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

Patriotism

8/25/2010: UO Professor Matt Dennis has a good RG Op-Ed about the “mosque” at ground-zero. Putting his name to a piece like this takes a little more courage than talking to the usual campus crowd. It’s also the most important part of the job of being a history professor:

Most importantly, the false patriotism of Park51 opponents violates the U.S. Constitution and Americans’ indispensable right to religious freedom. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religious practice and protects our particular religious observances from interference and repression. Such toleration and freedom was championed not merely for its own sake but because our framers recognized the diversity of believers in the United States. In our pluralistic country, no faith is safe if any faith is oppressed on the one hand, or officially institutionalized on the other. Fear does not change this formula for freedom, and Americans should display enough courage and confidence to uphold their laws and their principles against fear-mongering demagogues.

Professor Dennis is certainly doing his job.

Messenger bag dude v. UC President

8/21/2010: Sorry, this, from Steve Fainaru in the NY Times, on Mark Yudof, President of UC, has nothing to do with UO matters, but is just hilarious throughout:

After the Yudofs vacated the property at the end of June, Brennan Mulligan, the landlord, informed university officials that he intended to keep the U.C.’s $32,100 security deposit. Mr. Mulligan requested an additional $45,000 to cover the repairs for hundreds of holes left from hanging art, a scratched marble bathtub, a broken $2,000 Sivoia window shade and other claims.

“At some point, I got a call from the general counsel, and I’m like, ‘Why am I talking to the general counsel?’ ” said Mr. Mulligan, 40, a boyish Hong Kong-based business consultant and a U.C. Berkeley graduate who bought the Oakland house in 2003 after selling his bike-messenger bag company, Timbuk2.

“To me it’s like, ‘Is this how they spend their time?’ ” Mr. Mulligan said.

When a story like this is just part of the constant parade of taxpayer subsidized absurdities, public higher education is seriously out of touch with reality, and we are all going to be in deep shit soon.

One interesting aspect of this story is that it originates from an independent, non-profit organization that co-operates with the Times on researching and writing news stories. This is more and more common with investigative reporting.

unusual bias case

8/5/2010: From InsideHighered.com

With backing from the New York State Human Rights Division, Csaba Marosan is suing Trocaire College, saying that the Roman Catholic institution discriminated against him because of his accent (he’s from Hungary) and because he is straight, ABC News reported. The state agency investigated his complaint and found grounds to sue. Marosan claims in the suit that he was ostracized by a clique of gay men at the college who are known as the “Merry Men” and who are backed by administrators who may be gay or bisexual. The college is denying his charges that he was denied promotions or fired for speaking out, and says that he did not suffer any discrimination.