Daily Emerald begs for cash to pay Hubin’s fees

6/25/2013: UO’s student-journalists at the Daily Emerald have started a non-profit to raise money to pay the fees UO charges them to see public records about UO. Their explanation is here and the donate button is here. Note that all donations are public. Dave Hubin’s response, in the form of a letter to the ODE Editor, is here:

… We are committed to supporting quality journalism, and as members of the university community, are particularly supportive of the work of students. …

The Oregon Commentator reports similar problems with UO public records here. Apparently UO has prevented them from using student money, appropriated by ASUO for the purpose of buying public records, for paying the $240 President Gottfredson is charging them to see a copy of his official calendar. And the Register Guard had a story last week here, on other UO public records problems. My response to Hubin:

You should be embarrassed by what you’ve said and not said here Dave. And also by what you’ve done, and not done about public records and transparency. 
For starters, you said that the meetings of your PR AAG – which you set up to subvert the Senate Transparency Committee – would be open to the public. But you’ve never even told UO’s student journalists when the PR AAG meetings would be. I found out about them by being persistent, and then told the reporters and posted the times and locations on UO Matters. At the last meeting you wouldn’t even let the student reporters ask questions.

The Senate Transparency Committee recommended fee waivers for UO student journalists in February. You said after the meeting that such a policy would be in place “expeditiously”. You’re still stalling. https://uomatters.com/2013/02/transparency-committee-votes-to-waive.html

Your 72% number for no fees is padded by including the many requests where the PR office simply forwards a link to an existing document. How many times has UO waived fees on the basis of a public interest claim since you’ve been in charge of the PRO office? 

I think the answer is zero. Occasionally you give 20% discounts, if Lisa Thornton likes what she finds when she googles the requester, and decides that the local community should know the information – but the requester often still has to pay hundreds of dollars. For details on the Dec 2012 meeting where we learned how ad hoc her methods were, try here: https://uomatters.com/2013/03/hubins-public-records-group-to-meet-wed.html

You do waive fees for what the office considers to be simple requests. Or should that be “un-embarrassing public records”? Because you’re still stalling and trying to charge the students $240 to see Gottfredson’s official calendar. That’s just bizarre. 

You claim that response times are decreasing. Again, that’s because you include requests for things like coaches contracts, which are online. For anything else, it’s typical to wait two weeks, or longer, to get a response. Often there is no response at all until I petition the DA’s office. And even then responses typically involve a hefty fee and no substantive explanation for the fee-waiver denial. The office gets about 1 request a day – including the trivial ones – and has a budget of $240K and 2-3 staff. They can do better.
You and PR Officer Lisa Thornton attempt to justify these delays and fees for student-journalists by saying that’s the way the real world works, and dealing with these obstructions from their university is helping their education. Insulting.
I know that running the PR Office is not a job that you sought, or enjoy. But you’ve become a hypocrite about it, and you are now far to comfortable and facile with that role.
Bill Harbaugh
UO Economics Professor
UO Matters Editor

Or, as Vladimir Putin recently said, trying to get public records from UO is “like shearing a pig: there’s lots of squealing and little fleece.”

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