July invoice from the "The Cleaner"

7/18/2011: And I ain’t talking about the carpets in PLC. Contract and invoices here. $8,359.12 last month, including a trip to Eugene – looks like a last minute airfare purchase.

UO GC Randy Geller contracted with these guys for $150,000 – and he is now trying to charge the faculty $57.03 to find out who is paying the bill.

I got this email from PR Officer Liz Denecke – but she made a point of saying it was Randy Geller who made the decision to charge me. I can appeal the decision not to waive the fee to the DOJ. They will prepare an analysis of the costs and benefits of disclosure – and they will charge UO about $500 to do this. Sounds like Geller is happy to have UO pay that bill too, just to make it as difficult as possible for people to find out what’s happening here.

July 15, 2011

Dear Mr. X:

The University of Oregon, Office of Public Records received your public records request on July 12, 2011, below. 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 revised request to be $57.03. Upon receipt of your check for this amount, the office will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you 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. …

The university has received your request for a fee waiver for these records.  The decision to waive or reduce fees is discretionary with the public body.  After considering your request below, the office does not consider that the totality of the circumstances you presented meets the standard for a fee waiver, and your request for a waiver is denied.

Thank you for contacting us with your request.

Liz Denecke

Elizabeth Denecke
Office of Public Records
6207 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-6207
541-346-6823
pubrec@uoregon.edu

$330 an hour for UO NCAA cover-up

7/6/2011: We wrote earlier about how UO General Counsel Randy Geller told Jamie Moffitt not to tell the UO Senate IAC committee about the costs of the Willie Lyles cover-up, or if the academic side would be left holding the bag again. Steve Duin at the Oregonian has the contracts, and some commentary. Contracts here, invoices here. “The Cleaner” is now deputized as an Oregon Special Assistant Attorney General. No shit. The sad part is that everything Rob Mullens needs to know is already on the internet, free.

why the press won’t trust Lariviere’s "new partnership" plan

2/18/2011: Because he hired Liz Denecke as his Public Records Officer and Melinda Grier’s assistant Randy Geller as his General Counsel.

From George Schroeder in the RG on UO’s latest efforts to hide records on a (minor) athletic scandal:

Here’s your long-awaited update on the investigation into Oregon’s men’s basketball program: The NCAA is (redacted) in the (redacted), and it’s (redacted), and we should expect (redacted). No, sorry, that’s not quite right. The word should be “rejected.” Your right to know, that is.

Redactions would be a huge improvement over the university’s response to an open-records request made by The Register-Guard last September, when the newspaper broke the story of alleged NCAA rules violations revolving around former center Michael Dunigan. … 

“One thing I have noticed,” (Former U.S. Sen. James L.) Buckley said during a telephone interview Thursday (on the FERPA law UO used to hide these records), “is a pattern where the universities and colleges have used it as an excuse for not giving out any information they didn’t want to give.” …

Last spring, stung by criticism of the university’s mishandling of public records requests for Mike Bellotti’s contract (which we now know didn’t actually exist, at least on paper), President Richard Lariviere promised a new approach.

“We are going to change a lot of the university’s practices,” Lariviere said then. “At this point I can’t tell you exactly what the response will be to any individual request, but I can tell you we will be as responsive, open and transparent as we possibly can be.”

The UO subsequently created an office of public records, and hired an attorney to run it. Another school official said the move “emphasizes an institutional commitment to openness.

It all sounded good. But apparently, someone didn’t get the memo. We could file an open-records request to locate it — but don’t hold your breath.

UO – the academic side of UO, not the jock department – paid the Attorney General $8,514 to write this denial of the Register Guard’s request. We filed a public records request on Wednesday for documents explaining how Liz Denecke’s office has been advising administrators about public records requests – particularly emails. More on this later.

Bolt on Geller in RG

11/7/2010: Greg Bolt of the RG on the promotion of Randy Geller to General Counsel:

A six-month search for a new general counsel led the University of Oregon right back to Johnson Hall. Randy Geller, the university’s deputy general counsel, recently was given the top job as UO general counsel. He takes over for his former boss, Melinda Grier, whom UO President Richard Lariviere ousted from the job earlier this year and reassigned to a teaching post in the law school. …

The UO administration’s spin – that real reforms have been made at UO wrst transparency – does not seem to be getting a lot of traction with the legitimate press. Given this promotion, UO is not going to put the Bellotti/Grier scandal behind us until someone explains what role Geller played or did not play in it, and in other efforts by UO to hide public records during his years as Frohnmayer’s assistant and then Grier’s deputy.

Randy Geller resume – updates below

11/3/2010: After 2 weeks of delays from UO, and a petition to the Attorney General, we’ve now got a copy of new UO General Counsel Randy Geller’s cover letter and resume, here. His employment contract is here – $200K a year. Nice raise.

There is no mention in his letter or resume of his role in fulfilling and denying UO public records requests, and the resulting DOJ petitions. Public records troubles were at the root of the problems at the GC office, when Geller was Deputy GC. If a professor goes up for a promotion and omits something of material importance from their vitae, well that can be a bit of trouble. I wonder if laws apply to lawyers too?

Also no mention of his former boss, Melinda Grier. No mention of the Attorney General’s investigation of General Counsel Melinda Grier, which led to the GC job suddenly becoming available. Not a word on why all these lawyers are called Generals. But the Attorney General’s investigation of the General Counsel closes with this:

The deficiencies in legal services described above could have been remedied by greater supervision of Grier’s performance by either UO or the Department of Justice. In light of these events, it is obvious that improving quality control with respect to legal services at the UO — and improving communication and coordination between the DOJ and UO — is necessary to ensure these problems are not repeated.

Apparently President Lariviere decided that appointing Melinda Grier’s deputy Randy Geller as General Counsel constitutes “improving quality control with respect to legal services”. And since the DOJ signed off on his appointment, AG Kroger must have agreed. Maybe Mr. Geller is a perfectly fine lawyer, and a great person to promote, and he is now going to clean house. I hope so.

Addressing past problems straightforwardly would be a good first step. These problems came to light in part because of the failures of the other 2 lawyers in the GC’s office with Geller – Melinda Grier and Doug Park – to respond to public records requests from reporters. Now UO will not even allow reporters to interview Randy Geller. And did we already mention that it took a public records petition to the Attorney General to even get his resume?  

11/5/2010: Stefan Verbano of the ODE has now managed to Oregon Commentator Media Digest refuses to back down on theory Geller does not exist, despite Verbano interview. Speaking of non-existent administrators, maybe Verbano can next interview John Moseley, Lorraine Davis, and Charles Martinez?

Geller and Denecke resumes

10/30/2010: A helpful reader sends what is believed to be a photo of UO’s new General Counsel, Randy Geller. UO will not provide a photo to reporters, or even allow Mr. Geller to be interviewed. More amazingly, nearly 2 weeks since we made the request, UO’s new Public Records Officer Liz Denecke still will not produce a copy of Geller’s resume. Or of her own for that matter. Huh?

The Oregon AG’s 2010 Public Records Manual says: “The public is entitled to inspect non-exempt records as promptly as a public body reasonably can make them available.” The 2008 version of this manual had a great quote on the cover, from Madison:

“A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

We just want to see the resumes of the people who applied to be our university’s chief lawyer, and of the attorney ostensibly hired to improve public records access at UO. President Lariviere and his staff seem to have gone into some weird place over this simple request. It’s just bizarre. Farce or Tragedy.

Ironically, the Madison quote is from an 1822 letter addressing President Lariviere’s favorite issue: public funding of higher education – in this case for the new state of Kentucky. The full first paragraph?

The liberal appropriations made by the Legislature of Kentucky for a general system of Education cannot be too much applauded. A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

GC Randy Geller’s big raise

10/28/2010: I’ve been getting questions about Randy Geller’s pay. As Melinda Grier’s Deputy, he earned $138,326. After Ms Grier was fired, he got an extra stipend of $19,386 (annual). As GC,  Grier had been paid $184,710 – this was after 12 years as GC. Randy Geller was hired as an insider, at $200,000 a year to start.

If you are a great teacher, a successful researcher with an international reputation, with federal grants, and an outside offer from an AAU university in hand, you try going to your Dean, or to Research VP Rich Linton, and get that kind of raise. They will politely laugh you out of the office. Maybe you will get 10%. You will argue over $500 at a time.

But if you are a UO administrator, the Johnson Hall ATM is open, no limit on daily withdrawals. Hell, you don’t even need a photo ID. $61,674 raise, to a nice round $200,000 a year. Why haggle between friends? Hey, it’s just the students’ money anyway.

This was an open, national search. I made a public records request for the cover letters and resumes for the finalists 10 days ago. I wonder what is taking so long?

laugh, or cry?

10/27/2010: From KEZI reporter Dan Corcoran’s story tonight on the insider appointment of Melinda Grier’s longtime deputy Randy Geller as UO’s new General Counsel:

After a national search, Lariviere says Geller was the most qualified candidate. “His attitude towards transparency and accountability was exactly what I was looking for,” Lariviere said.

 and then:

KEZI requested an interview with Randy Geller and also requested just a photograph of him more than two weeks ago. Neither of those requests have been granted by Geller or the university.

Yes, that’s the attitude alright. More on this after I have a few stiff drinks and then sleep them off.

Meanwhile the Oregon Commentator develops the best theory yet on Geller:

Many people see the UO’s refusal to let people talk to its new legal honcho, or even know what he looks like, as a betrayal of the transparency UO cheese Richard Lariviere has promised. They’re reading the tea-leaves wrong. Here’s the truth: Randy Geller doesn’t actually exist. …

But this is just a theory. I’ll give a UO Matters coffee cup to the first person who falsifies it, with a picture of Geller at Grier’s desk.

more randy geller public records docs

10/12/2010: From the DOJ archives of their public records orders, on cases Randy Geller was involved in while serving as Melinda Grier’s Deputy General Counsel.

01/04/2006 – January 4, 2006 Daniel J. Stotter Bromley Newton LLP …Jan 4, 2006 … As noted above, Randolph Geller, on behalf of the University, responded to the WTC … c: Randolph Geller, Director of Policy and Legal Affairs.

www.doj.state.or.us/public_records/orders/stotter_01042006.pdf
October 16, 2006 Susan Davis Success for All Foundation 200 W …
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
Oct 16, 2006 … Geller denied the request as to messages to and from Drs. Simmons and … On September 9, 2006, Mr. Geller sent Ms. Sattler several pages of …
www.doj.state.or.us/public_records/orders/davis_10162006.pdf

July 30, 2007 Jill Aho Oregon Daily Emerald PO Box 3159 Eugene, OR …
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
Jul 30, 2007 … Mr. Geller has explained that the reasons for Mr. McIntyre’s … As described to us by Mr. Geller, the discipline imposed arose from conduct …
www.doj.state.or.us/public_records/orders/aho_07302007.pdf

October 23, 2006 Daniel J. Stotter, Attorney at Law 541 Willamette …
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
Oct 23, 2006… it will cost approximately $1661.06 to respond to your client’s request for records. Letter from Deputy General Counsel Randolph Geller, …
www.doj.state.or.us/public_records/orders/stotter_10232006.pdf

WTF? Randy Geller as General Counsel? Unbelievable.

10/7/2010: The campus erupted in celebration back in April when Pres Lariviere fired General Counsel Melinda Grier and announced:

“This institution did not follow acceptable business practices in the past,” Lariviere said. “That will not be repeated under my administration.” 

Jeff Manning and Ken Goe of the Oregonian wrote:

Grier, who did not return a message seeking comment, has come to personify the culture of secrecy that has developed at the university, particularly with regard to its athletic department.

Margie Paris, outgoing Law School Dean, was appointed to chair the hiring committee for a replacement. She’s very respected, good call. The job ad emphasized all the right things. Everyone assumed Lariviere would hire a respected outsider who would clean house. Manning and Goe wrote:

Kent Robinson, long-time federal prosecutor in Portland, has emerged as one candidate to replace Grier. Robinson is a respected veteran prosecutor who for years has worked in a senior role at the U.S. attorney’s office.

Yesterday we learned that President Lariviere had not just given the job to an insider, but to Melinda Grier’s longtime deputy, Loren “Randy” Geller.

WTF? Why not just reappoint Ms Grier? Put John Moseley in charge of Finance and Budgeting again? Hell, we need a new law Dean, I hear Frohnmayer is available. Unbelievable!

Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that Randy Geller will become our new general counsel effective October 15.  Randy was selected from a national pool of outstanding candidates.

Randy has served the University of Oregon since 2003 and was appointed deputy general counsel in 2006.  He has been a lawyer for almost 18 years, 15 of those at two public research universities.  He has proven experience in all aspects of higher education law, and a deep appreciation for the University of Oregon.

The general counsel is the chief legal officer for the university and oversees the Office of the General Counsel.  The office provides legal advice to the university pursuant to authorization from and subject to general supervision by the Oregon Attorney General.

Randy has been managing the university’s legal affairs since April of this year.  In the short time he has served in this role, he has demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of higher education law and current legal issues in Oregon and the nation.  Randy has a J.D. from the University of Washington and received his B.A. in political science and political economy from Evergreen State College.  His work experience before coming to the UO includes serving as staff assistant for U.S. Senator Brock Adams of Washington state, serving as assistant attorney general in Washington state, and serving in the Office of University Counsel at the University of Idaho.

In addition to congratulating Randy, I want to thank the search committee (listed below) for their exhaustive work.

All the best,

Richard

——-

SEARCH COMMITTEE

Margie Paris, chair, dean of the school of law
Thomas Herrmann, UO law ’88, partner at Gleaves Swearingen Potter & Scott LLP
David Leith, associate attorney general, Oregon Department of Justice
Jamie Moffitt, executive senior associate athletic director for finance and administration
Michael Redding, vice president for university relations
Paul Shang, assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students
Catherine Susman, director of purchasing and contract services

 Update – see here for a little history regarding Randy Geller’s experience withholding public records.