Oregon Attorney General releases 2010 transparency report
Salem, OR On October 7, 2010, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger released his 2010 transparency report, which was compiled from a series of open meetings and public records open forums the Attorney General held over the past year. To read the full report, please see, 2010 Oregon Government Transparency Report.
Kroger found that there was a general frustration with Oregon's lack of a set deadline with regard to open records requests. Many citizens complained about agencies delaying response times in order to avoid releasing the records all together. However, the report fails to suggest an appropriate response time that would require a response but would not burden the staff of smaller agencies.
The meetings demonstrated a great deal of resentment towards the existence of fees in general, with arguments favoring free disclosure of information which was assembled using tax dollars. However, some argued that this would be a drain on governmental funding during already hard times. Suggestions included a universal fee structure and clearer guidelines for fee wavers.
Frustration at the number and over use of exemptions resulted in crowds advocating a reorganized and clarified exemption list, as opposed to the current scattering of exemptions found throughout statutory law. In addition, many journalists called for a more developed use of balancing tests, emphasizing that many exemptions are voluntary in nature and should be weighed against the public good.
Many citizens complained about the lack of firm deadlines for notification and advocated requirements for notification that would involve the release of firm and fast meeting agendas, which could not be altered post deadline. Other citizens urged that the exemption for journalists to attend closed executive sessions should be broaden to incorporate bloggers and more grass roots journalism.
Other suggestions from participants included developing an ombudsman or records commission office to assist with disputes, requiring training of public officials in the open meetings and public records laws, developing a clearer legislative policy on privatized government services and developing clearer policy on the use of public email accounts.
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