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September 26, 2013 03:07 PM

Lane County has released a redacted version of the the report prepared by USO Investigations of former Lane County Administrator Liane Richardson. 

Initially public records request by EW and others were denied while the Marion County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the issue and considered potential criminal charges. No charges were filed. Lane County signed an agreement with Richardson saying no lawsuits would be filed, by either side, or charges filed by the county.

The report is below. According to Lane County, was redacted "by county counsel to ensure the confidentiality of employees interviewed." 

The county said in a press release that the "key findings of the report" are:

- Richardson was sold amounts of TM in excess of the policy for non-represented employees. The July 26th, 2013 pay stub shows she was paid for 225.17 hours of TM so far this year that amounts to $16493.67. The amount she was entitled to was 80 hours under the APM Chapter 3

- Richardson was untruthful in the email to Lane County Commissioners that she just became aware she had exceeded the limit on July 22nd, 2013. She was aware of it June 20th, 2013 in an email where she was asked if she wanted to keep selling her TM since she had increased the 200 hour limit. Her response to that email was “Go ahead and keep doing the sales. Thanks!”

- Richardson used her position to go beyond the APM limits to sell her time management to help her increase her salary and was planning to do the same in the 2013-14 budget with an increased amount. During this investigation, she made untruthful statements about this.

Before you download it, note that when the county says "redacted" it means large swaths of the report are blacked out. It looks like this for many pages:

September 25, 2013 04:29 PM

So there might be a strike of the UO classified staff starting Sept. 30 — the classified staff at Oregon's seven universities has voted in favor of a strike.

According to an email from the UO's union for teaching staff — United Academics of the University of Oregon (UAUO):

For several years, a group of more than 1,500 workers at the UO--including office staff, librarians, computer techs, custodians, housing employees, engineers, nurses, maintenance workers and many others--have been forced to make tremendous economic sacrifices. The UO could not function without these employees--they feed our students, keep our IT system up and our libraries running; they pay our bills, run our offices, and ensure our workplaces are safe, clean and functional. Yet a large number barely make enough to pay their monthly bills.

They've had to accept pay freezes, unpaid furlough days, and shell out even more for their health insurance in order to help the seven campus Oregon University System (OUS) balance its budget. During the recent budget crisis, they were the only campus workers forced to take sizable pay cuts. They have fallen so far behind that more than one quarter of full-time classified workers at the UO meet the threshold for food stamp eligibility for a family of four.

Now, the OUS is demanding further concessions--drastic changes to the basic system of pay increases, limited cost of living increases, refusing to provide insurance equity for domestic partners, and rejecting proposals for controlling administrative waste.

Full disclosure, I'm an adjunct instructor at the UO, so I started wondering what that means for teaching courses. The United Academics have anticipated that worry and send out some information for instructors and faculty in the event of a strike. 

The UAUO says that while students can honor the strike, faculty cannot, under Oregon law.

CAN FACULTY REFUSE TO WORK DURING A STRIKE?

NO. “Sympathy strikes” are forbidden by state law.  According to Oregon state law, public employees who are not in the bargaining unit on strike and who refuse to cross the picket line are engaging in a "prohibited strike." (ORS 243.732 & ORS 243.726). That is, it is against the law to refuse to work if your bargaining unit is not on strike. If faculty or GTFs went on strike, this same prohibition would apply to classified workers. This prohibition would apply regardless of whether faculty had elected to form a union or were covered by a contract.

UAUO suggests faculty can discuss the strike with classes if it pertains to the subject matter of the course, join picket lines and support the strike fund, among other things. The unions says faculty are not required to sanction students who refuse to cross the picket line.

ARE FACULTY MEMBERS REQUIRED TO SANCTION STUDENTS WHO REFUSE TO CROSS THE PICKET LINE? 

NO. The president of the ASUO, Sam Dotters-Katz, has called for a student walkout on September 30 and has urged fellow students to avoid crossing the picket line as possible. Many students may not show up to class, or will request alternative assignments from faculty so that they do not have to cross the picket line. Faculty retain the same discretion as always to respond to students requesting accommodations for missing class. For example, when the UO football team participated in the national championship game during the first week of classes in the winter term in 2011, the Provost emailed all faculty requesting that they make accommodations for students who would miss class because they were attending the game. Faculty have the same discretion during this time.

Get the full document from UAUO here.

Strike (or lack of one) update:

OUS student services workers settle agreement, averting strike

After a long and often contentious eight-month bargaining period, students services workers (non-teaching campus workers like librarians, lab techs, administrative assistants and custodians) and Oregon University System bargaining teams reached a tentative agreement at 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 26. 

In light of the agreement, workers have stepped down from a strike that would have taken place system-wide on the first day of classes.

According to Marc Nisenfeld, a development engineer at Portland State University and chair of the SEIU 503 bargaining team, student services workers were simply looking for a fair deal after five years of wage freezes. "The economy has turned around, and people are moving forward. Administrators are moving forward. Goodness knows the Duck’s locker room is moving forward. All we ask is that we don’t fall further behind,” said Nisenfeld.

At the center of negotiations had been the issue of the "step system." Classified student services workers are hired at an artificially low rate of pay, and put on a “step system” that they follow for the first nine years of their career, at which point they reach the market rate for their work.

Management had proposed doubling the period of time to reach the top of the scale to eighteen years. This agreement maintains the system at nine years.

The agreement also allows for very modest cost-of-living adjustments--1.5% and 2%--to take place toward the end of 2013 and 2014, respectively.

According to Nisenfeld, "Our goal throughout this process hasn't been to strike--no one wants to strike. Our goal has been to achieve a settlement that moves our members toward economic security and improves our campus communities. We believe this agreement achieves that."

The tentative agreement will now move to the 4,332 student services workers represented by SEIU 503 for a vote. 

September 25, 2013 03:59 PM

Colleen Green
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The Memories
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Gap Dream
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Pangea
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Cosmonauts
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September 23, 2013 01:29 PM

In an interesting letter from the Marion County District Attorney's office, the DA writes that no criminal charges will be filed in the issue of fired county administrator Liane Richardson's paycheck changes. One of the conclusions appears to be that because the Lane County Commission signed an agreement with Richardson not to file charges, then charges will not be filed. The investigation also found that it would be difficult to prove beyond a reseasonable doubt that this was a "knowing" performance of an act of violation of a statue or unauthorized exercise of official duties. You can see the full ruling here

The letter to Lane County DA Alex Gardner concludes:

Update: See comment below from Commissioner Bozievich.

September 20, 2013 12:10 PM

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Someone in the crowd hucked a koala bear backpack up on stage for Jade

Singer Alex Ebert, before the show

Thievery Corporation (Photos: color - Rob Sydor, b&w - Todd Cooper)

 

September 20, 2013 12:32 PM

Neko Case

The Head & The Heart

September 19, 2013 01:46 PM

"On Sept. 1, Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct professor who had taught French at Duquesne University for 25 years, passed away at the age of 83." That is how attorney Daniel Kovalik begins his story of the death of an adjunct professor in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The editorial has been making the rounds with academics as Vojtko's life, teaching career and death highlight the way higher education treats — or mistreats — its staff. 

Kovalik writes:

As amazing as it sounds, Margaret Mary, a 25-year professor, was not making ends meet. Even during the best of times, when she was teaching three classes a semester and two during the summer, she was not even clearing $25,000 a year, and she received absolutely no health care benefits. Compare this to the salary of Duquesne's president, who makes more than $700,000 with full benefits.

Meanwhile, in the past year, her teaching load had been reduced by the university to one class a semester, which meant she was making well below $10,000 a year. With huge out-of-pocket bills from UPMC Mercy for her cancer treatment, Margaret Mary was left in abject penury. She could no longer keep her electricity on in her home, which became uninhabitable during the winter. She therefore took to working at an Eat 'n Park at night and then trying to catch some sleep during the day at her office at Duquesne. When this was discovered by the university, the police were called in to eject her from her office. Still, despite her cancer and her poverty, she never missed a day of class.

The whole story is worth a read

Here in Oregon United Academics of the University of Oregon — a union that represents adjuncts and full-time professors — excitedly announced yesterday that "Following months of negotiations, United Academics and the University of Oregon have reached tentative agreement on a historic first collective bargaining agreement!" For more information, go to the UAUO website.

Meanwhile, the classified staff (who don't teach but whose work on everything from landscaping to computer programming to course scheduling are key to the university's ability to run) is contemplating a Sept. 23 strike.

September 19, 2013 02:04 PM

The Cascadia Forest Defenders are normally spotted in old-growth trees, but today they decicided to scale the Capitol building in Salem. 

Here is CFD's press release:

Cascadia Forest Defenders Scale Golden Pioneer Proclaiming “KITZHABER'S LEGACY: PRIVATIZING THE ELLIOTT – CLEARCUTTING FOR PROFIT”

 Salem, Oregon- This morning, two members of Cascadia Forest Defenders (CFD) climbed off the side of the “Oregon Pioneer” statue atop the state capitol with a banner proclaiming “KITZHABER'S LEGACY: PRIVATIZING THE ELLIOTT FOREST – CLEARCUTTING FOR PROFIT.”  The State Land Board—Governor John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler— will decide on a proposal to sell 2,714 acres of the Elliott State Forest at their December 10th meeting.

 The proposal comes after years of public protest and litigation over mismanagement of State Forest Lands as well as a sweeping lawsuit by conservation groups that has effectively halted most logging of sensitive habitat in the Elliott. With no guarantee that private owners would retain public values of conservation, CFD opposes the sale of public forest land.

 “We are protesting because we think Oregonians deserve to know that their public land is being sold to private industry.  If it is privatized, we will never be able to have a say on what happens to it again. This is our public comment,” says Erin Grady of Cascadia Forest Defenders.

 The plans for privatization include three parcels in the Western side of the Elliott State Forest. All three parcels contain sections of mature, never-before-logged forest  — suitable habitat for the marbled murrelet, an endangered sea bird that nests in old growth. This summer, a group of volunteer marbled murrelet surveyors with the Coos County-based conservation group Coast Range Forest Watch, documented murrelet nesting behavior in one of these parcels, making it a candidate for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Department of State Lands (DSL) says that the land sale is necessary in light of a pending lawsuit--filed last year by several conservation groups on behalf of the marbled murrelet — that has made the Elliott "unproductive." Cascadia Forest Defenders are concerned that the parcels will be sold to the highest bidder — most likely to private timber companies. Much of the private land that surrounds the Elliott State Forest is already managed by the Washington-based Weyerhaeuser Corporation, one of the largest landowners in North America. Under private ownership, raw logs from the 2,700 acres could be exported overseas, rather than processed in local mills, furthering hurting the economies of Douglas and Coos County.

 Even under public management, sensitive habitat in the Elliott is threatened by destructive logging practices. The Oregon Department of Forestry will resume clearcutting of ancient forest within the Elliott this fall. Salander Between, a 32-acre timber sale of mature, never before logged forest in the Loon Lake watershed— a popular recreation spot for Coos and Douglas County residents— is up for auction in October.

“Considering what a small percentage of the Common School Fund is actually made up by logging the Elliott, it is a travesty to permanently destroy this ecosystem and further destroy the watershed of Coos and Douglas County Citizens,” says Ben Jones of Cascadia Forest Defenders.

 DSL's proposal comes at a time when public officials at the state and federal level are also pushing for more aggressive management, and potentially privatization, of our O&C forest lands--millions of acres of low elevation forest currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

“Whether it's Defazio and Wyden on federal forests or Kitzhaber on state lands, Oregon democrats seems to be leading the charge on turning our remaining forests into dollars for private timber, at the expense of Oregon's people, watersheds and ecosystems,” says Jones.

 No to privatization of the Elliott!

 -Cascadia Forest Defenders

September 18, 2013 01:34 PM

Carl Sciortino Jr. is running for Congress and his dad is proud. Mostly.

The openly gay Democratic House candidate Sciortino comes out to his tea party father in this awesome political ad.

Election season is on us. Let the ads begin. Step it up Oregon!

September 16, 2013 03:45 PM

The FBI released its "Crime in the United States" data for 2012. Eugene recorded 72 forcible rapes in 2012, down from 78 in 2011, and it's interesting to compare Eugene's reported crimes to other cities in Oregon. There were 40 rapes reported in Salem in 2012, up from 32 the previous year. Portland is cut off of the chart below for space, but 231 rapes were reported there in 2012, down from 258 in 2011. (Portland data is included in the chart.)

When comparing statistics on sexual assault, the numbers don't really reflect reality — the Department of Justice's "National Crime Victimization Survey: 2006-2010" stated that nationally, the majority of rapes (56 percent) go unreported to police. Eugene's stats could mean that the city has an unusually high reporting rate thanks to the work of groups like Sexual Assault Support Services. It could also mean that the rate of rape is higher here. It could also mean that there is a low reporting rate and things are really, really bad. As a SASS staffer told EW over the phone: "It's not like comparing apples to oranges. It's like comparing apples to rocks."

2012 Sexual Assault Data

September 12, 2013 05:14 PM

The Lane County Commissioners will be getting an update on the now-canceled contract with Kaleidoscope Music Festival at Emerald Meadows. The will also be discusing another controversial outdoor venue, Prindel Creek Farm.

Want to weigh in? Public comments are at 9 am on Tuesday, Sept. 17 or Kaleidoscope has a page for its supporters to give comments here.

September 12, 2013 02:20 PM

Uproar Festival - Ridgefield, WA 9.8.13

Jane's Addiction

Alice in Chains

Coheed and Cambria

Beware of Darkness