Attorneys Bill Gary and Greg Hartman explain PERS law to legislators

I’m posting this for my own notes, since faculty union bargaining starts in less than 12 months.

Bill Gary is the Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick attorney who, along with Sharon Rudnick, represented the State’s side in the Moro case in the Oregon Supreme Court, over Kitzhaber’s attempt to roll back PERS benefits. Gary does a great job explaining just how badly they lost this case: “With respect to benefits that have already been earned, the court has ruled that you can’t touch them.”

Greg Hartman was the attorney for the state employees and unions, who won Moro. Hartman does a great job explaining how the Moro decision means that current employees at state agencies – and UO –  will now be paid lower wages, because of the need to pay the PERS bill for retired workers such as Mike Bellotti.

Of course taxpayers will also take a hit, as will those who depend on state services.

Video here, links to the committee’s agenda and documents here. For more on PERS read the always cantankerous Mr. Fearless, here.

UO hires Harrang’s Bill Gary and Sharon Rudnick to investigate blackface prof

Just kidding, that’s who Interim President Scott Coltrane and Interim General Counsel Doug Park hired to investigate me over the presidential archives, along with Hershner Hunter’s Amanda Walkup.

President Schill and GC Kevin Reed have hired Edwin Harnden (http://www.barran.com/our-team/edwin-a-harnden/)  and Shayda Le (http://www.barran.com/our-team/shayda-zaerpoor-le/) to investigate the professor over the blackface incident.

They sure look expensive – so I expect the professor’s settlement will be too:

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I wonder why AAEO Director Penny Daugherty and our GCO can’t handle this, in house? Are we not spending enough money on them?

UO loses $755K police whistleblowing case — again

That’s the headline from Betsy Hammond’s report in the Oregonian, here. The first time UO lost this case we paid $315 an hour for HLGR partner Andrea Coit. This time we paid $315 an hour for HLGR partner William F. Gary, for the same result:

… Lawyers for the UO police brass had argued their clients’ conduct was merely procedural and any harm to public safety officer James Cleavenger’s future law enforcement career so speculative that the judge should cancel the jury’s ruling. In legal filings, they asked the judge who presided over McDermed’s September 2015 trial to reset the verdict to $1 or order a new trial.

Instead, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter sided with Cleavenger’s lawyers on every point, citing evidence of severe retaliatory intent, dishonesty and deep economic harm to Cleavenger on the part of McDermed, Lt. Brandon Lebrecht and Sgt. Scott Cameron.

The case is expected to cost UO more than $1.5 million, including paying lawyers from a Eugene firm to represent UO and its employees and paying Cleavenger’s law team, led by Jason Kafoury and Mark McDougal.

Ms Hammond is skeptical regarding interim Chief Pete Deshpande:

Also on Monday, UO leaders announced they have hired former UO Police Capt. Pete Deshpande as interim chief of police. Deshpande also played an active role in reviewing and passing along the Brady materials that destroyed Clevenger’s reputation, evidence during the trial showed.

Deshpande worked for the UO safety department for three years before retiring in 2015. He also served as an officer and commander with the Eugene Police Department for 22 years.

Update: UO pays Bill Gary $315/hour to argue Bowl of Dicks lawyers are overpaid

Update: This post originally said “~$450/hour” for HLGR’s Bill Gary. I’ve now been told by the GC’s office that they negotiated him down to $315. The first time I asked for the billable rates for UO, the Public Records Office redacted them as trade secrets. I’d forgot about this, but they neglected to redact them from one invoice, so I have this info, showing we were paying Gary $290-$305 an hour in Jan 2013:

Lets call it a 5% increase over three years. Not bad considering the down legal market and recent public debacles from HLGR, such as when they represented Eugene’s 4J School District in the RG’s lawsuit to get the Berman public records. Right in the middle of the lawsuit someone at HLGR mistakenly emailed the entire dump of records to the Register Guard. Whoops: http://uomatters.com/2015/05/harrang-long-gary-and-rudnick-too-transparent-with-potentially-incriminating-public-records.html. Word is that 4J quickly found a new law firm.

And the city of Eugene got rid of Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick in 2014, apparently saving millions in the process:

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1/11/2015: The Greeks had a word for this kind of shit:

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Bill Gary is the well connected lawyer who in 2012 successfully argued that the state should have to pay himself and the other HLGR attorneys *twice* their normal billable hours – $868K – for their work on the Mark Long lawsuit against John Kroger’s DOJ. This case was an abortive precursor to the Cylvia Hayes scandals that ultimately brought down Governor Kitzhaber.

Randy Geller, at the time UO General Counsel, submitted a brief in favor of HLGR’s double-billing. I filed an ethics complaint against him and Gary with the Oregon Bar, as explained by Nigel Jaquiss in Willamette Week. It turned out that the Bar was not real excited about disciplining lawyers for trying to get money, and after some back and forth they told me to go away. Geller now works for HLGR – go figure.

But before HLGR hired him Geller had hired HLGR’s Andrea Coit, to defend UO against UOPD officer James Cleavenger’s First Amendment retaliation lawsuit. She lost.

The jury awarded Cleavenger $755K in damages, plus legal fees. Coit objected to the jury’s decision and to the fees, and Judge Carter has agreed to come back to Oregon in February and hear her plea. And now UO has added Bill Gary to the case:

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My guess is that Gary is charging UO $450 or so an hour Gary is charging UO $315 to try and convince Carter that Cleavenger’s Kafoury and McDougal attorneys are getting paid too much. I’m not sure how much HLGR has already billed UO on this, but it’s probably close to $500K so far. For losing.

Oh yeah, Gary also argued for the state in the recent lawsuit over Kitzhaber’s PERS cuts. I wonder how much he billed for that? He lost.

(4J update) Sharon Rudnick, Bill Gary, and Randy Geller’s HLGR law firm losing money, contracts, and lawyers

9/30/2015: Eugene’s 4J school system let HLGR keep the $19K they had billed before they mistakenly sent the RG the school board’s “confidential” emails about the Berman firing. But if I interpret this correctly, 4J now has replaced HLGR with local law firm Luvaas Cobb:

The District paid $18,532 in legal costs and fees to Harrang Long for services rendered in connection with the Register Guard litigation. The District paid $23,730 in legal costs and fees to Luvaas Cobb following Harrang Long’s inadvertent disclosure of documents; however, such fees and costs were not limited to litigation services in the Register Guard case.

Sincerely,
Charis

Charis McGaughy, Ph.D.
Chief of Staff
Eugene School District 4J

And here’s the report on how the City of Eugene has been saving legal costs by getting rid of HLGR (thanks to a loyal reader for the link):

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9/22/2015: Sharon Rudnick, Bill Gary, and Randy Geller’s HLGR law firm losing money, contracts, and lawyers

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Not to mention its client’s public records.

Rumor down at the bar tonight is that Harrang Long Gary and Rudnick has lost some large contracts for legal work recently, and not just from UO. Its partners and associates are moving on too. Below are recent departures from the firm including some deserting a year or two after coming aboard. One after just six months.

Here are recent departures from HLGR:

Sam V. Rayburn, now at Buckley.

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John Witherspoon, now at Buckley.

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Elijah Van Camp, now at DeWitt Ross and Stevens

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Vaden Franscisco, now at SynergAir

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Marjorie Elken, now at Zupancic Rathbone

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Randall Duncan, now at Buckley

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Craig Capon, now at Alacrity Services

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Rebecca Cambreling, now at YHC Law.

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and

Joshua P. Stump, now at Portland’s Buckley Law
Katherine Watkinson Wright, now at Watkinson Laird Rubenstein Baldwin & Burgess PC
Amber Zupancic-Albin, hired in 2014, now at OHSU
Richard Larson, hired in 2013,  now at Hutchinson Cox Coons Orr & Sherlock PC
Daniel Harris, hired in 2013, now at www.harrismediator.com
John R. Roberts, hired in 2013, now at Arnold Gallagher PC
Jason Yarashes, hired in 2012, now at the Virginia Supreme Court

My apologies if I’ve missed anyone, send me the details and I’ll add you to the list.

Eugene 4J school board holds closed meeting about open meetings law violation records

5/7/2015 update: Edward Russo has the latest on HLGR’s accidental transparency here, complete with this classic quote:

“We deeply regret that appearance of a lack of transparency,” board member Beth Gerot said.

It’s a little difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea that 4J is still paying HLGR after the events described below – shouldn’t they be suing them for malpractice and a refund of the $21K in billable hours?

4/29/2015: Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick way too transparent with potentially incriminating public records

Bill Gary, Sharon Rudnick, and Randy Geller of UO’s HLGR law firm must be shitting their pants. I’m no lawyer, but sending a dump of emails that potentially incriminate your clients to the local newspaper, by mistake, seems unlikely to bring in the billable hours.

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Josephine Woolington has the story in the RG, here:

Eugene School Board members allowed Superintendent Sheldon Berman to come up with his own exit plan to avoid the release of a negative performance review, which one board member said could result in his firing, newly obtained records show.

Board members also said in emails last year that if they couldn’t successfully negotiate a departure agreement with Berman, they planned to make his evaluation public and hire an investigator to look into unspecified actions by Berman.

Further, emails between board members show that some members went to great lengths to avoid meeting publicly or even in a closed-door session, in potential violation of state public meetings law. Other emails show that one board member — Beth Gerot — said she would destroy some public records related to Berman’s evaluation. It is a violation of state law for a public official to destroy public records.

The new information is contained in records that the law firm representing the Eugene School District inadvertently sent to The Register-Guard. The district contends the records should be kept secret, but the newspaper’s general counsel, Wendy Baker, said the district has “no legitimate basis” for keeping the records secret, and that the newspaper is publishing them because “elected officials should be held accountable to their constituents and their community.”

The school district sued The Register-­Guard in Lane County Circuit Court earlier this year to avoid disclosing 12 pages of records that the Lane County District Attorney’s Office ruled it must release. The district hired the Eugene law firm of Harrang Long Gary Rudnick P.C. to represent it in its lawsuit.

In the course of legal proceedings, the law firm last week sent the newspaper hundreds of unredacted emails regarding Berman’s job performance that The Register-Guard requested last year…

Wendy Baker makes me feel like a wimp for giving the UO president’s digital archives back to Bill Gary. With any luck, HLGR’s next mistake will be to mail that “zip drive” to Rich Read at the Oregonian, 1500 SW First Avenue, Portland, OR 97201.

But wait, there’s more, as a commenter points out. The documents potential implicate HLGR lawyer and former UO General Counsel Randy Geller’s wife (and school board member) Jennifer Geller in a conspiracy to break Oregon’s open meetings law:

Walston sent Geller a text message on March 7, 2014, that read: “Jennifer, I know (there) was talk of an (executive, closed-door) session to discuss Shelley’s performance as a last item on Monday. I talked with (then-district chief of staff) Barb (Bellamy) and Craig (Smith) yesterday and we cannot see how we could have — at this point in time — the discussion we seem to want — under (Oregon Revised Statutes) exemption. Craig talked to Shelley — at Shelley’s request after last week’s review. Craig suggested Shelley call individual board members for feedback. The hope is that Shelley will listen and be able to count to 4,” referring to a board majority that could effectively end his employment.

According to the emails, Walston said she would sequentially telephone each individual board member to update them on the process of evaluating Berman. It is a violation of Oregon public meetings law for public officials to hold sequential private one-on-one discussions with a board majority in order to deliberate toward a decision, an Oregon Circuit Court judge ruled in 2011.

Gerot wrote to all board members on March 9, 2014, that the district’s consultant, Lewis, would meet with her, in addition to board members Alicia Hays and Geller, to “communicate verbally and without attribution” what the consultant learned through her interviews with district employees.

The comments on the RG website are getting pretty interesting too.

HLGR’s William F. Gary and Sharon Rudnick lose another big one

No I don’t meet another zip drive of public records. I mean the Oregon Supreme Court case on the 2013 PERS reforms. Laura Gunderson of the Oregonian has the details on today’s OSC ruling here:

The Oregon Supreme Court issued a ruling on Thursday harkening back to a basic playground rule: If you make a promise, you can’t take it back.

In a decision that will affect every public agency budget in the state, the court ruled that it wasn’t fair to go back on promises the state made years ago to its workers. The ruling reverses two controversial changes lawmakers made to the Public Employees Retirement System two years ago.

In 2013, lawmakers aimed to stop what they saw as a drain on the state’s budget by reworking the contracts of 100,000 retirees. The change cut annual cost-of-living increases promised as part of the workers’ pension benefits.

That change, along with a few others, was set to save the state about $1 billion in the 2015-17 budget. Today’s ruling means a big hole has opened up that agencies and local governments across the state will have to fill. …

Gary and Rudnick argued that the reforms were legal. They lost – although presumably they succeeded bringing in a lot of billable hours for HLGR, paid for with taxpayer money. The winning side was represented by longtime labor lawyer Greg Hartman, among others. Full decision here:

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ADDITIONAL RETRACTION of claim Coltrane got Rudnick to rewrite Walkup’s report on Archives release.

4/20/2015:  The original title of this post was Klinger says archivists “resigned”, Coltrane got Rudnick to rewrite Walkup’s report on Archives release, no followup from Coltrane on deleted docs.

As explained below, on 4/3/2015 I retracted my statement that Interim President Coltrane got Sharon Rudnick to rewrite Amanda Walkup’s report on the Archives release, in response to an email from Coltrane. In response to the demands for retraction I have received from Mr. William F. Gary of HLGR, posted below and here, I am also retracting my statement that Ms Rudnick rewrote Ms Walkup’s report. My statement was not factually supported, I retract it, and I regret publishing it.

4/3/2015: The original title of this post was Klinger says archivists “resigned”, Coltrane got Rudnick to rewrite Walkup’s report on Archives release, no followup from Coltrane on deleted docs.

As explained below, I am retracting the claim that Interim President Coltrane got Sharon Rudnick to rewrite Walkup’s report on the Archives release.My statement was not factually supported, I retract it, and I regret publishing it.

On March 26 Bill Gary of the HLGR law firm, which Scott Coltrane has inexplicably left in charge of UO’s legal affairs, demanded that I retract the claim that Interim President Coltrane got Sharon Rudnick to rewrite Walkup’s report on the Archives release. See below for the link to Rudnick’s summary of the report, and the retraction demand and back and forth here. Apparently Gary is OK with this post on a potential conflict of interest between HLGR’s OUS billings and Gary and Rudnick’s work on the release of Randy Geller’s memo on dissolving the Senate.

Today I received the this email from Interim President Coltrane:

Dear Professor Harbaugh,

Thank you for calling my attention to recent posts you have made on your blog in which you have claimed that “Coltrane got Rudnick to rewrite Amanda Walkup’s report on Archives release”. You ask whether Mr. Gary represents me in connection with a comment he posted on your blog. Mr. Gary does not represent me. Nor do I see anything in his comments suggesting that he does. However, now that I have seen the fabrications that you have posted, I am beginning to wonder whether I should ask him to represent me.

Let me be clear: I did not ask Sharon Rudnick to rewrite Amanda Walkup’s report and Sharon Rudnick did not do so. Posting false and defamatory comments of this kind can do great damage, not only to those you defame, but also to the university. I join Mr. Gary in asking that you retract these false statements. This is especially true at this time when we are trying to rebuild trust in shared governance.

Sincerely, Scott Coltrane

ORS 31.120 gives news organizations 2 weeks to retract allegedly false and defamatory statements, before they can be sued for defamation. Given Coltrane’s email, I am retracting the claim that Interim President Coltrane got Sharon Rudnick to rewrite Walkup’s report on the Archives release. Here’s is my email to Coltrane:

Dear Interim President Coltrane

Thank you for clearing this up. I have posted a formal retraction of the claim that you got Ms Rudnick to rewrite the Walkup report, at http://uomatters.com/2015/04/archivists-resign-coltrane-got-sharon-rudnick-to-write-report-on-presidential-archives-release.html

In regards to your efforts to improve trust in shared governance, I agree these have been significant. However, UO’s Public Records Office is still using delays, fees and redactions to prevent the release of public records. 

I don’t think that there is going to much of an increase in trust in the Johnson Hall administration, by the UO Community, reporters, or the state at large, until you address that problem.

Yours,

Bill Harbaugh

3/25/2015: And Library Dean Adriene Lim wants $210 to reveal docs on prior reviews of archives.

Meanwhile, no follow through on promises from Coltrane or Library Dean Lim to the UO Senate that they would look into larger problems with UO’s transparency and refusal to provide public records, or explain what happened to the documents on athletic subsidies and the Knight Arena – and so much more – that are missing from the digital presidential archives.

Under Oregon State’s library privacy policy, it’s Library Dean Lim that would be in trouble, for telling the administration that I had accessed the digital Presidential Archives:

OSU Libraries treat patron information as strictly confidential to the extent permitted by law. It is generally for the use of library staff only; it can, of course, be divulged to the patron. Unless required by law, patron information is not to be given to non-library individuals, including parents, friends, professors, university administrators, police, FBI, university security staff, or the CIA. The university librarian is responsible for compliance with legal obligations and court orders.

3/25/2015: Diane Dietz has more in the RG, here:

UO economics professor Bill Harbaugh got the records from the archives and he returned them in late January at the request of the UO administration. Harbaugh is publisher of the insider uomatters.com blog.

The administration’s role in the departure of the archivists is “despicable,” he said.

“This is all about (administrators) being embarrassed,” he said. “They tried to nail me. They couldn’t because of tenure and academic freedom, and so they went after the people they could nail.”

The archivists were just doing their job when they provided the documents, Harbaugh said.

They required Harbaugh to agree to the library’s standard disclaimer, which warns researchers that archives may contain sensitive or confidential information that may be protected by privacy laws and other regulations. It warns the researcher that releasing private information without consent could have legal ramifications.

“They say ‘Look, there’s boxes and boxes of stuff. We haven’t screened it all. We’ll let you look through it, but you’ve got to agree to this confidentiality deal. I agreed to that,” Harbaugh said. “They behaved very ethically.”

Archivists abide by a professional obligation to balance access to public records with confidentiality, Harbaugh said.

“People don’t go into this kind of work without believing in the importance of access. They’re researchers, they’re historians, they use these kinds of records to do their own scholarly work. They know it’s important that this material be maintained and made accessible. I’m really proud of them. They did their job,” he said.

Here’s my email to Library Dean Adriene Lim on this:

Subject: “The Incident”
From: Bill Harbaugh
Date: March 18, 2015 at 12:18:48 AM EDT
To: Adriene Lim <alim@uoregon.edu>

Dear Dean Lim, Associate Dean Bonamici, and members of the Library Committee –

Thank you for allowing me to attend your meeting today.

At the meeting Andrew Bonamici said that, in the interests of balancing confidentiality and public access, and the impossibility of inspecting every document individually, that the UO archives had policies or procedures for allowing researchers access to files and folders from the archives that had not been fully reviewed for confidentiality. This access was conditional on researchers agreeing not to make confidential documents public. (This is not verbatim, it’s my recollection of the gist of what Andrew said.)

I don’t know what you’ve been told about how I got the digital Presidential Archives, but there was nothing nefarious about it. I sent the special collections reference desk a request for information on how to access the digital archives. I was told that the digital archives might contain confidential documents protected by FERPA or other laws, and that if I agreed not to release those documents, I should send in a usb key and I would get the archives.

[Here’s the disclaimer language: Archival material may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws and other regulations.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g. a cause of action for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual’s private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Oregon assumes no responsibility.]

I agreed to this condition. I sent in the usb key. I got the documents back. I kept the confidential documents confidential, as I had promised.

It strikes me that this is exactly the procedure that Andrew explained today should have been followed by the archives. It was followed.

So, what is this controversy all about? I only posted two documents. No one has made a credible case for either being confidential. One, of course, was very embarrassing to the General Counsel’s office, and, in my opinion, that’s why the UO administration went after me, and the archivists.

Bill Harbaugh
UO Prof of Economics
http://harbaugh.org

I thought the whole point of hiring Amanda Walkup from Hershner Hunter to do the investigation was to provide some sense of independence and credibility. But no, check the metadata on the otherwise anonymous report Tobin Klinger has released to the press. UO also hired Randy Geller’s HLGR law firm, and Sharon Rudnick wrote the final report. [Note, added at 3/26 2:46PM: By “final report” I mean the publicly released version.] Presumably JH didn’t like what Walkup had to say:

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Here’s the text of Rudnick’s report, original word document here, check the document info:

RECORDS RELEASE
Background: University Records
All of the University’s records are subject to various requirements relating to the maintenance and disclosure of those records. They fall into two categories:
1) non-permanent records, which are subject to retention and destruction according to the University’s Records Retention Schedule, and
2) permanent records, which are accessioned and housed in the University Archives.
In each category, records may be further designated as exempt from public disclosure under Oregon’s Public Records Act, or non-exempt and therefore subject to disclosure.
Permanent Records: Permanent records have historical significance and are designated for permanent retention according to the Records Retention Schedule. When records are no longer active (e.g., in regular use by the originating department), stewardship is transferred to the University Archives. Once accessioned by the Archives, records are processed, described in finding aids, and made available in perpetuity for research and other purposes. In most (but not all) cases, permanent archival records are non-exempt, and once processed, are available to researchers without need for further review or redaction.

Non-Permanent Records: Stewardship of non-permanent records is retained by the originating department. Records are retained for various lengths of time as required by the Secretary of State’s Records Retention Schedule. Pursuant to the public records law, non-permanent records are categorized as exempt or non-exempt from public disclosure. For example, “faculty records” are considered exempt from disclosure. Non-permanent records are not accessioned by the University Archives, and the library is not authorized to determine if or when to release these records. The library offers a limited long-term storage program for inactive non-permanent records, but this is a strictly custodial role. Non-permanent records in storage remain accessible only to authorized staff from the originating department, or to the Public Records Office in response to research requests.
Timeline on Records Release Incident
• On November 13, 2014, a faculty member sent an email to the Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) reference desk asking for a list or catalog showing what sort of information is available in the Library Archives regarding presidential papers, and information about how to go about accessing them.
• Those records had been transferred to the Libraries by the Office of the President, but permanent and non-permanent records had not been separated based on an exception granted to the unit by the Libraries, and the permanent records had not yet been processed and described — a necessary step before documents are made available in response to such a request.
• In response to the email, approximately 25,000 un-processed electronic records relating to past and current UO presidents were provided to the faculty member on a USB drive on December 3, 2014.
• The records included both permanent (i.e. archival) and non-permanent records, including student and faculty records designated confidential by federal law, state law, or both, privileged communications, and documents that are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records law.
• The University learned of the release of the records and its scope in early January, 2015.
• The University contacted the faculty member who received the records in November 2014, and this individual ultimately returned the records on January 28, 2015 for appropriate processing.
• The University sorted the records and organized them according to university policy and procedures— mainly sorting permanent records from non-permanent records.
• With the initial review and organizing of the documents complete, the University is creating a special team to review and redact information that would be protected under state and federal law so the records can be available through the appropriate channels. This process will take an additional 500 hours.
• Once this work is complete, the University will make all appropriate records available to those who have made public records requests for them. Permanent records will be processed by UO Archives and stored in the University’s Archives. Non-permanent records will be retained according to the Secretary of State’s retention schedule.
Conclusion/Findings
• The records were released to the faculty member prior to the customary separation and processing required by UO Libraries, University of Oregon, State of Oregon, and federal policies, procedures, and statutes.
• Records released included information, including student names and addresses, which are protected under state and federal law (FERPA and HIPAA).
• The records were returned, and appropriate review and processing is being expedited by the University to ensure full compliance with rules, code of ethics, and all federal and state laws.

, revised 3/24/15
00679757.v1

UO Attorney William F. Gary, Esquire, demands more retractions over Presidential Archives investigation

4/20/2015 update: Please see the retractions posted at http://uomatters.com/2015/04/archivists-resign-coltrane-got-sharon-rudnick-to-write-report-on-presidential-archives-release.html

4/15/2015 PM update: I’ve made a public records request to UO, in an effort to obtain some hard data and get to the bottom of all this back and forth between Mr. Gary and me:

From: Bill Harbaugh <wtharbaugh@gmail.com>
Subject: PR request, Presidential Archives release documents
Date: April 15, 2015 at 11:09:39 PM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu> Cc: doug park <dougpark@uoregon.edu>, Interim President Coltrane <pres@uoregon.edu>, provost@uoregon.edu

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for

a) all billing invoices from the HLGR and Hershner Hunter law firms to the UO, dated from 1/1/2015 to the present, and

b) any communications between UO President’s office or General Counsel employees and outside attorneys or consultants relevant to the preparation of the attached “Records Incident Report”, apparently written by HLGR attorney Sharon Rudnick, regarding the UO Presidential Archives release.

I’m ccing Interim GC Doug Park as he should be able to easily provide many of these documents. Otherwise, I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest.

4/15/2015 AM: My apparently inadequate retraction of the original post is here. Since then I’ve received two additional emails from Mr. Gary, who is representing HLGR and UO lawyers Sharon Rudnick and Randy Geller. I will send and post a response to Mr. Gary’s additional demands promptly.

April 1, 2015, full letter here:

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April 10, 2015, full letter here:

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Did William F. Gary, Esquire, go rogue with defamation suit threat against professor?

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Is Mr. Gary actually representing Interim President Coltrane, or has he gone rogue? My post and Mr. Gary’s defamation lawsuit threat here. Potential conflict of interest for Mr. Gary’s representation of UO in this matter here.

So let’s find out if Bill Gary is really representing Scott Coltrane in this threat to sue me, or if he’s gone off the farm:

Subject: Re: retraction demand
From: Bill Harbaugh <wtharbaugh@gmail.com>
Date: April 2, 2015 at 9:33:01 PM PDT
To: Interim President Coltrane <pres@uoregon.edu>

Cc: Gregory Rikhoff <grikhoff@uoregon.edu>, “Amanda M. Walkup” <awalkup@hershnerhunter.com>, “William F. Gary” <william.f.gary@harrang.com>, Sharon Rudnick <Sharon.RUDNICK@harrang.com>

Dear Interim President Coltrane –

Last week I received the blog comment and email below from William F. Gary, an attorney and partner at Harrang, Long, Gary, and Rudnick.

As you can see, Mr. Gary alleges that I have have made false and defamatory statements about you.

I am writing to ask if Mr. Gary is representing you in this matter, and specifically if you have authorized Mr. Gary to speak for you and pursue legal action against me for this blog post.

Yours,

Bill Harbaugh

From the comments:

William F. Gary 03/26/2015 at 12:30 pm
Your statement that the University President “got Rudnick to rewrite Walkup’s report on Archives release” is false and defamatory. Ms. Walkup’s report, which has not been released to the public, is the work product of Hershner Hunter alone. Ms. Rudnick did not edit the report, let alone rewrite it. You have no basis to claim otherwise. The document that you identify as the report is not the Walkup report. It does not purport to be the Walkup report and it has not been represented as such. Your claim that Ms. Rudnick rewrote an investigative report because “JH didn’t like what Walkup had to say” unfairly impugns her integrity and her professional reputation. Please retract and correct your false statement immediately.

My emailed response to Mr. Gary:

Dear Mr. Gary – 

Someone recently posted a comment from a “William F. Gary” on my blog, demanding that I retract a news and opinion post. 

You can find this demand and the post at http://uomatters.com/2015/03/archivists-resign-coltrane-got-sharon-rudnick-to-write-report-on-presidential-archives-release.html#comment-200324. …

If this is indeed from you, I’d appreciate it if you could confirm this with a signed letter following the requirements of ORS 31.120. I believe you’re familiar with that law, but just in case I’m attaching a previous retraction demand from you, which might be useful as a template. I’m currently traveling, but you can send a pdf to this email address.

Yours, Bill Harbaugh,

Editor and Blogger, http://www.uomatters.comhttp://www.openuporegon.com

Mr. Gary’s most recent prior retraction demand was in June 2013. In it he and Sharon Rudnick said I was a news media organization,here. (Most recent to UO M, that is. Rumor has it he’s made similar demands to others.) Interestingly, it was about a post I made discussing the ~$1M HLGR in legal fees that Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick’s law firm managed to extract from Oregon taxpayers over the precursor to the current Kitzhaber / Cylvia Hayes scandal. Randy Geller, at the time UO’s General Counsel, wrote a strong defense to the court arguing for the fees. Geller, of course, now works for HLGR.

Here’s Mr. Gary’s response to my email above:

Dear Professor Harbaugh,

   Thank you for your response to my post and for allowing it to appear in the comments section of your blog. I posted it in my own name and from my law firm’s e-mail so that you would not have to guess at who was calling you out on your defamatory comments. As a University professor who often speaks passionately about academic freedom and transparency, I am sure you fully understand the destructive nature of this sort of lie. Not only does it damage those whom you defame, it also does lasting damage to the quality of discourse in the University community. I trust therefore that you will take appropriate steps to correct the record.

   While I appreciate your advice concerning the legal requirements of ORS 31.120, I am confident that I have a good grasp on the steps I must follow to hold you accountable if you do not act promptly to undo the harm you have caused.

My response:

Thanks Mr. Gary – 

Actually, people can enter any name and email address they want, the software has no way of checking on either. It’s one of the charms of the internet. Silence Dogood and Ben Franklin would have loved it. Please let me know when I can expect your letter.

Bill Harbaugh

and then:

Dear Mr. Gary – 

I thought you might be interested in the Oregonian news story on the archives report, here: http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2015/03/university_of_oregon_records.html#incart_2box_education_index.ssf

Perhaps you should threaten the Oregonian with a defamation lawsuit too? Their comments are also open.

Bill Harbaugh

3/26/2015 5:00 PM, still no letter from Gary.

Rudnick’s law firm loses contract

7/21/2013: Edward Russo has the story in the Register Guard:

The city had relied on Harrang Long since 1971 for virtually all of its legal advice, a sizeable task that produced big billings for the firm. 

Since 2000, the city has spent a total of $21.4 million — or an annual average of $2.1 million — on legal fees, most of which went to Harrang Long. …

For all other legal work that Klein and Jerome did for the city that year, the city paid Harrang Long $180 an hour, which produced a combined bill of $430,701.

OK, that story is from 2009, when Eugene city manager Jon Ruiz ended the contract. And $180 an hour ain’t much these days. Sharon Rudnick of Harrang, Long etc. now bills UO for $300 per. And she charges Mark Long – the son of the Stan Long in her firm’s name, $400. No family discount? That’s stone cold. Wow. 

Rudnick, Gary, and Geller respond to ethics allegations

7/5/2013: My complaint to the bar is here, the Jaquiss story is here, Rudnick and Gary’s retraction demand over the headline is here. In response I’ve changed the headline on the post to more accurately reflect the facts: “Bar investigates Rudnick, Gary and Geller for allegations of lack of candor with the tribunal, in an attempt to pad legal fees”.


The responses from Geller’s attorney Bradley Tellam and Rudnick and Gary’s attorney Arden Olsen are here. An excerpt from Tellam:
Actually, Geller’s declaration to the court had plenty to do with HLGR’s hourly rates. He had recently signed a contract with HLGR for billing rates that were as little of half of what HLGR were arguing that state taxpayers should have to pay the same HLGR attorney’s for the public records case, and he’d have to have been pretty clueless to not understand that his affidavit would be used by Gary and Rudnick as support for their attempt to convince the judge to then double those higher rates.
An excerpt from Olsen:
He seems particularly upset about the fact that HLGR’s efforts to get $860K in public funds are being publicly discussed here and by Nigel Jaquiss in Willamette Week. I’m no literature professor, but I think they call that irony. My response to the Bar is due Tuesday, comments and suggestions welcome.