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August 7, 2013 09:59 AM

Type UniversityofNike.com into your browser and see where it goes. Hat tip to UO Matters for pointing it out.

Hard to say whether that is actually the UO embracing its worship of Phil Knight or someone playing tricks on the Knight School, as the R-G quoted earlier this week:

“We are the University of Nike,” said Jeff Hawkins, the senior associate athletic director of football administration and operations. “We embrace it. We tell that to our recruits.”

Oh, sorry it wasn't the R-G. The local paper had to run a story from The New York Times because local media got shut out

August 6, 2013 01:13 PM

The county continues to remain silent on the firing of Liane Richardson, citing legal concerns. The lates press release is below.

Commissioner Sorenson issued a statement: "Today Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson voted in favor of a motion to terminate the Lane County Administrator. The vote was 5-0. Because of advice from legal counsel for the Board of Commissioners, I have no further comment on this matter at this time."

And Board Chair Sid Leiken concludes the board chair's statement saying, "I am profoundly disappointed by the facts that have brought us to this point. These actions do not reflect the values or judgment consistent with work here at the County."

 

County Administrator Liane Richardson’s Contract Terminated Following Investigation

Today, the Lane County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to terminate the contract of County Administrator Liane Richardson following an independent investigation into issues around Richardson’s compensation.

The decision came after lengthy deliberation and review of the independent investigation’s findings. The investigation found that Ms. Richardson violated county policy. As per the terms of Richardson’s contract, Richardson is entitled to two weeks pay and time management payouts as set out in the Lane County Administrative Procedures Manual (Ch 3, Sec 34 (IV)(c)).

Alicia Hayes will remain as acting County Administrator until further notice from the Board of Commissioners.

County Board Chairman Sid Leiken released the following statement on behalf of the Board:

Today, the Lane County Board of Commissioners reviewed the findings of the independent investigation regarding County Administrator Liane Richardson’s compensation. After this review, the Board has unanimously approved the termination of Ms. Richardson, effective today.

The independent investigation thoroughly examined all of the evidence. The independent investigation was conducted with urgency, but also with careful consideration of the confidentiality needed to protect the rights of all individuals involved. We continue to understand and respect these rights, and, after careful consideration with County Counsel, we cannot comment on the investigation itself.

I am profoundly disappointed by the facts that have brought us to this point. These actions do not reflect the values or judgment consistent with work here at the County.

August 6, 2013 12:50 PM

Lane County is being close-mouthed over today's vote to fire embattled now-former County Administrator Liane Richardson after a whistleblower called attention to apparently unauthorized changes that Richardson had made to her pay. Here is the letter that Board Chair Sid Leiken sent out to county employees.

Dear County Employees,

Two weeks ago, I wrote you that County Administrator Liane Richardson had placed herself on administrative leave after issues surrounding her compensation were brought to the attention of the Board of Commissioners, County Counsel and Human Resources. Today, I am writing to let you know that the Board of County Commissioners voted this morning in a public session to terminate Ms. Richardson’s employment with cause pursuant to section 1.1(c) of her contract of employment.

The Board took this action after the following steps were taken:

1. The Board directed County Counsel Stephen Dingle to oversee the hiring of an independent and outside agency to investigate issues regarding Ms. Richardson’s compensation.

2. The thorough, independent investigation was conducted over the past week and a half, finalized, and delivered to the Board of Commissioners last Friday.

3. The Board discussed the independent investigators’ report in executive session this morning.

The firm hired to do the investigation, USO Consulting, completed a comprehensive investigation into the issues. The investigation was done with the utmost urgency but also with careful consideration for the confidentiality of the process. All comments involved in the investigation are confidential and will be protected to the greatest extent permitted by law. We will protect the rights of any County employee who brings up issues of concern to our attention without any retribution.

After discussion with legal counsel, and out of respect of the rights of all individuals involved, we cannot make additional statements or release additional information at this time. Once the due process rights of the individuals involved have been honored, we will release additional information as permitted by law.

In the coming days, you may read speculation in the media about this issue. While we understand the interest of the public for transparency, and the media’s interest in getting a story, we also respect the rights of the individuals involved who brought this issue to the attention of the Board. We will defend the confidentiality of their comments. 

If you have concerns or are contacted by the media, please don't hesitate to reach out to any of the Board members, acting County Administrator Alicia Hays, Madilyn Zike or our Public Information Officer, Anne Marie Levis. Anne Marie may be reached at 541-915-4659. Our public information officer will direct media inquires as appropriate to ensure the media have the proper facts and understanding of the issues.

All of our employees have and continue to show incredible dedication to our community. I am proud of the work we do serving Lane County residents. 

Sincerely,

Sid Leiken

Board Chair

August 6, 2013 07:13 PM

When the megaloads came through last night, despite the objections of the Nez Perce tribe and the U.S. Forest Service, protesters were there to try to block them. Elders of the Nez Perce tribe were among those arrested as they tried to stop the massive loads of tar sands equipment. According to Borg Hendrickson of The Rural People of Highway 12  — Fighting Goliath, the Nez Perce Drum Circle and the Aug. 5  blockade "held back the Omega Morgan megaload for almost 2 hours at the boundary of the Nez Perce Reservation about 4 miles east of Lewiston."

Video by Tom Hansen of Moscow, Idaho

Hendrickson writes in an email: 

Approximately 150+ blockaders participated, mostly Nez Perces but some whites, mostly members of Idaho Rivers United and Friends of the Clearwater and FightingGoliath activists.

The megaload transport had launched about 45 minutes late, at 10:45.  For some unknown reason, it sat parked for some time a couple miles west of the blockade site.  As it approached the reservation boundary at about 12:40, the blockaders walked out onto the pavement to fully block 1/2 of the, at that point, 4-lane highway.  The blockaders succeeded in holding back the megaload convoy of about 20 vehicles for almost 2 hours, when blockaders had begun moving to the side of the highway in order to avoid arrest.  The megaload, whose target for the night was Hwy.12 Milepost 38.8, only managed to travel 3 more miles west of the blockade.  It's total miles for the night:  11   —  27.8 miles short of its target.

That means that what was to be a 4-night Lewiston to Lolo Pass transport will now likely be (at least) a 5-night transport.  That also means, that its entry into the Clearwater National Forest and Lochsa-Clearwater Wild & Scenic corridor, which had been scheduled for Wednesday night, will likely be Thursday night.

Every member of the Nez Perce Tribe Executive Committee, the top governing leaders, was arrested.  Several other Nez Perce men and women were also arrested and driven off in paddy wagons.

Undaunted, another protest is planned for tonight ,according to Wild Idaho Rising Tide, which participated in last night's blockade, as did Idle No More. 

Rising Tide says on its Facebook page:

Our allies among the Nez Perce Tribe, Idle No More, and several conservation groups opposing tar sands megaload transports on U.S. Highway 12 are calling on Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) to participate in protests again tonight, Tuesday, August 6, as the Omega Morgan-hauled evaporator and its convoy depart the Arrow Bridge vicinity at 9 pm. A carload of WIRT activists is departing the sidewalk outside the Friends of the Clearwater office (116 East Third Street in Moscow) with the WIRT banner at an unknown time. Please call 208-310-1790 for more information about carpools and join us!

August 6, 2013 06:56 PM

The county has issued a statement to employees, a media statement and now a video, but really hasn't said anything of substance on the firing of Liane Richardson, citing legal concerns. The results of the investigation have not been released. The employee statement that was emailed out this morning warns county workers not to talk to the media. 

Interestingly enough, though only one whistleblower has been mentioned in letters and documents EW has seen, Board Chair Sid Leiken says in the video statement below, "We've seen a lot of brave employees come forward, and I want to say thank you to all of them."

We're hoping the county didn't spend any money on the video — remember when Richardson hired former TV anchor Rick Dancer to make videos for $50,000 after the commissioners voted against spending money on an award-winning videeo series?

Statement from Sid Leiken, Chair of the Lane County Board of Commissioners from Lane County Government on Vimeo.

August 5, 2013 05:24 PM

It's been all over Facebook, newspapers and TV stations have picked it up. Eugene is the number one hippie city  (and Madison, Wisc., Missoula, Mont., and others on the list all made the news in their respective states.) 

Thanks real estate blog Estately. You made a cool list, and everyone got excited. Seattle-based Estately, a real estate brokerage company, sure knows how to market and get headlines.

How was this grand number one position chosen? Estately says, "To determine this we used a formula based on marijuana availability and legality, number of stores selling hemp, local counter-culture icons, tie-dye availability, hippie festivals, progressive government, intensity of Occupy protests, and a Facebook poll. In the end, we determined these places are the 17 Best U.S. Cities for Hippies…"

Pot, sure, especially if you count medical marijuana. Hemp well, Saturday Market and Sweet Potato Pie to name two. Occupy, Ken Kesey, Oregon Country Fair … progressive city government? Looking at the city, what do people think? How are the mayor and City Council on issues such as homelessness, police misconduct, parks and small, local business support? And since it doesn't say "progressive city government" but just government, let's factor the Lane County Commission in, too. Thoughts?

August 5, 2013 11:32 PM

There is an executive session scheduled tomorrow (8/6) and judging from the notification email and the timing, it has to do with the Liane Richardson pay scandal. The county tells EW that not not only is it not clear what exact time the session is scheduled for, it's also not clear if there will be a public announcement following the executive session, which media can attend but not report on. 

Presumably this session marks the end of the "outside investigation" into alterations into the pay Richarson was taking home on top of her more than $150,000 base salary. 

There will be an Occupy-related but not sanctioned protest tomorrow starting around 6:05 am.

This is an opportunity to show displeasure with her [Richardson's ] work, both in this meeting's subject and in her blatant, insulting, and false accusations of SLEEPS protesters, as well as infringement of their First Amendments Rights.

In addition, many many of our houseless have been and will continue to be ousted from scarce spots for hidden sleeping. There is literally nowhere to go, and it's time to bring this back into the Commisioners', City Council's, and the public's attention.

Energy is building for protest of both Liane's actions and the ongoing evictions of Eugene's homeless — Let's fill the plaza (leaving a path for ingress and egress) with free speech protest tents, signs, and potluck breakfast beginning at 6:05 a.m. (it's unnecessary to re-challenge the curfew at this point) and throughout the morning.

Old ladies/grandmas (and their impostors) are encouraged to bring their knitting. It would be cool to have some morning music, too!

The meeting starts at 9 am, has public comments, the consent calanedar, and Legislative issues — including ones that affect Native tribes and their lands, then public works and some discussion of rezoning forest land to ag. 

You can watch the meeting, but not the protest or executive session here

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.