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So much for student autonomy.

The ASUO Senate is a public body that deals with $12 million in student money. Their emails are — surprise, surprise — public record.

So I put in a public records request for all emails from May 25, 2010 until now:

November 16, 2010

Mr. Fielding
Ombudsperson
ASUO Senate
EMU Suite 4
1228 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403

Dear Mr. Fielding,

Pursuant to the Oregon open records law, ORS 192.410 to 192.505, I write to request a digital copy of all email correspondence sent to senate@uoregon.edu or asuosenate@lists.uoregon.edu from May 25, 2010, to present. If you do not maintain these public records, please let me know who does and include the proper custodian’s name and address.

I agree to pay any reasonable copying and postage fees of not more than $5. If the cost would be greater than this amount, please notify me. Please provide a receipt indicating the charges for each document.

If you choose to deny my request, please provide a written explanation for the denial including a reference to the specific statutory exemption(s) upon which you rely. If some of these records are disclosable and others are exempt, please provide the disclosable records and let me know the exemption(s) preventing disclosure of the rest.

Please understand that we seek these records for the purposes of public interest, and we hope that the spirit of openness in Oregon government will prevail.

Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,

Alyssa Diamond
Managing Editor
Oregon Commentator
EMU Room 319
1228 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403

From Mr. Ian Fielding, I received this response:

Jubilant Jalousean Jannocking Journalists,

Ex-senator Diamond, you recently contacted me via a lovely letter to have access to all Senate emails from May 25th 2010 onwards. I ensure you that are [sic] senate conversations are absolutely enthralling. As a former senator, and current prestigious journalist, I can understand your lust for this information.

Franklin, you seemed to echo the aforementioned similar sentiments of Ex-Senator Diamond. After all, who would want to miss out on experiencing the exhilarating rush of deciphering senate emails!

I want to make sure both of your requests are fulfilled so you can join me, and my fellow senate members, in analyzing fun issues!

In order to receive this information we will need you both to fill out an official public record request for this information. I have taken the liberty of providing you a link to the appropriate webpage to do so:

http://www.oregon.gov/DOC/public_record_requests.shtml

We also will need you to cover the costs that it will take to provide you with this substantial amount of information. If the cost is inaccessible I will look to find ways to make it more accessible.

If you have any further questions or need additional aid in this process feel free to contact me!

Much love,

Ian Fielding
Senate Ombudsperson AKA The Sergeant in Arms

Hey journalism students — what’s wrong with this picture?

I spoke to Franklin today (ASUO reporter for the Ol’ Dirty) and apparently he went to Ian to whine about the fact that I got access to information he didn’t have, and thus I was able to scoop him. LOL to that.

My response to Ian:

Ian,

Uhh . . . that is a link to the department of corrections website. You sure that’s where you wanted to send me? The letter I sent you WAS an official public records request. With reference to the statutes and all.

Please let me know exactly what else you need from me. I am willing to cover costs up to $5 without any other correspondence, but if it is going to be more than that, you have to tell me why, and provide a reciept. Also, please keep in mind that I requested a digital copy, not printed copies.

Thank you,

Alyssa Diamond

Ran into ASUO Senate President Zachary Stark-MacMillan in the EMU a little while ago, and he said something about how the ASUO is an entity of the UO, so they’re going to have to run the request to UO’s general counsel.

So much for student autonomy, I guess. (Alternate statement here – wah wah wah wah wah.)

I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.

  1. Mr. Archer says:

    In times like these I am disappointed that no one has asked a computer nerd what to do.

  2. A UO Student says:

    Ian is representing what he once promised to stop in the ASUO.

    And the ASUO wonders why they aren’t taken seriously. One word: humble.

  3. Evan P. Thomas says:

    I outwardly said that the requester has to specify the content. And I quote: “ie: you have to specify the content.” You, for some reason that I don’t know, decided to talk about purpose.

    I don’t care what your purpose is, but the attorney representing the public body who is reviewing the request while subjecting it to 192.502 most certainly does. So I wont comment on what I think Lyzi’s purpose is, because my opinions are irrelevant.

    But, other than changing one my arguments, you didn’t respond to any of the other reasons that I stated that the “request” was pretty much bologna. Like: wrong person(s) to send it to, wrong sources about financial requirements, asking for “all” emails, etc.

  4. CJ says:

    I have no idea where you’re getting your information. You said:

    “the burden of articulating public interest of disclosure, beyond simply saying ‘it

  5. Evan P. Thomas says:

    Let me rephrase the first part. It’s not that you don’t have a right to public record, but you also don’t get to define what constitutes this public record. This is why attorneys are involved. This is why in 192.420 it clearly states ” the person must submit the request in writing to the custodian and, at the same time, to the attorney for the public body.” Neither of which happened. Which is why I laughed at the concept that this was an “official request.”

  6. Evan P. Thomas says:

    No “skullfucking” involved, CJ. The public has no legal right to public record, they have legal right to REQUEST public record. Pretty big difference. If you actually read the statutes, you’d know…

    Public record is determined by “content relating to public business.” This means the burden of articulating public interest of disclosure, beyond simply saying “it’s of public interest,” is on the requesting party: ie: you have to specify the content. Saying “I want all your information” is a one way ticket to YOU getting denied. If this public interest of disclosure is not sufficient enough to outweigh the communication of the public body, which is determined by a lawyer, not by you, then you don’t get access to it (502a).

    This also means that the only emails you would have access to if such a request were granted would be specific emails pertaining to the i-fee AND (which is an exclusive and, as the law always uses) pertaining to the content requested, because all other emails are thusly classified as private. IE: Asking for “emails pertaining to Senator Thomas” will get you denied, because that is not of public interest. Which is why asking for “all” emails (which has no specified content, which would be inclusive of “emails pertaining to Senator Thomas,” as well as other emails you are not entitled to see) will get you denied as well, because you have no legal right to see those emails.

    Also, you don’t get to decide how much you’re willing to pay. You either pay the University charges, or you don’t get access. If it is greater than 25 dollars, not 5 dollars, the University is legally obligated to cite why. Also within the law (which, again, she either tried to exploit, or did not understand).

    I’m certainly not against you reading senate listserv emails. But I’m also not going to let you cut corners: either Lyzi cut a corner by trying to go straight to a senator and not following the legal procedure clearly set up by the statutes (I literally laughed when I read the second email and she said “the letter I sent to you was an official public records request,” because it very obviously was not, and she would know this if she read the statutes), or she just didn’t understand the legal procedure– neither of which places blame on the senate, so don’t get your panties in a bunch. If you want to wave statutes like you know what you’re talking about, I will wave them right back at you. Obviously I’m not a statutory lawyer, but I read.

    Good luck. If you need any help following proper legal procedure, let me know. I’d be happy to unofficially advise.

  7. I like following says:

    Why can’t we take these people at their word. Clearly they are leaders and know what they’re doibkg. I meen seiously, its the goberment for christs sakes. Not like they take money fr[om studejt and waste it

  8. Miles Rost says:

    If they refuse to comply, do what CJ said and skullfuck them. With the law. John Kroger and his office HAVE to help you.

  9. Betz says:

    Here’s to kicking up dust …. cheers!

  10. David Duckie says:

    zstarmac – ASUO should have own lawyers? Are we going to use the money that you intend to give to OSPIRG to pay their fees? Ever hear of legal services or office of student advocacy, which the ASUO pays for? What are on those e-mails? Why did that Ian kid make you all look like a bunch of insane jerks? Isn’t that kid the one who is always voting down appointments because he thinks of his position so highly?

    YOU GUYS DON’T DO ANYTHING!!! You are a bunch of policy geeks that cannot change any policies. YOU VOTE ONLY ON SPECIAL REQUESTS!!!!!! Get off your high horse and start treating “your constituents” with some respect. Release the records. Cannot be hard. Just give OC the password for 3 hours to look/print whatever they want and then change the password, idiot.

    I am going to seriously pollute today because of you. I plan on pouring ample amounts of bleach and drain-o directly into a river.

  11. Ross Coyle says:

    Wow they just opened up a whole can of worms. Legally

  12. CJ says:

    Are you really going to try and invoke that exemption? You will get legally skullfucked if you try and stonewall a public records request with this kind of bullshit.

    The ASUO Senate is a public body, and the listerv is public record. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the request or the requester; you’re still obligated to comply.

    If you can’t understand this, kindly remove yourself from office and never vote or run again.

  13. zstarmac says:

    I believe we do need to go through a lawyer.
    We did ask Liz Denecke, UO

  14. Evan P. Thomas says:

    “192.502 Other public records exempt from disclosure. The following public records are exempt from disclosure under ORS 192.410 to 192.505:
    (1) Communications within a public body or between public bodies of an advisory nature to the extent that they cover other than purely factual materials and are preliminary to any final agency determination of policy or action. This exemption shall not apply unless the public body shows that in the particular instance the public interest in encouraging frank communication between officials and employees of public bodies clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

  15. J says:

    Good luck. When I was a reporter at the ODE, Randy Gellar wrote the senators a letter saying he didn’t believe they were public body under the open records law. This despite the fact that I had told them and provided documentation (on more than one occasion) that in 1984, the state attorney general’s office ruled that student governments are in fact, public bodies (take a wild guess who the AG was in 1984). And despite the fact that the Green Tape Notebook specifies they must follow public records/open meeting law.

  16. UO Matters says:

    You want to talk to Liz Denecke, UO’s Public Records Officer:

    http://uonews.uoregon.edu/content/university-oregon-public-records-procedure

    Name: Elizabeth T Denecke
    Title: Public Records Officer
    Office Phone: (541) 346-4172
    Email: edenecke@uoregon.edu

    But good luck, she was actually hired to prevent the release any public records.

    Seriously, in a case like this you will want to make a narrow specific request. Give her a call for advice. Under Oregon law, she has to help you, whether she likes it or not.

  17. Lyzi Diamond says:

    I’m just saying, you don’t need to go through a lawyer to fulfill a public records request.

  18. zstarmac says:

    I completely agree that the ASUO should have it’s own lawyers.
    Unfortunately the State of Oregon disagrees and so we are tied to the University’s General Council.

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