Public not allowed at public records officer interviews

9/10/2012: That’s the decision by Dave Hubin, who’s running the search for a replacement for Randy Gelller’s hire, Liz Denecke. But you are allowed to read their resumes on Gottfredson’s website, here.

9/13/2012 Update: I went to the interview for the first candidate, Lisa Thornton. She has been the Interim PR Officer since October. I was surprised to learn that under her the office has *never* granted a public interest fee-waiver, though she said they have granted some reductions. In general I think the office has been well run under her, particularly before the Berdahl/Hubin rescission of the Lariviere reforms. There are problems to be sure, but certainly a huge improvement from Denecke. At times she has been helpful as interim PRO, at times not. As an example of helpful I’d cite her response to my request last winter for Provost Bean’s sabbatical contract, during the debates over whether Bean or Berdahl would become interim President. She provided the requested documents and more within hours and at no charge, and they were influential in the Senate Executive Committee’s decision to support Berdahl over Bean. As an example of not helpful, I’d cite her response to my request for documents on OH air quality, explained at http://uomatters.com/2012/08/oregon-hall-air-not-any-more.html The documents on the Robin Holmes / EMU scandal came primarily from angry students, not from the PRO office, which still has not responded to this 8/23 response from an RG journalist: http://publicrecords.uoregon.edu/content/emu

The fee waiver question that came up at the end of Lisa’s interview was very troubling. Journalists know that these fees are a common strategy for delaying the release of information and keeping it out of the news cycle. Given how obvious this is, I think it’s in UO’s best interest to save it for emergencies. It was disappointing to learn that under Lisa the office has never granted a public interest waiver. 

There were two other candidates. Jennifer Davis from DEQ was the most impressive overall. Working part time she has handled almost as many PR requests as the UO office handles with two full time workers, and she has done it without the expensive specialized software that Liz Denecke bought, to no apparent effect. She came across as very professional and straightforward.

Interestingly, at UC – Irvine, public records are under the Provost’s office. That was Mike Gottfredson, now UO President. At UC-I he had a simple fee policy: they do not charge fees unless you want dead tree copies, or  maybe, if computer programming is needed to get the data:

What does it cost to make a request?

  • We typically provide requested documents in electronic form and there is no charge for this.  If, on the other hand, you are requesting a photocopy of records, you may be charged 10 cents per page for the duplication of documents (California Government Code, Section 6253(b)).  In the event that data must be queried, you may be charged with the associated programming and production costs (California Government Code, Section 6253.9(b)).

    Requesters will be notified of any associated costs prior to the release of documents.

UO is way behind the curve on this. Fees for simple things like contracts can easily approach $100 and takes weeks to get, particularly if Randy Geller is involved. Here’s our Public Records Office’s policy:

Fees 

The Office of Public Records charges for the actual cost of making available public records. Fees are based on the amount of staff time involved (calculated based on hourly rate of pay and benefits), a per-page fee for photocopies, and any mailing or delivery charges.  Staff time includes locating,gathering, reviewingsummarizingcompiling, copying, monitoring (if a request is made to inspect records on-site), tailoring and redacting the public records. 

Fee Reductions or WaiversPublic Interest: The Office of Public Records may reduce or waive fees when fulfilling public records requests that benefit the interests of the community or society as a whole (ORS 195.440(5)). If you would like to apply for a fee waiver, please provide a statement that conveys how your request meets this requirement and thus justifies redirecting the public’s resources away from the University’s primary mission of education to absorb some or all of the cost of your request. 

Exceptions: Publirecord requestmadfocommercial purposes arineligiblfor feereductions owaivers.Simple Requests: The Office of Public Records may waive the fee for fulfilling non-commercial, simple requests that clearly require less than one hour of university staff time. Because even straightforward requests incur administrative and institutional costs, typically no more than twfee waivers for such requests will be granted to any individual requestor within a calendar month.

9/12/2012 updates coming later today.

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10 Responses to Public not allowed at public records officer interviews

  1. Zach says:

    Davis is the only one who writes about the ways in which she tries to help requesters get the information they’re looking for. She looks like a clear choice on paper.

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  2. uomatters says:

    Adams has a law degree so he’d be subject to bar discipline if he were to violate the PR law.

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    • Zach says:

      Realistically, you’d first have to prove in another venue that he broke the PR law – the bar is not interested in or suited to making those sorts of determinations. They primarily look at the lawyers’ rules of professional conduct, “the law of lawyering.”

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  3. Anonymous says:

    UO independence movement shoots itself in the ass, film at 6.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    It will go to the internal candidate.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Jesus. Grow a pair Dave.

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  6. zach says:

    I think that uomatters should be allowed to interview the candidates.

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    • uomatters says:

      I will be allowed to interview them, along with a few other selected UO people. Today and tomorrow.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    They’ll spend $25,000 for consultants to manipulate the student vote, and then charge the reporters to see the documents showing the scam? That’s fiscal responsibility for you.

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