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Friday, August 15, 2014

Wildfires in Oregon

In recent weeks wildfires have plagued portions of the Pacific Northwest. On July 16th Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has declared a state emergency and mobilized the Oregon National Guard. This week light rain and lowering temperatures have helped to calm the ongoing fires. Despite the recent good news about the wildfires a lot of Oregonians are threatened or affected by the ongoing crisis.

Both the Federal and State forest services put a lot of great information online. Keeping up to date on wildfires can help keep you safe. No one wants to find themselves in the danger zone of an active fire. The Following websites are great places to get up to date fire information:

Northwest Interagency Coordination Center publishes a constantly updated map of fire incidents around the Northwest. The map plots the areas of the fires and tags the fires with detailed information about their status. The map provides geographic plotting of fire extent and links to the Inciweb entries for each fire.

The National Wildfire Coordinating group maintains this official online database of active and inactive fires across the United States. This database is updated minute by minute with detailed data on wildfires in the United States. You can display incidents by state, age, status and type. The individual reports on incidents include a summary of the situation, contact information, a map, images and links to news releases. 

The Oregon department of Forestry and the United States department of Forestry also maintain their own websites devoted to wildfires in the state. 

Oregon and Federal planning for forest fires started well before the fires broke out and will continue well after they are out. Key to the efforts are the laws and regulations of the state of Oregon.
Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 477
This is the statute that governs the fire protection of forests and vegetation in the state of Oregon. Some highlights include
  • ORS 477.066 – The Duty of an owner to conduct fire abatement  
  • ORS 477.510 – Acts prohibited during fire season
Title 629 – Department of Forestry;  Division 42 – Fire Control
Oregonians have for decades been working on and thinking of ways to manage the great forests of our state. Here is preamble and summery of the 1925 act creating the state board of forestry. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dictionaries: Revolution and Philological Society of London

We all know there are few activities as satisfyingly conclusive as looking a word up in a dictionary. A dictionary definition is synonymous with unbiased and certain fact. Dictionaries are institutions of staid and magisterial certainty.
Nothing could be farther from the truth! Two of the most respected dictionaries in the English language are rooted in a 19th century ideological struggle that grew in part from an 18th century.
Noah Webster wrote in 1828 in the introduction to his American Dictionary of the English Language:
It is not only important, but, in a degree necessary, that the people of this country, should have a American Dictionary of the English Language; for although the body of the language is the same as in England, and it is desirable to perpetuate that sameness, yet some differences exist. Language is the expression of ideas; and if the people of one country cannot preserve the identity of ideas that cannot retain an identity of language.
Webster himself was an ardent American nationalist and revolutionary. He was a constitutional pamphleteer and an editor of the Federalist Party newspaper. He viewed his dictionary as an active agent of American exceptionalism. Indeed in the introduction to his dictionary he wrote:
I present it to my fellow citizens, not with frigid indifference, but with my ardent wishes for their improvement and their happiness; and for the continued increase of the wealth, the learning, the moral and religious elevation of the character, and the glory of my country.
Webster’s dictionary was not a cold and impartial arbiter of language but as a lively argument for “the glory of my country”. The dictionary had a parochial guiding vision. It denigrated references to King’s commissions and outmoded terms of nobility such as heraldry while lifting up American institutions such as land-office and selectmen.
Thirty years later the Philological Society of London would enunciate an entirely different purpose for a dictionary. In 1859 the Unregistered Words Committee published a ‘Proposal for the Publication of a New English Dictionary by the Philological Society’ which declaimed in its first principle:
The first requirement of every lexicon is that it should contain every word occurring in the literature of the language it professes to illustrate.
The exhaustive and exhausting proposal took almost thirty years to become complete Oxford English Dictionary.
This dictionary, as it proclaimed in its 1933 preface, was presented to both the English King George the Fifth and the President of the United States. Though it might be noted the particular President (Calvin Coolidge) remained unnamed. The compilers of this dictionary rejected the parochialism of a national dictionary. They claimed to represent a comprehensive record of the entire language. This was the magisterial and authoritative dictionary of today’s imagination.
Yet it is important to remember that the heart of the dictionary is an argument. More it is an argument about words. Webster and the Philological Society represent two arguments in a fight over your words. In essence they are fighting over the contents of your very thoughts.
Who would have thought just picking up a dictionary could be so dangerous?

If you dare, visit the State of Oregon Law Library and take a look at copies of every edition of both the

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Oregon and World War 1

One hundred years ago on July 28th Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia starting what would eventually be called the first world war. The war quickly escalated. By August 4th Germany had started a invasion of France and violated Belgium’s neutrality. Britain’s declaration of war on Germany followed shortly after on August 4th 1914.

When the United States entered the war on April 6th 1917 Oregon did its part in the war effort. The Daily Capital Journal reported in its April 6th issue that the Third Oregon Regiment had completed its initial muster.

Posters from the period called on Oregonians to join the armed forces. Even librarians were enlisted in the war effort!

Despite public calls for enlistment President Wilson was disappointed with the voluntary enlistment numbers. The Selective Service Act of 1917 (40 Stat. 76), which is available to view in our collection here in the Law Llibrary, initially required all males 21 to 30 to register. In 1918 the age range was expanded to males 18 to 45. By the end of the war over 2.8 million people were drafted.

Oregon contributed thousands of those registrations. The Genealogical Forum of Oregon has indexed almost 180 thousand WW1 draft registrations. They also provide copies of those registrations for a nominal fee.

Not everyone in Oregon supported the war. A well known Oregonian labor activist named Marie Equi demonstrated publicly against the war. By the start of the war Equi was already famous for aiding victims of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Equi was locally well known for a dispute with Reverend Orson D. Taylor in 1893 over $100 in wages. Following through on a threat she horsewhipped the Reverend in front of his real estate office. While she didn’t get the $100 from him residents of Dallas, OR auctioned off the whip for more than $100 the proceeds going to Miss Equi.

And On May 16, 1918 congress passed the Sedition Act of 1918. This act made it a crime to “willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of the Government of the United States” or “willfully urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of the production" of the things "necessary or essential to the prosecution of the war."

Equi was arrested in 1918 during a demonstration at the Industrial Works of the World against the war. She was convicted on December 31 and sentenced to three years in prison. Adamn Hodges’ article “At War Over the Espionage act in Portland” (Oregon Historical Quarterly Volume 108 No. 3) is available in the Law Library and is a great place to start learning more about Marie Equi.

For a more general history Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August is a Pulitzer Prize winning book that covers the earliest stages of the war.

LawWatch saved searches

Time for another pro-tip for legal research: save your searches in Loislaw using LawWatch.

Saving your searches is a quick and easy way to get constant updates on a topic that you're interested in. By signing up for LawWatch, you can guarantee that you won't miss any new information on your research. Here's how it works:

  1. Perform your search in Loislaw
  2. On the results page, look for the green button at the top of the page that says "Save Search"
  3. Loislaw will take your search, and give you the option to activate LawWatch
  4. You can either sign up for email updates, or you can check on your LawWatch searches each time you log in to Loislaw
Next time you log in to Loislaw, look for the "LawWatch & Saved Searches" option in the menu bar at the top of any page to easily be connected to your search results. It's that easy!

Keep an eye on our blog for more search tips from the State of Oregon Law Library and have a great week!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Food carts coming to Salem

Salem will soon be home to a sight familiar to Oregonians elsewhere in the state. On July 14th the City Council of the City of Salem approved changes to the city code that will allow food trucks to be operated within the city. In particular:

    · Licenses are available in 12 month increments without a site plan

    · The 2 hour limit on placement of food truck is removed

    · The 500 foot spacing requirement is removed

A copy of the ordinance itself is available here. The changes take place immediately.

The spread of food trucks is not without controversy and not everyone is happy to see food trucks come to Salem. The Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association expressed its reservations in a July 1st open letter to the city council. The ORLA expresses concern that mobile food carts are not subject to the same inspection standards as traditional restaurants. They argue that rules meant to govern ostensibly mobile food carts are ineffective in regulating immobile densely packed food carts.

National and local street vending advocacy groups contest these points. The Salem Food Truck Association and The National Street Vending Initiative claim that food trucks are at least as safe as traditional restaurants. Indeed, The National Street Vending Initiative conducted a study that backs up these claims.

If you are a Salemite and you are chomping at the bit to get your genius food idea out onto the streets of Salem the State of Oregon Health Authority has some resources for you. Their website on food safety contains some vital information for anyone looking to open a food cart.

Even PBS has some advice for anyone who wants to hang out their foodie shingle.

Non riesco a sopportare quelli che non prendono seriamente il cibo.

    - Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Historical Dictionaries

We had a patron in last week looking for historical dictionaries other than Webster's. I thought our readers may be interested  in seeing that we have quite a few historical dictionaries available!

Besides what we have in print, HeinOnline has an entire library devoted to historical dictionaries and reference materials. Spinelli's Law Library Reference Shelf has hundreds of titles available, and a section devoted specifically to dictionaries. Come by the law library to read this gem: Criminal Slang: The Vernacular of the Underworld Lingo (originally published in 1949) and other fascinating titles!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Contraceptive Insurance Mandate

We have created a guide to the Affordable Care Act's mandate for women's preventative services after the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. decision on June 30th, 2014. Here is a link to the guide:

This guide, created by our Reference Librarian Lewis Zimmerman, provides some background information about laws and regulations prior to Burwell, the acts that informed this decision, as well as some follow up on the case and how this decision impacts us Oregonians.

We hope this guide will be both engaging and informative. Keep on eye our social media and our LibGuides page for more guides on legal issues in the news. Just another service from the SOLL to make legal information accessible and useful!