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May 7, 2014 03:31 PM

The Eugene School District’s teachers’ union, the Eugene Education Association (EEA), participated in “what turned out to be an exercise of frustration,” last night, according to the EEA’s bargaining newsletter. In the second full bargaining session between EEA and District 4J, members of the EEA bargaining team tried to understand why District 4J wanted to make significant changes to their contract, the newsletter says. According to the newsletter:

Time after time the District’s outside lawyer was unable to answer basic questions about the 4J offer, parts of which would strip away our members’ hard-fought rights. At times even members of the District’s team appeared baffled as to the reason behind many of the proposed language changes. This left both the bargaining team and members scratching their heads as to who wrote the proposal and why.

The EEA team also probed the financial provisions in the District proposal, which offers a permanent loss of a step, no COLA [cost of living adjustment], no increase in insurance contribution, and five furlough days. The District lawyer justified the offer as a way to reduce workload and lower class size. Upon further questioning, the District lawyer estimated their proposal would lower class size averages by less than one student per class.

Several times throughout the evening, frustrated EEA team members asked why the District would embark on a full frontal assault on the contract this late in the school year when it’s so evident all parties should be focusing on achieving swift, fair settlement. EEA’s proposal offers a plan that would wisely use next year’s additional resources and recognize the many serious workload concerns EEA has addressed in its proposal. It is our hope that 4J reconsiders the direction it has taken and gets serious about negotiations.

4J hired lawyer Kelly Noor to help with the bargaining. Noor was involved in the negotiations between the Medford school district and the teachers’ union, which ended in a strike. According to a guest viewpoint in the Register-Guard written by 4J Superintendent Shelley Berman and Eugene School Board Chairwoman Mary Walston, the district “has made an initial contract proposal that follows through on a promise to restore school days, avoid layoffs and reduce class sizes. The district’s offer would achieve all those goals and improve conditions for teachers and students alike.” The op-ed continues:

The district’s offer restores 26 teaching positions that otherwise would get cut to help close a $3.6 million budget gap in the preliminary 2014-15 budget. In addition to keeping these teachers in the classroom, the contract proposed by the district would allow us to add teachers to reduce class sizes and teachers’ workload, fund elementary music and physical education, provide preparation time for elementary teachers and increase instructional time by restoring four of the nine unpaid furlough days that have made 2013-14 Eugene’s shortest school year ever.

Those are big wins that would make a difference in every classroom next year.

The trade-off: Funds can be spent only once. A dollar spent to hire more teachers or maintain the current ratio of teachers to students can’t also be spent on increasing salaries and benefits.

To achieve these goals and improve classroom conditions for teachers and students, the district has proposed holding base salaries stable for one year: no cost-of-living increases, and no automatic steps forward on the salary scale.

According to the EEA’s newsletter, District 4J canceled tomorrow’s bargaining session. The next session is 4-8pm Thursday, May 15, at the EEA Office, 2815 Coburg Rd.

May 6, 2014 12:59 PM

Annual rankings  from The League of American Bicyclists are out, and Oregon has slipped to number five from number three. Washington takes the cake with number one for the seventh year in a row. Here's the top 10 list:

Oregon's report card shows that the state gets a four out of five possible points in three categories: legislation and enforcement, policies and programs, and education and encouragement. Its lowest category is once again infrastructure and planning.

The League of American Bicyclists offers this feedback for making Oregon a more bike-friendly state:

Repeal the state’s mandatory bike lane law.
Adopt performance measures, such as mode
shift or a low percentage of exempted projects,
to better track and support Complete Streets/
Bike Accommodation Policy compliance.
Update your state bicycle master plan. The plan update
should evaluate and build on the previous bicycle
master plan, and reflect changes in bicycle user needs.
Adopt performance measures to
decrease bicycle fatalities.
Adopt a mode share goal for biking to
encourage the integration of bicycle
transportation needs into all transportation
and land use policy and project decisions.
Adopt the National Association of City
Transportation Officials (NACTO) Design Guide.
Adopt a Vision Zero policy to help Oregon
reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities.
Increase the dedication of funding to bicycle
and pedestrian projects from 1% of state
transportation trust funds to 2%.
Adopt a policy requiring state office buildings,
state park and recreation facilities, and other
state facilities to provide bicycle parking.
Since arterial and collector roads are the backbone
of every transportation network, it is essential
to provide adequate bicycle facilities along these
roads. Increase the percentage of state highway
network that has paved shoulders or bike lanes.
May 6, 2014 02:59 PM

A protest is being planned on the UO campus Thursday in response to allegations of rape of a UO student by former Duck basketball players. The UO Coalition to End Sexual Violence has published a scathing open letter on its website and is calling for accountability by the UO administration and action.

See the letter at http://wkly.ws/1qv

The protest will be at noon Thursday, May 8, on the lawn behind Hendricks Hall on campus.

May 6, 2014 12:52 PM

I caught up with Ty during his soundcheck and took a few portraits.

The shot above is featured in Rolling Stone's Hottest Live Photos of 2014

May 5, 2014 11:24 AM

East Lane County Commission candidates appeared at a forum in Cottage Grove sponsored by the Cottage Grove Blackberry Society and League of Women Voters.

May 5, 2014 10:28 AM

A private donor gave $17,000 to buy and set up a portable shower and laundry facility for Ashland's houseless population.

May 2, 2014 04:15 PM

Nothing says lunch like a "Radiance Orb."

Today over lunch, EW stopped in at Light at Play, an art-technology collective housed at Concentric Sky downtown, to chat with Yona Appletree and Kenyon Acton about the "Radiance Orb," a high-res LED sphere that employs plastic acrylic triangle panels to produce a soothing and psychadellic light-art experience. The Radiance Orb, as well as other LED works by Light at Play, will be part of Bohemian Dub Ball at the Hult May 9. Light at Play's work will also be on display at the Oregon Country Fair and the Mohawk Vally Music Festival this summer, before heading to Burning Man.

Check out the orb below: 

May 2, 2014 01:00 PM

A group organized by Willamette Riverkeeper took a canoe tour recently to check out possible pollution sources and the overall health of the Willamette. Here's video just released.

May 2, 2014 11:56 AM

Whether you're feeling wild or just feeling like a wild ale, 16 Tons' Wild Ale Fest and fourth anniversary Saturday, May 3, is the place to be. It's cash-only at the event, so don't forget to swing by the ATM. More from the press release:


Each year we have teamed up with a brewery to brew a special anniversary beer as part of our "Phantom Limb Series" that pays homage to a famous author who lost an arm or leg as a result of their adventures. This year we are very excited to work with Breakside Brewery to create “A Saison in Hell," a Wallonian-Style Wild Rye Saison that pays homage to Arthur Rimbaud, who is from the Ardennes Region where this working class beer originated.

A few notable beers at the festival: Oakshire Frederic C. Noir, Upright El Coloquio Cervantes, The Commons Fishing with Hallet, Block 15 Wild Chardonnay Ale, Block 15 Kriek, Crux Better off Red, Logsdon / Solera Half Naakte Paasvankantie, BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien, Double Mountain Devils Kriek, Deschutes Green Monster, and Russian River Consecration.

Some of the featured breweries include: Breakside, The Commons, Oakshire, Upright, Block 15, Cascade, Deschutes, Hair of the Dog, Flat Tail, Logsdon, Hanssens, Mikkeller, Jolly Pumpkin, Goose Island, The Bruery, Crux, Anchorage, Russian River, Stillwater, New Belgium, Evil Twin, Propolis, Rodenbach, and more!

16 Tons is located at 265 E. 13th Ave.


May 1, 2014 02:06 PM

It's endorsement time — ballots for the primary election here in Oregon get mailed tomorrow — and newspapers are putting out their endorsements, as well as printing page after page of stories, interviews and viewpoints on who's running and what we think of them. Sometimes the backstory is more fun than the endorsements.

Like when a karaoke-singing climate change denying Senate candidate calls out a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for writing "blah blah blah in his notebook." (And yes, good reporters still take notes). 

EW's recs on who you should cast your ballot for will come out in next week's paper, but Portland's Willamette Week published its endorsements yesterday. Today, media blogger Jim Romenesko calls attention to what some might call a gaffe by Pulitzer Prize-winner Nigel Jaquiss during a lengthy endorsement interview.

I don't call it a gaffe, I call it what we all want to write when a politician drones on and on and on. 

Blah, blah, blah, blah.

Republican Senate candidate Jo Rae Perkins was on the phone rambling on (you can watch the whole thing here, or just start at around 1 hour and 6 minutes in, aka the fun part). Perennial candidate Mark Callahan was sitting across the table from Jaquiss and angrily pointed out that he could see what Jaquiss was doing: 

"I see what you’re writing down there. You just wrote down 'blah blah blah blah' for everything that Jo Rae said. Jo Rae is a respectful woman. Why are you not respecting her by writing 'blah blah blah blah' in your notepad?"

Callahan, still grumbling about Jaquiss' notes settles down enough to move on to the next question, which was  about climate change. “It’s a myth,” he says.

Jaquiss, who was already winning with the blah blah thing, then mildly asks, "Where are you on the Easter Bunny?"

Callahan, who had previously been called out for his behavior earlier in the interview, then begins to angrily object to the question and to what he calls a lack of respect. The moderator then tells him he has had two strikes and will be asked to leave. "Who do you think you are?" he asks Willamette Week.

"This is neither a fair nor balanced meeting," he's told, as it's pointed out to him this is an endorsement interview. Callahan calls WW disrepectful thin-skinned liberals before announcing he has better things to do with his time and leaving. 

Willamette Week did not endorse Callahan in the Republican primary, instead the Portland alt weekly endorsed Oregon Right-to-Life candidate Jason Conger, which as they say, is a whole 'nother issue. Conger tells Willy Week that he doesn't really have a firm conviction either way on the "climate change debate." He calls both sides "incredible."

EW hasn't covered Callahan's many campaigns very much (and I'm pretty sure we won't be endorsing any climate change deniers) but we did cover his karaoke singing in some detail back in 2010 in a story by Rick Levin when Callahan was running for Lane County Commissioner. 

At the more uplifting end of the karaoke spectrum is the story of Eugene native Mark Callahan, who sang Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” the same night I butchered Tom Petty. Callahan, a graduate of Sheldon High School and OSU, is in his early 30s, married, with two young daughters. What makes him remarkable, and perhaps unique, as a karaoke singer is that he flies completely solo — meaning that, instead of making karaoke a social outing, Callahan chooses to go to the bar alone, stay sober as a jaybird and sing as many songs as he can get in.

Callahan says he was introverted as a kid, and though he outgrew his shyness in college, he doesn’t consider himself an exhibitionist. In fact, his Saturday night outings provide him with a means of overcoming, via karaoke, any lingering social anxieties. “This has actually really helped me to build up my confidence. I actually used to have a kind of nervousness talking in front of people,” he says.

“I think I just want to be more open,” says Callahan, noting that he usually feels pretty good upon finishing a song. “It’s almost like coming down off some kind of high. It’s almost like pure joy.”

And here’s the corker: Callahan recently tossed his hat in the ring for Lane County Commissioner, vying in the District 2 slot being vacated in November by Bill Dwyer. Callahan considers entering politics to be a natural evolution of his upbringing in the Boy Scouts, an organization that acted “like a surrogate father” after his parents divorced. The Scouts, he says, proved that making a difference in people’s lives is both desirable and possible.

Is it too much of a stretch to conclude that, for Callahan, the challenge of singing karaoke gave rise to a desire for political office? Why not? Just as Kennedy’s cathode-charismatic crushing of a perplexed, pasty-faced Nixon during the 1960 presidential debate ushered in the era of televised politics, could Callahan be a harbinger — our first karaoke commissioner?

“The main reason I do [karaoke] is to be up in front of people,” Callahan says. “If I can combine that confidence with my desire to help people, I think that’s going to work out good for me.”

May 1, 2014 09:48 AM

Eugene physician Pam Wible gets interviewed for story on Daily Beast saying our health care system is so broken it's time for doctors to go on strike: http://wkly.ws/1qo

May 1, 2014 10:01 AM

Reading legal documents is a key part of covering certain news stories. Sometimes it's fascinating. Sometimes I wish lawyers would stop capitalizing every other word (I know, it's a legal thing, but seriously people it's city, not City). 

Reading legal transcripts is more of the same. Sometimes fascinating, sometimes a morass of legal confusion. But The New York Time's new Verbatim series that is "dramatizing" legal transcripts takes things to a whole new level. This deposition is frustratingly brilliant.

Without giving to much away, here's the NYT's description of the case:

The Case: Ohio Supreme Court Case 2010-2029

In 2010, the Cuyahoga County Recorder’s Office in Ohio changed their policy about copying records. Digital files would no longer be available, and the public would have to make hard copies of documents for $2 per page. This would prove to be prohibitively expensive for Data Trace Information Services and Property Insight, companies that collect hundreds of pages of this public information each week. They sued the Recorder’s Office for access to digital versions of the documents on a CD. In the middle of the case, a lawyer representing them questioned the IT administrator of the Recorder’s Office, which led to a 10-page argument over the semantics of photocopiers.

April 30, 2014 11:40 AM

Washington Department of Fish & Wildife



Those who lived in Oregon in the ’90s will remember Keiko the orca and his rehabilitation at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. Keiko’s story is a sad one, illustrating why orcas should not be kept in captivity.  Keiko is now gone, but Oregon whale-watchers still have plenty of opportunities to see the trademark black and white pattern of these charismatic cetaceans.  

On May 10, The Orca Tour comes to Newport, where author and activist Erich Hoyt will talk about Oregon’s local orcas and opportunities to see them in the wild. Orcas are most commonly seen in Newport and off Depoe Bay, south of Lincoln City, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. In June 2010, a pod of orcas swam into Yaquina Bay and a little ways up the river, thrilling lucky onlookers.

In the 1960s and ’70s, Pacific Northwest orca pods were hunted and captured for use in marine parks, and the southern resident orca population is endangered, in part due to those harvests. Earlier this month in Sacramento, Calif., lawmakers tabled a bill inspired by the documentary Blackfish that would make it illegal for animal parks like SeaWorld San Diego to use orcas in shows, according to TIME Magazine.

The talk begins at 6:30 pm Saturday, May 10, at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased here.

April 29, 2014 11:43 AM

Elizabeth Warren will be coming to Oregon in late May to campaign for Sen. Jeff Merkley. Looks like Portland events are brewing, maybe not Eugene. See the Huffington Post story at http://wkly.ws/1ql