Worried

about voicing your opinion in the polls on the right or in the comments? Don’t be. The NY Times reports, tonight, on a new NLRB case involving an employee who criticized her boss on Facebook:

Lafe Solomon, the board’s acting general counsel, said, “This is a fairly straightforward case under the National Labor Relations Act — whether it takes place on Facebook or at the water cooler, it was employees talking jointly about working conditions, in this case about their supervisor, and they have a right to do that.”

11/8/2010. I’m no lawyer, and this does not constitute legal advice. Read the Bill of Rights for that.

Randy Geller resume – updates below

11/3/2010: After 2 weeks of delays from UO, and a petition to the Attorney General, we’ve now got a copy of new UO General Counsel Randy Geller’s cover letter and resume, here. His employment contract is here – $200K a year. Nice raise.

There is no mention in his letter or resume of his role in fulfilling and denying UO public records requests, and the resulting DOJ petitions. Public records troubles were at the root of the problems at the GC office, when Geller was Deputy GC. If a professor goes up for a promotion and omits something of material importance from their vitae, well that can be a bit of trouble. I wonder if laws apply to lawyers too?

Also no mention of his former boss, Melinda Grier. No mention of the Attorney General’s investigation of General Counsel Melinda Grier, which led to the GC job suddenly becoming available. Not a word on why all these lawyers are called Generals. But the Attorney General’s investigation of the General Counsel closes with this:

The deficiencies in legal services described above could have been remedied by greater supervision of Grier’s performance by either UO or the Department of Justice. In light of these events, it is obvious that improving quality control with respect to legal services at the UO — and improving communication and coordination between the DOJ and UO — is necessary to ensure these problems are not repeated.

Apparently President Lariviere decided that appointing Melinda Grier’s deputy Randy Geller as General Counsel constitutes “improving quality control with respect to legal services”. And since the DOJ signed off on his appointment, AG Kroger must have agreed. Maybe Mr. Geller is a perfectly fine lawyer, and a great person to promote, and he is now going to clean house. I hope so.

Addressing past problems straightforwardly would be a good first step. These problems came to light in part because of the failures of the other 2 lawyers in the GC’s office with Geller – Melinda Grier and Doug Park – to respond to public records requests from reporters. Now UO will not even allow reporters to interview Randy Geller. And did we already mention that it took a public records petition to the Attorney General to even get his resume?  

11/5/2010: Stefan Verbano of the ODE has now managed to Oregon Commentator Media Digest refuses to back down on theory Geller does not exist, despite Verbano interview. Speaking of non-existent administrators, maybe Verbano can next interview John Moseley, Lorraine Davis, and Charles Martinez?

how not to hide things from the public

11/4/2010:  Randy Geller’s resume is now one of our most frequently downloaded documents, surpassing such favorites as Frohnmayer’s golden parachute contract, the Jock Box parking deals with Frances Dyke, and the accounting sheet showing how the athletic department uses regular students’s tuition to subsidize  the jock box, and our collection of bootleg 70’s Dead mp3s. Attorney General Kroger’s report on AAG David Leith’s investigation of Melinda Grier is still tops, however.

Efforts to delay release of these sorts of documents make our readers more curious about what is in them. And apparently we’ve got some curious readers. So keep delaying those public records Ms Denecke, no worries on our end.

Oregon Commentator media digest

11/3/2010: UO’s media relation office produces E-clips every day. Subscribe and you get a daily email with news stories that mention UO. They do a great job – everything from the latest research to the latest athletic funding scandal. No censorship. OUS has a similar service, but they only forward on the cheery news that makes everyone look good. Which makes OUS look bad. The Oregon Commenator now has it’s own daily “Media Digest” from Alex Tomchak Scott. It’s got it all, plus comments from the student’s point of view. Very worth reading.

Geller and Denecke resumes

10/30/2010: A helpful reader sends what is believed to be a photo of UO’s new General Counsel, Randy Geller. UO will not provide a photo to reporters, or even allow Mr. Geller to be interviewed. More amazingly, nearly 2 weeks since we made the request, UO’s new Public Records Officer Liz Denecke still will not produce a copy of Geller’s resume. Or of her own for that matter. Huh?

The Oregon AG’s 2010 Public Records Manual says: “The public is entitled to inspect non-exempt records as promptly as a public body reasonably can make them available.” The 2008 version of this manual had a great quote on the cover, from Madison:

“A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

We just want to see the resumes of the people who applied to be our university’s chief lawyer, and of the attorney ostensibly hired to improve public records access at UO. President Lariviere and his staff seem to have gone into some weird place over this simple request. It’s just bizarre. Farce or Tragedy.

Ironically, the Madison quote is from an 1822 letter addressing President Lariviere’s favorite issue: public funding of higher education – in this case for the new state of Kentucky. The full first paragraph?

The liberal appropriations made by the Legislature of Kentucky for a general system of Education cannot be too much applauded. A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

AutoCAD criminals

10/26/2010: UO is looking for an Events Manager for Matt Court. To report to the Senior Events Manager for Matt Court. Job posting here. There’s some boilerplate about being fiscally responsible – bit late for that, eh? – but this part really caught my eye:

Experience with AutoCAD is preferred. Candidates who promote and enhance diversity are strongly desired. Position is subject to a criminal background check.

AutoCAD, diversity, fiscally responsible, criminal background check. Wait. Are there so many fiscally responsible criminals that know AutoCAD that we need a special screen for them? Never mind, I just don’t want to know. Consider this public records request withdrawn. Sounds like a great stage show either way, rock on.

Oregon Commentator on Binge

10/19/2010: The Oregon Commentator has been on a binge. Alex Tomchak Scott is publishing daily updates of UO relevant stories, with commentary. Very popular at Johnson Hall, I hear. They also published the best yet inside view of the recent riots, by Russ Coyle (p 18). Their proposed solution? Lower the drinking age to 16. This is their solution to everything, but it makes more sense than giving UO cops guns. To top it off, a serious article on Gutenberg College on University Street (P 16) by Sophie Lawhead. I’d always wondered about Gutenberg was about – great books.

President Lariviere, tear down this building?

9/24/2010: The RG reports that the Villard Street Pub will be torn down and replaced by private student housing. Meanwhile, the UO owned Romania car showroom on Franklin has been recommended for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Not kidding. Actually, the website eugenemodern.org has some gorgeous photos and a persuasive argument. It was the Jock Box of its day, but with tail fins. And it didn’t cost taxpayers $20 million in deductions.

Dream Act

9/23/2010: The “Dream Act” would have given people who were brought into the country illegally as minors by their parents a road to citizenship. Anne Saker of the Oregonian gives one example:

Lopez was 6 weeks old in 1990 when his parents came into the country illegally and settled in Milwaukie. Siovhan Sheridan-Ayala, his Seattle lawyer, said that when Lopez was 9, his parents paid someone to file immigration papers. They never knew that the person never did the work or that a judge later issued a deportation order.

Lopez did well in school and became senior class president at Rex Putnam High School. He got a Social Security number and an Oregon driver’s license. He coached Little League and did hundreds of hours of community service. He aimed to enroll at Portland State to study marketing.

But on Aug. 23, federal authorities picked up Lopez and his father on the 11-year-old deportation order. On Sept. 1, they were shipped to Mexico — where Lopez said Tuesday he doesn’t speak or write the language and cannot find a job.

Lopez’s defenders called a news conference Tuesday at Portland State to urge passage of the bill in Congress, the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors or DREAM Act.

“The country is better for us being here,” said Portland State President Wim Wiewel, who emigrated to the United States as a young man. “We are fools if we do not change the current system.”

And today the Washington post reports:

Republican lawmakers on Tuesday stalled a Senate measure to allow children of undocumented immigrants to get on a path to citizenship, and accused the Obama administration of seeking amnesty for illegal immigrants through administrative changes within the Department of Homeland Security. 

Congrats to President Wiewel for speaking out on this, but fools is way too kind.

Bread to Circuses

9/22/2010: John Hunt has an Oregonian story on the latest in Ducks basketball troubles. They are expected to fall below NCAA academic standards in Spring, and then have their allowable practice time and scholarship support cut – unless the NCAA gives the new coach a break. A commenter points out that Coach Altman still hasn’t signed his contract with UO. He didn’t know what he was getting into, and now that he does he is holding out for a better deal. Kilkenny, you rascal. Meanwhile we hear rumors that the athletic department will be renting out Matt Court for a series of big time wrestling events. That lot has gone from a bakery to cage matches in just 4 years. Gibbon would have loved it.

Furlough Days

9/21/2010: The new website for the proposed faculty union is a bit sleepy, but has a few new posts. Meanwhile, the SEIU staff union is fighting OUS over the furlough situation:

The Oregon University System is refusing to eliminate furloughs for classified workers.

OUS Labor Relations Director Rick Hampton and Vice-Chancellor Jay
Kenton met with Rich Peppers, our Chief Spokesperson, and Marc
Nisenfeld, Bargaining Team Chair, in response to our  request to reopen
the contract to eliminate furloughs for classified workers. They denied
our request in spite of discussion about the impact the lack of shared
sacrifice has on our morale, the level of hardship furloughs create for
our members, and the university’s relatively strong financial position.

The reasons they cited were numerous, but mostly centered on the current
economic condition of the state budget and the  uncertainty of funding
from the State General Fund. Since this is significantly different from
the budget message that we have received on the campuses, we
requested and they agreed to provide additional information to
support their position.

We can’t force them to reopen the contract, but we can be ready to
address the lack of fairness and equity in our contract campaign
starting in February  2011. Clearly, OUS is staking out their position
for bargaining and we must do the same. We can’t do that without you. Our bargaining strategy is determined by your ideas and priorities.

In Unity,

Your OUS Bargaining Team