Want public records? Forget Hubin. Ask Greg Rikhoff, and cc Doug Park.

Links to legal and consulting expenditures and the Hershner Hunter contract below – but not Amanda Walkup’s charge for investigating LibraryGate, which Doug Park apparently didn’t put in writing.

Dave Hubin’s public records office is the black hole of transparency and trust. They sat on this 5 minute request for 2 weeks. If you want action, email Coltrane’s Chief of Staff Greg Rikhoff (and cc his Interim General Counsel Doug Park, who knows he’s already on thin ice with public records.)

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 10.39.54 PM

Early the next morning, the documents showing UO’s spending on outside lawyers and consultants arrived. Full dump here. UO is paying out roughly $500K a month for outside lawyers and consultants:

Lawyers:

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 10.55.41 PM

Consultants:

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Hershner Hunter contract, here:

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 11.04.09 PM

LibraryGate: What did Doug Park hire Hershner Hunter to investigate?

Dave Hubin’s Public Records Office doesn’t seem to want to make that public. So I’ve cced Doug Park on the followup. We’ll see if he’ll oblige.

Surely Doug Park and Doug Blandy were careful to put the terms for an important investigation like this in writing. Right? Or were they so afraid that the details of their witch-hunt might someday find their way into those pesky archives that they set this up with a wink-and-a-nod?

Subject: Re: Public records request, Presidential Archives investigation
Date: February 5, 2015 at 9:40:55 PM PST
Cc: doug park <dougpark@uoregon.edu>
To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>

Dear Ms Thornton:

I’d appreciate it if you could update me on the status of this public records request, which is now more than a week old.

I’m ccing Interim GC Doug Park, since he should have a copy of the contract etc., and can easily make them available.

Original request on TuesdayJan 27, 2015, at 1:51 AM, 

Dear Ms Thornton:

This is a public records request for a copy of the contract or other similar documents spelling out the scope of work and compensation for the firm UO has hired to investigate the release of documents from the UO Presidential Archives.

A ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest, as demonstrated by the many news stories here: http://uomatters.com/tag/uo-presidential-archives

UO professor goes rogue, posts confidential presidential archives on internet

Alea iacta est. I’m posting it all, despite the threats from VPAA Doug Blandy and Barbara Altmann, the claim of Interim President Scott Coltrane that this is unlawful, and the protests of Interim Provost Frances Bronet that it is immoral.

I am not saying how I got these archives, and I’m not giving them back. UO is still a public university, and we need more transparency and more informed debate about where we’ve been and where we are going, especially now that we’ve got a Board of Trustees with very strong opinions, and near dictatorial power over these matters.

As might be expected from the private correspondence of the UO President, many of the documents below address important matters of Oregon higher education policy and blunt talk about UO finances. Sadly, I must report that they also disclose blatantly discriminatory faculty hiring procedures. There are also surprisingly passionate arguments over the trivial question of how to brand “The University” (hint: the students win).

Here is a summary of what I’ve found in the archives so far:

1) Unofficial and unauthorized minutes from a meeting of the new UO Board, revealing a plan to impose 20% pay cuts on UO faculty, because of low endowment earnings:

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 12.32.03 AM

2) Employment practices that discriminate on the basis of both gender and age. As with the recent hire of VP for Collaboration Charles Triplett, this position was never publicly posted on http://jobs.uoregon.edu, and the university administration ignored its own Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity hiring policies, which could easily trigger expensive DOL and OFCCP audits:

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 12.34.16 AM

3) A conflict among faculty and students over the University’s new branding campaign. In my 20 years in the UO Economics department, I’ve never heard a professor use this sort of language. This is a clear violation of UO’s civility policy, which requires respectful discourse:

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 12.38.13 AM

The full document dump is here. But if you haven’t figured it out already, don’t worry about a Johnson Hall witch hunt for clicking on the link – these UO Presidential Archives are from 1878.

All joking aside, think for a minute about the historical insights, and the glimpse into the humanity of these people that you get, 136 years later, from reading just a few pages of their letters. What might people in 2150 learn about us, and themselves, from doing the same?

Not much, because if I understand their plans correctly, UO’s Interim General Counsel Doug Park and new Library Dean Adriene Lim will soon adopt new procedures to make sure that any documents that might someday embarrass someone somehow, are thoroughly redacted before they make it into UO’s Presidential Archives. This plan seems to have the full support of Interim President Scott Coltrane, who thinks that it is unlawful to post these kinds of documents, and Interim Provost Frances Bronet, who thinks there is a “moral obligation” not to embarrass people. How shallow.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 12.40.00 AM

Dahlia Bazzaz and Alexandra Wallachy podcast LibraryGate – and more

A podcast for The Oregon Daily Emerald, here:

Emerald reporters Dahlia Bazzaz and Alexandra Wallachy discuss news events from week 4 at the University of Oregon and beyond, including: a leak of 22,000 UO admin. records, …

It starts with an excellent summary of the UO presidential archive release. About 7 minutes in, they turn to what’s been happening in the OSU library. I didn’t listen to much of that part, but I’m guessing that Doug Park’s confidential legal opinion is that it was a FERPA violation too.

Release of UO Presidential Archives was not illegal, or immoral. So was it improper – or insufficient?

1/29/2015 update: Rich Read of the Oregonian reports on Wednesday’s UO Senate meeting, here:

… Harbaugh sees both farce and tragedy in his latest episode, LibraryGate. He called Coltrane’s email alleging unlawful release of records “outrageously premature judgment on his part, and I’m assuming Tobin Klinger wrote it – but I can’t be sure until I get the next set of presidential archives.”

Klinger is the UO’s senior director of public affairs communications. He has fielded many of the media’s questions concerning the wayward presidential archives.

“There are always embarrassing things in archives,” Harbaugh said. “That’s why historians love them.”

“I can guarantee I’m a better muckraker than I would be a university president,” said Harbaugh, granting that administrators have difficult jobs. “I think there’s a role to play for people to point out what’s wrong with how things are being managed.”

As a search committee seeks the UO’s next president, Harbaugh said the next leader must be able to raise money, to talk to the faculty — which must maintain the university’s status as a top research institution.

“If we get a person who doesn’t know how to do that,” Harbaugh said, “it’ll be the end of this place.”

For the record, I can’t imagine many jobs that are more difficult than running a public university like UO. I’ve got plenty of respect for those who do it well. I think UO could do worse than keeping Interim President Scott Coltrane and Interim Provost Frances Bronet. In fact, from my brief and now prematurely terminated look at the uncensored presidential archives covering the period from Dave Frohnmayer and his provost John Moseley to Mike Gottfredson and his provost Jim Bean, mostly we have. A lot worse.

I’ve posted plenty of negative stuff about Coltrane’s decisions. There’s more in the comments. If you want the happy-face PR fluff, ask Klinger or one of the other Duck flacks. But on balance, I’ll be surprised if Chuck Lillis and Connie Ballmer can find a better candidate for the permanent job. Very surprised.

Diane Dietz of the RegisterGuard reports, here.

… The UO’s new dean of libraries, Adriene Lim, told the gathered faculty on Wednesday that she considers an individual’s right to privacy to be a universal human right.

But she also said that Oregon public records laws “spell out types of records that should be public and available for scrutiny. I’d be the first one to advocate for that openness and ­transparency.”

Coltrane and Lim said the issue of transparency will be reviewed by university officials after Hershner Hunter completes its investigation. [UO M: I’ve made a public records request to Dave Hubin’s Public Records Office for the contract showing what UO’s Interim General Counsel Doug Park has asked HH to do. No response yet.]

The university will “try to increase openness and transparency as much as we can,” Lim said. Coltrane said he’d bring the university’s Office of Public Records to the table.

Harbaugh said Wednesday that that’s what he had in mind when he sought the presidential documents at the archive — after being thwarted by the public records office.

He said he had no intention of violating student privacy laws or damaging the university.

“I’m trying to make a point about the university’s obsessive secrecy, about how it functions, makes decisions and operates as a public agency,” Harbaugh said.

And the Eugene Weekly has this:

Public records are for the public and archivists should not be punished for doing what archivists do — making archives open to the public. The next chapter will appear in The New York Times. Josh Hunt from the Times has been in Eugene this month digging through redacted documents, interviewing the players and weaving his story on the UO in Eugene.

1/29/2015 update: UO is no longer claiming there was anything unlawful or immoral about the release of presidential archives to a library patron – which would be me. Now it’s just “improper”.

Google Tim Clevenger and Tobin Klinger’s official UO “Around the 0” blog for the post. Strange, but none of our well paid strategic communicators would sign their name to it.

Where will this backtracking on prior claims of illegal and immoral archive release end? I’ll go out on a limb and predict that it will turn out that at least one previous UO president kept documents out of the official archives that, legally and morally, should have been preserved for the historical record and made available to the public.

1/28/2015 5:00 PM update: Coltrane and Library Dean Lim commit to public review of UO’s public records transparency problems

That’s my takeaway from their generally positive and constructive statements and the Q&A at today’s Senate meeting. (Archives too). A review of Dave Hubin’s Public records office and its use of fees and delays to hide public records from the public and the press offers the potential for some improvement in trust and transparency at UO, and would make Coltrane a candidate for the Senate’s new “Shared Governance, Trust, and Transparency Award“, which would certainly be a positive outcome from LibraryGate.

Trust, but verify.

Update: Interim President Coltrane gives UO Matters “get out of jail free” card

Also at today’s Senate meeting, after John Bonine (Law) noted that it might actually be possible to construct a (tortured) argument that parts of the “ATTORNEY-CLIENT COMMUNICATION CONFIDENTIAL AND PRIVILEGED” memo from Randy Geller to Bob Berdahl and Dave Hubin recommending dissolving the UO Senate, really do involve attorney-client privilege:

Q: Harbaugh to Coltrane: “Bonine has me worried. Will you waive your attorney-client privilege on this one memo, which I’ve posted on the internet, and help this professor get some sleep tonight?”

A: Coltrane: “Yes. I waive the privilege. You’ve got a get out of jail free card on this one.”

[Not exact quotes, but close.] Now how about cards for the UO archivists?

getoutofjail

1/28/2015 update: Release of Presidential Archives no longer unlawful. Now it’s immoral?

Interim Provost Frances Bronet releases statement. Apparently Scott Coltrane is no longer saying these archives were “unlawfully released”. (Page down for that email). Now it’s Frances Bronet, saying UO has “a moral obligation” to keep documents out of the Presidential Archives. Presumably that’s why UO’s Public Records Office delays and frustrates requests from reporters too.

Presumably whole chapters of the history of the University of Oregon are now going to be deleted from the Presidential Archives, because it would be immoral to leave them there and maybe embarrass someone. I’m no history professor, but this is nuts:

From: Provost Office [mailto:provost@uoregon.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 1:12 PM
To: Tobin Klinger
Subject: Documents returned; review continues

Friends and colleagues,

Many of you are following with interest the recent release of electronic documents, which bypassed archival processing procedures, and the university’s efforts to get those documents back.

I am pleased to inform you that the documents have been returned.

Our separate policy and personnel review of this situation will continue. We hired an independent law firm, Hershner Hunter, to complete this inquiry so that we can identify how and why confidential documents were disclosed, and take steps to ensure that something like this never happens again.

What was at stake went beyond a concern that confidential information was shared before being appropriately processed. Of greater concern is that the release violated the trust of the students, parents, faculty members and others who saw the Office of the President as a safe place to share concerns or seek assistance.

We have a moral obligation to maintain the confidentiality ! [sic] of those who see the Office of the President as a point of last resort. This includes those who chose to outline personal struggles in their academic pursuits or parents who might write to seek support for their child during times of personal challenge. Students, parents, faculty and staff need to have confidence that we will follow appropriate procedures to ensure their right to privacy.

One of my greatest concerns throughout this situation has been the way that it has impacted the talented team in our university library. The faculty and staff in UO Libraries are among the most committed and entrusted to carrying out our mission. Their commitment to the ethical standards and values of their professions should stand as a model for us all. They deal with these kinds of complex privacy rights issues on a daily basis and balance them with their advocacy for openness and transparency. They do so with passion and integrity.

Thank you for your understanding of this im! portant [sic] issue.

Sincerely,

Frances Bronet

Acting Senior Vice President and Provost

1/26/2015: Oregonian, RG, WWeek post Blandy and Altmann’s demand for takedown of UO Presidential Archives

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.22.07 PM

“Zip drive”? I had one of those – back in 1994.

“Remove any documents you have posted on the internet”? You mean the confidential Geller/Berdahl/Hubin legal opinion about dissolving the UO Senate? Sorry guys, that’s not how the internet works. The RG, Oregonian and Internet Archive have already, uh, archived it.

The Diane Dietz report in the RG is here:

The letter to the unnamed professor warned “any further disclosure of confidential documents would be in direct contravention of your responsibility as a member of the faculty.”

The letter was signed by Barbara Altmann, vice provost for Academic Affairs. The professor got the documents from the UO library archives on Dec. 3.

The unnamed professor has not returned documents — which were delivered to the professor electronically — to the university. Two archivists are on leave pending an investigation on how the documents were released.

To date, one document and a set of emails appeared on the UO insider blog uomatters.com published by UO economics professor Bill Harbaugh. The single 14-page document suggested dissolving the University Senate in the wake of the faculty’s vote to form a union in 2012.

The other was a series of emails regarding the drafting of a column that appeared on the editorial page of The Register-Guard on July 14, 2014, and attributed to Robin Holmes, vice president for student life.

The emails suggest that the opinion piece that defended the UO’s handling of a rape allegation was actually drafted by a UO public relations employee.

Can anyone point me to the part of UO’s Faculty Handbook that says professors can be disciplined for refusing to take Randy Geller’s legal opinions off the internet?

The report from Rich Read (two Pulitzers) in the Oregonian is here:

Whatever the case, Coltrane and members of his administration seem desperate to get the material back. They say that release of the confidential information, which Blandy said was “improperly disclosed,” violated a state privacy law and the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Another official signed Blandy’s letter for him in barely legible handwriting, appearing to be that of Barbara Altmann. She holds the identical title of senior vice provost for academic affairs.

The letter says that once the professor returns the electronic documents, officials will review them. “We will ultimately make the documents that are not exempt from disclosure available to all library patrons as part of the university’s archives,” Blandy wrote.

“Ultimately”? Is that sort of promise legally binding? I didn’t think so.

The Nigel Jaquiss (one Pulitzer) report in Willamette Week is here:

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.35.00 PM

I’m surprised Doug Park hasn’t sent Jaquiss a takedown notice over that Duck © image. FWIW, here’s Scott Coltrane’s “unlawfully released” email again:

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

Our President really needs a competent lawyer, or at least a strategic communicator who can backward induct.

Where are the uncensored Presidential Archives? Ask Klinger

1/28/2015 update: Interim Provost Bronet releases statement:

Friends and colleagues,

Many of you are following with interest the recent release of electronic documents, which bypassed archival processing procedures, and the university’s efforts to get those documents back.

I am pleased to inform you that the documents have been returned.

Our separate policy and personnel review of this situation will continue. We hired an independent law firm, Hershner Hunter, to complete this inquiry so that we can identify how and why confidential documents were disclosed, and take steps to ensure that something like this never happens again.

What was at stake went beyond a concern that confidential information was shared before being appropriately processed. Of greater concern is that the release violated the trust of the students, parents, faculty members and others who saw the Office of the President as a safe place to share concerns or seek assistance.

We have a moral obligation to maintain the confidentiality ! [sic] of those who see the Office of the President as a point of last resort. This includes those who chose to outline personal struggles in their academic pursuits or parents who might write to seek support for their child during times of personal challenge. Students, parents, faculty and staff need to have confidence that we will follow appropriate procedures to ensure their right to privacy.

One of my greatest concerns throughout this situation has been the way that it has impacted the talented team in our university library. The faculty and staff in UO Libraries are among the most committed and entrusted to carrying out our mission. Their commitment to the ethical standards and values of their professions should stand as a model for us all. They deal with these kinds of complex privacy rights issues on a daily basis and balance them with their advocacy for openness and transparency. They do so with passion and integrity.

Thank you for your understanding of this im! portant [sic] issue.

Sincerely,

Frances Bronet

Acting Senior Vice President and Provost

1/28/2015: I’m directing all media inquiries about LibraryGate to our $115K-a-year Deputy Strategic Communicator and self described “Duck advocate“, Tobin Klinger:

You can reach Mr. Klinger at

Tobin Klinger
Senior Director of Public Affairs Communications
541-346-5558
tklinger@uoregon.edu

Chronicle publishes mini-profile on UO Matters blogger

“The Open Records King of Eugene”, by Eric Kelderman, here. (Gated if you’re off campus). Some extracts:

Since 2009 the University of Oregon has had five presidents, including interim officeholders. It has gone through four athletic directors, and it’s now advertising for its fourth general counsel.

During that time the institution has endured an almost endless stream of controversies, involving athletics, governance, union contracts, and allegations that the administration mishandled reports of sexual assaults by three student basketball players.

Through it all, there’s been one constant: William T. Harbaugh. Mr. Harbaugh, a professor of economics, has chronicled every twist and turn on his blog, UOMatters—a project he began more than five years ago, he says, to shed light on an administration that many believe lacks adequate transparency.

The blog, along with his persistent requests for public records, has earned Mr. Harbaugh the reputation of a muckraker, a thorn in the side of the administration, and the sharp end of faculty discontent.

In a narrow sense, Mr. Harbaugh might appear to fill the role of a well-known stereotype: The cranky campus crusader who is never happy and rarely effective. What sets Mr. Harbaugh apart is his ability to effect change through both the sharing of information with the university community and his work setting policy. …

Mr. Harbaugh is also an active member of the University Senate, where he is credited with leading efforts to pass several pieces of legislation, including measures relating to faculty involvement in the hiring and review of administrators. Administrators generally tell Mr. Harbaugh that they hate his blog, he says. …

“The most common comment I get is: ‘I really appreciate what you do and your willingness to stick your neck out,’” he says. …

The blog, meanwhile, has become a must-read for the region’s journalists—and for anyone else who is hungry for the unofficial version of the university’s actions. And there has been no shortage of material for the professor to skewer. …

Mr. Harbaugh says the university has strong free-speech protections for faculty members. He feels confident in his legal position. And he’s unlikely to back down quietly.

“I love the university and the state,” he says. “They’re not going to get me to leave here; I’m going to make this a better place.”

LibraryGate: NYT confirms crackdown on access to Presidential Archives

1/25/2015: Rachel Donadio has the story in the NY Times, here:

… Every archival official knows that he or she would be safer” erring on the side of “denying access to documents.” The problems are both bureaucratic and political. The slow-moving federal committee in charge of declassifiying state archive material has been renamed the Commission on State Secrets, and it sees its mandate as protecting them, scholars say. …

Others scholars offer tales of more recent closures. Mark Kramer, the director of cold war studies at Harvard, cites the abrupt closing, in September 2003, of material on Stalin’s postwar foreign policy that had been available since the early ’90s. “One day I was able to order files … and a couple of days later I was told that the whole opis” — or batch of material — “had been sealed and would need to be re-declassified,” Kramer said in an e-mail message. “I was no longer permitted to see even the files I had pored over in the past.” Similarly, James Person, an associate at the Cold War International History Project, which publishes material from former Communist countries, said that five years ago he consulted documents from 1956 concerning the Soviet relationship with North Korea; when he returned in March 2006, they had been reclassified.

But many researchers find imaginative side doors. “You don’t give up because you can’t get into the presidential archive in Moscow, which is still the holy of holies,” James Hershberg, a historian at George Washington University, said of the former Politburo archive that contains the most sensitive material.

Oh, wait. This is from 2007, and it’s about Russia’s President Vladmir Putin, not UO’s President Scott Coltrane. And so far has I can tell Putin has never demanded the return of “unlawfully released archives”, threatened a professor for posting archived documents on the web and demanded that they be taken down, or put librarians or archivists on leave for making archives available to the public.

Thanks to анонимный for the link.

1/24/2015: Bob Keefer’s Eugene Art Talk reports on Friday’s faculty party Archives gossip

Here. I’ll have a report on the Saturday parties after this one quiets down, and more rumors trickle in. As always, I advise faculty to check VP Robin Holmes’ website and obey Eugene’s “Ordinance on Unruly Gatherings”, especially if you’re inviting professors from the natural sciences.

LibraryGate: RG editorial on Presidential Archives records release

1/24/2014: The case of the UO records. In the Register Guard, here:

Decoding the curious case of the University of Oregon’s misdirected records requires the deductive powers of a master sleuth — one with an ear for dogs that do not bark, an eye that can detect the fig behind the leaf, and a nose that will wrinkle at the whiff of a rat. But in the absence of a Holmes, a Columbo or even a Clouseau, ordinary Ducks are left to sort through the case on their own by eliminating various possibilities.

Did an unnamed professor do anything wrong when he obtained 22,000 pages of UO presidential documents? Apparently not — the records were placed in the university’s open archives, and were available to anyone. All that sets the professor apart from other members of the public was that he knew what to ask for.

Did the UO’s librarians or archivists, two of whom have been placed on paid leave for releasing the records, commit a breach? Evidently not — making archival materials available to the public is the very essence of their job. The records should have been redacted to protect against the release of such material as legally protected information about students, but redactions should be made by those who are the source of the documents and know what they contain.

Did the office of the president or someone else in the administration cause grave offense? A spokesman for the president says the documents do not contain Social Security numbers, medical records or financial data, eliminating several of the most serious possible violations of student privacy. So far no damage has been done.

What’s in the records, anyway? The only clue is a 14-page memo by the UO general counsel discussing the possibility of dissolving the UO Senate after the university faculty voted to unionize. To those who suspect the administration of plotting to undermine shared governance at the UO, it’s a smoking gun. To the administration, it’s an opportunity to show that the UO stuck with shared governance despite being given a legal argument for weakening it.

The other 21,986 pages could contain information about former UO President Michael Gottfredson’s departure, or the administration’s response to allegations of sexual abuse against three UO basketball players. Information of this kind should be public, or is likely to become public in the course of litigation.

So no wrongdoer can be identified in the release of the records, and no damaging consequences have followed. A detective might conclude that there’s nothing for the university to be terribly upset about.

I apologize to the Register Guard for posting their entire editorial. Given the subject, I hope they won’t sue me. All my posts on the Presidential Archives can be found here.

Rich Read of the Oregonian’s latest report is here:

As university officials urgently seek return of the documents, they are warning employees not to talk with reporters. Adriene Lim, dean of UO libraries, wrote an internal memo instructing library faculty, managers and staff members to keep a lid on information.

But Lim’s memo was leaked to Bill Harbaugh, a UO economics professor who posted it Thursday on his blog, UOMatters.com. Harbaugh has repeatedly declined to comment on matters including whether he’s the person who has the records. He says his attorney has advised him not to talk yet.

“If you receive any media inquiries about this situation, please do not try to handle them yourselves,” Lim wrote in the memo obtained and posted by Harbaugh. “Refer these calls to Tobin Klinger in UO’s Public Affairs group.” …

In a July 15 post, Harbaugh skewered Klinger, writing: “Go away Mr. Klinger. UO needs more faculty, not more PR flacks.”

The skewering was in response to the letter Klinger – a trained media professional, whom UO’s pays $115K a year, and who really ought to know better – sent to the RG editors:

I’m a recent transplant to Eugene, having spent a majority of my adult and professional life working with media in northwest Ohio. Like many, I idealized life in the Pacific Northwest. Eugene and its people have lived up to my vision. Eugene is access to independent film, unique foods, outdoor activities, cultural happenings and community pride. I don’t know that this shines through on the pages of The Register-Guard, particularly with the sophomoric “reporting” of Diane Dietz. …

Sorry Tobin, but Eugene’s community pride isn’t just about “unique foods”. We’ve also got a legacy of free speech (obligatory Wayne Morse link) and some of us aim to keep it that way.

Speaking of which, redacted U of Nike coffee mugs are still available, here. All profits go to buy UO public records from Dave Hubin. Or maybe to someone’s legal defense fund?

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UO professor illegally posts protected documents on his UO website

Back in 2009 I was trying to get a pdf copy of the “Oregon Attorney General’s Public Records and Meetings Manual” to post online. This is a 362 page book published by the DOJ every few years, explaining how citizens can use Oregon law to get public records, and giving DOJ opinions and court rulings on public records and open meetings. Just the sort of thing people should be able to easily access, in order to improve transparency and increase trust in government. At the time it was only available to the public in law libraries, unless you had the foresight to order a copy from the DOJ’s printing office.

In response to my request for a pdf, the Attorney General’s office offered to sell me one for $25, but only if I promised not to post it online:

Good afternoon, Professor Harbaugh.

You requested our Public Records Manual in PDF format. I believe that Tony has told you that, pursuant to our administrative rule, the Manual costs $25. OAR 137-008-0010(4)(d). Upon receipt, you can send a check in that amount to

Publications Section
Oregon Department of Justice
1162 Court St NE
Salem OR 97301-4096

Please enclose a copy of this email with your check.

Our IS people require you to follow the instructions below before we send you the PDF. The State, by and through DOJ, owns copyright to the Manual, and it is not to be redistributed without our permission in any format. This measure is to help protect the copyright.

I ignored the implied threat, and the $25 fee. Instead I checked the manual out of the UO Law Library, scanned all 362 pages to pdf (2 pages at a time, painful, and ugly) and posted it all on my UO hosted website. It’s still up, here:

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 9.45.44 PM

I then sent Attorney General John Kroger (Hardy Myer’s replacement as AG), and UO General Counsel Melinda Grier an email, letting them know I had illegally posted a copy of the Oregon AG’s copyrighted Public Records and Meetings Manual on my official UO hosted website.

The press had a lot of fun with the absurdity of the Oregon DOJ trying to limit public access to a document about transparency and public access to government records – especially given that it has that famous quote from James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, on the title page. The RG story by David Steves is here:

Right-to-know advocates are defying Oregon’s attorney general by putting a restricted government document on the Web for everyone to see.

But the document at the center of this dispute isn’t a sensitive record such as a list of Oregonians’ Social Security numbers or names of concealed-handgun-permit holders.

Rather, it’s the state’s Public Records and Meetings Manual — a bland legal guide updated by the state every two years to help the public and the media gain access to government documents and attend public meetings. The state Justice Department, which publishes the 11/2-inch-thick paperback book, doesn’t want it posted on the Internet by others.

Until now, the only way to get the guide has been to buy it from the state for $25.

The right-to-know advocates say they are stunned that the state is trying to stymie its free distribution on the Web.

“I was shocked. Especially given what it says on the cover. It’s got this quote from James Madison about the importance of knowledge and a free society,” said University of Oregon economics professor Bill Harbaugh, one of those at odds with the state over the issue.

Harbaugh decided to carry out Madison’s vision as he sees it by posting a scanned version of the manual online — despite an explicit admonition that copyright law prohibits such an action. Harbaugh’s a bit sassy about it, to boot. His Web site, harbaugh.uoregon.edu, says: “Get your free and illegal copy of the Oregon Attorney General’s Public Records and Meeting Manual here.” …

The blogosphere was even more amused. The Volokh blog (at the time a bit obscure, now the main law commentators for the Washington Post) wrote about it here. Then Carl Malamud got interested. Malamud is the man who worked with Aaron Schwartz to get the federal governments federal court records off their paywalled PACER system, with the help of a cadre of sneaky library patrons, armed with usb keys. (Their free workaround, RECAPTheLaw.org, works beautifully. For example, you can get the court documents for the Cleavenger v. UO bowl of dicks case here.)

Malamud runs Public.Resource.Org, which posts state laws and codes and IRS 990 tax forms for non-profits online, for free and open access. In 2007 he’d persuaded the Oregon Legislature to give up their claims that Oregon Laws are copyrighted. When he heard that the DOJ was now claiming their copyright on the PR Manual meant it couldn’t be posted online, he drove up to Salem, paid the AG their $25, took the PR Manual back to California, ground off the binding with a  belt-sander, fed it through a sheet-fed scanner, and posted it on his website. Came out way nicer than mine. I like to think of myself as a handy guy, but I’d never realized the belt-sander was a vital tool for the cause of transparency.

On his way back south Malamud stopped in Eugene and gave a fascinating talk (video here) at the UO Library at the invitation of UO librarian JQ Johnson, pictured here giving the introduction:

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(JQ passed away in 2012, and is very badly missed):

Malamud then wrote AG John Kroger a very polite letter explaining what he’d done, and if I recall correctly, suggesting that Kroger contact the Public Resource attorney – the famous Larry Lessig of Harvard – if he had any questions.

Apparently Kroger didn’t. A few months later he gave in completely, and had the 2008 manual posted on the DOJ website under a creative commons copyright. Current AG Ellen Rosenblum now has the 2014 version of the Public Records and Open Meetings Manual proudly posted on the Oregon DOJ’s website, here. (The pdf conversion is not as good as Malamud’s 2008 one though.)

In 2012 the Oregon Society of Professional Journalists gave me their “First Freedom” award for my contributions to getting the PR Manual online. Former UO Journalism Tim Gleason is still upset that this went to a blogger – and in particular to me – as he made clear during our joint appearance at a 2013 SPJ conference:

Tim Gleason’s defense of UO’s public records practices falls flat with journalists.

Did Frohnmayer illegally delete records from UO’s Presidential Archives?

The latest report from RG reporter Diane Dietz on the Presidential Archives is here. Oregonian reporter Rich Read has more here. Previous stories and emails about the Presidential Archive are here.

While Duck PR flack Tobin Klinger and Interim UO President Scott Coltrane are hard at work spinning the possibility that the archives may contain too much – such as potentially confidential student and faculty records – the Dietz story raises the possibility that they contain too little:

Documents are moved from the president’s office to the archive using a file-transfer protocol. In 2009, Frohnmayer’s executive assistant skimmed the documents, flagging “confidential or otherwise sensitive items” before the documents were transferred to the library.

Generally, that’s how archiving works. The provider of the documents determines what’s confidential or not otherwise disclosable under exemptions to public records law.

The UO’s “records management transmittal form” has a checkbox where the provider indicates whether confidential records are included in the transfer.

Professional archivists long have struggled with the need for openness and the requirements for confidentiality. They observe provider restrictions — when they are informed of them — but often, they also try to persuade the provider to restrict a minimal amount of material for the shortest period of time, according to the Society of American Archivists and the American Library Association.

“Although access may be limited in some instances, archivists seek to promote open access and use when possible,” according to a statement of the society’s core values.

“By documenting institutional functions, activities and decision-making, archivists provide an important means of ensuring accountability,” the core values statement reads. “In a republic, such accountability and transparency constitute an essential hallmark of democracy.

“Public leaders must be held accountable both to the judgment of history and future generations as well as to citizens in the ongoing governance of society.”

Hard to argue with that as a worthy goal.

As UO president from 1995 to 2009, Dave Frohnmayer made many interesting deals. Some examples that have come to light from public records requests by myself and others, such as former RG reporter Greg Bolt and the Oregonian, include agreements between UO and Phil Knight over the conditions for Knight’s Jaqua Center for Student Athletes, here:

The Jaqua Athletes Only Study Center story just gets weirder. We’ve now managed to get a few more of the peculiar agreements between UO and Phil Knight’s “Phit LLC” from the UO lawyers.

  • License agreement, Dyke and Knight, 1/8/08 (UO “leases” land to Phit, to allow no-bid construction.)
  • Amendment 1, Frohnmayer and Knight, 1/8/08 (UO to pay for parking, computers, staff.)
  • Amendment 2, Dyke and Slusher, 7/31/2008 (UO can’t use extra space but must pay 2/3 cost of landscaping it)
  • Amendment 3, Dyke and Slusher, 4/1/2009 (UO to pay for SEED energy improvements)
  • Amendment 4. Dyke and Slusher, 4/1/2009 (The contractor for the Academic Center has contracted with UO for the Arena and Parking Garage. Weird, not sure what that’s about.)

Another example would be the “Memorandum’s of Understanding” between Frohnmayer and Duck booster and onetime UO Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny giving the UO Athletic Department a variety of secret subsidies and discounts on overheads rates, here:

It took a petition to the Oregon DOJ to make those public.

So are the appropriate records regarding these and other agreements, and the negotiations that led to them, in the UO Presidential Archives as state law seems to require? Or were they “flagged as confidential” and then “disappeared?”

The electronic and paper archives are all public and available to any library patron (supposedly in confidence), so it shouldn’t take much more than a visit to UO’s Knight Library to find out.

The basic indexes are here:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/971644/uomatters/Archives/frohnmayer_presidentrecords_overview.pdf

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/971644/uomatters/Archives/frohnmayer_presidentrecords_11182014.pdf

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

The UO administration’s secret plan to abolish the UO Senate

1/4/2015: The UO administration’s secret plan to abolish the UO Senate

UO Matters operatives have obtained a “confidential” memo from former UO General Counsel Randy Geller to former Interim President Bob Berdahl, recommending that Berdahl abolish the University Senate and prohibit most faculty members from being members of the Faculty Personnel Committee, Faculty Advisory Counsel, Student Conduct committee, the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee, etc.

Geller made this recommendation three weeks after the administration  admitted defeat over the faculty union. The full memo is here. As you can see it advises:

1) abolition of the current UO Senate and all its committees;

2) creation of a new faculty-only Senate, limited to making recommendations to the administration;

3) membership on key committees to be restricted to non-bargaining unit faculty; and

4) other committees replaced by “administrative advisory groups” serving at the president’s pleasure.

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Geller’s proposal seems insane, but key parts of it have already been implemented, and it seems the likely source for the statements Interim President Coltrane made at the December emergency Senate Exec meeting about the need for changes in faculty governance “given our new unionized environment”. Coltrane has kept the administrative advisory groups that Bob Berdahl and Mike Gottfredson set up to replace Senate committees, such as the President’s Advisory Group on Intercollegiate Athletics, the Budget Advisory Group, and the Public Records Administrative Advisory Group.

Coltrane has also been working with new UO AVP Chuck Triplett (the former OUS apparatchik who helped Pernsteiner fire Richard Lariviere) and new University Board Secretary Angela Wilhelms to set up a President-appointed Policy Advisory Committee, and revoke the faculty authority that has existed since the founding of the University of Oregon and which is a normal part of faculty governance at other universities.

In addition, last year BOT Chair Chuck Lillis went along with Geller and Berdahl’s plan to cut the Senate out of the Delegation of Authority debate, and tried to do the same again last month with Triplett and Coltrane’s plan to drop the Senate from the policy development and approval process.

You might ask why our university’s top lawyer would attempt to hide his legal opinions about faculty governance from the faculty – and why people like Dave Hubin would help him keep the secret. You might also ask why the our VPs for Academic Affairs, Doug Blandy and Barbara Altman, would try to hide their advice about grading in the event of a GTF strike from the faculty who assign grades. Maybe Scott Coltrane will have some answers at the next Senate meeting, Wednesday, Jan 14th.

1/13/2015 update:  UO won’t share shared governance advice

We’ve had a series of attacks on shared governance over the last few years, led by Bob Berdahl and Mike Gottfredson, but unfortunately continuing under Scott Coltrane with the attempt to subvert the Policy on Policies and the UO Constitution.

So what sort of legal advice have our Johnson Hall colleagues been getting? They don’t want to tell us. I’ll go out on a limb and say Doug Park wrote this response to my public records request below. Not exactly trust inspiring.

The only way the faculty is going to learn about these attacks is from leaks of “confidential” documents to UO Matters. So keep them coming!

From: “Thornton, Lisa” <pubrec@uoregon.edu>
Date: January 13, 2015 at 5:02:57 PM PST
Subject: Public Records Request 2015-PRR-151

01/13/2015

Dear Mr. Harbaugh:

Given the broad scope of your request, we anticipate it would be necessary to sort through hundreds, if not thousands, of pages of documents to pull documents that are responsive to your request. In addition, you requested documents that you know are confidential because you specifically requested “legal advice.” Accordingly, your request is denied.

Thank you for contacting the University with your request.

Sincerely,

Lisa Thornton

Office of Public Records
University of Oregon
Office of the President

1/8/2015 update: Johnson Hall admins won’t talk about Geller / Berdahl memo

Camilla Mortenson has the story in the Eugene Weekly, here. It seems Coltrane, Park, and Hubin won’t talk about the memo or about the extent to which it continues to guide the thinking of Johnson Hall and the new Board of Trustees. Assistant UO PR Flack Julie Brown is the highest ranking person who will talk on the record – and even she won’t disavow this plan? Yikes. I’ll post additional docs as I get them.

1/7/2015 update:

In the Senate Exec meeting today Dave Hubin attempted to argue that the administration had rejected Geller’s proposals. When I left for a bathroom break Dave followed me out, asking what other documents I had about this proposal. I told him I wouldn’t tell him because it might reveal my source. Let’s just say the well isn’t dry. Hubin also suggested that I make a public records request if I wanted to learn more, so I have:

Subject: Documents from the UO GC’s office on legal advice regarding shared governance
Date: January 7, 2015 at 9:34:40 PM PST
Cc: David Hubin <hubin@uoregon.edu>, doug park <dougpark@uoregon.edu>, Scott Coltrane <coltrane@uoregon.edu> To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for any documents from the UO General Counsel’s office (or outside attorneys) providing advice to the UO President dated from 1/1/2010 to the present, on topics involving:

1) The UO Senate and shared governance in general;

2) the Senate Intercollegiate Athletics Committee and the President’s Advisory Group on Intercollegiate Athletics;

3) the Senate Transparency Committee and the Public Records Administrative Advisory Group;

4) open meetings for the UO Senate, Senate committees, and Administrative Advisory Groups.

I am ccing current interim General Counsel Doug Park, as he should have access to the GC’s records and should be easily able to provide these documents, and Interim President Scott Coltrane for the same reason.

I’ve also cced presidential assistant Dave Hubin, as he suggested that I make this public records request at the Senate Executive Committee meeting today and recently told the STC that future PRAAG meetings would be closed, and may have copies of the advice on these matters.

I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest.

 

Jennifer Winters and Rita Radostitz ghost wrote VP Robin Holmes’ Op-Ed on the basketball rape allegations and how UO handled them

From what I can tell this ghost written Op-Ed is the last official statement from the UO administration on how Johnson Hall handled the basketball rape allegations. There is no sign that there will ever been any kind of investigation, much less one that will be publicly released. Gottfredson’s self-appointed “Presidential Review Panel” pointedly refused to conduct any such investigation. The Senate Task Force decided to focus its efforts on improving UO’s prevention and response efforts.

News of the March 8-9 rape allegations became public on May 5th. On July 15th, VP for Student Life Robin Holmes published an Op-Ed in the Register Guard, defending the UO administration’s handling of the allegations, which had been widely condemned as a cover-up:

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(The full Op-Ed is here.)

How much of this did VP Holmes actually write? It seems like not much. According to the internal memos below, the first draft was written by UO strategic communicator Jennifer Winters, who didn’t even cc Holmes on it:

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 6.28.06 PM

Interestingly the “project manager” for this was VP for Enrollment Roger Thompson, not VP for student affairs Robin Holmes. The final draft was apparently submitted to the RG by VP Holmes’s chief strategic communicator Rita Radostitz – who did at least cc Holmes on her efforts:

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Maybe Holmes had some involvement in the writing during intervening few days, or maybe not. None of this is that surprising. UO has a well paid army of PR flacks devoted to puffing up the careers of our central administrators. (And Winters got a 25% raise in July.)

The UO Matters timeline of the rape allegations and the administration’s response is here, with links to some relevant news reports and documents, and a more exhaustive list of all relevant posts is here. If and when we ever learn anything new, I’ll add it. So if you know something that is not yet in the public record but should be, such as these emails above, please send them along.