The buck gets passed to Lisa Thornton:

Updates: As of 10PM today we had 30,200 unique visits for September, thanks mostly to the Geller, Holmes, Bean, and OH stories. This is about what the Daily Emerald advertising rate card has been reporting for their monthly visits when school is in session. Enterprising reporters interested in wide exposure for their stories on UO matters are encouraged to contact our investigative reporting offices. Compensation includes a coffee cup or “Rob Mullens for Provost” pin, and 50% of scotch contributions if you have proof you are over 21.

9/27/2012. Back in May we wrote about how Bob Berdahl made Dave Hubin do the dirty work of rescinding Richard Lariviere’s transparency reforms. And now Hubin, Mike Gottfredson, and Randy Geller are attempting to pass that nasty job on to Lisa Thornton, UO’s recently promoted Public Records Officer. All to help cover up the $17,000 that VP Robin Holmes spent trying to manipulate the students’ vote on paying for a student union expansion.

Holmes would have spent $55,000, except the UO students, Diane Dietz of the RG, Betsy Hammond of the Oregonian, and Scott Carlson of the Chronicle caught her first, and the ridicule stopped it. Gottfredson has a committee meeting Thursday on how to get things back on track. Transparency is not on the agenda.

His office is trying to charge the Register Guard $172.21 for additional EMU documents, and is arguing that the public interest doesn’t justify a fee waiver. This is for a project that will cost $90 million and will be funded by state bonds guaranteed with student fees. Chutzpah:

Thirdly, the office considered the extent to which a waiver would burden the public body.  In this instance, the documents require review by the Office of the General Counsel.  Asking General Counsel to dedicate their limited resources to this request, without compensation, places an undue burden on their office.

Wouldn’t want to cut into our General Counsel and General Counsel Emerita’s party time, or interfere with Geller’s efforts to get more taxpayer money for Frohnmayer.

—– Original Message —–
From: “Lisa Thornton” <pubrec@uoregon.edu>
To: “diane dietz” <diane.dietz@registerguard.com>Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 5:17:08 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: Public Records Request 2013-PRR-036
09/18/2012

Dear Ms. Dietz:
On 9/10/12 the office provided you with some records responsive to your request for “documents, emails, etc. pertaining to ‘Berwick’ and the ‘EMU’ or ‘Naming Rights’ and the ‘EMU’.  We also informed you that we were expecting additonal documents that would be responsive to your request.  The office has received the additional documents, however they will require legal review.  As such, the office estimates the actual cost of responding to your request to be $172.21. Upon receipt of a check made payable to the University of Oregon for that amount, the office will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you have requested that are not exempt from disclosure.  Your check may be sent to the attention of Office of Public Records, 6207 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-6207.  

Please note that if the cost of preparing the documents for you is less than the estimate, we will refund the difference.  If the cost of preparing the records for you exceeds the estimate, however, you may be charged for the difference.  Following is an outline of how costs are determined.   

The office will provide the documents electronically to avoid a copy fee of 25 cents per page.  The office also charges for the actual cost of making public records available.  The charge includes, but is not limited to, staff costs for locating, gathering, summarizing, compiling, reviewing, tailoring or redacting the public records to respond to a request.  The charge may also include the cost of time spent by an attorney in reviewing the public records, redacting material from the public records, or segregating the public records into exempt and nonexempt records.  

The cost of time for each employee is calculated by multiplying the employee’s hourly wage calculation (including benefits expenses) by the hours or portions thereof necessary to locate, gather, summarize, compile, tailor, review, redact, segregate, certify or attend the inspection of the public records requested.  

Thank you for contacting us with your request.   

Sincerely,  

Lisa
Lisa Thornton
Office of Public Records
6207 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-6207
541-346-6823
pubrec@uoregon.edu 

From: Diane Dietz [mailto:diane.dietz@registerguard.comSent: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 10:06 AM
To: Lisa Thornton
Subject: Re: Public Records Request 2013-PRR-036

Lisa,
We are going to ask for a waiver for the balance of the fee based on the public interest in the information. We are a newspaper that service the public. We have ample ability to disseminate the information. The public has a high level of interest in the functioning of the university.  

From the Attorney General’s manual:
The custodian of any public record may furnish copies
without charge or at a substantially reduced fee if the custodian
determines that the waiver or reduction of fees is in the public
interest because making the record available primarily benefits the
general public.  …
ORS 192.440(5) does not require a public body to grant a fee waiver or
reduction, even if the public interest test is met.73 Instead, the decision to
waive or reduce fees is discretionary with the public body, although it mustact reasonably.74 The Oregon Court of Appeals has said that reasonableness
is “an objective standard,” which requires examination of “the totality of the
circumstances presented.”75 Requests for a fee waiver or reduction must be
evaluated on a case-by-case basis. 

We believe that the university does not act reasonably when it denies all — or almost all — public interest fee waiver requests.  

Please reconsider our waiver request and conduct the information to us as soon as practicable. 

Thank you,
Diane Dietz
Reporter
The Register-Guard
541-338-2376 

—– Original Message —–
From: “Office of Public Records” <pubrec@uoregon.edu>
To: “diane dietz” <diane.dietz@registerguard.com>Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 4:15:03 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: RE: Public Records Request 2013-PRR-036
Dear Ms. Dietz-

In recognition of the role that the media plays in representing the public interest, the office has already applied a 20% fee reduction to your request.

In order to consider granting either a further fee reduction or complete fee waiver I must ask you to further detail how receiving this information primarily benefits the public.  It is not enough for the public to be ‘interested’ in a topic, instead the information must primarily benefit the general public.  The Attorney General’s 2011 Public Records and Meetings Manual states  “a matter or action ‘primarily benefits the public’*** when its most important or significant utility or advantages accrues to the public… ‘when the furnishing of the record has utility – indeed its greatest utility – to the community or society as a whole’” (pg 18).  The reasoning that “the public has a high level of interest in the functioning of the university” is not sufficient to pass the public interest test.

Please do not hesitate to contact the office if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Lisa

Lisa Thornton
Office of Public Records
6207 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-6207
(541)346-6823
pubrec@uoregon.edu

From: Diane Dietz [mailto:diane.dietz@registerguard.com]
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2012 11:49 AM
To: Office of Public Records
Subject: Re: Public Records Request 2013-PRR-036

Hi Lisa,
Her is why receiving the requested information would benefit the public:
A free press that serves as a watchdog of government agencies has long been acknowledged in our country to deeply benefit the public. Law and custom recognized that for the watchdog role to function, the press must have access to governmental records — thus we have the Federal Freedom of Information Act and the Oregon Public Records law. In this specific instance, I expect the records to provide a foundation for a news story that will describe to the university community and to the public at large how decisions were made regarding a public building on a public campus. The story will help the public make decisions with regard to its government. Is there any greater public interest in a Democracy? 

If this is not sufficient, please let me know what you would consider sufficient.
Thanks,
Diane

From: “Office of Public Records” <pubrec@uoregon.edu>

To: “Diane Dietz” <diane.dietz@registerguard.com>Cc: “David Hubin” <hubin@uoregon.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 3:47:09 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: RE: Public Records Request 2013-PRR-036
9/26/2012

Dear Ms. Dietz-

Thank you for further detailing the basis for your fee waiver.  Each fee waiver petition is considered separately and further details for justification are helpful.  The office has determined that a fee waiver, or further fee reduction, is not warranted in this instance. Therefore, the office will not waive any fees beyond the 20% discount previously applied to your request.

To determine whether or not the request merited a fee waiver or reduction, the office conducted a three part public interest test.

First, the office considered the character of the public interest in the particular disclosure.  The office acknowledges that information regarding how the University makes decisions regarding a public building, on a public campus, can primarily benefit the public at large. However, in this instance, the benefit to the public in knowing how these decisions are made is not sufficient to justify directing University funds away from its primary mission of education.

Secondly, the office considered the extent to which the fee impeded the public interest.  The Register Guard is a large publication, and the office found it unlikely that the additional fee of $172.21 would unduly burden the organization.

Thirdly, the office considered the extent to which a waiver would burden the public body.  In this instance, the documents require review by the Office of the General Counsel.  Asking General Counsel to dedicate their limited resources to this request, without compensation, places an undue burden on their office.

Upon receipt of a check, made payable to the University of Oregon, in the amount of $172.21, the office will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you have requested that are not exempt from disclosure.  Your check may be sent to the attention of Office of Public Records, 6207 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-6207.

Please note that if the cost of preparing the documents for you is less than the estimate, we will refund the difference.  If the cost of preparing the records for you exceeds the estimate, however, you may be charged for the difference.

Thank you for contacting the office with your request.

Sincerely,

Lisa

Lisa Thornton
Public Records Officer
University of Oregon
Office of the President
6207 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-6207
(541)346-6823
pubrec@uoregon.edu

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25 Responses to The buck gets passed to Lisa Thornton:

  1. Anonymous says:

    Unbelievable, really. We suck.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Disgusting. What a fucking disgrace. She must be paid quite well to come up with nonsense like “It is not enough for the public to be ‘interested’ in a topic, instead the information must primarily benefit the general public.” At the same time, given her implied hourly wage and the extraordinary amount of time she is spending to try to get the RG to go away, isn’t it obvious that it would be less expensive to fulfill the (extremely reasonable) request than to pay her to go on denying it?

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    • uomatters says:

      My guess is that Ms Thorton would have been perfectly happy waiving this fee, which is obviously justified by the public interest. But her bosses, Dave Hubin and Mike Gottfredson, have told her to use these fees to delay and frustrate transparency.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I’ll bet the staff time devoted to denying the request has already cost triple the fee they’re asking. (Maybe that’s why they are so insistant that it be paid?)

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  3. Anas clypeata says:

    “Asking General Counsel to dedicate their limited resources to this request, without compensation, places an undue burden on their office.”

    What places an undue burden on the General Counsel’s office is the administration behaving badly and then trying to cover it up. In part, the public interest fee waiver serves as an incentive for the administration to behave in ways that do not require a team of people to cover up its behavior.

    Fowl.

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    • uomatters says:

      Yup. How much do you think Geller is billing the athletic department for all his office’s work dealing with Chip Kelly and Willie Lyles? Hell, he’s even making the academic side pay half of the outside bills.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Is there no one in Johnson Hall with even a shred of decency?

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  5. Angry Old Lady says:

    So I’m now thinking that this “transition team” that works with new hires (just kidding, rarely new) really meets with the person and informs them that if they adhere to the track and plan set out by a past president that they can retire with a extremely healthy PERS paycheck every month for the rest of their lives, plus a possible emeritus position that pays well. Not stopping there maybe even give themselves a professor position that they will never have to show up for and that pays well….wait there’s more..they can enrich themselves many more ways the entire time they are here because the Chancellor’s and Penny’s approval are a sure thing.

    Seems suspect that the entire “team” of the past presidents administration came together to “train” this incoming guy and he is continuing with the “business as usual” way around here.

    What does the search company ask…Can you sleep at night when you know you have pulled a big one and enriched yourself at the expense of others? If paid well can you keep past discretionary acts secret?

    Despicable lack of respect for our institution of HIGHER EDUCATION!

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  6. Cat says:

    One might ask, before flying off the deep end, what evidence there is yet that Gottfredson is calling the shots on this particular subordinate issue? I am a big fan of UOMatters–both the blog and the fiendish mastermind behind it–but could we give our new president a little window in which to get oriented before calling him out on the carpet? You know: give him time to make some decisions so that he can be held accountable for those decisions, instead of tarring him immediately with the decisions of others. Yes, I know it’s ultimately “his watch.” But we haven’t even completed a full week of term yet. Tar Hubin, trash the transparency policy, but let’s stop short of throwing Gottfredson under the bus just yet. Okay?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Can a single cat stop an angry mob?

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    • Anonymous says:

      I agree that there is a grace period, but the immediacy of the issues? Gottfredson needs to act swiftly… soon… or it won’t be go down as swift at all. Bean out. Geller out. That would buy him much grace. Do nothing? For how long? He is complicit in a growing list of actions infractions.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Surely he reads this blog, though, no? So surely he knows this is going on. Perhaps he is doing something about it. No way to know at this point but he doesn’t just get a pass because he’s new on the job. So how long before we can say that he’s had his chance to step in, he hasn’t, and we’re rightfully pissed off?

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    • Angry Old Lady says:

      Sorry but with all the past and present administration…I’ll be tossing him under the bus for now and let him earn his way out. Especially after his special “transition training”.

      We are infested with a stench of elitist, self righteous, back stabbing, greedy, administration that have too many secrets (NO ONE CAN DENY THAT!)…he is either with them or….so for now…unless he acts quickly..he is checking out the bottom of the bus.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Cat entirely! This is really deplorable, but to say it is on the new Prez’s desk is really not reasonable at this point. What this should do, however, is elevate this whole issue to his desk. If there is no apparent move to clean house and get some serious integrity to the office, then we can all wonder about priorities. But, every time this happens this institution’s reputation gets a little chunk out of it. And good PR folks know that when reputations get damaged and trust gets scarred, it is really hard to amass support when you really need it. This place just works on a short-timers mentality without any sense of strategic direction or priorities.

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  8. UO Matters says:

    Hubin is a nice guy but he doesn’t even go to the men’s room without checking with the boss first. This is on Gottfredson.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Dog barks

      Dave H is not a nice guy behind closed doors, and that’s the only litmus test that matters.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Dave H and UO Matters are *both* nice guys behind closed doors.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Dog says

      Okay I stand (well dogs can’t stand easily) corrected.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    If we’re under 21, are we eligible for scotch futures?

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  10. Anonymous says:

    People should start charging the Office of Public Records billable hours for a colossal waste of their time.
    Explain to the office of public records how/why having info for an article in the local public interest is beneficial?

    I’m starting to think Lisa Thornton is either a broken record or a parrot!

    Awwwk! fee waiver, or further fee reduction, is not warranted

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    • uomatters says:

      Don’t blame Lisa Thornton, this policy is above her pay grade. It comes from Dave Hubin with input from Gottfredson and probably also from Journalism Dean Tim Gleason.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Also, if they charge on *every* records request, it sets precedent that getting public records will be an ordeal and will dissuade any future public records requests.

    If I were the R-G, I would take this to the D-A and show the UO that they will litigate on every single public records request that is denied.

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