Oregon Tourism Commission crushes UO on transparency

OTC (Travel Oregon). 24 hours and 9 minutes from public records request to the document:

From: Bill Harbaugh <wtharbaugh@gmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, April 8, 2020 1:08 PM
To: Jeff Hampton <jeff@traveloregon.com>
Subject: Re: Jeff Hampton shared “Oregon21 Grant OR212018 (9.18)” with you.

Hi Jeff, I’m writing to request any reports made regarding this grant, after the Jun 30th 2019 one that you provided to me last year.

Thanks,

Bill Harbaugh
wtharbaugh@gmail.com

OTC’s Response:

From: Jeff Hampton <jeff@traveloregon.com>
Subject: RE: Jeff Hampton shared “Oregon21 Grant OR212018 (9.18)” with you.
Date: April 9, 2020 at 1:17:17 PM PDT
To: Bill Harbaugh <wtharbaugh@gmail.com>

Professor Harbaugh,
Attached is the year-end report for 2019. We will consider this record request fulfilled.
Jeff

Jeff Hampton | Vice President, Operations
Travel Oregon/Oregon Tourism Commission
319 SW Washington Street, Suite 700 | Portland, OR 97204
D: 971.717.6210| O: 971.717.6205
Email: jeff@traveloregon.com
TravelOregon.com | Industry.Traveloregon.com

No fee. Report here.

UO: 8 days and counting. 14 days if you include the initial email I sent, which our AVP ignored.

From: Bill Harbaugh <wtharbaugh@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Faculty tracking / Insights
Date: April 1, 2020 at 12:23:49 AM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>
Cc: Ellen Herman <eherman@uoregon.edu>

Dear Ms Thornton.-

This is a public records request for a public record showing the current status of the Faculty tracking / Insights project that has been coordinated by AVP Ellen Hermann.

Specifically, I am requesting a document showing whether the plans to submit this for an RFP have been postponed, canceled, or are still being planned.

I’m ccing AVP Ellen Herman, as she has been in charge of this effort and should be able to provide such a document without your office’s usual charges and delays.

I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest in the expenditure of public funds.

Thanks,

Bill Harbaugh
wtharbaugh@gmail.com

Still waiting …

New law lets DA fine Kevin Reed’s office $200 for public records fails

HB 2353 has now passed the Oregon House and Senate unanimously, and Governor Brown is expected to sign it soon:

I like how the fine goes to the requester of the records. This emergency legislation is indeed necessary for the sake of the public peace. In the past year the Lane County District Attorney has had to order Kevin Reed’s office twice to comply with Oregon law, and provide records that UO was trying to hide from the public:

And, in November 2018:

Brad Schmidt has petitioned the District Attorney to review a denial of a public records request made to the University of Oregon (University).

Mr. Schmidt asks that the University be ordered to disclose,

All Nike Elite allotment orders, including product descriptions, sizes, costs and delivery/shipping information, from the 2017-18 allotment made by the following individuals: Mike Mennenga, Josh Jamieson, Kevin McKenna, Tony Stubblefield.

In a letter explaining it’s opposition to the petition, the University characterizes the issue as follows.  The University has contracted with Nike, which requires, among other things, that Nike provide product to the University in a certain dollar amount.  In return, the University agrees that certain University personnel, and athletes, wear Nike apparel at what is described in the contract as “program activities.”  The University asserts that the contract requires it to provide Nike products to the affected employees and athletes to wear at such “program activities,” and that it does so through products provided to the University, and passed on to employees.  The University has also chosen to take a certain amount of the allotted Nike product amount, and dedicate it to a system referred as the “Nike Elite” website.  Currently this amount is set at $185,000.

The selected employee is given an allowance in a determined amount.   The University then notifies Nike of the employee who is authorized to receive product from the University’s allotment, and the amount of the employee’s allowance.  The employee then receives access to the Nike Elite website, where the employee can order Nike product.  The University places no restrictions on what is purchased, or for whom.[1]

The District Attorney’s review of the petition must be conducted under the umbrella of ORS 192.314(1), that,

Every person has a right to inspect any public record of a public body in this state, except as otherwise expressly provided…

That statute, and the exemptions thereto, reflect a broad public policy that disclosure of public records is the rule, and that any exemptions must be explicitly stated by statute and not simply implied therefrom.  Guard Publishing Co. v. Lane County School District, 310 OR 32(1990).

The University has proffered 3 reasons why the petition should be denied.

First, the University argues that the requested documents are not “public records,” as defined in ORS 192.311(5)(a).  The University asserts that the records are private records of the expenditure of compensation by an employee, and that the University does not possess the records, rather the involved employees possess the records.

The possession of the records is irrelevant. It is instructive to note that ORS 192.311(5)(b) provides that records of the public’s business are considered “public records,” even though they may be located on a personal computer.  Therefore, the threshold question is do the records “contain(s) information relating to the conduct of the public’s business.”  ORS 192.311(5)(a).  Further, the University refers to the conduct as “purchases” and “spending” or “expenditure” of compensation.  However, no money changes hands.  Simply put, the University grants the employee access to an account to obtain Nike product, that otherwise belongs to the University.  Although the University does not control the website, the University controls whether the employee is authorized to use the website to obtains portions of Nike product allocated to the University.  This is not private conduct, it is public business.

The University claims a number of “exemptions” protecting the records from disclosure.

First, the University asserts, pursuant to ORS 352.22(12), the records are “personnel records,” and are exempt from disclosure.  ORS 352.226(13) sets forth the definition of “personnel records.” The University does not specifically assert that the individuals named in the original public records request are “academic staff member(s).”  However, even if one or more of these individuals are covered by the statute, the records requested to not meet the definition of “personal records” as defined in the Faculty Records Policy.

Second, the University asserts that the petition should be denied pursuant to ORS 192.355(2)(a).  That section exempts from disclosure,

…information of a personal nature…if public disclosure would constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy, unless the public interest by clear and convincing evidence requires disclosure in the particular instance.  The party seeking disclosure ears the burden of showing that the public disclosure would not constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy.

The District Attorney, in general, agrees with the assertion of the University that how a public employee spends their compensation, is a matter of personal privacy.  For instance, once an employee’s monthly pay is deposited in his/her bank account, it is not “public business” how that employee spend the money. However, as stated above, in this instance, the public employee is using a system to which they only have access by virtue of their public employment.  If that system is used to conduct public business, as opposed to private business, such use no longer qualifies as “information of a personal nature.”

In the blanket denial of the request, the University has failed to meet the burden of setting forth an individualized showing that specific instances of disclosure would be an unreasonable invasion of privacy.  (See Mail Tribune Inc. v. Michael S. Winter, 236 Or App 91 (2010), requiring a sheriff to make an individualized showing that disclosure of a particular concealed weapons permit would be an unreasonable invasion of privacy).

At this point in time, the District Attorney has not asked the University for the records described in the petition, so that they may be reviewed to make the determination described above.  In fact, the University asserts they do not possess or control the records. ORS 192.411(1) provides the District Attorney with authority to  take one of three actions with regard to a petition, (1) grant the petition;(2)deny the petition; or (3) grant the petition in part and deny the petition in part.  The District Attorney has no other authority to order the public body to take any action, other than the disclosure of the records.

Given the amount of money involved, it can be assumed the records would be voluminous.  Further, simply reviewing the records themselves would not answer the question whether they are exempt from disclosure.  Rather, persons familiar with the records would be the ones to assert that particular records are exempt from disclosure and specific reasons why.

In Mail Tribune,   the court was faced with a similar circumstance.  Rather than try to parse out what hypothetical circumstances might render a record exempt from disclosure, the court instead noted that the burden of proof is on the public body, in a specific instance, to show that disclosure would be an unreasonable invasion of privacy.  The court went on to hold that the sheriff had not made a showing in any specific instance, and therefore ordered the disclosure of the entire request.  Further, since no showing had been made by the sheriff, the burden of proof did not shift to the party seeking disclosure to show that the public interest nevertheless demands disclosure.

Therefore, it is the order of the District Attorney that the petition is granted.  The University is ordered to disclose the records. The University has seven days to comply with this order, unless it issues a notice of declaratory or injunctive relief.

[1] The University advises that the employee can also use their allowance at the “Nike Store.”  These records are not part of the original public records request.

Kevin Reed’s office tried to hide cap & trade lobbying records

5/17/2019 update:

The Oregonian’s Rob Davis reveals still more of the documents UO tried to hide from the public, including more new information about the redactions by Kevin Reed’s Public Record Office.

If I understand the story right, Reed’s office let the lobbying group decide what UO should redact from UO’s public records. They made some interesting choices. Weird. Full story here with links to all the records:

What UO didn’t want the public to know about industry group’s climate bill opposition

… The newly released documents documents include the alliance’s legislative updates, lobbyist reports and memorandums to members. The university originally contended portions of the documents were protected by the attorney-client privilege and by an exemption allowing material submitted confidentially to be withheld in very narrow circumstances.

Ed Finklea, the alliance’s natural gas director, told The Oregonian/OregonLive it was the energy alliance’s attorney who made the redactions when the university released the records. Molly Blancett, a school spokeswoman, said the university “always solicits the input of third parties when it comes to their records that have made their way to the university’s possession.”

The clean documents show a consistent theme in what was initially redacted: References to potential benefits of Brown’s proposed climate change bill. …

5/14/2019 update:

I have it from a generally reliable source that, as of yesterday, UO has withdrawn its membership in AWEC, the industry group that is lobbying against Governor Brown’s Cap and Trade legislation.

5/12/2019: It backfired. Rob Davis has the story in the Oregonian, here. A few snippets:

Continue reading

UO journalism students demonstrate the public interest in public records

As the RG sinks into the abyss, the Eugene Weekly is doing a more and more impressive job in keeping tabs on local government, with the help of UO journalism students. Their latest:

An Unsuccessful Solution


• Nearly 30 percent of people who completed the Community Court program have since been convicted in the city’s courts, a recidivism rate far higher than city officials have made public. In fact, these Community Court graduates are being convicted of crimes at the same rate as before they entered the program.

• Overall, Community Court isn’t reaching the people who need it most. Defendants who failed in the program or simply opted out are showing up in court more often, creating an even bigger caseload than before.

University releases subpoena & coach records in bball wage theft case

That would be the University of Maryland. The WaPo:

A federal grand jury in New York investigating corruption in college basketball has requested records from Maryland regarding one unnamed former player, assistant coach Orlando “Bino” Ranson, and Silvio De Sousa, a recruit who ultimately attended Kansas.

Maryland released copies of the subpoenas Friday, along with a statement asserting the university had already sent back all relevant records, and had found no evidence of any violations of NCAA rules or federal laws by any Maryland coaches, employees or players….

Presumably the feds were investigating Bino and Silvio on charges that they failed to compensate their players for their work hours, i.e. wage theft. Good to hear that UMD has provided the grand jury with evidence that their “student-athletes” were in fact paid.

I wonder when UO will release its subpoena? UO GC Kevin Reed’s public records office charged Daily Emerald reporter Michael Tobin $113.64 for copies of any federal subpoenas UO had received (there’s presumably one for the IAAF 2021 Championship bid docs too) and then refused to hand them over, and then refused to give him a refund. Max Thornberry had the story in the EW:

General counsel for the university Kevin Reed, a member of the transparency committee, refused to attend Thursday’s meeting and resigned from the committee before the meeting, telling Harbaugh that his office’s participation in the committee would “present a conflict of interest.”

[In an obvious self-contradiction, Reed then appointed Bryan Derringer, an AGC from Reed’s office as his designee.]

… In addition to stepping down from the committee, Reed expressed concern that Harbaugh’s participation presented a conflict of interest as well. Transcripts of emails between Reed and Harbaugh were posted to the University Senate blog.

“You have been assessed over $45,000 in fees on your public records requests over the course of the last five or so years,” Reed wrote to Harbaugh in an email. “You have paid a few hundred dollars for documents, but mostly you have protested the fees and argued for a change in fee policy that would reduce or eliminate fees. A private citizen is, of course, free to engage in such advocacy, but when a public official does so in his official capacity, he does so at his own risk. I have told you this before, and you have ignored my advice thus far. And, as I said the risk is on you, not the university, so I can’t tell you what to do.”

Following Reed’s prompting to consult with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, Harbaugh says, an investigator from OGEC — via a phone conversation — determined Harbaugh’s interest in public records makes him part of a class or group of people with shared interests, saying, “Your participation would not even be a potential conflict of interest.”

[UOM: ORS 244.020(1), (13) actually says:

(13)“Potential conflict of interest” means any action or any decision or recommendation by a person acting in a capacity as a public official, the effect of which could be to the private pecuniary benefit or detriment of the person or the person’s relative, or a business with which the person or the person’s relative is associated, unless the pecuniary benefit or detriment arises out of the following:

(a)An interest or membership in a particular business, industry, occupation or other class required by law as a prerequisite to the holding by the person of the office or position.

(b)Any action in the person’s official capacity which would affect to the same degree a class consisting of all inhabitants of the state, or a smaller class consisting of an industry, occupation or other group including one of which or in which the person, or the person’s relative or business with which the person or the person’s relative is associated, is a member or is engaged.

(c)Membership in or membership on the board of directors of a nonprofit corporation that is tax-exempt under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Why did the General Counsel’s office omit this important qualification?]

… “This is symptomatic of the university’s contempt for public records law and the principle that people should have access to the records of their government,” Harbaugh says. “This seems to me a case where the university is using its powers under that law not to promote transparency but to try to hide things.”

More here.

I don’t know what UMD charged for releasing these public records, but here’s their subpoena:

 

Eugene Weekly reports on GC Kevin Reed’s refusal to refund student $114 for Fed subpoena PRO wouldn’t provide, & Reed’s refusal to participate in Transparency Committee or send his assistant Bryan Dearinger

Max Thornberry has the story here:

Transparency Committee Takes on UO Records Policy
Student reporter denied paid-for public records

A student reporter at the University of Oregon was charged more than $100 to obtain UO public records before being told the university would not release them to him.

The reporter didn’t get a refund, and now the university’s Senate Transparency Committee (STC) is asking whether the UO is violating its own policy and abusing public records fees in order to discourage the public and news media from trying to shine light on the university’s operation.

Michael Tobin, a senior news reporter for the Daily Emerald, paid the UO Office of Public Records $113.64 for records before he was told they were exempt from release. He has not received a refund. Tobin submitted a complaint to the STC to find out why he can’t get his money back.

“I’m concerned about a fee for records I was not given,” Tobin told the STC during a Thursday, April 5, meeting. “And if they claim to know Oregon public records law, they should know that if there’s a pending federal investigation that this record would be exempt from disclosure from the start. So I don’t know why they would take my money and then go through the process of pulling the document, attempting to redact it and then say, ‘We can’t give this to you because we talked to the [Department of Justice] about it.’”

… Tobin filed his records request on Feb. 1 for any “federal subpoenas the University of Oregon has received over the past year.” Tobin told the committee he was requesting records he thought might be connected to the 2021 IAAF Track and Field World Championships; IAAF’s selection of Eugene to hold the event has spurred criminal investigations in the US and in Europe into possible corruption around the decision.

… Government agencies are allowed by state law to charge for records. According to the Attorney General’s Public Records and Meetings Manual, fees can still be assessed if no responsive records are found or “even if the records located are subsequently determined to be exempt for disclosure.”

UO’s policy, though, says nothing about exempt records and fees, only that “The Office of Public Records charges for the actual cost of making available public records.”

“They have to follow their policies. They have to follow both Oregon law and their policies,” Chris Sinclair, chair of the STC, says. “So if their policies are more restrictive than Oregon law then their policy is the one they have to follow. That’s my understanding.”

General counsel for the university Kevin Reed, a member of the transparency committee, refused to attend Thursday’s meeting and resigned from the committee before the meeting, telling Harbaugh that his office’s participation in the committee would “present a conflict of interest.”

[In an obvious self-contradiction, Reed then appointed Bryan Derringer, an AGC from Reed’s office as his designee.]

… In addition to stepping down from the committee, Reed expressed concern that Harbaugh’s participation presented a conflict of interest as well. Transcripts of emails between Reed and Harbaugh were posted to the University Senate blog.

“You have been assessed over $45,000 in fees on your public records requests over the course of the last five or so years,” Reed wrote to Harbaugh in an email. “You have paid a few hundred dollars for documents, but mostly you have protested the fees and argued for a change in fee policy that would reduce or eliminate fees. A private citizen is, of course, free to engage in such advocacy, but when a public official does so in his official capacity, he does so at his own risk. I have told you this before, and you have ignored my advice thus far. And, as I said the risk is on you, not the university, so I can’t tell you what to do.”

Following Reed’s prompting to consult with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, Harbaugh says, an investigator from OGEC — via a phone conversation — determined Harbaugh’s interest in public records makes him part of a class or group of people with shared interests, saying, “Your participation would not even be a potential conflict of interest.”

[UOM: ORS 244.020(1), (13) actually says:

(13)“Potential conflict of interest” means any action or any decision or recommendation by a person acting in a capacity as a public official, the effect of which could be to the private pecuniary benefit or detriment of the person or the person’s relative, or a business with which the person or the person’s relative is associated, unless the pecuniary benefit or detriment arises out of the following:

(a)An interest or membership in a particular business, industry, occupation or other class required by law as a prerequisite to the holding by the person of the office or position.

(b)Any action in the person’s official capacity which would affect to the same degree a class consisting of all inhabitants of the state, or a smaller class consisting of an industry, occupation or other group including one of which or in which the person, or the person’s relative or business with which the person or the person’s relative is associated, is a member or is engaged.

(c)Membership in or membership on the board of directors of a nonprofit corporation that is tax-exempt under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Why did the General Counsel’s office omit this important qualification?]

… “This is symptomatic of the university’s contempt for public records law and the principle that people should have access to the records of their government,” Harbaugh says. “This seems to me a case where the university is using its powers under that law not to promote transparency but to try to hide things.”

[And it will certainly have that effect. UO’s high fees and general refusal to waive them for reporters already discourage access to UO public records. The possibility that you will pay the fees and then get nothing increases the expected cost significantly.]

Berdahl to ask Trustees to give Gottfredson another chance

4/10/2018 repost, for no particular reason.

6/8/2014: Rumor down at the faculty club is that Gottfredson and Berdahl are closeted in McMorran House, working on a strategy to convince the Trustees to give Gottfredson another chance. From the meeting packet here:

June 12, 12:00 pm: Trustees roundtable discussion with Bob Berdahl Ford Alumni Center, Room 403

Presumably Berdahl will be introduced to the board as former UC-Berkeley president, AAU, etc. A legendary leader in higher education. Then he will explain to the awestruck trustees that any more turnover in the UO presidency would be so disruptive, and the search for a replacement so difficult, that it’s better for the new Board to suffer an obvious incompetent, the last bit of baggage from OUS and Pernsteiner, rather than to do what most everyone hopes they will do: Replace Gottfredson with Scott Coltrane as interim, and get UO off to a fresh start.

Given Berdahl’s role in hiring Gottfredson (closed search, etc.) and the latest from FSU on closed searches and search firms, this all reminded me of an old post:

5/15/2012: Berdahl on his and my conflicts of interest and UO transparency crackdown. (See below for response from Pres Berdahl).

From Insidehighered.com:

Legislation in Illinois would bar public universities from using state funds, tuition revenue or student fees for search firms, The News-Gazette reported. The University of Illinois has spent almost $6 million on search firms over the last nine years, including funds on some searches that did not work out well. Critics question whether the spending is necessary, while board members say that search firms have recruited top talent.

The News-Gazette story is very balanced. We could ask our interim President Berdahl what he thinks about the costs and benefits of presidential search firms, but he seems to have a conflict of interest:

 

 

He didn’t report this on his Oregon Government Ethics Commission Verified Statement of Economic Interest – must not have made the 10% income threshold, which I’m guessing would be about $100,000.

After I posted to above, interim President Berdahl emailed me asking that I add the following response from him:

Bill:
The following is a comment that I tried to submit to UOMatters in response to your suggestion that I have conflicts of interest.  Since the comments are limited to 4,000 characters, UOMatters would not accept it.

Despite your campaign of innuendo, I have nothing to hide.

Bob

Berdhal’s comment:

At last week’s Senate meeting, I suggested that Professor Harbaugh had a conflict of interest because, as the largest single requester of public records, he also served as the chair of the Senate Transparency Committee, which has advised the administration on the university’s public records fee policy.  It is a straight-forward conflict of interest: the largest single user of a public service should not be in a position to try to influence the policy on fees for the provision of that public service.

Now, obviously irritated by the suggestion of his conflict of interest, Professor Harbaugh is responding by trying to suggest that I somehow have a conflict of interest. So, let me set out the facts for those readers of UOMatters who may be interested in facts.

Here is a summary of all of my activities and engagements since retiring from AAU, some of which have been compensated, others not.  All of these engagements involve commitments and obligations made prior to my becoming involved at UO, either as a consultant from mid-October to late December, or as interim president after December 28. I have undertaken no new commitments since becoming interim president.

In the summer of 2011, I was asked by AGB Search, an academic search firm associated with the Association of Governing Boards, to serve as a search consultant on their presidential search operations.  I agreed.  After coming to the UO in mid-October, I suspended that association.  I did not serve on any searches.  I received no compensation of any kind.  Because of a potential conflict of interest, I did not recommend that the UO presidential search committee even consider AGB Search to assist in the UO search.  These facts would have been easily determined had Professor Harbaugh been interested in them.

Because Professor Harbaugh has submitted a public record request of South Dakota State University for the details of my consulting there, let me shorten his wait by laying out the details here.  In September 2011, SDSU President Chicoine asked me to come to the campus to meet with faculty, students, administrators, and donors to assist in their strategic planning efforts leading up to a capital campaign.  He also asked that I deliver a public lecture.  In late November, I spent three days there.  I was paid $4,000. Knowing that I had graduated from Augustana College, President Chicoine arranged with Augustana President Oliver for me to spend two days there, again meeting with students and faculty and delivering a public lecture.  Augustana provided a $2,000 honorarium which I subsequently donated to the college.

In September 2011, I spent a week consulting with faculty and administrators at the University of Chile.  I received no compensation other than my expenses.

In my economic interest statement I also disclosed, as I had to Chancellor Pernsteiner and the OSBHE before accepting the interim presidency, that I have served as a member of the Board of Directors of Lam Research Corporation, a semi-conductor equipment company in Fremont, CA, since being elected to that board in 2001.  In 2011 I received a retainer of $60,000 and restricted units of stock.  I am the lead independent director and chair of the nominating and governance committee.  I was also elected to the Board of Directors of ACT, a non-profit academic testing service, in 2011.  I received $11,500 in 2011 for service on that board.

In April 2012 I spoke at the annual meeting of CASE, the organization of university foundation directors and development officers.  This was a commitment that I made last fall prior to my coming to UO.  I received no compensation for this address.

I am a member of the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. This commission has met three times since the summer of 2011, once, last month, since I became interim president.  I am also a member of the Policy and Global Affairs Commission of the National Academy of Sciences.  My schedule has not permitted me to attend the meeting of this group.  Neither of these assignments is compensated.

I do not believe any of these activities involve a conflict of interest.

[Interim President Bob Berdahl]

I’ve got nothing against people making money – far from it – but for completeness, the Forbes.com report on the LAM Directorship is here. The “restricted units of stock”mentioned by Berdahl above total about $800,000 from 2007-2010, total payments about $1 million, 2011 is not yet listed.

Berdahl says of my participation on the Senate Transparency Committee:

It is a straight-forward conflict of interest: the largest single user of a public service should not be in a position to try to influence the policy on fees for the provision of that public service.

But Berdahl has no problem with AD Rob Mullens and GC Randy Geller trying to influence this policy, just to mention a few people on the supply-side of UO public records. Yet one of the reasons President Lariviere removed responsibility for public records responses from the General Counsel’s office and set up a new office with direct reporting to the president was the conflict of interest between the job of making public records public and the job of providing legal advice and defense to the university. This conflict of interest led to the firing of Melinda Grier, and the $2.3 million Bellotti payoff, to provide one well documented and expensive example.

I don’t think making a lot of public records requests and posting the records online constitutes a conflict of interest. I’ve been transparent about explaining my role in those few public records complaints that have come before the STC. The STC’s policy recommendations on the $200 fee waiver were enthusiastically supported by Dave Hubin, the recording of the meeting is here. I’ll also add that I receive no compensation for running UO Matters, except for the all-to-rare bottle of donated scotch.

The real issue here is very simple. I’ve posted a lot of public records about UO and UO athletics, many of them pretty embarrassing to the central administration. Richard Lariviere’s September 2011 public records reforms made it easier for me to do that. Rob Mullens and Randy Geller want to make it harder, and they’ve found a helpful partner in Bob Berdahl.

Willie Taggart’s Professor of Strength leaves UO to return to FSU

1/1/2018:

Andrew Greif has the news here. Oderinde put 3 UO students in the hospital and kept his job for a year anyway. I’m not sure if Duck FAR Tim Gleason ever gave up the public records on his “investigation” of Oderinde. Say, I wonder if Dr. Skaggs ever got his Sports Medicine Board Certification?

3/10/2017:

More national publicity for UO, from CBS Sports: UO claims the Duck coach who put 3 students in hospital is “faculty”

The unregulated world of strength coaches and college football’s killing season

When three Oregon football players were hospitalized in January following a strenuous workout, they were being led by a strength coach certified from a track and field coaches association.

For a $245 fee, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) offers a 21-hour strength training course to become a certified NCAA strength coach in any sport. By comparison, the widely-used Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCA) requires 30 times as much training — a 640-hour certification process.

According to CAHI, that track certification was all that was needed by Oregon football strength coach Irele Oderinde, who was suspended for one month due to the January workout.

… Oregon declined to provide a copy of Oderinde’s resume to CBS Sports since it is part of his faculty record. Oregon said faculty records cannot be released without an employee’s written permission, and Oderinde did not grant permission.

You can’t make this shit up.

Southern Utahns crush Ducks in body-bag game records release

8/25/2017: While the Ducks are so broke they can’t pay for tutoring their student-athletes, they’ve got no problem paying Southern Utah $500K to show up and lose the football season’s opener next weekend. The contract is below.

10/13/2015: It’s not really a fair contest. While for years the UO administration has used its Public Records Office and their $300K budget to delay, redact, and charge excessive fees to frustrate the intent of Oregon’s public records law, the PRO’s at most other universities are in the business of making public records public. Here’s the latest example.

Monday morning I emailed identical public records requests to UO and Southern Utah University, asking for copies of the contract for the football body-bag game scheduled for September 2017:

Date: October 12, 2015 at 10:14:21 AM PDT

To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>

Subject: public records request, football game contract with SUU

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for a copy of the football game contract between SUU and UO, for the game to be played in the fall of 2017.

A sample of the sort of contract I am looking for is here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/971644/uomatters/IAC/Football%20contract%20-%20Georgia%20State%20(Final%20Executed%20Version).pdf

I edit a news and opinion blog about the University of Oregon, and I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest.

I would appreciate it if you could send a pdf copy of this contract to this email address.

Thanks for your assistance

This sort of request typically takes UO a week or two. But SUU responded in less than 24 hours:

From: Jennifer Oberhelman
Date: October 13, 2015 at 9:13:01 AM PDT
To: uomatters@gmail.com
Subject: GRAMA Response

Good morning Mr. Harbaugh,

Attached is the contract between Southern Utah University and University of Oregon for a football game set for 9/2/17 in Eugene, OR requested 10/12 in the form of a GRAMA request.

Please contact me if you have any additional questions.

Thank you.
Jennifer Oberhelman
Exec. Asst. for Administration

“We don’t quit playing because we grow old, we grow old because we quit playing.”

Not bad, though the record is still the 50 minutes it took Georgia State to provide their contract, and Eastern Washington’s General Counsel only took 3 hours.

So Rob Mullens will pay SUU $500K to come to Eugene. Presumably AAD Eric Roedl will get the cash by raising the price he charges ASUO for “free” student tickets  to these body-bag games:

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9/14/2015: Georgia State Panthers whip Oregon Ducks in football public records release

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New Oregon public records law leaves truck-sized deadline loophole

From https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/SB481/A-Engrossed

Lots of testimony from Pete Shepherd, who as Deputy AG did so much to destroy the promise of Dave Frohnmayer’s public records law – and famously lost the PERS case to the Oregonian, while working for Harrang et al.  The new law, which comes out of AG Ellen Rosenblum and AAG Michael Kron’s reform committee, has a deadline – but with a loophole that puts transparency at the very bottom of the list of necessary Oregon government services:

… (5) As soon as reasonably possible but not later than 10 business days after the date by which a public body is required to acknowledge receipt of the request under ORS 192.440, a public body shall: (a) Complete its response to the public records request; or (b) Provide a written statement that the public body is still processing the request and a reasonable estimated date by which the public body expects to complete its response based on the information currently available. (6) The time periods established by ORS 192.440 and subsection (5) of this section do not apply to a public body if compliance would be impracticable because:

(a) The staff or volunteers necessary to complete a response to the public records request are unavailable;

(b) Compliance would demonstrably impede the public body’s ability to perform other necessary services; ….

Thanks to Paris Achen at the Portland Tribune for the link.

UO’s non-tenure track faculty to take generous $45K buyout offer

Update: Sorry, there is no such offer for real UO faculty. UO is planning to lay off ~75 non-tenured and pro-tem faculty in RL, AAD, CoE, and the SOJC with no buyout at all.

But things are a little different over in Rob Mullens’ heavily subsidized Duck athletic empire. The Oregonian’s Andrew Greif has the follow-up to the Emerald report that the $175K volleyball coach (or, in the preferred nomenclature of our General Counsel’s office, the volleyball professor) was being fired for cause, here:

… When asked about the letter and the allegations of abusive behavior, senior associate athletic director Craig Pintens said Oregon wouldn’t comment. …

And it now seems that Mullens will pay the coach a few months salary to leave quietly – let’s call it $45K – and will also find alternative work for his assistant/spouse. Emerald reporter Jonathan Hawthorne spikes it:

The [shameless PR flack Craig Pintens press release] added that Moore will work remotely to craft a transition plan to ensure the the program’s success going forward.

Meanwhile, Provost Coltrane’s academic budget is still subsidizing the Jock Box to the tune of $2.4M a year, we’re paying Mullens $500K a year for Frohnmayer’s Mac Court land scam, and don’t get me started on the overhead.

Update: The Oregonian’s Andrew Greif has made a PR request for a list of self-reported NCAA infractions involving volleyball, here. At many schools these are posted on the web, but the Duck athletic department does its best to hide them. Not always successfully. Here’s the 1981 opinion from the Oregon DOJ, written when Dave Frohnmayer was AG, ordering a partial release of the report from some long forgotten 1979 scandal. Very interesting reading which bears on many current issues, including FERPA and the claim that coaches are faculty:

This opinion was very useful back when Gottfredson was President, and UO was trying to hide information about the Willie Lyles scandal.

3/13/2014: Two more UO faculty fired, apparently “for cause.”

The Daily Emerald has the scoop here.  But they’re only UO faculty in the alternative-fact world of our General Counsel’s Office, so that they can hide their personnel records from public records requests. They’re really Duck volleyball coaches.

General Counsel Kevin Reed exaggerates cost of providing public records

Reporter Jack Pitcher has a good report on the bad UO Public Records situation, in the Emerald here:

Multiple University of Oregon students were arrested this year, an assistant football coach was paid over $60,000 for less than a week of work and one visit to campus by an author cost UO donors over $40,000. Public records requests help clarify the facts for stories like these.

…. [UO General Counsel Kevin Reed] estimates that it costs “in the neighborhood of $300,000 a year” to operate the public records office. UO isn’t required to operate a public records office, but incurs this expense to make the process of collecting and distributing records more streamlined, according to Reed.

Actually, the public records office’s overall spending (YTD Activity) was only $207,000 for the last full fiscal year (2015-16, amounts below are net). UO’s entire annual spending on public records was less than half of the $465,000 *increase* in what General Counsel Reed spent on operating his own office, in comparison to the prior year:

The GC’s spending on admin salaries alone increased by $310,000 from the previous year, to $1,027,000. On the plus side, they do have a spiffy new website with nice photos.

How to get Public Records from UO: Petition the Lane County DA

An anonymous reader has been trying for months to get some simple public records from UO. They filed the request with the UO Public Records Office, they eventually got an estimate of the costs, and they paid it. Their check was cashed by UO. Then they waited some more. Months more. They sent follow up emails to the PR Office. They waited more months. Nothing.

Finally they sent an email to Lane County District Attorney Patty Perlow’s Office, petitioning the DA to order UO to produce the documents. A few days later the DA’s office emailed UO, ccing the requestor. They sent it on to me. I’ve redacted identifying info:

To: UO Public Records Office
From: Lane County District Attorney’s Office
CC: [redacted]
Date: February 25 2017

Attached you will find a scanned copy of an Appeal of a Public Records Request Denial filed by [redacted].  [Redacted] notes that the University has not explicitly denied [their] request, but because of the length of time that has transpired since [their] request and payment in full of the University’s cost estimate, [he/she] believes the University has effectively denied [their] request.  [He/She] notes [their] request was made [August 2016] with the University accepting her payment by cashing her supplied check [September 2016]. 

Could you please check in on the status of [their] request to determine if this is a matter that our office need issue an opinion?

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

UO then finally sent the documents.

I encourage others who have been frustrated by UO’s Public Records Office to use this petition process, which is described on the Oregon DOJ’s website here: http://www.doj.state.or.us/public_records/pages/orders.aspx

Petitions regarding the UO’s Public Records Office should be sent to the office of District Attorney Patty Perlow. This format seems to work fine:

Dear District Attorney Perlow:

On … I made a public records request to the University of Oregon Public Records Office. That request is appended below. 

On … I received a response from UO, also below, saying that they would charge me  $… for these documents. I sent payment on …, and according to my bank UO cashed that check.

On I sent UO a follow-up asking when I could expect the documents. I have not received any response. …

It has now been more than … weeks since I made this request.

As you know the Oregon DOJ believes that two weeks is normally sufficient time to produce public records. More than two weeks have now passed, and I therefore petition the DA to treat this delay as a denial, and order UO to produce these documents.

Thank you for your help with this matter, …

You can also petition UO’s refusal to waive fees in cases of public interest. The DA’s email is Patty.Perlow at co.lane.or.us 

Disgraced GC Melinda Grier started claim that Duck coaches are professors

3/1/2017:  ESPN picks up the story, here:

The University of Oregon is writing a new policy that could make coaches’ disciplinary records inaccessible to the public under Freedom of Information Act laws.

According to The Register-Guard, the policy “explicitly says the personnel records of about 1,400 staff members, called ‘officers of administration,’ a classification that includes coaches, are to be treated like faculty personnel records and kept secret.”

2/27/2017: Lots of interesting stuff in the Oregon DOJ’s Public Records Opinions, here. The origin of UO’s claim that Duck coaches are UO faculty seems to have been former UO General Counsel Melinda Grier, who was fired by President Lariviere after the Oregon DOJ decided she had provided “deficient legal representation” in a case that came to light because of her and current Deputy GC Doug Park’s failure to respond to public records requests for Coach Mike Bellotti’s contract. Jeff Manning had the story:

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Or should that have been “Professor” Mike Bellotti?

Way back in 2001, Ms Grier established the precedent that Duck coaches were faculty for the purposes of public records requests. Here’s the DOJ ruling, which hinges on the fact that Basketball coach Judy Runge had been specifically appointed as a “professor” – something that I’m guessing was not the case with Reaves:

That opinion was a stretch even for AG “Hardly Matters”, who bent over backwards trying to gut Dave Frohnmayer’s public records law. Not that I’m a law professor.

2/26/2017: DA to rule on UO claim that drunk Duck coach deal is a secret “faculty record”

Diane Dietz has the long story here. Some snippets:

… But the original 1971 law that made faculty personnel records secret said only that “personal information” held by a university about faculty and students would not be subject to disclosure under public records law.

In subsequent iterations, lawmakers took students out of the law and dealt with their privacy elsewhere.

At no time in the law’s evolution to its current version as ORS 352.226 did lawmakers mention any category besides faculty and students. None of the hearing minutes or legislative records that survive mentions “administrators” or “coaches,” for example, as being covered by the law.

… On Feb. 15, the UO Public Records Office cited the faculty records policy to withhold Reaves’ disciplinary records.

Reaves came to Eugene to serve as co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach for new head coach Willie Taggart.

Reaves signed a two-year, $300,000-a-year contract with the UO.

Within a week, police stopped him at 2:12 a.m. on a Sunday at 10th Avenue and Willamette Street in downtown Eugene, ­according to the Eugene Police Department.

The charges stemming from the stop are: driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving and reckless endangerment. Associated violations included failing to maintain a lane, failing to obey a traffic control device, making an improper left turn and refusing to take a breath test for intoxicants.

The UO publicly said it would fire Reaves, but Reaves soon resigned. The Register-Guard’s record request sought “any separation agreement or financial settlement related to the resignation.”

In the past, the UO has paid big bucks to buy out coaches’ employment contracts. But the UO Public Records Office replied that the documents sought “are faculty records per University of Oregon policy, and as such are not ­public records.”

The RG is petitioning Lane County District Attorney Patty Perlow, asking her to issue a public records order to UO and put a stop to this nonsense. Meanwhile I’m wondering how it is that UO’s GC made a public records request for all my emails with reporters about academic freedom, if faculty records are really exempt from the public records law.