:17 PM

According to a press release sent out today from the city of Eugene, it has relached an agreement with popular online home short-term rental site Airbnb on complying with tax laws. The full release is below.

City of Eugene and Airbnb reach home sharing tax agreement

The City of Eugene has reached an agreement with Airbnb for the home sharing website to comply with local tax laws, simplifying the process for Eugene residents who list all or part of their homes as short term rentals. Airbnb is a popular alternative to booking hotel rooms, as many travelers seek new or less expensive ways to experience cities they visit.

Eugene has a transient room tax (TRT) of 4.5% that applies to all overnight stays in the city, including hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, and short-term rentals. Revenue from the TRT helps fund Eugene’s Cultural Services programs and supports tourism and visitor programs in Eugene. With the new agreement, Airbnb will collect and remit taxes on behalf of hosts, simplifying the process for hosts.

“This agreement will make it easier for Eugeneans to provide this popular form of rental and comply with local rules. It also provides fairness with hotels and other rentals,” says Renee Grube, Executive Director, Eugene Library, Recreation, Cultural Services. “The service benefits the community by helping expand local options for rooms,” she added.

Portland was one of the first cities to make a similar agreement with Airbnb in 2014. Globally, 200 communities have made similar agreements with Airbnb, including Bend and Washington County earlier this year.

September 14, 2016 11:55 AM

Paying the Price for Peacewith S. Brian Willson
A Film and Conversation for the 2016 International Day of Peace
By Jack Dresser and Mariah Leung
Co-directors, Al-Nakba Awareness Project

 Eugene takes its peace activism seriously, and a nationally known activist with a compelling story will be visiting Eugene next week on the International Day of Peace, together with a feature-length documentary film about his life. The moral of his story is that yes, it’s risky to challenge ruthless, unprincipled power, but the risks of our obedience are far greater to people elsewhere unprotected by U.S. citizenship.

The film begins in the 1980s as the Reagan administration was covertly supporting Nicaraguan Contras against the socialist government of Daniel Ortega. Not coincidentally, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in 1981 sponsored by its Central American neighbor, Costa Rica, to establish an International Day of Peace, now commemorated each Sept. 21.

… As the carnage and atrocities in Nicaragua increased with secret administration support of the Contras, circumventing U.S. congressional resolutions from 1982 to 1984 explicitly prohibiting such support, Veterans for Peace was established to oppose these US military interventions as well as the nuclear arms race.

It was at this time that Vietnam War veteran S. Brian Willson, a once-horrified witness to our country’s criminal destruction of innocent peoples and their societies in Southeast Asia, became ignited into activism with recognition of similar U.S.-engineered atrocities in Central America. He traveled to Nicaragua and El Salvador, meeting, talking, witnessing, making friends and losing friends to US-orchestrated violence. He explains simply, “They were my family, and my family members were being killed,” and was moved to take non-violent direct action resisting our government.

This took the form of confrontation with U.S. weapons transfers to Contra terrorists attacking Ortega’s recently established government and to the Salvadoran dictatorship operating School of the Americas-trained death squads against a populist uprising among poor Salvadoran campesinos. Willson joined with other anti-war activists, including fellow veterans, to obstruct government munitions trains shipping arms from the Concord Naval Weapons Station in California to the Contras by blocking the tracks. This would force the trains to stop, disrupt their operation, and draw media attention.

But on Sept. 1, 1987 a government munitions train not only failed to stop but accelerated to three times its legal speed limit and ran over Brian, severing one leg and mangling the other, and inflicting a severe frontal lobe brain injury. Miraculously, he and his cognitive functioning survived.

The day he awoke in the hospital some 900 furious citizens tore up 300 feet of train track and launched a 28-month, 24/7 occupation of the tracks and road, blocking every train and truck shipping munitions. Each shipment was significantly delayed while police removed up to 200 camping demonstrators. Some 2,100 were arrested. 

(This, incidentally, begs the question, where is a comparable outrage today as our imperial war machine rolls on, laying waste to the Middle East?)

What the U.S. government did to him, Willson reflects, is what it does to countless others worldwide in its relentless quest for domination and empire.  His book, Blood on the Tracks tells the story of Willson’s conventional family upbringing in small town, rural America, two epiphanies he identifies as “irreversible knowledge” that radically changed his life course, and the experiences, readings and reflections leading to an understanding of fundamental human archetypes repressed in the West, his decision that “dignity trumps longevity,” and belief in a horizontal worldview radically different from ours - that “we are not worth more, they are not worth less.”

Based on the book, a feature-length film titled Paying the Price for Peace was produced and directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Bo Boudart, narrated by Peter Coyote. More than four years in the making, the film includes compelling archival footage and many prominent peace activists and political figures including Daniel Ellsberg, Alice Walker, Martin Sheen, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Medea Benjamin, Amy Goodman, Chelsea Manning, former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, former U.S. soldier Camila Mejia court-martialed for refusing service in Iraq, Phil Donahue, Bruce Gagnon, former Veterans for Peace president Leah Bolger, Cindy Sheehan, Born on the Fourth of July author Ron Kovic and Col. Ann Wright who resigned from the State Department in protest over the invasion of Iraq.

Willson paid not only with his legs but also with attachment to institutional reward structures of our society, freed in exchange to live directed by awareness, empathy and conscience — essential preconditions for peace within and between people. Were this state of mind to become universal, we would have 365 days of international peace each year.

Co-sponsored by Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) and Veterans for Peace, the film will be screened on 6 pm Wednesday, Sept. 21, at the Campbell Center, 155 High St., followed by Q&A conversation with Brian.

September 13, 2016 10:37 AM

The Obama Administration's statement on Standing Rock, issued Sept. 9, shortly after a federal judge ruled progress on the Dakota Access oil pipeline could proceed, is worth a read in its entirety. From stopping construction, to acknowledging the peaceful protests and First Amendment rights, to recognizing there needs to be "nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure project," this is impressive.

Joint Statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior Regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior issued the following statement regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

“We appreciate the District Court’s opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act.  However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain.  Therefore, the Department of the Army, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior will take the following steps.

The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws.  Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time.  The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution.  In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.

“Furthermore, this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.  Therefore, this fall, we will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on two questions:  (1) within the existing statutory framework, what should the federal government do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights; and (2) should new legislation be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals.

“Finally, we fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely.  We urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence.  Of course, anyone who commits violent or destructive acts may face criminal sanctions from federal, tribal, state, or local authorities.  The Departments of Justice and the Interior will continue to deploy resources to North Dakota to help state, local, and tribal authorities, and the communities they serve, better communicate, defuse tensions, support peaceful protest, and maintain public safety.

“In recent days, we have seen thousands of demonstrators come together peacefully, with support from scores of sovereign tribal governments, to exercise their First Amendment rights and to voice heartfelt concerns about the environment and historic, sacred sites.  It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.”

September 2, 2016 09:53 AM

Photo by Amber Hogan

Photo by Amber Hogan

Serena Markstrom talks to the press after being fired by The Register-Guard in 2014.

In the wake of Serena Markstrom Nugent's civil lawsuit against The Register-Guard for firing her after she checked emails while on pregnancy disability leave, it appears that the R-G might be considering cutting some employees that were involved in the case.

EW has heard from several credible sources that Eugene Newspaper Guild union co-president Randi Bjornstad and programmers Joe Clark and Horst Lueck, both in information systems, have been placed on administrative leave. 

Bjornstad in her position as union president supported Markstrom Nugent and gave her advice on deleting emails and other issues and testified during the trial.

According to court documents, when Markstrom Nugent was unable to access her email from home while on leave, Clark reset her usename and password. In her email to Clark Markstrom Nugent said she wanted to save emails for "personal reflection" on her career.

Also in the court documents, Markstrom Nugent refers to getting advice from Lueck on exporting her email account.

Markstrom Nugent, a longtime R-G entertainment reporter was suddenly switched to a hard news beat in 2012. In previous interviews she told EW that three weeks after announcing she was pregnant, she was told she needed coaching on her writing. The R-G then set up a performance improvement plan, a tactic that has been used by other news agencies to try to get rid of older journalists. 

Markstrom Nugent filed a lawsuit in August 2015 and according to her complaint, editor Ilene 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.” 

Markstrom Nugent was seeking $125,000 in non-economic losses as well as back pay from day she was fired, March 24, 2014, until Aug. 23.

If employees are fired, this won't be the first time the R-G has severed relationships with those who supported Markstrom Nugent. When was fired, former R-G arts writer Bob Keefer rounded up support for a well-wishing for the pregnant journalist. Keefer, who now runs a popular art blog, Eugene Art Talk, was freelancing for the R-G. He was told "We won't be needing your freelance services anymore.” 

A jury heard arguments in Lane County Circuit Court for six days starting Aug. 23, however Judge Josephine Mooney dismissed the case on Aug. 31 based on Markstrom Nugent having deleted emails, which Mooney called destruction of evidence.

Wendy Baker, the R-G's human resouces director and an attorney told the paper that "“Some will say the case was dismissed on a technicality."

In the newspaper's first story on the lawsuit it misspelled the judge's name as Moody. The error has since been fixed online. 

EW asked Baker for comment and confirmation on Bjornstad, Lueck and Clark's administrative leave as well as comment on the lawsuit. She declined to comment.


Update: As noted in previous coverage, Editor Camilla Mortensen and Markstrom Nugent hang out sometimes and are even friends.