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UO General Counsel’s office loses another one


Johnson Hall sure is hard on lawyers. In 2010 President Lariviere fired GC Melinda Grier for hiding public records about Mike Bellotti’s contract, then appointed her assistant Randy Geller after what mounted to a failed search for a replacement. (It appears Gottfredson has rehired Grier on the side though). In 2013 Assistant GC Paul Kaufmann left without explanation, half way through his initial one year contract. Earlier this year Randy Geller “retired” in the midst of the scandal over Gottfredson’s handling of the March8-9 basketball rape allegations.

And now the word is that Assistant GC John F. Salmon III left at the end of June, about 6 months after being hired. Again, no explanation.

Given that UO’s Legal Services Policy (if it’s ever signed by Gottfredson) gives these people the responsibility to defend UO and faculty and staff against accusations of misfeasance etc, and help Gottfredson stonewall the release of public records, you’d think that we could at least get a list of the current GC office’s attorneys and their qualifications. Nope. Their website is still “under construction” and has been since that embarrassing “General Counsel Emerita” episode in 2012:

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 11.40.58 AM

7/31/2012: Geller defames judge, appoints Grier as UO’s General Counsel Emeritus, attacks Senate Pres and IAC

In response to demands from Senate President Kyr and others including Frank Stahl, Nathan Tublitz and John Bonine, UO General Counsel Randy Geller announced yesterday he’s rescheduling his random drug testing hearing.

But it’s a sham, he’s picked another date when school is out of session. And he completely ignores the faculty / administrative agreement calling for UO policies like this to go through the Senate. That “policy on policies” agreement with Lariviere had been the Senate’s major accomplishment for 2011-2012. Now Geller thinks it isn’t worth a mention.

Geller also claims Senate President Rob Kyr and the IAC Chair made false and offensive comments about the university’s rulemaking process. Apparently that process’s feelings have been hurt, so Randy asks Kyr et al to apologize to it, and to some especially sensitive senior administrators:

Dear Rob and Brian:

I received your email of July 24, 2012, requesting a delay in the public hearing scheduled for August 23rd, 2012. The hearing will be rescheduled for September 13, 2012. Written comments will be accepted until noon on September 14, 2012. We will similarly postpone the date the rule will be filed with the Secretary of State and become final. The rule will be filed on September 21, 2012.

Your allegations about the University’s rulemaking processes are offensive and false , as are the comments made publicly by members of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee. I ask that you apologize in writing to President Berdahl, Rob Mullens, and me. I also ask that you censure the members of the IAC who have published offensive and defamatory comments.

Randolph Geller

General Counsel
University of Oregon

I like that “in writing” part. Maybe Geller wants Kyr to stand in front of the whole class and use the blackboard, like in third grade? Geller sent this out yesterday. Berdahl’s last few days look to be as crazy as his first. Adult supervision supposedly returns Aug 1, but Gottfredson still hasn’t signed his contract. and Gottfredson apparently signed his contract last night.

8/27/2012 9:00 AM: Geller defames judge:

Sorry, long story. Back in 2010 UO’s General Counsel Melinda Grier got in big trouble for ignoring multiple public records requests and failing to get a written contract for her friend, Athletic Director Mike Bellotti:

It was a big scandal and a humiliation for new UO President Lariviere, especially when he then had to pay Bellotti millions, after firing him for what was reportedly lax financial management of the athletic department.

So Lariviere fired Grier too, and got the Oregon DOJ to look into what had happened. Their investigation took 381+ hours, cost UO $44,086.60, and concluded that Grier (and/or her office, a bit ambiguous) had provided “deficient legal representation” to UO.

Lariviere then tried to hire an outside replacement for Grier, but after 6 months with no luck he gave up and just promoted her associate GC, Randy Geller. (Randy’s letter and resume are here. It was supposed to be a public search, but he wouldn’t release these until I petitioned the AG’s office under the public records law. His bit of intransigence cost UO another ~$1,000 in DOJ billing time.) Grier’s assistant GC Doug Park became the associate. And then eventually of course Lariviere got fired too, to be replaced by Berdahl and now by a permanent President, Mike Gottfredson.

And during the transition to Gottfredson a few weeks ago, Geller sent out a string of odd emails. One accused the UO Senate President and others of defaming him. Another, sent to the Senate STC, with President Gottfredson cced, included this:

The “investigation” of Melinda by DOJ was a hack job. Unfortunately, she was the first of several victims of the former Attorney General. His incompetence eventually led to his decision not to run for a second term and then to resign before the end of his term. If you google “John Kroger” I am sure you will find the Oregonian and Willamette Week articles.

There’s no doubt that Kroger, who has gone on to become president of Reed College, had his issues. But the Grier investigation was led by longtime Associate Attorney General David Leith, now a Marion County Circuit Court Judge. The other investigator was Keith Dubanevich, now Oregon Associate AG. Accusing a sitting judge and an associate AG of a “hack job” is competent professional behavior for UO’s chief lawyer? Maybe Geller’s just mad because the DOJ is fighting his efforts to get them to pay Frohnmayer’s law firm $864,000.

Meanwhile, who was it that broke the story on the Grier firing? Jeff Manning, at the time an investigative reporter for the Oregonian. And now the spokesperson for the AG John Kroger’s replacement, Ellen Rosenblum. And what happened to Melinda Grier? She’s been working as a consultant in an office she shares with a law firm that’s tried to persuade Randy Geller to hire them to do legal work for UO.

And – I’m not making this up – a few days ago Geller declared that she is now UO’s “General Counsel Emeritus” (sic):

Screen shot above, page here. We’ll see how long it stays up.

10:15 AM update: Grier’s now off Randy’s website. That was quick. The html from Friday is here. A commenter notes that this would break UO’s new policy for faculty emeritus status, which Geller and Berdahl signed off on in May. No word on his apology to Judge Leith and AAG Dubanevich yet.

12:15 PM update: Steve Duin of the Oregonian gets Geller to speak. Well worth reading. Must have been a fun party.

4:20 PM update: Geller apologizes to Kroger.

If he’s apologized for his equally unprofessional accusations against UO Senate Pres Kyr and IAC members, I guess I wasn’t on the list. From all indications UO’s new random duck drug testing policy will go forward without UO Senate review.

And this, via UO spokesperson Phil Weiler:

Statement regarding DOJ inquiry/General Counsel website

I have communicated directly with the president of Reed College and former
Oregon Attorney General John Kroger expressing my regret for the ill-advised
email I sent several weeks ago. My comments were unacceptable and I have
apologized to the former Attorney General and his staff.

I also recognize that it was inappropriate to use my office’s website to
recognize the former General Counsel for her years of service.

Randolph Geller
General Counsel

I’ve acquired quite a collection of other “un-lawyerly” messages from Randy over the years.


  1. Anonymous 08/27/2012

    excellent use of “sic”

  2. Anonymous 08/27/2012

    Watch it, UOMatters — you can get in big trouble for hacking the General Counsel’s website. Because there’s no other way to explain why Grier is now listed as “emeritus.” For Geller to have authorized that would just be a gratuitous offense to the many faculty who according to the new emeritus policy (vetted by the GC) have to work harder to attain that august designation.

    • UO Matters 08/27/2012

      Alas, I’m not smart enough to be a hacker. I’m just a muckraker.

  3. Anonymous 08/27/2012

    As the world turns, so do the days of our lives

  4. Anonymous 08/27/2012

    Presumably it was up long enough to help her to get some consulting contract.

  5. Anonymous 08/27/2012

    In response to Grier’s designation as ‘General Counsel Emeritus’, all that comes to mind is “What the f@*% ?”.

  6. Anonymous 08/27/2012

    I think Leith was on the search committee for the Grier replacement. Rumor is they did a hack job of advertising the position.

  7. Anonymous 08/28/2012

    This shit is hilarious! UO Matters — keep up the good work! –Frog

    • Anonymous 08/28/2012

      Have you seen the world’s funniest general counsels?

  8. Anonymous 08/28/2012

    Just read Steve Duin’s article online at the Oregonian (referenced above) about Randy Geller’s dinner party. I get it that some old friends had dinner on Friday and after a few drinks they anointed Grier as ‘General Counsel Emeritus’. But how the fuck does it go from that to being posted on an official UO web page? A few more drinks and they pull up the ol’ web editor? Now that I think about it, I think I’ll have a beer and make myself a full Professor. Maybe a couple martini’s and I can be Provost — at least for 72 hours. (Will someone please bring me the keys to the Beemer?)

    • UO Matters 08/28/2012

      On the basis of the publication of your comment in this peer reviewed online journal, and the power invested in me as someone with the UO Matters blog password, I hereby appoint you as UO Provost and grant you a special provost sabbatical. You will find a supplement in your next paycheck, to cover your beemer payments.

    • Anonymous 08/28/2012

      Deeply appreciated. I’d like a long weekend at Treetops too, while we are at it.

      In all seriousness, Gottfredson hasn’t been here quite a month and there have been at least two (that we know about) publicly embarrassing episodes of UO administrators running amok (Holmes and Geller).

      Will somebody please tell Gottfredson that there really are a bunch of us here working hard trying to teach, do research and generally do the right thing? With a little housecleaning in Johnson Hall and some good leadership, this place might actually move forward. The obvious candidates for housecleaning include Bean, Holmes, Davis, Geller and Moseley (obviously some of these people are ‘retired’ but continue to haunt us with their expensive work as ‘Special Assistants’). Any others for the list?

    • UO Matters 08/28/2012

      Done – you’re also eligible for a free stay at Provost Emeritus John Moseley’s Deschutes River Lodge. Well, it’s free to you. It might end up costing the taxpayers and students a bit.

    • Anonymous 08/28/2012

      Doesn’t it seem weird that we haven’t heard a peep from the new Prez in the wake of these snafus?

  9. Anonymous 08/28/2012

    What about “random” drug tests for administrators?

    “We smoked it all.”

  10. Anonymous 08/28/2012

    I read this and felt sorry for Melinda. Sure she cost UO a bunch of money but it’s rough to lose your job, I know. Then I looked up her PERS benefits. She gets $135,000 a year.

    • Anonymous 07/13/2013

      I’m sure she earned every cent of that PERS with her fine public service and apparent lack of legal skills. I’m also sure that Mike Bellotti earned every penny of his PERS because he…um…yeah, he…wait. What public service did he ever provide? If PERS wants an overhaul they need to make sure that actual public employees who are actually serving the public are the only ones getting PERS. When was the last time you were able to call a coach at the UO and have them actually help you with a problem?

  11. Anonymous 08/28/2012

    I’m so loving this message one. I hate that our admins suck so hard, but I love seeing them being forced to retreat. Man, they really do suck.

  12. Anonymous 08/28/2012

    The emperor has no clothes!! The emperor has no clothes!!

  13. Anonymous 08/28/2012

    I see Jeff Condit from Miller Nash is visiting Johnson Hall today. He’d make an excellent interim GC, while Gottfredson searches for a replacement for Geller.

    • Anonymous 08/28/2012

      UO Matters stringers have web cams monitoring entrances to Johnson Hall now? Nice…

    • UO Matters 08/28/2012

      We thought about infrared, but the bosses all go home at 5PM.

  14. Anonymous 08/28/2012

    Does anyone think that the new president will just look at all of this and decide to clean house. Having no one in these positions — Geller, Holmes, et al – would be welcome change. And you know what? Things would still go on and those who do the real work would make careful decisions — not the ‘Three Stooges’ that seem to be pervasive of late. What a laughing stock!

  15. Anonymous 08/30/2012

    Kudos to Geller for offering a contrite apology.

  16. Anonymous 08/30/2012

    Yes, most of NACUA now knows that he can apologize, and that he’ll be on the market soon.

    • Anonymous 09/01/2012

      He’s got a few more months to straighten things out with the Idaho Bar if he wants to keep the Boise State option open.

  17. Anonymous 07/13/2013

    Anyone catch that Melinda Grier was hired by the city to conduct an investigation into a claim by a former EPD officer? I’m sure that ended with a $2,000,000 handshake for someone. She gets canned from the U of O for providing deficient legal counsel yet there might be consideration to have her firm do legal work for the U of O? I’m curious how Grier landed this gig with the city police?

  18. Anonymous 09/24/2013

    Give it a break. This is all old news.

    • Anonymous 09/24/2013

      Sadly not. Some among the UO community sure give up quickly, or move on quickly, or something like that. Grow some backbone already. As long as Geller has is active and arguably working to the detriment of the campus (union negotiations would be the latest example) Geller is not old news.

  19. Anonymous 09/24/2013

    Do you seriously believe that he is “working to the detriment of campus” because his job required him to be involved with the union negotiations? Do you believe everything UO matters prints?

    • Helpful Harry 09/24/2013

      I wonder whether the anon who is looking for a serious believer has ever worked on a project that was subject to Randy’s imprimatur or nihil obstat?

    • Anonymous 09/25/2013

      I’m guessing not, and that he/she wasn’t paying much attention to the admin proposals through bargaining.
      I’ve seen Randy close up. (Everyone in the know will read that only figuratively, as we all know that he doesn’t like to come out of hiding for just anyone.) It is an embarrassing joke.

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