Maybe Lariviere should start searching through Grier’s trash?

4/14/2010: From Insidehighered.com

Controversy is growing over an invitation by the foundation of California State University at Stanislaus to Sarah Palin. Jerry Brown, the attorney general of California, is starting an investigation into the foundation and whether it is appropriate for it to use funds to bring the former vice presidential candidate to campus, the Los Angeles Times reported. Meanwhile, students say they have found in a trash bin shredded documents — which the university failed to turn over to legislative committees — about the visit. Brown said his inquiry would include the issue of the documents’ authenticity and — if they are real — how they ended up in the trash.

Comments

4/4/2010: Lots of hits and lots of comments on the payoff stories, some from people who sound like they know something. Lariviere will have a news conference Tuesday, and maybe he will tell the truth about what happened.

George Schroeder of the RG has a column calling for more transparency and criticizing UO treatment of public records issues.

“More important, though, I hope we’re going to hear that the new president is going to change the way the school conducts the public’s business.” 
UO’s Assistant Counsel Doug Park (dougpark@uoregon.edu, (541) 346-3082) is nominally tasked with filibustering public records requests, but he gets his orders from General Counsel Melinda Grier. Larivierehas done his best to stay out of it. As it happens – and in reaction to the faculty’s own problems getting records from Melinda Grier, in May the UO Senate will be debating a resolution putting in place procedures to improve public records access. Grier’s pissy response is here.

James Day in the SG has a column on academic performance by PAC-10 players. I was surprised Ernie Kent’s players didn’t do better:

To be eligible for the all-academic teams a player must have at least a 3.0 grade-point average and be a starter or significant contributor (freshmen are not eligible because a full year is required to establish an academic record).The Pac-10 found just 11 men’s players who met this standard….

Why can’t men’s basketball players (or football players for that matter) do this? Because they are commodities. Their job is to fill seats, give students something to do on Saturdays, make boosters happy, win games, reel in shoe money for the program and the school and, above all, stay eligible.

So that coaches can eventually get $2.3 million golden parachutes.

no bid contracts and the Arena

1/22/2010: An anonymous commentator pointed readers to this ODE story by CJ Ciaramella on no-bid contracts for the Arena. There’s another in the RG today:

I’d wondered what the story on that billboard on Franklin Blvd was. When someone rents a billboard to complain UO is not following the public records law it kind of gets your attention. The Director of the union group that erected it says of UO:

“The amount of time that it’s taken to get a public records request processed is far longer than we are used to dealing with,” Bonham said. “For this institution to be not completely transparent and forthcoming is a concern for the public.” The University general counsel’s office, which handles public records requests for the University, did not return calls seeking comment.

For the record, The UO official in charge of public record requests is Doug Park, dougpark@uoregon.edu, (541) 346-3082. Doug doesn’t sign his name to public records responses, and likes to use the email address gcounsel@uoregon.edu instead of his real one. I’m not sure if this is because he is embarrassed by what his boss Melinda Grier makes him do for a living, or is just trying to forestall an ethics investigation over the details.

I still remember the efforts to get a copy of this report on the arena revenue forecast from UO. Melinda Grier was trying to hide this report because its revenue forecasts were 1/3 of the 15 million needed to justify tax-exempt bonds. She and Doug Park stalled for months, ignored repeated emails and calls, and the Oregon DOJ played along with her efforts to keep this report secret. Finally it came out and we found this:

So the projection is for $4 million in net revenue, for $15 million per year bond repayments. When the State Treasurer’s office finally saw this report they refused to allow UO to sell the bonds as tax-exempt, because these numbers mean the IRS could have argued this was tax arbitrage, and imposed millions in penalties on UO. I wonder what Melinda is hiding this time?

OPB interview with Oregon Attorney General Kroger and UO Professor

12/5/2009: The OPB show “Think Out Loud” is doing a show Monday on the subject of access to public records. This is about AG Kroger’s new “Government Transparency” Initiative. Among other important reforms Kroger has appointed DOJ lawyer Michael Kron as “Government Transparency Counsel”. Kron’s job responsibilities include ensuring that UO Counsel Melinda Grier obeys the public records law. He will be a busy guy. The show will feature a discussion with Attorney General John Kroger and a UO Professor with considerable experience extracting public records from UO, and I am pretty sure it airs at 9 AM, or at least that’s when they told me to be in the studio.

AG John Kroger announces "Government Transparency" initiative

12/2/2009: Oregonian, RG, Jack Bog. This is – potentially – a very significant step towards the reform of Oregon’s public records process, and a nightmare for UO General Counsel Melinda Grier and her efforts to limit access to UO’s public records. From the ODOJ press release:

Attorney General John Kroger today announced a broad plan to improve government transparency in Oregon. “A democracy cannot properly function without strong open government laws,” said Attorney General Kroger. “We’ve implemented some immediate reforms that will improve transparency in state government. But I’m also committed to far greater changes.” Immediate changes include: Putting the 2008 Attorney General’s Manual on Public Records and Public Meetings online. Until now, the manual has been exclusively available in a hard copy at a cost of $25. Free online access will significantly increase its usefulness. … Attorney General Kroger also has created the Government Transparency Counsel, a new position in the Department of Justice designed to ensure that state government properly complies with state transparency laws.

The online PR manual appears to be the direct consequence of pressure from a UO Professor who “illegally” posted the manual online, and from Carl Malamud at Public Resource. Kroger has abandoned his efforts to claim copyright to this manual. The new “Government Transparency Counsel” (Michael Kron) has a great title and we hope will have the authority to overrule Melinda Grier’s efforts to keep public records from the public. We certainly intend to find out!

More ICC rate nonsense

10/23/2009: Latest from Melinda Grier and Doug Park on the ICC rate. They wrote last week, telling us they would show us the documents explaining why the rate was cut – costing UO research efforts $2 million per year – but only if we paid them $173.11. So we sent them a public records request for the documents justifying this charge. Now they want us to pay for the documents that justify charging faculty to see why the research budget has been cut:

Dear Professor X:

The University of Oregon received your public records request for a copy of any documents explaining the estimate of $173.11 provided to you October 8, 2009. The University is now providing an estimate.

The University estimates the actual cost of providing the documents responsive to your request to be $2.70. Upon receipt of a check made payable to the University of Oregon in the amount of $2.70, the University will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you have requested that are not exempt from disclosure. Your check may be sent to the attention of the General Counsel’s office at 1226 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1226.

I’d like to think that Rich Linton and Richard Lariviere wouldn’t treat a reasonable faculty question with this sort of contempt. But if that’s true, why they are letting Melinda Grier and Doug Park speak for them like this?

Carl Malamud talk on Friday:


Should America’s Operating System Be Open Source?
Carl Malamud, President and Founder of Public.Resource.Org
Friday, October 23 at 11Am, Studio A, Knight Libraries
(Enter through STEM door on the RHS of the library).

Who owns the law? A thicket of copyright restrictions has arisen around the primary legal materials of the United States. Statutes, regulations, hearings, Attorney General Opinions, building codes, and the other materials that make up the raw materials of democracy all face restrictions. In this talk, Carl Malamud will look at the question of who owns the law, tracing the issues back to early Supreme Court decisions, looking at how the law of the law has been applied in the modern era, and will pay particular attention to a set of issues regarding ownership of the law in Oregon.

Carl Malamud is the President and Founder of Public.Resource.Org, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has been instrumental in placing over 90 million pages of primary legal materials on the Internet. They were in the lead in the effort last year to convince the Oregon Legislative Committee to waive copyright on the Oregon Revised Statutes, and have been particularly at the federal level, conducting audits of PACER, helping the Government Printing Office publish the Federal Register in XML, and convincing C-SPAN to waive restrictions on use on their footage of government proceedings. Malamud was previously Chief Technology Officer at the Center for American Progress, and prior to that created the Internet Multicasting Service – which ran the first radio station on the Internet, and put the SEC and U.S. Patent Office on the Internet.

illegal public records

9/19/2009: From openuporegon.com:

Carl Malamud has now sent Oregon Attorney General Kroger this letter, stating that he has posted the Oregon Public Records manual online for free access. He also tells Kroger he will soon do the same for several of the other law manuals that the DOJ trys to sell, including the Administrative Law Manual, Public Contracts Manual, and Core Mediation Training Manual. Malamud’s letter to Kroger says:

… I’m sure you will agree that “the law, which, binding every citizen, is free for publication to all, whether it is a declaration of unwritten law, or an interpretation of a constitution or statute.” Banks v. Manchester, 128 U.S. 244, 253 (1888).

Malamud’s work is described in this NY Times story. His efforts to “make public law public” are funded by the Omidyar Foundation (ebay) and endorsed by Larry Lessig – one of Kroger’s old law professors at Harvard. These are serious people – if they weren’t, could they afford to boast that they are endorsed by the “Great Seal“?

9/17/2009: According to this post at openuporegon.com, and this and this, a UO Professor is in trouble with Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, for illegally posting a copyrighted version of the “Oregon Attorney General’s Public Records and Meetings Manual.” Now slashdot.org, a hotbed of open source information and activism, has put up a post. Last I looked there were 200 comments, and multiple mirrors of the illegal manual. When the open source guys decide your information should be public, it will be public.

President Obama and UO Matters

9/2/2009: Regular readers of UO Matters know that we spend a lot of time and money trying to pry public records from the cold grasping claws of UO General Counsel Melinda Grier and her Associate Counsel Doug Park. They resist, we appeal to Oregon Attorney General John Kroger. Sometimes he tells them to fork over the records before he has to make a formal ruling, sometimes he rules against us, sometimes we pay Doug a couple hundred bucks – a pittance, given our enormous Google ad revenue – and he sends a few pages of printout.

Once (so far) we had to make a federal FOIA for some UO records. The agency denied, we appealed, and so on. Then today, out of the blue, one of the UO Matters staff gets a phone call from a lawyer at the USDOJ Office of Information and something or another. A lady with an elegant southern accent, which really takes us back.

Lawyer: “We have reviewed your appeal, and have remanded your request to the relevant agency.”
UO Matters: “Shit! uh wait, what does remanded mean?”
Lawyer: “Sir, we’ve told them to send you the documents.”
UO Matters, “Sweet! uh wait, how much is this going to cost me?”
Lawyer: “If they try to charge you, or if there are unjustified redactions, call me.”
UO Matters: “I’ve been trying to get these for a year – what happened? Is this some Obama thing?”
Lawyer: “Yes. President Obama directed Attorney General Holder to change the way we interpret FOIA law. During our review, your appeal came up.”

I liked the way she said President Obama. You can read Holder’s memo here. It’s pretty impressive stuff. Of course, we still haven’t seen the documents.

Lawyer: “A few weeks. No, let’s set a deadline: You will have them by Sept 22.”

Now if we can only get Oregon’s Attorney General John Kroger to write that same memo to Melinda Grier!

Transparency Day

7/9/2009: The Commentator and the Emerald are writing about Pres Lariviere’s blog (which is actually run by UO staffer Tim Beltran). It’s a little too slick for our taste Tim – but maybe we’re just jealous of that fine Borsalino. Still wouldn’t hurt to post some documents – feel free to borrow any of our pdf’s – here’s a good one. Before long people are going to want to see content – and we’re not talking video. Hey – we linked to you, netiquette now requires you to link back to UO Matters.

Oregon Attorney General John Kroger may – eventually – make good on his campaign promises to improve enforcement of public records law. UO has been notoriously bad at providing public access. One of the reasons we started this blog was to make the records Melinda Grier tried to hide public.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Attorney General John Kroger says he’ll review Oregon’s open government laws to see whether they’re being applied correctly and whether he should recommend changes to the Legislature. Kroger says Oregonians tell him they value transparency in government, but he hears from journalists that it’s gotten more difficult to get public records. Oregon open government laws date to 1973. Critics say they’ve been weakened by exceptions the Legislature has approved, narrow interpretations from state lawyers, agency foot-dragging, and high fees charged to prepare data for release. Kroger met Tuesday with journalists in Portland. He says the review will be lengthy and include a look at laws in other states.
Associated Press – July 7, 2009 4:15 PM ET

Also see this Editorial. Meanwhile, the UO Senate is ahead of the curve, having passed Nathan Tublitz’s transparency motion, calling on UO to start providing open access to accounting documents.

5/20/2009:

Interesting NYT story about how public records requests from an american freelance reporter have lead to the resignation of the speaker of the UK Parliament, because of his efforts to hide public records about second home expenses. It’s an open secret that UO has swallowed the million dollar Bend loses for so long because senior administrators have vacation homes over there – although probably not with moats. Makes you wonder what will turn up once UO admins have to post their expense info. Nathan Tublitz’s accounting transparency resolution is retroactive.