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August 8, 2013 03:49 PM

Many Eugene residents received a unified jolt yesterday as the first Amber Alert issued through a cell phone notification went out across the state.

Introduced as a partnership between a the wireless industry, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the program now broadcasts Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on compatible phones. The program went into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, and most newer phones have the WEA function.

If your phone is enabled for the new program, you may receive one of three of the unusually loud notifications: President, imminent threats and Amber Alerts. To differentiate from other alerts, some phones flashed light and vibrated in addition to the loud tone.

Social media reactions varied greatly, with some on Twitter and Facebook supporting the idea as a good use of newer technologies, while others felt it was intrusive and unnecessary. Alerts also went out on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Emergency alerts and Amber Alerts can be turned off, presidential alerts cannot.

The alert was issued for a 16-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy believed to have been abducted by California resident John DiMaggio. The alert went out in California on Aug 5., after the children’s mother’s body was found in a burned down house belonging to DiMaggio in San Diego. The alert asked citizens to look out for a blue 2013 Nissan Versa. The search was extended to Oregon and Washington on Aug. 7. 

The Amber Alert system is a “voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies and the wireless industry, to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and the safe recovery of the child,” according to amberalert.gov.

August 7, 2013 12:36 PM

August 7, 2013 01:57 PM

Robert McChesney, co-author of Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America and author of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy, is quoted today by the Institute for Public Accuracy saying:

As the commercial model of journalism is in free fall collapse, those remaining news media franchises have become playthings for billionaires, generally of value for political purposes, as old-fashioned monopoly newspapers still carry considerable influence. The United States went through this type of journalism at the turn of the last century and it produced a massive political crisis that led eventually to the creation of professional journalism, to protect the news from the dictates of the owners. Today professionalism has been sacrificed to commercialism, and the resources for actual reporting have plummeted.

 

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the desperation facing American journalism and democracy better than the fact we are reduced to praying we get a benevolent billionaire to control our news, when history demonstrates repeatedly such figures are in spectacularly short supply, and the other times we relied on such a model crashed and burned. America meets an existential crisis with an absurd response. No wonder this is a golden age for satire. We have to do better.

August 7, 2013 10:01 AM

Meet the new members of Mumford & Sons: comedians Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, Ed Helms and Will Forte. Raise a pint to banjo pelvic thrusts! Cheers!

August 7, 2013 11:52 AM

The first thing I thought when I saw Lane County Commission Chair Sid Leiken's video statement on firing Liane Richardson was "Someone needs to Songify this."

(OK, actually my first thought was more like "Wow, they just made a video that basically says: 'There has been a lot of speculation in the media. I want you to know we hired an investigator. Who uncovered facts. Facts I'm not going to tell you. There! That should take care of the speculation.'"')

But until The Gregory Brothers start songifying local politics or I figure out how to make their app work on a YouTube video, you can watch the latest version of Songify the News.

August 7, 2013 09:59 AM

Type UniversityofNike.com into your browser and see where it goes. Hat tip to UO Matters for pointing it out.

Hard to say whether that is actually the UO embracing its worship of Phil Knight or someone playing tricks on the Knight School, as the R-G quoted earlier this week:

“We are the University of Nike,” said Jeff Hawkins, the senior associate athletic director of football administration and operations. “We embrace it. We tell that to our recruits.”

Oh, sorry it wasn't the R-G. The local paper had to run a story from The New York Times because local media got shut out

August 6, 2013 01:13 PM

The county continues to remain silent on the firing of Liane Richardson, citing legal concerns. The lates press release is below.

Commissioner Sorenson issued a statement: "Today Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson voted in favor of a motion to terminate the Lane County Administrator. The vote was 5-0. Because of advice from legal counsel for the Board of Commissioners, I have no further comment on this matter at this time."

And Board Chair Sid Leiken concludes the board chair's statement saying, "I am profoundly disappointed by the facts that have brought us to this point. These actions do not reflect the values or judgment consistent with work here at the County."

 

County Administrator Liane Richardson’s Contract Terminated Following Investigation

Today, the Lane County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to terminate the contract of County Administrator Liane Richardson following an independent investigation into issues around Richardson’s compensation.

The decision came after lengthy deliberation and review of the independent investigation’s findings. The investigation found that Ms. Richardson violated county policy. As per the terms of Richardson’s contract, Richardson is entitled to two weeks pay and time management payouts as set out in the Lane County Administrative Procedures Manual (Ch 3, Sec 34 (IV)(c)).

Alicia Hayes will remain as acting County Administrator until further notice from the Board of Commissioners.

County Board Chairman Sid Leiken released the following statement on behalf of the Board:

Today, the Lane County Board of Commissioners reviewed the findings of the independent investigation regarding County Administrator Liane Richardson’s compensation. After this review, the Board has unanimously approved the termination of Ms. Richardson, effective today.

The independent investigation thoroughly examined all of the evidence. The independent investigation was conducted with urgency, but also with careful consideration of the confidentiality needed to protect the rights of all individuals involved. We continue to understand and respect these rights, and, after careful consideration with County Counsel, we cannot comment on the investigation itself.

I am profoundly disappointed by the facts that have brought us to this point. These actions do not reflect the values or judgment consistent with work here at the County.

August 6, 2013 12:50 PM

Lane County is being close-mouthed over today's vote to fire embattled now-former County Administrator Liane Richardson after a whistleblower called attention to apparently unauthorized changes that Richardson had made to her pay. Here is the letter that Board Chair Sid Leiken sent out to county employees.

Dear County Employees,

Two weeks ago, I wrote you that County Administrator Liane Richardson had placed herself on administrative leave after issues surrounding her compensation were brought to the attention of the Board of Commissioners, County Counsel and Human Resources. Today, I am writing to let you know that the Board of County Commissioners voted this morning in a public session to terminate Ms. Richardson’s employment with cause pursuant to section 1.1(c) of her contract of employment.

The Board took this action after the following steps were taken:

1. The Board directed County Counsel Stephen Dingle to oversee the hiring of an independent and outside agency to investigate issues regarding Ms. Richardson’s compensation.

2. The thorough, independent investigation was conducted over the past week and a half, finalized, and delivered to the Board of Commissioners last Friday.

3. The Board discussed the independent investigators’ report in executive session this morning.

The firm hired to do the investigation, USO Consulting, completed a comprehensive investigation into the issues. The investigation was done with the utmost urgency but also with careful consideration for the confidentiality of the process. All comments involved in the investigation are confidential and will be protected to the greatest extent permitted by law. We will protect the rights of any County employee who brings up issues of concern to our attention without any retribution.

After discussion with legal counsel, and out of respect of the rights of all individuals involved, we cannot make additional statements or release additional information at this time. Once the due process rights of the individuals involved have been honored, we will release additional information as permitted by law.

In the coming days, you may read speculation in the media about this issue. While we understand the interest of the public for transparency, and the media’s interest in getting a story, we also respect the rights of the individuals involved who brought this issue to the attention of the Board. We will defend the confidentiality of their comments. 

If you have concerns or are contacted by the media, please don't hesitate to reach out to any of the Board members, acting County Administrator Alicia Hays, Madilyn Zike or our Public Information Officer, Anne Marie Levis. Anne Marie may be reached at 541-915-4659. Our public information officer will direct media inquires as appropriate to ensure the media have the proper facts and understanding of the issues.

All of our employees have and continue to show incredible dedication to our community. I am proud of the work we do serving Lane County residents. 

Sincerely,

Sid Leiken

Board Chair

August 6, 2013 07:13 PM

When the megaloads came through last night, despite the objections of the Nez Perce tribe and the U.S. Forest Service, protesters were there to try to block them. Elders of the Nez Perce tribe were among those arrested as they tried to stop the massive loads of tar sands equipment. According to Borg Hendrickson of The Rural People of Highway 12  — Fighting Goliath, the Nez Perce Drum Circle and the Aug. 5  blockade "held back the Omega Morgan megaload for almost 2 hours at the boundary of the Nez Perce Reservation about 4 miles east of Lewiston."

Video by Tom Hansen of Moscow, Idaho

Hendrickson writes in an email: 

Approximately 150+ blockaders participated, mostly Nez Perces but some whites, mostly members of Idaho Rivers United and Friends of the Clearwater and FightingGoliath activists.

The megaload transport had launched about 45 minutes late, at 10:45.  For some unknown reason, it sat parked for some time a couple miles west of the blockade site.  As it approached the reservation boundary at about 12:40, the blockaders walked out onto the pavement to fully block 1/2 of the, at that point, 4-lane highway.  The blockaders succeeded in holding back the megaload convoy of about 20 vehicles for almost 2 hours, when blockaders had begun moving to the side of the highway in order to avoid arrest.  The megaload, whose target for the night was Hwy.12 Milepost 38.8, only managed to travel 3 more miles west of the blockade.  It's total miles for the night:  11   —  27.8 miles short of its target.

That means that what was to be a 4-night Lewiston to Lolo Pass transport will now likely be (at least) a 5-night transport.  That also means, that its entry into the Clearwater National Forest and Lochsa-Clearwater Wild & Scenic corridor, which had been scheduled for Wednesday night, will likely be Thursday night.

Every member of the Nez Perce Tribe Executive Committee, the top governing leaders, was arrested.  Several other Nez Perce men and women were also arrested and driven off in paddy wagons.

Undaunted, another protest is planned for tonight ,according to Wild Idaho Rising Tide, which participated in last night's blockade, as did Idle No More. 

Rising Tide says on its Facebook page:

Our allies among the Nez Perce Tribe, Idle No More, and several conservation groups opposing tar sands megaload transports on U.S. Highway 12 are calling on Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) to participate in protests again tonight, Tuesday, August 6, as the Omega Morgan-hauled evaporator and its convoy depart the Arrow Bridge vicinity at 9 pm. A carload of WIRT activists is departing the sidewalk outside the Friends of the Clearwater office (116 East Third Street in Moscow) with the WIRT banner at an unknown time. Please call 208-310-1790 for more information about carpools and join us!

August 6, 2013 06:56 PM

The county has issued a statement to employees, a media statement and now a video, but really hasn't said anything of substance on the firing of Liane Richardson, citing legal concerns. The results of the investigation have not been released. The employee statement that was emailed out this morning warns county workers not to talk to the media. 

Interestingly enough, though only one whistleblower has been mentioned in letters and documents EW has seen, Board Chair Sid Leiken says in the video statement below, "We've seen a lot of brave employees come forward, and I want to say thank you to all of them."

We're hoping the county didn't spend any money on the video — remember when Richardson hired former TV anchor Rick Dancer to make videos for $50,000 after the commissioners voted against spending money on an award-winning videeo series?

Statement from Sid Leiken, Chair of the Lane County Board of Commissioners from Lane County Government on Vimeo.

August 5, 2013 05:24 PM

It's been all over Facebook, newspapers and TV stations have picked it up. Eugene is the number one hippie city  (and Madison, Wisc., Missoula, Mont., and others on the list all made the news in their respective states.) 

Thanks real estate blog Estately. You made a cool list, and everyone got excited. Seattle-based Estately, a real estate brokerage company, sure knows how to market and get headlines.

How was this grand number one position chosen? Estately says, "To determine this we used a formula based on marijuana availability and legality, number of stores selling hemp, local counter-culture icons, tie-dye availability, hippie festivals, progressive government, intensity of Occupy protests, and a Facebook poll. In the end, we determined these places are the 17 Best U.S. Cities for Hippies…"

Pot, sure, especially if you count medical marijuana. Hemp well, Saturday Market and Sweet Potato Pie to name two. Occupy, Ken Kesey, Oregon Country Fair … progressive city government? Looking at the city, what do people think? How are the mayor and City Council on issues such as homelessness, police misconduct, parks and small, local business support? And since it doesn't say "progressive city government" but just government, let's factor the Lane County Commission in, too. Thoughts?

August 5, 2013 05:57 PM

Adieu, Crown Vic, we hardly knew ye. Fewer of those familiar headlights will pull Eugeaneans over in coming years; EPD will now purchase Ford Interceptor SUVs. Check out the Interceptors along with three others that the cops considered Tuesday, Aug. 6, at EPD headquarters.

More info from EPD's press release:

	Eugene Police Department
Unveils New SUV Patrol Sedans

SUMMARY:  As a result of Ford no longer manufacturing the Crown Victoria sedan, EPD
has spent two years testing patrol vehicles currently on the market. We will now
display each of the four tested vehicles to the media and show the differences
between each vehicle.


What:   Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Caprice, Ford Interceptor Sedan, and the Ford SUV.
When:   TUESDAY, August 6, at 10:00 a.m.
Where:  Eugene Police Department Public Parking Lot
300 Country Club Road, Eugene, OR 97401
Who:    Sergeant Angie San Miguel will present the vehicles, and patrol officers
will be on-hand to explain and demonstrate the differences and allow media to ride
in the vehicles.

After two years of testing and research, Eugene Police Department will be purchasing
new fuel-efficient patrol cars that are expected to save 35 percent on fuel compared
to the older Crown Victoria models that are being discontinued by the manufacturer. 
The new model, the Ford Interceptor SUV, was tested along with five other vehicle
models and scored highest on operational and fuel efficiency.###

August 5, 2013 11:32 PM

There is an executive session scheduled tomorrow (8/6) and judging from the notification email and the timing, it has to do with the Liane Richardson pay scandal. The county tells EW that not not only is it not clear what exact time the session is scheduled for, it's also not clear if there will be a public announcement following the executive session, which media can attend but not report on. 

Presumably this session marks the end of the "outside investigation" into alterations into the pay Richarson was taking home on top of her more than $150,000 base salary. 

There will be an Occupy-related but not sanctioned protest tomorrow starting around 6:05 am.

This is an opportunity to show displeasure with her [Richardson's ] work, both in this meeting's subject and in her blatant, insulting, and false accusations of SLEEPS protesters, as well as infringement of their First Amendments Rights.

In addition, many many of our houseless have been and will continue to be ousted from scarce spots for hidden sleeping. There is literally nowhere to go, and it's time to bring this back into the Commisioners', City Council's, and the public's attention.

Energy is building for protest of both Liane's actions and the ongoing evictions of Eugene's homeless — Let's fill the plaza (leaving a path for ingress and egress) with free speech protest tents, signs, and potluck breakfast beginning at 6:05 a.m. (it's unnecessary to re-challenge the curfew at this point) and throughout the morning.

Old ladies/grandmas (and their impostors) are encouraged to bring their knitting. It would be cool to have some morning music, too!

The meeting starts at 9 am, has public comments, the consent calanedar, and Legislative issues — including ones that affect Native tribes and their lands, then public works and some discussion of rezoning forest land to ag. 

You can watch the meeting, but not the protest or executive session here

August 5, 2013 07:32 PM

The heavy haul is back. The equipment weighs 644,000 pounds, is 225 feet long, 21 feet wide and 24 feet tall. It's already barged up the Columbia River and now sits at Washington's Port of Wilma, waiting to roll through the forests of Idaho. According to a press release from the Idaho Transportation Department, the massive load is set to move at 10 pm tonight. And according Wild Idaho Rising Tide, that move will be met with enthusiastic opposition. 

The megaload of tar sands equipment is  from Oregon's Omega Morgan. Like apparently all tar sands equipment, the load is massive. Opponents object to the loads not only based on their use in toxic climate-change inducing tar sands mining, but also because their sheer size affects communities and ecosystems along the backroads the shipper intends to take. Local residents, activists, tribes and others fought the Imperial Oil modules and won in 2011, and the megaloads look to be heading for another showdown. 

The Idaho Department of Transportation has announced it is letting the megaloads roll — despite the Forest Service's objections and a federal court ruling that says that  “…the court finds that the federal defendants have jurisdiction to review ITD’s approval of the mega-loads over Highway12.” The Forest Service wants to consult with the Nez Perce tribe and the tribe has already made clear its objections to the loads and what Nez Perce Tribal Executive Chairman Silas C. Whitman calls Omega Morgan's "audacity."

The tribe says that the loads "can adversely affect the tribe’s treaty-reserved resources, tribal commerce, government function, cultural resources and tribal landmarks." And Whitman says in the press release that:

Actions beyond mere words may be necessary, in order to have the Nez Perce Tribe’s voice heard. If Omega Morgan proceeds with defying the Forest Service, the Nez Perce Tribe will not interfere with its members’ constitutional rights to lawfully assemble in opposition to the immediate threat of the transport of these two megaloads (today).

Nez Perce National Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell writes Omega Morgan CEO John McCalla,"The Forest Service does not consent, approve or otherwise authorize Omega Morgan to transport the subject over legal loads on US Highway 12 between MP 74 and 174."

Brazell's letter continues:

I found your letter troubling in many ways. First, the letter gives the false impression that your company and my staff have been having “extended interaction.” This overstates the nature of our interaction which includes only a single two-hour meeting held May 15th in Grangeville, Idaho. I have had numerous conversations with your consultant Mark Rey, but the end result of those conversations was that the Forest Service had concerns and did not support the transport of over legal loads meeting certain criteria until further review and consultation can occur.

According to a recent Lewiston Tribune article, Mark Rey,  former undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (and longtime foe of environmentalists) is working for Omega Morgan. 

Photo credit: Brett Haverstick, Friends of the Clearwater