From Doug Perry, the assistant fire marshall today:
"With the approaching Independence Day holiday, fire and city of Eugene officials are considering restrictions on the use of fireworks. These restrictions may include a ban on fireworks use in the South Hills and Spencer, Skinner and Willagillespie Buttes as well as limiting the dates fireworks may be discharged in the remainder of the city. A decision on these possible restrictions will be made by June 24.
"Fireworks that fly, explode, travel more than one foot into the air or more than six feet on the ground are already AGAINST THE LAW in Oregon. Illegal fireworks cause countless injuries and thousands of dollars in property loss each year. "
The fire marshall's office can be reached at 682-5887.
Joseph Calbreath, now formerly of KMTR, speaks out on the recent sale of the TV station to Fisher Communications, calling the layoffs a "blood bath." Fisher, which will be owned by another company later this year, will own or be affiliated with three of the area's four TV stations — KVAL, FOX and now KMTR. Fox is locally owned but has a "news share" with KVAL. Any thoughts on how that might affect local news coverage?
KEZI is the lone station that won't be in some way affiliated with Sinclair Broadcast Group of Maryland if the Federal Communictions Commission approves the sale of Fisher this fall. Prominent anchors Matt Templeman and Renee McCullough were among the layoffs, the R-G reports. And Calbreath, who has signed no agreements not to speak about the sale because he was already set to retire, weighed in on the loss of 50 employees on his Facebook page.
By Joseph Calbreath
Hi Everyone, Some of you probably have been reading about what has been going on at my former employer KMTR. Little did I know a couple of months ago when I picked the date of my retirement that it would coincided with the transfer of ownership that would result in 31 of my friends loosing their jobs in a blood bath type fashion. Obviously I will not be going back to do any filling in as was planned before the purge. Since I was never an employee of Fisher Broadcasting and am no longer interested in working in the TV News business, I can speak freely. If you have read the stories in the newspaper you read that no-one is able to comment on what just happened to them. It is a normal ploy by companies to hold severance packages and threat of negative reviews to future employers to keep people being fired to keep quiet. Many who has been let go from a big company for no reason based on their work has seen this.
Anyway I have some thoughts about what is happening that I thought I would share. First off, when I started in this business this sale would be illegal. No company could own two broadcast TV stations in the same market. In fact it was very restrictive to own any combination of news organizations including print, radio, TV or cable. The lobbyist in Washington have done a good job of changing the laws over the last 30 years and now almost anything goes. The FCC is a joke in my opinion. They go berserk if you slip and say a four letter word by accident or have a wardrobe malfunction, but could care less if big communications companies eliminate any competition in their attempt to dominate the information we receive. As of today, Fisher controls three of the four news programs broadcasted in our market. Later this year an even bigger company Sinclare will own them. Sinclare (spelling?)owner are very similar to the owners of FOX news in my opinion, which is not very fair and balanced no matter what they say . The only other voice we will have is KEZI the ABC affiliate. They also are the last locally own TV station in our area, but for how long?
Business wise, it probably makes good sense to eliminate people who are familiar and popular as quick as possible. Matt and Renee are liked and respected in this area and are familiar identifiable faces everywhere they go. How many years have the anchors on the other channels been here? How recognizable are they in the community? Most of our other anchors have been on the air longer than the other stations as well. Getting rid of these popular familiar faces will reduce the competition Also bringing in new people that nobody knows is much cheeper. After all these companies only care about their bottom lines. This move will help reduce the salaries at all the stations. It's the same thing that busting a union up does at other companies. Unions usually bring everyones salary up even those who aren't in the union.
Anyway get ready to see a lot of new faces two weeks from last Monday when everyone but the morning crew are gone. Since this page is in my name and has nothing to do with my former employer, I will start changing the information I share here. I now for the first time in 30 year can have an opinion about things. I plan on sharing more information about myself and what I am up to. I still would like to be a resource for people who have questions about things that I know about. I have been asked it I would still be putting out a weather forecast. I plan on still looking at the weather each day but have no plans on publishing what I think. If anyone has any opinions about this please let me know. Thank you all for letting me vent a bit. It defiantly has ease my frustration of what my friends are going through. I never watched local news because I got everything I needed to know about what was going on in our community at work each day. I still won't watch local news but will continue to read the newspaper and get my news one day later than before.
Update: Mark Metzger of Fox says that:
KLSR and KEVU are owned by Patricia Smullin who is a long-time resident of Medford, Oregon. Her company was established in 1932 and is the longest, continuous independent broadcast group in the west and one of two oldest in the country. Her father was a Broadcast Pioneer that founded the very first VHF TV station in Oregon and first radio station in Grants Pass. Patricia has owned our stations for 20+ years. She is very involved with the University of Oregon and is a graduate of Oregon State. We are not owned by an out-of-state broadcasting company. Many of us have been at FOX over 20 years. I do not think you can get much more local than being at a company who brought TV to our state. We are 100% "Oregon" and proud of it!
EW has asked Metzger to clarify the news coverage arrangement between Fox and KVAL.
We formed a "News Share" partnership with KVAL back in late 1991. Except for a short hiatus, it has been in existence ever since. We partnered with them in order to have our "own" news, as well as offer the community a local news at an earlier time, 10PM. It was cost prohibitive for us to get into the news business back then, so we commissioned KVAL to do it for us. I believe we were one of the first markets in the country to do this, now they are quite commonplace. Over time, we both realized it was a win-win situation for the community, for KVAL and for us, so we decided to continue the arrangement versus doing a news on our own.
The KMTR-KVAL merger does shed new light on this arrangement and we will continue to have discussions with KVAL on how this will all pan out. Obviously, we are now in a unique transition and I will research on how other markets are handling this. TV stations in the same market are buying TV stations in the same market all over the country right now. Some of the public might think it is unique to just us here in Eugene, but it is not. We will see more and more of this over the next couple years. It is pretty much the same thing Radio went through about 15 years ago.
A genetically engineered (GE) variety of glyphosate-resistant wheat linked to Monsanto was found growing in an Oregon wheat field. The U.S. Department of Agrigculture announced today that it launched a "formal investigation after being notified by an Oregon State University scientist that initial tests of wheat samples from an Oregon farm indicated the possible presence of GE glyphosate-resistant wheat plants."
The USDA says that "there are no GE wheat varieties approved for sale or in commercial production in the United States or elsewhere at this time."
According to Agripulse.com:
Michael Firko, Acting Deputy Administrator of APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Services, said USDA scientists verified results that the discovered plants were resistant to the commonly used weed killer glyphosate. Firko says USDA is “very serious” about the this investigation, which seeks to uncover “the extent of this and how it happened.” It is also confirmed that the glyphosate-resistant plants are the same variety as a wheat strain, or “event,” field tested by Monsanto. Firko said the company had requested to field test GE wheat from 1998-2005, but no other field tests have occurred since 2005. USDA confirmed that field tests did occur in Oregon, but did not say whether the field in question is the same as or near a former field test site.
According to a factsheet on the issue supplied by the USDA:
An Oregon farmer noticed some volunteers, or plants that had germinated and developed in a place where they were not intentionally planted, in his wheat field, were resistant to glyphosate and sent the samples to the OSU scientist. She received the samples on April 30, 2013, and conducted tests on the samples. Based on her preliminary tests, the samples she received tested positive for the glyphosate trait and the farmer was informed of the testing results.
The USDA dispatched investigators onsite to investigate how this situation occurred and collect additional samples from the farm. The agency says that APHIS made the public announcement about this detection as soon as USDA laboratories had absolute confi rmation regarding the GE wheat.
Seattle Folklife Festival 2012, photo by Alex Notman
Our 5-23 issue was jam packed so, unfortunately, we couldn't squeeze in BackBeat this week. Here are some more notes and news to pay attention to this weekend:
I know I got a bad reputation … It’s been almost 20 years since Freedy Johnston’s hit “Bad Reputation” — featured in Noah Baumbach’s Kicking and Screaming (1995) — was saturating the airwaves, and eight albums later, the original indie rocker is touring the West Coast. Catch Johnston at 10 pm Thursday, May 23, at Luckey’s.
Don’t miss this week: Anna Fritz (of Portland Cello Project) takes her solo album on a West Coast tour with a stop at 7 pm Friday, May 24, for a Springfield house concert (see annafritz.com for tickets); Banjo player Kendl Winter (formerly of The Blackberry Bushes) 9:30 pm Friday, May 24, at Sam Bond’s; the twinkling stringed ballads of Kingdom County at 4 pm Saturday, May 25, at Oakshire Public House; Up-and-coming Portland band The Ecstatics plays The Campbell Club's annual "Halloween in Spring" night 7 pm Friday, May 25; $3 with costume, $5 with no costume. Disclosure is back to play its postponed show (originally set for April 17) 9 pm Tuesday, May 28, at WOW Hall.
This weekend is the 42nd annual Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle and many Eugene bands are making the trek north joining the over 6,000 music and dance acts. EW will be following the musical caravan that includes Betty and the Boy, Alder Street All Stars, Conjugal Visitors, Tara Stonecipher and the Tall Grass, Dirty Spoon, Breakers Yard and The Whiskey Chasers. Looks for updates on the EW blog this weekend.
The horse tripping controversy continues as more information arises about the arrest of an activist at the Big Loop Rodeo. And according to an email blast from PETA, Tuesday May 22, is the Oregon House Judiciary Committee's work session on Senate Bill 835.
Over the weekend the group SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness) reported a volunteer, Adam Fahnestock was arrested for videoing at the event. Steve Hindi of SHARK also tangled with the law over videoing the controversial horse tripping event (see the video at bottom).
This is the footage filmed by Fahnestock at the 2013 rodeo, before he was arrested.
And this letter by a woman who attended the rodeo was sent to several legislators:
Hello, I wanted to let you know that I went to the Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo this last weekend, and I would like to tell you what I saw there. As I testified previously I grew up in Eastern Oregon and have gone to rodeos since I was a small child. I am embarrassed to admit I’m from Eastern Oregon after going to Jordan Valley.
1. There were signs prohibiting taking videos, however the announcer said that just applied to “people from Western Oregon, animal rights activists, and the media.” The announcer stated that didn’t apply to the “good folks who want to film their relatives or friends.” There were lots of cameras visible. He also stated that if the people from Western Oregon, animal rights activists, or the media were observed taking video they would be arrested and escorted off the property. They violently arrested a man about 10’ from where I was sitting, took him down in the seats, and took him to the Malheur County Jail where he was booked for Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest. They ejected three other people that I saw, one man who stated he was just taking pictures, not video. I understand that it is private property, and that they have the right to make the rules, but I feel the rules should apply to everyone.
2. They mentioned the bill and that they had made trips to testify. The announcer stated that the bill “looks like it’s going to pass, but that it would not affect their rodeo” at all.
3. The announcer stated that people from Western Oregon should just stay in their cities and leave them alone.
4. The horses used in the” Big Loop” event are thin enough that you can count their ribs, and seem young.
5. Because I was so uncomfortable being there, I did not stay for the entire rodeo. During the first round of the “Big Loop” event, they managed to rope two horses by the neck, one fairly close to the throatlatch, did not rope any horses by the feet, so in the first section all the competitors got “no time”. However, one horse crashed violently into the wall, and they continued trying to rope it after it got up. I did not see them check the horse out by a veterinarian.
6. The horses that were in the “Big Loop” event were completely terrified.
I wanted to share my experience with you. I have never left a rodeo before it was over before. I was uncomfortable there and felt threatened by their general attitude. The crowd cheered when people were arrested and ejected.
Thank you for considering this statement. I urge you to pass this bill and protect those that have no voice in this event, the horses.
Steve Hindi of SHARK, which videoed the events last year, leading to the current legislative actions says of the video below that is was "a bogus police stop on Sunday, the last day of the rodeo, after I was ejected for having a camera at the rodeo." He adds, "Of course, lots of people had cameras, and virtually everyone had phones capable of video. The traffics stop appears to be illegitimate, as we can find no law allowing a traffic stop for not providing ID on private property — the stated reason for the stop."
SHARK alleges in a press release that the Malheur County Sheriff has "deep ties" to the Big Loop Rodeo:
Fearing that this new footage would cause similar outrage, on Saturday, May 18, Malheur County Sheriff’s officers swept in, arrested Fahnestock and ordered another activist to leave.
On Sunday, May 19, they repeated their misconduct by ordering SHARK President Steve Hindi to leave the rodeo as well.
SHARK has initiated an investigation into the existing connections between the rodeo and the Malheur County Sheriff's Department who the group accuses of violations of free speech, and using intimidation tactics. The following is part of the report. The full report is available upon request.
• The Malheur County Sheriff’s Department also has direct ties to the Big Loop Rodeo through their deputies. In his testimony before the above-mentioned Senate committee, Jordan Valley Mayor Jake Roe stated, “The Sheriff’s posse sells food at the park to raise money…” Jerry Raburn, an official with the Jordan Valley Rodeo Association, told the Senate Committee that “Not only is the rodeo a boost for the businesses here, but also for volunteer groups, service organizations, schools and churches,” including the “Malheur County Sheriff’s Deputies.”
• According to Malheur County Sheriff Sergeant Richard Harriman, who, along with Bob Wroten forced one of SHARK's activists to leave the rodeo, that Wroten himself was not only a Malheur County Deputy, but also held a dual position on the "rodeo board."
• Malheur County Sheriff Brian E. Wolfe defended the Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo and horse tripping in a letter sent to the Oregon State Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, which recently held a hearing on a bill to ban “horse tripping.” Wolfe misused his official county stationary and position as Sheriff to made a political statement when he said “I personally oppose any and all legislation, laws, or rules prohibiting Rodeo events including Horse Roping.”
"We now know that the Malheur County Sheriff Officers, the same men who violated the rights of our activists, have deep ties to the rodeo," states SHARK President Steve Hindi. "When they saw the cruelty that was documented on the first day, they abused their power on the second and third day to make sure that no more video would make it to public view. That's outrageous, and the Sheriff's office needs to be held accountable for acting like thugs protecting a good old boys network of animal abuse and cruelty."