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ACLU "troubled" by Lucero reassignment in North Bend School District

NORTH BEND — In a statement to The World, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon says it is “troubled” by North Bend School District’s reassignment of former high school principal.

“It is troubling that people with a clear track record of violating student rights will remain in positions of power in the district,” Kelly Simon wrote in an email, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Oregon. “It is also concerning that the district still has not acknowledged the harms they have caused our clients and other LGBTQ students in North Bend.”

This is in reaction to the district’s announcement earlier this week that it was moving former principal Bill Lucero to the North Bend Middle School as the new vice principal. This change was forced by a settlement agreement between the district and the ACLU of Oregon, which specified that Lucero be removed from any high school position and restricted him from becoming the principal at the middle school.

The settlement was a result after two students revealed discrimination against LGBTQ students from the administration, a teacher who referred to same sex marriage as bestiality, and at least one student being forced to read the Bible as punishment.

The World has asked whether or not Lucero is receiving a pay cut with the demotion, but is still waiting on an answer.

“Administrators and students in North Bend should know that the ACLU of Oregon will closely monitor the implementation of the settlement to ensure that students do not continue to face discrimination,” Simon wrote.

Also since the settlement was reached, the Oregon Department of Education canceled the hearing to discuss the discrimination allegations back in May. ODE Communications Director Marc Siegel explained that though the department can’t change the settlement and is not one of the active parties in it, it is still reviewing it to make sure no further action is needed on their part.

“The Oregon Department of Education is committed to assisting school districts in providing safe and respectful places of learning for all students,” Siegel wrote in an email. “All students deserve to feel valued, welcome and safe at school. . . .”

Ed Glazar, The World 

JUNE 27, 2018 — Employee Matthew Vige puts vegetables on a grill Wednesday outside the Coos Head Food Co-op in Coos Bay. Employees at the store put together a vegan barbecue to share the taste of plant based foods such as jackfruit, a tropical fruit that has a meat-like flesh.

Ed Glazar, The World 

Barbecue sandwiches made with jackfruit.

Justice Kennedy retiring; Trump gets second pick

WASHINGTON — Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court's decisive man in the middle on abortion, gay rights and other contentious issues, announced his retirement Wednesday, giving President Donald Trump a golden chance to cement conservative control of the nation's highest court.

The 81-year-old Kennedy, often a voice of moderation over three decades on the court, provided the key vote on such closely divided issues as affirmative action, guns, campaign finance and voting rights in addition to same-sex marriage and the right to abortion.

Kennedy informed his colleagues of his plans, then went to the White House to meet with Trump, where the president said they talked for half an hour about a potential successor and other topics. The retirement will take effect at the end of July.

Trump praised Kennedy as a man of "tremendous vision" and said his search for a new justice would begin "immediately."

Without Kennedy, the court will be split between four liberal justices who were appointed by Democratic presidents and four conservatives who were named by Republicans. Trump's nominee, likely to give the conservatives a solid majority, will face a Senate confirmation process in which Republicans hold the slimmest majority but Democrats can't prevent a vote.

Several former law clerks have said that Kennedy, a nominee of President Ronald Reagan, preferred to be replaced by a Republican. If he had waited, and if Democrats had taken control of the Senate in November, Trump could have found it more difficult to get his choice confirmed.

The other two older justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, and Stephen Breyer, 79, are Democratic appointees who would not appear to be going anywhere during a Trump administration if they can help it.

Trump's first high court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed in April 2017. If past practice is any indication, the president will name a nominee within weeks, setting in motion a process that could allow confirmation by the time the court reconvenes in early October.

Trump already has a list of 25 candidates — 24 judges and Utah Sen. Mike Lee — and has said he would choose a nominee from that list.

Abortion is likely to be one of the flash points in the nomination fight. Kennedy has mainly supported abortion rights in his time on the court, and Trump has made clear he would try to choose justices who want to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Such a dramatic ruling may not be immediately likely, but a more conservative court might be more willing to sustain abortion restrictions.

"If Donald Trump, who has promised to overturn Roe v. Wade, picks someone who is anti-choice, the future of Roe v. Wade is very much in question," said David Cole, national legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Interest groups across the political spectrum are expected to mobilize to support and fight the nomination because it is so likely to push the court to the right.

Republicans currently hold a bare 51-49 majority in the Senate, although that includes the ailing Sen. John McCain of Arizona. If Democrats stand united in opposition to Trump's choice, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky can lose no more than one vote. If the Senate divides 50-50, Vice President Mike Pence could break a tie to confirm the nominee.

Prominent on the list of possible successors are Judges Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania and William Pryor of Alabama, who were seriously considered for the seat eventually filled by Gorsuch, and Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who serves on the federal appeals court in Washington. Judges Amy Coney Barrett, whom Trump named to the federal appeals court in Chicago, and Raymond Kethledge, a former Kennedy law clerk who serves on the appeals court based in Cincinnati, also may be considered.

Kavanaugh is a longtime Washington insider, also a onetime Kennedy clerk and a key member of independent counsel Kenneth Starr's team that produced the report that served as the basis for President Bill Clinton's impeachment. In October, Kavanaugh dissented when his court ruled that a teenage migrant in federal custody should be able to obtain an abortion immediately.

Regardless of who replaces him, Kennedy's departure will be a major change for the high court, where he has been the crucial swing vote for more than a decade. He has sided with the liberal justices on gay rights and abortion rights, as well as some cases involving race, the death penalty and the rights of people detained without charges at the Guantanamo Bay naval base. He has written all the court's major gay-rights decisions, including the 2015 ruling that declared same-sex marriage is a constitutional right nationwide.

However, he also has been a key vote when conservatives have won major rulings on the outcome of the 2000 presidential election in favor of George W. Bush, on gun rights, limiting regulation of campaign money and gutting a key provision of the landmark federal Voting Rights Act.

Few obstacles seem to stand in the way of confirming Kennedy's replacement before the court reconvenes in October. Republicans changed the rules during Gorsuch's confirmation to wipe out the main delaying tactic for Supreme Court nominees, the filibuster, and the need for 60 votes to defeat it.

Ed Glazar, The World 

Vegetables sizzle on a grill outside the Coos Head Food Co-op on Wednesday.

The Associated Press 

Oregon State pitcher Jake Mulholland, center, celebrates with catcher Adley Rutschman after Oregon State beat Arkansas 5-3 in Game 2 of the NCAA College World Series baseball finals on Wednesday.

Culvert project at U.S. Highway 101 and Highway 42 split is halfway complete

COOS BAY — The Oregon Department of Transportation will begin its second phase of the culvert replacement at the U.S. Highway 101 and Highway 42 split next week. 

The failing culvert is being replaced by two bridges one for northbound traffic and the other for southbound traffic.

Construction of the southbound bridge has been completed, and now traffic will be rerouted so that construction may begin on the northbound bridge.

“Right now they’re putting in the detour route so that they can get all the traffic over on to that southbound bridge. They have to get all the northbound traffic, all the stuff coming off of 42 and 101 onto one lane on that southbound bridge we just finished,” project manager with ODOT, Don Duey said.

Southbound traffic has already been moved to one of the lanes on the new bridge. Construction crews will soon be moving northbound traffic onto the second lane of the new bridge.

Northbound traffic has had two lanes open throughout the duration of the project, but it will soon be down to a single lane once it's moved onto the new bridge. Duey expects traffic to slow down more than it has through the construction zone with the loss of the extra lane.

“People are going to have to go slow through that detour, because they’re only going to have the one lane now. I know it’s a big traffic impact for people going through there, but hopefully they’ll be careful and we’ll get through it,” Duey said.

Completion date for the culvert replacement is Oct. 31. Work on the project has been going on for a few months now and construction is on schedule. Cost to replace the culvert is around $3.2 million.

“They’re on schedule so far, but they’ve got clear till the end of October to get it all done,” Duey said.

In the coming weeks, once traffic is redirected to the southbound bridge, construction crews will begin excavating the remaining parts of the culvert to begin building the bridge.

“Pretty quickly they’ll be working on pulling out the old culverts and putting the stream bed in. then they’ll face building the northbound bridge,” Duey said.

Several years ago ODOT noticed the culvert was sinking. There was a crack in the box that allowed dirt to get in to the culvert and weigh it down.

“It was one big single box culvert that went under there, so these bridges will take the place of that. There’s also a tide gate that will go away,” Duey said.

Replacing the culvert and tide gate with bridges will open up the waterway to South Port Slough allowing for better fish flow.

This particular culvert replacement is part of a series ODOT road constructions along Highways 38, 42 and Highway 101 aimed at creating a priority route from the I-5 corridor in the event of the Cascadia earthquake.