Willamette Valley News, Tuesday 5/17 – Eugene Starbucks Employees Strike, Eugene Police Warn About Rental Property Scams, Woman With Gun Taken into Custody at Spencer Butte Park

The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Willamette Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s WillametteValleyMagazine.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Willamette Valley Weather

Eugene Starbucks Employees Strike

Starbucks store employees are protesting against the coffee chain in Eugene today. This is in response to an alleged unlawful termination of three union organizers in the Pacific Northwest.

The strike started at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning at the Starbucks located at 1895 Franklin Boulevard. 

Starbucks Workers United said the protest was in retaliation to the company’s alleged union-busting tactics. Employees said they have faced threats, intimidation, enforcement of unprecedented policies, denial of benefits and the imposition of stricter discipline from the company.

“Starbucks has continued to cut workers’ hours, coerce them into voting against union representation by mischaracterizing the law and preemptively refusing to engage in good faith bargaining,” Starbucks Workers United said. “Starbucks has failed to recognize their union despite having no good-faith reason not to”.

This strike follows Franklin and Villard’s election victory to become certified as a union with the National Labor Relations Board. The workers at this Starbucks location in Eugene voted 17-0 in favor of a union, joining the 70 other stores nationwide that have successfully won their elections, Starbucks Workers United said.

Eugene Police Warn About Rental Property Scams

“We have received several reports of citizens who rented apartments or homes, paying a deposit and often first month’s rent, only to find the property they rented was not actually available,” Eugene Police said Monday. “The person who placed the advertisement was not the home’s owner or the property manager of the apartment.”

This is a good time to remind everyone about this type of scam. How to avoid rental or real estate scams (Information from FTC)

How Rental Scams Work – Scammers know that finding the right apartment or vacation rental can be hard work, and a seemingly good deal is hard to pass up. They’ve been known to game some vacation rental websites and bulletin boards. The take-away: when you’re looking for a rental, it’s caveat renter — renter beware.

If it’s too good to be true, it’s not true. Do your due diligence; physically tour the apartment or home before you rent. If you are renting in a new city, research the property management company and call the different numbers provided and make sure you are talking to that company, and not a scammer.

Hijacked Ads- Some scammers hijack a real rental or real estate listing by changing the email address or other contact information, and placing the modified ad on another site. The altered ad may even use the name of the person who posted the original ad. In other cases, scammers have hijacked the email accounts of property owners on reputable vacation rental websites.

Phantom Rentals – Other rip-off artists make up listings for places that aren’t for rent or don’t exist, and try to lure you in with the promise of low rent, or great amenities. Their goal is to get your money before you find out. Often they target people by placing Craig’s List Ads advertising apartments or homes for rent at a low price. They ask for a deposit and / or 1st month’s rent via online means such as Zelle or Paypal, or wiring the money.

Signs of a Scam – Being savvy when you’re in search of a rental is well worth the effort. Here are some signs you may be dealing with a scam:

They tell you to wire money – This is the surest sign of a scam. There’s never a good reason to wire money to pay a security deposit, application fee, first month’s rent, or vacation rental fee. That’s true even if they send you a contract first. Wiring money is the same as sending cash — once you send it, you have no way to get it back.

They want a security deposit or first month’s rent before you’ve met or signed a lease – It’s never a good idea to send money to someone you’ve never met in person for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it’s for rent, and that it is what was advertised. In addition to setting up a meeting, do a search on the owner and listing. If you find the same ad listed under a different name, that’s a clue it may be a scam.

They say they’re out of the country – But they have a plan to get the keys into your hands. It might involve a lawyer or an “agent” working on their behalf. Some scammers even create fake keys. Don’t send money to them overseas. If you can’t meet in person, see the apartment, or sign a lease before you pay, keep looking. What if the rental itself is overseas? Paying with a credit card or through a reputable vacation rental website with its own payment system are your safest bets.

They are not physically present at a showing – There have been several reports of people who do the entire transaction online, up to and including showing up at an apartment where they are given a code to enter the building and actually tour the apartment. If you are renting an apartment, make sure you meet with the property manager or company representative in person to look at the apartment.

How to Report Scams – If you find yourself the target of a rental scam, report it to your local law enforcement agency and to the FTC. Contact the website where the ad was posted, too.

Woman With Gun Taken into Custody at Spencer Butte Park

At approximately 2:45pm Monday LCSO deputies and EPD officers responded to Spencer Butte Park on S. Willamette St. regarding the report of an armed subject. 

A caller had advised that a female was in the park waving a gun around and pointing it at her head. 

Upon arrival officers and deputies began searching for the female.  She was seen near the parking lot and retreated into the brush when contacted by authorities. 

As officers and deputies closed in on her, she continued to try and walk away from them. She was taken into custody and a bb-gun was found in her possession. 

The female was identified as 39 year old Shelly Ann Reed. Reed had a confirmed warrant for her arrest from an unrelated case.  She was lodged at the Lane County Jail on the warrant and a new charge of Disorderly Conduct. LCSO Case # 22-2681 Lane Co. Sheriff’s Office 

We want to keep you informed about COVID-19 in Oregon. Data are provisional and change frequently. This report covers the three-day period from May 13 to May 15, 2022. Visit our dashboard, linked below, and hover over the new cases graph to view new presumptive and confirmed case numbers reported to OHA by date. For more information, including COVID-19 data by county, visit our dashboard: http://ow.ly/cNGB50J9om6

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows an increase trend in cases, test positivity and hospitalizations. Vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus for more information.

State health officials are urging schools across Oregon to return to COVID-19 safety measures as cases of COVID-19 begin to increase again. Six counties — including the tri-county metro area — saw their COVID-19 levels rise from low to medium this past week. Cases in the metro area are up more than 40 percent from woo weeks ago. State health officials say schools should reinstate masking policies before returning to remote learning again.

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Important Election Information

Registered voters in Oregon who have yet to vote in the May primary can choose between several options Tuesday to cast their ballot.

Voters can, for the first time in state history, mail their ballots as late as Election Day and have them count, as long as they are postmarked Tuesday. Up until 8 p.m., voters can also drop their ballot off at their county elections office or an official drop site.  This link on the Secretary of State’s website will help locate drop boxes near you.

  • May 17, 2022 – County Clerk’s office open 7 am – 8 pm. Official dropsites open until 8 pm, for minimum of 8 hours. (Primary Election)
  • May 17, 2022 – Last day to file write-in declaration or write-in nomination for precinct committeeperson. Must be filed no later than 8 pm. (Primary Election)
  • May 17, 2022 – Last day for voter to return ballot. Ballots that are mailed must be postmarked by election day. Ballots deposited in an official drop box must be received by 8 pm on election day. (May Election)

MORE INFO: https://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Pages/election-information.aspx

Oregon Being Sued Over Failure To Provide Public Defenders

Criminal defendants in Oregon who have gone without legal representation for long periods of time amid a critical shortage of public defense attorneys filed a lawsuit Monday that alleges the state violated their constitutional right to legal counsel and a speedy trial.

The complaint, which seeks class-action status, was filed as state lawmakers and the Oregon Office of Public Defense Services struggle to address the huge shortage of public defenders statewide.

The crisis has led to the dismissal of dozens of cases and left an estimated 500 defendants statewide — including several dozen in custody on serious felonies — without legal representation. Crime victims are also impacted because cases are taking longer to reach resolution, a delay that experts say extends their trauma, weakens evidence and erodes confidence in the justice system, especially among low-income and minority groups.

“There is a public defense crisis raging across this country,” said Jason D. Williamson, executive director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at New York University School of Law, who helped prepare the filing. “But Oregon is among only a handful of states that is now entirely depriving people of their constitutional right to counsel on a daily basis, leaving countless indigent defendants without access to an attorney for months at a time.”

The lawsuit specifically names Gov. Kate Brown and Stephen Singer, the recently appointed executive director of the state’s public defense agency, and asks for a court injunction ordering criminal defendants to be released if they can’t be provided with an attorney in a reasonable period of time. The lawsuit doesn’t specify what would be considered “reasonable.”

Singer said he could not comment until he had fully reviewed the lawsuit. Brown’s office declined to comment on pending litigation.

Oregon’s system to provide attorneys for criminal defendants who can’t afford them was underfunded and understaffed before COVID-19, but a significant slowdown in court activity during the pandemic pushed it to a breaking point. A backlog of cases is flooding the courts and defendants routinely are arraigned and then have their hearing dates postponed up to two months in the hopes a public defender will be available later.

A report by the American Bar Association released in January found Oregon has 31% of the public defenders it needs. Every existing attorney would have to work more than 26 hours a day during the workweek to cover the caseload, the authors said.

Public defenders warned that the system was on the brink of collapse before the pandemic.

In 2019, some attorneys even picketed outside the state Capitol for higher pay and reduced caseloads. But lawmakers didn’t act and months later, COVID-19 crippled the courts. There were no felony or misdemeanor jury trials in April 2020 and access to the court system was greatly curtailed for months, with only limited in-person proceedings and remote services provided.

The situation is more complicated than in other states because Oregon’s public defender system is the only one in the nation that relies entirely on contractors. Cases are doled out to either large nonprofit defense firms, smaller cooperating groups of private defense attorneys that contract for cases or independent attorneys who can take cases at will.

Now, some of those large nonprofit firms are periodically refusing to take new cases because of the overload. Private attorneys — they normally serve as a relief valve where there are conflicts of interest — are increasingly also rejecting new clients because of the workload, poor pay rates and late payments from the state.

Governor Brown Discusses Oregon Wildfire Season

As Oregon approaches wildfire season, Governor Kate Brown held a news conference Monday with several fire officials to discuss how the state is getting prepared. Wildfires are becoming more of a threat across the Pacific Northwest, and Oregon has faced several challenging fire seasons over the past few years.

As summer approaches forecasters say Central Oregon has the highest fire risk. The outlook shows above-normal fire risk spreading across the state as the season progresses.

Gov. Kate Brown said Monday that last year’s passage of Senate Bill 762 has allowed the state to add additional seasonal firefighters in preparation for the drier months and purchase more aircraft. Hiring enough firefighters has proven a challenge nationwide this year.

May is Wildfire Prevention Month and ODOT and Keep Oregon Green want to make sure your summer memories don’t include starting a wildfire. Over 70% of wildfires are caused by people and in Oregon last year, cars were the number one source of wildfires during the summer months.

With persistent and deepening drought conditions, we’re all becoming more aware of the potential wildfire dangers our vehicles pose. And that means we all need to remember the lessons about how to make sure our vehicles don’t cause devastating wildfires.

The wildfire risk gradually increases as grasses cure, forests dry out and winds give accidental sparks or car fires the ability to spread quickly. Remember, we all have a role in preventing wildfires in Oregon, especially as extended drought conditions create a greater window of opportunity for roadside ignitions.

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Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Asks for Public’s Help in Search For Trucker Suspect

The first real clue to come in on all the missing person cases in the area. Help Klamath Falls Oregon Sheriff Office ID this trucker. He was the last to see this woman alive and could be the key to not only solving this woman’s disappearance but a number of the hundred other women missing in PNW. IF you have any information, please call (541) 883-5130


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