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May 20, 2012 05:09 PM

Dogs Against Romeny is not going to let sleeping dogs lie when it comes to presidential hopeful Mitt Romeny and the time he stuck his Irish setter Seamus in a kennel and strapped it to the roof of his car.

Now they have a dog theme song. Warning the language is for mature audiences only. The dog curses in an Irish brogue.

May 13, 2012 01:39 PM

On April 2012 Copenhagen Phil (Sjællands Symfoniorkester) surprised the passengers in the Copenhagen Metro by playing Griegs Peer Gynt. The flash mob was created in collaboration with Radio Klassisk http://radioklassisk.dk/. All music was performed and recorded in the metro.

Here's to hoping the Eugene Symphony will flash mob the EmX.

May 10, 2012 03:24 PM

Lane County would like you to know that budget cuts means they will be releasing people from the Lane County Jail. (See the press release below). Budget cuts also mean that services to help kids, familes, the homeless, homeless pets and rural law enforcement to name a few things will also be cut.

DATE/TIME OF RELEASE:            May 10, 2012 3:00 PM

NATURE OF STORY:                       Capacity Based Releases

During the week of April 30 to May 7, 2012, a look at only sentenced offenders revealed that 13 offenders were released from the Lane County Adult Correctional Facility prior to serving their full sentences.  These 13 offenders were sentenced to a total of 344 days in jail and served an actual total of 56 days due to lack of jail capacity. 

 When the Lane County Jail gets full, which is more often than not, difficult decisions must be made about who to release from custody.  These decisions are made by a validated program called the Risk Assessment Tool that assigns a numerical value to each offender, both sentenced and those awaiting trial.  This score takes a plethora of data into account including the defendant/ offender’s current charges, past convictions, and rate of failure to appear in court.  The result is a Capacity Based Release, a CBR, or in plain terms, an inmate walking out the door before they appear in court or their sentence is up.

At the end of June, due to budgetary cutbacks, the Sheriff’s Office is scheduled to close 131 of their 351 jail beds, and 131 defendants and offenders will walk out the doors of the jail and into our communities.   They will have been “CBRd.”  Take away the 85 jail beds that the county has contracted out to other agencies and that leaves only 120 beds available for local offenders in a county that should have a jail with around 1200 beds.

While the jail has a history of opening and closing beds as money ebbs and flows, this will be the least amount of jail beds we have had to operate with for more than a decade, when we had approximately 29,000 fewer residents in Lane County. Back in 2008 when the jail closed 84 beds due to lack of funding, the average number of CBRs per day rocketed up to 12.5 per day. In 2009, when the beds were able to be reopened, that number fell back to an average of 8.8 CBRs per day.  In July of 2011, those 84 beds were once again closed, leaving the jail capacity where it is right now, at 351 beds.  But the jail can only fill 93% of those beds with inmates due to a Federal Consent Decree to prevent overcrowding, leaving the jail with only 326 beds for inmates. 

Capacity Based Release History:

FY 09/08         4579 CBRs     (Jail closed 84 beds)    FY 09/10         3216 CBRs     (84 beds reopened)

FY 10/11         2595 CBRs                                         FY 11/12**     3293 CBRs     (84 beds closed again)

**Numbers as of March 31, 2012 for FY 11/12.

At this rate, the projected total number of CBRs for FY 11/12 will be over 4,400.  With the closure of 131 beds in June, the number of CBRs is expected to increase drastically. 

On a side note, I can't help but to note that the county provides an acronym for "capacity based release," which is CBR. But it does not provide an acronym for Risk Assessment Tool. 

 In plain terms, "difficult decisions" about who to release early from jail. are being made by a computer program named RAT. 

May 7, 2012 06:21 PM

 

Million 1 Productions has put together an informative video on Republican challenger to Peter DeFazio Art Robinson, and son (aka the "Democratic" challenger) Matthew Robinson called "Art Robinson: Lunatic running for Congress in Oregon 2012."
 
Enjoy!
May 4, 2012 01:34 PM

Was the last-minute meeting Lane County held to vote on releasing allegations against Commissioner Rob Handy  on the morning of May 3 an open meeting? Handy has said the allegations themselves were timed not only to hurt him in the election, but also to detract from the recent revelation that his opponent Pat Farr was convicted of drunk driving. 

Though the handwritten note that stemmed the allegations was received by John Brown months ago on Feb. 21, he and attorney Alan Thayer waited until shortly before the May 15 election to release the information, Handy says. According to the R-G Thayer and Farr are good friends. The decision itself to release the information happened at rapid speed —  perhaps scheduled too quickly for anyone who didn't know to check email early that morning to attend?

The email received by the press giving notice of the "emergency meeting" was time-stamped 7:42 am May 3. The meeting was held at 9 am and consisted of the conservative majority of the board — Commissioners Sid Leikin, Jay Bozievich and Faye Stewart and County Administrator Liane Richardson. The vote was 3-0 to release the information. Neither Handy nor fellow progressive commissioner Pete Sorenson was there.

By 9:45 am, Richardson had already composed and sent out this email to county staff: 

May 3, 2012 05:07 PM

At a press conference today Commissioner Rob Handy addressed allegations that he says are timed to cause maximum damage to his re-election campaign. This is not the first time the liberal minority of the county commission has been targeted. See today's cover story on the Politics of Personal Destruction as well as last year's Shifty Politics.

The Board of Lane County Commissioners had an emergency meeting at 9 am this morning to discuss a public records request on the issue. 

The press release starts off: 

May 3, 2012

An emergency meeting of the Lane County Commission was held this morning, beginning at 9 am,  for the purpose of responding to a request for a public records release.  The request comes following the filing of a letter by Eugene Attorney Alan Thayer on behalf of Eugene resident and property [and] business owner, John H. Brown. 

Central to the request are allegations contained in the letter.  It is addressed to Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy and copied to the District Attorney, Secretary of State and the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. Commissioner Handy is alleged to have solicited contributions from certain individuals to help him pay off the money he agreed to reimburse the County for the Dumdi v. Handy case. 

The letter was received late yesterday, Wednesday, May 2.  Lane County officials will work with state officials that are now involved in the case.

It then goes on to note that, " Those attending this mornings emergency session included County Administrator Liane Richardson, Commission Chair Sid Leiken, County Commissioner Faye Stewar[t] and County Commissioner Jay Bozievich." 

The commissioners in attendance were the conservative board majority, which often votes in opposition to Handy and liberal commissioner Pete Sorenson. Richardson, who was also present, made harassment allegations against Handy that were deemed unfounded. She based her claims on that Handy and Sorenson had voted against her being hired as "permanent" county administrator and accused him of having negative body language towards her.

Notification of the meeting was sent out at 7:42 am this morning. Handy said at the press conference today that he did not get the email in time to attend the emergency meeting. The board usually meets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, not Thursday.

Handy said in his remarks today: 

This complaint of Mr. Brown’s is coming forward in this manner and at this time was coldly and cynically planned to make sure that when the truth comes out, the election will be over.  The attorney representing him is known for these kinds of tactics as well.  If he was truly concerned about my behavior in this matter, he would have filed a complaint months and months ago after my request of him for a donation.

Handy then explained the donation issue:

Speaking directly to this issue of Mr. Brown’s filings: I found out earlier this year that a constituent who thought the fact that I had to repay Lane County any money related to the Dumdi lawsuit was unfair and had gone down to Lane County and paid some money against this debt. 

 I was surprised to learn that this was an option – that people who felt the lawsuit settlement was unfair could help out in this way.  I contacted the Finance Department at Lane County to confirm that this was true.

I was told by the Finance Department that this was true and that people could pay directly to this debt either publicly or anonymously.  I found out the process from Lane County on the details of how to do that so that I could share this information with my supporters.  I knew that there were many folks who felt that this debt was an unfair burden on me as an elected official and would want to help.

After finding out this information from Lane County, I did ask several supporters to assist with this debt.  I believe that some people did go down to Lane County and make a payment of this sort.  I am grateful to whoever did go and make such a payment – this is my first opportunity to express that gratitude.

Once my campaign started, I did ask a few of my supporters for assistance with donating to my campaign or to this debt or one or the other or both.  There was nothing wrong with that then or now.  In fact, I still hope that people will respond to this appeal.  There are many out there who feel that this debt was unfair and who may still want to assist with repayment.

Both the allegations and Handy's press statement are attached below.

May 2, 2012 05:24 PM

In a 3-2 vote, with the conservatives in the majority, the Lane County Board of Commissioners decided to drop the appeal of the mining on Parvin Butte. Commissioners Pete Sorenson and Rob Handy voted against dropping the appeal. Sid Leiken, Faye Stewart and Jay Bozievich voted to drop it. Stewart is the commissioner for east Lane County where the butte and the small community of Dexter that surrounds the gravel mine is located.  You can watch the meeting and hear the discussion on the Lane County web page.

May 2, 2012 12:50 PM

But those Blackhawk helicopters people are seeing overhead today are part of a training exercise (OR SO THEY SAY). Here's the press release from the Eugene Police Department: 

 

Multi-Agency Emergency and Disaster Exercise Will Take Place in Eugene Area May 2 and 3. 

This advisory is to let media know in advance of a multi-agency emergency and disaster exercise on May 2 and 3 that might prompt calls from the public. There will be an unusual amount of emergency service vehicles, aircraft and other activity they will see in areas around Eugene, particularly Autzen Stadium, Hayward Field, RiverBend Hospital, Eugene Airport, Howe Field, Alton Baker Park, and the UO Soccer Field. In addition to the general information in this advisory, please refer to the Oregon Military Department’s release, included below.

As part of emergency services and security training for the 2012 Olympic Track and Field Trials to be held in Eugene this June, local emergency responders and other agencies are taking advantage of the opportunity presented by participation in the Oregon National Guard’s Vigilant Guard statewide exercise. The local exercise will be a multi-agency exercise taking place May 2 and 3, that will include aircraft and helicopters near Autzen Stadium and other locations. Commercial flights and general aviation activities at the Eugene Airport will not be impacted by the exercise.

Participating will be Oregon National Guard; State Fire Marshal; local police, fire and emergency medical services; University of Oregon; Eugene Airport; hospitals; city and county agencies; and individuals.  Lessons learned from the exercise will be applicable across a wide variety of mass hazards and casualty scenarios.

Because one of the main goals of the Eugene exercise is to increase security measures prior to the Olympic Track and Field Trials, unfortunately there will not be an opportunities provided for videotaping, beyond what can be seen by the general public.

May 2, 2012 02:08 PM

It was May Day yesterday and Occupy Wall Street affiliated groups were out across the country. Portland had some action last night. Here, Occupy Eugene's May Day rally was preceded by peacekeeping training. 

The Eugene Police Department arrived at the bank protest in riot gear … and then they left.

April 30, 2012 10:33 AM

I realize that in the U.S. the Eurovision Song Context doesn't make headlines unless the Finns show up dressed in monster costumes. But it is underway, with the final decision at the end of the May. It has everything good music, bad music (ABBA and Celine Dion are among previous winners) and political intrigue. 

I'm weirdly fascinated by the entry from Moldava in 2011 and their gnome costumes and the gnome fairy on a unicycle.

 

But I have to tell you, this year it's the Russian entry I have fallen in love with. I want them all to be my grandmother. 

April 30, 2012 12:04 PM

An Administrative Law Judge has recommended that Greg Demers and the McDougal Brothers' Willamette Water Company not be given a 34 cfs (22 million gallon a day) water right out of the McKenzie River. While the final decision lies with the Water Resources Department, Judge James Han called WWC's bid for water control "speculative." 

EW has been following the effort to get water from the McKenzie River by the land developers for over a year, take a look back at Freshwater Fisticuffs, Cry Me a River and Small Town Strip Mine for the history of the issue.  And Demers and the McDougals continue to come under fire for their ongoing efforts to turn scenic Parvin Butte into a gravel mine.  

For more on the judge's decision, see this week's EW

April 30, 2012 11:06 AM

The 2012 Correspondents dinner was this weekend and President Obama's jokes flew fast and furious. 

And if you haven't seen the 2006 Stephen Colbert roast of George W. Bush, it's worth trip back in time …

April 26, 2012 04:01 PM

 

From Lane County: 

 

The Final Day for the Central Lane Justice Court-April 27, 2012

If you call the Central Justice Court in Springfield, you will hear this message: “This court is no longer open.”  It then goes on to say, if you have questions about payment, contact the Florence Justice Court, after May 1.  Earlier this year, Lane County officials announced the Central Lane Justice Court, in Springfield, would be closing.  Starting May 1st, it will be consolidated with the Western Lane County Florence Justice Court.   Boxes have been packed and stacks of books moved either to Florence or Lane County storage facilities.

For Central Lane Justice Court Judge Gary Carl, it’s a sign of the times.  He was a retired judge when he was called upon to take over the Central Lane Justice Court in February 2011.  Judge Carl says, there’s a place for Justice Court in our system of justice.  It’s a place where he felt he could make a difference in the lives of those who are charged with what are considered lower level crimes, such as skipping school.  He says, he was able to look kids straight in the eye and give them a stern warning.  He knew they were listening.  He would be rewarded when he’d learn that a kid, who stood in front of him, had indeed, turned his life around.  Other issues settled in Justice Court, disputes between landlords and tenants, dog control issues, small claims, and issues dealing with weigh masters.

Judge Carl says, when the Sheriff’s Department stopped issuing citations and when fewer and fewer court appearances were scheduled, the Justice Court lost revenue.  As the court lost revenue, budgets shrank and the decision was made to close the court in Springfield.

When the court opened, in March, 1990, current Supervisor at Eugene Municipal Court, Gabrielle Glenn was hired to be the Senior Court Clerk.  She was told to buy a few office items, hire a staff, (she hired 2 full time and one part time clerks) and open the doors.  Before starting the Justice Court, all the business was done through Circuit Court.  Now that Central Justice is closing, what can’t be scheduled at Florence Justice Court will be scheduled back in Lane Circuit Court.  Although she has not worked in Justice Court for several years, Glenn says what the community will miss with the closing of the Springfield court, is the relaxed atmosphere of the court. 

Officially, the last day of business is Friday, April 27th.  Central Lane Justice Court had 4 clerks.  One will be transferred to the Florence court. Judge Carl will be retiring, again.

For information about fines and court activities, call the Florence Justice Court (after May 1) : (541) 997-2535.