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EW! A Blog.

June 4, 2008 04:38 PM

Buried in the back pages of The Register-Guard today is the headline-making news that mayoral candidate Jim Torrey opposes an independent police auditor to examine complaints against police.

The paper attributed to Torrey this statement about whether he supports the police auditor:

"Torrey said he, too, supports the auditor, although he believes she should report to the city manager, not to city councilors."

The whole point of the new police auditor was that it was independent of the city manager and under the city council. The 2005 charter amendment creating the function stated:

"Under the Eugene Charter, only the city manager may hire or appoint individuals or boards to investigate or review complaints against city employees. This measure would amend the charter to allow the city council to hire and supervise an independent police auditor and to appoint a civilian review board to investigate or oversee investigations of complaints involving police employees."

Under the old system, a non-independent police auditor reported to the city manager along with the police chief. Under that system, EPD officers sexually abused more than a dozen women despite years of complaints that EPD officers ignored.

The 2005 ballot measure was opposed by the police union which made the same argument as Torrey that the function should be under the city manager. The measure to create the independent auditor passed with 57 percent voting yes.

Now the union is one of Torrey's biggest financial backers and Torrey is running for mayor against the independent police auditor.

June 3, 2008 06:07 PM

Local activist and videographer Tim Lewis has posted video and stills of Eugene police tasering a protester at a May 30 rally downtown against pesticides.

Citizens have organized two gatherings in support of the “Kesey Three” arrested at the rally in front of the author’s statue.

The first is planned for Thursday, June 5 from 12-3 pm at the UO’s EMU Amphitheater.

The second is a “silent” event planned for Saturday, June 7 in Kesey Square at Willamette and Broadway at 12 noon. “Many will have an ‘X’ painted over their mouths or will be wearing tape over their mouths as a statement of how the police are trying to silence free speech with their violence,” an email announcement states.

The events are organized by Crazy People for Wild Places , a UO student group. The group is gathering photos and media links about the taser incident here .

June 1, 2008 12:12 AM

Photos by Todd Cooper

My ears, they ring. There weren't enough bodies in the Indigo District tonight to absorb enough of the treble coming out of the speakers, which looked small but sounded big enough to hold several Johnny Whitneys and all their falsetto notes.

But I get ahead of myself. Fact is, I can't speak to either of the opening bands, as I'm still not sure who was who. The second band had a nice dose of late-’90s I'm-in-a-basement-in-New-Jersey shouting crossed with early At the Drive-In, which was a good soundtrack to sitting at the nearly empty bar and shooting the shit. But we were there to see Whitney do his diva-hand (as seen above; the guy puts Cursive's Tim Kasher to shame with the diva hand) and the littler Votolato — that'd be guitarist Cody, as opposed to singer-songwriter fella Rocky, whom I also adore — and the rest of Jaguar Love do their thing. Us and about 30 other people. The band doesn't have an album out yet, so I kind of get the low turnout, but seriously, did Blood Brothers mean nothing to you people? (Confession: I had this spaced out moment at the door and kept referring to Jaguar Love as Blood Brothers. Well, two out of five ain't bad. Sorry, Pretty Girls Make Graves Guy. It's the vocals I think of first.)

It's hard to have a lot to say about the show when you've heard just four songs by a band, but the thing is, there's something about this kind of music that I find hard to describe in the best of situations. It's not like the danceable angles of a band like Q and Not U, where there's so much space between the instruments, and it's not like the density of a good poppy punk band, either. It's — this is the best I could do — an aural assault you can dance to. It hurts, a little bit, and it kept putting me in mind of Daphne Carr's paper at this year's EMP Pop Conference. She spoke about noise rock, and at the end, the lights went out and the noise started. And, just for a little minute, I got it. It's not physical the way a vibrating bass is physical; it's more washing, more drenching, than that. It doesn't just shake your eardrums, but blisters them. You can't do it very often.

The Eugenean audience exercises the right not to rock:

Jaguar Love hits that funny place where I want to cover my ears and I want to shake my ass. (Big internet imaginary hugs to the tall skinny guy in the plaid shirt who was totally shaking his. I admire you, sir.) The last three songs were the best; they were the catchiest, the whoa-oh-ohs slipping out from under the barrage of distortion and (too-sharp) snare drum to sink in just long enough to register as something to which you actually might sing along. And so I did. Just a little.

Listen to 'em here: Jaguar Love on MySpace.

May 30, 2008 06:38 PM

Witnesses alleged police brutality after Eugene officers tasered a protester at a peaceful anti-pesticide rally today downtown and arrested three people.

About 40 citizens and 10 police officers showed up for the noon rally Friday, May 30 at the Broadway and Willamette plaza. Numerous citizen witnesses alleged that police threw UO student Ian Van Ornum, 19, to the ground, pulled his hair, kneed him in the back, ground his face into the pavement and shocked him repeatedly in an act of unjustified brutality.

“I believe that’s torture,” protester Josh Schlossberg said. Schlossberg said he did not see Van Ornum do anything illegal or that justified the arrest. “They repeatedly tasered him after he was down,” he said. “I did not see him resisting.”

“When he was on the ground fully restrained, they tasered him three times,” said protester Mary Stevens, adding that the city should be sued.

“They were dragging him by the hair,” said Amy Pincus Merwin. “They ground his face into the ground with a knee on his back.”

“They were beating him,” said Carly Barnicle, who helped organize the rally with Van Ornum. She said Van Ornum is a very peaceful person and was doing nothing illegal or resisting and asking, “why, why, why” while police assaulted him.

The Eugene Police Department issued a press release describing their version of what happened at the “otherwise peaceful” rally. The EPD alleged that Van Ornum “was blocking and impeding traffic” and holding a sprayer. EPD alleged that when contacted by an officer, Van Ornum “raised the [sprayer] wand toward the officer asking, ‘Do you want poison in your face?’” When officers “began to escort him across the street,” the EPD alleged Ornum “began fighting with the officers” and the officers arrested him “with the assistance of a taser” for “resisting arrest” and “disorderly conduct.”

Numerous citizens that witnessed the event said that Van Ornum was not doing anything illegal, fighting with officers or resisting arrest. They said the sprayer at the rally against pesticides was only water and used at previous events as a protest prop.

The EPD alleged that “a crowd of 25 to 30 people began to converge” on the arrest scene. EPD alleged that Anthony Farley, 22, “swung his fists at the officers” and arrested him for alleged “assault, interfering with a police officer and disorderly conduct.”

The EPD alleged that David Owen, 50, “ran at the officers in an attempt to interfere with the arrest.” The EPD arrested Owen alleging “interfering with a police officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.”

Numerous citizen witnesses said that Farley and Owen shouted their disapproval of the arrest along with others but did not assault officers or resist them or interfere with them or do anything illegal.

“We started yelling shame on you” and “don’t hurt him,” Merwin said.

“They said they would taser me if I stepped any closer,” said Barnicle.

Stevens said police refused to provide information on how to file a complaint.

Merwin said she has contacted the police auditor’s office to file an official complaint.

Lisa Arkin of the Oregon Toxics Alliance said she attended the rally but left before the taser incident. Arkin said it appeared that the police “purposely waited” until some of the older attendees and press had left.

Arkin said the rally focused on praising efforts by the state, city and county to limit pesticide use and was carefully organized by UO students. “These were not kids looking to cause a problem.”

The incident comes at a time of rising tension between the police and Eugene citizens.

The police union recently taunted a progressive city councilor online with an ugly caricature and a “she’s baaaack” quote from a horror movie. The union opposed councilor Bonny Bettman’s successful effort to create an independent police auditor and citizen review board to investigate complaints against officers.

Citizens criticized the police attack against a councilor and a previous written attack by the police union against an anti-global warming song at the Mayor’s state of the city speech as expressions of hate directed at the city’s liberal community. Police defended their rhetoric as free speech.

Protesters at the pesticide rally said police used a taser and violence to violate their free speech at the environmental protest.

Eugene police recently changed their policy to arm officers with tasers with few binding restrictions on their use. Where previously the EPD rarely used batons or guns to arrest subjects, the department has begun using tasers on a regular basis, always, they allege, with justification.

Tasers fire 50,000-volts into victims causing violent pain. Nationally, the controversial weapon has been linked to more than 70 deaths and hundreds of lawsuits and complaints
of police abuse.

Police tasered Ian Van Ornum (left) at an environmental rally he organized with Carly Barnicle (right). Photo is from a May 22 EW story on the planned rally.

Below is David Owen's photo from a 2006 EW story about people protesting rural herbicide use.

May 23, 2008 12:00 PM

That should be the subtitle for the new Weezer video for "Pork and Beans," the lead single from the band's new album, um, Weezer. Wait, didn't Weezer already release Weezer? I'm so confused. But I'm also glad that when my friend Jack and I saw the video for "Undone (The Sweater Song)" on 120 Minutes in the Rubin Hall lounge all those years ago, we were wrong when we agreed that the song was totally frickin' fantastic — but no one would care when Weezer released their second album.

May 21, 2008 06:02 PM

The new McKenzie-Willamette hospital could be built on a widely-supported downtown site centered on the Eugene Clinic under a proposal sent to the hospital this morning, May 21, by Eugene planning director Susan Muir.

The site centers on the medical clinic at 12th and Olive streets and its surrounding surface parking lots as well as adjacent largely underutilized downtown real estate. A similar downtown site was once proposed as an alternative to moving PeaceHealth to Riverbend by a coalition of progressives opposed to urban sprawl.

Muir wrote that the site offers the wide support, size, easier approval, lower cost, quicker construction and high visibility that the hospital has said it needs. The downtown location "will be of maximum benefit to all parties, build upon our existing assets and continue to create a vibrant, economic center within our city and our region," Muir wrote.

The city council has expressed "unanimous support" for a downtown hospital and the clinic site has "very strong support across broad spectrums of our elected officials, as well as our community," Muir wrote. Muir said the city has approached PeaceHealth to talk about the city purchasing an option for the clinic property or selling the property directly to McKenzie-Willamette.

The site, adjacent property and nearby room for medical office buildings totals about 22 acres spanning over up to a dozen downtown blocks, according to Muir. That’s larger than the 13-acre UO Riverfront Research Park that the hospital recently expressed interest in.

Muir described the regulatory approval process for the site as "minimal." The clinic site "is in the heart of our city and already planned to accommodate the type of trips your hospital would propose," she wrote.

With the help of city urban renewal funds, the site can be made "shovel ready" within the price the hospital has said it is willing to pay, Muir wrote. The downtown location requires less spending on new road and other infrastructure, she said.

A hospital could be finished at the clinic site within the preferred four-year time frame expressed by McKenzie-Willamette, according to Muir. PeaceHealth has said it will vacate the clinic not later than the end of 2010. Before then, McKenzie-Willamette will have time to work on building plans and approvals.

The centrally located site has high visibility and is easily accessible, and near the bus station, downtown library and BRT line, Muir wrote.

If the hospital chooses the site, Muir said the city will offer substantial help and subsidies. The city will pay for a new 500-car parking garage for the hospital by expanding the downtown urban renewal district, vacate parts of 12th and Olive and public alleys and give the land to the hospital, pay for or waive regulator fees and assist with the acquisition of land for the project.

Here's a link to a Google map of the proposed hospital site. Not all
the identified potential land/buildings may be used for the project.

May 21, 2008 01:27 PM


Congrats, charming boys from Washington!

May 21, 2008 12:41 AM

The Eugene mayor's race and north county commissioner race appear headed for runoffs in November.

Candidates in the races failed to cross the 50 percent threshold required to win outright in the primary.

With apparently most votes counted by midnight, county elections reported that Jim Torrey had about 49 percent of the vote compared to Piercy's 48 percent. Candidates Nick Urhausen and Jim Ray split the remaining 3 percent.

In the race for North Eugene county commissioner, Rob Handy had 48 percent compared to incumbent Bobby Green's 46 percent. Steve Sherbina had 2 percent of the vote while Nadia Sindi had 4 percent.

A November runoff could favor conservatives Torrey and Green. Without a contested Presidential primary, Republican turnout was comparatively lower in May but could be higher in November. Torrey and Green also may be able to tap deeper developer pockets for an extended campaign. On the other hand, Democrats may also turn out in great numbers in November with the hot Presidential race.

The tight local races for the pivotal mayor and county commission swing vote could serve to galvanize supporters on both sides to fight harder for their candidates.

May 20, 2008 09:49 PM

The Eugene mayor's race is looking razor close, and Rob Handy has a small lead over incumbent County Commissioner Bobby Green.

With a rough estimate of 60 percent of Eugene votes counted at 9 pm, Kitty Piercy trails Jim Torrey by 36 votes. County elections reports Piercy with 47.74 percent of the vote and Torrey with 47.85 percent.

Both candidates need at least 50 percent to avoid a runoff in November. Conservative Nick Urhausen has 2.26 percent. Jim Ray has 1.4 percent.

Handy leads Commissioner Green by about 1.5 percentage points. Handy has 47.38 percent with Green at 45.87 percent. Both need to cross the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff.

Eugene City Councilor Andrea Ortiz is handily beating challenger John Crane. Ortiz has 59 percent to Crane's 40 percent. Crane has reported a record breaking $25,500 in donations to his campaign, mostly from development interests.

The EWEB board appears about to take a greener, more progressive turn. Three candidates endorsed by Eugene Weekly—Joann Ernst, Bob Cassidy and Rich Cunningham—enjoy comfortable leads.

May 16, 2008 04:22 PM

Kitty Piercy, Jim Torrey, Jim Ray and Nick Urhausen faced off in a taped mayor's debate hosted by Fox TV on May 14.

Questions came from the candidates and a media panel from Eugene Weekly, The Register Guard, KLCC and FOX TV.

Fox plans to broadcast the one-hour debate on Saturday, May 17 from 6-7 pm. KEVU-TV will also air the debate on Saturday from 7-8 pm.

To listen to the debate audio, check our podcast.

May 16, 2008 10:50 PM

I guess big contributions from developers don't buy proof readers.

Torrey mailer

Crane ad
Then again, given the recent sex scandals, maybe we do need to "improve the moral[s] of our police force."

May 15, 2008 11:42 AM

Patrick Hayden

This week, dive-loving music writer Jeremy Ohmes previewed Doubles, the new solo album from Patrick Hayden, whom Eugene music fans may also know, as Jeremy noted, from a handful of other projects. I wasn't quite sure where Hayden's possibly-best-known ensemble, Deke Falcon, stood on the matter of breakups and reunions and members leaving town, so in the midst of reading Jeremy's story, I emailed to ask. Hayden's response was worth of its very own post. So here you go.

Deke Falcon reunites as much as possible, but Dave [Clark] and Jordan [Glenn] are both away at their various versions of "art school," and Will "mango" Lindsey has been busy being (until recently) a Metal Blade Recording Artist. Doubles is not so much a band name or even a unified concept as it is a vague reference to Deke Falcon's great, "lost" second album ... which will one day see the light, I swear, if for no other reason than to function as a kind of corrective or revision of the semi-annoying perception of our band as a bunch of boilermaker-swilling, doo rag-donning mill workers. The reality is far less flattering: As any Mex Pistol could tell you, Deke Falcon was really just a bunch of scarf-wearing art waifs.

But the Doubles songs were written at the same time as the latter-day Falcon activity, and sort of function as more challenging, sometimes lugubrious "cousins" to their more bar rock-y Falcon foils. Among other things, recording the album was an opportunity for Jordan Glenn and Patrick Hayden to indulge certain idiosyncracies and explore the margins of the rock song structures that Deke Falcon approach with more of a reverent, historical re-enactment vibe. That said, we actually have played one or two Falcon songs without it seeming too "greatest hits"-y, I think.

While my Snider, Smith, Walker (feat. Dan Jones) lineup is not really a "new band" as such, it does bring to fruition a bunch of my key musical associations from recent years. Drummer Rob Smith — who also did the amazing pen and ink cover drawing — was my college roommate and a co-conspirator with me on the Nasvhille indie scene of the early 2000s. Guitar player and geologist Barry Walker is another frat brother from the TN days. It's nice to have this occasion to sorta "introduce" these two beloved Dixie badasses to Eugene rock audiences, and adding Dan Jones and [Dave] Snider to the mix really raises my own expectations of a full-blown, "Varsity Team"-level performance that is actually giving me a nervous tic, at the moment. I better go do some pushups.

There you have it. Patrick Hayden's varsity team CD release is this Saturday night at Sam Bond's. Go forth and listen!

May 15, 2008 02:36 PM

Apart from one misguided font selection (dude, is that Papyrus?), the trailer for Joss Whedon's Dollhouse looks downright stunning.

Can't wait. Can't wait. Trying not to get hopes up. But they didn't cancel The Sarah Connor Chronicles! So sometimes they can get things right! Right?

Can't wait.

May 12, 2008 09:52 AM

For those of you who missed the City Club mayor's debate, the audio can be found at the KLCC website . Mayor Kitty Piercy had to read her opening and closing statements fast, but she emailed out the words, if you didn't catch them:

Piercy's Opening Two-Minute Statement

I love Eugene and enjoy being your Mayor, moving our community forward with optimism and determination.

I’ve looked at the deluge of Jim Torrey ads and I frankly don’t recognize his Eugene. Neither should you, it’s fictional.

The truth is that while the world is not a perfect place, Eugene has moved forward.

In just three years, we’ve put in place an economic development plan based on sustainable green jobs and practices. And, our work’s been recognized. National Geographic’s Green Guide named Eugene America’s #1 green city (" a power house of green industry") and Popular Science chose Eugene as #5 green city. At the same time Forbes chose us #36 out of the top 200 American cities to do business in and Fortune chose us as one of the nation’s top 100 cities to start a small business in.

We’re working together in all new and inclusive ways. Together we settled an LTD strike, passed a parks bond and library levy, brought two Olympic Track and Field Trials to Eugene and leaders from environment, business, and government are working together on traffic solutions for West Eugene for the first time in over 20 years. I have reached across all wards of this community in over 6,000 meetings and opened city hall to all.

There are old problems left from the Torrey years that I’ve worked steadily to resolve. In just 3 years, we’ve completed over $17 million dollars in road repairs and pothole fills. We’ve worked to reestablish trust in our police with the civilian review board. We’ve begun reinvigorating our downtown, refurbishing the old Symantec building and filling it with 200 new employees and built the new Westtown on 8th affordable housing.

We’re challenged by the county’s financial woes and will work with them to serve our people and keep our community safe. Eugene will continue to move forward, responding to the challenges and the opportunities before us. This is the Eugene I know and love.

Piercy's Closing Two-Minute Statement

You have real stark choices between us. This is a pitched battle for Eugene’s future. Do we want unbridled growth or to continue down a path of smart growth that ensures good jobs and livability?

The money tells the story clearly. Jim Torrey has piles of money from construction and development interests who would just like to construct and build without constraint.

I am backed by over 800 individuals, (with average contributions of about $130) who are committed to growing thoughtfully in ways that benefit us all, not simply the few.

I’ve been threatened over my efforts to protect our wetlands and headwaters for future generations. Did I let threats keep me from doing what I think is right. No.

And let’s speak truth. The last four years have been full of optimism and rebuilding pride in our community. We are nationally known for our green practices and good business environment. We’re facing the future – not the past.

Let’s not forget the mean spiritedness of the "gang of nine;" public battles in the streets; losing our hospital and Glenwood; the closing of stores downtown; the Lara/Magaña case; and the failure to fully address street repairs.

Is this the world you want back?

We are deeply affected by national policies on federal timber payments, tax cuts and the war in Iraq. My opponent supported this president and this war.

I have worked with the entire city council. When I became Mayor, the council had but one shared goal. Now there are 11, each with a work plan.

The most ridiculous thing being said is that in this community we have stopped talking to each other. That is simply not true. Folks of all stripes are working on downtown revitalization; doable traffic solutions in West Eugene; headwaters protection; and homelessness.

I am proud of this community. We are reopening storefronts and revitalizing our downtown. We are filling potholes and building affordable housing. We are building parks and supporting our library. We are creating new jobs and keeping our economy healthy in challenging times. We are working with partners at all levels in ever more productive ways. We are protecting all the things that make this such a great community.