(Updated with DA’s response) Interim GC Doug Park says it’s harassment to cc him on a public records request

9/17/2014 update #2: Page down for the response from the District Attorney’s Office to the UO Public Records Office, and interim General Counsel Doug Park.

9/17/2014 update #1: Page down for a new letter to the District Attorney’s Office, with a cc to Mr. Park.

9/16/2014: Here’s my polite followup to a simple public records request for info on how much UO is paying outside lawyers and consultants. It’s 10 days past the normal due date:

From: Bill Harbaugh
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2014 8:51 PM
To: Public Record Requests
Cc: Kelly Wolf; Douglas Park
Subject: PR request, legal and consulting reports

Dear Ms Thornton

It’s now been more than two weeks since I made this PR request: http://publicrecords.uoregon.edu/content/banner-reports

As you know, the Oregon DOJ thinks that one week is generally a reasonable time to fulfill a request. This is a simple one: These BANNER reports take only a few minutes to run. I would appreciate if you could provide them promptly.

Bill Harbaugh

I cced Interim General Counsel Doug Park because I assumed he’d want to know that UO was out of compliance with the Oregon DOJ’s guidance on public records law. But Park thinks it’s harassment for me to cc him:

On Tuesday Sep 16, 2014, at 9:34 AM, Douglas Park <dougpark@uoregon.edu> wrote:

Bill:

I politely asked you to stop contacting me (see attached emails), but you continue to do so. This is the latest example. You also cc’d me on your recent demand for Melissa Matella’s information on 8/20/14 (the newest attorney in our office). I am not part of and do not control the Public Records Office. And I have no idea what BANNER reports you are now requesting. Thus, continuing to cc me on your emails to the Public Records Office serves no purpose, except harassment.

As I have previously noted, if you have a legitimate legal need that is part of the course and scope of your UO employment that concerns the UO, you may run that through your Department Chair or Dean so that he or she can determine whether it is something the General Counsel’s Office needs to assist with. Again, for your convenience, I added Andrew and Bruce to this email string so that they know they may need to assist you.

Doug

I point out this is part of his job:

From: Bill Harbaugh
Subject: Re: PR request, legal and consulting reports
Date: September 16, 2014 at 9:44:35 AM PDT
To: doug park
Cc: Lisa Thornton, “(W.) Andrew Marcus”, Bruce Blonigen, Kelly Wolf, Robert Kyr, Michael Dreiling, Bruce McAllister

Hi Doug –

I assume that as interim GC you have a responsibility for ensuring UO follows the public records law. Your office frequently reviews that office’s procedures, and gets involved in particular requests, as we’ve read in the newspapers lately.

The AG’s interpretation of that law is that one week is a reasonable period of time to respond, and the PR Office is now well past that period. This should be matter of professional interest to you, and I will continue ccing you in situations like this.

I am sorry that you view this as harassment. I’ve cced Senate President Kyr, UAUO President Dreiling, and UO Ombudsman Bruce McAllister on this reply.

Bill Harbaugh

Mr. Park expands on his claims:

From: Douglas Park
Subject: RE: PR request, legal and consulting reports
Date: September 16, 2014 at 10:01:52 AM PDT
To: Bill Harbaugh
Cc: Lisa Thornton, “(W.) Andrew Marcus”, Bruce Blonigen, Kelly Wolf, Robert Kyr, Michael Dreiling, Bruce McAllister

Dear Bill:

If the Public Records Office has a legal question, that Office is always welcome to contact the General Counsel’s Office for legal advice. It is unnecessary for you to contact me about such matters or otherwise cc me on your requests to that office, regardless of whether you are the requestor. You are merely using the public records laws as a tool for harassment.

Accordingly, I ask again that you follow the established procedures of filing your requests with the office that was created for that purpose: the Public Records Office. No one else in the world cc’s me on their public records requests: only you. Your conduct on this matter stands-outs as strikingly unique. It is so unique and unusual, concluding that it is intended to harass (because it serves no other purpose and no one else does it) is a logical conclusion.

Please do not contact me again. Contact from you has become unwanted and harassing.

Doug

My petition to Deputy District Attorney Patty Perlow for the documents, with a cc to Park:

from: Bill Harbaugh
to: PERLOW Patty
cc: Douglas Park <dougpark@uoregon.edu>, Kron Michael C <michael.c.kron@doj.state.or.us>, Public Record Requests, “(W.) Andrew Marcus”, Bruce Blonigen, Kelly Wolf, Robert Kyr, Michael Dreiling, Bruce MacAllister,

date: Tue, Sep 16, 2014 at 11:03 PM
subject: public records petition, UO legal and consulting payment reports

Dear Deputy District Attorney Perlow:

On July 27 I made a public records request to the University of Oregon for

a) BANNER statements showing payments for legal services, from 5/31/2014 to the present.

b) BANNER statements showing payments for consulting services, from 1/1/2013 to the present

These are simple basic accounting statements showing the payee, date and amount of payments. To my knowledge there is nothing confidential about them, and UO has regularly provided them in the past without charge. Anyone with access to UO’s accounting system can run them in a few minutes.

Nearly 3 weeks have now passed, and the UO public records office has not responded to my request, or to the followup below.

Therefore I petition your office to order UO to produce these documents without delay and without charge.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

Bill Harbaugh

And a prompt response to UO and Mr. Park, from the Lane County District Attorney’s Office:

From: PERLOW Patty
Subject: FW: public records petition, UO legal and consulting payment reports
Date: September 17, 2014 at 2:01:25 PM PDT
To: ‘Office of Public Records’ <pubrec@uoregon.edu>, ‘Douglas Park’ <dougpark@uoregon.edu>
Cc: ‘Bill Harbaugh’

Below is a public records appeal from Bill Harbaugh. Please let me know whether the University intends to provide the requested records and, if yes, a timeline for production.

Thank you,
Patty Perlow

As background, under Park’s predecessor, Randy Geller, the GC’s office hid the legal billings from public records requests, and even from the required reporting to the State Transparency Office. Park has to decide whether to try that again this year. So perhaps it’s not surprising he’s a little sensitive on this issue. Full Jan 2013 post here. An excerpt:

1/29/2013: Oregon has a law on government transparency: SB 2500, passed in 2009. State agencies are required to post a bunch of stuff, including expenditures. The webpage is here. But UO has stopped reporting what they spend on legal services. They don’t even admit that they stopped reporting – it now just goes from Laundry to Library, as if there’s nothing missing. Orwell would have loved it:

UO for 2012-13 FY (released fall 2013)

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 2.27.30 PM

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22 Responses to (Updated with DA’s response) Interim GC Doug Park says it’s harassment to cc him on a public records request

  1. I'm not your attorney: says:

    But Park needs plausible deniability of knowledge of the meltdown in UO’s public records law compliance, and you’re making that tough by ccing him on the evidence mail trail. Don’t take it personally.

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  2. uomatters says:

    So does that mean he’s going to be mad about me posting these emails on the web?

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    • Anonymous says:

      There’s one way to find out: email him a link and ask how it makes him feel.

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    • Fishwrapper says:

      Only if you get them from a FOIA request…

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  3. Fishwrapper says:

    So asking for records that are supposed to be in the public domain is considered harassment? If one were to apply Park’s thought processes, one would – one hopes – be alarmed at the variety of “logical conclusion[s]” one could come up with…

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  4. Anon says:

    If your university’s definition of harassment includes exposing a person to public ridicule, Mr. Park is certainly guilty of harassing himself. Most recently at the UO Board meetings over public comments limits, and now by ccing your dean on his foolishness.

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    • NotALawyer says:

      Park does seem to be blurring the lines between Bill as an employee and Bill as a Citizen of Oregon and the United States.

      I do not think Bill the Employee is asking these questions as it is not in the purview of his employment as a professor; however, in the case that he was asking as a professor of the UO it would be true that the Dean, Provost, President and GC could be the correct chain of command.

      Bill the employee if he saw wrong doing or illegal things happening should immediately notify… well it used to be OUS http://www.ous.edu/departments/internal-audit/fraud-waste-and-abuse-hotline… I guess the UO should perform the functions and in the absence of a designated system which would be in violation of Oregon Laws, the GC may be the correct person to confidentially contact on these matters. If this was the case it could be that Mr Park be let go as he does not know what his job is and is unsuited to public sector council (I really have never seen a lawyer with such a thin skin one can only envision a brand new board without training lost deep in a forest spineless council).

      Bill the UO Faculty senator if he is one, may have a different relationship with the council. I suppose there are proceedings, but I think that he could contact council for guidance as a senator. This may be a very good approach as the GC should repensent and be responsiveness to the faculty senate as well as the executive (that was the whole “We are the UO”). I do think the Dean would be involved but rather the Senate President and the statutory senate members.

      And though Admin is trying I do not think they have passed a working gag order on faculty or senators.

      Finally, Bill the Oregonian and Great American can and should be able to contact the General council of any business when that business may have violated its laws or for general inquiry. As a citizen the dean, provost and president would not seem to be germane unless they are party to the event.

      Oh, and bill the Journalist… Well, I suppose he can get ignored against Oregon and Federal laws just as well as ESPN, KATU, The Oregonian, The Daily Emerald, The Register Guard, The New York Times, Inside Higher Ed, etc.

      Perhaps Bill needs to relay to people in his communications what hat he is wearing and what level of privacy requested when applicable.

      In the end in all cases, this is a sad day for our public trust and public common wealth when a few people in our public institution where transparency and the accountability it creates should be above reproach can seemingly infect our public institutions, undermine our foundations of credibility and collegiality, deteriorate our goodwill and service, destroying our public trust and thereby bringing down these ivory towers that took a hundred years to build.

      Please Lilis and our new Board get your own advisers, secretary and council. Seek out the citizens, journalists, senators, professors, students, and parents.

      If you walk into a room and handlers are keeping you sequestered from the unwashed masses…

      If you find you are being constantly asked to put your seal on a pronouncement like “let them eat cake” and advised it is too detailed, too hard, or just trust us…

      If you find that all the rooms are filled with all the same people and most of those people either have nothing to do with the school or are from a very small slice of the Presidential org chart…

      If you find that your are being asked to approve things you have never seen….

      If you see that very important public meetings that should have people standing on the green chanting, or being a cause celeb where women are lugging beds on their backs in protest but it looks as if the doors are barred and chained at the UO public meeting…

      {Feel free to add more}

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      • uomatters says:

        Comment of the week. (I don’t grade on spelling). Contact the UOM swag department for your redacted coffee cup.

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  5. anon says:

    Solution: Stop ccing Park and start ccing the AG instead.

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  6. Around the O says:

    I have so many questions that my mind explodes:

    1. Is “harassment” a fireable offense at UO?
    2. Can anyone claim harassment for unwanted emails?
    3. Does sending Around the O to all faculty constitute harassment?
    4. Would it be harassment to send a cc of a public records request to whoever is the boss of the Public Records Act?
    5. Would it be harassment of the District Attorney to cc him?
    6. Does Doug Park not have a delete key on his computer?
    7. If Doug Park keeps old emails from Bill in order to cite them in emails to Bill, is Park harassing Harbaugh?

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    • uomatters says:

      Good questions, exploding mind. I’d look up #1 in the UO Faculty Handbook, except that 11 months after the union contract was signed, VPAA Doug Blandy still hasn’t posted it: http://academicaffairs.uoregon.edu/faculty-handbook-archive

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    • still hoping says:

      1.One can only hope it is a fireable offense.
      2. Maybe not, but defamatory remarks that cost people money to refute would be harassment.
      3. No.
      4.Only if the person gave valid reasons why he should stop receiving said harassing emails.
      5. No.
      6. Yes he does.
      7. No.
      Just trying to help you out here. :)

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  7. Youngin' says:

    Wait, doesn’t the legal services policy say:
    “• Accept service of process, including subpoenas, on behalf of the
    University and designate others to accept service of process, including subpoenas, on behalf of the University.”

    isn’t it Doug Park’s job to get these emails? Anyway, regardles this is the sort of situation where a lawyer might advice their client to petition the AG and if that doesn’t work, to file a lawsuit to force compliance. If Doug Park refuses to acknowledge your good faith efforts to resolve this matter without going to court then your only remedy may be a tort.

    Disclaimer: the above should not be taken as legal advice.

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  8. Doug Park fails the reasonable person test: says:

    In determining whether harassment is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile environment, the harasser’s conduct should be evaluated from the objective standpoint of a “reasonable person.” Title VII does not serve “as a vehicle for vindicating the petty slights suffered by the hypersensitive.” Zabkowicz v. West Bend Co., 589 F. Supp. 780, 784, 35 EPD ¶ 34, 766 (E.D. Wis. 1984). See also Ross v. Comsat, 34 FEP cases 260, 265 (D. Md. 1984), rev’d on other grounds, 759 F.2d 355 (4th Cir. 1985). Thus, if the challenged conduct would not substantially affect the work environment of a reasonable person, no violation should be found. – See more at: http://www.shrm.org/templatestools/hrqa/pages/reasonableperson.aspx#sthash.3oYoR2Km.dpuf

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    • still hoping says:

      One could hardly call many of Harbaugh’s attacks as “petty slights”, and I know some of the folks he has attacked are certainly not “hypersensitive”. I’m pretty sure he could get nailed for both harassment and creating a hostile work environment.

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      • Nobody says:

        I think you have *attack* and *expose* confused.

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  9. Not on the Bowl of Dicks list, yet says:

    The usual UO punishment for harassment is a promotion and a raise for the harasser. The complainant – in this case Doug Park – gets fired.

    http://uomatters.com/2014/07/uopd-sued-over-retaliation-against-whistleblower.html

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  10. Anas Clypeata says:

    Where do I get my Bowl of Dougs shirt?

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  11. You've been warned: says:

    The sacred Bowl of Dicks is about so much more than just one man. Those who use it for ad hominem attacks risk arousing it’s angry wrath.

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  12. thomas says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYkiGZiomoo

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  13. hoping..... says:

    Any chance you could be sued for creating a hostile work environment? I bet you could…..

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  14. Go UO Matters! says:

    I’m no offensive coordinator, but I believe they call this a “pick play”. Brilliantly executed for another UO M touchdown against a bewildered, defensive, and hopelessly outclassed opponent.

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