Klinger and Rudnick’s statements raise questions about UO’s treatment of archivists

As might be expected, the Society of American Archivists has compiled a thorough bibliography of news stories about the UO archives release, here.

I’m still waiting to see if UO Library Dean Adriene Lim will waive the $210.63 public records fee and show what she and external reviewers had said about UO’s archives and records management processes and resources, many months before I even thought to ask for copies of UO’s Presidential Archives. My guess is that the reviews show questions about whether resources were adequate to do the jobs state law requires. Of course JH had no problem finding money for Bean and his boys.

Meanwhile, Tobin Klinger’s press release and Sharon Rudnick’s version of Amanda Walkup’s investigation report have raised many new questions about how UO dealt with its archivists in the wake of the release of UO’s Presidential Archives. The faculty union has released a statement about Kira Homo, here:

A recent story in the Register Guard, based on a press release from the University of Oregon, stated that two university library archivists were “out of their jobs” because of the role that they played in a recent release of records from the presidential archive.

This is not true.

Kira Homo worked in Special Collections at the University of Oregon as the electronic records archivist. She is also the Secretary of United Academics. She officially ended her employment at the University on March 1, 2015, for personal reasons. Because the university’s information strongly implied that Kira was fired for reasons related to the records release, Kira has asked us to post the following information:

In the fall 2014 term, Kira began graduate study toward a doctoral degree while continuing to work full-time at the university library. As anyone who has worked through graduate school understands, there comes a point when the demands of study and work come to loggerheads. Kira has struggled with these demands for the last several months and decided, in the end, to pursue her studies full-time. The fracas surrounding the records release made this decision easier to make.

Any implication that she left the University because of her role in the records release, that she was fired, or that she was forced to resign is false.

United Academics does not represent James Fox, as he held an administrative office and therefore was not in the bargaining unit. We have no knowledge of his situation outside of what we read in the papers. Most of the information on his situation seems to originate with the university administration, and in light of its description of Kira Homo’s departure, we encourage everyone to approach its press releases with skepticism.

The blog of the Society of American Archivists has this statement:

News media indicate that two members of the University of Oregon library archives staff, James Fox and Kira Homo, who previously had been put on administrative leave “will not be returning to their positions.” See background here: http://www2.archivists.org/news/2015/saa-response-to-member-request-re-university-of-oregon-records-release-incident.

SAA has no information beyond what is in the media. We have not yet heard from University Librarian Adriene Lim, who indicated that she would be in contact with SAA following the investigation. …

And the Register Guard has published several letters strongly opposing Library Dean Adriene Lim’s decision not to renew the contract of Archives Director James Fox:

James Fox was treated shamefully

I appreciated The Register-Guard’s decision to make the firing of two University of Oregon archivists the lead story on the March 26 front page. Reporter Diane Dietz did well to note that the news was released during spring break, and to put the university’s “outline” of what transpired in quotation marks.

The university spokesman referred to the archivists as “employees,” suggesting by that term that they’re lowly members of the UO staff. Such is certainly not the case, as the article clearly indicated in describing their responsibilities.

Dietz also did well to point out that James Fox was director of special collections for 15 years and an associate professor of history, whose position in the library unfortunately didn’t grant him the tenure that protects other members of the faculty.

Fox was no mere “employee,” but a distinguished scholarly librarian who devoted himself to the demanding task of supervising the collection of rare books and manuscripts that form a vital part of the UO library. He labored far beyond the call of duty to raise money and add to the collection.

The shameful treatment of a highly respected librarian will certainly give the UO a bad odor in library circles across the country. I can’t help wondering what sort of person will want to apply to fill his position.

LOUISE WESTLING
PROFESSOR EMERITA, ENGLISH AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON

Director’s dismissal was unjustified

The dismissal of James Fox, head of the University of Oregon library’s special collections, brings to mind the saying that the captain always goes down with his ship (“2 UO library archivists cast off,” March 26).

Over Fox’s 15-year tenure and through his untiring efforts, the UO library has gained numerous collections of historical and academic significance.

To think that the director should be able to oversee the handling of each document in a department that processes hundreds of document requests by professional archivists is absurd.

The capricious act by the university administration was wholly unjustified and perhaps an attempt to cover up the unsatisfactory state of UO records.

That was reported in a study made by university librarians who recommended, among other things, that presidential papers not be held by the library.

RICHARD YATES

RETIRED COLLEGE LIBRARY DIRECTOR

Treatment of archivist was despotic

The University of Oregon’s unceremonious “casting off” of archivist James Fox adds to an atmosphere of intimidation and malaise across campus, echoed elsewhere in our company town (“2 UO library archivists cast off,” March 26).

If a long-term employee with a stellar record of loyalty and service can get the ax for a subordinate’s mistake, anyone’s vulnerable.

During months of administrative leave, while nonuniversity lawyers determined his fate, Fox was allowed on campus only when accompanied by a library staff member, and was denied access to his workplace computer and phone.

Such despotic methods are consonant with what amounts to executive privilege for UO presidents — surely unwarranted in a tax-exempt institution.

Whatever those files may contain, history tells us eventually it will all come to light.

Meanwhile, the university has lost the trust and confidence of potential donors to its special collections, and the services of a genius archivist.

ALICE PARMAN

3/27/2015: What did Tobin Klinger tell reporters, and when did he tell it?

I don’t know. Let’s find out:

Subject: public records request, Klinger communications on archivists
Date: March 27, 2015 at 3:30:59 PM PDT
Cc: Tobin Klinger <tklinger@uoregon.edu>
To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>

Dear Ms Thornton -

This is a public records request for copies of any emails, texts, tweets, andor documents sent by UO spokesperson Tobin Klinger to reporters, from March 20th to the present, giving information on the investigation of the UO Presidential Archives release and the employment status of the UO archivists.

I’m ccing Mr. Klinger, as he should be able to easily provide these, but if not I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest, as demonstrated by the fact that a UO spokesperson sent them to reporters.

What I do know is here, including Sharon Rudnick’s version of the archives investigation, which UO had said would be independently done by Hershner Hunter – not overseen by a colleague of the same Randy Geller who wrote the memo advocating the dissolution of the UO Senate that is at the heart of the controversy.

Did Rudnick and Gary break Bar’s COI rules on archives investigation?

The Oregon state bar incorporates model language from the ABA in its “Rules of Professional Conduct“:

RULE 1.7 CONFLICT OF INTEREST: CURRENT CLIENTS
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), a lawyer shall
not represent a client if the representation involves a
current conflict of interest. A current conflict of interest
exists if:
(1) the representation of one client will be directly
adverse to another client;
(2) there is a significant risk that the representation
of one or more clients will be materially limited by
the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a
former client or a third person or by a personal
interest of the lawyer; or …

Scott Coltrane said that the investigation of the UO Presidential Archives would be done by an independent law firm, Hershner Hunter.

Why not UO’s longtime HLGR firm? Because UO’ former GC Randy Geller now works for them as “of Counsel”, and the one substantial document I released from the archives was a memo from Geller proposing to dissolve the UO Senate and replace it with a more compliant, hand-picked group of faculty, and as I learned later, HLGR and Geller have a lucrative contract with OUS to advise the “Technical and Regional Universities” on matters including shared governance.

This memo, and other similar documents that might have been in the digital archives, might be a serious problem for HLGR’s credibility and ability to get work providing advice on university governance.

When I was interviewed by Amanda Walkup of HH about how I got the archives, I first asked if I could record the interview. She refused to continue the interview unless I agreed not to. I then asked her if I could see a copy of the document from UO charging her to conduct the investigation. She said there was no document – the agreement was verbal.

I asked her incredulously if this whole thing was being done on the basis of a phone call from Interim GC Doug Park. She nodded.

It now turns out that might not have been true, and that instead Hershner Hunter may have been hired by Bill Gary and Sharon Rudnick from HLGR, and not independently by Doug Park, as Coltrane said. It is certainly true that Rudnick obtained a copy of Walkup’s report, and wrote the summary of it for public consumption that the feckless Tobin Klinger sent out to reporters, complete with metadata showing her as the author.

Is Rudnick and Gary’s participation in the “independent investigation” of the release of a damaging document written by one of its employees a violation of the Oregon Bar’s ethics rules, or just a really bad idea?

I don’t know, but I think I’ll file an ethics complaint with the Bar, and see what they think.

Meanwhile, still no news from HLGR’s Bill Gary on the defamation lawsuit he threatened me with last week, over this post.

Beaver plot update: Coach Dana Altman to stand trial by jury on May 16

Update: UO Matters’s operatives uncover plot by Beaver fanatics to stack Altman’s jury pool with stealth Oregon State supporters:

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 7.22.13 PM

3/28/2015: The civil trial is estimated to take 10 days. From the docket, here:

MINUTES of Proceedings: Rule 16 Conference held. Estimated 10 day Jury Trial is set for 5/16/2016 at 09:00AM in Eugene Courtroom 2 before Judge Michael J. McShane. Pretrial Conference is set for 5/10/2016 at 09:00AM in Eugene Courtroom 2 before Judge Michael J. McShane. Discovery is to be completed by 11/20/2015. Expert Disclosures to be completed by 1/15/2016. Dispositive Motions are due by 2/1/2016. Deadline to Amend claims or add parties is set for 9/1/2015.

That’s May 16 2016. Lots of discovery in the meantime. Maybe we’ll finally learn what really happened with Doug Park and Shelly Kerr’s seizure of Jane Doe’s counseling records. And whether Altman really recruited a player that he knew had a year-long suspension, and never asked what it was for. Presumably Altman is lining up Rob Mullens and other NCAA AD’s and coaches to testify that is normal practice in big-time college sports.

No public records yet on how much money UO has spend defending Altman, Park, and Kerr, or on how much if any the Duck athletic department is contributing to Altman’s Miller Nash legal fees.

UO has open, affirmative action compliant search for Assistant VP

I know, you think I must be kidding. Of course I’m not talking about Bronet and Coltrane’s AVP for Collaboration Chuck Triplett, whom UO was apparently forced to take off Pernsteiner’s hands as part of the deal for an independent board. UO hired him at $130K – a $58K raise – without a job announcement, search, or apparently even a job description. Lucky Chuck, I wonder what he promised Oregon’s good-old-boy network in return?

No, I’m talking about the Office of Equity and Inclusion’s new AVP for program evaluation. Job announcement and detailed job description here, three finalists with public job talks on campus this week, publicly announced on AroundThe0. What a revolutionary idea.

Duck FAR Tim Gleason gives Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism to blogger

3/27/2015: Just kidding. Gleason doesn’t think bloggers are journalists, and while he ran the process he wasn’t a judge. The real award announcement is here.

The post below describes a 2013 panel at the Oregon Society of Professional Journalists with myself and former Journalism Dean Tim Gleason, who has actively worked to make it more difficult for journalists to get public records from UO. The comments to this post are pretty interesting, including an exchange between myself and UO professor of advertising Deb Morrison, who tried to come to Gleason’s defense. Here’s a summary: Continue reading

Correction: Coltrane and Bronet’s spring break massacre continues

3/26/2015 update: It’s looking more and more like the story goes like this: UCTC Director Shelly Kerr told Karen Stokes she was fired. Stokes wrote the email in the RG story and sent it to the UCTC staff and the RG. Klinger was out of the loop, perhaps because he just was, perhaps because the admins don’t trust his judgement after his disastrous press release on the archivists. Someone in JH read the post on my blog or the RG website. They quickly told Kerr to back off, told Stokes they’d find her a job somewhere else at UO if she’d stop talking to reporters, and told Klinger to feed this to the press, pronto.

Update: The RG story has now been updated with a challenge from Duck Advocate and Presidential Spokesperson Tobin Klinger of Ms Stokes’s description of events. Purely coincidental, Klinger seems to think. Of course Klinger also thought UO wasn’t filing a counterclaim against the survivor of the alleged basketball gang rape – or at least that’s what he told reporters.

Continue reading

HLGR demands retraction of this post: Klinger says archivists “resigned”, Coltrane got Rudnick to rewrite Walkup’s report on Archives release, no followup from Coltrane on deleted docs

Check back for updates:

3/26/2013: Bill Gary of the HLGR law firm, which Scott Coltrane has inexplicably left in charge of UO’s legal affairs, has demanded I retract this post. See emails below. Apparently this one on Geller’s OUS billings is OK though.

From the comments:

William F. Gary 03/26/2015 at 12:30 pm
Your statement that the University President “got Rudnick to rewrite Walkup’s report on Archives release” is false and defamatory. Ms. Walkup’s report, which has not been released to the public, is the work product of Hershner Hunter alone. Ms. Rudnick did not edit the report, let alone rewrite it. You have no basis to claim otherwise. The document that you identify as the report is not the Walkup report. It does not purport to be the Walkup report and it has not been represented as such. Your claim that Ms. Rudnick rewrote an investigative report because “JH didn’t like what Walkup had to say” unfairly impugns her integrity and her professional reputation. Please retract and correct your false statement immediately.

My emailed response to Mr. Gary:

Dear Mr. Gary – 

Someone recently posted a comment from a “William F. Gary” on my blog, demanding that I retract a news and opinion post. 

You can find this demand and the post at http://uomatters.com/2015/03/archivists-resign-coltrane-got-sharon-rudnick-to-write-report-on-presidential-archives-release.html#comment-200324. …

If this is indeed from you, I’d appreciate it if you could confirm this with a signed letter following the requirements of ORS 31.120. I believe you’re familiar with that law, but just in case I’m attaching a previous retraction demand from you, which might be useful as a template. I’m currently traveling, but you can send a pdf to this email address.

Yours, Bill Harbaugh,

Editor and Blogger, http://www.uomatters.comhttp://www.openuporegon.com

Mr. Gary’s most recent prior retraction demand was in June 2013. In it he and Sharon Rudnick said I was a news media organization, here. (Most recent to UO M, that is. Rumor has it he’s made similar demands to others.) Interestingly, it was about a post I made discussing the ~$1M HLGR in legal fees that Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick’s law firm managed to extract from Oregon taxpayers over the precursor to the current Kitzhaber / Cylvia Hayes scandal. Randy Geller, at the time UO’s General Counsel, wrote a strong defense to the court arguing for the fees. Geller, of course, now works for HLGR.

Here’s Mr. Gary’s response to my email above:

Dear Professor Harbaugh,

   Thank you for your response to my post and for allowing it to appear in the comments section of your blog. I posted it in my own name and from my law firm’s e-mail so that you would not have to guess at who was calling you out on your defamatory comments. As a University professor who often speaks passionately about academic freedom and transparency, I am sure you fully understand the destructive nature of this sort of lie. Not only does it damage those whom you defame, it also does lasting damage to the quality of discourse in the University community. I trust therefore that you will take appropriate steps to correct the record.

   While I appreciate your advice concerning the legal requirements of ORS 31.120, I am confident that I have a good grasp on the steps I must follow to hold you accountable if you do not act promptly to undo the harm you have caused.

My response:

Thanks Mr. Gary – 

Actually, people can enter any name and email address they want, the software has no way of checking on either. It’s one of the charms of the internet. Silence Dogood and Ben Franklin would have loved it. Please let me know when I can expect your letter.

Bill Harbaugh

and then:

Dear Mr. Gary – 

I thought you might be interested in the Oregonian news story on the archives report, here: http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2015/03/university_of_oregon_records.html#incart_2box_education_index.ssf

Perhaps you should threaten the Oregonian with a defamation lawsuit too? Their comments are also open.

Bill Harbaugh

5:00 PM, still no letter from Gary.

3/25/2015: And Library Dean Adriene Lim wants $210 to reveal docs on prior reviews of archives.

Meanwhile, no follow through on promises from Coltrane or Library Dean Lim to the UO Senate that they would look into larger problems with UO’s transparency and refusal to provide public records, or explain what happened to the documents on athletic subsidies and the Knight Arena – and so much more – that are missing from the digital presidential archives.

Under Oregon State’s library privacy policy, it’s Library Dean Lim that would be in trouble, for telling the administration that I had accessed the digital Presidential Archives:

OSU Libraries treat patron information as strictly confidential to the extent permitted by law. It is generally for the use of library staff only; it can, of course, be divulged to the patron. Unless required by law, patron information is not to be given to non-library individuals, including parents, friends, professors, university administrators, police, FBI, university security staff, or the CIA. The university librarian is responsible for compliance with legal obligations and court orders.

3/25/2015: Diane Dietz has more in the RG, here:

UO economics professor Bill Harbaugh got the records from the archives and he returned them in late January at the request of the UO administration. Harbaugh is publisher of the insider uomatters.com blog.

The administration’s role in the departure of the archivists is “despicable,” he said.

“This is all about (administrators) being embarrassed,” he said. “They tried to nail me. They couldn’t because of tenure and academic freedom, and so they went after the people they could nail.”

The archivists were just doing their job when they provided the documents, Harbaugh said.

They required Harbaugh to agree to the library’s standard disclaimer, which warns researchers that archives may contain sensitive or confidential information that may be protected by privacy laws and other regulations. It warns the researcher that releasing private information without consent could have legal ramifications.

“They say ‘Look, there’s boxes and boxes of stuff. We haven’t screened it all. We’ll let you look through it, but you’ve got to agree to this confidentiality deal. I agreed to that,” Harbaugh said. “They behaved very ethically.”

Archivists abide by a professional obligation to balance access to public records with confidentiality, Harbaugh said.

“People don’t go into this kind of work without believing in the importance of access. They’re researchers, they’re historians, they use these kinds of records to do their own scholarly work. They know it’s important that this material be maintained and made accessible. I’m really proud of them. They did their job,” he said.

Here’s my email to Library Dean Adriene Lim on this:

Subject: “The Incident”
From: Bill Harbaugh
Date: March 18, 2015 at 12:18:48 AM EDT
To: Adriene Lim <alim@uoregon.edu>

Dear Dean Lim, Associate Dean Bonamici, and members of the Library Committee -

Thank you for allowing me to attend your meeting today.

At the meeting Andrew Bonamici said that, in the interests of balancing confidentiality and public access, and the impossibility of inspecting every document individually, that the UO archives had policies or procedures for allowing researchers access to files and folders from the archives that had not been fully reviewed for confidentiality. This access was conditional on researchers agreeing not to make confidential documents public. (This is not verbatim, it’s my recollection of the gist of what Andrew said.)

I don’t know what you’ve been told about how I got the digital Presidential Archives, but there was nothing nefarious about it. I sent the special collections reference desk a request for information on how to access the digital archives. I was told that the digital archives might contain confidential documents protected by FERPA or other laws, and that if I agreed not to release those documents, I should send in a usb key and I would get the archives.

[Here’s the disclaimer language: Archival material may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws and other regulations.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g. a cause of action for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual’s private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Oregon assumes no responsibility.]

I agreed to this condition. I sent in the usb key. I got the documents back. I kept the confidential documents confidential, as I had promised.

It strikes me that this is exactly the procedure that Andrew explained today should have been followed by the archives. It was followed.

So, what is this controversy all about? I only posted two documents. No one has made a credible case for either being confidential. One, of course, was very embarrassing to the General Counsel’s office, and, in my opinion, that’s why the UO administration went after me, and the archivists.

Bill Harbaugh
UO Prof of Economics

http://harbaugh.org

I thought the whole point of hiring Amanda Walkup from Hershner Hunter to do the investigation was to provide some sense of independence and credibility. But no, check the metadata on the otherwise anonymous report Tobin Klinger has released to the press. UO also hired Randy Geller’s HLGR law firm, and Sharon Rudnick wrote the final report. [Note, added at 3/26 2:46PM: By “final report” I mean the publicly released version.] Presumably JH didn’t like what Walkup had to say:

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 5.46.39 PM

Here’s the text of Rudnick’s report, original word document here, check the document info:

RECORDS RELEASE
Background: University Records
All of the University’s records are subject to various requirements relating to the maintenance and disclosure of those records. They fall into two categories:
1) non-permanent records, which are subject to retention and destruction according to the University’s Records Retention Schedule, and
2) permanent records, which are accessioned and housed in the University Archives.
In each category, records may be further designated as exempt from public disclosure under Oregon’s Public Records Act, or non-exempt and therefore subject to disclosure.
Permanent Records: Permanent records have historical significance and are designated for permanent retention according to the Records Retention Schedule. When records are no longer active (e.g., in regular use by the originating department), stewardship is transferred to the University Archives. Once accessioned by the Archives, records are processed, described in finding aids, and made available in perpetuity for research and other purposes. In most (but not all) cases, permanent archival records are non-exempt, and once processed, are available to researchers without need for further review or redaction.

Non-Permanent Records: Stewardship of non-permanent records is retained by the originating department. Records are retained for various lengths of time as required by the Secretary of State’s Records Retention Schedule. Pursuant to the public records law, non-permanent records are categorized as exempt or non-exempt from public disclosure. For example, “faculty records” are considered exempt from disclosure. Non-permanent records are not accessioned by the University Archives, and the library is not authorized to determine if or when to release these records. The library offers a limited long-term storage program for inactive non-permanent records, but this is a strictly custodial role. Non-permanent records in storage remain accessible only to authorized staff from the originating department, or to the Public Records Office in response to research requests.
Timeline on Records Release Incident
• On November 13, 2014, a faculty member sent an email to the Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) reference desk asking for a list or catalog showing what sort of information is available in the Library Archives regarding presidential papers, and information about how to go about accessing them.
• Those records had been transferred to the Libraries by the Office of the President, but permanent and non-permanent records had not been separated based on an exception granted to the unit by the Libraries, and the permanent records had not yet been processed and described — a necessary step before documents are made available in response to such a request.
• In response to the email, approximately 25,000 un-processed electronic records relating to past and current UO presidents were provided to the faculty member on a USB drive on December 3, 2014.
• The records included both permanent (i.e. archival) and non-permanent records, including student and faculty records designated confidential by federal law, state law, or both, privileged communications, and documents that are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records law.
• The University learned of the release of the records and its scope in early January, 2015.
• The University contacted the faculty member who received the records in November 2014, and this individual ultimately returned the records on January 28, 2015 for appropriate processing.
• The University sorted the records and organized them according to university policy and procedures— mainly sorting permanent records from non-permanent records.
• With the initial review and organizing of the documents complete, the University is creating a special team to review and redact information that would be protected under state and federal law so the records can be available through the appropriate channels. This process will take an additional 500 hours.
• Once this work is complete, the University will make all appropriate records available to those who have made public records requests for them. Permanent records will be processed by UO Archives and stored in the University’s Archives. Non-permanent records will be retained according to the Secretary of State’s retention schedule.
Conclusion/Findings
• The records were released to the faculty member prior to the customary separation and processing required by UO Libraries, University of Oregon, State of Oregon, and federal policies, procedures, and statutes.
• Records released included information, including student names and addresses, which are protected under state and federal law (FERPA and HIPAA).
• The records were returned, and appropriate review and processing is being expedited by the University to ensure full compliance with rules, code of ethics, and all federal and state laws.

, revised 3/24/15
00679757.v1

Why did Doug Park go wacko over the Presidential Archives release?

Update: Meanwhile Gov. Kate Brown has sent an email to all state workers, praising the DAS employees who refused to delete the emails between Kitzhaber and his attorney – and then leaked them to Willamette Week. WWeek report here. Quite a difference from how Park and Coltrane handled the “unlawful release” of UO Presidential Archives.

3/24/2015: Because it could have cost the HLGR law firm, and Park’s former boss and friend Randy Geller, a lucrative contract?

Geller was fired by Mike Gottfredson in April 2014, apparently over his handling of the alleged basketball gang rape. Geller then went to work for the Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick law firm.

On Jan 4th 2015, I posted Geller’s “attorney-client confidential and privileged” advice on how to dissolve the UO Senate, which I got from UO’s Presidential Archives:

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.36.17 AM

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.36.50 AM

Pretty bad stuff. After I made this public, the UO administration quickly repudiated Geller’s plan. Dave Hubin even offered to share the admin’s emails rejecting this plan. It’s funny-sad how Hubin is so puppy-dog eager to provide public records that might make his bosses look good, while at the same time he’s using fees and delays to hide public records that might make them look bad.

After Geller got hired at HLGR, he brought in a contract to provide legal advice to the new Boards of Trustees for Oregon’s “Regional and Technical Universities”: Eastern Oregon, Southern Oregon, Western Oregon, and the Oregon Institute of Technology. In response to a PR request, OUS quickly provided the basic billing information:

The OUS Chancellor’s Office has paid $20,260.32 to the Harrang Long firm for work Randy Geller has done under this contract. This piece of your records request is being provided at no charge. If you would still like a copy of the contract and billing invoices, kindly remit the estimated charge and I will start work on that as other pending work and time allow.

Thank you.

Ginger Shaw, Executive Assistant
OUS Chancellor’s Office

If you were a new TRU board member, would you want your legal advice about your board and shared governance to come from Randy Geller, knowing he wrote this? If you were an administrator who wanted the faculty to believe you had a commitment to shared governance, would you hire he guy who tried to dissolve UO’s, if this document was out in public?

And if you were Randy Geller, or a partner at HLGR, would you be worried about what other damaging documents from Geller might be in the Presidential Archives?

So did HLGR’s concerns about Geller drive Interim President Scott Coltrane’s over-the-top reaction to the release of the Presidential Archives, including his prejudicial email calling this an “unlawful release” of documents? I don’t know, and I’m guessing UO will never release the public records that might show what really happened.

Universities’ massive solar tax scam under criminal investigation

I know what you’re thinking: Of course, but what was in it for our Johnson Hall colleagues? Someone owns a nice pied-a-terre near the panels and wanted UO to pay their travel? A new AVP for solar collaboration job?

But no. It’s OSU and OIT this time. UO sustainability efforts have been focused on things like recycling and the Urban Farm, which is more popular with potential undergraduates than Duck sports.

Oregonian investigative reporter Ted Sickinger reports on the latest sustainability scam. The state has wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on green energy rip-offs like this – while starving the higher ed budget:

The Oregon Department of Justice has opened criminal and civil investigations into the award of $11.8 million in state tax credits for a series of solar arrays installed at Oregon State University and the Oregon Institute of Technology.

The agency acted after The Oregonian/OregonLive reported earlier this month that developers of the arrays missed deadlines to qualify for subsidies under the state’s business energy tax credit. The news organization’s investigation found that backers submitted phony and misleading documents to the state to demonstrate construction was underway by the deadline – documents that officials at the Oregon Department of Energy failed to check.

University tried to silence faculty blogger with sex harassment allegations

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has the story, here:

CHICAGO, March 20, 2015—A former high-level administrator at Chicago State University alleged in a statement filed yesterday in federal court that Chicago State President Wayne Watson pressured her to file a false sexual harassment complaint against Professor Philip Beverly, an outspoken faculty critic of Watson’s administration.

According to the declaration of former Chicago State Vice President for Enrollment Management LaShondra Peebles, Watson was determined to silence Beverly by shutting down the blog, CSU Faculty Voice, which Beverly had founded. Contributors routinely posted documents that supported their allegations of mismanagement by the administration.

The Chicago Tribune report is here:

The president of Chicago State University tried to pressure a high-level administrator to file false claims of sexual harassment against an outspoken professor to help the college try to silence him, according to court documents filed Thursday as part of an ongoing lawsuit. In a sworn statement, LaShondra Peebles, the college’s former interim vice president of enrollment and student affairs, said before she was fired that President Wayne Watson pushed her to accuse Phillip Beverly of sexual harassment, though Peebles said she was never harassed.

Beverly contributes to the blog CSU Faculty Voice, which has been critical of Watson and his policies. Beverly and professor Robert Bionaz have sued the university in federal court for allegedly attempting to shut down their blog.

From Ms Peebles’s statement to the court:

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This sort of thing would never happen at UO, right? Right?

Speaking of UO Interim GC Doug Park, there’s still no news on the search to replace him with a competent general counsel.

Applications were due Feb 5 for full consideration, campus interviews were supposed to take place in March, and a permanent replacement for Park is supposed to be in the job in April. We hope.

Park’s fingerprints are all over UO’s redoubled efforts to hide public records, and the decisions to sue the survivor of the alleged basketball gang rape, and persuade Counseling Center Director Shelly Kerr to give her confidential counseling records to the GC, so they could scan them into the office’s digital archives. (Interim Provost Frances Bronet made Park give the originals back, it’s not clear what happened to the digital copies.)

I had to make a public records request and threaten a petition to the DA, just to find out who was on the search committee for a new GC. Eventually Coltrane posted this:

The committee includes:

Priscilla Southwell, Department head and Professor of Political Science
Meg Reeves, General Counsel at Oregon State University
Brad Shelton, Interim Vice President for Research and Innovation
David Schuman, Professor of Law
Angela Wilhelms, Secretary of the University

I’m guessing the real hiring committee “includes” a few more names, but whatever. What’s taking so long?