9/19/2012 update: DeFazio gets results. I wonder if this means the UO Public Records Office is still going to refuse to give a public-interest fee waiver on the public records?
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Oregon Hall NewsSent: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 3:11 PM
To: ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘Cc: George Hecht; Donald Elting; Adam Jones; Debbie Cadigan
Subject: oregonhall: Oregon Hall Air Quality Update
Last week Campus Operations and Environmental Health and Safety held two informational sessions to discuss the recent OR-OSHA inspection findings regarding the air quality in Oregon Hall. The meetings discussed the Wise Steps findings. Wise Steps, Inc. is an industrial hygiene contractor that has also completed air sampling and other inspections as well as done research to determine the nature of the Oregon Hall building’s air problems.
Unfortunately, neither OR-OSHA nor Wise Steps investigations were successful in defining a source for the problems. All readings that were taken of various potential contaminates were within allowable standards.
I am writing each of you in Oregon Hall to keep you informed as to the next steps.
Both Campus Operations and Environmental Health and Safety are committed to working together with the different entities and users to continue research and mitigation efforts for the sources of the problem and to develop a strategy to address these issues as they become known.
Oregon Hall has a very complex air intake, distribution and exiting system. There are numerous fan systems and controls that bring air in and filter, add heat or cooling and finally exhaust air out of the building. Over the years there have been many changes to the controls and systems to try to address remodeling that has taken place as well as air distribution and other changes to the building.
From what we have heard from building users, some building areas are experiencing minimal issues with various aspects of the air supply, while others are experiencing significant issues. We need to more clearly define the systems that are doing functioning properly, and those that need our priority attention.
In furtherance of that goal, within the next 10 days EHS will create and distribute a confidential survey for all building occupants to have an opportunity to respond to air quality issues and concerns. EHS has recently hired Adam Jones, an industrial hygienist who has performed intensive air quality evaluations in his career. Once Adam evaluates survey results, we will be able to determine the specific areas in which we need to work more intensively. Recipients’ names will remain confidential so all may have the opportunity to respond openly to the survey.
An Oregon Hall building website will be set up this fall on the Campus Operations site. This will provide a venue to share information and provide transparency.
We will have a description of the building’s systems, a history of the design issues, a brief history of systems’ work through the years and a building graphic that will help describe how the building operates. We will notify everyone when this website is operational.
We will post the results of the continuing investigation to define the problem areas and develop a remedy.
We realize and are sorry that Oregon Hall has proven to be a difficult working site. We are as baffled as you as to the source causing these issues but want you to know that we are committed to continuing our efforts to solve these problems.
Associate VP Finance & Administration
Environmental Health and Safety
Enterprise Risk Services
Word is that Congressman Defazio has now contacted President Gottfredson on behalf of his constituents. So I guess the lesson for next time is just to skip George Hecht and the broken UO public records process and go straight to Pete.
9/12/2012 update v3:
Dave Hubin, you’ve been in charge of the public records office for more than a year. This is pathetic. President Gottfredson, please find someone to fix our Public Records office. And put your real email address in the UO directory.
I made the public records request for documents on past and planned spending on Oregon Hall air quality 4 weeks ago yesterday. I’d hoped to get something from the public records office before today’s meetings with the DEHS facilitator and OH staff. Sorry.
I got these at 4PM today. Spreadsheet one and two. It took the UO public records office a month and a day provide the information below. That’s all that’s in these files. The office is holding out for hundreds of dollars, and additional delays, before they will provide anything more substantive. Their letter is below. They’ve denied my request for a fee waiver – not enough public interest. But then they’ve denied every public interest fee waiver request anyone has made for the past 10 months, with the same claim. Most reporters have given up on even asking – a fact that UO’s interim PR officer used as part of her argument yesterday, to claim she was running the office well. No transparency, no trust.
Letter from PRO:
Attached, please find documents from Campus Operations showing money spent on the air quality at Oregon Hall from July 2010 to August 2012. This report was able to be completed fairly quickly, and is being provided to you at no cost.
The report indicates the work performed by Facility Services and Environmental Health and Services. Capital Construction has also been involved in work done at Oregon Hall. They will require a significant amount of employee time to respond to this request. Should you like the information from Capital Construction, the actual cost of responding to the request is $236.17. Upon receipt of a check made payable to the University of Oregon in that amount the office will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you have requested that are not exempt from disclosure. Your check may be sent to the attention of Office of Public Records, 6207 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-6207.
Please note that if the cost of preparing the documents for you is less than the estimate, we will refund the difference. If the cost of preparing the records for you exceeds the estimate, however, you may be charged for the difference.
Thank you for contacting us with your request.
9/11/2012 update v2:
There are a bunch of emails flying around about the meeting Wed. Some people are clearly worried that they may face retaliation from supervisors for getting involved in this issue, e.g.:
“Thank you for trying to make this a more inclusive process. Given the response, I think what needs to be done is this: the staff in each department in Oregon Hall, e.g., Financial Aid, Registrar, Admissions, need to receive an email from their supervisor and/or director explicitly inviting them to attend and telling them that this will count as work time if they choose to attend. Otherwise, we will still feel too unsafe to go.”
Still no documents from UO. The staff have apparently asked Pete Defazio’s office to get involved. And I just heard from PR Officer Lisa Thornton that she expects to have some cost data available very soon, and at no charge.
9/10/2012 update: It’s now more than 3 weeks since this public records request was filed, and still no documents. Apparently the PRO is doing what they can, but they don’t have much of a stick. Too bad Oregon doesn’t have a public records law like the one that just passed in Rhode Island, which imposes $1,000 fines on recalcitrant officials who create unreasonable delays. That’s right, UO’s now not only behind Yemen on public records access, we’re even behind Rhode Island, thanks to Dave Hubin and Bob Berdahl.
Why the delay? Word from JH is that there will be a meeting Wednesday with OH staff to discuss the air quality issues. I assume someone doesn’t want the staff affected by this problem to go into that meeting armed with any actual information.
I particularly like the fact they aren’t holding these meetings in OH – air’s too bad for the facilitator?
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Oregon Hall NewsSent: Monday, September 10, 2012 4:48 PM
Cc: Donald Elting
Subject: oregonhall: Oregon Hall Informational Meeting
As a follow up to the recent OR-OSHA inspection Environmental Health and Safety and Campus Operations are offering two informational sessions about the findings and efforts to identify areas of concern. Questions will be welcome after the presentation, however this is not an avenue to express complaints; normal channels continue to be available to express those concerns.
All employees who work in Oregon Hall are invited to one of the two informational meetings. Please coordinate in your respective departments so that the office does not close, but that anyone with the desire to attend one of the meetings is able to.
Meeting times are:
Wednesday, September 12, 2012; 9:00 – 9:30 am
Wednesday, September 12, 2012; 9:45 – 10:15 am
Willamette Hall 100 (Lecture Hall at the Southwest entrance)
Don Elting, Interim Director Environmental Health and Safety
8/29/2012. Back in 2006 a very large group of Oregon Hall staff petitioned the UO administration, asking them to do something about air quality in the building. Mold, etc. But VPFA Frances Dyke had other priorities – like a $2.4 million remodel of Johnson Hall with new AC and wood paneling for her friends.
The problems have continued, and 2 weeks ago folks working there asked me to make a public records request for documents showing what UO had spent and planned to spend to fix it. Simple enough, but they didn’t want to make the request themselves, for fear of retaliation. All the requests are now posted online, so their supervisors can see. So they asked me to make the request because I’ve got tenure, and my name is already mud. No problem, the staff in that building help make my job easier every day, and I am happy to return the favor.
Today I got a response from UO’s public records office, saying it would cost $606 and change to see the documents:
The University of Oregon has received your public records request for “an itemized listing of money spent or budgeted to improve air quality in Oregon Hall, from July 1 2010 to the present” on 08/16/2012, attached. The office has at least some documents responsive to your request. By this email, the office is providing you with an estimate to respond to your requests.
The office estimates the actual cost of responding to your request to be $606.73. Upon receipt of a check made payable to the University of Oregon for that amount, the office will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you have requested that are not exempt from disclosure. Your check may be sent to the attention of Office of Public Records, 6207 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-6207.
Should you be interested in lowering the cost of your estimate, I would suggest eliminating the portion of your request relating to the amount budgeted to improve air quality in Oregon Hall, as it comprises the bulk of the estimate.
Please note that if the cost of preparing the documents for you is less than the estimate, we will refund the difference. If the cost of preparing the records for you exceeds the estimate, however, you may be charged for the difference. …
The Oregon DOJ says requests should typically be *fulfilled* in two weeks. But it takes UO 2 weeks just to create an estimate. And $607 is a little rich for our blood, even after that 27 cent discount, so we’ve cut back the request to just ask for what’s already been spent. Someday, and after paying some mysterious amount of money, we might even have some air quality documents to post. Hold your breath.