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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A classic Salem runaround

The U of O faculty members who didn't want Richard Lariviere dumped as university president have been complaining that the state higher ed board did it illegally, in that board members violated the Oregon public meetings law. Members reportedly discussed the matter, and the board chair took a straw vote, before the formal meeting to can Lariviere was even set up.

The group that thinks the procedures have been violated has filed a complaint with the state government ethics commission in Salem, but that agency, toothless even when it wants to act, says it can't do anything about a violation. Until the board has convened in an "executive session," the ethics board says, it has no jurisdiction over anything that goes on. And in this case, any extracurricular activity that might have taken place before the formal meeting was not, in the ethics board's view, an "executive session."

Of course, that's the crux of the matter -- whether the board in effect held an illegal "executive session" before giving the required public notice and access. But by summarily declaring that it hadn't, the ethics commission seems to be subjecting the critics to Catch 22. And it seems willing, even eager, to kill more time arguing about whether to investigate than it ever would on an actual investigation.

The next stop for the disgruntled faculty, if they have the energy to keep pursuing this, appears to be in the state courts. We wouldn't be surprised if the state courts somehow ruled that it wasn't in their jurisdiction, either. Government ethics in this state is a sad joke, and as far as we can tell, that's exactly how the state legislators, and the governor, want it.

Comments (5)

Ron Bersin at GEC is like a bad, burnout DMV clerk. No disrespect intended, last time I got a renewal they were very nice and helpful. Pat Hearns was so much better with the old GSPC. No wonder the politicians chased him off.

I had my annual Christmas lunch and shopping with one of my oldest and dearest friends (also a past president of the Dux Alumni Association). I unfortunately brought this topic up, and opined that Phil Knight should just buy the University, rename it or not, they can pull out of the public university system and then be answerable to no one. I thought that was a pretty good solution. He can afford it, he practically owns it anyway, so why not?


The level of my intelligence and information was then pretty much attacked and eviscerated. Although I "usually" am well informed and have educated opinions, clearly I didn't know my a** from a hole in the ground on this issue (in his never to be humble opinion).

The nice thing is, good friendships survive this sort of thing, but "scratch a Duck, find a rage". Good grief.

At the end of the day this ethics complaint is not about Lariviere, or Knight, or Ducks, or UO, or Donegan, or OUS - it's about Oregon's open meetings law and how to enforce it.

Sorry UO Matters, I think that is an utter crap smokescreen - procedure over substance.

If I go further, my friend will probably not be one soon !

This (exec session, public mtg law, etc, etc) issue is so, so, soooo whatever.

Remember the Mean Girls? They met one on one to avoid the three person quarum rule. It was obvious that they violated the spirit of the law, but adhered to the letter.

So the same has happened here. The Chair polled each member individually, without violating the open mtg laws. It's not as if each member has not already made public their distaste for the Prima "Richie" Donna ex-Prez, since they renewed his contract for only 12 months instead of a 3 yr contract back in the summer. No flag, no foul.

If head coach Chip ever gets only a 12 month contract extension, we will know that he has gotten the kiss of death also. No surprises, that one.

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