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August 28, 2015 04:05 PM
Photo by Amber Hogan
Photo by Amber Hogan
 

On March 27, 2014, journalist Serena Markstrom stood outside the Register-Guardnewspaper, pregnant and unemployed.

Today, Aug. 28, 2015, she filed a complaint against the paper in Lane County Circuit Court seeking economic and non-economic losses of $525,000. The case centers on claims of gender discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation and violating the Oregon Family Leave Act. You can read the full document below.

Markstrom, who also goes by her married name Serena Markstrom Nugent, was fired from the paper where she had worked for 12 years and instead of a baby shower, former fellow employees at the R-G gathered to say goodbye on a rainy sidewalk in front of the newspaper’s Chad Drive offices.

Markstrom had worked at the daily paper in Eugene, Oregon since college and was well known in the community for her lively entertainment reporting and social media presence.

In the months before the paper fired her, Nugent had been pulled from her longtime music and entertainment beat, a beat the court filing says “for which she was recruited, trained, experienced and exceptional” and put on newsroom beat that covered all of rural Lane County. As EWwrote at the time of the change in her beat:

Such switches, as well as downsizing of newspaper newsrooms, have become more common in recent years as print newspapers deal with a changing world of internet publishing and social media. Moving writers to beats they are unfamiliar with is often seen as a strategy to get rid of experienced, higher-paid writers and replace them with newer reporters at a lower pay scale.

The complaint goes on to say that The Register-Guard failed to provide Markstrom any “meaningful help,” for more than seven months, but her editors were nonetheless supportive until “all of that changed dramatically when she notified The Register-Guard of her need for pregnancy related family leave.”

The court document does not say that Markstrom never made any errors in her time at the R-G and in fact points several of them out, rather the argument is that the newspaper “precipitously re-characterized any of Ms. Markstrom's mistakes in the months before  her pregnancy as serious performance deficiencies.”

After the R-G presented Markstrom with a “lengthy performance improvement plan that threatened her with termination in the very near future over issues that it had never previously brought to Ms. Markstrom's attention as sufficiently problematic to justify discipline, let alone termination” her doctor removed her from the workplace for the rest of her pregnancy, the court filing says.

After Markstrom submitted her request for Oregon Family Leave Act intermittent leave to deal with pregnancy related illness, the complaint says that Wendy Baker — a member of the Baker family, which owns the R-G, who is legal counsel and director of human resources at the paper — instructed Markstrom’s editor to “promptly document any and all of Ms. Markstrom's conduct &rdquo that the editor, Ilene Aleshire, “could be critical of because, according to Ms. Baker, The Register-Guard ‘needed to get this  done soon,’ before Ms. Markstrom "got into her pregnancy and … claimed pregnancy discrimination."

Ultimately Markstrom was fired for being "dishonest, insubordinate and having destroyed company property” after checking her email while on pregnancy related disability leave.

According to the complaint, Aleshire told Markstrom that she could not ‘do any work, including checking emails and voicemails,’ while she was on disability leave.

However, Markstrom's complaint says she understood this to mean that she could not work — which might include checking work-related emails and voicemails. “She did not understand this to be a total prohibition against accessing her email account for personal matters.”

The R-G and its union — Eugene Newspaper Guild Local 37194 of the Newspaper Guild/Communication Workers for America — had previously been in a legal battle that the complaint says “led to a judgment authorizing Guild members to use their Register-Guard emails for union and personal matters.”

Markstrom still writes and currently freelances a parenting column for a local start-up lifestyle magazine, Lane Monthly.

EW has contacted Wendy Baker and Dave Baker at the R-G for comment. Wendy Baker says she may comment after she has seen the lawsuit. EW will be updating this blog online if more information, including a response from the R-G arises, and following up with an news story in print.

Update: the R-G has done a story on the lawsuit. EW will be coming out with a print news story on Thursday.

Full disclosure: Camilla Mortensen attended Serena Markstrom's wedding and the writers are friends.

August 27, 2015 12:55 PM

Ever notice that the Register-Guard writes a lot about Duck football? Like three stories a day. R-G readers must like football (and crime and the weather, based on an informal survey of what shows up on the web).

Last week the web editors must have gotten just a wee bit football crazed, what with a game coming up Sept. 5 and all.

August 26, 2015 04:32 PM

Back in 2008, some UO students and other local groups held a rally downtown to celebrate that the Lane County Commission was limiting use of pesticide sprays. Seven years later, the Oregon Court of Appeals has handed down a ruling in a case related to an arrest at that rally, an arrest that was later appealed and has been making its way through the court system ever since.

 

At the time of the rally and arrest there was a little, shall we say, confusion between Homeland Security and the Eugene Police Department. 

Ian Van Ornum, then an 18-year-old college student was performing street theater dressed in a fake Hazmat suit and carrying a fake pesticide spray bottle — actually a large spray bottle of water with a skull and crossbones Sharpied on to it. A Homeland Security officer, according to police reports at the time, called the Eugene police, specifically naming Van Ornum.

As EW wrote back in 2008:

According to the police reports, Federal Protective Services (FPS), a division of the Department of Homeland Security, was made aware of the rally in support of Lane County’s no-roadside spray policy by the EPD on May 22. That is the day EW published an article on the planned rally, featuring a photo of Ian Van Ornum, one of the leaders of “Crazy People for Wild Places,” the student group that organized the rally. Van Ornum was Tasered twice and arrested with [Day] Owen and UO student (and Eagle Scout) Tony Farley.

Day Owen, who spoke at the May 22, 2008 rally, was a member of the Pitchfork Rebellion — a group of organic farmers working to end pesticide sprays, and according to the documents, Homeland Security had been monitoring the Pitchfork Rebellion.

According to today's ruling (and the court's account of the incident is worth a read):

As the demonstration was winding down, Keedy, a federal Homeland Security officer, arrived at the demonstration, concerned because one of the other speakers had previously threatened acts of civil disobedience at federal buildings. Keedy called Solesbee of the Eugene Police Department to let him know that he was at the rally and that the rally was peaceful. Keedy described a couple of people dressed up in “exterminator costumes” who were spraying something around planters, but stated that it seemed innocuous and that he could not see “anything wrong” with what they were doing.

Eugene police came anyway, and Van Ornum was soon Tasered while prostrate on the ground. 

On Dec. 27, 2013, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that Van Ornum could continue to pursue his appeal of his conviction for resisting arrest. As EW wrote at the time:

The state Supreme Court ruling centered on the judge having proposed instructions to the jury that said a police officer should determine the appropriate use of force. Van Ornum’s attorney proposed that that the jury should consider unreasonable force from the point of view of the person being arrested. Van Ornum was convicted but as he began his appeals process there was another case of a person resisting arrest after being pepper sprayed and punched by police. In that case, the Oregon Supreme Court instructed judges to tell juries to consider the issue from the point of view of the person being arrested, and that affects Van Ornum’s case.

Today, Aug. 26, 2015, the Oregon Court of Appeals wrote  that 

The court then concluded that the trial court’s use of the Uniform Criminal Jury Instruction (UCrJI) 1227 (describing when a person is allowed to use physical force for self-defense in response to an officer’s use of unreasonable force when making an arrest) was plain error, and remanded for us to determine if we would exercise our discretion to review the error. We conclude that the gravity of the error and the ends of justice require us to exercise our discretion to correct the error and, accordingly, reverse and remand for a new trial.

In other words, seven years after his orignal arrest and Tasering, Van Ornum can have a new trial. He now plays mandolin in the Ashland-based band Patchy Sanders.

Update: KLCC is reporting that the DA has declined to retry the case.

August 25, 2015 06:08 PM

Planned Parenthood keeps getting hit with undercover videos from the anti-abortion group, "Center for Medical Progress," trying to discredit the reproductive health care provider and defund it. 

On Saturday, Aug. 22 Oregon Right to Life coordinated anti-Planned Parenthood protests in Eugene and at clinics around the state. Planned Parenthood countered with a peaceful pink protest of its own. 

Jimmy Radosta of Planned Parenthood advocates of Oregon tells EW:

Despite these protests, defunding Planned Parenthood has been and continues to be an extremely unpopular idea. The vast majority of the public rejects this extreme political agenda and rejects the fraudulent campaign behind it, because Americans know that Planned Parenthood provides high-quality health care in communities across the country.

Planned Parenthood is the most trusted women’s health care provider in this country. Highly trained doctors, nurses and other professionals have provided birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, safe abortion and other high-quality health care for 99 years. One in five American women reports having been to Planned Parenthood for care.

Extremists who oppose Planned Parenthood’s mission and services are making outrageous and completely false claims. These videos are a fraud intended to deceive the public, and the real agenda of these attacks has become totally clear: to ban abortion and limit women’s access to reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood. The group behind these discredited videos has close ties with organizations and individuals who have been linked to firebombing abortion clinics and threatening the physical safety of doctors who provide abortion.

August 24, 2015 01:53 PM

You can be part of one of those moments that make Eugene the awesome and unique city it is tomorrow at when the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce hosts an official ribbon cutting at As You Like It: The Pleasure Shop tomorrow, 12 pm Aug. 25. Mayor Kitty Pierce checks out "Eugene’s new and premiere sex-positive resource center, retail shop, and producer of sensual organic body products" at  2 pm. 

The event is at 1655 W 11th Ave., in Eugene.

As You Like It "is stocked exclusively with body-friendly, high-quality products and works tirelessly to provide workshops, symposiums, speakers and community events designed to enlighten, educate, and broaden perspectives." Shop owner Kim Marks says in her press release. She writes,  that the pleasure shop "features a staff of trained sex-educators, a focus on gender inclusivity and a commitment to supporting other local businesses and craftspeople."

 

Gail Karuna-Vetter, Kim Marks and Oblio Stroyman. Photo by Alex V. Cipolle.

Gail Karuna-Vetter, Kim Marks and Oblio Stroyman. Photo by Alex V. Cipolle
 

The full press release is below.

On Tuesday, August 25th at noon the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce will host an official ribbon-cutting ceremony and a celebratory launch of our new certified organic product lines. At 2 pm Mayor Kitty Piercy welcomes As You Like It: The Pleasure Shop to Eugene. Many community supporters like the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, Wayward Lamb, NW Community Credit Union and others will be there to help usher in Eugene’s new and premiere sex-positive resource center, retail shop, and producer of sensual organic body products.

New to Eugene this year, As You Like It, located at 1655 W. 11th St., is a different kind of shop for adults. Our mission is to create a space that is safe for your body and the environment. As the very first adult toy storefront to earn certification from Green America, we go beyond ‘talking the talk’ to ‘walking the walk’ with the creation of As You Like It Organic’s new Oregon Tilth and USDA Organic certified, locally made massage oils, lotions, and kissable body butter.

As You Like it is stocked exclusively with body-friendly, high-quality products, and works tirelessly to provide workshops, symposiums, speakers, and community events designed to enlighten, educate, and broaden perspectives. As You Like It: The Pleasure Shop features a staff of trained sex-educators, a focus on gender inclusivity, and a commitment to supporting other local businesses and craftspeople.

Student groups at both the University of Oregon and Lane Community College have partnered with As You Like It to promote inclusiveness, sex-positivity, and shared information around sex and sexuality. Working with The Wayward Lamb, Naughty Morsels Bakery, and other local businesses, we recently sponsored an expansion of the annual Eugene Pride Celebration for an extra day we called Pride Day Too.

As You Like It: The Pleasure Shop proudly sells products from local manufacturers such as Terra Firma Botanicals, We are also a proud member of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce”. In addition to our regular store hours and our online presence, As You Like It offers options for private shopping and either in-home or after-hours private parties. To learn more about As You Like It, visit: www.asyoulikeitshop.com

August 19, 2015 04:25 PM

The McDougal brothers, who have faced criticism over they years for their involvement in projects such as mining scenic Parvin Butte or trying to get a water right on the McKenzie River, are applying for a fill permit for "0.76 acres of emergent and scrub/shrub wetlands" near Green Hill Road in West Eugene.

(In a separate project, the McDougals are also currently planning a subdivision in Veneta, the R-G reports.)

According to the public notice from the Army Corps of Engineers the wetlands the McDougals seek to fill are "adjacent to Amazon Diversion Canal/Amazon Creek. "

The project description, which you can read in full here, says the filling in of the wetlands is for a rail loading facility that would:

"… facilitate the development of the area as a rail loading facility. The rail siding would allow train cars to enter the Gregory Mill site and be loaded with timber products from both sides of the siding. The siding would enter the site from a switch on the CBR rail line (west switch). In order to provide workers with access, a road would be constructed parallel to the track. The applicant has stated that stormwater runoff from the site after construction could migrate to existing ditches but would be minimal since the gravel foundation of the rail siding would allow infiltration of stormwater. Project construction would result in approximately 6.3 acre of ground disturbance."

The Army Corps, which is seeking public comment on the proposed filling of the wetlands, says the purpose of the project is to create a distribution hub for construction materials.

"The applicant has stated that the site is highly suitable as a distribution hub for construction materials due to its location immediately adjacent to the Port of Coos Bay Rail Link rail line. The proposed rail siding would allow train cars to enter the Gregory Mill site and be loaded with timber projects from both sides of the siding, for delivery to the Port of Coos Bay."

To mitigate for the loss of 0.76 in wetlands, the McDougals are "proposing to purchase 0.76 credits from the City of Eugene’s Wetland Mitigation Bank."

Comments on the project are due within 30 days, should reference US Army Corps of Engineers No: NWP-2013-141/1 and should go to:

Heidi Firstencel, Project Manager U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Eugene Field Office 211 E. 7th Avenue, Suite 105
Eugene, Oregon 97401-2722
heidi.firstencel@usace.army.mil
(541) 465-6765

 

August 18, 2015 06:02 PM

The Environmenal Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) is asking for the public's help writing emails and advocating for freeing Eduardo Arturo Mosqueda Sánchez, a young human rights and environmental lawyer who has been imprisoned without bail in Mexico. The full call to action is below.

A terrible injustice is unfolding in Mexico. Eduardo Arturo Mosqueda Sánchez, a young human rights and environmental lawyer, was imprisoned without bail on July 22 while working to defend the Nahua people in Jalisco State. 

Eduardo is currently being held in a high security cell at Colima's Detention Center.

We urge you to write to President Peña Nieto and the Governors of Jalisco and Colima States, asking for Eduardo's immediate release. 

Find contact information below.

Eduardo works for ELAW's partner organization, Instituto de Derecho Ambiental (IDEA), a grassroots organization in Guadalajara founded by award-winning attorney and long time ELAW partner Raquel Gutiérrez Nájera.

Eduardo's arrest is tied to IDEA's work on a lengthy land dispute that the Nahua people, in Ayotitlán, Cuatitlán, have with an iron mining company (Consorcio Minero Benito Juárez Peña Colorada S.A.)

In 2013, the community filed a constitutional petition known as an amparo asking the court to recognize the community's rights over the land. An administrative and labor judge from the 4th District issued an injunction, granting community members free access to all of the lands and suspending the mining company's use of the lands until the case is resolved.

On July 22, Eduardo and hundreds of community members toured the contested lands. Some community members, including women and children, were assaulted, and 33 community members and Eduardo were detained. 

The community members have been released, but Eduardo remains imprisoned on trumped-up, false criminal charges.

ELAW partners around the world stand up to powerful interests who seek to gain from polluting and destroying natural resources. ELAW U.S. moves quickly when one of our partners is in danger.

ELAW and IDEA have contacted the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico

We now ask for your help. Please post a message to President Peña Nieto, and the Governors of Jalisco and Colima, asking for Eduardo's immediate release. 

President Peña Nieto 

Jorge Aristóteles Sandoval Díaz, Governor of Jalisco State aristoteles.sandoval@jalisco.gob.mx

Mario Anguiano Moreno, Governor of Colima State

gobecol@col.gob.mx

For more information, visit Justicia para Eduardo Mosqueda.

Thank you.

Bern Johnson

Executive Director

Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide 

August 14, 2015 02:14 PM

It's 1892 and Abigail Rook is looking for a job in New Fiddleham, New England. No sooner has she gotten off the ship she took from Europe than she meets the peculiar detective R.F. Jackaby. He uses Sherlockian deduction mixed with some Harry Potteresque crytozoological beings to determine Abigail has recently been in Eastern Europe. Not that long after their chance encounter, the intrepid Abigail enters into his employ and meets the supernatural residents of his home.

Billed as Doctor Who meet Sherlock Holmes, the young adult novel Jackaby (Algonquin Young Readers, 2014) and its sequel Beastly Boneswill appeal to the YA readers who are Harry Potter and mystery lovers, and judging from videos like the one below, as well as a plethora of YouTube reviews (which are apparently a thing) the novels have gotten a loyal following.

Local readers will notice that there is a certain Lane County flair to the books, despite their New England setting. Ritter lives in Springfield, and one of the characters a homeless woman with a hint of supernatural powers, Hatun, bears a strong resemblance to Hatoon Victoria Adkins, an unhoused woman who made her home near the University of Oregon bookstore, where a shrine to her remains. Adkins was hit by a care and died in 2005 and was mourned by the many who knew her around campus.

Ritter writes of Hatun:

Jackaby hesitated, and when he spoke, his answer had a soft earnestness to it. “Hatun sees a different world than you or I, a far more frightening one, full of far more terrible dangers, and still she chooses to be the hero whom that world needs. She has saved this town and its people from countless monsters countless times. That the battles are usually in her head does not lessen the bravery of it. The hardest battles always are.”

Kirkus gives Beastly Bones a starred review:

[A] fast-paced sequel to Jackaby…As bones go missing—and then small livestock—methodical investigation and scientific experimentation yield to madcap chases, slapstick humor, and romance. Ritter's blends—fantasy and mystery, action and tension, oddball detective and able sidekick—employ but exceed their stock elements. With one case closed but two unsolved, the well-matched, well-written duo will undoubtedly return to fight a more fearsome foe. A witty and weird adventure equal parts Sherlock and Three Stooges.

The Corvalis-Benton County Public Library hosts Will Ritter 6 pm Aug. 18. 645 NW Monroe Avenue, Corvallis.

August 13, 2015 12:39 PM

It doees smell like smoke today in Lane County. Earlier this week it was thanks to fires in southern Oregon, but as of yesterday a fire off Territorial Hwy., near Lorane is making our local air quality not-so-fresh.

Want track the air with something more scientific than your nose? Go to Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (aka LRAPA)'s website here. As you can see, for today we are just creeping into "unhealthy for sensitive groups" as of 11 am. 

If you want to keep up-to-date with fires in Oregon, the federal Inciweb page is your to-the-minute go-to source.

August 13, 2015 01:55 PM

The dust hasn't settled from UO settling for $800,00  the Title IX lawsuit filed by the young woman who alleges three UO Ducks basketball players raped her, but notices of more lawsuits have appeared. 

This  is just in from The Oregonian's higher education reporter, Richard Read:

A University of Oregon therapist who counseled a woman allegedly gang-raped by three Ducks basketball players has filed a claim with a former colleague accusing the school of unlawful employment practices and violating their First Amendment rights.

In the tort-claim notice sent to the university Tuesday, senior staff therapist Jennifer Morlok and former UO Counseling Center staff member Karen Stokes accuse the school of discriminating and retaliating against them and wrongfully terminating Stokes.

The story goes on to say that in the notice of a forthcoming lawsuit, likely to be filed in federal court, Morlok and Stokes are accusing the UO Counseling Center managers of "undermining their work, ignoring them to the detriment of patients and violating Stokes' disability rights." And the claim alleges retialiation.

Read says that Morlock has appealed the "Oregon State Bar decision that dismissed her earlier complaints against UO lawyers Douglas Park and Samantha Hill, who requested and received the patient's confidential file."

You can read the whole story here.

In case you missed it here's EW's associate editor (aka me) Camilla Mortensen on OPB's Think Out Loud talking about the settlement last wee. 

August 12, 2015 04:45 PM

Rodeo is a sore point with many animal lovers, and for myself, I can't watch calf roping. But those who love to watch bull riding — one of the few animal sports where the non-human animal tends to win, a lot — will tell you that the bulls are well-cared for atheletes. 

This press releasse about Mick E Mouse just … well … let me just cut to the chase on why this is a "press release of the day."

To sum up: After a trip to Texas A&M and to a vet specialist diagnosed him with lypmphona, top bucking bull Mick E Mouse had to be put down (and that is sad). As Marlene Henry, the owner of the champion bull, puts it: "I don’t care if he was No. 1 in the PBR books, but he was to me. He can go to the rainbow bridges and be fat and sassy."

There is just something about bulls and rainbow bridges that makes me laugh a little.

 

PBR mourns loss of World Champion Bull contender Mick E Mouse 

PUEBLO, Colo. – PBR stock contractor Marlene Henry informed the PBR [Professional Bull Riders, not the beer] this afternoon [Aug. 11] that Mick E Mouse was put down today because of unforeseen medical complications.

Mick E Mouse suffered a slight fracture in his lower back during the event in Billings, Montana, earlier this year when he slipped as Nathan Schaper attempted to ride him during the 15/15 Bucking Battle. He was treated at Texas A&M for the injury and returned to his home – stock contractor Kevin Loudamy’s ranch in Brownsboro, Texas – to recover during the summer.

Henry expected Mick E Mouse to return to the Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS) last weekend in Biloxi, Mississippi, but irregularities in his behavior in July led Henry and Loudamy to seek an additional opinion about his condition from renowned veterinarian Dr. Gary Warner. During the examination, Dr. Warner discovered that the athlete had developed a lesion on his back.

“We suspect that Mick E had a lymphoma lesion within his lumbar spine that caused an inability to properly be able to use his rear limbs.” Dr. Warner explained. “We tried to treat him, but he wasn’t responding so it was time to make that decision. It was a great loss for the sport. I really loved that old bull.”

It was not an easy decision for Henry, but she wanted to ensure that her prized bovine athlete would not be suffering anymore.

“Mick E is no longer in pain,” Henry said. “I will say it has not been all bad. It has been the greatest ride ever. I don’t care if he was No. 1 in the PBR books, but he was to me. He can go to the rainbow bridges and be fat and sassy.”

2015 was the 7-year-old bovine athlete’s fourth season on the BFTS where he remained unridden in 34 outs. He gathered 40 outs over his entire career without a single bull rider conquering him, leading him to the possibility of reaching or even surpassing a PBR record set by Bushwacker back in 2013 of 42 consecutive BFTS buckoffs.

The 2015 PBR World Champion Bull contender managed to buck off riders such as 2013 PBR World Champion J.B. Mauney, 2014 PBR Rookie of the Year J.W. Harris, 2008 PBR World Champion Guilherme Marchi and current No. 3 rider in the PBR world standings Matt Triplett. He also posted the top bull score of the 2015 BFTS season with 47 points out of 50 in Anaheim, California, against Harris.

According to probullstats.com, Mick E Mouse has acquired an average bull score of 44.76 points. The rider who was closest to hitting the 8-second mark atop this unridden bovine was Harris during the 2014 BFTS event in Thackerville, Oklahoma, but Mick E Mouse successfully tossed him in 7.47 seconds.

“Mick E Mouse was an extraordinary animal athlete with an incredible story behind his rise to fame.” said PBR CEO Sean Gleason. “He was one of those special bulls with the raw talent and a never quit attitude that made him virtually impossible to ride. It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to a remarkable bucking bull and the entire PBR organization is grieving with Ms. Henry and Mr. Loudamy as they have to deal with the loss.”

August 11, 2015 07:33 PM

Before Fred Taylor became one of the owners of Eugene Weekly, he was the managing editor and later the executive editor of the Wall Street Journal.

Earlier, as a reporter, he wrote many of the long, front-page features that made the WSJ famous, and his thoughts on writing news stories and the use of photography are quoted again and again in books and articles.

Over the years EW staff has reaped the benefits of his influence on this scrappy paper and its mission to make the world a better place. This week we mourn his  passing Aug. 10 at his home in North Bend.

 

August 10, 2015 02:29 PM

The shooting of a veteran with PTSD, Brian Babb, by the Eugene Police Department comes before the review board today. Check out the detailed story in the R-G on the issue.

Babb's family continues to speak out about the shooting. Here is the press release from the Babb family:

The family of Captain Brian Babb will be hosting a press conference/rally Wednesday August 12 in the Wayne Morse Free-Speech Plaza at noon. In calling for this rally Brian’s sister Stephanie Babb states, “police brutality in this country has become an epidemic.”

In a show of solidarity around the issue of mental health and police responses, Eric Richardson, President of the Lane County branch of the NAACP will be joining the rally. A statement will be read by a family member from Brian's counselor Becky Higgins. The family will be addressing recent media coverage and the tragic events that they say have brought the injustice of police brutality into focus.

According to Brian’s sister Ronda McGowan, “Veterans are not criminals; they are deserving of our help and support, but are receiving bullets and death at the hands of law enforcement.” Organizers believe that the inclusion of the NAACP speaks to the common thread of police conduct and the systemic problems they have, when it comes to people of color and veterans.

August 4, 2015 01:16 PM

Washington-based Haggen bought 146 Albertons and Vons locations in Arizona, California, Nevada, Washington and Oregon earlier this year — you might have noticed your local Albertsons has changed its name and color scheme. More recently, social media posts and newspaper stories have blasted the company for laying off hundreds of workers, in particular the developmentally disabled.

The Santa Barbara Independent is reporting that a 60-year-old developmentally disabled man named William Morris, who had worked as a courtesy clerk for over three years at Haggen, is suing the chain on behalf of himself and “all California-based developmentally disabled courtesy clerks that Haggen has laid off since the beginning of this year.”

The Independent reports that “Since taking over and rebranding a number of Vons, Pavilions, Albertsons and Safeway stores in Southern California in 2014, Haggen promised job security to existing employees and that “nothing would change” for them, states the complaint. However, Morris’s attorneys argue, the corporation unfairly terminated developmentally disabled courtesy clerks when they “engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination against developmentally disabled employees by disproportionately terminating them from Haggen employment.”

EWasked Haggen’s Oregon public relations firm if it too was laying off workers, including the developmentally disabled.

Lee Weinstein and Deborah Tomecek Pleva of Weinstein PR responded with a statement (included in full below) that says “we must manage labor to the needs of the business in compliance with the terms and conditions of our collective bargaining agreements” and that there are different business issue in the Pacific Northwest Region versus the Pacific Southwest where the issues with the layoff of developmentally disabled employees have arisen.

The statement continues, “In some stores in the Pacific Northwest, hours have been adjusted to accommodate the natural seasonal summer slowdown. Hours vary from store to store and we will continue to adjust our staffing based on the needs of the business. We look forward to adding hours back as sales return in the upcoming back-to-school and holiday seasons.”

 

With respect to the layoffs in our Pacific Southwest (PSW) Region, and potential impacts in the Eugene area, we must manage labor to the needs of the business in compliance with the terms and conditions of our collective bargaining agreements. We abide by the terms of the agreements. 

In the Pacific Southwest Region, where we have a much different set of business issues than in our home region in the Northwest, it was necessary to eliminate the Clerks Helper positions entirely. Although these business decisions in the PSW region were necessary, we care for all of our former associates there who were impacted.  We have already helped many of these associates there find other jobs through individual support and by reaching out to and working with concerned leaders and organizations in the community. We will continue to do so.

In some stores in the Pacific Northwest, hours have been adjusted to accommodate the natural seasonal summer slowdown. Hours vary from store to store and we will continue to adjust our staffing based on the needs of the business. We look forward to adding hours back as sales return in the upcoming back-to-school and holiday seasons.

Our commitment to local farmers and food producers, as well as community organizations, is something that we're prepared to sustain for the long haul. We're proud of what we do, and we love to explain to new customers who we are: long-time Washington grocers with a passion for great food, as well as a deep commitment to supporting our local farmers, food producers, nonprofits and schools that really matter to our customers. That genuine, personal connection is at the heart of everything we’re doing.

For Earth Day, Haggen donated $6,417 to Crater Lake National Park.