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January 8, 2018 04:12 PM

Now that longtime Democratic Rep. Phil Barnhart has announced he is not running to retain his seat in the Oregon Legislature, the race is starting to heat up.

As we mentioned in our Dec. 28 Slant, Barnhart’s District 11 leans liberal but has enough rural conservatives to make it a real race.

So far EW knows of two Democrats looking to step into Barnhart’s position.

Marty Wilde, a lawyer and health care administrator, has confirmed plans to run for the seat. Wilde has political experience — he serves on the Eugene Police Commission and on the Lane County Performance Audit Committee and is the rules chair for the Democratic Party of Lane County.

Also entering the race is Kimberly Koops-Wrabek, who describes herself on her website as law clerk for SEIU and former union organizer who grew up in rural Oregon and worked in DC for Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. Koops-Wrabek has filed as a candidate with the Oregon Secretary of State and she says she has $4,728 reported on Orestar, which tracks political fundraising and $7,000 including pledges as of Jan. 9.  

No Republicans were listed as having filed as of yet on Orestar.

This story has been updated.

December 29, 2017 06:30 PM

Eugeneans have long known about the presence of local racist Jimmy Marr — he seeks attention with banner drops proclaiming drivel such as “the Holocaust is Hokum” and drives around the state in a truck emblazoned with “It’s okay to be white” or “Do the white thing.”

Area residents were shocked earlier this month however when Bethany Sherman of then-respected local weed lab OG Analytical was outed by antifa groups as a white supremacist.

The Oregonian’s front page story, Emboldened white nationalists? Look no further than this liberal Oregon college town, delves into, Marr, Sherman and Jacob Laskey, an ex-con with white power tattoos who recently claimed responsibility for lighting “hundreds” of copies of EW on fire.

The story looks at the connections between these white supremacists, Eugene’s racist legacy from the Klu Klux Klan and recent upticks in hate crimes and it's worth sitting down for a read that brings some disturbing threads together.

December 7, 2017 03:19 PM

Eugene Weeklyis getting reports the local cannabis store Eugene OG has been been getting harrassing phone calls, messages and Google reviews based on the assumption Eugene OG is linked to OG Analytical. One of OG Analytical's owners, Bethany Sherman, has annouced she is resigning and selling the company after a web report by several antifa groups, including Rose City Antifa and Eugene Antifa, exposed Sherman as having white supremacist views.

Eugene OG tells EW in a statement that "Eugene OG is in no way affiliated with or shares ownership with the testing lab 'OG Analytical,' despite the similarity of our names."

A quick glance at Eugene OG's Google listing shows the store has a growing number of people asking questions such as "Why does this business support Nazis"" And "Why does the owner hate people of color."

Eugene OG has tried to clarify it is not affiliated with OG Analytical and questions then ask why the company is selling products tested by OG Analytical. 

OG Analytical is one of only three labs listed on the Oregon Health Authority website that are based in Eugene. As of this time, it does not appear other cannabis businesses in the area are being queried online via Google reviews if they are affiliated with OG Analytical. According to The Oregonian, when the employeees of OG Analytical found out about Sherman's views they "angrily confronted her."

December 6, 2017 03:03 PM

Following an explosive anonymous report by Eugene Antifa, Rose City Antifa and PNW Antifacist Workers' Collective exposing Bethany Sherman of Eugene-based OG Analytical and her husband Matthew Combs as alleged white supremacists, Sherman said in a statement to The Oregonian that she is stepping down and selling the company.  

 

In the article, “Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Blackhat: The Nazis in Your Neighborhood,” the anonymous antifa writers say they got access to logs from an app called Discord, commonly used by gamers, but apparently also used by neo-Nazis.

 

Using those logs, as well as photos and research on Twitter and social media, the antifa groups lay out a damning case with their allegations against Combs and Sherman. “Combs acts not only as an organizer for American Patriots Brigade, but he serves as a primary organizing leader for the individuals and groups participating in the server. He aims to bring white nationalists together in the region with the goal of establishing a whites only homeland in the Pacific Northwest,” they write.

 

The group shows a tweet from “Mrs. Blackhat” from an account they tie to Sherman, in which she says things like, “Jimmy I love how you always take the high ground no matter how much shit these libtards sling.”

 

The Jimmy in question is Springfield-based white supremacist Jimmy Marr, who tweets as @genocidejimmy.

 

In a Twitter chat, the "Blackhat" article shows an image of, she praises a love swastika sticker Marr created from a diversity emblem and offers to change the wording so “It doesn’t say stupid shit like we are all one race.”

 

The article has photos that the writers say are of Combs sieg heiling with Marr in front of his house, which is adorned with signs reading “The Holocaust is Hokum.”

 

Eugene Weekly contacted Sherman after seeing the “Blackhat” story. While she did not deny the allegations, she did threaten legal action if EW wrote about the story.

 

 

She writes:

“Thanks for reaching out. I'm incredibly shocked and appalled by all of this. I would love to meet with you to discuss, but this is a very sensitive matter; I've retained legal counsel and am waiting to receive advice back from my lawyer about how to handle communications around this event. We're taking this matter very seriously in a legal regard, and I have to ask and advise you and the Eugene Weekly to refrain from publishing any information about this article or anything else regarding me, my family, or my company until we've addressed the matter internally. As I'm sure you're aware, this article and any further attention to it puts me, my family, and my company at risk of financial loss.” 

 

While she denied being a “neo-Nazi” to The Oregonian, the statement she issued speaks as to where Sherman stands on white supremacy.

 

I find it extremely disconcerting that it is admired and revered to have "Gay Pride," "Black Pride," "Asian Pride," or pride in any other cultural heritage, but if you have "White Pride," it automatically makes you a Nazi, and you are ostracized, attacked, and lynched by your community. I admit, I am proud that I am white, and I'm not ashamed of my heritage. And I admit that I have been so conditioned to feel shame about this pride that I discreetly sought community where I could. 

 

The full statement is here, and Sherman also details the good she says she has done in the community and denies discrimination. “Neither myself, nor my company has in any way acted in a discriminatory fashion against anyone for their race, religion, politics, gender identity, sexual orientation, social class, disability or other,” she says.

 

EW, which has written in the past about Sherman and OG Analytical, has reached out to Sherman for further comment on the allegations as well as to Rose City Antifa, which sent the paper the story.

 

In the bio of the Twitter account the writers link to Sherman, they say Sherman describes herself as “"#nationalist mommy. Our children deserve to be raised in a wholesome environment free of oppression against whites.”

November 6, 2017 06:53 PM

While the Tuesday, Nov. 7 election has grabbed most of the voter-related attention nationally and locally, an upcoming election for the GreenLane Sustainable Business Network board of directors has caused a furor among the green-oriented businesses in town.

GreenLane is a nonprofit “membership organization providing education, resources, networking and marketing ideas for Lane County businesses committed to sustainable business practices,” according to its website. Its monthly lunch hour meetings feature networking and educational opportunities.

The members who are running to be on the organization’s board of directors were introducd at GreenLane's Oct. 4 meeting, according to board member Robin Forster. According to GreenLane's website, the candidates are Judy Lamb of Northwest Exposures Photography, Casey Roscoe of Seneca Sawmills and Theresa Brand of the Lane Transit District (LTD). The election is Wednesday, Nov. 8.

Roscoe, the granddaughter of Seneca founder Aaron Jones, together with the company she represents, is at the center of the controversy.

Roscoe, who has worked to improve Seneca's reputation in the local community, says that Seneca joined GreenLane in 2016. According to Shawn Donille, vice president of Mountain Rose Herbs, the furor over the board started two weeks ago. Donille says he had no objection to Seneca joining the green business group, because “Maybe they could learn something.” But, he says, “Seneca is in no position to set policy for a local sustainable business work group.” The board of directors sets GreenLane policy he says.

As a result, Donille says Mountain Rose is leaving the organization.

He adds, “If you don’t draw the line with Seneca, what next?” citing cattle ranching, mining and local controversial land developers the McDougal brothers as other environmentally problematic businesses.

Donille says he was told that there was nothing in the bylaws that would prevent Seneca from being on the board.

In a statement from the board, emailed to GreenLane members, the board writes, “Based on GreenLane's bylaws, the Board cannot refuse to seat a candidate who is fully qualified. Individual members can vote to approve or deny a candidate to the Board, but the Board itself cannot block a candidate in good standing’s quest to join.”

The board continues, “GreenLane has faced controversial issues in the past, and we’ve always faced them with transparency, honesty and open dialogue.”

Of Mountain Rose’s departure, the board states, “We followed up with Mountain Rose Herbs to hear their concerns, explain our position, and tried to find some common ground. Unfortunately, we were not able to find that common ground. Mountain Rose Herbs has announced that it will withdraw from GreenLane and actively encourage others to follow.”

EW has reached out to GreenLane directly for comment. They responded via email saying: "As you know, and have read, GreenLane is an inclusive business networking group. We welcome all business and nonprofits that are interested in suitability [sic]. We don’t judge, nor do we certify who is, or isn’t’ a sustainable business. As I’m sure you know sustainability, it’s a journey, and we are all at different places in that journey."

The board continues, "As a Board, we were very surprised at method and technique used to bring this issue up."

Donille says, “In all honesty, I don’t want to be on an organization that is supposed to teach about sustainable initiatives if Seneca, one of the area’s most-polluting industries, is setting policies."

Seneca’s biomass burning plant in west Eugene caused controversy when it was built and began burning woody biomass to generate energy.

Donille also points to Seneca’s controversial logging operations. “Google ‘Kathy Jones, Seneca, Elliott,’” he says. “She wants to buy it just to clearcut it.”

Donille is referring to a 2014 statement that Seneca co-owner Kathy Jones made to The Oregonian about the Elliott State Forest in which she “said her company didn’t bid on the land because her mill needs lumber but because she and her two sisters refused to be bullied by ‘eco-radical’ environmental groups and believed no other timber companies made an offer.” Jones called the bid “very much a personal decision.”

Threatened marbled murrelet sea birds had been found within two miles of the public land.

Donille says he thinks that Seneca would use an election to the GreenLane board as a "marketing coup in future puff pieces." He points out that Seneca has not pursued sustainable forestry certifications.

Casey Roscoe, granddaughter of Seneca founder Aaron Jones, says that as a member of 10-member board, her vote would not be a ruling factor, it would be a one in 10 vote.

She says, “If it’s about sustainability, then I belong. If it’s about community, then I belong.” But she says if the election is about being part of a “clique” then “It’s possible I won’t ever fit in, but that doesn’t mean I don’t belong."

Roscoe says a core Seneca value is sustainability, and the company has a long history of giving back to the community. She cites the Seneca House of The Veteran’s Housing Project, the donation of dimension wood for the Kalapuya High School’s Bethel Barn, donating wood for St. Vincent dePaul’s project for homeless teens and more.

Mountain Rose is not the only group to say it plans to withdraw from GreenLane over the board election or take a position on the issue.

The Pacific Green Party of Lane County issued a statement saying the group “considers the description of Seneca as a ‘green’ company questionable. We hope that the members of GreenLane Sustainable Business Network will choose to maintain their commitment to sustainability.”

Josh Laughin of Cascadia Wildlands, a GreenLane member group, sent a message to the board saying, “I have always been skeptical of Seneca’s membership in GreenLane. I don’t believe that a company that clearcuts forests and sprays herbicides for a living has any place on the member roster.”

He writes that he sees Seneca’s role in GreenLane "as yet another way to greenwash their company image in the local community while they clearcut and spray their vast private forest holdings in western Oregon as well as log older forests on our public lands.”

Laughlin accompanied his message with a photo he says he took of a Seneca clearcut  while he was checking a BLM timber sale near Azalea a few years ago, adding, “This is how Seneca manages its forests, and I don’t believe this is what GreenLane stands for.”

Laughlin concludes by saying if Seneca become a board member, “Please remove Cascadia Wildlands from the membership roster and our logo from the website.”

Lisa Arkin of Beyond Toxics says her group was one of the first environmental nonprofits to join GreenLane. Beyond Toxics sent a statement to GreenLane saying:

“We do not support greenwashing GreenLane by adding board members who do not represent truly sustainable businesses. There are plenty of businesses doing the right thing to protect Oregon's environment and the health of the people. Seneca has repeatedly shown that they are not one of these companies.”

Roscoe says when she speaks in the community as a representative of Seneca, people are very supportive of the company.

In addition to the board election, the luncheon topic for GreenLane’s Nov. 8 meeting is fair trade businesses. According to a Facebook event, there will be a demonstration outside the meeting, starting at 11:30 am. 

October 6, 2017 11:40 AM

Protesters chanting "Nothing about us, without us" shut down University of Oregon Michael Schill's State of the University address Friday, Oct. 6.

The "State of Reality Protest" wrote on its Facebook event:

Due to the recent acceptance of fascism and neo nazis, victim blaming language, the insurmountable increases to students tuition, the blatant disregard of the students requests and the ignorantly happy go lucky attitude being shown by President Schill towards this institution that works to suppress its students and to create a wage/class gap between the haves and havenots, the students have decided that this will not stand. In an alliance of all walks of university life, we will show President Schill that we will not sit ideally by as he cherry picks the positive condition of the university, while this sorry attempt to mask the truth is not the reality for the average student.

Radical change requires radical action.

In order to properly show President Schill that his actions are not welcome at this university, we will, as a collective unit, take the stage at his “State of the University” Address.

Eugene Weekly filmed the event on Facebook live. Watch below.

Schill later gave his address via video.

Below is the press release from the UO Student Collective:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

At 11:00 AM, Friday October 6th, a large group of students took the stage in the EMU Ballroom during the University of Oregon President Michael Schill’s “State of the University” address. Led by students of color, LGBTQA3 students, and low-income students, the they issued a set of demands of the administration. These demands are not new to the president and the rest of the university administration. Students have repeatedly sought to work with the administration through more sanctioned means, but have been met with neglect, disregard, and outright opposition. Desperate, the students resorted to using this platform to put pressure on the administration to meet the students’ needs.

As students spoke about their grievances, Schill left along with donors and other administration. A large group remained in the ballroom to demonstrate their support for those on stage and hear out the students.

The listed demands were:

1.         Ban Immigration Customs Agency (ICE) agent presence on campus and condemn the agencies’ repeated violations to human rights.

2.         Establish a competent response to remove both ICE and neo-Nazi presence as the responsibility of University of Oregon Police Department.

3.         Prioritize accessibility for undocumented and DACAmented students.

4.         Establish regulations on hate-speech and neo-Nazi groups that come to campus.

5.         The Office of International Affairs, should publicity advertise the bias collect team as a tool for Muslim Students and community members to share their experience of racism, discrimination and any other form of hate through the online site. The bias collect team should be advertised throughout University of Oregon’s social media accounts and flyers should be posted all over campus from the Erb Memorial Union to residence halls.

6.         Alongside the bias collect team, the Office of International Affairs and the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence should work together to hire a Muslim advisor to serve the Muslim students.

7.         In the Erb Memorial Union (preferably first floor by the foot wash area), a prayer room should be created so that Muslim students can peaceful fulfill their five daily prayers without fear of being kicked out of the space.

8.         A year to year improvement to faculty to student ratio particularly for introductory classes

9.         End the layoffs of UO faculty

10.       Have a graduate employee on the board of trustees

11.       Freeze tuition, develop a plan to decrease tuition over the next 5 years

12.       Schill, other high ranked leaders and faculty shall explicitly say the names of white supremacy and label white nationalism as hate speech and explicitly condemn it on campus.

13.       University Housing shall reverse their decision to stop offering student employees free shift meal since many employees rely on them. In addition, the University Housing shall reimburse its employees the shift meals they have been charged for in the form of back wages.

14.       University Housing shall rescind its decision of requiring first-year college students to live on campus since it is a financial burden to low income and first-generation students.

15.       Start to cut carbon emissions NOW, not 30 years from now

16.       Increased University Investment in LGBT Programs like the LGBTESS, LGBT Friendly Housing, and the Trans Care Team.

17.       Expand the Gender Equity Hall to Accommodate the Mandatory Freshmen Housing.

18.       Increase Pay and Benefits for Stipended Student Positions

19.       Increase Access to Counseling and Mental Health Services

20.       Implement an Intersectional and Mandatory Cultural Fluency Program and Shift Training Responsibilities to Human Resources

21.       Reconstitute the Bias Response Team

22.       Allot University Funds to the Student Identity Spaces to Hire an Independent Historian to Research the History of Marginalized Students and Student Organizing at the UO.

In response to the action, the president issued an email to all students, faculty, and staff condescending the students who took the stage. He claimed that there were a “small” number of protesters, despite the fact the protesters hardly fit the stage and disregarding the group that remained in the ballroom. 

In his email, the president frames himself as a victim to “disruptive” protesters who do not understand the “value of free speech.” He disregards the obvious power imbalance at play here. These students do not have access to the same platform as the administration. We cannot email every student, faculty member, staff person, and alumn our grievances. The very email in which he condemns students for taking his platform demonstrates the fact that his platform was not taken at all. The president and administration left students no choice but to take the platform afforded to Schill for themselves.

Schill claimed he values free speech on campus. This contradicts his frequent condemnation and neglect of the voices of the most marginalized students here. Further he has failed to publicly condemn the increasing white supremacist propaganda and organizing occurring on and near campus. So we ask, whose free speech do you support President Schill? Free speech is the right of individuals and communities to express themselves without repression from the state. The students are not the state nor the repressors. Taking to the stage and using this platform was an act of free speech - not a violation of it. Considering the power imbalances at play, it is clear that the president and administration are in the role of the repressors and the state - not the students.

His announcement of a lecture and panel series teaching students about the “value of free speech.”  This is not only condescending and paternalistic, but also demonstrates that the president does not understand free speech. Schill proposed to the University Senate last year a new policy restricting the time, place, and manner of student protest. After revoking it due to press coverage and pushback from students and faculty, he has once again indicated he will pursue this repressive policy once again. Schill is not a champion of free speech; he is a demonstrated enemy to it.

Instead of condemning these students, the president should be thanking for them to courage to speak and passion for making the University of Oregon a better place. The University of Oregon Student Collective - a broad coalition of student groups and individual students who seek to take back the university for the students and workers - will be organizing a teach-in and panel series about free speech and the importance of student protest to inform students and affiliates of the University about the importance of free speech, valuing the voice of marginalized people, and the positive role of protest on campus. We encourage Schill and the administration to better inform themselves about free speech and student organizing.

Nothing about us without us. Expect resistance.

 

October 5, 2017 12:28 PM

Sen. Ron Wyden sent out a press release Oct 5 citing the mass shootings in Las Vegas, Orlando and Umpqua Community College and saying, "These tragedies require more than ‘thoughts and prayers.’ They demand common-sense action and that’s what each of these three bills would provide.” 

The bills include one that would close a background check loophole; another that would repeal liability protections for the firearms industry that protect gun makers, distributors, sellers or trade associations; and a third that lose a loophole that "allows semi-automatic weapons to be easily modified to fire at the rate of automatic weapons."

The full press release is below. 

 

Wyden, Colleagues Introduce Three Bills to Check Gun Violence

Legislation would close background-check loopholes, end industry liability protections and ban bump-stock devices

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., this week joined his Senate colleagues in introducing three bills that would close a firearm background check loophole, end liability protections for gun manufacturers and ban bump-stock devices that can convert rifles into machine guns.

“The mass shooting in Las Vegas takes its place in a tragic litany of massacres that include Orlando, Umpqua Community College and far too many others,” Wyden said. “These tragedies require more than ‘thoughts and prayers.’ They demand common-sense action and that’s what each of these three bills would provide.”

The Background Check Completion Act would require a completed background check for every gun buyer who buys a gun from a federally licensed gun dealer. When a criminal background check indicates a firearm purchaser may have a criminal record, the FBI tries to determine whether the purchaser can legally buy a gun. If this process takes longer than 72 hours, gun dealers can complete the sale even though there is a heightened risk that the buyer is legally disqualified from purchasing a gun.

The Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act would repeal existing legislation that offers liability protections for the firearm industry. In 2005, Congress passed legislation that provides immunity in state and federal court from civil liability for manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of firearms, as well as their trade associations, in most negligence and products liability actions. This immunity from liability under well-established common law principles that apply to everyone else in society is unique to the gun industry.

The Automatic Gun Fire Prevention Act would close a loophole that allows semi-automatic weapons to be easily modified to fire at the rate of automatic weapons, which have been illegal for more than 30 years.

 “Americans are voicing their warranted frustrations on the urgent need to take steps like these three pieces of legislation to close dangerous loopholes, make every reasonable effort to provide background checks and hold the gun industry accountable for its continued failure to prevent senseless acts of gun violence,” Wyden said.

September 19, 2017 01:59 PM

Former Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy announced in a press release today that he has settled two lawsuits against Lane County. Attorney Marianne Dugan says the settlement was for $89,000.

The lawsuits, in state and federal courts, addressed an emergency meeting of the Lane County Commission and a decision that was made to "lock Mr. Handy out of his office, email system, and other county systems during his last year in office."

The full press release is below, folowed by comment from the county.

On Monday, September 18th, former Commissioner Rob Handy and his constituent Brian McCall settled all lawsuits pending against Lane County, former County Administrator Liane Richardson and Commissioners Faye Stewart, Sid Leiken, and Jay Bozievich. The parties agreed to a global settlement of both federal and state lawsuits that were pending.

Mr. Handy’s and Mr. McCall’s federal civil rights case challenged the decision to lock Mr. Handy out of his office, email system, and other county systems during his last year in office. The state case challenged the county’s misuse of the Board of Commissioners’ “emergency meeting” provisions.

According to Rob Handy, “We originally filed these suits to bring attention to the politicization of the offices of the Lane County Commissioners and how those in power misused that power to further a political agenda. The three commissioners named in the lawsuit, while not all still in office, set a precedent of abusing their power and the concerns will always remain valid. We have been seeking access to justice and have now settled the cases because we believe we received the measure of justice that is possible through this process.”

Former Commissioner Rob Handy settled the lawsuits (which were filed against Lane County about five years ago) “Because I feel I met the goals I had for filing these suits and because Lane County is now under some different leadership that, with the changes in policies that they have made, seem to have learned from their mistakes and bad decisions of that time.

“When an elected Board of Commissioners turns into a political body where the majority acts with impunity and from a political agenda, it can leave no recourse to those who don’t have the votes to have a say or even the ability to place an item on an agenda or to speak out when not included in the work that the Commissioner was elected to do.

“In my last 18-months or so as an elected Lane County Commissioner, I was locked out of my office, locked out of the building, had my email removed as well as all my work product denied to me because a solid bloc of conservative commissioners saw that it moved their agenda forward.

“I worked within channels within Lane County government to redress these actions and got nowhere. This is why the courts exist – as a place of recourse when all other recourse is denied.

“I filed a state lawsuit to object to emergency meetings held where the conservative then- commissioners Stewart, Bozoveich, and Leiken, in collusion with then-County Administrator Liane Richardson held an emergency meeting where myself and Commissioner Sorenson received notice too late to attend and where there was actually no emergency at hand.

“I objected then and now to Lane County cherry-picking Commissioners for an emergency meeting in order to act quietly and with no scrutiny. Since I filed this lawsuit, Lane County has passed a new policy that requires all commissioners to receive all notices, equally and in a timely manner, using any and all means available to the County to contact and locate them before such a meeting convenes. I believe this policy regarding emergency meetings will ensure a similar inequitable treatment of commissioners won't occur in the future.

“Secondly, I filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, now also settled, to shine a light on politically-motivated behavior of the board majority, in collusion with the County Administrator at that time, and other staff. Again, there was no recourse to address these issues within the County. As a sitting commissioner, I was unable to place an item on a Board agenda, and each action was blocked by the majority. Even my good fiscal ideas, policy ideas, any ideas were summarily denied the light of day.”

Handy states, “The federal lawsuit was filed because I wanted to make sure that the County and its Commissioners knew that if those in a majority took action to interfere with a Commissioner’s ability to do his or her job, there would be consequences. This was vital to stand up for the commissioners to come who might also find themselves on the wrong side of a majority in this ‘bipartisan’ Board of Commissioners. I wanted to show that there is no impunity, there is no immunity – the County is not a kingdom where might makes right. We have the courts to help address abuse of power and assist in righting those wrongs. I am pleased to have finally resolved these two legal matters. We felt confident we would prevail in the end, but in the interest of moving forward after more than five years of waiting, we felt a settlement of these claims was the proper way to resolve them.

“We believe that by filing and resolving these lawsuits, no commissioner will again be locked out of an office and deprived of email and other connections to constituents. Elected officials must be able to carry out their work in an environment that is fair and includes due process and where decisions are transparent.” Handy states, “I believe my lawsuits met the goals I set out to achieve and that because of the light shed on these issues Lane County has already made some key policy changes and will not be discriminating against commissioners of the future simply because a transient board majority can. I am pleased with the results and also happy to be moving on.”

Constituent Brian McCall adds his comment: "This whole sorry incident of interfering with my commissioner’s ability to do his job by locking him out of his office and denying him access to his own work diminished what trust I once had in our county government and has exposed the partisan leanings of our supposedly unbiased local news media. I sincerely hope that the settlement of this conflict finally leads to healing, and to a restoration of at least some of that trust."

Local attorney Marianne Dugan represented former commissioner Handy in both the state and federal cases (and Mr. McCall in the federal case), and in the appeals to higher courts which reversed dismissals and required that these cases be heard and proceed to trial.

Lane County's response (bold in the orginal).

Mr. Handy brought a number of lawsuits dating back to 2012. The first was a public records lawsuit which the County won at trial. Mr. Handy brought a second lawsuit alleging a violation of public meetings law in State court. The County prevailed at the trial court level. Mr. Handy appealed and the case went before the Oregon State Court of Appeals and again Lane County prevailed.

Finally, Mr. Handy filed a third lawsuit in federal court. The case was initially dismissed. The case then moved between the Court of Appeals and the District Court. The County chose to settle this final lawsuit in order to save future litigation costs. The settlement agreement does not admit liability.

September 14, 2017 02:25 PM

“Meet me at Kesey Square.”

Say that to most Eugeneans, and they will know to find you at that little open space at the corner of Broadway and Willamette where local artist Pete Helzer’s statue of famed author Ken Kesey sits reading to his grandchildren.

Google “Kesey Square” and the first hit you get is Eugene’s own Kesey Square via the city of Eugene’s website, which lets you know it’s also called Broadway Plaza.

Google “Broadway Plaza” and the first hit you get is a hotel in New York City. You will get hits for Broadway Plaza (Kesey Square) in Eugene, but you will also get hits for Broadway Plazas in Tucson, Minnesota, Denver and more.

Kesey Square is the unofficial name, according to the city, for the open space downtown. But it’s the name most people in the area call it. The Eugene City Council will be discussing Sept. 20 whether or not to change the name officially from Broadway Plaza to Kesey Square and the public comment period on the proposal ends Sept. 15.

In its press release the city awkwardly says that the reason for the comment period is “to ensure that the proposed name is acceptable to the community,” apparently not noting that this is the name the community actually uses.

Jerry Diethelm, a University of Oregon professor emeritus of Landscape Architecture and Community Service and a member of Friends of Kesey Square, recently sent a comment on the Kesey Square issue to the mayor, City Council and city manager outlining both why the name should be changed and why some might oppose the change.

Diethelm writes, “It’s become common knowledge that you are now being asked once again to delay your decision to rename Broadway Plaza, Kesey Square.”

Diethlem points to objections that the city may want to use the name Kesey elsewhere, like at the Park Blocks and says, “Not very likely. That’s Skinner and Mulligan land. The proposed square there is far more appropriately, and in keeping with the donor’s wishes, a Skinner Market Square, or something of the sort.”

He also reminds the politicians that the very consultants the city hired to tell them what do about downtown recommended “identifying it as the heart of downtown’s commercial and entertainment district and installing a cafe and beer garden concept that wraps around the tall walls that border the plaza to the east and south.”

Why, then, might anyone object to the idea of renaming Kesey Square? The original debate was not over whether to rename the square but actually arose over an attempt by developers to take over that open space and turn it into a building.

“Changing the name doesn’t really interfere with any plans or planning,” he writes. “Those urging delay are mainly worried about losing the opportunity to build there.”

That then is the crux of the renaming debate. It’s not about what to call Kesey Square but what it is — public, open space — and what it should remain.

The public has through Sept. 15 to submit comments in writing about whether to rename Kesey Square.

Comments may be submitted in writing to:
Mayor Vinis and City Council
125 East 8th Avenue, 2nd Floor
Eugene, Oregon  97401
mayorcouncilandcitymanager@ci.eugene.or.us

To read Diethelm’s full comments go to his Facebook post here.

September 6, 2017 05:42 PM

As Eugene’s skies have been smoky and the air hazardous to breathe over the last two days, one thing that hasn’t changed is the amount of industrial pollution, air traffic and car traffic entering the air.

Lane Regional Air Protection Agency Executive Director Merlyn Hough explains that as bad as the air has been, it didn’t reach the level that would require people to stop driving, planes to stop flying and industries to stop polluting.

Industries, airplanes and motor vehicles all pollute to some degree, however the amount of pollution they are allowed to release is regulated at the federal and other government levels.

Under Title 51 of LRAPA’s rules and regulations, it lays out exactly when a shut down would be triggered. This regional policy is governed by the federal Clean Air Act, Hough says, specifically, 40 CFR part 51 subpart H. CFR is Code of Federal Regulations. Coincidentally, both policies use the number 51 for their section names.

“The purpose of that program is to keep air pollution from approaching levels of significant harm,” he says. “But those are a very high threshold before affecting traffic, industry or airport operations.”

Industrial polluters, Hough says, are designed to operate in a “steady state.” This is different, he says from when in the winter people with wood burning stoves are told to stop burning due to adverse air quality, because winter wood stoves follow a cycle of starting up and shutting down. He says that asking industry to start up and shut down can actually exacerbate the pollution versus an ideal of steady state emissions in a well-controlled facility.

According to Hough, industrial emissions were more of a factor during the “normal delightful” air quality of 22 that we had on Aug. 30, than the Sept. 5 air quality of 250, which was caused by wildfire smoke. For example, an emergency plan triggered on the day the area had an air quality rating of 22 would have had more affect on the air than triggering it on the day it reached 250 (very unhealthy). 

To monitor the air quality in Eugene/Springfield, Cottage Grove and Oakridge, go to LRAPA's webpage. The agency has been updating residents on the air quality situation regularly on social media and you can find the Facebook page here.  LRAPA has an opening on its board of directors, for more info go here

September 5, 2017 12:02 PM

Following the Trump administartion's announcement this morning that it will end "DACA -- a program that had protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation," Lane Community College President Margaret Hamilton sent a statement to LCC employess addressing the move on Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, saying, "We must do everything we can to prevent harm to our students if this happens."

The full email is below.

It is with dismay and determination that I write to you regarding today’s news that the White House plans to phase out the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. We must do everything we can to prevent harm to our students if this happens.

As you no doubt know from your own experience, DACA is critically important to community college students throughout the United States, including at Lane. DACA affects more than 750,000 young people nationally and an estimated 21,000 in Oregon. We’re not sure exactly how many students are affected at Lane because at LCC, we do not record immigration status. We do know they are here and part of our Lane family.

Lane Community College is proud to be an open-access institution. Our mission is to serve and educate all members of our community. It is our commitment to inclusiveness that makes LCC a safe haven for all our students.

In June, the board adopted a policy, Protection of Immigrant Students, to clarify our intent to provide “access to higher education for all students regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, immigration status, age, disability, gender or gender identity.” The college also issued a statement on August 31 reaffirming our position, as news began to emerge about the White House position. The statement is on our home page.

In anticipation of today’s DACA decision, I reached out to my executive team and others over the weekend to be clear that it is our priority to work with you to determine how changes to DACA will affect our students and what we need to do to support them. I also directed my staff to identify an office on campus to coordinate information and services for undocumented students and publish updated information to the college website.

The Department of Homeland Security will stop processing new applications for DACA as of today. It will continue to renew permits for anyone whose status expires in the next six months—meaning Congress does have time to act before any currently protected individuals lose their ability to work, study and live without fear of deportation. Our leadership team will continue to call on Congress to act responsibly and humanely and protect students.

I have great faith in all of you. Though I haven’t been here long, I have found a dedication to students in each and every one of you whom I’ve met. That is so affirming!

Thank you for your partnership and rest assured that it is an additional priority for our leadership team to do whatever we can to help those impacted by today’s news.

August 22, 2017 03:27 PM

The Oregon Republican Party issued a statement that has echoes of President Donald Trump's remarks on Charlottesville today.

In a postscript to the full statement, the ORP notes that Oregon Dems had reached out in an effort to craft a joint statement but "were ultimately unable to craft a mutually acceptable statement."

The ORP indicated its changes to the Democractic draft with underlining. And in a move reflecting Trump's controversial remarks on Charlottesville in which he cast blame on "both sides" for the violence that killed anti-racist protester Heather Heyer, the ORP writes: 

It is imperative that we all stand together in unison against the hate-filled agenda of white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazis, and other groups that perpetuate violence instead of meaningful dialogue, and who seek to divide our nation.

The whole statement is below. And available online here.

Dear Oregonians,

The actions of white nationalists in Charlottesville demand the strongest forms of condemnation. We will not stand for displays of hate, racism, bigotry or violence in our country, and especially at home here in Oregon.

It is imperative that we all stand together in unison against the hate-filled agenda of white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazis, and other groups that perpetuate violence instead of meaningful dialogue, and who seek to divide our nation. We cannot allow these organizations to feel enabled by the silence or passiveness of public leadership.

Our nation is stronger when we all come together to defend our values of equality, free speech and peaceful assembly. As such, we, fully disavow the hate, racism, bigotry and violence of all supremacist movements and call upon our state and national leadership to do the same.

Sincerely,

Chairman Bill Currier

Oregon Republican Party

P.S. - We want to extend our appreciation to the Democratic Party of Oregon and DPO Chair Jeanne Atkins for their suggestion of a joint statement and the initial draft they provided for consideration. While we were ultimately unable to craft a mutually acceptable statement, the process was a welcome opportunity to explore possible areas of common ground. The underlining in the statement above indicates language added by the ORP to the original statement proposed by the DPO.

August 16, 2017 06:17 PM

Dino Costa, the sports shock jock who earlier this summer called for Black Lives Matter protesters to be run over is no longer with Alpha Media and its Portland station 750/102.9 The Game.

Randi P'Pool, vice president of marketing for Alpha Media, has issued a statement saying:

After further review, Alpha Media has decided to cut ties with Dino Costa. Additional information is not available at this time.

EW reported on Costa's June 7 remarks in light of the recent death of a Heather Heyer, a counterprotester in Charlottesville, Virginia, who was run over and killed by a car that ran into the crowd as police dispersed the crowds at the site of a planned “Unite the Right” rally of white supremacists. In addition to Heyer’s death, 19 other people were injured.

Costa said, in reference to an incident in Minnesota where protesters shut down a highway: “You know these protests where they shut down the road, they lie in the road? If I’m the cops, I wave the traffic on." He clarified during his diatribe that his remarks pertained to Portland as well.

Costa continued, "Listen, as soon as one or two of these sumbitches are run over you’ll see the entire, in unison, everybody be up off the street. When people are being killed by 18-wheel trucks coming by, pickups, cars. Run ’em over!”

EW asked the University of Oregon Duck athletics for comment on the remarks, in light of Charlottesville. Costa's now-fomer station KXTG (750/102.9 The Game) is listed as a "flagship" station broadcasting Ducks games and says on its website that is "Your 2017 Home Of Ducks Football." The UO  has a multi-media license agreement with IMG Media, which then gives radio stations like KXTG multi-media and sponsorship rights. 

Jimmy Stanton, UO's senior associate athletics director, responded: "We were just made aware of these comments. We certainly don’t condone them, and we find them disgusting and reprehensible. We are raising our concerns with IMG and the station."

IMG's contract with the UO has a morals clause that says:

IMG represents, warrants and covenants that it will not, and will not permit IMG's employees or subcontractors or anyone else to, (i) use the Licensed Marks or other licensed property in a manner that harms University's reputation or (ii) violate laws or engage in conduct involving moral turpitude that negatively impacts the value of this Agreement. In the event of any violation of this Section 6.03, in addition to IMG's attempts to cure in accordance with Section 3.05, IMG agrees to use best efforts to immediately cease any such violation, including without limitation, if requested by University, terminating such third party's rights to use University's marks or other licensed property or any other rights to sponsor or otherwise associate with University.

Willamette Week picked up the story and the Portland Timbers soccer team also issued a statement saying it would review its contract with Alpha Media at the end of the 2018 MLS season.

On his Aug. 14 show, after  Heyer's death, Costa discussed the Charlottesville rally and death, saying he didn't want any rallies or protests to culminate in people getting hurt, people getting maimed or losing their life as a result. He did not refer directly to or apologize for his previous remarks in the broadcast.

August 14, 2017 06:11 PM

Update: EW received this statement from Randi P'Pool, vice president of marketing for Alpha Media, which employed Dino Costa: 

After further review, Alpha Media has decided to cut ties with Dino Costa. Additional information is not available at this time.

•••

A Portland area shock jock, whose radio station calls itself “Your 2017 Home Of Ducks Football,” called for protesters to be run over on his sports radio show in June. The University of Oregon calls the comments "disgusting and reprehensible."

On radio KXTG (102.9 The Game) Dino Costa was discussing Black Lives Matter on his June 7 show when he called Black Lives Matter the “latest and most dangerous face of well-funded socialist communist organizations that have been agitating Americans for decades."

Referencing an incident in Minnesota where protesters shut down a highway, he said, “You know these protests where they shut down the road, they lie in the road? If I’m the cops, I wave the traffic on. Listen, as soon as one or two of these sumbitches are run over you’ll see the entire, in unison, everybody be up off the street. When people are being killed by 18-wheel trucks coming by, pickups, cars. Run ’em over!”

He clarifies before the comments that his remarks pertain to Portland as well.

Heather Heyer, a counterprotester in Charlottesville, Virginia, was run over and killed by a car that ran into the crowd as police dispersed the crowds at the site of a planned “Unite the Right” rally of white supremacists, according to media reports. In addition to Heyer’s death, 19 other people were injured. The incident has reverberated across the country, at a time where the election of Donald Trump has been seen as an endorsement of the so-called "alt-right" and "white nationalist" movement and heightening racial tensions.

A rally, "Hate Is Not Welcome in Lane County #SolidarityWithCharlottesville," is taking place Aug. 14 in Eugene.

Men’s Journal called Costa “the angriest man on the airwaves” in a 2012 article. In 2015 he told the far-right Breitbart Sports that “my show is where political correctness goes to die.”

According to a UO website, KXTG — 750 AM/102.9 FM — is a “flagship” station for the UO Ducks, and on its site, 102.9 says it is a "broadcast partner" of Oregon IMG Sports Marketing, which “provides sponsorship opportunities with Oregon Athletics.”

The diatribe can be heard here, at about 1 hour and 15 minutes into the program.

Jimmy Stanton, UO's senior associate athletics director, tells EW, "We were just made aware of these comments. We certainly don’t condone them, and we find them disgusting and reprehensible. We are raising our concerns with IMG and the station."

EW also reached out to KXTG and is still awaiting comment.

•••

Update: The Portland Timbers soccer team, whose games are aired by 102.9, which also hosts a Timbers talk show, has issued a statement on Dino Costa's remarks.

TIMBERS STATEMENT ON ALPHA BROADCASTING CARRIAGE DEAL

Alpha Media and its station 750/102.9 The Game have been partners of the Timbers since our start in Major League Soccer in 2011.

The Game airs our live matches and our weekly Talk Timbers show. None of the opinions expressed on their other shows or other Alpha Media radio stations, specifically The Dino Costa Show, are those of the Portland Timbers. Nor do the Timbers have any say or input on the hires The Game chooses to make for its non-Timbers-specific live game programming.

The Timbers have and will always stand for tolerance, acceptance and diversity, and we understand the reaction that many of our fans have had to some of the offensive and insensitive views and opinions expressed on The Dino Costa Show. In no way do we condone those views, as they go against our fundamental values and beliefs as a club.

We are under contract with Alpha Media through the end of the 2018 MLS season. We will carefully evaluate our radio home at that time.

Meanwhile, Randi P'Pool, vice president of marketing for Alpha Media, issued this statement:

Alpha Media holds the relationships with the Portland Timbers and the University of Oregon in high regard. 750/102.9 The Game management team took immediate and aggressive action with Dino Costa regarding the comment made during his June 7th broadcast.

In his Aug. 14 broadcast, Costa discussed the Charlottesville rally and death, saying he didn't want any rallies or protests to culminate in people getting hurt, people getting maimed or losing their life as a result. He did not refer directly to or apologize for his previous remarks.