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August 5, 2013 07:32 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brazell's letter continues:

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

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

Photo credit: Brett Haverstick, Friends of the Clearwater

July 29, 2013 12:23 PM

Time lapse photos and some good music and it's like you've gone to Disney World's Country Bear Jamboree.

According to Petapixel, the man who made the film is Glenn Naylor, "a Park Ranger and photography enthusiast who lives and works in Alberta, CA."

Naylor writes on his YouTube post, "Remember bears are not cuddly and friendly, they are wild animals that should be treated with caution and respect. Always carry bear spray when in bear country and know what to do should you encounter a bear. Check out wildsmart.ca."

He adds, "Many thanks to Ewan Dobson for letting us use his incredible music!"

July 26, 2013 05:31 PM

I think I happily listened to  Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" three times before I thought, "Umm wait, what are those lyrics saying?"  The mainstream media was already all over the "rape-y" lyrics, and Thicke's interesting defense — "Even very good girls have … a little bad side to them. You just have to know how to pull it out of them," he says. As for the naked women in the video? That's his wife's fault he says, "Then I showed it to my wife and all her girlfriends and they said, ‘You have to put this out.  This is so sexy and so cool.’”

Luckily there is an awesome parody of "Blurred Lines" by Mod Carousel, a Seattle based boylesque troupe.

 

The troupe says on their YouTube page: "It's our opinion that most attempts to show female objectification in the media by swapping the genders serve more to ridicule the male body than to highlight the extent to which women get objectified and do everyone a disservice. We made this video specifically to show a spectrum of sexuality as well as present both women and men in a positive light, one where objectifying men is more than alright and where women can be strong and sexy without negative repercussions." 

Update 

DOH! Our music and arts editor Alex Notman has already blogged this. Sorry, distracted by Lane County scandals. Well, you can't have too many chances to watch a good video. 

I believe this link is to the more controversial nude version that YouTube took down. It also supplies the lyrics.

July 25, 2013 03:44 PM

We've been reporting the dire news about bees thanks to pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids. Willamette Week however has a perkier, more cheerful bee story this week in their Best of edition. Check out the video for Best Beekeeper, Brian Lacy, owner of Live Honeybees. I feel that I now know more about what bees are saying to me.

 

Best of Portland 2013: BEST BEEKEEPER from wweek.vimeo on Vimeo.

July 25, 2013 11:53 PM

In reponse to EW's questions about County Counsel Stephen Dingle and the Liane Richardson investigation, as well as to a recent story in the R-G, Dingle has issued a statement. 

Statement from County Counsel Steve Dingle: Clarifying Story About Investigation in July 25, 2013 Eugene Register-Guard

EUGENE, Ore— Lane County Counsel Stephen Dingle released the following statement today to clarify a recent story filed in the Eugene Register Guard:

A July 25, 2013 article in the Eugene Register-Guard reported that I was conducting an investigation into recent allegations involving the Lane County Administrator.  I will not be conducting this investigation.

On behalf of the Lane County Board of Commissioners I have retained an independent investigator to investigate the recent allegations involving the County Administrator. In order to protect and safeguard the rights of any complaining witness and the rights of any employee that is the subject of a complaint, it is inappropriate to comment further. In addition, it would be equally inappropriate to disclose facts specific to any investigation before the investigation is completed, potentially compromising the investigation itself or calling into question the integrity of the investigation once completed.

The Statement of Work for the Independent Investigator in this matter reads as follows:

Professionally, ethically and using best practices for investigations and complying with all applicable collective bargaining agreements, investigate allegations contained in a letter dated July 19, 2013 against the Lane County Administrator. Professionally, ethically and using best practices for investigations determine if any Lane County policies, procedures, or work rules were violated. Investigate recent complaints of retaliation applying the same rules. Prepare written report using the format provided by the County and deliver the report electronically to all five Lane County Commissioners no later than August 2, 2013. At all times during your investigation you will be acting as the legal agent of the Lane County Counsel.

An individual must provide the investigator with information necessary to conduct the investigation, such as relevant documents, emails, applicable policies, potential witness names and phone numbers and other logistical support. An independent investigator cannot simply travel to “Lane County” and begin “an investigation.” An independent contractor must be working at the direction of a Lane County employee, in this instance for the reasons stated above, I am that employee.

I was asked to coordinate the investigation by the Lane County Board of Commissioners because other than Ms. Richardson, I am the only other direct employee of the Lane County Board of Commissioners. Any other Manager or Supervisor in Lane County would be subordinate to Ms. Richardson on the Lane County organizational chart, and therefore inappropriate to manage an investigation involving Ms. Richardson—their superior.

In order to assure a fair and complete investigation in this matter I do not  anticipate releasing any additional information on this matter until the next time the Lane County Board of Commissioners meets.

July 25, 2013 07:35 PM

The investigation into Liane Richardson’s pay was kicked off by a whistleblower. A county employee, represented by the county’s AFSCME union, called attention to “out of the ordinary adjustments to Richardson’s take home compensation.” Now some are questioning the investigation the pay controversy has trigged.

Richardson is entitled to accumulate unused sick and vacation time based on her government service, according to her contract with the county. Her yearly base pay is $152,345. On top of that pay, the county gives her “deferred compensation” — putting about 5 percent of that $150,000 into a pool investment account. Beginning sometime in January, Richardson apparently began to get her monthly deferred compensation upfront, which is not provided for in her contract.

Worried about taxpayer funds, the employee blew the whistle. The employee was so worried, or the atmosphere at county offices is so strained, that more half of the Lane County Commission’s statement to the media on the Richardson issue was devoted to explaining “We encourage employees to speak up when they see something out of the ordinary, and we will protect the employee’s rights to bring matters of concern to our attention without any retribution. We understand the gravity of the situation and we ask for patience from the public as we gather all of the facts.”

The employee retained an attorney, Barry Davis, and that attorney sent a letter to the county. When the county and Richardson received that letter on July 22, Richardson sent emails to the County Commission and to the R-G discussing the pay issue, and she placed her self on paid administrative leave. The county scheduled the Wednesday, July 24 executive session to discuss “To consider the dismissal or disciplining of, or to hear complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent who does not request an open hearing,” which the media can, and did, attend, but cannot report on.

The result of the session, according to the statement the county issued through public information officer Anne Marie Levis, is that “County [c]ounsel will oversee an outside investigation into the matters brought forth. The [b]oard will, as appropriate, take the necessary steps to address issues that come out of the investigation.”

But some question whether County Counsel Stephen Dingle should be overseeing the investigation. The AFSCME union has sent a letter requesting public records relating to the controversial large pay raises that had been proposed in regard to Dingle and Richardson.

Dingle also apparently knew that Richardson had been looking into changing the way she got her pay. The R-G reported on July 24 “When a county employee asked her about the change, Richardson wrote that she reverted to the original arrangement, with the money going into the investment account. She stated that she then went to county counsel, Stephen Dingle, and was told that changing how she received that deferred compensation would require a board-approved contract amendment.”

Jim Steiner of AFSCME says the union inquired into the gross wages, deferred compensation, time managment, travel and phone expenses and bonuses for Richardson and Dingle because they are related to collective bargaining. "They say there's no money, so how is someone personally enriching themselves?" he asks. The county has been strapped for cash for years, and during the time Richardson was allegedly making changes to the money she was taking home and asking for a 15 percent raise, the county was asking voters to pass a jail levy to keep criminals in jail and making cuts to much needed social programs.

EW has asked the county's public information officer for comment on Dingle's overseeing the investigation.

Update

For that comment, see this blog post with Dingle's response.

July 24, 2013 01:40 PM

This is the prepared statement sent out by Lane County in regard to the controversy over Liane Richardson's compensation that was brought to light by a county employee:

County Administrator Liane Richardson Voluntarily on Leave While Investigation into Issues Regarding Compensation 

EUGENE – Lane County Administrator Liane Richardson has voluntarily placed herself on administrative leave after issues regarding compensation were brought to the attention of the Board of Commissioners, County Counsel and Human Resources.

“The Board takes this matter very seriously and staff will be overseeing an investigation into the matter,” said County Board Chair Sid Leiken.  “When any employee sees something out of the ordinary, we encourage them to speak up.”

Richardson’s leave comes after an employee brought up issues surrounding Richardson’s compensation on Monday.  Richardson is voluntarily on administrative leave while County staff oversees an outside and independent investigation into the matter.

Leiken released the following statement on behalf of the Board of Commissioners:

On Monday, issues regarding the compensation of County Administrator Liane Richardson were brought to the attention of the Board, the County Counsel, and the Human Resources Manager.  Following this, Richardson voluntarily went on administrative leave. The Board had an executive session on Wednesday.  County Counsel will oversee an outside investigation into the matters brought forth. The Board will, as appropriate, take the necessary steps to address issues that come out of the investigation.

We encourage employees to speak up when they see something out of the ordinary, and we will protect the employee’s rights to bring matters of concern to our attention without any retribution.  We understand the gravity of the situation and we ask for patience from the public as we gather all of the facts.

Lane County Government will work to create a prosperous community by providing collaborative leadership, fair and inclusive decision-making and excellent sustainable local governmental services to our residents and guests.

July 23, 2013 10:46 PM

County Administrator Liane Richardson’s efforts to increase her pay from $152,345 to $175,656, an increase of 15.3 percent, earlier this year caused public outcry at a time when Lane County is strapped for cash. Now questions are arising about whether Richardson may have gained an increase in the money she was getting after all, despite the outcry and despite saying she would say no to an immediate raise. County Spokesperson Anne Marie Levis has confirmed that Richardson has placed herself on administrative leave. 

The county was asking the public for a tax levy and releasing prisoners from the jail at the time when Human Resources Director Madylin Zike was asking for large raises for Richardson and County attorney Stephen Dingle in a proposal to the County Commission. According to the R-G, Richardson was lobbying for the raise in emails.

Voters passed the jail tax levy, but the county is still up against funding shortages for everything from homeless animals to public safety to human services and the jail is still underfunded.

Attorney Barry Davis sent a letter to the county this week that referenced “out of the ordinary adjustments to Liane Richardson’s take home compensation.”

According to a statement from Jim Steiner of AFSCME in response to EW’s questions about the letter. “The letter did not get into specifics but after that letter went out, the union separately requested information about compensation, compensation changes and exceptions to county payroll policies for Liane Richardson and Stephen Dingle since Jan. 1, 2013.” Steiner says, “Whether Davis’ letter or the union’s request for information had anything to do with Liane Richardson being placed on administrative leave is anyone’s guess at this point.” 

The county is holding an executive session at 9 am July 24 to discuss:

Personnel ORS 192.660(2)(b) - To consider the dismissal or disciplining of, or to hear complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent who does not request an open hearing. Steve Dingle – 30 minutes

EW will update online as soon as more information is made public.

Update: According to the R-G, Richardson forwarded her emails to the county board about the pay issue to that paper and reporter Saul Hubbard writes "because of the arrangement, she has now received payments for sick and vacation time beyond what she is contractually entitled."

EW did not recieve the emails from Richardson that she forwarded to the R-G

The R-G is also printing that Richardson says she believes there is nothing "unethical or improper about what I’ve done.” 

Update II

The county wants to clarify it's not the compensation Richardson was getting that went up, it's the way she was applying "time managment" hours. The blog post read "compensation" earlier and now reads "money she was getting."

The county also takes issue with Hubbard's characterization of Richarson's emails as portraying that "because of the arrangement, she has now received payments for sick and vacation time beyond what she is contractually entitled." Bur as of 1 pm July 24, that statement is unchanged on the R-G's website.

July 22, 2013 06:37 PM

First comes the "Geeky Love Song" with a kitten bonus. I want to less than three you … <3

 

And now a little "Isn't it Ironic?" now actually with irony.

July 20, 2013 10:14 AM

Lane County Commission, Eugene City Council, are you reading this?

I could make sure the politicians are reading by naming a bunch of names and those commissioners and councilors who I'm pretty sure have Google alerts set up for their names (Jay Bozievich, I'm looking at you) will click right on this. 

Citizen involvement in city and county politics is key. But how do you get people to realize that those often deadly dull meetings of mostly older white guys are important and that's where decisions are made about human rights, homelessness, clean water, forests and parks, to name only a few?

You have the community access TV station make a cool video. Go Whitehorse, Yukon Territory! I keep waiting to see Leslie Knope's face pop up, but no, it's real.

 

July 19, 2013 06:06 PM

If you're planning to attend the "Nix the Neonix" rally at Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza tomorrow (July 20) it's suggested that you bring a kazoo and a bee costume. If you lack those items, no worries, you can learn some lyrics in advance so after you're educated about neonicotinoids and bees, you can sing in protest. Lyrics by Scotty Perey.

"Neo Neo Neo Neocotinoids" to the tune of "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here"

 

"My Favorite Neonicotinoids" to the tune of "My Favorite Things."

July 17, 2013 04:32 PM

As we will write about in Slant tomorrow, Upworthy picked up this video about Occupy Medical made by three UO students and good things happened.

July 12, 2013 02:23 PM

Bee advocates and anti-pesticide activists have long known said that pesticides, and specifically neonicontinoids are implicated in bee deaths and die-offs. The Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides announced today that Rep. Earl Blumenauer has revealed a new bill — the Save America's Pollinators Act of 2013 — that would "suspend registration for certain neonicotinoid pesticides and perform a new evaluation of their impacts on pollinators" (see the full press release below). 

Neonics, which are widely available in places such as Jerry's Home Improvement and Bi-Mart, are linked to the deaths of thousands of bees in Portland, which led to the Oregon Department of Agriculture insituting a temporary halt to the use of  products containing dinotefuran, a neonicontinoid that was sprayed on flowering trees. 

Local bee advocates are planning a "Nix the Neonics" event on July 20 at Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza with songs, theater and a scavenger hunt. More details in next week's EW.

 

Eugene, OR - Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) revealed a new bill today that directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend registration for certain neonicotinoid pesticides and perform a new evaluation of their impacts on pollinators. Neonicotinoids, a particular class of pesticide, have been widely linked to declining bee populations and were recently determined to have been the cause of dramatic and ongoing bee kills in both Wilsonville and Hillsboro, Oregon.

Blumenauer's bill, the Save America's Pollinators Act of 2013, is co-sponsored by Representative John Conyers (D-MI). It specifically targets systemic pesticides registered for use in seed applications, soil applications, or foliar spray on plants that are attractive to bees. If passed, EPA would have 180 days to restrict these uses. They would also be required to work with the U.S. Department of the Interior to report on the current status of bee populations in the United States, and to monitor more closely the changes in population levels.

"It's encouraging to see lawmakers responding seriously to this issue and proposing real solutions," said Josh Vincent of the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, an organization supporting the bill. "These pesticides have drawn a lot of scrutiny from beekeepers, scientists, and environmentalists because of their increasingly evident impact on bees. We agree that EPA needs to take a closer look at the effects these chemicals are having, and that they need to do it sooner rather than later."

Supporters of the bill, including other advocacy groups like the Xerces Society and the Center for Food Safety, are now organizing to grow momentum in the House of Representatives. 

July 11, 2013 05:20 PM

We've long been sad that the Ems left their longtime digs at Civic Stadium to play at the fancy new UO PK Park. PK is snazzy, but Civic Stadium is a classic. But now the Ems are pitching on and honoring Friends of Civic Stadium with a "Civic Stadium Night." Friends of Civic has been fighting to keep the wooden ballpark standing and not paved over and turned into a big box store. For more on the effort go to www.SaveCivicStadium.org and support the cause.

CONTACT: Alex Stimson

DIRECT: (661) 713-2497

E-MAIL: alex@emeraldsbaseball.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Eugene, OR – The Eugene Emeralds, the San Diego Padres Short-Season Single-A affiliate, are rolling back the clock and honoring the stadium they called home for 40 years with “Civic Stadium Night” on Saturday, July 13th in an effort to honor and save Eugene’s cherished and beloved Civic Stadium, the original home of Emeralds baseball.

Saturday’s July 13th game against the visiting Everett AquaSox, the Seattle Mariners Short-Season Single-A affiliate, will feature special promotions, tributes, and memorabilia to honor the Ems former home, starting with deals at the box office.

Fans are invited to bring their old ticket stubs from Civic Stadium to the box office at PK Park, and in return the Emeralds will be offering $5 tickets to Saturday’s game, with a maximum of 4 tickets per stub.

The stroll down memory lane starts once fans enter the PK Park gates, as the night will feature a special video tribute to Civic Stadium, old memorabilia and Ems regalia, and a special visit from former Civic Stadium PA announcer Wink Guthrie, who will be back up in the press box to split duties with the Ems’ current PA announcer, Ted Welker.

Most of all, the Emeralds are proud to invite Friends of Civic Stadium, a local group dedicated to the preservation and modernization of Civic Stadium as a sports and recreation venue for years to come.

Built in 1938 for high school football and baseball, it became the home of the Eugene Emeralds in 1969 and quickly engrained itself in the history of the franchise. For 40 years, the Ems spent summer afternoons and evenings calling Civic Stadium home before relocating in 2009 to their current home, PK Park.

If you’d like to learn more about Civic Stadium Night or purchase tickets to this special evening, visit www.EmeraldsBaseball.com or call (541) 342-5367. The Eugene Emeralds box office is located at 2760 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, next to PK Park and Autzen Stadium.

For more information about the effort to save and preserve Civic Stadium, visit www.SaveCivicStadium.org