This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 12, 2013 11:05 AM. The previous post in this blog was Throw another government flack on the pile. The next post in this blog is Digging in the dirt. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

AG slaps down "Business Oregon" on hiding public documents

Here's some good news out of Salem for a change: The shadowy Oregon Business Development Department, which likes to call itself "Business Oregon" and act like it's not subject to public records laws, has just been ordered to turn over some documents that it was trying to conceal under the pretext of their containing "trade secrets":

The order came after the agency, Business Oregon, denied a request by the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG) to disclose information about the Strategic Investment Program, in which corporations receive a property tax break in exchange for a promise to create jobs and make specific investments in local communities. OSPIRG requested that Business Oregon disclose the recipients of these public dollars and what those recipients delivered in exchange for the money. OSPIRG filed a petition to the Attorney General last month to appeal Business Oregon’s decision. Business Oregon has seven days to either release the information or file suit to appeal the Attorney General’s decision.

This means you, SoloPower.

Government shouldn't have "trade secrets," and private companies that turn over their information to the state in exchange for special handouts of tax dollars have no legitimate expectation of privacy. Bully for the state justice department for getting this right, and may it stay the course through many more public records appeals to come involving "Business Oregon" and its greasy ilk.

Comments (5)

Government "trade secrets":

The ability to give out public money to private interests in a dark alley or paneled high-rise office suite. This is commonly done using plain vanilla envelopes or anonymous electronic transfer.

Bully for OSPIRG too for filing the petition.
As someone who has long fought against stonewalling and a variety of other tactics utilized by the Portland Water Bureau to keep secret cozy relationships with consultants and global corporations, I applaud all efforts to shine a light on government/corporate activities.

It's a small revolution. But I think it's going to get bigger, and it should.

In essence, the AG's conclusion is that the "fiscal advantage" received by these companies through property tax abatement outweighs any competitive disadvantage disclosure might bring.
In other words, if you get a windfall in the form of property tax abatement, expect to disclose the employment impact your business has provided the state as quid pro quo for the tax break. I say bravissimo AG.

Good news from the AG. Next maybe they will revisit their decision to exempt the UO Foundation from the public records law?

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