Public Meetings complaint to the Government Ethics Commission

11/27/2011: The Oregon GEC is charged with enforcing Oregon law regarding public meetings. We believe the OUS decision to fire President Lariviere in secret without public notice of their meeting and to then call a sham meeting to rubber-stamp their secret decision violates that law. We have emailed have the complaint below to GEC Director Bersin and Chancellor Pernsteiner and the OUS Board. It is signed by more than 75 UO faculty so far. To make your participation official you must download, sign the last page, and mail this convenient 13 page pdf of the complaint to the GEC. Do this by Monday AM. Complete instructions are on page 1.  Email me at uomatters@gmail.com if you want your name added to the list below.

Anyone can download and file the complaint. For complete news on Lariviere firing go here. The RG has reposted our complaint here and has a comprehensive story on it by Jeff Wright, here. The Oregonian has this:

State board President Matt Donegan said Saturday he is aware of the complaint. “I have no reaction other than to say we have made every step in conjunction with legal council to ensure that all appropriate processes have been followed,” he said.

11/26/2011: 

Dear Oregon Government Ethics Commission Director Bersin, and GEC Members:

This is a request that you investigate a potential violation by the Oregon University System Board and OUS officials of the Oregon Revised Statutes regarding public meetings and executive sessions. Public officials that may have been involved in this potential violation include OUS Chancellor Pernsteiner, OUS Board Chair Matt Donegan, and the other OUS Board members listed at the bottom of this complaint.

The circumstances involve the apparent decision by the OUS Board not to extend UO President Richard Lariviere’s employment contract past June 2012, and to ask for his resignation. This decision has been widely reported in the press as a done deal, initially by Nigel Jaquiss of the Willamette Weekly at http://www.wweek.com/portland/blog-27915-breaking_lariviere_out_as_u_of_o_president.html Mr. Jaquiss reported:

WW has learned that Oregon University System board members met with University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere on Monday, telling him that when his contract expires in June, it will not be renewed.


University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere this morning said he was disappointed the State Board of Higher Education has asked him to leave a job that he considers a good fit by the end of the school year. “It comes down to a disagreement about the future of the University of Oregon,” he said. “It is a disappointment.” Matthew Donegan, board president, told Lariviere Monday that his one-year contract would not be renewed.

The Register Guard report by Greg Bolt at http://projects.registerguard.com/web/newslocalnews/27222208-41/board-lariviere-university-state-decision.html.cspis describes a process of polling of board members by Chair Matt Donegan:

Lariviere was told of the decision in a meeting Monday with Matt Donegan, the board president, and board member Allyn Ford.
Donegan stressed Wednesday that no final action has been taken. That is expected to come in a special meeting that has been called for Monday in Portland, although no notice of a meeting was posted on the board’s website Wednesday. The state board issued a press release Wednesday, saying it will vote in a public meeting “regarding the status of the employment agreement of Dr. Richard Lariviere as president of the University of Oregon.”
But Donegan said he had polled the board before speaking to Lariviere and also consulted with Gov. John Kitzhaber.
This polling process is of particular concern, given the recent ruling by Coos County Circuit Judge Michael Gillespie on a case regarding Lane County commissioners who had used emails and other methods to agree on decisions privately, before public meetings. This situation, and the ruling which involved substantial legal costs for all parties, is described in this RG story by Karen McCowan: http://special.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sites/web/updates/25788932-55/commissioners-county-case-gillespie-judge.csp

OUS Board Chair Donegan explicitly states his regret that the public learned of the board’s secret decision, in his most recent interview with Oregonian reporter Helen Jung, posted 11/26/2011 at http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2011/11/state_board_of_higher_educatio_1.html

He said the decision has not been voted on, but he has talked individually or with a couple board members as a contractual Dec. 31 deadline to notify Lariviere approaches. Those discussions made clear there was “no support” to continue his contract. He also consulted the governor, he said.

Donegan said he decided to talk with Lariviere on Monday. He proposed spending the week to work with him on a separation both could be happy with, Donegan said, before going to the board for a formal vote. He also encouraged him to speak with Gov. John Kitzhaber.

“Unfortunately, things became publicly known almost immediately, and so that ended the opportunity to have a quiet process,” he said.


A decision of this importance to the state is supposed to involve public input – not be made as part of a “quiet process” between insiders.

A search of the OUS Board’s public notices and agendas at http://ous.edu/state_board/meeting/notices and http://ous.edu/state_board/meeting/dockets shows no sign of a public announcement of an executive session of the board on the topic of President Lariviere’s contract renewal before the Monday 11/21/2011 meeting between President Lariviere and Mr. Donegan. Public notice for a decision of this sort is clearly required by ORS, as explained in the Oregon Attorney General’s Public Records and Meetings Manual (available online at http://www.doj.state.or.us/public_records/manual/public_meetings.shtml) which notes:

ORS 192.620 establishes Oregon’s policy of open decision-making by governing bodies:
The Oregon form of government requires an informed public aware of the deliberations and decisions of governing bodies and the information upon which such decisions were made. It is the intent of ORS 192.610 to 192.690 that decisions of governing bodies be arrived at openly.

This open decision-making policy is given effect by the law’s substantive provisions. These provisions are intended to ensure, among other things, that the meetings of governing bodies, at which decisions about the public’s business are made or discussed, are open to the public, ORS 192.630(1), (2); that the public has notice of the time and place of meetings, ORS 192.640; and that the meetings are accessible to persons wishing to attend, ORS 192.630(4), (5).

The manual then goes on to explain:

The Public Meetings Law requires that public notice be given of the time and place of meetings. This requirement applies to regular, special and emergency meetings as those terms are used in ORS 192.640. The public notice requirements apply to any “meeting” of a “governing body” subject to the law, including committees, subcommittees and advisory groups. See discussion above of Governing Bodies and of Meetings. A governing body’s notice must be reasonably calculated to provide actual notice to the persons and the media that have stated in writing that they wish to be notified of every meeting.[26]

If a meeting will consist only of an executive session, notice still must be given to the members of the governing body, to the general public and to news media that have requested notice. The notice also must state the specific legal provision authorizing the executive session. ORS 192.640(2).

Notices for meetings that will include both an executive session and a nonexecutive session should give notice of both and state the statutory authority for the executive session.

The Attorney General’s manual (and ORS) then directs citizens to your commission for redress:

A citizen who believes that a governing body has violated the provisions permitting an executive session may file a complaint with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.

After the news stories on the Board’s decision regarding non-renewal of President Lariviere’s story broke, the OUS did finally issue a notice of meeting of sorts, on Wed 11/23/2011, at http://ous.edu/news/112311. This notice says that President Lariviere’s employment status will be discussed at a public meeting from 3PM-5PM Monday 11/28/2011, but it reads as if the news stories above are correct, and the decision has been made, that the decision will be rubber-stamped, and the question for the board now is just a search for a replacement:

“The Board’s priority is an effective transition in leadership for the benefit of the University of Oregon and the Oregon University System.”

Then, sometime late Friday (6:16 PM, by the time stamp on the pdf ) on 11/25/2011 the board posted a new announcement of this meeting, on the regular meeting agenda webpage. The file is at http://www.ous.edu/sites/default/files/state_board/meeting/letters/call111128-spec.pdf . This announcement includes an even vaguer description of the meeting agenda than the initial one. The announcement states there will be an executive session from 2PM-3PM on an undisclosed topic involving “a record otherwise exempt from public disclosure” followed by a public meeting “to address employment of the University of Oregon president” from 3PM-5PM.

This notice, apparently posted the evening of the Friday after Thanksgiving, on a UO holiday, less than 5 working hours before the meeting, seems deficient in terms of the relevant ORS requiring reasonable notice in terms of time, and a public agenda “reasonably calculated to give actual notice to interested persons” – especially given the many news stories on this issue, the meeting with President Lariviere a week prior, and the apparent polling of OUS Board members about this meeting that preceded all this. What’s the sudden rush? Why not be more explicit about the agenda?

The leadership of the University of Oregon is of vital interest to the UO community and the state at large. As the Oregon Attorney General says: 
“The Oregon form of government requires an informed public aware of the deliberations and decisions of governing bodies and the information upon which such decisions were made.” 

This principle is fundamental to legitimate representative government. The most famous quote is by James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights. Ironically, it is from an 1822 letter commending the new state of Kentucky for funding public education – at the time a rare thing: (http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch18s35.html):


A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both.

The OUS Board appears to have broken that principle, and the Oregon law designed to implement it, by arriving at a decision of large public importance behind closed doors and or by using private email communications. There was no means for the public to acquire information, no public input into the process, and not even any public notice before the decision regarding President Lariviere’s contract was apparently made and announced. The OUS arrangements for the rushed executive and public meetings on Monday 11/28 appear to be prologues to a farce set up to approve a decision that they have already made in private.

Therefore we ask you to use your authority under ORS and investigate this situation. 

As a first step we ask you to request all records, including emails (using OUS or non-OUS addresses) phone logs, and notes involving Chancellor Pernsteiner, OUS General Counsel Ryan Hagemann, OUS Board Chair Donegan, and other OUS officials and board members involving the decision not to renew President Lariviere’s contract, in order to obtain sufficient documentation to determine if the ORS rules on executive sessions have been broken by the OUS Board and OUS officials.


The Oregon Government Ethics Commission’s official complaint form at http://www.oregon.gov/OGEC/docs/Forms/Fillable_Complaint_Form_8-11.pdf explains that complainants must sign the form and provide contact information, affirming this statement:

I understand that upon receipt of this complaint, the public official subject to this complaint will be notified of the nature of the complaint, my identity and will be provided copies of this complaint and any enclosures.

We the undersigned, will provide a copy of this form with the information above, and with our signatures and contact information, by pdf and mail to your office by Friday, 12/2/2011.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Ablow, Associate Professor of Psychology
Holly Arrow, Associate Professor of Psychology
Dare Baldwin, Professor of Psychology
Neil Bania, Associate Professor of Planning, Public Policy and Management
Dietrich Belitz, Professor of Physics 
Louise Bishop, Associate Professor of Literature, Clark Honors College
Doug Blandy, Professor of Arts and Administration, AAA Assoc Dean for Ac Affairs
Bruce Blonigen, Knight Professor and Head, Economics
Marcin Bownik, Associate Professor of Mathematics
Greg Bothun, Professor of Physics
Lowell Bowditch, Professor and Head, Department of Classics
Elisabeth Chan, Associate Professor and Department Head, Landscape Architecture
Anita Chari, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Jennifer Craig, Associate Professor of Dance
Paul Dassonville, Professor of Psychology
Victoria J. DeRose, Professor of Chemistry
John B Fenn III, Assistant Professor, Arts and Administration
Jennifer Freyd, Professor of Psychology
Maradel Gale, Professor Emerita of Planning, Public Policy and Management
Mark Gillem, Associate Professor of Architecture
Sangita Gopal, Associate Professor of English and Cinema Studies
Jo Anna Gray, Professor of Economics
Marina Guenza, Associate Professor of Chemistry
Ben Hansen, Assistant Professor of Economics
William Harbaugh, Professor of Economics
James Harper, Associate Professor of History
Mary Jaeger, Professor of Classics 
Lamia Karim, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Lauren Kessler, Professor of Journalism and Communication
Steve Kevan, Professor and Head of Physics
Peter Keyes, Associate Professor of Architecture and past UO Senate President
Harinder Khalsa, Senior Instructor of Italian
Peter Laufer, James Wallace Chair in Journalism, School of Journalism and Communication
Laura Leete, Associate Professor, Planning, Public Policy and Management
Katharina Loew, Assistant Professor of German and Scandinavian
Joe Lowndes, Associate Professor of Political Science
Ulrich Mayr, Professor of Psychology
Ian F McNeely, Associate Professor of History 
Brian McWhorter, Associate Professor of Music
Jeffrey Measelle, Associate Professor, Psychology
Robert Z. Melnick, Professor and former Dean of Architecture and Allied Arts
Deborah Morrison, Chambers Distinguished Professor, Journalism and Communication
Lou Moses, Professor and Head, Psychology
Mikhail Myagkov, Associate Professor of Political Science
Julianne H. Newton, Professor of Journalism and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs
Jon Palfreman, KEZI Distinguished Professor of Broadcast Journalism
Jeremy Piger, Associate Professor of Economics
Rita J Radostitz, OA, Institutional Equity and Diversity and Instructor, PPM
Geraldine Richmond, Professor of Chemistry
Tina Rinaldi, OA, Arts & Administration
John Rowell, Associate Professor of Architecture
Gordon Sayre, Professor of English and past UO Senate President
Benjamin Saunders, Associate Professor of English
Kim Sheehan, Professor of Journalism and Communication
Carol Silverman, Professor and Head, Department of Anthropology
Dev Sinha, Associate Professor of Mathematics
Christopher Sinclair, Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Nicholas Sly, Assistant Professor of Economics
Priscilla Southwell, Professor and Head of Political Science
Sanjay Srivastava, Associate Professor of Psychology
Frank Stahl, Emeritus Professor of Molecular Biology
H. Leslie Steeves, Professor of Journalism & Communication
Joe Stone, Miner Chair Professor of Economics, former CAS Dean
Andrew Verner, Assistant Dean, College of Business
Ying Tan, Associate Professor of Art
Marjorie Taylor, Professor of Psychology
Ed Teague, Head, Architecture & Allied Arts Library
Daniel Tichenor, Philip Knight Professor of Political Science
William C. Terry, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Roxi Thoren, Associate Professor of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Nathan Tublitz, Professor of Biology and past UO Senate President
Kartz Ucci, Associate Professor of Art
Laura Vandenburgh, Associate Professor and Head, Art
Glen Waddell, Associate Professor of Economics
Peter A. Walker, Professor and Department Head, Geography Department 
Dean Walton, Science Librarian
Tom Wheeler, Professor of Journalism and Communication
Lisa Wolverton, Associate Professor of History
Kyu Ho Youm, Jonathan Marshall First Amendment Chair of Journalism and Communication


OUS Officials and Board Members potentially involved in this situation:

George Pernsteiner
OUS Chancellor
Chancellor’s Office
1431 Johnson Lane
Eugene OR 97403-0175
(541)346-5703

Ryan Hagemann
Legal Counsel
Office of Legal Counsel
1431 Johnson Lane
Eugene OR 97403-0175
(541) 346-5716
ryan_hagemann@ous.edu

Matthew (Matt) W. Donegan,
Board President
c/o Forest Capital Partners, LLC
111 SW 5th Avenue, Ste 3850
Portland OR 97204
503.200.2730 (main office number)

Jill W. Eiland, Board Vice
President
c/o Intel Corporation
5200 NE Elam Young Parkway
Hillsboro OR 97124
503.264.5667

Lynda M. Ciuffetti
2082 Cordley Hall, OSU
Corvallis OR 97331
541.737.2188

Allyn Ford
c/o Roseburg Forest Products
PO Box 1088
Roseburg OR 97470
541.679.3311

James (Jim) L. Francesconi
c/o Haglund Kelley, LLP
200 SW Market, Ste 1777
Portland OR 97201
503.225.0777

Paul Kelly, Jr
c/o Chancellor’s Office, PSU
PO Box 751
Portland OR 97207-0751
503.702.8268

Dr. Rosemary Powers
116 Ackerman Hall, EOU
One University Blvd
La Grande OR 97850
541.962.3819

Dr. Preston Pulliams
President, Portland Community
College
PO Box 19000
Portland OR 97280-0990
503.977.4365

Kirk E. Schueler
Chief Administrative Officer
St. Charles Health System
2500 NE Neff Road
Bend OR 97701
541.382.1662
Or 541-350-3730

David (Dave) V. Yaden
275 North Shore Rd
Lake Oswego OR 97034
503.863.4924
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9 Responses to Public Meetings complaint to the Government Ethics Commission

  1. Anonymous says:

    This just seems like you have too much time on your hands. I’m sure they weren’t dumb enough to break the law. But youre going to waste everyones time finding out, aren’t you?

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Anon:

    You should be thankful that someone has the time and energy to pursue this. The state no longer contributes any kind of significant money to support the UO. Yet they want dictatorial powers over decision making wrt the UO. The Board wants to keep their fat salaries and perks. They are digging in their heels to preserve their anachronistic organization. The new partnership is a death knell to their cushy lifestyle. In doing so, they have shown blantant disreguard for state law. Yes democracy takes time and effort. Perhaps YOU should climb back on your couch, turn on the boob tube, put on your forever lazies and continue your zombie nap.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Who owns title to all buildings and land that comprise the UO campus? Answer: The State of Oregon. There is no UO separate from the State Board of Higher Education. If UO wants to be the newest private school in Oregon, then it needs to pay for those buildings and that land. And it needs to forego the $45 million per year that comes from the state.

    The last I knew, the Board is paid the “fat salary” of $0 and those perquisites amount to something like $150 per meeting and travel reimbursement. Something to preserve I guess…

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  4. Anonymous says:

    The board is paid very little — as long as logging rights don’t count. Can anyone say quid pro quo?

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  5. Anonymous says:

    The largest contributor to UO operations are students. They have spoken that they want to stay with a central board. Why are you ignoring them?

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  6. Anonymous says:

    The students have said they want a central board? Nope, the ASUO president may have, but he’s about to get his ass recalled. I’m a student, and I stand with the hat.

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  7. Roast Duck says:

    Anonymous, a great idea, make UO truly private!

    But the price of the campus would have to be negotiated. A good half of the value, at least, was not paid for by the state of Oregon.

    I doubt that Phil Knight is going to pay twice for the new arena or the law school.

    And yes, by all means get rid of the $45 million state subsidy, which is just turning into a millstone. The smaller the subsidy gets, the more the state wants to pretend it still has control. Better to part ways.

    All it would take is a cool couple of billion from a donor with an interest in UO, who has given up on the state when it comes to higher education.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Nobody wants UO privatized. What we don’t want is for it to be wedded to and treated the same as WOU, SOU, and EOU.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    I think it’s critical to draw a sharp line in any comparisons to WOU, SOU, EOU, etc. The different campuses have different missions, and you run (and finance) a research-intensive, doctorate-granting university differently than you do a regional teaching college. From a higher-ed policy perspective one is not inherently better than the others; both are needed for the good of the state. Treating UO like SOU etc. would be a move toward mediocrity for UO because you’d be applying the wrong organizational model – like trying to grow an apple tree in an orange grove – not because there is anything wrong with SOU. RL, often accused of arrogance and elitism, actually makes this point in his latest email (the one urging the community to focus on governance rather than on him personally).

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