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.
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.
Student debt? Nah. Rising cost of tuition? Nope. Who can think about that when you’ve got yellow O’s in your eyes? Now, you can put your student loan dollars toward Dooney & Bourke’s (ironically named) $218 NCAA Oregon Hobo bag or the $128 NCAA Oregon Continental Clutch. In fact, when those student loan bills come due, you can store them chicly in the $248 NCAA Oregon Zip Zip Satchel.
Yes, the University of Oregon’s ubiquitous green and yellow spirit has finally vomited on designer fashion (it’s no longer limited to Victoria’s Secret). The luxury handbag and accessories brand has added the University of Oregon to its Signature Collegiate Collection, which includes 31 other schools. Thank god. Those co-eds have to keep their ticket stubs somewhere. At bowl games, UO students can now swing their school-pride designer duds at other schools’ fans when things get heated (Auburn is also part of the collection).
Dooney & Bourke wants you to know (via press release) that this collection is perfect:
“For newly graduated high school student entering their freshman year of college or seasoned college veterans with a few years under their belt, it’s never too late too late to proudly support their new home or the place they called home for the past few years.”
Select UO Duck Stores will begin selling them during 2015-16 football season.
According to an Aug. 12 Forbes article: “The collegiate merchandise market is second only to Major League Baseball, with $4.6 billion in annual retail sales.”
The article also states these licensing deals for universities are brokered via sports licensing brand IMG College, a third-party media rights holder, which the UO has been a client of since 2008.
The IMG College client webpage for UO states: Production and distribution of radio programs; signage; corporate partner program; game and special events promotions for radio and television; market Duck Vision Video Production on football game day; printing and publishing; hospitality; naming rights for baseball facility; sale of advertising on ticket fronts/back; ticket envelopes and parking passes.
A December 2014 Around the O post says that “Currently, almost 400 companies are licensed to use University of Oregon trademarks.”
Raise a green and yellow clutch to pure unbridled and un-commercialized school spirit. To quote Garfunkle & Oates, “Don’t I look cute in this football shirt?”
Sports! Go Sports!
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.
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.
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.
Chatter of a $15 minimum wage has permeated the nation this year, with Bernie Sanders introducing legislation last month to raise the federal minimum wage and Seattle being among the first cities to try a living wage for its citizens.
The Oregon Center for Public Policy recently updated its cost of living figures for Oregon, and it's pretty clear that $9.25 an hour isn't even close to cutting it for single adults, let alone adults with children.
Check out the full update here.
If you missed retired professor Guy McPherson's talk on near-term human extinction June 24, the video is now on McPherson's website. See also our cover story "Radical Predictions" July 16.
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.
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."
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
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
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.
Jorge Aristóteles Sandoval Díaz, Governor of Jalisco State firstname.lastname@example.org
Mario Anguiano Moreno, Governor of Colima State
For more information, visit Justicia para Eduardo Mosqueda.
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.
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.
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.