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EW! A Blog.

February 28, 2013 10:41 AM

The tide keeps on turning! From the AG's office:

 

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today announced that Oregon has joined two historic briefs in the United States Supreme Court supporting same-sex marriage. 

In Hollingsworth v. Perry, Oregon joined a brief prepared by Massachusetts urging the United States Supreme Court to strike down California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.  Same-sex couples challenged the 2008 provision, arguing that it violated their rights under the federal constitution.  The trial court found no support for the proponent’s argument that a ban on same-sex marriage was necessary to protect children.  Supporters of the ban appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the district court’s decision. 

In addition, in United States v. Windsor, Oregon joined a brief prepared by New York and Massachusetts urging the Court to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  That federal law bans the extension of hundreds of federal benefits and protections to marriages validly recognized under state law.

In both cases, the amicus briefs argue that neither states nor Congress can justify discrimination against same-sex relationships based on assertions that unequal treatment is necessary to promote “responsible procreation” and child rearing by different-sex biological parents.  As the California trial court found after hearing the testimony of experts and reviewing hundreds of pages of material, there simply is no support for the notion that banning same-sex marriage does anything other than harm our citizens and their families.  The same is true for thousands of Oregonians.

“Having filed a ‘friend of the court’ brief in the United States Supreme Court in the 1990’s in the important civil rights case of Romer v. Evans, I am pleased that Oregon’s Department of Justice continues to play a significant legal role in a long tradition of supporting equality for all.  Our position in these cases isn’t about politics or popular opinion,” Rosenblum said.  “It’s about what’s right.  It’s about helping to end one of the last bastions of sanctioned discrimination against our friends, our co-workers, our brothers and sisters.  This is one of those moments that come along once every 20-30 years, like when the Court decided Brown v. Board of Education,  Loving v. Virginia, and Romer v. Evans.  These cases could change the course of civil rights and transform America.  On an issue of this significance, it’s important to take a stand.”

Governor Kitzhaber also expressed his support saying, “When we talk about marriage equality, we’re talking about the basic equality we demand for every person – the opportunity for a good education, affordable health care, access to upward mobility and a more prosperous life.”

Oregonians in 2004 approved a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.  No Oregon court has considered the kind of federal constitutional challenges to the Oregon ban that are presented in these cases.

The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in these two cases on March 26 and 27, 2013.

February 26, 2013 01:46 PM

 

Quick, someone please write a "How a Bill Becomes a Law" parody for House Bill 3371, which would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for adults in Oregon. The legislation has been introduced in Oregon's House Committee on Revenue, and at first glance it looks most similar to Colorado's Amendment 64, which allows small personal gardens and has an impairment standard for intoxication while driving.

February 20, 2013 04:47 PM

After 60 days of a hunger strike for shelter, Conrad Barney ended his strike, and SLEEPS and Barney are having a breakfast-for-dinner event 4 to 8 pm Sunday, Feb. 24, at Eugene's park blocks (8th & Oak). It's free and open to the public, and donations will go toward the SLEEPS strike team. Barney says he ended the strike "in good faith for the promised workshops regarding zoning laws and code 4.81 [Eugene's camping ban]" and to prevent serious health problems.

February 15, 2013 03:30 PM

Ninkasi presents for your viewing pleasure:

February 12, 2013 04:29 PM

Springfield City Councilor Dave Ralston, who caused controversy in 2006 when he made comments about Hispanic people trying to take over the U.S. Southwest and again in 2011 when he said ignorant things about Centro LatinoAmericano, was arrested around 2:30 am Sunday, Feb. 10, and charged with DUII for driving under the influence of alcohol and another unidentified substance.

Ralston told the RG that his blood-alcohol content was "well under" the legal limit, and he accused the Springfield police of entrapment for following him out of the Whiskey River Ranch parking lot. Ralston has served as the Springfield City Council's Ward 4 councilor since 2000.

January 3, 2013 03:48 PM

The latest update, sent from Safe Legally Entitled Places to Sleep (SLEEPS) at 2:38 pm:

SLEEPS pitches tents at the Trude Kaufman House today to highlight the fact that the city has allowed the historic home, donated to provide services to low income seniors, to lie dormant while 1500 unhoused people are out in the freezing weather.  The Kaufman home was operated as a senior center until December 2010 and lain dormant since, eating up it’s trust fund while it does nothing to serve the community.

The abandoned Trude Kaufman Senior Center is located at 10th and Jefferson in Eugene.

The closing of the Community Gardens, the failure to use the Kaufman house are all signs of the lack of the will on the part of the City to provide for those who are most vulnerable.

December 28, 2012 02:03 PM

SLEEPS press release:

GSA and DHS intend to prosecute SLEEPS protestors who remain after 11:00 PM tonight
On December 10 charges against Emily Semple were dismissed by the federal government "in the interest of justice".  In July Semple had defied an order, which she considered unlawful, to stop protesting and depart the Federal Plaza at 7th and Pearl.  Today GSA and DHS have put Semple and other protestors on notice that anyone staying to protest after 11PM tonight will be arrested.....for the same charges that the government recently dismissed "in the interest of justice".
 
What has changed about "justice" in the last two weeks?
 
SLEEPS was advised this morning that anyone remaining to protest after 11PM at the Federal Plaza this evening will be charged with trespass and arrested.  SLEEPS, through its affiliate OCCUPY and two individual protestors, currently have filed a complaint with GSA over an earlier ouster of the groups.  Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center filed an Injunction and an emergency Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) over the first eviction.  On Friday Judge Ann Aiken denied the emergency TRO.  The government is required to file a response to the Injunction by January 2 with a response from plaintiffs due January 16.
 
Judge Aiken's stated reason for denying the emergency TRO while awaiting appropriate filings on the longer Injunction was that there is no "emergency" as there are sufficient other places for protestors to protest.  SLEEPS asks, where?
 
SLEEPS protestors have now been denied the right to protest 8 times in the past few weeks: three times at the Lane County owned Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza; once at City Hall’s parking lot (City Hall is chain link fenced in and Free Speech Plaza is on the property housing the Mayor and Council offices and meeting space); twice at Federal Plaza; once at the New Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse and once at the city owned Community Gardens.  Historically, City Hall, the Federal Plaza and Free Speech Plaza have been "the" sites for free speech, the traditional public forums of Eugene.  Alll have weathered overnight protests.  Why is SLEEPS being denied the right to protest?  Is it because all of the protestors remaining 24/7 are unhoused people?  Are they being discriminated against on the basis of socio-economic prejudices?  Why is JUST THIS GROUP required to get a permit while others are allowed to protest without being instructed to get one?
 
The mere requirement of a permit is unconstitutional.  The County and Federal Governments require that a permit be filed 48 hours in advance in order to protest against the government.  Even when permitted, they require that protestors leave at either 5PM or 11PM and protest only on weekdays, depending on the site.  Article I Section 8 of the Oregon Constitution specifically forbids the government to “restrict” or “restrain” free speech.  Saying protest hours are restricted to before a certain time is a clear “restriction” and thus unconstitutional. The idea of filing two days in advance to ask the government for permission to protest against it is such an flagrant restraint it hardly bears further discussion.
 
This level of free speech obstruction is frightening. 
 
Another serious question concerns Department of Homeland Services (DHS) and Eugene Police Deparmtnet (EPD).  They are both aware that a judge appeared to be about to rule against GSA on the Semple case.  Since the government, sensing defeat, dismissed the charges against Semple "in the interest of justice", DHS had declined making further arrests of SLEEPS protestors who have remained in defiance of GSA's policies for the same charges as the Semple case.  Our understanding is that to do otherwise would be to knowingly obey an unlawful order.  Why is DHS now willing to risk obeying what they think is an unlawful order?  Why has EPD been willing to issue orders that the courts have indicated may be unlawful?
 
Why have Eugene's three traditional protest sites, City Hall, Free Speech Plaza and the Federal Plaza all been shut down to SLEEPS?  Who will they shut down next?
 
The right to protest is fundamental to a democracy.  As JFK once noted, once you take away a people’s right to protest, all that is left is revolution.  The unhoused in this community continue to be denied shelter, continue to be prosecuted on ludicrous charges such as "theft of services" for plugging in a cell phone or "criminal trespass 2" for leaning against a building while standing on a public sidewalk.  They have many good reasons to protest. As JFK said, quashing protests leaves few options to those with grievances.  The conduct of the federal, county and city officials should be of concern to all citizens.
December 28, 2012 05:44 PM

 

SLEEPS was notified at 5:30 tonight [Dec. 28] that the Government Services Agency (GSA) has determined that instead of blocking SLEEPS First Amendment rights tonight at 11 as previously planned, they are giving twenty four hours notice and will not evict until  11 pm Saturday December 29.

SLEEPS is planning a Saturday night 10:30 pm  candlelight vigil for all those who are unhoused and unable to sleep safely in Eugene in Lane County due to the "anti-camping" regulations which are really "anti-sleeping" regulatioins and in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Stay tuned for more complete information regarding legal basis, flip-flop of government on what constitutes the "interest of justice" as well as more information on Saturday's vigil and the probable arrest of Emily Semple.

December 13, 2012 02:44 PM

The Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep (SLEEPS) folks are challenging the closure of free speech plaza — a fence is now closing off the free speech plaza to prevent more protesting. (Would you like some paprika to sprinkle on that irony?) At least one protester has been cited. Here is the latest SLEEPS press release we've received; we'll be updating if we hear more:

12:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 13:

SLEEPS will return to FREE SPEECH PLAZA at 1PM today, Thursday, to challenge the unconstitutional closing of the plaza in response to the SLEEPS protest there December 10-12.  County Administrator Liann Richardson ordered the plaza closed Tuesday Dec. 11 at 11 PM citing that it was for the purpose of public safety, closing it to everyone in the public.   "This is preposterous.  The county is denying every single Eugenian access to this protest site, a blatant affront of every single individual's First Amendment Rights.  Suggesting that because unhoused people have been in the area that there is a "biohazard" is the most atrocious stereotypical hatemongering possible," said one of the protestors.  
Hippies and others hang out in this area all the time.  Across the street Saturday market has potties and food sales every weekend.   Have we ever seen those areas closed down as a public safety issue?  The unhoused at Free Speech Plaza used public toilets, cooked no food and both maintained and left the space immaculate as numerous television and print media photos and videos document.
"It is clear that the county will use any excuse to keep those who are unhoused from being able to have their voices herd.  I feel like I'm back in the sixties when people who are black were blocked from public spaces and denied their civil rights.  Hopefully EDP will not allow themselves to be used as a tool in the preposterous closing of Free Speech Plaza on public safety issue.  It is obvious this is a disengenious attempt to deny us our first amendment rights, said another protestor." 
 

4:01 pm Thursday, Dec. 13:

Here's a press release from EPD:

A group of about 50 people moved illegally into the closed Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza, 125 E. 8th Avenue. The plaza had been closed by the Lane County Administrator on December 11, 2012 at 11 p.m. and was still closed for cleaning.
 
Today, the group that was trespassing was advised by the county administrator that if they did not leave the closed area, they would be subject to arrest. Time was provided for those who wished to leave. All but one person voluntarily left. Cited in lieu of custody and released at around 2:15 p.m.  was Alley Valkyrie, age 30, of Eugene. She has been charged with Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree.
 
Over the past few days, the City of Eugene has been proactively reaching out to organizers of this group, to help them safely engage in constitutionally-protected free speech while also enforcing laws, protecting the safety and freedom of others, and minimizing community disruption and the impact to public resources.
December 12, 2012 10:46 AM

Hey walkers, bikers and drivers: Tomorrow you get a chance to practice some perfection in commuting. EPD's "downtown team" is "educating the public" tomorrow by focusing on traffic violations in the Broadway and Willamette and Broadway and Olive areas between noon and 5 pm. From the press release:

 

The officers will be focusing on a variety of traffic violations that seem to contribute the most to crashes or other conflicts between road users.  These violations include traffic control device violations, failure to yield right-of-way violations, speeding, improper turns, failing to signal lane changes or turns, improper lane usage, failing to obey one-way designations, and pedestrians suddenly leaving the curb. 

If you need a refresher on Oregon's crosswalk law, know these things: Every street intersection is technically a crosswalk, marked or not; at a traffic signal, drivers can't turn until pedestrians are at least 6 feet into the next lane; at other crosswalks, drivers must wait until pedestrians are out of their lane, the lane they're turning into and the next lane. More details on the law here.

Bikers: Unlike Idaho, in Oregon you CAN'T legally treat a stop sign as a yield sign.

Edit (12:23 pm): Sounds like biking on the sidewalk (also illegal) got a lot of people in trouble last time around.

December 11, 2012 01:09 PM

 

The Eugene City Council heard public forum comments Monday, Dec. 10, on the three options for City Hall: move to EWEB’s riverfront building, stay at the same 7th and Pearl site and build a new building, or rebuild and beautify the existing city hall using parts of its skeleton. (See wkly.ws/1a9 for more information.) Most of the 17 speakers advocated keeping city hall downtown; two spoke in favor of the EWEB site.

As EW goes to press Wednesday, Dec. 12, council will sit down to a work session that Mayor Kitty Piercy said after the Dec. 10 meeting would include an attempt by council to decide on the future site. Piercy said that because of Councilor George Poling’s expected absence, there would not be a tie. But if Poling is able to phone into the Dec. 12 meeting and a tie results, Piercy says she supports remaining downtown for reasons including its connection to the county building and the city’s ownership of the 7th and Pearl property. “It just makes really good sense to me,” she said.

December 7, 2012 02:44 PM

Red Agave is closing, and the last night to grab their grub is tomorrow, Dec. 8. From their press release:

 

This Saturday night will be Red Agave’s last.  We wish it weren’t so…but alas here we are. 
There are three nights left to savor your favorites from the kitchen and the bar. 
(Unless, you’re looking for private party in the weeks to come, in which case you should call the restaurant, immediately)
We’ll have the regular menu plus some specials.
We’ll also be selling off our wine cellar (only on Saturday) at retail prices.   
We hope to see all of you who we’ve had the pleasure of serving over the years.
If you can’t make it in, you’ll be missed. 
So with a tear in my eye, a whole in my wallet & fond memories of the last 10 years,
We bid you gracias & good luck.
Yours,
Brian
December 7, 2012 03:08 PM

The U.S. News and World Report is famous for their college rankings — did anyone else proudly show their parents the "dorms like dungeons" listing for UO when living in the residence halls? Anyhow, now they're publishing a list of "underperforming schools," which means the schools' reputations are better than U.S. News thinks they should be based on academic indicators. UO is on that list.

According to U.S. News, the academic peer assessment ranking for UO is 70, but the UO really deserves a 115. Fellow alums, should we make T-shirts or something? "I love my underperforming Ducks?"

December 5, 2012 08:08 PM

Tomorrow possession of less than an ounce of marijuana becomes legal under Washington's state statutes. The Seattle PD created "Marijwhatnow?" the best press release in the history of police press releases by way of explaining the ins and outs of the new law, and now it's the Portland PD's turn to help the Oregon populace:

Much like existing fireworks laws, what is legal in Washington is not legal in Oregon, In other words, if it goes high in the air or gets you high, you should probably use it in the Evergreen State.

Not bad, PDXPD, not bad. The rest is pretty straightforward and factual, so check it out if you're considering some "agricultural tourism" up north.

Maybe Oregon should just go ahead and legalize marijuana for the sake of fun in press releases. I think the EPD's spokesfolks Melinda McLaughlin and Jenna McCulley are totally up for a good ol' press release challenge.