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August 4, 2015 01:16 PM

Washington-based Haggen bought 146 Albertons and Vons locations in Arizona, California, Nevada, Washington and Oregon earlier this year — you might have noticed your local Albertsons has changed its name and color scheme. More recently, social media posts and newspaper stories have blasted the company for laying off hundreds of workers, in particular the developmentally disabled.

The Santa Barbara Independent is reporting that a 60-year-old developmentally disabled man named William Morris, who had worked as a courtesy clerk for over three years at Haggen, is suing the chain on behalf of himself and “all California-based developmentally disabled courtesy clerks that Haggen has laid off since the beginning of this year.”

The Independent reports that “Since taking over and rebranding a number of Vons, Pavilions, Albertsons and Safeway stores in Southern California in 2014, Haggen promised job security to existing employees and that “nothing would change” for them, states the complaint. However, Morris’s attorneys argue, the corporation unfairly terminated developmentally disabled courtesy clerks when they “engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination against developmentally disabled employees by disproportionately terminating them from Haggen employment.”

EWasked Haggen’s Oregon public relations firm if it too was laying off workers, including the developmentally disabled.

Lee Weinstein and Deborah Tomecek Pleva of Weinstein PR responded with a statement (included in full below) that says “we must manage labor to the needs of the business in compliance with the terms and conditions of our collective bargaining agreements” and that there are different business issue in the Pacific Northwest Region versus the Pacific Southwest where the issues with the layoff of developmentally disabled employees have arisen.

The statement continues, “In some stores in the Pacific Northwest, hours have been adjusted to accommodate the natural seasonal summer slowdown. Hours vary from store to store and we will continue to adjust our staffing based on the needs of the business. We look forward to adding hours back as sales return in the upcoming back-to-school and holiday seasons.”


With respect to the layoffs in our Pacific Southwest (PSW) Region, and potential impacts in the Eugene area, we must manage labor to the needs of the business in compliance with the terms and conditions of our collective bargaining agreements. We abide by the terms of the agreements. 

In the Pacific Southwest Region, where we have a much different set of business issues than in our home region in the Northwest, it was necessary to eliminate the Clerks Helper positions entirely. Although these business decisions in the PSW region were necessary, we care for all of our former associates there who were impacted.  We have already helped many of these associates there find other jobs through individual support and by reaching out to and working with concerned leaders and organizations in the community. We will continue to do so.

In some stores in the Pacific Northwest, hours have been adjusted to accommodate the natural seasonal summer slowdown. Hours vary from store to store and we will continue to adjust our staffing based on the needs of the business. We look forward to adding hours back as sales return in the upcoming back-to-school and holiday seasons.

Our commitment to local farmers and food producers, as well as community organizations, is something that we're prepared to sustain for the long haul. We're proud of what we do, and we love to explain to new customers who we are: long-time Washington grocers with a passion for great food, as well as a deep commitment to supporting our local farmers, food producers, nonprofits and schools that really matter to our customers. That genuine, personal connection is at the heart of everything we’re doing.

For Earth Day, Haggen donated $6,417 to Crater Lake National Park.

August 4, 2015 01:00 PM

The Oregon Center for Public Policy has a new analysis of poverty levels in Oregon broken down by race. Click on the graph for a link to the story.

August 4, 2015 10:52 AM

 The student who filed a Title IX lawsuit against the University of Oregon in regard to her allegations of gang rape against three UO basketball players has filed a stipulation dismissing the case against the UO today "persuant to a settlement agreement," according to an email from one of her attorneys, John Clune of Colorado.

Earlier this week Clune announced the student had dropped the suit against basketball coach Dana Altman.

Clune supplied this statement from the student in regard to today's announcement.

 I am so glad to have this case behind me today and to be able to focus on my studies. I am very grateful for the outpouring of support that I have received from students, faculty, and other organizations. The response from the UO community has been remarkable and I know that the increased awareness around these issues on our campus can only serve to help us. I would be remiss to not specifically thank the Dean of Students Office and my therapist from the UCTC [the UO's University Counseling and Testing Center] and other UCTC personnel for their continued assistance throughout this experience. Without those services, it would have been very difficult to stay in school here during these events and for that I am very grateful.

If there is a monetary settlement the amount has not been announced. UO prof. Bill Harbaugh's watchdog blog UO Matters speculates the cases against the UO and Altman are being settled for a "rumoured $1 million."

According to a redacted version of the settlement, with Jane Doe's name protected, the UO will pay the student $800,000, four years of tuition, housing and student fees, and, most importantly for future students, it agrees to "pursue a policy change requiring all transfer applicants to report any disciplinary history at their current or prior schools, and if they report any disciplinary history, require they sign a FERPA release to allow the university to access their disciplinary records."

One of the issues in the case was the fact that one of the basketball players, Bradon Austin, had been accused of sexual assault at his previous college. A sympathetic May 29 CBS sports piece examines his desire to play at another school. 

The UO also issued a statement from incoming President Michael Schill that begins,"In approving this settlement, it is my hope that we focus our attention and considerable expertise on making our campus one on which all students will feel secure in the knowledge that they will be free from sexual violence."  

Earlier this year the UO faced critcism for countersuing the alleged rape survivor, as well as for accessing her counseling records without permission. The UO also accessed without permission the counseling records of another student, Laura Hansonwho filed a lawsuit against the UO alleging it had mishandled her sexual assault case.


Full disclosure: One of the attorneys involved in the case is Jennifer Middleton of Johnson, Johnson and Schaller. EW co-owner Art Johnson is one of the Johnsons in that firm.

August 3, 2015 01:01 PM

Thirteen activists were the only thing stopping Royal Dutch Shell's MSV Fennica icebreaker, in Portland for repairs before sailing back to the Arctic to assist in drilling for oil. Suspended and tethered to one another while hanging from the iconic St. Johns Bridge as part of a Greenpeace aerial blockade of the Willamette River, the Greenpeace activists were accompanied by “kayaktavists,” who started a 24-hour watch in the adjacent Cathedral Park.

Greenpeace-organized activists took the bridge around 3 am, July 29, suspending themselves from the bridge about 100 feet up to stop the Fennica from departing the nearby Vigor Industrial ship repair yard.

Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard says that the “climbers” had enough food and supplies to last them for days; however, the climbers wouldn't make it more than two days before authorities ended the standoff by slowly herding the kayaktavists, using threats of a mass arrest as well as trying to hook kayaks with gaffs away from beneath the bridge before going to remove the climbers so the ship could pass without killing or maiming anyone.

The kayaktavists and climbers did get a boost from Portland Rising Tide member Jonah Majure, who locked his neck to the nearby Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge with a U-lock — forcing authorities to cut him loose before the bridge could raise and allow the Fennica's passage to the St. Johns Bridge.

Majure stands accused of criminal trespass, according to the Oregonian.

A group of protesters, with myself in tow, drove to the railroad bridge to provide assistance but were thwarted by the Portland Police Bureau, who had cut off the bridge's access points. I decided to go on my own and headed back to the road leading away from the bridge, but a Burlington Northern rail police truck appeared and threatened to arrest myself and 31-year-old Portland Rising Tide and Iraq Veterans Against the War member Ary Lavallee.

Lavallee, who moved to Portland from Boston, had also driven from Cathedral Park to the rail bridge.

Lavallee drove his truck in reverse away from the narrow road leading to the bridge as I ran behind his truck to keep away from the rail police truck as it advanced and gave orders over a loudspeaker. I assumed Lavallee was there for similar reasons, so he offered to get me out of there. I jumped in and we fled the immediate area. Lavallee was on the river at times and was also helping the kayaktavists in a support role.

The authorities, which counted the Coast Guard as well as several different flavors of Portland area law enforcement agencies along with the Oregon State police, were acting “very aggressively” and were “corralling, pushing and threatening people” in their attempts to clear the Willamette, says 49-year-old self-described Earth protector and community-supported organizer Carlo Voli, who came down from Washington to offer his assistance.

A Multnomah County Sheriff's boat ran over a kayaker, creating quite a stir as the video made rounds through the news and social media.

Portland vs. Shell organizer Antonio Zamora says he was detained twice by the Coast Guard, and the second time he was charged with “a federal misdemeanor.”

“The Coast Guard and Oregon State Police were brutal and broke laws today for the Shell boat Fennica,” writes kayaktavist Gregory Sotir.

A number of people on the Willamette were detained but not arrested or cited. “The Coast Guard came up next to me, requested I move back. I did not. They requested again, and I did not. Then they pulled me up into their boat,” says Chris Kutruff. “They were completely professional, and I wasn't injured in any way.”

Kutruff was released a short time later. “I couldn't be more proud of Portland,” says Kutruff, a 27-year-old who grew up in Southern California.

Connor DeVane was in a double kayak with a friend, and they were on the water standing against the Fennica. He says a private security boat escorting the Fennica collided with them. “We took on water and capsized,” DeVane says.

The kayaktavists' safety boat pulled up alongside and tried to use a bilge pump to get the kayak back into action, but the Coast Guard came and “detained the girl in the safety boat” and a Multnomah County Sheriff boat pulled up “and asked us to climb into the boat. They were extremely friendly,” DeVane says. But DeVane, a 23-year-old from New Orleans, also says that “the fight's not over.”

“It was beautiful to watch,” Voli says regarding the combined efforts of everyone involved in the protest against the Fennica. “It was just incredibly inspiring to watch so many kayaktavists out on the water really throwing down and not caring about the consequences or legal implications.”

July 29, 2015 12:00 PM

The University of Oregon is jumping into the earthquake fray. What earthquake fray, you ask?

On a recent trip to the Oregon coast, a certain EW reporter found herself mentally planning evacuation routes and nervously eyeing the coastline, imagining tidal waves of unrealistic proportions crashing down on her.

Although I've been reporting on the Cascadia Subduction Zone mega-earthquake and subsequent tsunami since 2011, The New Yorkerstory "The Really Big One" has everyone and their dog nervously chittering about the unholy doom predicted to rain down on the Pacific Northwest. 

Seriously, folks, we've got talking head physicist Michio Kaku telling Fox News that he'd "think twice" about living in the Pacific Northwest if he had children. Emergency preparedness kits are selling like hotcakes in Seattle. People are quibbling over the meaning of "toast."

Kathryn Schulz, the author of the New Yorker story, wrote a follow-up this week, "How to Stay Safe When the Big One Comes," in an attempt to provide some actionable information to her panicked readers.

And now, the UO is hosting its own info session to discuss earthquake hazards in the Pacific Northwest. The panel includes UO geologists Rebecca Dorsey and Douglas Toomey, as well as Oregon State University researcher Chris Goldfinger, who was prominently featured in Schulz's story.

It's sure to be a rollicking good time with science, risk mitigation and hopefully only a little bit of panic. Head over to Room 156 of Straub Hall, 1451 Onyx St., 7-9 pm next Thursday, Aug. 6. Admission is free.

July 23, 2015 01:52 PM

New York Times story this week casts doubts on Republican claims that more logging reduces wildfire risk. Proposed legislation could actually exacerbate fire danger. Click on the art to link to the story.

July 23, 2015 01:29 PM

Portlandia takes on a serious medical condition normally associated with aging, but also affects even some young adults you might know.

July 21, 2015 11:17 AM

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July 21, 2015 12:38 PM

OK, all you lovers of wild things, here's an opportunity to show some creativity. Check out this Oregon Zoo video.

July 17, 2015 11:38 AM

Army vet and local UO student Shawn McMurtrey is carrying on a project he started as a student in an environmenatl justice class at UO taught by Shane Hall. He's gathering signatures for a petition to stop the attempt by Nestle to buy water rights at Cascade Locks on the Columbia River Gorge watershed. Click on the map to link to the petition.

July 16, 2015 01:22 PM

Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced legislation today that is bound to meet resistance on Capitol Hill. Here's the complete press release from the Merkley office:

Merkley Announces Bill to Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Oregon's Senator Jeff Merkley announced the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act of 2015, a major piece of legislation to stop offshore Arctic drilling. The legislation would prevent any new or renewed leases for the exploration, development, or production of oil, natural gas, or any other mineral in the Arctic planning area.
"A spill in the Arctic would be an environmental catastrophe of extraordinary proportions – and such a spill is inevitable if drilling proceeds," said Merkley. "The ecosystem in the Arctic is too fragile and the ability to respond to a spill in this region is nonexistent. Drilling in the Arctic Ocean is the height of irresponsibility. We need to put it off limits, permanently."
The Department of Interior estimates that there is a 75 percent chance of a large oil spill exceeding 42,000 gallons of oil should drilling leases in the Arctic be developed. To date, there has not been a successful oil and gas operation in the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic region is home to one of the world’s most delicate ecosystems, extreme and treacherous conditions, and severely limited capacity to respond to an oil spill or accident.
In 2010, when BP’s Deepwater Horizon exploded and began to sink, the nearest Coast Guard station was approximately 132 air miles away in New Orleans. In contrast, current proposals by Shell Oil Company to drill in the Chukchi Sea are over 900 air miles from the nearest Coast Guard station in Kodiak and over 1,200 miles from the nearest deep-water port in Dutch Harbor. The Gulf has one of the most comprehensive search and rescue infrastructures in North America, yet Deepwater Horizon dumped an estimated 4.9 million barrels (210 million gallons) of oil into the Gulf over 87 days.
The Arctic is home to endangered species such as bowhead whales, polar bears, and ringed seals, as well as invaluable and fragile ecosystems that are critical to fisheries, migratory birds, indigenous populations and subsistence hunters. Opening development on a new fossil fuel reservoir in the Arctic not only puts the natural resources, ecosystems, and the dependent communities at risk, it also contradicts the President’s Climate Action Plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions and reduce climate change.
In June, Senator Merkley led a group of Senators in authoring a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to rescind Shell Oil Company’s conditional Exploration Permit in the Chukchi Sea. Senator Merkley wrote that new lease sales in the Chukchi Sea and Arctic Ocean are an unnecessary risk that threatens local communities, fragile ecosystems, and efforts at climate change mitigation.
The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).

July 16, 2015 02:43 PM

Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood responds to a misinformation campaign by critics that is being echoed by lawmakers.

July 16, 2015 03:35 PM

Just in this afternoon from Womenspace ...

"In light of the recent tragic losses our community has had to endure, Womenspace will be holding a silent vigil to honor those who were taken from us too soon by their intimate partner. We will be meeting at the Springfield City Library to honor those lost and support anyone affected by intimate partner violence."

The vigil will be at 5 pm Friday, July 17, and ths Springfield Library is a 225 N. 5th Sreet.

"The mission of Womenspace is to prevent domestic violence in intimate partner relationships in Lane County and support survivors in claiming personal power," reads the email to supporters.

"Womenspace is the primary provider of domestic violence services in Lane County. For almost 40 years, the agency has helped IPV survivors reach their goals of safety and self-sufficiency. Womenspace provides survivors with crisis intervention, safety planning, peer counseling, advocacy, education, resource referrals, and satellite offices serve rural communities. Their Crisis Line is available 24/7 at 485-6513 or (800) 281-2800."

For more information please contact Teresa Aslin, assistant executive director, at 485-8232.

July 14, 2015 11:10 AM

This just in from Oregon State University: Seaweed that tastes like bacon. 

According to an OSU press release

Oregon State University researchers have patented a new strain of a succulent red marine algae called dulse that grows extraordinarily quickly, is packed full of protein and has an unusual trait when it is cooked.

This seaweed tastes like bacon.

Dulse ( Palmaria sp.) grows in the wild along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines. It is harvested and usually sold for up to $90 a pound in dried form as a cooking ingredient or nutritional supplement. But researcher Chris Langdon and colleagues at OSU’s have created and patented a new strain of dulse – one he has been growing for the past 15 years.

 The seaweed was originally developed as a "superfood" for abalone shellfish, according to Langdon. "His strain, which looks like translucent red lettuce, is an excellent source of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants – and it contains up to 16 percent protein in dry weight," OSU says.

The press release (which for some reason compares bacon-flavored seaweed to discovering a unicorn) goes on to say that Langdon’s change in perspective about what dulse could be useful for was triggered by a visit by Chuck Toombs, a faculty member in OSU’s College of Business.

Toombs "stopped by Langdon’s office because he was looking for potential projects for his business students. He saw the dulse growing in bubbling containers outside of Langdon’s office and the proverbial light went on. 'Dulse is a super-food, with twice the nutritional value of kale,' Toombs said. 'And OSU had developed this variety that can be farmed, with the potential for a new industry for Oregon.'"

The press release goes on to say it sees the vegan market as a "niche" for dulse and that "Several Portland-area chefs are now testing dulse as a fresh product and many believe it has significant potential in both its raw form and as a food ingredient."

For the full, detailed, press release and a link to an article in Oregon Agricultural Progress, go here.