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September 13, 2016 10:37 AM

The Obama Administration's statement on Standing Rock, issued Sept. 9, shortly after a federal judge ruled progress on the Dakota Access oil pipeline could proceed, is worth a read in its entirety. From stopping construction, to acknowledging the peaceful protests and First Amendment rights, to recognizing there needs to be "nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure project," this is impressive.

Joint Statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior Regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior issued the following statement regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

“We appreciate the District Court’s opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act.  However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain.  Therefore, the Department of the Army, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior will take the following steps.

The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws.  Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time.  The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution.  In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.

“Furthermore, this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.  Therefore, this fall, we will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on two questions:  (1) within the existing statutory framework, what should the federal government do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights; and (2) should new legislation be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals.

“Finally, we fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely.  We urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence.  Of course, anyone who commits violent or destructive acts may face criminal sanctions from federal, tribal, state, or local authorities.  The Departments of Justice and the Interior will continue to deploy resources to North Dakota to help state, local, and tribal authorities, and the communities they serve, better communicate, defuse tensions, support peaceful protest, and maintain public safety.

“In recent days, we have seen thousands of demonstrators come together peacefully, with support from scores of sovereign tribal governments, to exercise their First Amendment rights and to voice heartfelt concerns about the environment and historic, sacred sites.  It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.”

September 2, 2016 09:53 AM

Photo by Amber Hogan

Photo by Amber Hogan

Serena Markstrom talks to the press after being fired by The Register-Guard in 2014.

In the wake of Serena Markstrom Nugent's civil lawsuit against The Register-Guard for firing her after she checked emails while on pregnancy disability leave, it appears that the R-G might be considering cutting some employees that were involved in the case.

EW has heard from several credible sources that Eugene Newspaper Guild union co-president Randi Bjornstad and programmers Joe Clark and Horst Lueck, both in information systems, have been placed on administrative leave. 

Bjornstad in her position as union president supported Markstrom Nugent and gave her advice on deleting emails and other issues and testified during the trial.

According to court documents, when Markstrom Nugent was unable to access her email from home while on leave, Clark reset her usename and password. In her email to Clark Markstrom Nugent said she wanted to save emails for "personal reflection" on her career.

Also in the court documents, Markstrom Nugent refers to getting advice from Lueck on exporting her email account.

Markstrom Nugent, a longtime R-G entertainment reporter was suddenly switched to a hard news beat in 2012. In previous interviews she told EW that three weeks after announcing she was pregnant, she was told she needed coaching on her writing. The R-G then set up a performance improvement plan, a tactic that has been used by other news agencies to try to get rid of older journalists. 

Markstrom Nugent filed a lawsuit in August 2015 and according to her complaint, editor Ilene 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.” 

Markstrom Nugent was seeking $125,000 in non-economic losses as well as back pay from day she was fired, March 24, 2014, until Aug. 23.

If employees are fired, this won't be the first time the R-G has severed relationships with those who supported Markstrom Nugent. When was fired, former R-G arts writer Bob Keefer rounded up support for a well-wishing for the pregnant journalist. Keefer, who now runs a popular art blog, Eugene Art Talk, was freelancing for the R-G. He was told "We won't be needing your freelance services anymore.” 

A jury heard arguments in Lane County Circuit Court for six days starting Aug. 23, however Judge Josephine Mooney dismissed the case on Aug. 31 based on Markstrom Nugent having deleted emails, which Mooney called destruction of evidence.

Wendy Baker, the R-G's human resouces director and an attorney told the paper that "“Some will say the case was dismissed on a technicality."

In the newspaper's first story on the lawsuit it misspelled the judge's name as Moody. The error has since been fixed online. 

EW asked Baker for comment and confirmation on Bjornstad, Lueck and Clark's administrative leave as well as comment on the lawsuit. She declined to comment.

 

Update: As noted in previous coverage, Editor Camilla Mortensen and Markstrom Nugent hang out sometimes and are even friends. 

August 30, 2016 01:57 PM

The Lane County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 today, Aug. 30, to call a six-month halt on its efforts to change its initiative petition process, Commissioner Pete Sorenson tells EW

The iniative petition process allows the public to collect signatures and get measures on the ballots, such as efforts to ban aerial sprays of pesticides or genetically modified crops. 

Back in June, the Lane County Commission began to mill over giving itself  the authority to block any countywide ballot measures that it decided was not  “of county concern,” before they go to voters or the courts. The proposal was at the behest of conservative local political activist Dennis Morgan. Commissioners Jay Bozievich and Faye Stewart spoke of the effort to block public initiatives as cost saving.

In a media release, Sorenson, who was against the effort to block iniative petitons, writes that in response to his repeated requests to stop work on ordinances to change the initiative petition process, the board agreed today to cease work on the process. He says, “Although this is temporary, it looks like the board decided that this change right now isn’t going to be a good idea. To me, this has always been about — in basketball terms — changing the height of the basket in the middle of a basketball game.”

Ann Kneeland, attorney with Community Rights Lane County, which has been vigorously fighting the board's efforts to block the initiative petitions, noted previously that an ironic aspect of the proposed ordinance is that the county commission is targeting Community Rights initiatives that seek to create greater legal authority for citizens to protect themselves from corporate harms.

Sorenson continues, "I’ll be on the alert for any further proposals to interfere with the rights of Lane County residents to change their laws by initiative petition."

The media release notes that, "This is a rare win for Sorenson, a progressive, who is frequently at odds with the conservative board majority."

Update:

Kneeland tells EW:

I would like to commend the Lane County Commissioners for unanimously voting on the side of the people of Lane County instead of for corporate interests. There is more at issue here than the popularity, costs, or even constitutionality of individual initiatives. Rather, our rights to direct democracy and free speech are at stake, including our right to circulate petitions, engage in political discourse, and vote on proposed laws. No government official should have the power to obstruct these core democratic activities.

 I believe our community will remain vigilant to protect the People's initiative and referendum powers from any further assault from corporate interests.

August 24, 2016 03:29 PM

Arguments in former Register-Guard entertainment reporter Serena Markstrom-Nugent's case against the R-G began in court yesterday, Aug. 22. You can read the KLCC story and the R-G's own fairly neutral coverage on their websites.

Markstrom Nugent was fired not long after telling the daily paper she was pregnant. News stories about her dismissal while on pregnancy disability leave were picked up across the country from Editor & Publisher to Salon.com and more including a lot of tweets. You can read EW's coverage here.  Markstrom Nugent announced her lawsuit in 2015.

Friends of Markstrom-Nugent have created a T-shirt to give her emotional support during the trial. It reads: I read what SHE WRITES (pregnant pause) Team Markstrom.  

The shirt is for sale via teespring.com for $22.99. Benefits from sales will go to local nonprofit Womenspace.

August 18, 2016 05:11 PM

 

The Civil Liberties Defense Center is hosting a Know Your Rights information booth at Kesey Square today, Thursday, Aug. 18, 7:30 pm-9 pm at Kesey Square (10th & Broadway).

The Eugene Police Department recently increased its presence downtown with its Community OutReach Team (CORT). EPD says in its press release that "Trespass, drug and alcohol use, drug sales, prostitution, robbery and serious assaults typically increase in the downtown area during the spring and summer, as the weather improves."

EPD says the downtown effort seeks to "identify the people who most frequently end up with citations or arrests, assess the factors that may contribute the most strongly to this, and then find the people and offer them services to address their most critical needs." But EW has received calls from people concerned or threatened by the inreased presesnce of law enforcement.

Attorney Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center announced todat the the CLDC will "be hosting a Know Your Rights information booth at Kesey Square to empower everyone in the Eugene community to know their rights when interacting with the police. Advice on constitutional rights, such as the right to assemble in public places like Kesey Square, sidewalks and public parks will be emphasized as well as basic instruction on how to 'Copwatch,' or video record law enforcement."

The CLDC release continues:

The increased presence of the Eugene Police Department has made many in the community feel less welcome and afraid to be downtown. The EPD has been observed hassling the unhoused during their “outreach” efforts downtown

“Everyone in the United States has the same constitutional rights, whether you are a traveler or a shopper. Class discrimination is unconstitutional and unethical. Our community must deal with the lack of services and support for poor and disabled individuals instead of using cops to push these individuals out of sight.” Explained Lauren Regan, Executive Director and Attorney at the Civil Liberties Defense Center said on Thursday.   “Placing a booth full of cops in the midst of a highly used public forum is chilling to those who wish to exercise their right to free speech and assembly. If we do not stand up for the rights of marginalized people with less power, we will all eventually suffer from the erosion of those rights,” she said.

The CLDC will also be handing out “Know Your Rights “ brochures, Gatorade, ice water and snacks to help those without access to air conditioning to help beat todays heat as well. Some people could use a reminder about humanity it seems.

August 5, 2016 05:01 PM

"The ultimate con artist," "The master of impersonations." In Eugene?

Eugene’s Downtown Athletic Club recently severed its relationship with its general manager Carlo DiMaria. According to an email sent to DAC members on Aug. 2 from DAC owner Rob Bennett, “We were made aware that Carlo intentionally misstated experience on his resume.”

However David Markland, an L.A.-based event producer, says he has reason to believe that Carlo DiMaria didn’t just intentionally misstate his experience. Markland alleges that DiMaria is longtime confidence man Fred Brito.

The man known as Fred Brito has a history of cons dating back to the mid ’80s, according to a timeline Markland maintains on his blog, “The Lies of Fred Brito.” Prior to that Brito, “bounced in and out of prison … by the mid-80′s he had shifted to inventing and assuming identities,” a 2005 LA Times article says.

Brito, as he is mainly known despite a litany of assumed names, was the subject of a 2007 NBC Dateline special, “The Ultimate Con Artist” detailing his history of cons from working as a court-appointed psychiatrist to high-profile fundraiser and even a Catholic priest who married couples and performed baptisms. One of the couples faced off with “Father Fred” on a 2007 episode of Dr. Phil after discussing how it felt to be married by someone who was not an ordained clergy member.

Markland says he is troubled by the fact many of Brito’s former employers don’t pursue cases against the fraudster, possibly because they are embarrassed at hiring a conman — even one who has fooled the UCLA medical center and state officials — or because Brito uses his gift for gab to convince people he would have a lawsuit if he was exposed.

Ironically, according to Dateline, Brito is a pretty likeable guy. Those whom he had conned say that he has a “good heart” and his homilies as a priest were “great.” In fact, when the DAC parted ways with DiMaria, the athletic club wrote, “While he has some done some positive things during his short tenure at the DAC, providing false information is not acceptable, and we are unable to move forward in our relationship.”

It’s not illegal to lie on your resume, though lying about credentials can lead to liability issues for employers and can of course lead to the employee’s work relationship being terminated. Eugene police says there is no record of an arrest or charges filed against either a Carlo DiMaria or a Fred Brito.

An anonymous source who contacted EW alleges that DiMaria is Fred Brito and that his approximately three-month tenure at the DAC led to the departure of several longtime employees. Markland’s source, cited on his blog, tells him that DiMaria “created such a hostile workplace that several of the tenured staff left in that time." A glance at the DAC’s staff roster on its website shows that between July 29 and Aug. 3 at least three employees working in membership are no longer listed.

EWhas called and emailed Bennett and Sarah Bennett, who are part of the DAC’s leadership, to confirm if they know if DiMaria is actually Fred Brito and has not heard back. The Bennetts' voicemails say they are out of town through Aug. 9. On the morning of Aug. 3, when EW began looking into the story, DiMaria was listed as the contact for the DAC on the Chamber of Commerce website, but by that evening his name had been removed.

Markland says he has been tracking Fred Brito ever since he began writing about him for the site Metroblogging L.A. more than 10 years ago, and people have been sending tips to his current “Lies” blog including Brito’s employment at an IHOP in Kansas City to a Beaverton, Oregon, Burgerville. According to the blog, Brito gets tripped up by disclosure of his past criminal history or the lies on his resume — according to Dateline, Brito was a five-time convicted felon by the time he was in his twenties.

Brito says in his Dateline interview that when he provides a reference, the number given forwards to Brito’s own number and he changes his voice and gives himself glowing recomendation.

A resume obtained by EW that Brito allegedly used to obtain his position at the DAC,  lists G. “Carlo” DiMaria as the applicant. It says he worked for “Southwest Hospitality Corporation” for about 30 years and says that the company was merged with Starwood Hotels in 2012. EW has contacted Starwood. The resume also says DiMaria served in the Marine Corps. According to the L.A. Times article, Brito enlisted in the Marines as Freddrick Esparza from 1973 to 1977, the same dates DiMaria provides on the resume.

Brito has claimed in interviews with the L.A. Times and in online videos (see below) that the fact he has a criminal record precludes him from getting second chances and leads to his fabricated resumes.

EWhas emailed and left phone messages for Brito, but has not had messages returned. 

Facebook photos from the Downtown Athletic Club appear to show Brito in the background, however DAC has yet to confirm if the athletic club hired the man known as Fred Brito, thinking they had hired G. Carlo DiMaria, a name Markland lists as among Brito’s many aliases. Brito has said in online postings that he has changed his name to Gomez DiMaria. EW's source says the man in the photos at the DAC is the man in the Dateline video, and says, "I knew 'Carlo' in Eugene and he is the same person who appears in the Dateline episode as Fred Brito." 

Markland says he is unable to confirm the identity from the Facebook photos.

Left: A man who is allegedly the conman Fred Brito at a DAC celebration for longtime employees in June. Right: Fred Brito from a Twitter profile image.

Markland lists Brito’s alias as including: G. "Carlo" diMaria, Giancarlo di Maria, Carlo di Maria, Freddrick Esparza, Father B. Gomez de Esparza, Father Federico Brito Gomez de Esparza, Federico Gomez de Maria, Freddrick Mark Brito, Federiqkoe DiBritto III, Father Fred Esparza, Fred Brito Gomez and Fred Gomez.

Brito has tried to parlay his conman career into seminars and public speaking gigs as can be seen in the video below, which also features the Dateline episode.

August 4, 2016 02:36 PM

After getting flak from all sides of the political spectrum for her neturality on Measure 97, formerly Initative Petition 28, Gov. Kate Brown officially endorsed the measure on Aug. 4.

The measure proposes a 2.5 percent tax on corporations with annual Oregon sales of more than $25 million. The revenue from that would go toward bolstering Oregon's underfunded school system as well as supporting senior services and health care.

From her campaign website:

I have spent my career fighting to make Oregon a place where everyone can thrive. I support Measure 97 because there is a basic unfairness in our tax system that makes working families pay an increasing share for state and local services, including public schools, senior services and health care. By some measures, Oregon is among the lowest in corporate taxes, and Oregonians expect everyone to pay their fair share.

Our state cannot move forward and meet Oregon's growing needs over the next decade without a more stable revenue base. Measure 97 is an important step forward, and I will make sure the funds the measure yields go towards schools, health care and seniors, as the voters expect.

Critics of Measure 97 say that there's no way to guarantee that the revenue generated by the proposed tax would actually be used for schools and other public services.

While the decision is ultimately up to the Oregon Legislature, having the governor on record promising to follow through on the intent of Measure 97 helps its credibility, and legislators have made similar promises on record.

However, someone ought to tell Oregon candidate for governor Bud Pierce that Brown has endorsed the measure — he still has a live clock running on his website counting the days until Brown takes a position on the business tax. He sent a letter to Brown last September urging her to come out against it. Now he has his answer.

In the same announcement, Brown endorsed five other ballot measures, including a measure to support outdoor schools with lottery funds and a measure that would allocate funds to bolster dropout prevention in high schools.

July 29, 2016 03:45 PM

Remember when Malheur occupation leader John Ritzheimer got all pissed off about all the dildos people were sending him and his fellow “patriots” who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in an armed occupation in early 2016? It seemed like men with guns couldn’t get any weirder.

They did. And the strangeness continues.

Back in April, Ryan Bundy got nailed for braiding his sheets into rope — just a rancher, practicing, he argued, — and hoarding boxer shorts and food. Given the Bundys forgot to pack enough underwear for their 41 day occupation, boxer hoarding is understandable.

Now Ryan Bundy, who is currently held at the Multnomah County Jail, has declared himself an “idiot” in court documents. Oregon Public Broadcasting calls his filings, which OPB uploaded,  “the latest in increasingly defiant and strange behavior from Bundy.”

Using a lot of lowercase letters, Bundy writes in a motion filed to U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown, “I, ryan c, man, am an idiot of the ‘Legal Society’; and; am an idiot (layman, outsider) of the ‘Bar Association’; and; i am incompetent; and; am not required by any law to be competent.”

Calling himself a member of the “bundy society” he defines man as “a sacred union between consciousness/spirit, flesh-bone blood and bio-electricity/energy created by that sound of which in the standard written English language is commonly translated as ‘God’ …”

A little further down, he writes, “I am neither “person”, nor “child”, nor “human being” as defined by Black’s Law Dictionary, the unholy bible of the Legal Society.”

Bundy also mixes in some bits from the Declaration of Independence and the Bible.

The long, strange document also claims his home state of Nevada and Oregon are not within the United States and are in fact  “sovereign union states” because the jurisdiction of the U.S. is limited to the “District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories and federal enclaves within the states.” He also writes the Malheur refuge is not under U.S. jurisdiction.

In other filings he asks for $1 million dollars in order to accept the “role” of “defendant” or “inmate,” and a million to be judge or bailiff.

Bundy is representing himself in the government’s conspiracy case against him and other occupiers. One of the occupiers, LaVoy Finicum was killed during the occupation's resolution. 

 

July 26, 2016 03:03 PM

We were deeply troubled today when we received the letter below detailing incidents of racism and homophobia towards our friends at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

As evidenced by this and the recent cancellation of the Festival of Eugene due to an incident of racism, it's becoming more and more apparent that these are not isloated incidents but evidence of an alarming national trend. 

An Open Letter to Our Community

"[I am] a fool who believes that death is waste and love is sweet and that the earth turns and men change every day and that rivers run and that people wanna be better than they are and that flowers smell good and that I hurt terribly today, and that hurt is desperation and desperation is energy and energy can move things."
-Lorraine Hansberry, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window

Dear Patrons, Supporters and Community Members,

"Inspired by Shakespeare's work and the cultural richness of the United States, we reveal our collective humanity through illuminating interpretations of new and classic plays, deepened by the kaleidoscope of rotating repertory."

This is our mission statement. Today, it feels woefully inadequate, not only in terms of describing what we should be doing as an organization, but also what we are doing. We cannot reveal our collective humanity without addressing the fact that the humanity of a majority of the human race is under attack. This threat is felt by people of color, by the LGBTQ+ community, by women, by people of various faiths, and—as the recent shootings in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and Dallas remind us—the law enforcement community can be perceived as both a source of violence and a target for it.

You may have heard by now about the racist verbal assault directed at one of our actors, and about a death threat leveled at another female company member of color only days later. As far too many people in our community have experienced, these are not isolated incidents—they are happening daily in Ashland, and all over our country. They are happening to our Box Office employees, who bear the brunt of racially-charged and homophobic complaints about our approach to casting and season selection. They are happening to our Education staff, who sometimes must weigh their own sense of safety and ability to do their job against their instinct to turn an ignorant comment into a teaching moment.

Social justice is central to our mission. Doing whatever we can to provide a safe and welcoming environment for our company and our patrons is also a central priority. To both those ends, we will not tolerate hate speech or other acts of racism and prejudice on our campus, and we will not be silent when such acts are committed beyond our campus.

We have been inspired by recent OSF company member-driven efforts to address oppression and violence—from enlisting theatres and artists nationwide in the Every 28 Hoursproject, to quickly organizing a community vigil in response to the mass shooting in Orlando, to flying the LGBTQ+ Pride and Black Lives Matter flags over campus and wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts in the Ashland Fourth of July Parade, to taking flowers to the Ashland Police Department after the tragedy in Dallas.

We express our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement not to say other lives matter less, but to acknowledge that our society does not treat Black lives as if they matter as much. “We are committed to collectively, lovingly and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension all people,” the Black Lives Matter website states among its Guiding Principles. “As we forge our path, we intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.”

We will continue partnering with other local and national organizations to bring about events like the community gathering on July 2 that packed the Historic Ashland Armory with people willing to try to unpack racism. We will work with the Ashland Police Department, the local business community and our tourism partners to address the bias that people of color encounter here regularly while driving, walking, shopping and dining.

We will continue to choose plays and cast them in ways that reflect the world we live in now, with pride and without apology. We will continue striving to bring greater diversity to our workforce and our audience. We will recognize that we have a long way to go to live up to our goals of equity, diversity, inclusion and justice, and that we don’t and won’t always get it right—but we will keep trying.

We hope you will join us.

Sincerely,

Artistic Director Bill Rauch
Executive Director Cynthia Rider
And the OSF Leadership Team

July 21, 2016 04:18 PM

Update: This email went out on July 22 from the Festival of  Eugene email account:

"Racism cannot be tolerated. The 2016 Festival of Eugene is canceled. Our sincere apologies for those hurt and affected."

***

Allegations of racism have arisen against Festival of Eugene organizer Krysta Albert. 

Many of the allegations center on a comment of "U r exactly why we call u people niggers" made to Jamie Clark on a Facebook thread belonging to Nancy Berge that has been screen captured.

Albert's Facebook page has been removed and the Festival of Eugene event page has comments from sponsors saying they are pulling their support.

In response to EW's request for comment, Albert writes:

The Festival has consulted an attorney and we are in the process of issuing a Press Release. Suffice to say these allegations are untrue.

The Festival of Eugene, ran by a dedicated team of volunteers, does not in the past, present nor future discriminate against anyone for any reason; neither race, color, creed, national origin, religious, sexual preference or orientation or political. Nor has it participated in racism, bigotry or any other type of discrimination or hate. The Festival is about celebrating diversity, social tolerance and inclusion of all. For those who have participated in this event in years past know this to be true.

Recent FaceBook posts have subjected our event to speculation and allegations. The recent posts are under review by FaceBook and our FaceBook administrators.

It is always good to keep in mind social media is fertile ground for drama and speculation. The Festival its' reputation to be based on its history, mission and good will to the community at large.  

Albert also posted on the Festival of Eugene page (a different page from the event page) saying she didn't write or endorse the comment.

Kelly Asay, publisher of the news website Eugene Daily News has weighed in in Albert's defense, writing that her Facebook page was hacked and Facebook is looking into it.

In response to Assay, the Facebook page Diverse Eugene writes,

"Regarding Eugene Daily News's statement that racism would be 'completely out of character' for Festival of Eugene organizer Krysta Albert, we offer this quote from the Register-Guard, May 4, 2016: Reader comment about Donald Trump's visit to Eugene. 'I, for one, and absolutely voting for this man! And I would love to hear him speak! -- Krysta Albert' We're not sure how Ms. Albert expressing avid support for a racist politician translates to 'racism would be completely out of character for Krysta Albert'."

Others have argued that Albert has made similar posts, including longtime Eugene activist Alley Valkyrie who is now in Portland. Valkyrie writes in a public post that "I blocked her after she made very similar racist comments as well as anti-homeless comments on the thread of a mutual friend."

In one Facebook message conversation Albert says it was photoshopped and elsewhere she has posted she was hacked.

July 13, 2016 02:59 PM

Here at Eugene Weekly, we want you to send us pictures of your pets. Cute? Check. Ugly-cute? Check check. Just plain ugly? Yes, please.

Decide which of the following categories fits your pet picture best:

Best action shot

Most fluffy

Cutest couple

Email office@eugeneweekly.com with your picture attached, and say in the subject line what your pet's name is and which category you're submitting to. The higher the resolution, the better your picture will show up in print. We're looking for file sizes 1 MB or larger, but if all you have is a flip phone camera picture, send it to us anyways. In order for your picture to qualify for the contest, please email it to us by July 22. There is no limit to how many pictures you can send. 

After an extremely scientific judging period, we'll publish the winning pictures in our July 28 Pets Issue. It's a win-win proposition: We get to look at cute animal pictures and your beloved pet gets his or her face splashed on the pages of Eugene Weekly for all to see. Ah, prestige. 

July 13, 2016 10:36 AM

Not enough smashing and grunting at the U.S. Olympic Trials? The Queensland Outback Barbarians are coming from Australia to Springfield top play the Eugene Stags Saturday, July 16.

Eugene, Cascades and Coast Sports Commission says:

"The Queensland Outback Barbarians wrap up a North American rugby tour in Springfield when they take on the Eugene Stags this Saturday. This international friendly match has been in the making for over two years. The Barbarians are completing an international tour here in Springfield and are coming off a recent 72-7 victory over the Calgary Canucks. The Stags are excited to test their skills against a high caliber team from a country with a strong rugby history. Attendees are encouraged to wear a jersey of any sort to the match.”

The rugby match takes place 1 pm, Saturday at Agnes Stewart Middle School (South 32nd Street in Springfield). The cost is FREE and a post match social will be hosted at Docs Pad located at 710 Willamette Street in Eugene.

Eugene, Cascades and Coast says, “The Eugene Stags are a Division III rugby club that competes against teams from Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The Stags have been very competitive and completed last season with a top 3 finish in their division.”

July 12, 2016 05:02 PM

 

Eugene homeowners may see a 7.5 percent increase in their monthly storm water fee starting Aug. 1 and as much as a 27.5 percent increase over the next six years, after the Eugene City Council took a step in that direction at its July 11 meeting.

The motion is an emergency measure to help boost the city’s stormwater reserve funds, which have reached a dangerously low level. Only two weeks of the program’s reserve budget are left.

The City Council’s 5-3 vote is not the final decision on the matter, but instead authorizes city staff to prepare a final resolution for a final vote on whether to increase the fee by 7.5 percent in the next year and an additional four percent each year for the next five years.

As of press time, the council had not yet decided to make the final vote at a work session on July 13 or postpone their vote until the July 25 council meeting. If the motion passes on July 13, Eugene homeowners will see their rates go up on Aug. 1. No public hearing is planned. Eugene homeowners already saw a 13 percent increase in their storm water fee between 2015 and 2015. Small homes currently pay a $8.90 monthly fee. The first year of the proposed fee increase (7.5 percent increase) would raise a small home’s stormwater fee to $9.57; the next five years of increases would raise it to $12.02.

“From 2012 to 2015, we had a deficit in the stormwater fund and we used all the reserves to hold down rate increases,” said councilman Alan Zelenka, who voted for the motion.

The stormwater reserve funds are depleted in part because, over the past 10 years, the city has pushed about $2.5 million in other city services onto the budget of the storm water reserve funds, city engineer Mark Schoening said. Two of those services are the city’s riverbank cleanup program and the street leaf pickup program.

City Councilor George Brown voted against the motion, saying he feels the city is “backfilling” programs like the riverbank cleanup program with money from other programs. He said the city’s Public Works Department paid $250,000 last year to clean up homeless camps along Amazon Creek and the Willamette River; the new fee increase will pay for that service.

July 8, 2016 05:44 PM

Hundreds of people convened on the University of Oregon campus Friday, July 8, to remember the black lives lost to police shootings in the past few days, including Alton Sterling of Louisiana and Philando Castile of Minnesota. 

Addressing a crowd gathered in the Erb Memorial Union amphitheater as rain gently fell on attendees, youth pastor Kim McGrew gave a moving speech that focused on action and implementing change in the face of great negativity.

“I need you to remain positive,” McGrew said. “There’s already enough negativity that’s going throughout the nation, and they don’t need to see it on the UO campus.”

McGrew spoke to a solemn, introspective audience as she urged people to act as agents of change. “One thing I want you to be reminded of is that we’re a melting pot,” McGrew said as she gestured around the amphitheater and encouraged people to look at their neighbors. “Every nationality is right here on the UO campus. You can see the world sitting right here, saying, ‘We stand for one. And we stand for all.’”

McGrew shared that she is from Dallas, Texas, and that she knew many of the officers shot the evening of July 7 at a rally in protest of police violence against black people, calling the deaths by sniper “another tragedy.”

In a call to action, McGrew asked people to no longer stay silent or hold their opinions to themselves. “Today, I set a new standard,” she said. “Defy the odds and step up.”

She called on the audience to act as leaders in the community to be a voice of reason, “regardless of the obstacles that may be against you. I need you to view this challenge as an opportunity.”

She condemned further violence and said that this is an opportunity to stand together instead of stand divided.

“Black lives matter,” McGrew said. “White lives matter. Brown lives matter. Everybody’s lives matter today because after last night, everyone can become a statistic. Everyone can be a victim of a senseless act.”

As she finished her speech, she prayed for the group present, for the community and for the nation as a whole, and silence descended on the amphitheater as the people present honored the lives lost to violence.

After that, student activist Nicole Dodier spoke to the crowd, saying, “The longer we continue to be silent about these issues, the more black bodies will be laid to rest. We march here today to be visible, to show the world that we are fed up.”

She said action must be taken to resolve police violence against the black community.

“As I scroll down social media, I see a lot of backlash about our movement, folks saying that all lives matter. However, what many people fail to realize is that all lives cannot matter until the black community matters,” Dodier said. “And we cannot fight these battles alone. We need our allies to speak up and get behind us in leading the change. I find these truths to be self evident that black lives matter.”

At this point, the crowd marched down 13th Avenue through campus, crying out, “Black lives matter!” and “united we stand, divided we fall” while carrying signs.

Members of the crowd held pictures of black citizens slain by police officers and placed them on Hamilton Hall lawn to memorialize them.

At the intersection of Agate and 13th, Black Student Union member Jessica Brown led more rallying cries, and then organizers passed the megaphone to audience members, who shared their thoughts with the crowd.

Kayla Godowa-Tufti, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, spoke in solidarity with the black community.

“I feel the grief because they killed us, too,” she said. “They wanted us dead, too. If all of us stand together, there is no way this empire can ever survive. We need to stop the killing. Everyone needs to stop killing each other.”