Fees for reporters, subsidies for propaganda

7/15/2013: We’ve written before about the $104K cost of “Around the O”. Here are two much worse examples of how UO is making work more difficult for real reporters, while spending public money on what amounts to propaganda. I suppose you could argue this is good for UO in the short run, except it goes against everything that public universities are supposed to stand for.

1) If you’re a UO student journalist like Daily Emerald Editor Sam Stites and you try to get public records about UO’s athletic department, the Ducks will hit you up for substantial fees, and Dave Hubin will argue it would be wrong to use tuition money to subsidize the release of public records to the public.

But UO has no problem spending money to hire sports reporter Rob Moseley away from the Register Guard to write for the official UO GoDucks.com website. At $50,000 a year, plus bowl games junkets for spouse and kids, and on a year by year contract, I can just imagine how much real information we’ll get from Mr. Moseley about things like the Jock Box subsidies and who paid for the NCAA legal defense.

2) That’s just sports. But UO is playing the same game with substantive things like President Gottfredson’s official calendar, showing who he met with, while negotiating an independent board for UO. Surely that’s important enough to justify a public interest fee waiver? No. Dave Hubin wants to charge $240 for UO’s student journalists to see the calendar.

The Oregon Commentator tried to pay this fee with money allocated by UO’s student government for just that purpose. Hubin responded with a ruling saying student publications like the Commentator and the Emerald can’t use student money to buy UO’s public records.

But President Gottfredson has no problem paying for yet another “strategic communications” flack to broadcast his own spin on things:

Salary: $60,000 to $85,000 

Public & Government Affairs and the Office of the President invite applications for a full-time (1.0 FTE) Director of Public Affairs and President’s Office Communications.  This position is responsible for providing executive communications support to the president of the university and for developing and managing comprehensive communications activities for the Office of the President with internal and external constituencies.  

The Emerald has now set up an independent non-profit to solicit donations, in an effort to get around Hubin’s rules. Donate here, you’ll get a nice letter *from* the Emerald Editor, to show the IRS when you claim it on your taxes. You don’t have to be an economist to understand that free-riding will mean they’ll never get enough money- a fact our UO administration is counting on.

Secret slide update on Senate IAC expels student-journalists from meeting

6/6/2013 update: AAD for finance Eric Roedl’s secret athletic slides, with redactions, here. Oregon Commentator Nick Ekblad got them via a public records request, after the IAC voted to kick him out of their meeting on budgets and athletic subsidies. More below. Why in the world would the blacked out part be exempt from disclosure? No reason, most of the redacted numbers were simple 4% growth projections with a few blips to pay off their operating debt to the Foundation, and Kilkenny’s PK park balloon loan. Net income is always zero, because the AD spends any surplus on increasing their own salaries. Roedl’s just went from $170K to $190K.

5/28/2013: From UO student-journalist Nick Ekblad, of The Oregon Commentator:

Last Wednesday, the UO Senate’s Intercollegiate Athletics Committee (IAC) held a meeting at which AAD for Finance Eric Roedl was scheduled to give the IAC information about the athletic department’s budget and some projections about the next 6 years.
The UO Senate voted last week to require the Athletic Department to start paying back some of its subsidies, like that of the Matthew Knight Arena property, so this meeting had attracted myself from the Oregon Commentator, and two Daily Emerald reporters.
Right away there was tension in the air. This was the last IAC meeting of the school year and the AD still hadn’t released minutes from the previous meeting. Glen Waddell was met with an awkward silence when he asked about the delay in preparing the minutes.

“I’ve been really busy and haven’t gotten around to it,” the stenographer said.

Bill Harbaugh then asked IAC co-chair Andy Karduna if he had followed up on the request to the AD for the syllabus for the College of Education FHS 110 class that the athletics department requires all new players to take.
Karduna replied that he hadn’t, and had no plans to ever do so.
I had been under the impression that the IAC meeting was open to the public, as it was – until AAD Roedl realized that the media was present. And so began the discussion of whether or not to allow the media to stay during the presentation of revenue projections.
Some members of the IAC referred to the projections as “confidential… sensitive information”. When asked why projections would be “sensitive information”, those believing it to be sensitive did not want to discuss specifics because the reporters were still in the room.
Maybe the UO has patents pending on “long-term strategy and business plan” and Roedl doesn’t want competing universities to know the secret. I pointed out that “the information shouldn’t be sensitive as long as they are presented as ‘projections’ and not ‘promises’.”
Harbaugh backed me up, asking, “without going into specifics, why would projections be sensitive?”
“We’re dealing with projected ticket sales. This is sensitive information that should be kept confidential,” Roedl said.
Harbaugh then pointed out that that all five appointed student representatives were missing from the meeting, and argued that we student-reporters had a right to attend the meeting as we are indeed students and could tell the rest of the students where their money is going. Glen Waddell backed him up.
But the rest of the IAC was hostile. Someone was concerned that, with the media present, “the Athletic Department is not going to speak honestly.” That is a direct quote. After a moment, she corrected herself, saying, “I mean they might not speak fully”. Craig Pintens, the AD director of communication, kept his head low, buried in his iPad throughout the entire discussion.
There was then a debate regarding whether or not the meeting was technically public. Apparently this came up last year as well, the result being the IAC deciding that it was not a governing body and not subject to Public Meetings Law.
Harbaugh made a motion to allow the media to stay for the entirety of the meeting anyway, and Glen Waddell seconded it. However, most of the members of the committee present either voted “No” or abstained, keeping their heads down in shame. Members present included Karduna (Human Phys), Rob Illig (Law), David Koranda (Journalism), Donna Laue (English), Kurt Krueger (Printing), Dev Sinha (Math), and Jim O’Fallon (Law).
The Daily Emerald reporters and I begrudgingly left the meeting, but we were invited back at the very end. There were only a few slides left of the presentation and I learned that the Athletics Department’s total expenditure last year was $93.9 million. 34% of that went into Operations, 35% into Salaries and Benefits, 20% into Debt and 11% into Scholarships – athletic scholarships.
Student money has essentially been stolen but the majority of the IAC doesn’t think that students should be informed of specifics. In addition to the Matt Knight subsidization having been forced on ordinary students, $2 million of students’ money is spent per year in the Jaqua Center on personal tutors for student-athletes. 
Because the IAC kicked out student-reporters, it is obvious that the Athletic Department is afraid that students will not be blindly faithful to their Ducks, knowing that we pay to have their grades raised to a passing level.
 – Nick Ekblad

UO Matters:

Having been present for most of the financial presentation, I can say that I didn’t hear anything remotely confidential from Mr. Roedl. If The President’s Council of Economic Advisors can make their revenue and spending projections public why can’t the Ducks? The Daily Emerald has now filed a public records request for Roedl’s powerpoint, so I guess we’ll know after a few months of the usual delays – unless Dave Hubin charges another exorbitant fee.

UO students ask "Where’s our President"?

5/22/2013: From UO’s Public Records log:

President’s Calendar
Requester: Ekblad, Nicholas
Organization: The Commentator
Initial Request Date: 05/22/2013
Status: Requesting/Reviewing Records
I would like to request the president’s calendar from January 8th 2013 to the present

President Gottfredson’s public records office made me pay $108 for an earlier version, and wait 2 months. Pdf here. Let’s see what sort of hoops Gottfredson makes our students jump through, and how much he redacts. The Student Press Law Center has an interesting post on efforts by students at other universities to get this information on their presidents. The Oregon Commentator post explaining their request, and commenting on the sad state of UO’s public records process, is here: http://oregoncommentator.com/2013/05/22/what-will-gottfredson-hide-this-time/.

Oregon Commentator hears Bean on tuition increases

3/16/2013: What is Jim Bean going to do to justify his last 16 months of feeding at the Johnson Hall sugar tit, at $27K a month? It seems to involve badly organized efforts to try and lobby students to support tuition increases. Nick Ekblad of the OC has the scoop:

Tuition increase as proposed by Jim Bean and Brad Shelton

March 15th, 2013 by Nick Ekblad

I received this email today at 12:35pm, opened it around 2pm and hopped over to the meeting in question:

Just a reminder of the meeting TODAY in Jacqua Auditorium.
“Students are invited to attend a meeting with University Administration to discuss tuition proposals for the 2013-2014 academic year. The meeting is set for Friday, March 15 from 2:00-3:00pm in the Jacqua Center Auditorium. Students are also welcome to provide written feedback anytime before 5:00pm on Monday, March 18th by sending it to [email protected]

Here are my notes:

I thought it was particularly funny that they hosted this in the Jock Box. The projected utility cost per year of the University of Oregon is 18 million dollars and going up one million every year. I chuckled to myself and then the wall behind all those bunched up letters changed colors.  … And finally, the quote of the day, Jim Bean says, “If people cared about education as much as they cared about prisons in this state, legislators would lobby for it.”

UO Commentators fire off 61 bullet points in the NYT

Most NYT stories about Republicans read like the editor sent the reporters off on a dangerous expedition as punishment for some newsroom etiquette faux-pas. But Robert Draper seems to have had fun with his interview with two UO Commentator alumni, Bret Jacobson and Ian Spencer (Econ  2006), who now run a media consulting firm that tells the party how irrelevant it has become. And current Commentator Nick Ekblad continues the Commentator tradition of “beery indifference to the law of defamation” as Dave Frohnmayer called it. 2/14/2013.

Free Minds, Free Markets, Free Booze

5/2/2011: The latest issue of the Oregon Commentator is out, large pdf here. Alex Tomchak Scott tells the story of the guy who rides across campus every morning, screaming about LTD. I didn’t read it all, but apparently Frances Dyke just appointed him Vice Provost for Sustainable Transportation. Ben Maras has a story on the Jock Box. The takeaway is that AD Rob Mullens collects five $20 bills from every UO student’s tuition and then burns them in the gas fireplace in the cafe to keep the place heated. Best issue of the year, and the last from editor Lyzi Diamond.

Oregon Commentator

3/24/2011: The latest OC issue is out, here. Some excellent articles on UO expansion plans (lots), competitive bids for the ORI lease (bids? what bids?) the New Partnership (transparency first). President Lariviere seems to have forgiven the OC for their sophomoric and embarrassing “Big Balls” issue:

He’s agreed to meet with Editor Lyzi Diamond, who is soliciting questions, here. She’s already collected some pretty interesting ones.

Oregon Commentator media digest

10/20/2010: by Alex Tomchak Scott. This daily update is becoming a must. Read too far though, and you’ll get into the subsequent anti-Kitty Piercy on OSPIRG editorial. And you should:

.In an attempt to help the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group regain its funding from the ASUO in the coming school year, Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy insulted both UO students’ intelligence and what brittle shards remain of the UO student government’s institutional integrity last week at the OSPIRG kickoff meeting.

… When a prominent politician, one who is reasonably popular among UO students, comes in to the equation, and tries to influence a funding decision to be made by UO students concerning their own money, it’s an insult, and a threat to the autonomy of that decision. Kitty Piercy has no stake in the allocation of UO resources, beyond, to put the most idealistic spin possible on things, her stake in the outcomes OSPIRG purports to seek in wider government. …