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EW! A Blog.

April 10, 2014 09:40 AM

Young the Giant

I caught the last couple songs of Echosmith's set.

April 10, 2014 12:37 PM

Last week, Kathy Jones of Seneca-Jones timber told The Oregonian that the timber company wants to log the Elliott State Forest for " personal reasons" and says of CFD members "“They’re elitist environmentalists, they’re sent from Washington D.C., they’re not about doing anything reasonable.” 

This leaves EW wondering if Jones has ever actually seen a CFD member in person?  Jones was responding to a letter from CFD vowing to put lawsuits on desks and protesters in trees if timber companies bid on parcels of the public Elliott forest that the state is looking to sell into private hands.

The Oregonian writes:

Seneca Jones Timber Co. on Wednesday announced it bid on land for sale in the Elliott State Forest to deliberately challenge environmental groups that warned they would sue to block the state from divesting forestland potentially housing the threatened marbled murrelet seabird.

Kathy Jones, Seneca Jones’ co-owner, said her company didn’t bid on the land because her mill needs lumber but because she and her two sisters refused to be bullied by “eco-radical” environmental groups and believed no other timber companies made an offer.

“It was just like: No, we’re not going to lay down for this,” Jones said. “We’re taking a stand. It’s very much a personal decision. We just decided we were going to do this based on principle and bring it to the public’s attention.”

Like the spotted owl before it, the murrelet has become a cornerstone species for environmental groups seeking to curtail logging in Oregon. The bird’s population in Washington, Oregon and California has steadily declined over the last decade.

This week, the Cascadia Forest Defenders offer an abject apology (OK, not really).

Cascadia Forest Defenders, an organization composed of dozens of community volunteers, would like to express our apologies for causing the owners of Seneca Jones timber company, who are some of the richest and most powerful people in Lane County, to feel so bullied. In this day and age, when many of us are separated from the 1% by dramatic differences in the way we experience daily life, it can be hard for us to remember just how threatened the rich and elite can feel when challenged by those so far below them. We recognize now that a company like Seneca Jones, a company that admittedly can afford to spend millions of dollars out of spite by bidding on a land sale in the Elliott Forest because they "refuse to be bullied " must find it terrifying to have a group of community organizers suggest that people and planet should come before profit and property lines.

However, there are some things that we are confused about. If Seneca Jones wants to clearcut ecosystems for "our children's well-being", why is the company's biomass plant, which pumps an estimated 14 tons of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and other chemical goodies, located within three miles of three separate schools? Folks within that Eugene zip code have almost twice the rate of asthma as the rest of town - that same zip code also has the highest percentage of people living below the poverty line. If Seneca Jones is submitting a bid on the Elliott "for all Oregonians", why does it seem like the wealthiest are profiting at the expense of the poorests' physical health?

Additionally, the United States Forest Service states that only 5% of Oregon original coastal forests remain intact. Obviously, it was naive of us to think that killing most of an ecosystem could ever be enough, that the millions and millions of dollars in profit could ever be enough. Jones family, we are sorry that we may have to prevent your family from owning yet another million dollar racehorse, which is obviously more important then clean drinking water, critical fish habitat, and resilient, healthy forests. 

We really owe you one, Seneca. Something about your recent media comments has activists flocking in, hoping to meet you in the woods. Perhaps it was publicly admitting you intend to clear-cut old growth in East Hakki, which according to the Oregon Department of Forestry has "trees more than 300 years old" which "contain platforms that are suitable for marbled murrelet nests." Perhaps, it's our own excitement, generated by the group of people that saved most of the Trapper Timber sale (remember, that old growth you tried to log in the Willamette National Forest?). Perhaps it is all the neighborhood residents who can no longer breathe in their backyards due to your dirty power plant spewing toxic fumes all over the neighborhood. 

We don’t know what it is Seneca Jones, but people sure are hoping you win that bid.

April 4, 2014 04:03 PM

Walter Cronkite breaks the news to a shocked nation.

April 3, 2014 02:35 PM

Bob Keefer wrote about art and artists for most of the 30 years he worked for The Register-Guard. He retired in 2013 to concentrate on his photography, but continued to freelance arts stories for the R-G. On April 3, a couple days after rounding up support for a well-wishing for Serena Markstrom Nugent after she was fired from the paper, Keefer was informed  in a one-sentence email: "We won't be needing your freelance services anymore.”

Markstrom Nugent, who was fired for checking her email while on pregnancy disability, was not allowed by R-G management to come in and clean out her desk, so employees past and present as well as members of the community were invited to celebrate her and her baby. Keefer sent out this message through a public post on his Facebook page on March 27:

Arts world people: As some of you may know, my former colleague and now very pregnant Serena Markstrom Nugent, the pop music writer for many years, has just been fired from the Register-Guard -- while on medical disability leave! -- after committing the sin of checking her work email from home. Friends are going to assemble in front of the newspaper at 3:30 p.m. today to wish her well as she arrives to clean out her desk. Y'all come!

Today Keefer posted:

Arts world friends,

I've been fired by the Register-Guard. Since I retired from full-time work in July, I've been contributing a couple art reviews to the Arts section each month as a freelancer. But according to a one-line email I just received, “We won't be needing your freelance services anymore.”

There was no explanation, but this follows closely on my public support of former colleague Serena Markstrom Nugent, who was fired by the paper last month, while on medical leave, after working there 13 years. See today's Eugene Weekly for details on that story.

Let's just say I'm not devastated. Of course I'll miss the opportunity to review more art shows around town, but it's time to concentrate on my photography and writing projects, as well as working with Wordcrafters writing conference and Lane Arts Council.

See you on the Art Walk!

Bob

The R-G seems determined to cut off its nose to spite its face — Keefer and Markstrom Nugent have been strong and vibrant supporters of the arts and music community. Nobody wants to see a locally owned daily news source go under. Anyone have any advice for the R-G

April 1, 2014 05:32 PM

Read a review of Mark Naison's new book on public education under attack by conservatives dedicated to privatizing education and the massive profits that are to be made:

http://wkly.ws/1pz

Here's an excerpt from the review:

One of the many carefully orchestrated myths of the corporate “reformers” who have hijacked American education this century is that opposition comes only from the Tea Party and from teachers union ‘dead enders.’ All right-thinking Americans, the myth goes, recognize that our public schools have failed and that education in the United States can only be saved by alternatives like vouchers and charter schools, by public schools staffed by temporary Teach for America instructors, and by imposition of “standards” by an elite that knows what employers need. Led today by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, billionaire Bill Gates, College Board head (and Common Core State Standards creator) David Coleman, and Students First organizer Michelle Rhee, this well-funded “reform” movement has been steamrolling over resistance for years, opponents often destroyed before they even know they are under attack.

March 31, 2014 11:41 AM

The U.S. flag is flying upside down at Whoville. This display of the flag is not disrespectful or against the law; it is a legal sign of dire distress according to the United States Code.

The distress stems from a decision by Eugene City Manager John Ruiz to shut Whoville down "the first week in April," a week before the City Council had decided it must be closed and before any scheduled meeting of the City Council, which has not met since its March 12 work session when the council declined to take up the subject of Whoville before adjourning for a one-month vacation.

Whoville residents, some of whom are fragile and have mental or physical handicaps, are understandably anxious about the rapidly approaching breakup of their community, where over the past six month many have found supportive relationships, friends and a sense of peace and security for the first time in years.

Earlier this winter Whoville advocates believed we had an agreement with the city that Whoville would not be closed until places were found for all the residents. However on March 10, the council in a 5-2 vote decided that Whoville would be closed no later than April 15.

In addition to setting a firm deadline of April 15 at the March 10 meeting, the council authorized a 15-person rest stop on city-owned property near the Science Factory. Unfortunately, the councilors neglected one of the key points of any bureaucratic process: get buy-in from all the stakeholders.

Understandably, alerted to the fact that a rest stop would soon appear in their parking lot by a story in the The Register-Guard, the Science Factory employees, staff from Nearby Nature, Cuthbert enthusiasts, and parents of BMXers began a letter and phone campaign, expressing so much apprehension about the arrival of the Whos, that some advocates think we have been set up to fail.

With the city councilors and mayor out of town on break, advocates have attempted to connect with Ruiz, to request that he wait until April 9, after the council is back and has had its work session, to begin the closedown. We also want to request that the city find a site for this rest stop where the neighbors have not been left out of the decision-making process and are not already angry and resentful of Whoville residents. We have been trying for several days to set up a meeting with Ruiz to make these requests but he has not returned our calls.

Beyond the acceleration of the closing down of Whoville, the advocates would like the public to think about a more significant question: Why does the city want to dismantle a working community, one which is keeping about fifty unhoused people out of the downtown area, saving the city money in arrests and court costs, and providing basic sanitation — including a place to poop — only to send people back out to hidey holes in the alleys, along the river and under bridges? How does this bring about a safer, better Eugene?

Taking a page out of Kafka, the Eugene Police Department has posted “Notice” signs at Whoville announcing that people must leave the site and directing them to call three social service agencies to help them “comply with this Notice:” St. Vincent de Paul’s First Place Family Center, which works with family with children under 18 — there are no children at Whoville; Whitebird Homeless Case Management, which can offer little help regarding safe shelter; and an unidentified number, which no one answers.

Our mayor, Kitty Piercy, sometimes reminds us that we cannot immediately provide shelter for all the unhoused in our community. But we do have the fate of this one particular group — the Whos — in our hands. If we evict them without making provisions for their relocation, we criminalize them. The United Nations Human Rights Committee recently condemned the criminalization of homelessness in the U.S. as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” Why don’t we become leaders and start here, with Whoville, to be the Human Rights City we aspire to be? Let’s legalize survival.

March 28, 2014 03:33 PM

New video from the city and LTD looks at challenges of traffic on Charnelton with EmX.

March 28, 2014 02:46 PM

The Oregonian, that venerable Portland paper, has been heavy on the reader surveys lately, and stories about fat cats (the feline, not political kind) and cute videos. It's all about the reader clicks when a newspaper goes digital-first. Willamette Week has a story out about how the clamor for clicks by The O's owner, Advance Publications is affecting the newsroom; WW writes "Internal documents show the newsroom’s staff faces steep new quotas for feeding the website. The documents, reported by wweek.com March 23, say 75 percent of reporters’ job performance will be measured by Web-based benchmarks, including how often they post to Oregonlive.com. The most productive reporters at meeting their goals will have a chance at earning merit pay."

I appreciate The O's continued work on covering oil trains and coal, but like others, I  wonder if focusing on how often a reporter posts could affect his or her ability to do in-depth reporting?

Posting things fast and furious isn't great for copy editing either. We all have a typo sneak into the paper here and there — what journalist hasn't reported on a pubic meeting when she meant public? But the irony of a basic typo (it's versus its) on a survey about readers think about the content on OregonLive is duly noted in the context of concerns that the O is valuing speed and clicks over content. 

You can find the survey on OregonLive in the same editor's section where you can read soon-to-be former editor Peter Bhatia's discussion of the paper via Twitter posts. 

March 28, 2014 03:17 PM

Annie Leonard, writer and illustrator of The Story of Stuff, will be giving the Dempsey Lecture at 7:30 pm Thursday, April 17, at Hudson Hall at Willamette University in Salem. Might be fun to carpool to this free event.

March 27, 2014 12:05 PM

The Register-Guard has fired popular entertainment reporter Serena Markstrom Nugent, and according to an email sent out by her former colleague, Bob Keefer, her friends and colleagues will be convening to wish her well today at 3:30 pm on the sidewalk in front of the R-G at 3500 Chad Drive. Markstrom Nugent will be going to the R-G to collect her personal items from her desk.

EW is going to go out on a limb here and say this well-wishing is going to be more of a protest and will be heading out there to cover it.

The R-G has lost many of its experienced long-time reporters over the past several years. Readers may have noted that Markstrom Nugent hasn't been writing about entertainment lately, as she did for most of her 13-year stint at the R-G.  She was moved off entertainment and began covering a rural Lane County beat. That move surprised many of  Markstrom's readers — she has built a following for music and entertainment through not only her stories, but via frequent social media posts on Facebook and Twitter as well as her blog. Moving writers to beats they are unfamiliar with is often seen as a strategy to get rid of experienced, higher-paid writers and replace them with newer reporters at a lesser pay scale.

According to social media posts, Markstrom Nugent, who is pregnant, was fired for checking her email while on medical leave.