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January 30, 2013 12:32 PM

The recent fights over access to downtown Eugene's traditional public forums — the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza and the federal building plaza — are headed for the courts to debate the constitutionality of telling protesters that their free speech is limited to certain hours of the day. Tuesday marked a skirmish in the battle as activist Alley Valkyrie again tested the bounds of the exclusion order put on her by County Administrator Liane Richardson and County Counsel Stephen Dingle that is intended to keep her out of county buildings after she was charged (not convicted) of trespass for staying in the Free Speech Plaza after it was closed. 

Mayor Kitty Piercy has told Valkyrie and county staff that Valkyrie can come to city meetings, but in emails back and forth with Valkyrie, Dingle has maintained that she will be arrested if she enters the building without written permission and an escort. In an email written after Valkyrie attended a "name-clearing hearing" for former county attorney Marc Kardell, Dingle wrote:

I want to make sure that you understand that your presence at the Marc Kardell name clearing hearing did not result in your arrest for trespass because of a miscommunication.  Specifically, I want to make sure that you understand this is not a waiver of the previously imposed exclusion order. I have now had the opportunity to check with the City of Eugene regarding the assertions you made in your last email and  I learned nothing that would change the County’s position.  If you are present in the Public Service Building or Harris Hall for County functions without specific written permission from either the County Administrative Officer or County Counsel you will be subject to arrest.

Lane County does not have the resources to provide an escort. You may continue to enter the PSB or Harris Hall for city-related business as outlined in my earlier email.

In a return email, Valkyrie pointed out the irony of the county not having the resources for an escort while at the same time proposing giving Dingle a "huge" raise (the proposd 14 percent raise that has been declined for now would have taken Dingle's salary from $145,995 to $166,400).

On Jan. 29, Valkyrie attended a County Commission meeting to give public comment. 

Filmed by Joe Tyndall, edited by Dustin Ross

After the public comment period ends, commissioners can respond to the commenters. Commissioner Faye Stewart responded to a constiuent who had concerns over a flooded roadway and to Dexter resident Pam Driscoll who discussed mining at Parvin Butte, the firing of Kardell, and concerns about the county's participation in the Association of O&C Counties and its recent problematic use of "executive session." Commissioner Pat Farr commented briefly on the the AOCC issue.

Commissioner Pete Sorenson addressed Valkyrie's remarks and said that "Every government in our country has a responsibility to allow people who want to peaceably assemble and speak to do that" and that it was a protected right under the state and federal constitutions. He said it was important for elected officials to respect the right of people to speak out.

Commissioner Jay Bozievich told Valkyrie, "We did recognize who you were and allowed you to stay and speak because we don't want to limit your rights," adding, " That is not the intent of the order." Then he gave the example of the state Legislature and said, "There are time, place, manner, restrictions to some free speech to allow goverment functions to continue," and said Valkyrie can address the board when she wishes to in the future. 

To see the full remarks go here and click on the Jan. 29 HACSA meeting. 

January 25, 2013 06:01 PM

A salary of $175,656 for embattled County Administrator Liane Richardson and $166,400 for County Counsel-to-be Stephen Dingle (his contract has not been voted on). Those are the salaries on the table for Richardson and Dingle if proposed raises go through, according to The Register-Guard in a story Jan. 24. Materials related to the upcoming votes are available here on the county's website

That's about $40,000 in raises at a time when the county is strapped for cash, irate readers point out on the R-G's page and in Letters to the Editor EW is already receiving. Ironically the Lane County Board of Commissioner's vote on the raise is the same day as a public hearing on a possible public safety tax, according to the agenda. 

As EW reported this week, the county is facing a possible legal case from former attorney Marc Kardell as well as a suit from activist Alley Valkyrie on constitutional grounds after Richardson closed the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza to protest for several days and barred protests after 11 pm. Richardson and Dingle have also barred Valkyrie from entering the county building. After the closure and Richardson alleged protesters had defecated in county planters, another protest was held at the plaza Jan. 7 and 21 more people were arrested. During the protest, gingerbread Liane Richardson cookies holding a raisin were handed out. You can guess from the picture what the raisin signifies … 

Photo courtesy Louise Prévost, the baker

Those interested in making comments to the county, either about the proposed raises or about the public safety proposal should attend the County Commissioners' meeting during the 1:30 pm public comment period and the 5:30 pm public safety hearing, also on Tuesday Jan. 29, at Harris Hall. For more details, see the agenda. No idea if the commission is interested in more creative cookie-baking. 

January 22, 2013 04:50 PM

The Sierra Club is going to break 120 years of tradition and policy and get all civilly disobedient on the Keystone XL's ass, according to blog posts and press releases from the conservation organization that has long tried to stay out of the get-arrested-for-the-environment fray. A blog post from Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune says, "For 120 years, we have remained committed to using every 'lawful means' to achieve our objectives. Now, for the first time in our history, we are prepared to go further."

Citing Martin Luther King, Jr and Walden, Brune writes the day after Obama cited climate change in his inaugural address:

The Sierra Club has refused to stand by. We've worked hard and brought all of our traditional tactics of lobbying, electoral work, litigation, grassroots organizing, and public education to bear on this crisis. And we have had great success -- stopping more than 170 coal plants from being built, securing the retirement of another 129 existing plants, and helping grow a clean energy economy. But time is running out, and there is so much more to do. The stakes are enormous. At this point, we can't afford to lose a single major battle. That's why the Sierra Club's Board of Directors has for the first time endorsed an act of peaceful civil disobedience.

In doing so, we're issuing a challenge to President Obama, who spoke stirringly in his inaugural address about how America must lead the world on the transition to clean energy. Welcome as those words were, we need the president to match them with strong action and use the first 100 days of his second term to begin building a bold and lasting legacy of clean energy and climate stability.

That means rejecting the dangerous tar sands pipeline that would transport some of the dirtiest oil on the planet, and other reckless fossil fuel projects from Northwest coal exports to Arctic drilling. It means following through on his pledge to double down again on clean energy, and cut carbon pollution from smokestacks across the country. And, perhaps most of all, it means standing up to the fossil fuel corporations that would drive us over the climate cliff without so much as a backward glance.

In an interview  last week (see the upcoming Jan. 24 issue for a story), noted economist Jared Bernstein told EW that he doesn't think the Keystone XL will be stopped. "There is going to be a pipeline someday," he said. And said instead of starting from a place where we assume there isn't going to be a pipeline we should "be smart about where it goes." 

Is the Sierra Club big enough to be a game changer? Also today, the governor of Nebraska approved the pipeline through his state and sent a letter to that effect to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. Who knows, now that the Sierra Club's gone wild.

January 16, 2013 01:17 PM

The NFL is on everyone's lips today in Eugene as Chip flies the coop. So it must be time for a bad lip reading.

In other, dare we say more important news, President Obama has unveiled new gun control proposals, the Washington Post reports.

Obama spoke in a White House ceremony to formally unveil the proposals and to sign executive orders and paperwork initiating immediate administrative actions, including steps to strengthen the existing background-check system, promote research on gun violence and provide training in dealing with “active shooter situations.”

January 11, 2013 02:46 PM

Downtown Eugene's filling up. Empty storefronts are giving way to bars, restaurants and stores. What else does it need? We vote on more food cars for Kesey Square …

January 10, 2013 11:03 AM

Mayor Kitty Piercy upon hearing the trespass citations would keep people from being able to attend City Council meetings (see today's story about the recent free speech arrests) tells EW:

"You should know that it's important to me for that all our community members can come to a City Council meeting. While I respect the county's rights to make decisions regarding visitors to the county building, it's not okay with me for them to determine who may attend or speak at a council meeting.   I have asked staff to work with the county to ensure that no one is blocked from our council meetings by the county."

January 7, 2013 05:03 PM

Most awesome story of the week from the San Francisco Bay Guardian:

A Marin activist named Jonathan Frieman, who runs a small nonprofit corporation (the JoMiJo Foundation) was driving in the carpool lane on highway 101 in Marin when he was stopped by a cop and given a $478 ticket. Ah, but Frieman insists he wasn't driving alone; beside him in the car were the articles of incorporation and other relevant corporate paperwork for his foundation — and in the United States, corporations are considered people. In fact, the California Vehicle Code refers to “natural persons or corporations.”

So Frieman is challening his ticket in traffic court, and is willing to spend his own money to appeal the case as far as he can. He wants to force the courts to decide: If a corporation is a person, then it gets to ride with a driver in the carpool lane, and his ticket has to be dismissed. If it's not a person, then maybe it can't make political contributions.In fact, if a corporation isn't a person, a whole lot of evil stuff might come to an end.

The story says Friedman's traffic court hearing was today.

And then there's domestic violence, Portlandia style from KOIN in Portland:

A man is facing assault charges, accused of choking his girlfriend using his dreadlocks in Southeast Portland.

Domestic violence is awful and never funny; I hope the woman is OK. And I have to wonder: How did this not happen in Eugene?

January 7, 2013 10:53 PM

SLEEPS (Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep) is challenging the curfew at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaze tonight. Here is the live stream via Ustream. About 75-80 people appeared to be there around 11 pm at "Reclaim the Plaza: A Free Speech Celebration."


Free live streaming by Ustream

January 7, 2013 10:28 AM

It's not yet clear what's happening on the UO campus this morning (beyond a rally scheduled for 11;30 am in regard to shake up in the diversity office) but UO emergency alerts are warning students to stay away from the Health Center and the latest alert says Agate is closed between 13th and 15the avenues. Another alert told students and faculty that there are intermittended power outages across campus. The Daily Emerald is reporting that "A University police spokesman said that explosions were heard near the Walton Complex. Smoke was reported to be coming from around the maintenance tunnels."

Updates to come.

Update:  KVAL is on the scene (we don't come out til Thursday, by which time this will be old news, but exlosions are bread and butter for the TV folks): "Employees told KVAL News that they believe it was because of a pipe leak of some kind inside the building."

Update: The R-G writes, "The explosions and smoke are 'likely' a result of a malfunction in a maintenance tunnel near the health center and the Walton residence hall complex, UO police spokesman Kelly McIver said."

Update: The Daily Emerald is reporting it appears to be a transformer that blew. Accounts differ as to what parts of campus might have lost power in addition to some of the residence halls. The Em has some nice photos of firefighters and smoke. 

January 7, 2013 04:48 PM

And just in time for the first week of classes: No power in the dorms. Here's the latest update from the UO.

 

Power outage at University of Oregon impacts on-campus residents

Work will continue around the clock to restore power to campus

Eugene, Ore. (Jan. 7, 2013) -- A power failure occurred today across the southwest section of the University of Oregon campus, the result of a series of malfunctions that were reported from the underground tunnels that deliver utility services through the 295-acre campus.

No one was injured in the incident, which resulted in visible smoke above ground and inside the University Health Center. The Health Center was evacuated and a two-block section of Agate Street – from 13th to 15th avenues – was closed for approximately two hours.

Campus Operations is working as quickly as possible to restore electricity to all affected buildings and repairs have already brought power back to many. However, several buildings are still without power, including many UO Housing residence and dining halls, including Carson Hall, Hamilton Hall, Bean Hall, Living Learning Center, Earl Hall and Walton Hall.

As a residential campus, more than 4,000 students live on campus and their safety is a top priority, said Michael Griffel, director of University Housing. 

“Heat, fire systems and lighting are necessary for a safe living environment," he said. "As such, we are planning to provide lighting assistance and additional campus safety officer presence this evening for approximately 3,000 students impacted by this outage.”

The location of the power transmission feeder failure was inspected by Eugene Fire Department and UO Campus Operations officials who described the failure as an overheating issue that caused the electrical circuits to ignite and melt.

Students, faculty and staff were notified via emergency notification channels about the incident and updates continue during the restoration of power. Latest information is posted at alerts.uoregon.edu.

“We are working as quickly as possible to safely restore all power to affected areas of campus,” said George Hecht, associate vice president for Campus Operations. “Getting power back to the affected buildings, especially residence halls and research facilities, is a top priority to alleviate issues.”

Additional student programming is planned on campus, including a BCS Championship Game watch party and activities at the Student Recreation Center and Erb Memorial Union.

January 5, 2013 12:29 AM

One minute you're hearing former Eugenean Mat Kearney sing "Breath In, Breath Out" on Grey's Anatomy or it's "Nothing Left to Lose" while you're driving down Highway 58 (avoiding that ammo someone spilled this morning) and the next you're like, "Oh, shit, is that a song about Chip Kelly?"

"Chip don't go, don't go, don't you go to Philly, Cleveland or Buffalo. They don't have half the heart or the jerseys."

 

January 5, 2013 10:55 AM

Every good starship captain ought to have a Twitter feed. If you still can't get your body beamed to other planets at least you can send 140 characters from space. 

William Shatner (aka Captain James T. Kirk, aka @williamshatner) tweeted to Chris Hadfield, of the Canadian Space Agency  "Are you tweeting from space?" Hadfield is the International Space Station's Flight Engineer for Expedition 34, so he is indeed tweeting from space.

In fine Trekkie form, he responded: "Yes, Standard Orbit, Captain. And we're detecting signs of life on the surface." 

And as @SarcasticRover points out, "If the  /  interaction goes down like most Captain Kirk adventures, they'll be kissing soon."

December 27, 2012 10:49 AM

Most of the journalists I know do sit around talking about the news. But we don't sit around talking like the news, even the NPR folks, which is too bad because I would love it if everyone walked around talking like All Things Considered or Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me.