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May 18, 2016 10:42 AM

In the May 17 Oregon primary election, local county commissioner Faye Stewart was trounced by perennial candidate Mark Callahan in the Republican race to challenge incumbent Democrat Ron Wyden in the fall. Callahan has run for president, switched parties, running as a Pacific Greena and a Dem, and generally been more of a sideshow than a strong candidate.

Ouch.

We have to wonder if Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah-Gate back in 2014 gave Callahan enough of name recognition push to get that 37 percent of the vote in the four-way race. Stewart got 19 percent.

During a 2014 endorsement interview, Callahan spotted Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Nigel Jaquiss writing "blah, blah, blah" in his notebook as fellow candidate Jo Rae Perkins talked abut climate change . (Perkins just lost to nuke-loving wingnut Art Robinson in the Repub primary to face Peter DeFazio. We are losing count of how many times Robinson has run against DeFaz.)

Highlights: Callahan losing it over blah, blah, blah, then saying climate change is myth. "Where are you on the Easter Bunny?" Jaquiss asks. 

What's not funny is realizing that, even if we think Callahan doesn't have a chance in the fall, Oregon Republicans voted for a climate change denier.

May 17, 2016 07:21 PM

Required reporting: If a student is sexually assaulted and tells her or his professor, then under University of Oregon rules the professor must report what happened, whether or not the student wants it reported.

For some, required reporting is the best way to handle discrimination and harassment. Others, such as UO psychology professor Jennifer Freyd, say mandatory reporting can cause more harm than good.

The University of Oregon Faulty Senate votes May 18 on a required reporting policy that is causing contention on campus among those who work on the issue of sexual violence. According to the proposed motion, “sexual harassment and other forms of prohibited discrimination are prohibited by law and the University has a duty to do its utmost to protect its students and employees from discriminatory harassment, and most particularly from sexual assault.”

Freyd, who is nationally known for her research on institutional betrayal, has this to say:

“This is a human rights issue and I have faith that in time we will all understand it that way. For me I fight this locally and nationally. It may take awhile but I think with effort this movement will succeed — as human rights movements tend to do eventually — and in the meantime I will not make bargains that sell my integrity for political expediency.

I ask myself:

Is my duty to the institution? or to my students?
Is my duty to appease those in power? or to the core mission of knowledge production and dissemination?

Do I succumb to illegitimate threats of power-over that attempt to coerce a vote? or do I model integrity or process?

Am I an agent of the system? or an individual with an educated mind and a commitment to truth and justice?

I don't find these very hard questions to answer. I will do what I believe is right on this matter even if I'm the only one in the room doing so (but I would sure love support) and even though I know I may very likely trade being popular, politic or comfortable.”

In its rationale for the policy, University Committee on Sexual and Gender Based Violence says that while not all the supporters agree “its terms are mandated by federal law,” the committee majority “accepts that it is clearly permitted and, indeed, contemplated by federal law.”

UO professor and University Committee on Sexual and Gender Based Violence co-chair Carole Stabile spoke before the Faculty Senate on May 11. She said the mandatory reporting policy that came out under former UO president Gottfredson was unclear. And that under the revised policy, survivors have options, such as disclosing to confidential reporters such as counselors.

Gottfredson was UO president at the time of the UO basketball rape allegations and the school was heavily criticized for how it handled that case.

The committee writes that it “rejects the view that this policy is designed institutional risk management reasons and believes that it is a reasonable response both to OCR [U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights] guidance as well as the needs of the university community.”

With regard to the concerns raised by Freyd and others, the committee states that it “recognizes that there are serious arguments raised in opposition to this policy, especially with regard to its potential for discouraging some survivors of sexual violence from seeking confidential assistance.”

It continues, “However, the committee believes, given the substantial resources recently deployed in support of survivors of sexual violence, and the reasonable protections instituted by the university so that survivors continue to control the process of healing and resolution, that it is imperative that such survivors avail themselves of these resources.”

Required reporters go to the Title IX Coordinator or to the Office of Crisis Intervention and Sexual Violence Support Services with their information. Former UO student and rape survivor Laura Hanson says when she went to Penny Daugherty, the Title IX coordinator, she was told not to report her assualt to the police because it was a "he-said she-said" situation.

Sexual assault survivor and activist Brenda Tracy who has worked with OSU to improve its sexual assault policies says she is coming to Eugene to testify against required reporting before the Senate at the May 18 meeting, which is from 3:30 - 5:30 pm in 156 Straub Hall. 

May 16, 2016 05:04 PM

Voters in Portland over the weekend might have been stymied by a beer fest. Go home Portlandia, you're drunk.

Activist Alley Valkyrie, formerly of Eugene, snapped this photo in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square, posted on social media and commented, "Two days before ballots are due, and the downtown ballot box was blocked by a beer fest. Democracy in action, folks …"

According to the square's website, it was Widmer Hefe Day on May 15.

Lane County residents can find their ballot dropsites here. Ballots can no longer be mailed and are due by 8 pm May 17.

May 12, 2016 11:37 AM

The race for EWEB Wards 6&7 just got a little strange and ugly with this attack mailing against Sonya Carlson.

Carlson is running against Gary Malone in the position. EW reached out to Carlson and Malone for comment.

Malone at first responded: "Sans commentaires, Ne pas oublier de voter." (No comments, Don't forget to vote).

He did not explain why his response was in French.

Carlson has issued a statement:

"The Eugene Chamber of Commerce, the Register-Guard, the Eugene Weekly and dozens of elected officials and other community members across the political spectrum have publicly endorsed my campaign for EWEB. I am proud of the broad range of support I have garnered. Yesterday, I was informed that my opponent turned to negative campaigning. It is unfortunate, but I am confident that voters will see the hit piece for what it is. My husband and I purchased our home in a working class neighborhood in Santa Clara almost seven years ago. I graduated from Lewis and Clark College in 2005 and had been in the workforce for nearly a decade before I decided to return to school to pursue my masters degree in business administration. As a mother, it was a difficult decision to make, as we would be living on one income. Likewise, choosing to run for EWEB was not a decision I took lightly, but I have been honored and humbled by the encouragement I have received. "

Later on Friday. May 13, Malone said he did have comments after all, writing:

"I do have comments. The flyer did come from my campaign. I apologize to Sonya Carlson and anyone else who may have been offended and would ask for their forgiveness. The intent was to educate the voter. I am saddened to say one more piece was mailed that I tried to stop that reflects the same style. I have taken steps to ensure this type of campaigning will not happen in the future."

May 10, 2016 11:03 AM

Oregon Native American history and culture feels a bit under siege is Lane County this week

Over on the Lane Community College Campus on Wedesday, May 11, advocates for teaching Chinuk Wawa are organzing and asking to be heard by the LCC Board of Education. They will be meeting 6:30 pm in Building 3, Room 216 on the main campus and speaking during the 20 minute public comment session. 

Chinuk language advocates will meet prior to the board meeting at 5:25pm in Building 5 Room 126 for a meal, songs, and prayer, according to a Facebook event. More information is below, and you can also sign on to a petition at Change.org.

In the fall, Lane Community College's administration effectively canceled the Chinuk Wawa language program at the school, placing it on an indefinite "hiatus". While the American Indian Languages Committee at LCC has continued advocating for this invaluable and one of a kind program, the administration has been silent. So, some of us are seeking to be heard by LCC's Board of Education. 

Would you please join us in support of Chinuk Wawa at LCC?! Please help us pack the board room and request a reversal of the administration's decision and a commitment to the continuation of Chinuk Wawa at our community college!! The LCC Board of Education meets on May 11th at 6:30pm in Building 3, Room 216. Their meetings begin with 20 minutes for public comments so if you'd like to speak in support of the program please do!

Update: The LCC board voted 5-1 to reinstate Chinuk Wawa.

Another issue facing local Tribal members and land use and environmental advocates is the proposed TV Butte gravel mine, called the Old Hazeldell Quarry by the developers. 

EW columnist and Indigenous rights activist Kayla Godowa Tufti, a desecent of Charlie Tufti, known for discovering Waldo Lake, has been advocating against the mine, pointing to historical records she says shows possible Native graves in the area.

There is a hearing tonight, May 10, about the mine with the Planning Commissio  at 5:30 pm  in the Goodson Room at 3040 N. Delta Hwy., Eugene.

In a Facebook event opposing the mine, which is associated with Ed King of King Estate Winery, organizers write:

Lane County Planning Commission will be hearing rebuttal to the proposed mining project in Oakridge, Oregon. It is critical that people turn out to oppose this mining project which threatens indigenous cultural resources, the regional ecology, and the health and wellbeing of rural residents.

Last night I attended the initial meeting where the mining company attempted to convince the commission to change the zoning of TV Butte from forest to mining. In doing so the presenters ignored or dismissed concerns about increased fire risk, particulate pollution, and water contamination or depletion.

They also assaulted and called the police on the lineal descendant of Charlie Tufti when she raised concerns about the impact this proposed mine would have on cultural resources and native graves. There are many reasons to oppose this plan. Please share this widely and please come to the meeting and voice your support for the people of Oakridge. Goodson Room 3050 N. Delta Highway Eugene Oregon

April 22, 2016 06:10 PM

Former Eugene area pet store owner Nathan McClain paid a prostitute with donations that were intended for the Girl Scouts and gave her a bushbaby (aka Galago primate) as a tip. 

McClain was arrested after he was observed exiting an adult porn shop apparently under the influence of methamphetamines, according to the press release from the Eugene Police Department today.

The Galago, named Gooey, is safe.

The full press release is below.

Detectives Recover Galago Primate During Investigation

On March 1 and March 6, 2016, police received information of burglaries at the Zany Zoo Pet Store, and stolen property that included Girl Scout cookie money, a laptop computer and an exotic animal (a Galago primate). Eugene Property Crime detectives investigated the case and ultimately recovered the exotic animal from an out-of-town prostitute. Based on interviews and statements, it was discovered that Nathan Allen McClain paid the prostitute with store funds, which included the donation jar money for a sexual encounter with her. According to the woman, McClain gave her the exotic animal as a tip for her services. McClain was identified as the owner of the pet store.

The exotic animal was recovered by the Eugene Police Department on March 17, after locating the involved woman in a local area hotel. In the state of Oregon, it is prohibited to possess an exotic animal without a license issued by the State Department of Agriculture. The woman was cooperative, and provided a statement to detectives, along with the exotic animal.

On March 21, McClain was arrested by Oregon State Police in the parking lot of their Albany office for DUII-controlled substance. McClain was observed exiting the adult porn shop next door and he appeared to be under the influence of methamphetamine. McClain was arrested and lodged in the Linn County jail for DUII.  (OSP Case: SP16083129)

McClain was interviewed by EPD detectives on March 21 in Eugene and it appeared he was under the influence of methamphetamine. McClain was found to have to paid the prostitute for sex on March 1 with deposit and donation money from the store.

On April 21, 2016, McClain was arrested for prostitution and lodged at the Lane County Jail. The investigation into the burglaries is unfounded and the missing Girl Scout money was never recovered and is still under investigation.

The exotic animal, Gooey, is safe and currently at a nearby sanctuary until the USDA issues a new license for Zany Zoo Pet Store.

According to the Zany Zoo Facebook page

April 21, 2016 05:01 PM

Voodoo Doughnut made a purple-topped raspberry-filled doughnut to honor Prince, and people immediately complained that it's not vegan.

Voodoo Doughnut's response? "Unfortunately we weren't expecting prince to pass away today and didn't make extra vegan doughnuts this morning."

It's comments section gold on the Voodoo Facebook page. And yes, the Prince treat is available at the Eugene store. 

Duly noted: PETA says he was a committed vegan. Voodoo says on its Facebook page that a portion of the proceeds will go to a Prince-supported charity, and the doughnut can be special ordered vegan.

April 18, 2016 02:45 PM

Leif Williams Brecke

June 28, 1978 – April 6, 2016

A potluck gathering will be held for Leif Brecke, 37, from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at the Greenacres Grange between Coos Bay and Coquille. Friends are encouraged to bring stories, pictures, and food to share.

Leif Brecke, an activist and community builder, was born to Vernon L. and Brenda W. Brecke up the river in Allegany, Oregon. He attended Marshfield High School and graduated from Lane Community College and University of Oregon. Leif and Sara met in 1996 and moved to Eugene in 1999. No words can express the love and support they gave to each other nor describe the life they had together for 17 years. Their shared love of family , friends, music, cooking and the outdoors keep them connected even after they separated. Last year Leif moved to Medford to live with his partner, Kay Wilde and her daughter.

Leif will be remembered as networker and a support advocate; he was always sharing ideas, books, recipes, friends, and causes. He loved hiking the ocean cliffs, kayaking rivers, researching and fact checking information, hunting for just the rights books or music. He loved his days of firefighting and the sense of community that was shared.

Friends and family spend many adventurous and memorable days rafting and camping with Leif on the Rogue, Salmon, Illinois, North Umpqua, and the Elk rivers. Fellow activists spend hours with Leif planning and sharing ways to improve the world. His activism started at a young age and continued while in college, serving as a student senator and later as the Multi-cultural Program Coordinator. More recently he was Program Coordinator at Resilient Communities Project, Social Systems Facilitator at Cascadian Resilience, and Secretary of the Bellview Grange in Ashland. His many causes were founded in his love of the environment and community.

Leif is survived by his former partner/wife Sara Shaw Brecke of Eugene Oregon; his mother, Brenda Brecke of Coos Bay; his sister Julie Brecke Johnson of North Bend; his brother Richard Brecke and his wife Megan; his grandmother, “Sally” Running Brecke, and his recent partner Kay Wilde and her daughter.

He was preceded in death by his father, Vernon L. Brecke of Coos Bay; his maternal grandparents, Ann and Billy Williams of Hebron, Md.; and his paternal grandfather, Richard “Dick” Brecke. 

The family suggests memorial contributions to one of his causes, or to an environmental group or to a social justice organization. The family would also welcome support for suicide prevention. 

“Without deviation from norm, progress is not possible.” Frank Zappa 

Arrangements are under the direction of Coos Bay Chapel.

Obituary courtesy  Leif's mother, Brenda Brecke.

March 30, 2016 10:29 AM

Lane County Commissioner and Republican Senate Candidate Faye Stewart repeated racist stereotypes about refugees at a March 10 Republican candidate forum at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon.

He accused Vietnamese refugeees "years ago" of eating dogs and starting fires in their apartment complex in Portland. You can see the video here.

As orginally reported on The Daily Caller, Stewart said, "“And when I say that, you know our government housed them in buildings in the Portland area, my understanding and what ended up happening was is [sic] they didn’t know how to heat their homes. What did they do? They started a fire in the middle of their living room in an apartment complex."

He continued with,  “Or when they needed something to eat, they went to their natural ways of doing it by harvesting people’s dogs and cats, their pets because their culture and their lifestyle didn’t mix with ours.” 

The video does not show to what question Stewart was responding. 

Immigrants from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia came to the U.S. in large numbers in the late 1970s and early '80s. As with the current Syrian refugees the immigrants were often met with racism, rumors and stereotyping, and in particular they were accused of eating local pets. 

As Florence Baer writes in her article, "Give Me... Your Huddled Masses: Anti-Vietnamese Refugee Lore and the Image of the Limited Good," accusing outsiders of eating improper food is a common way of showing that immigrants are not "like us" and are taking advantage of the "limited good" available in the U.S. and "stealing" what is rightfully ours.

There are some Asian cultures that do consume dog, however the legend of immigrants stealing American pets is not based on reality. 

Faye Stewart and several other candidates are running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden in the 2016 election.

 

Update

The R-G reports Stewart has apologized for his remarks in response to a question on his "views on how the United States should handle Syrian refugees who are fleeing their war-torn Middle East country."

The daily calls the remarks "heavily edited" and provides the full remarks:

"That’s a difficult deal to address. First of all, I’m compassionate and want to help people. But … we need to understand that we need to help people appropriately and also we need to not jeopardize ourselves and our citizens in the process.

“And history is a pretty good tale of this. We took in some refugees, I believe it was some Vietnamese refugees, into this state years ago, and it created a huge problem because their culture and their lifestyle didn’t mix with ours. And when I say that, you know our government housed them in buildings in the Portland area, my understanding and what ended up happening was is (sic) they didn’t know how to heat their homes. What did they do? They started a fire in the middle of their living room in an apartment complex. Or when they needed something to eat, they went to their natural ways of doing it by harvesting people’s dogs and cats, their pets.

“And so what we need to do is we need to make sure when we do help people we do it appropriately. I question why can’t we go over and help them in their native land and protect them there? Why do we need to bring them here and potentially jeopardize the citizens’ lives here? If we do bring them here then we need to make sure that we do it appropriately so it doesn’t negatively impact.

“We have people today that want to kill us because of who we are. And we need to make sure we don’t jeopardize the citizens in the process. And we have a huge responsibility in trying to figure out what is the right way to help people and protect them in their time of turbulence, and then hopefully get them back to where they can live stably in their country. So I don’t have a perfect plan. I”m compassionate, but what we do need to do is make sure we don’t impact our citizens’ lives and their safety in whatever we do.”

March 18, 2016 04:39 PM

Every year horse lovers from Eugene and around Oregon head to Albany for the annual Northwest Horse Fair and Expo this weekend March 18-20. It's an equine extravaganza that draws people in for the exhibitions and for the shopping.

This year the Expo, as area equestrians call it (if someone with horse manure on their shoe says "Are you going to the Expo?" you know just which one they mean), features hundreds of real live horses as well as the return of BreyerWest a model horse show with workshops on customizing model horses and free seminars.

Head into one of the big arenas to watch the horses in action, or wander into the barns to check out the breeds from mustangs to Friesians. You can also watch the Black Pearl Friesians in action.

Featured clinicians this year include Pat Parelli on natural horsemanship, Mark Bolender on mountain trail and Kristina Harrison on dressage.  

Popular performances include the Rogue Mountain Archers (above) and and the Mane Attraction Rodeo Performance Team (below) and the shopping for horse tack, products, art and more.

You can catch a glance of a number of Lane County residents appearing at the Expo including Jaimie Lewellyn in the dressage clinic and Grace Perkins and "Alfie" who are "representing the western American Saddlebred" according to their trainer Rhea Turner of Kardia Equestrian Academy.

The Expo runs March 18 (10 am - 8 pm), 19, (9 am - 8 pm) and 20 (9 am - 6 pm) at the Linn County Expo Center 3700 Knox Butte Rd E, Albany, OR 97322, go to http://equinepromotions.net/northwest-horse-fair/attend/schedule/ for a full schedule, cost is $10 adv. $12 door $6 for kids 6-12, under 5 FREE.

March 15, 2016 04:54 PM

Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson are following in the footsteps of fellow former Oregon basketball player Brandon Austin by suing the University of Oregon over rape allegations, according to a press release from Eugene attorney Brian Michaels who says he is local counsel for a New York firm.

Artis and Dotson are alleging they faced discrimination as males and are suing for more than $9 million each, making the lawsuit come to more than $20 million.

All three players were dropped from the UO Ducks basketball team and suspended from school after a rape investigation into an incident at an off-campus party involving them and a young woman who accused the players of raping her. 

Then-district attorney Alex Gardner didn't file charges, citing among his reasons that the 18-year-old woman who alleged she had been raped by the three players, was not so drunk that she “appeared to have been affected to the point of perception or memory impairment.” Or as EW put in in a 2014 story, "In other words: She wasn’t drunk enough." 

The press release from Alex Spiro, Esq. Brafman & Associates, P.C. says only:

Today, we have filed suit against the University of Oregon. The school and its administration failed Mr. Artis and Mr. Dotson — two remarkable student athletes — and must be held responsible. 

The suit names  the University of Oregon as well as Director of Student Conduct & Community Standards Sandy Weintraub, Assistant Dean of Students Chicora Martin, Vice President for Student Life Robin Holmes and former president Michael R. Gottfredson as individuals.

Among its allegations, the suit alleges gender bias against the male students, writing that "there was an erroneous outcome from a flawed proceeding, in violation of Title IX." And that the UO, "in violation of Title IX, demonstrated a deliberate and systemic indifference to the rights of each of these Plaintiffs based exclusively upon their gender."

The suit specifically alleges that 

The University created an environment in which each of these Plaintiffs, as an accused male student was so fundamentally denied due process as to be presumed guilty and thereby assured a finding of guilt.

 Such a biased and one-sided process deprived each of these Plaintiffs, as a male student, of educational opportunities based exclusively upon their gender.

The University conducted its “investigation” and subsequent hearing in a manner that was biased against these accused, based exclusively upon their gender.

 From the outset, the investigation and hearing processes were slanted in favor of the female accuser, because of her gender. The University’s representatives, including its president, accepted her statements at face value despite the prosecutor’s statements, and granted the female accuser the presumption of truth because she is female.

The suit alleges the university is at fault for the player failing to play at Division I schools and diminishing their chances to play professionally in the NBA. A 2014 complaint by former Eugene City Councilor, current men's rights advocate and one-time member of the Communist Party of Oregon Kevin Hornbuckle also made Title IX allegations about the case.

The suit seeks "economic damages in the form of lost income, and seeks at least $9 million for economic damages; and has sustained and will continue to sustain noneconomic damages, and seeks $1.5 million in noneconomic damages" for each of the two players. As well as attorney's fees.

The young woman who alleged rape  settled her lawsuit against the school for $800,000 and four years' paid tuition as well as promise of changes in how the school assesses transfer students.

Earlier today senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkeley issued a press release in which they praised the leaders of the Pac-12 Conference for responding quickly to their request to "consider several possible reforms, including one which would make transfer student athletes ineligible to enroll in a Pac-12 school if they’d been dismissed from a previous school for serious misconduct violations."

The young woman's suit had said that "Altman and other staff at Oregon's flagship public university recruited Austin despite knowing he previously had been suspended from Providence College in Rhode Island for allegations of sexual misconduct in 2013," Reuters reported.

The filing by Dotson and Artis' attorneys that was submitted in Lane County Circuit Court is below.

March 11, 2016 05:28 PM

The Western Environmental Law Center reports that conservation groups that have been battling the Jordan Cove Energy Project, a liquefied natural gas pipeline and terminal had a major win on Friday, March 11.

WELC says in its email blast that 

decision on Friday from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has dealt a major blow to a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline and export terminal project in southern Oregon.

WELC says the fight is not over, writing:

The proposed pipeline would bring fracked gas from the intermountain West to the Oregon coast where it would be processed and sent via ships to Asian gas markets. The 200+ mile pipeline would clear cut a straight corridor at least 50-feet wide across rivers and through national forests, impacting riparian reserves, old-growth forests, and recreational trails (including a crossing of the Pacific Crest Trail).

Endangered fish species such as Chinook salmon, coho salmon, chum salmon, steelhead, coastal cutthroat trout, pacific and river lamprey, and green sturgeon would all be impacted. In addition, the project, if built, would be the largest greenhouse gas emitting facility in Oregon.

We are thrilled that FERC has denied the project's applications, but the fight is not over yet. The company behind the LNG project could still challenge FERC's decision in court. We will monitor the situation closely going forward and will be prepared to take action in the future if necessary.

According to FERC:

The Commission orders:

            (A)      In Docket No. CP13-492-000, Pacific Connector’s request for a certificate of public convenience and necessity under section 7(c) of the NGA to construct and operate an approximately 232-mile-long, 36-inch-diameter pipeline is denied. 

            (B)       In Docket No. CP13-483-000, Jordan Cove’s request for authorization under section 3 of the NGA to site, construct, and operate its LNG terminal in Coos Bay County, Oregon is denied.

The Oregonian reports that "Friday's rejection came with a caveat: The two companies are free to reapply in the future and the commission would consider their plans if they can demonstrate 'a market need' for their product."

Check out some history on the project here, via a 2010 EW feature story on the issue, "Make Love, Not Gas."

February 23, 2016 12:47 PM

The Oregon State Legislature is considering a bill this week that, according to Congressman Peter DeFazio, would "would ratify the flawed decision by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission to remove the gray wolf from Oregon’s endangered species list and block judicial review of their decision."

DeFazio send a letter to the Oregon State Senate Democrats "blasting" the bill, HB 4040 according to a Feb. 22 press release. He writes that "the actions that Oregon has taken, particularly the consideration of HB 4040, directly undermine my efforts at the federal level."

He writes, "I am currently fighting to maintain protections for the gray wolf at the federal level in response to increased political attacks and pressure to remove the wolf from the federal ES [endangered species list]."

The congressman is concerned with a lack of judical review that the bill is calling for. "In addition to having concems with legislation that would ratify the Oregon Department of Fish and wildlife's (Department) flawed recommendation to remove the gray wolf from the state ESA, HB 4040 also preempts judicial review of the decision, an extreme precedent-setting measure that should not be taken lightly."

DeFazio takes issue with the lack of an independent peer review process:

"The Department’s recommendation to delist the gray wolf was premature and not subject to an independent peer-review process as required by state law. Through my extensive experience with federal wolf delisting efforts, I know it is critically important that wildlife management, especially management of an iconic predator species like the gray wolf, is based upon sound scientific findings and analysis. The Department’s decision not to open their findings to a rigorous scientific review is both alarming and telling, especially since the pending federal proposal to delist the gray wolf has been mired in a near identical controversy over the science used to justify the delisting in addition to concerns over the improper influence by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the composition of the independent peer-review panel."

DeFazio is not the only one concerned about the way the bill and the wolf delisting has come to pass. Rob Klavins of conservation group Oregon Wild writes of the bill, "We're concerned about the merits of the bill as well as the clear intent/effect to sidestep the public's right to independent review of the decision."

Oregon Wild is one of three environmental organizations that "have requested a review of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission’s controversial 4-2 decision to delist wolves in November, 2015." The basis of the challenge is that the decision did not follow Oregon state law.

In a memo alleging disinformation on the bill in the Legislature, Oregon Wild writes, "HB 4040-A would be to sidestep the public’s right to hold a government agency (ODFW) accountable to its own laws."

DeFazio is also concerned with the public input that could be lost. In his letter to the Legislature he says, "The extensive stakeholder outreach and collaborative approach used by the state to develop Oregon's Wolf Management Plan, which is currently up for review this year, have made Oregon the model for wolf conservation in the nation." 

The congressman concludes, “Decisions on whether to remove a species from the state ESA should not be taken lightly or used as a political bargaining chip. At the very least you should be sure that the Department’s recommendation to delist the wolf is legally and scientifically sound.”

According to Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands, another conservation group working on wolf issues, a Senate committee will vote on the bill today after which it would pass to the full Oregon Senate.

February 23, 2016 07:12 PM

Ninkasi brewery's fine for a stormwater violation made the news in the RG and on KVAL this week, but Nikos Ridge, the popular beer maker's CEO is looking to turn that fine into a way to support clean water work in the community.

Ninkasi has long supported clean water efforts with special brews supporting clean water efforts in the watershed. Its 2014 Conservationale supported the work of the conservation group McKenzie River Trust.  

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a $6,777 civil penalty to Ninkasi Holding Company for stormwater discharge monitoring violations. The DEQ sent a letter to the brewery Feb. 9 and then announced it in a press release Feb. 22. 

Under Oregon law, 80 percent of that fine can be used for environmental work, so rather than appeal the fine, Ridge says the brewery is filling out an application to "support the low impact development stormwater interception (bio swales, rain gardens) work that the Long Tom Watershed Council is doing."

The DEQ letter said the fine was for "for failing to monitor your stormwater discharge for benchmark levels of acidity (pH levels), total suspended solids, oil and grease, copper, lead and zinc, as well as impairment pollutant levels (including arsenic and iron)."

The violations took place between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015 at a Whiteaker-area property Ridge told the RG the company uses for storage, not brewing.

According to KVAL Ridge said of the violations:

"We forgot to submit the paperwork for a year," he said. "Now we have a third-party company to monitor that for us so it shouldn't be an issue going forward."

Ridge said the penalty is administrative. The company neglected to file reports on time, but nothing harmful is in the stormwater leaving the property.

"The issue is we didn't submit the paperwork that we are required to under the permit because we forgot about it," he said.

Ridge tells EW "We have to fill out an application to have the project accepted, but we are excited that the money can go to an organization that we have had a great relationship with here in the area."

Ninkasi has donated money in the past to the Long Tom Watershed Council's conservation efforts and also donated through it's Pints for a Cause evenings that give a percentage of a night's beer sales to nonprofit groups.