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April 16, 2013 11:33 AM

Has former Lane County Commissioner Jack Roberts been improperly forced out of his position as the executive director of the Lane Metro Partnership? An email from Roberts to public officials details what led to him write a letter of resignation on April 8. The email alleges he resigned  in order to maintain funding from the cities of Springfield and Eugene and from Lane County. He writes, "these things are often as much about personality and other people's ambitions as about merit."

Lane Metro is a nonprofit organization that according to its website is "the official source of economic development and business information for Eugene, Springfield and Lane County Oregon." Roberts is also a regular columnist for The Oregonian newspaper.

Roberts also quotes County Administrator Liane Richardson as saying, she would be willing to restore the full $100,000 of funding to Lane Metro but emphasized, "The commissioners won't approve funding for Lane Metro unless there is a change in leadership."  Recent Lane County Commission agendas don't reflect any public discussion of a change in Lane Metro leadership.

Roberts, a Republican who is a former Oregon Commissioner of Labor and Industries, goes on to express concern that other Lane Metro employees will be terminated and writes "However I do strongly urge you to resist pressure to terminate Phillip or Christina much less to allow outside parties to dictate personnel decisions to you as a board. As a 501(c)(3) organization, this may not even be lawful."

EW has obtained the email written by Roberts that was sent to the board of the Lane Metro Partnership, as well as to the mayor and City Council and other public officials.

Dear Lane Metro Partnership Board Members: In the Register-Guard tomorrow or Wednesday, there will be a story about the Lane Metro Partnership. I¹m not entirely sure what the article will report but as members of the board you are entitled to know the underlying facts before you read about them in the paper.

On March 27 I met with Lane County Administrator Liane Richardson, Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz and Springfield City Manager Gino Grimaldi. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss whether all three jurisdictions would be willing to continue funding the Lane Metro Partnership at the current level if I resigned as executive director.

Previously, Grimaldi and Richardson had informed me that funding for the Metro Partnership would not be included in their proposed budgets for Springfield and Lane County, respectively. Ruiz indicated that funding would be included in his proposed budget for Eugene and would be utilized for economic development in some other form if the Metro Partnership died due to lack of funding from Springfield and Lane County.

As board members, you understand how tight out budget is and know that without funding from Lane County and Springfield we could not operate through the next year. Consequently, even though neither Grimaldi nor Richardson had initially suggested that I was the reason for their decision not to continue funding the Metro Partnership, I suspected this might be the case and therefore offered to resign if that would make it possible for them to would agree to continue our funding.

At the meeting on March 27, Grimaldi indicated that budgetary conditions did not allow him to restore the full funding of $50,000 a year but said that he could come up with $25,000. Richardson said she would be willing to restore the full $100,000 but emphasized, "The commissioners won't approve funding for Lane Metro unless there is a change in leadership."

No one told me why they wanted me gone or why they were unhappy with my performance. Nonetheless, I've spent enough time in politics and in government to know that these things are often as much about personality and other people's ambitions as about merit. My feeling, both then and now, was that it was better for me to leave than for a 27-year economic development partnership to die. Therefore, I agreed to leave.

I did express concern that my leaving before the budget process was complete could provide ammunition for those who have long opposed the Metro Partnership on principle or otherwise had eyes on our money. What I offered was to write a letter confirming my agreement to leave contingent on the three jurisdictions maintaining their funding for the Metro Partnership for the next fiscal year.

Two days later I received a phone message from Jon Ruiz confirming that Eugene and Lane County would continue their full funding and that Springfield would commit to at least $25,000. Believing that this was the best that could be obtained, I signed three letters dated April 8 that each read as follows:

"Dear Ms. Richardson, Mr. Ruiz and Mr. Grimaldi:

"Pursuant to our previous discussion, I hereby agree to resign my position as the executive director of the Lane Metro Partnership no later than June 30, 2013, contingent upon Lane County and the City of Eugene maintaining their funding for the Lane Metro Partnership for the 2013-14 fiscal year in the amount of $100,000 and $50,000, respectively, and the City of Springfield making a good faith effort to secure at least $25,000 of funding for the same fiscal year."

I then called Jon Ruiz and asked what he wanted me to do with the letters and he asked that I send all of them to him because "Liane said we don't want these floating around in public." I hand delivered all three letters to Jon personally that week.

That is where I believed matters stood until April 11 when I met with Steve Korth, our board president, and John Brown, our immediate past president. At that point I learned that the agreement I thought we had was changed and that apparently someone claiming to represent the three government jurisdictions had approached some board members with a plan for me to leave by May 1 and that Phillip Hudspeth also be terminated. They apparently also informed them that Glenda Poling would be stepping in as the interim director for the Metro Partnership.

I told Steve and John that these terms were never discussed with me and that I could not support either of them. In particular, while I was and am willing to fall on my own sword, I am not prepared to drag Phillip or Christina on the funeral pyre with me. I personally want to apologize to each and every board member for not informing you of my earlier discussions and in particular for not consulting you before signing my letter agreeing to resign. While I honestly believed that I was making a personal sacrifice for the good of the organization I realize now that I was usurping the prerogative of the board and failing to meet my responsibilities to keep you informed regarding matters that are critical to the continued operation of the Metro Partnership.

If you as a board decide to terminate me for this action, I will not object. However I do strongly urge you to resist pressure to terminate Phillip or Christina much less to allow outside parties to dictate personnel decisions to you as a board. As a 501(c)(3) organization, this may not even be lawful. I know it is not something that any board member should be asked to do by any funder of such an organization.

April 10, 2013 08:02 PM

Get a taste of the energy in the video above. Ghost, Killah Priest and Adrian pulled up a member of the audience to rap ODB's verse of a Wu classic.

April 9, 2013 08:51 AM

Pretty Tone and Mr. Younge rocked with The Roots last night on Fallon and will be bringing the 12 Reasons To Die tour to Eugene this evening. Grab tickets while they last. Portland sold out and had to add a last minute late show.

The album comes out next Tuesday and is currently streaming on NPR

April 9, 2013 03:59 PM

Oregon statesman Lynn Lundquist died today.

April 8, 2013 10:47 AM

Hopalong Cassidy needs a new leg and local rescue group Save the Pets is raising money for the pup's surgery.

According to the video information on YouTube, "A woman who lives in Silverton found Cassidy dodging traffic on Interstate5! She put him on Craigslist and a man in Albany took Cassidy to foster him so that he wouldn't go to the pound. Cassidy's femur is broken in 2 places. He needs to see a specialist and then get surgery. we need to raise donations so that we can pay for this." 

Money can be donated for the surgery through the Youcaring.com fundraising site. About $4,ooo needs to be raised, and the site has raised almost $700 so far.

UPDATE

Sondra Arrache of Save the Pets reports that Cassidy is at Oregon Veterinary Referral Associates and the group has enough for Cassideny's surgery. 

April 8, 2013 09:16 AM

April 5, 2013 05:22 PM

Two city councilors have informed us that Councilor George Brown, who initially supported the city fee measure that will appear on the May 21 ballot, has changed his position and will now oppose the measure. Brown told EW earlier this week that he was considering changing his mind, but he needed more time to weigh both arguments.

Councilors Brown, Mike Clark, George Poling and Betty Taylor oppose the measure. Councilors Chris Pryor, Claire Syrett, Alan Zelenka and Mayor Kitty Piercy support it.

To EW's knowledge, Councilor Greg Evans has not yet taken a public position; we sent an email inquiry today to confirm this and will update this post when we hear back. Brown has not yet responded to messages left at his home and business.

[Update: 8:50 pm April 5]: Evans responded that he opposes the fee proposal because he is not satisfied with the options presented by the staff to close the budget shortfall. He voted to place the issue on the ballot so that citizens could decide whether they wish to pay the fee, and he doesn't believe it will pass.

April 5, 2013 08:09 PM

featuring Tech N9ne, Brotha Lynch Hung, Krizz Kaliko, Kutt Calhoun, Rittz and Ces Cru

April 4, 2013 05:11 PM

Daniel McGowan's recent Huffington Post blog post about the secretive federal Communications Management Unit that he was held in might have landed him back in prison, the Huff Po is reporting.

McGowan's wife Jenny Synan "told HuffPost that she asked a BOP official why her husband had been re-imprisoned after his release to a halfway house in December. She said the official told her that the HuffPost article violated a term of his release that restricted him from interacting with the media."

McGowan was sentenced in 2007 to seven years in prison for participating in ecologically motivated arsons in Oregon as part of what the FBI called Operation Backfire, which involved property destruction across the Northwest. No one was injured in any of the actions, but McGowan and others were given terrorism enhancements on their sentences. 

In late August 2008 he was transferred from FCI-Sandstone, a low security prison in Minnesota, to the CMU at USP-Marion, which was created to monitor so-called terrorist prisoners. McGowan had issued updates from prison speaking out on environmental issues,  appeared on a calendar featuring political prisoners and was the subject of a then in-progress documentary film. If a Tree Falls went on to garner an Oscar nomination.

McGowan's April 1 blog post, written while in a Brooklyn halfway house, details his time at the CMU. He writes: 

The units are designed to isolate prisoners from the rest of the prisoner population, and more importantly, from the rest of the world.  They impose strict limitations on your phone calls home and visits from family and friends -- you have far less access to calls and visits than in general population.  The communications restrictions at the CMUs are, in some respects, harsher than those at ADX, the notorious federal  "Supermax" prisonin Colorado.  Also, unlike ADX, they are not based on a prisoners'  disciplinary violations. When my wife and loved ones visited me at the CMUs, we were banned from any physical contact whatsoever.  All interactions where conducted over a telephone, with Plexiglas  and bars between us.  Until they were threatened with legal action, CMU prisoners were only allowed one single 15-minute phone call per week.

McGowan's attorneys released a statement on the The Center for Constitutional Rights's website saying

Daniel McGowan is back in BOP custody. He was taken by federal marshals from his halfway house this morning, and brought to the Metropolitan Detention Center. We have received information that this was triggered by an opinion piece he published on the Huffington Post Monday, and we are currently trying to confirm this and learn more about the situation. We were unable to meet with him today because, we were informed, he was being processed. We will seek to meet with him tomorrow and follow all avenues to secure his release. The name of the piece is “Court Documents Prove I Was Sent to Communication Management Units (CMU) for My Political Speech.” If this is indeed a case of retaliation for writing an article about the BOP retaliating against his free speech while he was in prison, it is more than ironic, it is an outrage.

McGowan is part of the lawsuit Aref v. Holder, which challenges the violation of CMU prisoners’constitutional rights, such as the right to due process. The case argues that transfers to a CMU" are not based on facts or discipline for infractions, a pattern of religious and political discrimination and retaliation for prisoners’ lawful advocacy has emerged." The CCR says that "recently amended the complaint to include claims of retaliation for First Amendment protected speech."

April 3, 2013 12:33 PM

Want to make some "Romance Pants"? Head on over to Instructables.

Romance pants are a pair of pants that dims the room lighting and raises the stereo in relation to the fly zipper being pulled down. Of course it does not stop there. The romantic coup de grace involves electronically ignited candles triggered by the unbuttoning of the waist button. This subtle sensual assault is sure to shock and awe any prospective partner into ecstatic submission. As the evening progresses, this smarty-pants technology will undoubtedly to set the mood to the appropriate level of 'getting it on.' Romance pants are definitely where the future lay.

h/t NPR

April 3, 2013 12:58 PM

Alright, alright. So The Barn Light is a little behind in "What's Hot"  in meme world with its lightning fast turn-over (one week it's cats, the next week it's kittens, the next week it's kitty-cats getting rick-rolled) but this is a pretty hilarious local take on the Harlem Shake. And remember. Wait. For. It.

 

March 29, 2013 05:14 PM

This just in from the Oregon Country Fair's PR service:

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, March 29, 2013

Online pre-sale tickets for Oregon Country Fair Start April 1 VENETA, Ore. — Presale sale tickets for the 44th Annual Oregon Country Fair (OCF) go on sale, April 1, 2013, exclusively through TicketsWest.com.

The three-day festival is July 12 thru 14, west of Eugene, Ore. near Veneta. The online pre-sale tickets will be available on a limited basis through Sunday, April 14. The Fair will again offer on-line pre-sale buyers appreciation gifts with qualifying purchases.

This year’s fair will feature 17 stages of entertainment, more than 80 food booths and nearly 350 craft booths featuring more than 700 vendors. Vaudeville, circus acts, spoken word, wandering musicians, face painting, parades and many other fair favorites will return this year. Fairgoers are sure to find fun and surprises around every bend in the path.

The early list of confirmed entertainers on the Main Stage this year includes Carolyn Wonderland, Black Prairie, The Motet, Rootz Underground, Jambay and the return of acts like the Shook Twins and Papadosio. Dozens of additional entertainers will be announced in the weeks ahead for one of the West’s premier summer entertainment events.

Full schedules will be posted on the OCF website at www.oregoncountryfair.org in early June.

Starting Monday, April 15th Oregon Country Fair tickets will be on sale at TicketsWest outlets, by phone at (800) 992-8499 or online.

No tickets will be sold at the fair site. Fairgoers are encouraged to ride to the fair aboard the complimentary LTD bus service provided by the OCF. Will call is at the fair site only. For information on riding the bus to the fair, visit the transportation page of the OCF website.

If bought in advance, ticket prices are $22 for Friday, July 12; $24 for Saturday, July 13; and $22 for Sunday, July 14. Tickets purchased the days of the event are $24 for Friday, $28 for Saturday and $24 for Sunday. Prices do not include TicketsWest service fees. A ticket good for all three days of the fair may also be purchased for $57 in advance only. Children ages 10 and under are admitted free with a paying adult and there is a $5 discount for individuals who are alter-abled or ages 65 or older.

TicketsWest outlets are located at numerous Safeway stores throughout Oregon and southwest Washington. For a complete list, click here. In addition to TicketsWest outlets, Oregon Country Fair tickets will also be available at other locations to be announced soon.

Parking at the Oregon Country Fair is $8 per vehicle per day in advance, $10 per vehicle per day on-site. Parking passes may be purchased with admission tickets or at the fair site the day of the fair, but fairgoers must show an admission ticket drive onto the site. ###