Dear Attorney General Kroger:
This is a public records petition for documents related to
1) the University of Oregon's backdating of its 2008 Affirmative Action plan, and
2) the use of private email addresses for public business, by members of the Oregon University System Board.
I made a request for the UO documents on Jan 22, and a request for the OUS documents on Jan 26, as the emails below show.
As you know, Oregon law requires agencies to produce public records within a "reasonable and proper" time. While Oregon law does not explicitly specify a deadline, 36 other states do. 13 of these 36 allow agencies no more than 3 working days to produce requested documents. The median time allowed is no more than 5 days. Complete information is in the documentation at http://OpenUpOregon.com.
By the close of business today it will have been 5 working days since I requested the UO documents and 7 since I requested the OUS documents. As you know, Oregon law gives you a week to respond to this petition, so by the time you do so it will likely have been more than 10 working days since I requested these documents. Only 4 of the states with deadlines allow their agencies to take longer than 10 days to fulfill a public records request.
These are both simple requests for recent documents that the agencies should have on hand. No documents have been produced - OUS has not even acknowledged my request. I ask you to treat these delays as denials, and to order UO and OUS to deliver these documents immediately.
Professor of Economics, University of Oregon
1) UO AA plan backdating:
From: Bill Harbaugh
Date: January 22, 2009 1:44:09 CEST
To: President Frohnmayer
Cc: Joe Wade
Subject: Public records request, backdated UO Affirmative Action Plan
Dear President Frohnmayer and Mr. Park:
This is a public records request for any one document showing when UO's 2008 Affirmative Action Plan was transmitted to, or signed by, UO President Frohnmayer.
In his inauguration speech on Tuesday, President Obama called for "government to do its business in the light of day." His first official act was to sign an executive order making easier for people to obtain information from the federal government via FOIA requests. While Oregon law does not specify how long state agencies have to comply with a public records request, most other states do, and the median allowable response time is 5 working days. Given this, I ask that President Frohnmayer respect the spirit of President Obama's first official act and direct Mr. Park, UO's public records officer, to produce this document within 5 working days.
Federal regulations require that UO update its AA plan every 12 months. UO's compliance with this rule has been very poor. In fact I can only find one case in the past 7 years when UO has done this successfully, and in many cases UO has gone 2 years, or even longer, between updates.
President Frohnmayer has repeatedly backdated the plans so as to make it appear that UO has been in compliance, when in fact it has not. For example, the 2007 AA plan, which was dated "effective Jan 1 2007" was not actually transmitted to and signed by President Frohnmayer until August 2007. Similarly, the most recent plan, online at http://aaeo.uoregon.edu/plan.html is dated "effective Jan 1 2008" but was not prepared or signed until, I believe, October of 2008.
Given the demonstrated importance of the actual date on which this AA plan was signed, and the general public interest in the question of UO's compliance with AA rules, as demonstrated by recent stories in the Daily Emerald and Oregonian, (attached) and by several recent lawsuits against UO dealing with affirmative action issues, I ask for a fee waiver for this request.
I also note that more than 12 months have now passed since the "effective Jan 1 2008" date on UO's most recent AA plan. I suggest that President Frohnmayer append a clarifying note to the page on which he has signed this plan as "effective Jan 1 2008", noting the date on which he actually signed the plan, and that he and AAEO Director Penny Daugherty agree that in the future UO will follow federal rules and prepare a new plan by the anniversary of the date on which this 2008 plan was actually completed.
Economics, University of Oregon
2) OUS use of private emails.
From: Bill Harbaugh
Date: January 26, 2009 10:00:18 CEST
To: George Pernsteiner
Cc: email@example.com, "Paul Kelly Jr."
Subject: public record request: OUS board use of private email addresses
Dear Chancellor Pernsteiner and Mr. Hagemann:
Nearly 2 months ago I asked your General Counsel Mr. Pernsteiner about OUS board members use of private email addresses for official business, as the message below explains. I've made several follow up attempts to get information from him on this, without any response.
Given this, I am making a public records request for copies of any memos, email, or other documents which address this topic that have been sent or received by yourself, Mr. Hagemann, or Mr. Kelly. If these communications include advice from the Oregon AG's office, I ask that you waive attorney client privilege. I ask for a fee waiver, on the basis of general public interest in the question of whether use of private email is appropriate for public officials conducting public business, as demonstrated by the many national press stories about the Sarah Palin controversy and, if you are a techy, by the many internet posts on President Obama's efforts to keep his Blackberry.
In President Barack Obama's inauguration speech he made a point of calling for government to "do our business in the light of day." His first act as President was to order substantial reforms to the FOIA rules. As you know, Oregon's public records law does not impose any particular time limit on state agencies. However, the laws of most other states do, and the median limit is 5 working days.
Given this, I ask Chancellor Pernsteiner to respect the spirit of our new President's first official act, and order his General Council Hagemann to produce these documents within 5 working days - the same period that would apply in most of the rest of the United States.
Economics, University of Oregon
I also note that the OUS board website at http://www.ous.edu/state_board/meeting/minutes.php still does not include recent board minutes. The most recent minutes are from December, 2005. I know from talking with Mr. Hagemann that he does not have staff time available for transcribing the minutes. I suggest that as a short-run solution you simply post mp3's of the meetings.