UO Public Records Office disaster grows a long tail

Taking out the mirror requests, it looks like a bit less than one PR request per day. Most are pretty simple requests for a contract or some such. The office has a $300K budget:

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How can they be this far behind? It’s almost as if they’re not really trying. Full log here:

Request Date Title Requester Status
10/12/2015 Office of the Registrar Kellermeyer, Nick Requesting/Reviewing Records
10/12/2015 Game Contract Harbaugh, Bill Requesting/Reviewing Records
10/08/2015 Directory Information International Student Achievement Pell, Michael Request Withdrawn
10/07/2015 Athletic contracts Dourning, Karen Awaiting Payment
10/06/2015 Sports medicine policy Gershberg, Max No Responsive Records
10/06/2015 UOPD case 15-1296 Jackson, Dustin Requesting/Reviewing Records
10/02/2015 UOPD record request Dale, Allison No Responsive Records
10/01/2015 Outstanding vendor checks Minotti, Anthony Requesting/Reviewing Records
10/01/2015 Directory information enrolled students Lee, Garret Requesting/Reviewing Records
10/01/2015 Outstanding vendor checks Kaye, Julia Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/30/2015 Athletic contracts Lefft, Evan Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/29/2015 Settlement Read, Richard Records Exempt From Disclosure
09/29/2015 Office of the Registrar Maurer, Julie Request Withdrawn
09/28/2015 Proposals Gauer, Jenn Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/23/2015 Contracts Greif, Andrew Records Provided
09/23/2015 RFP Responses – Mirror Rohlfing Strug, Susan Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/21/2015 Contracts, Grants and Agreements Suitts, Phillip Awaiting Payment
09/18/2015 Settlement Harbaugh, William Records Exempt From Disclosure
09/18/2015 Proposals Rossmiller, Sara Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/18/2015 Office of the Registrar Reed, Len Records Provided
09/17/2015 Proposals McBeth, Brian Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/17/2015 Proposals Winter, Landon Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/16/2015 NCAA Report Hobson, Will Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/13/2015 Football Expenses Caple, Christian Awaiting Payment
09/11/2015 Game Contracts Greif, Andrew Records Provided
09/04/2015 Gift Letters Harbaugh, William Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/02/2015 Correspondence Brettman, Allan Awaiting Payment
09/02/2015 Payroll Reports Bovero, Gregory Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/01/2015 Mirror Harbaugh Appleby, Keith Requesting/Reviewing Records
08/28/2015 Bids Pagador, Rhea Records Provided
08/28/2015 Correspondence Hoyer, Klifton Records Provided
08/26/2015 Proposals Koziol, Kelly Requesting/Reviewing Records
08/26/2015 Proposals Koziol, Kelly Requesting/Reviewing Records
08/25/2015 Office of the Registrar Alex No Responsive Records
08/24/2015 Investments Parker, Haley Records Provided
08/21/2015 Proposal Koziol, Kelly Records Provided
08/18/2015 Department Communications Alger, Michelle Awaiting Payment
08/18/2015 Senator Feingold Speech Adler, Jeremy Records Provided
08/16/2015 UOPD Sherman, Stephen Requesting/Reviewing Records
08/13/2015 Contracts Cohen, Kevin Requesting/Reviewing Records
08/12/2015 Communications Harbaugh, William Requesting/Reviewing Records
08/06/2015 Public Records Request Forgard, Ben Records Provided
08/05/2015 Football Contracts Smith, Steve Records Provided
08/04/2015 Settlement Friedman, Gordon No Responsive Records
08/04/2015 Settlement Friedman, Gordon Records Provided
08/04/2015 Settlement Friedman, Gordon Records Provided
08/04/2015 Settlement Friedman, Gordon Records Provided
08/04/2015 Settlement Friedman, Gordon Records Provided
08/04/2015 Settlement Friedman, Gordon Records Provided
08/04/2015 Settlement Friedman, Gordon Requesting/Reviewing Records
08/04/2015 Contract Quay, Grayson Records Provided
08/04/2015 Settlement Friedman, Gordon Records Provided
08/03/2015 Donations Harbaugh, Bill Requesting/Reviewing Records
08/03/2015 Solar Energy Projects Harbaugh, Bill Requesting/Reviewing Records
08/03/2015 Reviews Harbaugh, Bill Awaiting Payment
08/03/2015 Brand Contracts Harbaugh, Bill Records Provided
08/03/2015 University Expenditures Harbaugh, Bill Awaiting Payment
08/03/2015 NCAA Violations Harbaugh, Bill Requesting/Reviewing Records
08/03/2015 Sightlines Study Harbaugh, Bill Requesting/Reviewing Records
08/03/2015 2021 IAAF World Championship Harbaugh, Bill Requesting/Reviewing Records
08/03/2015 Global Scholars Hall Inspection Documents Harbaugh, Bill Requesting/Reviewing Records
08/03/2015 Global Scholars Hall Project Records Harbaugh, Bill Requesting/Reviewing Records
08/03/2015 Building Contracts Harbaugh, Bill Records Provided
08/03/2015 Ticket Software Contract Harbaugh, Bill Records Provided
08/03/2015 Bowl Expenses Harbaugh, Bill Records Provided
08/03/2015 Compliance Correspondence Harbaugh, Bill Awaiting Payment
08/02/2015 Directory Rasmusson, Nina No Responsive Records
07/28/2015 Transportation Agreement Pine, Levi Requesting/Reviewing Records
07/23/2015 Student Fees Kimbrell, Jacob Records Provided
07/22/2015 Contract Ahlen, John Records Provided
07/20/2015 Athletic Contracts Rhoden, Jaleesa Records Provided
07/16/2015 Software Anderson, Angelina Awaiting Payment
07/16/2015 UOPD Boone, Mario No Responsive Records
07/16/2015 Compliance Correspondence Mattioli, Kami Awaiting Payment
07/15/2015 Directory Howe, Kevin No Responsive Records
07/14/2015 Donations Jacoby, Kenny Records Provided
07/14/2015 Contract Harbaugh, William Records Provided
07/13/2015 Reviews Paulson, Lauren Awaiting Payment
07/13/2015 Solar Energy Projects Wilker, Steven Requesting/Reviewing Records
07/09/2015 Brand Contracts Axon, Rachel Records Provided

UO exempt from Governor Brown’s upcoming public records audits

Governor Kate Brown has just signed Senate Bill 9, calling for audits of state agency compliance with Oregon’s Public Records law. Good for her.

Except for a brief period under President Lariviere, UO’s public records office has been notorious for its use of fees, delays, and redactions to frustrate the intent of that law. An audit might turn up some interesting stuff, just as the Oregon DOJ’s 2010 investigation of the UO General Counsel’s office under Melinda Grier did about her and her assistant Doug Park’s delays in providing the Bellotti documents to reporters. (Lariviere fired Grier, and after a series of implausible events her assistant Doug Park, who’d handled the Bellotti requests, became UO’s Interim GC.):

But no. In some spectacularly bad news for trust and transparency at UO, UO’s public records office will be exempt from these audits. I’m no law professor, but here’s the story. The newly passed SB 9 reads:

Senate Bill 9 Sponsored by Senators COURTNEY, FERRIOLI, ROSENBAUM, Representatives KOTEK, HOYLE; Senators DEVLIN, JOHNSON, MONNES ANDERSON (at the request of Governor Kate Brown)

… Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon: SECTION 1. (1) As used in this section: (a) “Performance audit” has the meaning given that term in ORS 297.070. (b) “State agency” has the meaning given that term in ORS 192.410. (2) The Secretary of State shall conduct a performance audit examining state agency retention and disclosure practices concerning public records and requests for public records. …

And while ORS 192.410 says

5) State agency means any state officer, department, board, commission or court created by the Constitution or statutes of this state but does not include the Legislative Assembly or its members, committees, officers or employees insofar as they are exempt under section 9, Article IV of the Oregon Constitution.

SB 270, which created the independent UO Board, makes it pretty clear that UO is no longer a state agency:

SECTION 2a. A university with a governing board is a governmental entity performing governmental functions and exercising governmental powers. A university with a governing board is not considered a unit of local or municipal government or a state agency, board, commission or institution for purposes of state statutes or constitutional provisions.

So what is UO and it’s new independent Board of Trustees?

(3) “Public body” includes every state officer, agency, department, division, bureau, board and commission; every county and city governing body, school district, special district, municipal corporation, and any board, department, commission, council, or agency thereof; and any other public agency of this state.

We’re now like a local school district, it seems. This is why public records petitions about UO’s delays, fees, and redactions no longer go to the Oregon DOJ – they go to the Lane County DA. And so no public records audit for UO. I can think of a few people in Johnson Hall who are going to be very happy with this.

RG Editors link Kitzhaber’s and UO’s public records failures

In their editorial on Governor Kate Brown’s inaugural address, here:

… Brown also promised to make Ore­gon’s public records more easily and quickly available to the news media and to the public. That’s an appropriate reaction to the Kitzhaber administration’s stonewalling on public records requests for documents pertaining to the governor’s influence-peddling scandal — stonewalling that ultimately served not to protect Kitzhaber, but to reinforce the impression he was concealing evidence of wrongdoing.

Brown provided no details on the changes she will seek to the state’s public records law, but they should be broad in scope. They should address not only Kitzhaber’s efforts to withhold public documents (in his final days in office he sought to destroy thousands of personal emails stored on state servers), but the ability of state and local governments throughout the state to withhold and delay information that the public has a right and need to know. A prime example is the University of Oregon, which increasingly in recent years has made the refusal of public records requests its default position in defiance of its status as a public university.

UO’s Presidential Advisor Dave Hubin has been in charge of UO’s Public Records office since 2011. He’s been a failure, and that failure has contributed to the sinking reputation of the UO administration, and UO.

Kitzhaber to follow Frohnmayer’s path to the UO Presidency?

2/13/2015 update: Phil Knight gave Kitz a $250K campaign contribution last year, so he’s still got a bit of a debt to work off, and as UO President he’d have plenty of chances. Seems crazy, but remember UO was the state’s consolation prize to Frohnmayer, after his run for governor failed. On the other hand, Kitzhaber doesn’t seem to be good enough at hiding public records to survive long in Johnson Hall.

2/11/2015 update: His “assisted suicide” firing of Lariviere finally makes sense. Remember, you heard this absurd rumor here first!

2/11/2015: Kitzhaber resignation imminent, brought down after hiding public records.

That’s the implication from this RG story on Kate Brown’s emergency return to Oregon from a DC conference. She’s #1 in the succession line.

What brought Kitzhaber down? He hid public records, the reporters got suspicious, and suspicious reporters work very hard to get answers.

Oregon AG rules that Cylvia Hayes is a “public body”


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Which means she is subject to the public records and meeting law. And if Ms Hayes is a public body, then certainly UO Board of Trustees Chair Chuck Lillis is.

In the past UO has used an earlier DOJ opinion claiming that an individual cannot be a “public body” – it had to be an agency, or committee. That was tortured logic, and it seems that Rosenblum is unwilling to assert it in the glare of national publicity.

This new opinion appears to mean efforts by UO and the UO Board to claim that meetings advising Lillis or Coltrane could be kept private, if they had been delegated sole authority to make a decision.

UO tells librarians to shush about Presidential Archives records release

1/22/2015 Presidential Archives records release investigation update:


Dear Library staff, faculty, administrators,

As you read in President Coltrane’s recent message, we have recently learned that significant numbers of archived records have been released, despite the fact that some of these records contained confidential, private, and sensitive information about faculty, staff, and students.

Because this is a complex situation involving issues of privacy, legality, institutional responsibility and more, I am working with others to review all pertinent information. The University’s assessment of the current situation is underway, with the help of an outside investigator.

If you receive any media inquiries about this situation, please do not try to handle them yourselves, but refer these calls to Tobin Klinger in UO’s Public Affairs group, tklinger@uoregon.edu, 6-5558.

I will share as much as I can in the coming days. In the meantime, thanks for your continued dedication to the UO Libraries’ mission and work.

Best wishes,


Adriene Lim, Ph.D., MLIS
Dean of Libraries
Philip H. Knight Chair
University of Oregon Libraries
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1299
Phone: 541-346-1892
Email: alim@uoregon.edu

1/22/2015 update: UO administration now snooping through library patrons’ circulation records

Is nothing sacred? The paranoid UO administration is now snooping through library circulation records showing who checks out what when. Rich Read reports the latest in the Oregonian, here:

… Asked whether the material escaped from the President’s Office or University Archives, Klinger said the archives. “It had gone from the President’s Office to the Archives for their processing in the Archives,” Klinger said. …

A patron, it turns out, is someone who makes requests from the library. “We have an ask out to the patrons to return the records,” Klinger said.

Klinger declined to make Coltrane, the interim president, available for an interview Wednesday. “Not today,” Klinger said. “I’d circle back in a few days or a week or so.”

Yup, Assistant Duck PR flack Tobin Klinger is now in charge of deciding if and when Scott Coltrane is available to talk to the press. Wow.

I’m no librarian, but here’s the official ALA policy on library circulation records:

The Council of the American Library Association strongly recommends that the responsible officers of each library, cooperative system, and consortium in the United States:

    1. Formally adopt a policy that specifically recognizes its circulation records and other records identifying the names of library users to be confidential. (See also ALA Code of Ethics, Article III, “We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received, and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted” and  Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.)
    2. Advise all librarians and library employees that such records shall not be made available to any agency of state, federal, or local government except pursuant to such process, order or subpoena as may be authorized under the authority of, and pursuant to, federal, state, or local law relating to civil, criminal, or administrative discovery procedures or legislative investigative power.
    3. Resist the issuance of enforcement of any such process, order, or subpoena until such time as a proper showing of good cause has been made in a court of competent jurisdiction.

1/21/2015 update: Diane Dietz in the RG: UO employees release piles of presidential documents; administrators want them back

The University of Oregon has given a professor who got a hold of 22,000 pages of uncensored presidential documents until Thursday to give them back, UO spokesman Tobin Klinger said.

Klinger declined to say what would happen to the unidentified professor — who got the documents at some point in the library archiving process — if he declines to return the documents.

Two UO employees who gave the documents to the professor were placed on paid leave, Klinger said. “Paid leave will stand until we have greater clarity on what transpired,” he said.

The spokesman declined to identify the two employees — or the professor in question.

“I’m not going to confirm an identity for that individual that was the recipient. The request is out for cooperation; I don’t want to do anything that’s going to necessarily influence that,” he said.

The trove of records consists of internal and external correspondence to and from the UO president from 2010 through the presidency of former UO chief Michael Gottfredson, which ended last August when Gottfredson abruptly resigned.

“Some of those would technically constitute student records just because they would be identifiable to the student that was involved. Employee records (and) faculty records that would be protected as well were a part of that, to a degree,” Klinger said.

“It does not appear — and we don’t have any reason to believe — that there’s anything in terms of social security numbers or financial data or medical records or anything of that nature,” he said.

But were there embarrassing documents?

“I wouldn’t want to speculate,” Klinger said.

The University of Oregon is notoriously reluctant to release public documents, even though the university is bound by Oregon public records law.

It often takes months for the university to provide requested records. And sometimes the records the university finally supplies are completely redacted. …

And Richard Read in the Oregonian, here:

University of Oregon officials have placed two employees on leave after the “unlawful release” of 22,000 pages of records from the president’s office, including confidential information on faculty, staff and students.

Interim UO President Scott Coltrane sent out an email Tuesday night, addressed to colleagues, saying an investigation was underway. Although no Social Security numbers, financial information or medical records apparently were divulged, Coltrane wrote that, “We are committed to taking steps to mitigate the potential injury associated with this situation.”

… It’s unclear whether the professor who has the information is willing to return it. “We’ve made the initial outreach,” [UO Deputy Chief Strategic Communicator Tobin] Klinger said. “The ball is in the professor’s court.”

Oregon law requires public institutions, such as the University of Oregon and state agencies, to release information upon request.

But the public-records law exempts various types of information from disclosure, safeguarding personal privacy, trade secrets, personnel records, financial data and other sensitive material. Officials can redact confidential information before releasing documents.

Although Coltrane’s email said the records were “unlawfully released,” he did not explain what was unlawful. …

The material includes correspondence between the university’s last four presidents and parents, students and faculty members, Klinger said. “It’s the typical type of correspondence that you would expect to go to and from the President’s Office,” he said.

Klinger described the breach as serious but not catastrophic.

“I don’t want anybody to equate it to a financial institution having their records hacked and spewed all over the planet,” he said.


Date: January 20, 2015 at 7:39:38 PM PST
From: “President’s Office” <pres@uoregon.edu> Reply-To: pres@uoregon.edu
Subject: Archive release investigation

Dear Colleagues,

We have recently learned that a significant number of archived records from the President’s Office have been unlawfully released. These records contain confidential information about faculty, staff and students, but our current understanding is that no social security numbers, financial information or medical records were shared.

We have launched an investigation of the incident, and we have put staff members on administrative leave, pending that investigation. The information was sent to a university professor, and we have already requested that the professor return the information and refrain from any public release of confidential information. To our knowledge, only one record has been shared externally at this point.

We are committed to taking steps to mitigate the potential injury associated with this situation.


Scott Coltrane, Interim President

Dumb, dumber, and Doug Park

Oregon has a law on government transparency: SB 2500, passed in 2009. State agencies are required to post a bunch of info, including expenditures, on the state transparency webpage here. For example, Oregon State University spent a fair amount on Legal Services:

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What about UO? Well, UO has stopped reporting Legal Services expenditures to the state legislature. We won’t even admit that we’ve stopped reporting – the spreadsheet now just goes from Laundry to Library, as if there’s nothing missing. Orwell would have loved it:

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Why would UO try and hide hide these expenditures from the legislature? I could make a public records request and pay Dave Hubin $x to get a redacted copy of our Interim General Counsel’s explanation for this, or I could just wait for Scott Coltrane to fire Doug Park’s sorry ass and replace him with someone with a clue. For the moment, I’ll go with plan B.

School board pays HLGR $12K to help hide records – before the lawsuit even starts

1/7/2015 update: Josephine Woolington has more in the RG on the Eugene School Board’s decision to hire HLGR to help them hide these public records:

Said school board Chairman Jim Torrey on Wednesday: “In this case, we believe our decision to bring legal action was in the best interest of the school district and the students within it.” Torrey declined to comment further on the lawsuit.

The board voted unanimously after a closed-door session on Dec. 17 to sue the newspaper. The district hired Eugene law firm Harrang Long Gary Rudnick to handle the case and the original records request, which was submitted in April.

The school district has so far paid $11,956 since late April to the law firm for legal services in connection with the records request, a district official said.

1/2/2015: Frohnmayer and Geller’s Harrang et al. law firm takes on RG over DA’s public records order

Christian Wihtol has the story in the Register Guard, here. In a nutshell, Lane County DA Alex Gardner has ordered Eugene’s 4J School District to turn records related to the job performance of Superintendent Sheldon Berman over to the Register Guard. The school district doesn’t want to, so they’re paying Dave’s HLGR to fight the order in court. Interestingly HLGR’s case is against the RG, not against the DA. I’m not sure that makes sense, but it’s the law.

As it happens, former UO General Counsel and noted public records obstructionist Randy Geller now works for HLGR, while his wife, Jennifer Geller, serves on the school board. (She now works for the UO Law School). Presumably she recused herself from the decision to fight the DA’s order, and hire HLGR to do it.

We’ll have to wait until the Eugene School District releases HLGR’s invoices to see how much time (if any) Geller and former UO President and HLGR sabbaticalee Dave Frohnmayer are hitting up the taxpayers on this one, but given that Frohnayer helped write Oregon’s public records law as a first term state legislator (elected on a post-Watergate reform platform), there’s no doubt his expertise on how to subvert it should involve a significant emolument. Dave may now have blown past his previous billable hours trifecta:

1) Defending big tobacco against the state of Oregon in federal court, here.

2) Lobbying the Oregon legislature to let BP keep unclaimed class action damages, instead of using them to fund and expansion of legal aid for the poor, here. (Apparently he and Bill Gary did this w/o filing the required lobbying disclosure with the State in advance.)

3) Helping Mike “The University” Gottfredson bargain against the UO faculty, here.

Bad news for Hubin, Park and Coltrane on hiding UO public records

They’ve been hoping that opinions issued by Lane County DA Alex Gardner and Associate DA Patty Perlow would allow them to redact UO documents en masse, instead of having to explain what they were hiding.

But the Oregon Court of Appeals has just rejected that Gardner and Perlow interpretation of Oregon public records law ORS 192, in a case involving EWEB and the Register Guard. Christian Withol has the report in the RG, here:

The Oregon Court of Appeals has rejected the Eugene Water & Electric Board’s argument that its entire contract to buy power from the Seneca wood-burning plant north of Eugene can be kept secret, and it sent the public records lawsuit back to Lane County Circuit Court.

The appeals court in its ruling Wednesday also said Lane Circuit Court Judge Karsten Rasmussen erred in his 2011 decision backing EWEB’s ­refusal to release the contract to The Register-Guard.

At the most recent meeting of the Senate Transparency Committee, Dave Hubin asserted that this Gardner decision would allow UO to keep entire documents secret. Nope.

Harrang lawyers bill up to $250K on GTFF, Hubin and Park still hiding invoices

11/30/2014: Dave Hubin and Doug Park still hiding docs on GTFF bargaining

Here’s a page of the invoices from the faculty union bargaining. Heavily redacted, but at least Gottfredson would release them. UO has become even less transparent under Coltrane:

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When the UO administration wants the public to know things that make themselves look good, they’ve got a well paid team of strategic consultants like Tim Clevenger ($195K), Tobin Klinger ($115K), Ann Wiens ($110K), Julie Brown ($91K) and Jennifer Winters ($68K) to write up some spin for “Around the 0”, spam the faculty and student email lists, and try to find a reporter to write a puff piece with the administrator’s name prominently mentioned.

But when public records might embarrass Johnson Hall, and maybe force them to do the right thing for once, Dave Hubin ($140K) and interim General Counsel Doug Park ($205K) take over and do everything they can to delay and obstruct. (Those are last year’s salaries. UO is also delaying release of the report showing this year’s administrative raises, some old data is here.)

Four weeks ago I made a public records request for the HLGR invoices for its work bargaining against the GTFF. A week or so later Hubin’s PR Office said they would charge me $94.58 for these documents. I sent payment the following Monday, November 10th, and according to my bank that check has been cashed by UO. I’m still waiting for the invoices.

The Oregon DOJ says that one week is normally sufficient time to produce public records. So Monday I’ll file another petition to Lane County Alex Gardner’s office, and another public records request to UO for the statements showing more recent bargaining costs.

From what I can tell from other sources, Dave Frohnmayer’s friends at HLGR have billed UO about $250K for the GTFF bargaining so far. The damage to JH’s credibility and the trust of UO’s faculty and students? Priceless.

On Friday Nov 7, 2014, at 10:51 AM, Thornton, Lisa <pubrec@uoregon.edu> wrote:

Dear Mr. Harbaugh:

The University of Oregon has received your public records request for “the six detailed HLGR invoices with transactions dates of 24-Sep-14″ on 11/05/2014, attached. The office has at least some documents responsive to your request. By this email, the office is providing you with an estimate to respond to your requests.

The office estimates the actual cost of responding to your request to be $94.58. Upon receipt of a check made payable to the University of Oregon for that amount, the office 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 Office of Public Records, 6207 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-6207.

11/6/2014: Crowdsourcing reveals UO has paid $125K for outside attorneys to fight GTF union:

It took a few petitions to the District Attorney, but eventually Dave Hubin’s public records office handed over the accounting records on UO’s legal expenses, and I posted them here. Some anonymous do-gooder put them into excel for me, and it seems that UO has paid $125K to HLGR’s labor lawyers Sharon Rudnick, Jeff Matthews, and Kate Grado, to try and prevent the UO grad students from getting ~$100K in sick leave a year. Expect more big bills in October and November.

Add in whatever raises, stipends, and golden parachutes were promised to the faculty and administrators who agreed to sit at the table with HLGR’s Jeff Matthews on the admin bargaining team (Tim Gleason made out very well for sitting next to Sharon Rudnick last year) and you’re starting to talk real money. And of course there’s the $140K UO’s new internal union negotiator “Big Bill” Brady gets:

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No sign yet that Scott Coltrane has the stones to tell Dave Frohnmayer’s law firm to get lost. What a waste of our students’ tuition:

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Coltrane to stop redacting public records. Instead, he’s going to hide all of them.

Dave Hubin writes a glowing report on Dave Hubin’s Public Records Office, for UO’s official “Around the 0” blog:

“The UO is open with its information, much of which is available in many places, and our hope is to consolidate some of the existing information and make it more accessible for public records requesters,” said Dave Hubin, senior assistant to the president.

That’s not what the newspapers say, of course. The headline to this Register Guard editorial captures the truth pretty well:

Redaction run amok: UO blacks out most documents about allegations

But the real news from Wednesday’s meeting of the Senate Transparency Committee was Hubin’s bald statement that UO has decided to stop redacting documents, after the humiliation of having the RG and several TV news stations and the NYT mock the redactions, and President Gottfredson:

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What solution to these redactions, the ensuing embarrassment, and the resulting lack of trust in the UO administration did Hubin propose? He said UO is going to change its public records procedures so that UO simply will not release documents – not even a page of them – if they contain any exempt information. And then Hubin topped it off by telling the Senate Transparency Committee that this change would be implemented by an administrative committee that would meet in secret. The faculty did not react favorably to this plan, which is utterly at odds with basic principles of open information and public records and FOIA law. People need to know enough about what is hidden so that they can use the law to protect their rights to information about what public agencies are going.

Hiding the redactions this way may indeed produce a bit less public ridicule for UO administrators the next time they decide to hide something, but it will also shred any hope that Interim President Scott Coltrane wants to rebuild trust between the press, the community, the faculty, and his Johnson Hall administration. Bad move.

Full COI disclosure: I made almost $20 from selling “Omnia Dissimulavimus” coffee cups and t-shirts showing these redactions. Enough to pay for a month of web-hosting. Get yours here:

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Senate Transparency Committee meets:

It’s a public meeting. Under Lariviere, UO did a lot to improve transparency. Berdahl and Gottfredson did their best to clamp down. Coltrane is sticking with the Berdahl plan so far – for example, stalling release of documents that might help the GTFF, or explain what Gottfredson’s secret rape review panel is up to. Dave Hubin will have some explaining to do today. The committee’s charge is here:

The Committee shall;

a) Review UO’s procedures regarding access to public records and financial information, and evaluate the effectiveness of those procedures. The Senate requests that the administration give the committee free and unfettered access to a listing of public records requests and their status, and to any reports by the UO public records officer to the administration regarding public records.

b) Accept and review complaints from faculty, staff, or students regarding access to public records and financial information, and make suggestions to the UO public records officer and President’s office on resolving such complaints.

c) Hold only open meetings. …

For some background, read this 2013 RG story on UO charging student-journalists for public records, or any of the many stories on UO’s redactions of the rape allegation cover-up emails.

UO Senate Transparency Committee Tentative Agenda – November 12, 2014 11:00 am
Johnson Hall Conference Room

• Convene Senate Transparency Committee

• Report on work patterns of the Public Records Office during 2013-14

Data on usage, response times, fees charged, and fees waived
Appeals and findings from Attorney General and District Attorney
Comparisons to other Oregon state agencies and entities and comparator AAU Institutions

• Discuss Committee’s reorganization, broadened membership and charge
(Passed by the Committee on Committees and awaiting consideration by the full Senate.)

• Elect STC Chair.

Coltrane promises more transparency. Cheap talk?

9/22/2014: Troy Brynelson has the interview in the ODE:

Coltrane also inherited an administration derided for its opaqueness. He quickly became a favorite of the faculty for his openness, hosting public forums and city hall-style meetings for people across the school to chime in on issues.

“The administration and the faculty have to work together,” Coltrane said of the divide. “…We need to be better at posting information before it’s asked for, and routinely put up important documents and financial statements and that sort of stuff. That should be available to the public all the time.”

Talk is cheap, and Coltrane’s won’t be credible until he tells Dave Hubin and Doug Park to stop using fees, delays, redactions, statements that the administration’s lawyer’s resumes are protected “faculty records”, and claims of harassment to hide documents.

9/21/2014: Coltrane to meet with Senate President, new faculty, etc.

Mike Gottfredson hid out in Johnson Hall for his first 10 months, and when he finally emerged it was to blow off the faculty, saying their questions had already been “asked and answered” by his $300 an hour lawyer Sharon Rudnick. Dave Hubin charged student journalists $250 to see Gottfredson’s schedule – a public record.

In contrast, Scott Coltrane is already doing the job. From his official calendar:

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Hubin’s public records office uses fees and delays to hide docs

9/18/2014 update: Excluding duplicates, UO has received roughly 40 public records requests in the 90 days since June 18. Log here. That’s roughly two requests every three working days. They’ve got two staff, plus help from the GC’s office on redactions. Some requests are complicated, but many are simply asking for bids, contracts, or accounting statements, which require almost no PRO time. (And many requests are never filled, after reporters see the high fees Dave Hubin wants to charge them).

The Oregon AG’s Public Records and Meeting Manual gives one week as a reasonable time for public agencies to respond – but according to this letter UO’s PRO is now 6 weeks behind. They’ve got plenty of time to spend on writing long excuses, however.

9/14/2014: Dave Hubin’s public records office charges KATU TV $779 for retaliation docs

To his credit Scott Coltrane has already spent more time talking to the press than Mike Gottfredson did in two years. Unfortunately he’s had to use most of that air time to deal with Gottfredson’s reeking aftermath. And as the latest story makes clear, that’s unlikely to change until El Jefe tells Dave Hubin it’s time to return to Richard Lariviere’s transparency policies.

The current UO administration is willing to spend piles of tuition money on PR flacks to write stories that make them look good, and to help reporters get information that puffs up administrator’s resumes. Tim Clevenger gets $195K, Tobin Klinger gets $115K, and Ann Wiens gets $110K for writing stories like this. I can’t wait to read her Coltrane hagiography. (For contrast, look at the excellent story Brent Walth wrote for the Oregon Quarterly about Lariviere’s New Partnership Plan. If you can find it – the OQ seems to have deleted the editions from before Ms Wiens was hired from their archives.) Dave Hubin gets $140K to help hide public records – page down for details.

And here’s the petty trust destroying punishment these expensive administrators inflict on journalists who dare to criticize Johnson Hall:

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Original KATU story here, UO response here, KATU evisceration of the UO response here.

How does UO decide to deny a fee waiver request? UO Public Records Officer Lisa Thornton explains, here. (Paraphrased with a little editorializing on my part, not direct quotes, but I think a pretty accurate reflection of the March 2013 meeting, and so far as I remember never disputed by her supervisor and Assistant to the President Dave Hubin):

Fee waivers:

Dave Hubin: I believe we are operating within the law, which says “may waive”. But the optics are not good.

Lisa Thornton: We apply the three-part test on page 20 which gives us broad discretion to delay and frustrate, and we drive a truck through that.

Tim Gleason: Explain.

Thornton: I apply my judgement to ask if the citizen’s of Eugene would benefit from reading about this. (My god).

Q: Do you explain your denials? Thornton: No.

Craig Pintens: Can’t you have drop down boxes or something?

Thornton: We google the requester to see what they are up to. (My god).

Even Gleason sees this is trouble: “It’s problematic to give you this discretion.”

John Bonine: Oregon law was based on federal law, which contrasts public benefit with private benefit. Commercial is out. If it’s not just for yourself, it’s public benefit.

Gleason: Back on his thing about the burden on the institution.

Bonine: First test for public interest, then ask if the extent of those benefits exceeds the cost.

Thornton: So I’m going to have to do benefit-cost analysis? Can I hire an economist?

Bonine: Not only that, I want you to put your decision and reasons on the web. Provides guidance to requestors, reduces your unbounded authority.

Thornton: We do have discussions and back and forth with requesters about public interest.

Harbaugh: No, you don’t.

Thornton: Let me backtrack on my previous statement. Randy Geller has advised me not to explain fee waiver denials.

Bonine: WTF? Hubin should go back to Geller and change this.

Bonine: There should not be secret law. It is not appropriate for an agency to hide the reasons for a denial. If explanations harm the university, that’s because the university is not behaving well.

Hubin: Is there a consensus that we should give better explanations, and post them? I would have to take that to Geller, and Gottfredson.

Bonine: Not appropriate for Geller to hide his opinions – so if we ask this, we want to get his opinion in writing.

Hubin: We will write some language for transparency about our denials of fee-waivers for transparency requests.

(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:


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.


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.


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)

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