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

Here:

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 8.10.50 PM

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:

FOR INTERNAL-LIBRARY USE ONLY

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

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.

1/20/2015:

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.

Sincerely,

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:

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 12.34.37 AM

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:

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 12.39.11 AM

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:

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 12.18.15 PM

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:

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 10.45.37 PM

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:

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 8.18.10 PM

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:

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 5.33.38 PM

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:
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 12TH, 11:00A-12:00P, JOHNSON HALL CONFERENCE ROOM.

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:

Bill:

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.

Doug

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.

Doug

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)

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 2.27.30 PM

University must pay $3M in damages to public records whistleblower

That would be at Chicago State University. Apparently the president fired a university attorney who refused to go along with an attempt to hide public records. This would never happen at the University of Oregon.

A new judge has just affirmed the verdict against the president and board of trustees, and increased the award to include legal fees, etc. Details from the CSU faculty muckraking blog, here:

In a 44-page, harshly worded opinion against Chicago State, Cook County Judge James McCarthy said there were no reasons to overturn the verdict and that the large sum was intended to send a message. The jury had found that former university employee James Crowley was fired in 2010 in retaliation for reporting alleged misconduct by top university officials, …

Crowley’s lawsuit — filed against the South Side university, Watson and the seven trustees on the board in 2010 — alleged that he was fired after he refused to withhold documents about Watson’s employment requested under the state’s public records law, and for reporting questionable contracts to the attorney general’s office.

March and June meetings of Dave Hubin’s Public Records Administrative Advisory Group

7/23/2014: I thought I’d repost this classic on the meetings of Dave Hubin’s working group to hide public records. From what I can tell this group has now accomplished its mission and is defunct.

6/5/2013 meeting, page down for 3/7/2013 meeting.

Prologue: 

  • Last meeting (see below) was a disaster for Hubin and Thornton, who got raked over the coals and revealed that there were serious problems with the office’s decisions about fee-waivers, bad software, refusal or complete inability to answer questions about policies, inconsistent statements, no decision on the STC recommendation for fee-waivers for student journalists.

Synopsis:

  • Dave didn’t even tell UO’s student-journalists that the meeting was being held, they found out about it from UO Matters.
  • Faculty and students not allowed to ask questions.
  • Thornton killed a bunch of committee time with irrelevant numbers, worked well.
  • No progress on public-interest fee waiver policies. Still a black hole. Thornton’s statements just added to the mystery of what current policy is. Still seems like she has *never* given a full fee-waiver.
  • In Feb the STC voted unanimously to recommend Gottfredson waive fees for student-journalists, up to some reasonable limit, with Hubin to determine what’s reasonable. Gottfredson won’t do it, claims he’s studying the issue. He was provost at UC-I, where there are no fees for anyone (except for computer programming time, if that’s required.) So Gottfredson already knows how well this would work, and he just doesn’t want the students to be able to get information on how UO is spending their money.

Live-blog disclaimer: My opinions on what people said or would have said, if they only had a spine.

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Berdahl to ask Trustees to give Gottfredson another chance

6/8/2014: Rumor down at the faculty club is that Gottfredson and Berdahl are closeted in McMorran House, working on a strategy to convince the Trustees to give Gottfredson another chance. From the meeting packet here:

June 12, 12:00 pm: Trustees roundtable discussion with Bob Berdahl Ford Alumni Center, Room 403

Presumably Berdahl will be introduced to the board as former UC-Berkeley president, AAU, etc. A legendary leader in higher education. Then he will explain to the awestruck trustees that any more turnover in the UO presidency would be so disruptive, and the search for a replacement so difficult, that it’s better for the new Board to suffer an obvious incompetent, the last bit of baggage from OUS and Pernsteiner, rather than to do what most everyone hopes they will do: Replace Gottfredson with Scott Coltrane as interim, and get UO off to a fresh start.

Given Berdahl’s role in hiring Gottfredson (closed search, etc.) and the latest from FSU on closed searches and search firms, this all reminded me of an old post:

5/15/2012: Berdahl on his and my conflicts of interest and UO transparency crackdown. (See below for response from Pres Berdahl).

From Insidehighered.com:

Legislation in Illinois would bar public universities from using state funds, tuition revenue or student fees for search firms, The News-Gazette reported. The University of Illinois has spent almost $6 million on search firms over the last nine years, including funds on some searches that did not work out well. Critics question whether the spending is necessary, while board members say that search firms have recruited top talent.

The News-Gazette story is very balanced. We could ask our interim President Berdahl what he thinks about the costs and benefits of presidential search firms, but he seems to have a conflict of interest:

He didn’t report this on his Oregon Government Ethics Commission Verified Statement of Economic Interest – must not have made the 10% income threshold, which I’m guessing would be about $100,000.

After I posted to above, interim President Berdahl emailed me asking that I add the following response from him:

Bill:
The following is a comment that I tried to submit to UOMatters in response to your suggestion that I have conflicts of interest.  Since the comments are limited to 4,000 characters, UOMatters would not accept it.

Despite your campaign of innuendo, I have nothing to hide.

Bob

Berdhal’s comment:

At last week’s Senate meeting, I suggested that Professor Harbaugh had a conflict of interest because, as the largest single requester of public records, he also served as the chair of the Senate Transparency Committee, which has advised the administration on the university’s public records fee policy.  It is a straight-forward conflict of interest: the largest single user of a public service should not be in a position to try to influence the policy on fees for the provision of that public service.

Now, obviously irritated by the suggestion of his conflict of interest, Professor Harbaugh is responding by trying to suggest that I somehow have a conflict of interest. So, let me set out the facts for those readers of UOMatters who may be interested in facts.

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Senate Freedom Committee draft policy

The Senate Ad Hoc Freedom Committee, chaired by Michael Dreiling (Sociology prof and faculty union president) has now met several times with President Gottfredson and his advisers. The Committee has posted its draft Academic Freedom policy on the Senate website, here, along with an explanatory memo. (Full disclosure: I am part of this committee, but for reasons I won’t go into I did not attend the meetings with the administration. All of the information in this post is from public sources.)

Perhaps the most interesting development, given the recent hubbub about Oregon State’s efforts to restrict employee’s access to public records, is the governance part of the draft policy, which discusses UO employee access to information.

Senate Workgroup Draft Policy on Academic Freedom January 7, 2014

This policy on Academic Freedom builds on existing commitments to Freedom of Inquiry and Free Speech at this institution and elsewhere by defining additional freedoms that are specific to the proper functioning of our academic institution. Academic Freedom exists in the contexts of scholarship, teaching, governance, and public service.

• SCHOLARSHIP. The University’s research mission requires that faculty and students have autonomous freedom to conduct research and produce creative work, and to publish and disseminate that work, limited only by the standards and methods of accountability established by their profession and their individual disciplines.

• TEACHING. The University’s responsibility to help students to think critically and independently requires that faculty and students have the right to investigate and discuss matters, including those that are controversial, inside and outside of class, without fear of institutional restraint. Matters brought up in class should be related to the subject of courses or otherwise be educationally relevant, as determined primarily by the faculty member in charge of the class.

• GOVERNANCE. The university is governed by the faculty and the president, with authority delegated as appropriate by the faculty to the University Senate. Institutional policies and practices are informed by consultation and advice from the faculty, staff, and students. Therefore, members of the university community have freedom to address, question, or criticize any matter of institutional policy, action, or administration, whether acting as individuals or as members of an agency of institutional governance. In the context of governance, consultation and advice requires timely and meaningful access by staff, students and faculty to information pertinent to institutional policies and actions, whether such requests arise from a university member acting from an agency of institutional governance, or as an individual.

• PUBLIC SERVICE. Public service requires that members of the university have freedom to participate in public debate, both within and beyond their areas of expertise, and to address both the university community and the larger community with regard to any matter of social, political, economic, cultural, or other interest. In their exercise of this freedom, university community members have the right to identify their association or title as university faculty, staff, or students, but should not claim to be acting or speaking on behalf of the University unless authorized to do so.

The academic freedoms enumerated in this policy shall be exercised without fear of institutional reprisal. Only serious violations of this policy – ones that rise to the level of professional misbehavior or professional incompetence – should lead to adverse consequences. Any such determinations shall be made only in accordance with established, formal procedures involving judgment by peers in the profession and not by administrators. These freedoms are rights protected by the university. This policy shall be incorporated in employment agreements and comparable corresponding contractual agreements with university employees.

This policy, when approved by the UO Senate and the President, shall be incorporated into the Faculty Handbook, the UO University Policy Library, and all letters of appointment or other contractual agreements.

Oregon State panics over public records request by journalism advisor

Bennett Hall has an excellent story in the Corvallis Gazette Times:

Oregon State University student media adviser Kate Willson thought she was just doing her job when she filed a public records request with the university. Now she’s worried it could get her fired.

OSU’s chief spokesman says Willson’s job is safe and the university was not trying to muzzle her. But he also says Willson was out of line when she tried to obtain public records from the institution she works for and that all such requests should be filed by student journalists, not their adviser. …

Willson assumes that OSU will honor the remainder of her contract, but she doesn’t expect to be offered another when the current agreement expires. Her experience has left her feeling frustrated and confused.

“They’re making such a big thing, and it’s not,” Willson said. “It’s a public record — who cares if I get it?”

The Oregon Public Records Law was passed by the Legislature in 1973 in a spirit of transparency and open government, Willson added.

But various agencies and institutions have chipped away at those foundations with one exception after another, steadily eroding the public’s ability to access government information. Wilson feels an obligation to do something about that.

“Every time they deny and we don’t push back, we make it worse,” Willson said.

Here’s the part that would never happen at UO: She actually got a meeting with her university’s general counsel. Here at UO, GC Randy Geller would have just sent her a threatening email. Of course OSU GC Meg Reeves is a little confused about the law:

Steven Wilker, a media law attorney with the Portland law firm of Tonkon Torp, said he’s baffled by Oregon State’s position. …

He’s also puzzled by Reeves’ assertion that, by virtue of her position as the university’s general counsel, she automatically has an attorney-client relationship with Willson, a university employee.

“Her client is the university; her client is not that teacher,” Wilker said.

But even if Willson were, in fact, Reeves’ client, that would not give Reeves the power to order Willson not to repeat what they said or wrote to each other. That’s “Lawyer 101,” Wilker said.

“The nature of attorney-client privilege is it’s a privilege of the client,” he said, “and the client is free to waive that privilege.”

But even if Willson were, in fact, Reeves’ client, that would not give Reeves the power to order Willson not to repeat what they said or wrote to each other. That’s “Lawyer 101,” Wilker said.

“The nature of attorney-client privilege is it’s a privilege of the client,” he said, “and the client is free to waive that privilege.”

My experiences with the OSU public records office have been generally positive – much quicker and cheaper than at UO. On the other hand the data Willson is seeking on faculty salaries is easily available for UO, thanks to our Institutional Research office. See ir.uoregon.edu. Only in pdf form however – if you ask UO’ Public Records Office for a machine readable file, they’ll hit you up for $280 dollars in inexplicable fees, and you’ll wait for a month or two.

Under VPFA Mark McCambridge OSU was a leader in financial transparency. His efforts to put all financial transactions on the web are explained in this InsideHigherEd story, and were an inspiration to UO’s Nathan Tublitz, who after a long fight with Frances Dyke got the very watered down “Financial Transparency Tool” added to Duckweb (under employee information). It seems like OSU’s new VPFA Glenn Ford is backsliding on transparency.