Bill Moyers talks about dollars vs. democracy and how the disfunction in Congress has been orchestrated.
Apparently coal company execs and public relations flacks crack up over climate change. Posting on the desmogblog, Mike Stark of FossilAgenda writes of an interaction he recorded at a September coal conference in Pittsburgh. Lauri Hennessey does PR for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports (which Stark calls "a front group for coal mining and rail corporations that would profit from the export of Powder River Basin coal").
Hennessy was on a panel called "Moving Coal from Coast to Coast — Domestic Infrastructure Challenges for Rail, River, and Ports" in which Stark says she "repeatedly called the citizens of Oregon and Washington 'weird' and 'strange.'" Stark approached Matthew Ferguson, Arch Coal's senior vice president for thermal coal marketing for an interview. But before the interview, Ferguson chatted with Hennessey. Stark recorded the conversation. You can read the transcript here or listing below, but here's what Hennessy and Ferguson said:
Matt Ferguson: Your comment on the civil unrest was quite funny.
Lauri Hennessey: Oh wasn’t it? Yeah, I got, I got hassled.
Matt Ferguson: Yeah, it’s like, let’s be adults here.
Lauri Hennessey: That was a project like a year ago, and, I think it was my second week on the job. So, I grew up in the Northwest, and I don’t know if you saw, I used to work for EPA a long time ago?
Matt Ferguson: Did you? [laughter]
Lauri Hennessey: Yeah. [inaudible] So I have - and I also worked for Bob Packwood on the Hill - so I have both sides. But we’re connected.
I worked with EPA, and I pull that out in the right crowds, because in the Northwest, that's a good thing, right? But it's funny because I never really went out of my way to mention it to our Alliance board before. And one day I was quoted in the paper, because again I was speaking to the audience in Seattle, and I was like, "Well of course we're concerned about climate change. Everyone's concerned about climate change. But what we're saying is this is not going to contribute to climate change."
But someone from Peabody got on a call, it was my second week on the job, and said, "You were quoted saying coal’s worried about climate change? We don't believe in climate change!” And I remember I was on the phone and I was like, "I can't say that..ha. I can't say that in Seattle!"
Matt Ferguson: Not worried about it!
Arch Coal rep 2: You can say that in St. Louis, but you can't say that in Seattle.
Matt Ferguson: Yeah. It’s not gonna happen.
Lauri Hennessey: Yeah, I can’t say it in Seattle, and I remember she just goes, "Wow, we really have different regions, do we?!"
Matt Ferguson: I think what you do is say, you're trying to help people out of poverty in the Far East. Yeah.
Lauri Hennessey: Exactly! And I did that.
Matt Ferguson: Do they not deserve to enjoy prosperity? Like we have? Don't be so selfish, you jerks! [laughter]
According to Hennesey's old bio on her former Hennessey PR webpage (courtsey of the Wayback Machine) before she worked for Big Coal, Hennessey "began her career in the newsroom at KIRO radio twenty years ago. In the years after that, she worked as a press secretary in Washington, D.C. for two Northwest Members of Congress, ran a large public affairs office for a Northwest federal land management agency, and worked as a special assistant for the regional head of the Environmental Protection Agency."
One of the Northwest members of Congress was Bob Packwood, who stepped down after a sexual harrassment scandal. Her bio goes on to say ""Director of Public Affairs for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Oregon and Washington, Lauri worked closely on issues involving forestry, salmon, growth management, tourism, and much more. She supervised a large staff, and was directly responsible for Congressional relations, and was the lead spokesperson for the agency in the Northwest. She was also loaned to the office that implemented the Northwest Forest Plan, then President Clinton's attempt to end long-running debates over Northwest forests, and worked with the White House on message development, organized press conferences, and worked with local governments. At the EPA, Lauri worked with the Regional Administrator, and worked closely with the public on his behalf."
Stark writes of the conversation he recorded, "They also seemed to talk as if they are a separate species from the people who happen to live in the path of their planned rail and port terminal expansions, mocking those who are asking reasonable questions about the impacts of exporting America's coal to Asia. They clearly regard with contempt the majority of Americans concerned about climate change."
Mayor Kitty Piercy welcomes residents to Opportunity Village, gives kudos to those who helped make it happen, and talks about the need to do more.
Fears of a zombie apocalypse (or the government equivalent coming to get you) are driving bullet sales nationwide. Better stock up.
Canadian Nicole Foss and New Zealander Laurence Boombert will be speaking on "Facing the Future" at 7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 9, at First Congregational Church, 4515 SW West Hills Road in Corvallis. They will also speak in Portland at 7 pm Oct. 10 at TaborSpace, 5441 SE Belmont.
Seeds of Death is a new documentary looking at Monsanto's environmental record and claims about safety of genetically modified organisms. The big "March Above and Beyond Monsanto for Food Freedom" is coming up at 11 am Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza, Oak and 8th in Eugene.
Behavior Castle presents Peach Kelli Pop's Kids Only show live at Paper Moon Photo Studio
Bill Maher talks about Jerry Brown and California's lack of Tea Party influence, serving as hope for a nation dragged down by outdated conservative thinking. "We don't give a shit about the NRA," says Maher.
Nathan Schneider is author of the just-released book Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse. He was the first reporter to cover the planning meetings that led to Occupy Wall Street and wrote about it for Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, and The New York Times. Here is a quote from his new essay "The Government Shutdown — an Anarchist Dream?"
In his complaints against the wing of the Republican Party that engineered the present government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid derided his opponents as “Tea Party anarchists.” It’s hard to decide who should be more annoyed — the Tea Party or the anarchists. In any case, Reid’s remark is revealing of how the long tradition of anarchist philosophy has been thrown under the bus of U.S. political discourse, then rolled over, then dragged along in mangled form so as to be pointed at when doing so seems expedient.
Many may be surprised, for example, that actual anarchists aren’t necessarily rejoicing over the U.S. government’s latest form of self-annihilation. What they see taking place is a transfer of power from one kind of oppression, by a government that at least pretends to be democratic, to another that has no such pretensions. They point out that the shutdown won’t stop the NSA from spying on us, or police from enforcing laws in discriminatory ways, or migrant workers and nonviolent drug users from being imprisoned at staggering rates. The parts of government that the shutdown strips away are among those that bring us closer to being a truly free, egalitarian society: food assistance to ensure that everyone can eat, health care that more people can afford, and even public parks, where some of our greatest natural treasures are held in common. Meanwhile, ever more power is being handed over to corporations that are responsible only to their wealthiest shareholders.
Historically, the so-called libertarians of the Tea Party and anarchists have common roots. The origins of both can be traced to certain freedom-seeking strands of the Enlightenment — including thinkers like Edmund Burke and Thomas Jefferson, as well as ones not normally taught in U.S. classrooms like William Godwin and Peter Kropotkin. It’s an oddity that in the U.S., the main current of libertarian thought has been twisted and inverted into a kind of monstrous stepchild. Rather than seeking an end to all forms of oppression, our libertarians want to do away with only the government kind, leaving the rest of us vulnerable to the forces of corporate greed, racial discrimination, and environmental destruction. The legacy of one firebrand Russian émigré, Emma Goldman, has been traded for that of another, Ayn Rand. The result is that, in this country, what was once the mainstream of libertarian thought — socialist, democratic anarchism — has become so forgotten that the word “anarchist” can be mishandled for the sake of a congressional jab.
This quote is courtesy of the Institute for Public Accuracy, www.accuracy.org
In a recent article entitled "Reputation For Rent" Nigel Jaquiss of Willamette Week writes about how Dave Frohnmayer, former Oregon attorney general and former UO School of Law Dean and UO president for 15 years, provided paid testimony for Big Tobacco against the state of Oregon.
… major tobacco companies challenged the state of Oregon’s right to continue receiving payments under a massive tobacco industry settlement.
And the star witness and paid expert for Big Tobacco against the state of Oregon: Dave Frohnmayer.
In April, Frohnmayer appeared as an expert witness on behalf of the tobacco companies in front of a closed-door arbitration panel in Chicago. The Oregon Department of Justice released Frohnmayer’s testimony to WW in response to a public records request.
In an interview, Frohnmayer tells WW he simply provided what he says was unbiased, objective testimony. And he says he would have provided the same testimony had he instead been hired by the state of Oregon or called by the three-judge panel as an independent witness.
But neither of those things happened; instead, Frohnmayer appeared as a paid witness for tobacco firms trying to get out of making payments to the state of Oregon under the tobacco settlement reached more than a decade ago.
Frohnmayer’s testimony reinforced the tobacco companies’ claims against the state.
Frohnmayer says his testimony for the tobacco companies was squarely in the public’s interest, because his contention was that the state could have enforced the settlement more aggressively against smaller tobacco companies.
“I testified that the powers of the Oregon attorney general are expansive,” Frohnmayer says. “That’s totally consistent with my public service from the day I entered the Legislature.”
The article, which can and should be be read in full here, goes on to say that "Frohnmayer now works for the Eugene law firm of Harrang Long Gary Rudnick, which has represented Philip Morris in the past. He bills as much as $550 an hour (but declined to say how much tobacco companies paid him to testify). In addition, he gets a $257,000 annual pension from the Public Employees Retirement System and $101,000 a year as a part-time law professor at UO. (Harrang Long is also UO’s law firm, billing $647,000 since March 2012.)"
UO Matters reports that Frohnmayer is being paid $50,000 to teach a course in the UO Honors College.
Frohnmayer's law firm represents the UO in negotiations with the United Academics union on campus. UO Matters also looked into how much that was costing the school, writing, "It looks like the administration is paying about $100K a month to outside lawyers and consultants to do the bargaining with the faculty union."
Lane County has released a redacted version of the the report prepared by USO Investigations of former Lane County Administrator Liane Richardson.
Initially public records request by EW and others were denied while the Marion County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the issue and considered potential criminal charges. No charges were filed. Lane County signed an agreement with Richardson saying no lawsuits would be filed, by either side, or charges filed by the county.
The report is below. According to Lane County, was redacted "by county counsel to ensure the confidentiality of employees interviewed."
The county said in a press release that the "key findings of the report" are:
- Richardson was sold amounts of TM in excess of the policy for non-represented employees. The July 26th, 2013 pay stub shows she was paid for 225.17 hours of TM so far this year that amounts to $16493.67. The amount she was entitled to was 80 hours under the APM Chapter 3
- Richardson was untruthful in the email to Lane County Commissioners that she just became aware she had exceeded the limit on July 22nd, 2013. She was aware of it June 20th, 2013 in an email where she was asked if she wanted to keep selling her TM since she had increased the 200 hour limit. Her response to that email was “Go ahead and keep doing the sales. Thanks!”
- Richardson used her position to go beyond the APM limits to sell her time management to help her increase her salary and was planning to do the same in the 2013-14 budget with an increased amount. During this investigation, she made untruthful statements about this.
Before you download it, note that when the county says "redacted" it means large swaths of the report are blacked out. It looks like this for many pages:
So there might be a strike of the UO classified staff starting Sept. 30 — the classified staff at Oregon's seven universities has voted in favor of a strike.
According to an email from the UO's union for teaching staff — United Academics of the University of Oregon (UAUO):
For several years, a group of more than 1,500 workers at the UO--including office staff, librarians, computer techs, custodians, housing employees, engineers, nurses, maintenance workers and many others--have been forced to make tremendous economic sacrifices. The UO could not function without these employees--they feed our students, keep our IT system up and our libraries running; they pay our bills, run our offices, and ensure our workplaces are safe, clean and functional. Yet a large number barely make enough to pay their monthly bills.
They've had to accept pay freezes, unpaid furlough days, and shell out even more for their health insurance in order to help the seven campus Oregon University System (OUS) balance its budget. During the recent budget crisis, they were the only campus workers forced to take sizable pay cuts. They have fallen so far behind that more than one quarter of full-time classified workers at the UO meet the threshold for food stamp eligibility for a family of four.
Now, the OUS is demanding further concessions--drastic changes to the basic system of pay increases, limited cost of living increases, refusing to provide insurance equity for domestic partners, and rejecting proposals for controlling administrative waste.
Full disclosure, I'm an adjunct instructor at the UO, so I started wondering what that means for teaching courses. The United Academics have anticipated that worry and send out some information for instructors and faculty in the event of a strike.
The UAUO says that while students can honor the strike, faculty cannot, under Oregon law.
CAN FACULTY REFUSE TO WORK DURING A STRIKE?
NO. “Sympathy strikes” are forbidden by state law. According to Oregon state law, public employees who are not in the bargaining unit on strike and who refuse to cross the picket line are engaging in a "prohibited strike." (ORS 243.732 & ORS 243.726). That is, it is against the law to refuse to work if your bargaining unit is not on strike. If faculty or GTFs went on strike, this same prohibition would apply to classified workers. This prohibition would apply regardless of whether faculty had elected to form a union or were covered by a contract.
UAUO suggests faculty can discuss the strike with classes if it pertains to the subject matter of the course, join picket lines and support the strike fund, among other things. The unions says faculty are not required to sanction students who refuse to cross the picket line.
ARE FACULTY MEMBERS REQUIRED TO SANCTION STUDENTS WHO REFUSE TO CROSS THE PICKET LINE?
NO. The president of the ASUO, Sam Dotters-Katz, has called for a student walkout on September 30 and has urged fellow students to avoid crossing the picket line as possible. Many students may not show up to class, or will request alternative assignments from faculty so that they do not have to cross the picket line. Faculty retain the same discretion as always to respond to students requesting accommodations for missing class. For example, when the UO football team participated in the national championship game during the first week of classes in the winter term in 2011, the Provost emailed all faculty requesting that they make accommodations for students who would miss class because they were attending the game. Faculty have the same discretion during this time.
Get the full document from UAUO here.
Strike (or lack of one) update:
OUS student services workers settle agreement, averting strike
After a long and often contentious eight-month bargaining period, students services workers (non-teaching campus workers like librarians, lab techs, administrative assistants and custodians) and Oregon University System bargaining teams reached a tentative agreement at 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 26.
In light of the agreement, workers have stepped down from a strike that would have taken place system-wide on the first day of classes.
According to Marc Nisenfeld, a development engineer at Portland State University and chair of the SEIU 503 bargaining team, student services workers were simply looking for a fair deal after five years of wage freezes. "The economy has turned around, and people are moving forward. Administrators are moving forward. Goodness knows the Duck’s locker room is moving forward. All we ask is that we don’t fall further behind,” said Nisenfeld.
At the center of negotiations had been the issue of the "step system." Classified student services workers are hired at an artificially low rate of pay, and put on a “step system” that they follow for the first nine years of their career, at which point they reach the market rate for their work.
Management had proposed doubling the period of time to reach the top of the scale to eighteen years. This agreement maintains the system at nine years.
The agreement also allows for very modest cost-of-living adjustments--1.5% and 2%--to take place toward the end of 2013 and 2014, respectively.
According to Nisenfeld, "Our goal throughout this process hasn't been to strike--no one wants to strike. Our goal has been to achieve a settlement that moves our members toward economic security and improves our campus communities. We believe this agreement achieves that."
The tentative agreement will now move to the 4,332 student services workers represented by SEIU 503 for a vote.