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Register Guard to sue UO over Gottfredson’s redacted emails

Last updated on 07/29/2014

7/28/2014: Christian Wihtol has the story in the RG, here:

The next legal step for the newspaper will be a lawsuit in Lane County Circuit Court, said Wendy Baker, the newspaper’s general counsel.

“The rejection of our appeal leaves us with no option but to file a lawsuit against the university. Oregon Public Records law exists to preclude this kind of secrecy among our public servants,” she said.

Andy Greif has more in the Oregonian.

No word yet on whether or not the NY Times will join in, or on how much of UO’s student tuition money President Mike Gottfredson is willing to pay to Dave Frohnmayer and HLGR, to help him continue to hide the documents that explain his administration’s response to the March 8-9 rape allegations.

The opinion by DA Alex Gardner and Deputy DA Patty Perlow is here, along with the 2011 Kroger/Leith opinion they cite. My understanding is that neither opinion has any weight in court. Normal procedure is for the DA to get the unredacted documents and examine them to see if the redactions are justified. It sounds like Perlow really did not want to do that here:

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 8.22.24 AM

It’s a stretch, given that UO specifically color-coded many redactions not on FERPA grounds, but on a claim of attorney-client privilege (typically granted only for advice, not facts), or because they included “frank discussions” which might frighten the public. A statement from US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on universities abuse of FERPA to hide documents is here.

In other public records news, the DA’s office has also gone with President Gottfredson’s claim that UO lawyers Doug Park, Samantha Hill, and John Salmon III are “faculty” and therefore do not have to release their resumes. Bizarre and secretive.

7/23/2014: The New York Times is not impressed by Gottfredson’s “sanitized” timeline and redactions

Chief Deputy DA Patty Perlow is handling this petition, for unredacted copies of the emails showing the UO administration’s efforts to cover up the March 8-9 rape allegations. There is another petition from the RG and Oregonian. Perlow has not yet ruled, but in response to a PR request she has sent me all the NYT petitions and UO’s responses. (No charge. For comparison, UO PR boss Dave Hubin wants $94.61 just to show the emails laying out the agenda and so on for Gottfredson’s “External Review Panel”.)

Hilariously, UO’s Interim General Counsel Doug Park is still refusing to sign his name to the responses he has written for UO. Or maybe he’s got a ghost writer, perhaps UO General Counsel Emerita Melinda Grier? In any case, the Times is not impressed by the UO’s arguments or President Gottfredson’s “sanitized” timeline. Their final response to UO begins:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 11.26.52 AM

The RG and Oregonian have also appealed UO’s redactions to the DA. Documents on that should be available soon, at the moment I just have the petition.

  • NYT petition and UO response documents here (51 pages).
  • Links to the redacted cover-up emails etc. here.
  • Redacted U of Nike coffee mugs and t-shirts here.


  1. Anono 07/23/2014

    Sounds like your Public Records Office is practicing law without a license. And without a clue.

  2. birdy 07/28/2014

    The only reason I can think of for not releasing resumes is that said “faculty” doesn’t qualify for their jobs. Token staff lawyers while the Harrangers grab all the dough?

  3. Anonymous 07/28/2014

    Chances Gottfredson ran this by the Board?

  4. one eyed pinhead 07/29/2014

    If this administrations’ blunders take the UO any further south in the court of public opinion, we’ll have to answer for them from Palmer Station. How embarrassing, – our “own” local Newspaper, which usually supports the UO whenever possible, and on top just started a series of reports about the 10 clusters, now needs to sue us to obtain information that by all intent and purposes is public information… the irony is that this institution is led by a criminologist.

  5. UO Student 07/29/2014

    So by this logic, the UO can leak or release the name of any student involved in a case where public records might be requested and suddenly all related records are fruit of the poisoned FERPA tree because a student has been specifically identified.

  6. Keith Appleby 07/29/2014

    That is a terrible decision. And, it forces me to wonder what are the countervailing forces to balance the UO’s power in Lane County if they can successfully manipulate the DA’s office?

    I am presuming that Ms. Perlow is making a career decision by denying this public records request, rather than a legal decision. I suppose this will work out better for her should she decide to run for DA after Alex Gardner leaves or when she applies for a job at HLGR.

  7. Old Man 07/30/2014

    Maybe Mike knows that his days here are numbered and, consequently, feels free to do and say whatever he wants to. How else can one explain his designation of the lawyers in the General Counsel’s office as ”faculty”. Such a designation is in violation of all interpretable dictionary definitions of “faculty” and is in stark disagreement with Oregon Law, which states: “3.1 Oregon Revised Statutes (May be altered only by the State Legislature)3.1.1 ORS 352.010 Status of faculty. The president and the professors constitute the faculty of each of the state institutions of higher education…”
    Goodbye, Mike.

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