Coltrane to stop redacting public records. Instead, he’s going to hide all of them.

Dave Hubin writes a glowing report on Dave Hubin’s Public Records Office, for UO’s official “Around the 0” blog:

“The UO is open with its information, much of which is available in many places, and our hope is to consolidate some of the existing information and make it more accessible for public records requesters,” said Dave Hubin, senior assistant to the president.

That’s not what the newspapers say, of course. The headline to this Register Guard editorial captures the truth pretty well:

Redaction run amok: UO blacks out most documents about allegations

But the real news from Wednesday’s meeting of the Senate Transparency Committee was Hubin’s bald statement that UO has decided to stop redacting documents, after the humiliation of having the RG and several TV news stations and the NYT mock the redactions, and President Gottfredson:

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What solution to these redactions, the ensuing embarrassment, and the resulting lack of trust in the UO administration did Hubin propose? He said UO is going to change its public records procedures so that UO simply will not release documents – not even a page of them – if they contain any exempt information. And then Hubin topped it off by telling the Senate Transparency Committee that this change would be implemented by an administrative committee that would meet in secret. The faculty did not react favorably to this plan, which is utterly at odds with basic principles of open information and public records and FOIA law. People need to know enough about what is hidden so that they can use the law to protect their rights to information about what public agencies are going.

Hiding the redactions this way may indeed produce a bit less public ridicule for UO administrators the next time they decide to hide something, but it will also shred any hope that Interim President Scott Coltrane wants to rebuild trust between the press, the community, the faculty, and his Johnson Hall administration. Bad move.

Full COI disclosure: I made almost $20 from selling “Omnia Dissimulavimus” coffee cups and t-shirts showing these redactions. Enough to pay for a month of web-hosting. Get yours here:

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Senate Transparency Committee meets:

It’s a public meeting. Under Lariviere, UO did a lot to improve transparency. Berdahl and Gottfredson did their best to clamp down. Coltrane is sticking with the Berdahl plan so far – for example, stalling release of documents that might help the GTFF, or explain what Gottfredson’s secret rape review panel is up to. Dave Hubin will have some explaining to do today. The committee’s charge is here:

The Committee shall;

a) Review UO’s procedures regarding access to public records and financial information, and evaluate the effectiveness of those procedures. The Senate requests that the administration give the committee free and unfettered access to a listing of public records requests and their status, and to any reports by the UO public records officer to the administration regarding public records.

b) Accept and review complaints from faculty, staff, or students regarding access to public records and financial information, and make suggestions to the UO public records officer and President’s office on resolving such complaints.

c) Hold only open meetings. …

For some background, read this 2013 RG story on UO charging student-journalists for public records, or any of the many stories on UO’s redactions of the rape allegation cover-up emails.

UO Senate Transparency Committee Tentative Agenda – November 12, 2014 11:00 am
Johnson Hall Conference Room

• Convene Senate Transparency Committee

• Report on work patterns of the Public Records Office during 2013-14

Data on usage, response times, fees charged, and fees waived
Appeals and findings from Attorney General and District Attorney
Comparisons to other Oregon state agencies and entities and comparator AAU Institutions

• Discuss Committee’s reorganization, broadened membership and charge
(Passed by the Committee on Committees and awaiting consideration by the full Senate.)

• Elect STC Chair.

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One Response to Coltrane to stop redacting public records. Instead, he’s going to hide all of them.

  1. muse says:

    So, it seems this is some of what the Long Harangue fees when towards–cogent advice on, umm, “transparency”.

    Coltraine = same as the old train.