Oregon Freedom of Information Law Isn't

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Is the state freedom of information law free?

No, the Oregon Attorney General's office charges $25 a pop for the public's document and has refused to put a free download online.

UO Economics Professor Bill Harbaugh—a longtime critic of UO athletic and administrative spending and affirmative action—didn't like that. So he scanned the whole AG manual on the law and put it on his blog.

Harbaugh says the AG office claimed it, not the public, owned the public document on how to get public documents.

So will the AG go after Harbaugh for alleged copyright infringement? The professor doubts it. And the records may be virtually out of the AG's barn. Harbaugh says hundreds have downloaded the document and several sites have now also posted it (here's one mirror.)

Harbaugh's action has called big attention to the failure of Oregon's public records law to actually deliver public records. The public record liberation drew hundreds of outraged comments on the widely read slashdot.org. The Oregonian also blogged the freedom of infromation action.

Journalists and other reformers have been trying to push new Oregon Attorney General John Kroger to follow up on campaign promises and address long delays, exorbitant charges and legal maneuvering that bureaucrats have for decades used to keep the public in the dark. So far Kroger hasn't acted.

Locally, the city of Eugene has a long history of blocking freedom of information with outrageous fees. In a digital age when video, audio, images and text are searchable in a blink and whisk over the internet in seconds, the city still charges $10 for a two page police report and $10 for a one minute recording of a 911 call. The city even wants the public to pay inflated wages for city employee or private attorney time spent trying to hide public records or make them harder to get. Of course, the city will ream citizens with all the PR spin they can bear for free.

The city of Eugene charges appear to violate state law requiring governments only charge their actual cost of providing records, but the attorney general doesn't enforce the law.

At the county level, the Lane Council of Governments shadow government used taxpayer money to create an extensive mapable database (RLID) of home values, sales, taxes, liens, deeds, demographic, zoning and other data. But if taxpayers want access to the public records, they have to pay $200 plus $1,080 a year for a subscription to the public information they ostensibly already own.

As founding father James Madison wrote:

"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."

As Harbaugh pointed out, Oregon's freedom of information law is a farce.

freedom of information

Hello, Alan;

I was amazed when I saw what you wrote about the withholding of, or hiding of public documentation. I was writing about the very same thing in regards to Eugene's ongoing unconstitutional, prosecutions against the homeless, and so it seems, we have supportive evidence. I had no idea this problem was identified! Here's my excerpt:

Finding statistics on illegal camping is not easy. The daily reports (see: August 10 post showing illegal camping reports from daily newspaper), which were not available several years ago, do contain illegal camping calls for service, but no one knows who, or if a local resident (that's doubtful near Wash/Jefferson Pk, or extreme W. Eugene industrial streets), or an officer on patrol, or a police "volunteer".

It is usually kept unknown to those cited if, or who, initiates the complaint calls, but use police as witness. Annual reports do not seem to mention illegal camping's overall statistics-what little details there are, remain buried under, "other", or are to be found within the individual police reports, which can be requested from the department for a fee of $10.00

Perhaps this is why I would have had to kick them $3,000 for public records back then, because it would take an inordinate amount of time to find them, let alone gather them up! Perhaps it is time for the City of Eugene, especially the police, be called upon to keep detailed, accurate, collected, and accessible to the public--records, and not bury them.

If proven to be intentional, isn't that considered a crime of withholding of evidence favorable the defense?

One would think that:

Under the headings of behavioral crimes and quality of life is where such details should be found, but since "illegal camping" is not mentioned in crime report statistics spreadsheets as a heading itself, it must be assumed to be included (hidden) under "other".

Any statistics that are posted, if at all, will not reflect an accurate count of illegal camping incidents, anyway, because many such homeless campers, being caught on commercial, ODOT, or railroad property in W. Eugene, for instance, are given trespassing citations; this has the effect of hiding, or swallowing up a given case of illegal camping, for statistical purposes, merely because one is found on public property, while the other is found on private.

In other words, there are more cases of illegal camping than reported--but they're not reported as such, but as trespass. Now you see it, now you don't!

My search for statistics as
written by Karl Sorg, our paralegal, my witness as friend of the court, retired attorney, published in 'okios #5 Winter 1997/98 pg 11:

Lane County District Court opinion on E.C. 4.815 (anti-camping ban)

"District Court Judge Eveleen Henry, after four months of deliberation, has issued a 20 page memorandum opinion finding Danielle Smith (defendant and appellant, ed.), guilty of two violations of the Eugene city "camping" ordinance (E. C. 4.815). The opinion is the culmination of a total of seven citations against Ms. Smith over a period of over two years. Another one of the seven citations was dismissed by Judge Henry for failure of the City to produce evidence in support of that citation."

"Judge Henry's memorandum addresses a number of constitutional issues which were raised by Ms. Smith's pro bono attorney, Howard J. Anderson."

"As a result of the citations and the city attorney's reduction of the offense, the defendant's efforts to get statistics which she alleged would show that most of the people cited for the offense of "camping" and for whom the citation had been reduced to a violation, are homeless people. The city's response to the defendant's discovery requests were that it would cost the homeless defendant $3,000. Because of her lack of funds and the offense having been reduced to a "simple violation", Ms. Smith was unable to get the information that she and her attorney felt would have certainly supported her contention that the ordinance's enforcement unconstitutionally targets the indigent and not the performance of criminal acts. The ultimate fine for the violations was set by Judge Henry at $58.00 in each of the two cases."

Excerpt from letter, pro bono, Attorney at Law, Howard L. Anderson wrote to me:

"In deference to the court, I recognize that we were not able to present all the evidence available on the issue. The city required more than I could afford out of pocket for the records needed to ascertain the pattern of enforcement. Additionally, with more resources we could have pursued the city policy of allowing camping without council action for specific events and by particular individuals in more depth. These may not have carried the day, but such evidence would have given a clearer picture of the plight of homeless individuals."

Obviously, I too want something done about this, and I will also contact the Oregon Attorney General, because I feel strongly that this, along with other tactics of omission, are all protective measures against losing the evil right to violate individual's civil rights.

Innocent victims, the majority of which, are condemned as too unworthy to be cherry picked for parking assistance)of economic condition, are hounded, harassed, impounded and striped of even what little they have, until (it is hoped) they're forced out of town, upon the altar of N.I.M.B.Y. selfishness and bigotry.

Expose! Expose! Expose!

Submitted by msdrswriter (not verified) on Mon, 09/21/2009 - 20:05.
Alan, in this story you

Alan, in this story you refer you to me as a "long time critic of affirmative action". Actually, I am a supporter of affirmative action. My efforts have led to UO posting its AA plan on the web, among other things. I am now trying to get UO to follow affirmative action hiring procedures for administrative hires - something they are resisting!

Submitted by Bill Harbaugh (not verified) on Sat, 12/05/2009 - 16:03.
Nice site; 89825

Sadistic excess attempts to reach roughly and by harshness what art reaches by fineness.
Buy Cheap Soma The function of socialism is to raise suffering to a higher level.

Submitted by Buy Cheap Soma (not verified) on Tue, 07/26/2011 - 18:18.

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