Wanting to keep Google’s water use a secret, Oregon city sues news organization

A city in Oregon is suing a news organization, hoping to keep secret how much water Google will use to cool server farms. The city of The Dalles filed suit in state court in October 2021, seeking to overturn the ruling of a county district attorney, who said Google’s water use is a public record….

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Final tally for Portland schools over public records disputes? Nearly $280,000

Portland Public Schools will pay an additional $105,000 to cover legal fees in a dispute that began when the district refused to release the names of staffers it had put on paid leave, the school board decided Tuesday. That puts the total bill for the district-initiated lawsuit at just over $277,000, which is 38 percent higher…

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Gazette-Times (OR) Editorial: Lawsuit seeks access to bill requests

It’s another disappointment from a governor who pledged when she assumed office that transparency in state government would be a priority. Transparency was, Kate Brown said, an essential ingredient in her efforts to restore trust in state government. Brown’s record on transparency since then, however, has been spotty. Although it’s true that she has been…

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Column: Oregon hits tiny paper with pricey lawsuit after it seeks public records

Les Zaitz says he’s got more pressing matters to attend to than being sued by the government.

Zaitz is editor and publisher of the Malheur Enterprise, a 1,400-circulation weekly in Vale, Oregon. The town’s an old stop on the Oregon Trail up against the Idaho border. The paper is one of those little community weeklies that have been struggling all over the country, victims of tectonic shifts in tastes and business models.

Now this one’s also got $400-an-hour taxpayer-financed attorneys to reckon with.

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Oregon Gov. Brown owes public more transparency in ethics issues

Two of Gov. Kate Brown’s top staffers stepped down last week following news reports that employment they held outside of her office could compromise their work for the government.

The governor’s spokespeople argued the assertions were baseless as the story played out. And since the resignations were confirmed, they haven’t acknowledged what might have been learned. What’s so dismaying is how familiar it feels.

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Oregon DOJ overturns public records fee rule

The Oregon Department of Justice has overturned a 14-year-old rule requiring some state agencies to charge for public records.

The ruling was sparked by the Statesman Journal's appeal of a decision by the Public Employees Retirement System to charge full price for release of public records. PERS asked for $112 to produce the 2015 travel receipts of the retirement system's director and board members. When the newspaper's request to waive those fees was denied, it appealed to the DOJ.

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Oregon Senate passes insurance transparency bill

The Oregon Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would increase insurance industry transparency.

The bill would allow the Department of Consumer and Business Services to publicly release complaints against insurers.

Under current law, complaints against insurers are not public records, and there is no publicly available official data about how often insurers defend their policyholders in Oregon. Continue…

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Op-Ed: Oregon agencies avoid public scrutiny by abusing attorney-client privilege

Attorney-client privilege is a near-sacred pillar of our legal system. It protects disclosure of legal communications, specifically excluding attorneys from being compelled to testify regarding most client communications in any legal proceeding.

Regrettably, some state agencies are inappropriately manipulating attorney-client privilege as a shield against public disclosure laws. Continue…

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