Can Brown, Rosenblum, and Kron reform Oregon Public Records law?


This morning I drove up to Salem for the first meeting of this task force. I’m still a little bitter that Michael Kron didn’t add a slot for “Obsessed public records blogger” and appoint me, but with Les Zaitz and Jeb Bladine, and what seems to be a lot of support from AG Ellen Rosenblum and Governor Kate Brown, it seems pretty clear that this group will come up with a substantial bit of legislation for fixing some of the weaknesses in Oregon’s Public Records Law.

I did hear a few of the usual complaints from some members of the task force and the audience about the “burden of public records compliance”. It’s funny how agencies that spend far more on PR flacks tasked with making the boss look good than they do on real transparency can say that with a straight face.

There’s still plenty of risk that the lobbyists and legislators will figure out how to use this as an opportunity to weaken our already weak law, and I still think the first thing to do would be for the AG to write some hard-hitting PR opinions, and set a good example for the county DAs. But this is obviously a good faith effort to get it right, with lots of political support.

Speaking of District Attorneys, one simple interim step would be for the DOJ to start collecting and posting the DA’s decisions on public records petitions. From what I’ve seen, DA compliance with the PR law is spotty.

10/21/2015: AG to try again on public records reform – or more stalling?

AG Ellen Rosenblum could easily do what Dave Frohnmayer did as AG, and write opinions based on Oregon’s current law that would quickly improve transparency. But that would upset the state agencies that are also DOJ clients. So instead she’s appointed a Task Force, just like John Kroger did:

Public Meeting Notice – Attorney General’s Public Records Law Reform Task Force

The newest DOJ press release is here:

The Task Force will hold its first meeting on Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 9:00 A.M., in hearing room 343 at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.

The Task Force members include:

  • Ellen Rosenblum, Oregon Attorney General
  • Michael Kron, Office of the Attorney General
  • Gina Zejdlik, Office of the Governor
  • Robert Taylor, Deputy Secretary of State
  • Josh Nasbe, Oregon Judicial Department
  • Rob Bovett, Association of Oregon Counties
  • Scott Winkels, League of Oregon Cities
  • Mark Landauer, Special Districts Association of Oregon
  • Les Zaitz, Oregon Territory Society of Professional Journalists
  • Jeb Bladine, Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association
  • Dave Rosenfeld, Oregon State Public Interest Research Group
  • Mario Parker-Milligan, Oregon Student Association
  • Bertha Ferran, public member
  • Betty Reynolds, public member
  • State Representative John Huffman
  • State Senator Lee Beyer
  • State Senator Jeff Kruse

“Since 1973, when our Public Records Law was enacted, hundreds of exemptions have been added,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “It is clear now is the time to examine whether we have gone too far. I am confident that this representative group will provide real recommendations for the legislature to improve transparency and access to information about our government.”

Contact:Michael Kron, [email protected]

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