Oregon legislators call for 'cooling-off' period in JPR dispute

Two state legislators are calling for a two-month cease fire in an ongoing dispute between Southern Oregon University and the Jefferson Public Radio Foundation.

Sen. Alan Bates, D-Medford, and Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, also said SOU's lawyers should call off recently threatened lawsuits against JPR Foundation board members in the dispute over control of the foundation's operations and assets.

"It does not need to be a process that divides," Buckley said at a press conference in front of the Holly Theatre Thursday.

Medford Mayor Gary Wheeler and Ashland Mayor John Stromberg recently called for a similar "cooling-off" period.

"What we need now is a time to step back," Bates said.

Buckley and Bates have been in touch with Gov. John Kitzhaber about their requests. They said the governor has been in discussions over the issue and agrees that the two sides should continue talks.

Those talks should move forward without the threat of lawsuits against the individual board members of the foundation, they said.

"They (university lawyers) are going to get clear direction that this is not what we're going to do," Bates said.

The original conflict stems from an Oregon University System audit addressing concerns that the JPR Foundation may have taken on too much financial liability with several projects unrelated to radio. These projects included restoration of the Holly and construction of a new JPR headquarters in downtown Medford. The audit led to Kramer's termination as JPR's executive director, effective June 30. He remains director of the JPR Foundation.

— Ryan Pfeil

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