FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CARMICHAEL — This morning our vice-president for open government compliance, Richard McKee, and our attorney, Kelly Aviles, viewed documents provided by the Office of the General Counsel of California State University in response to our public records request for information relating to Sarah Palin’s appearance at the University’s 50th Anniversary Gala.
The vast majority of the nearly 900 pages we received were documents created after our initial request and related to the numerous media inquiries that the University has received.
A small percentage of the documents were created before our initial request of March 31, 2010, when we asked for “all University records, other than those specifically prepared for public release, concerning the planned appearance of Sarah Palin as guest of honor at the University’s 50th Anniversary Gala on Friday, June 25.” These documents relating to Palin’s appearance were held by the University and should have been provided immediately after our initial request.
Perhaps the most interesting discovery is what was not made available. An event of this size requires a great deal of planning. However, very few emails pertained to the planning of the event. The records presented contained no discussions of where the event should be held or how many people were expected. We received no copies of checks for expenses already paid. Nor have we received any budget for the event or information pertaining to estimated or actual expenditures.
Finally, we received nothing regarding Palin’s appearance fee or the costs associated with her contract. This, despite the fact that CSU Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani is required by law to review and approve all expenditures made by the Foundation, such as Palin’s speaking contract.
The delay in providing these documents is a violation of the Public Records Act. The fact that there are other documents that must exist, but have not been produced, only reinforces the need for our litigation. We are confident that the Court will provide the public with the much needed and long overdue ability to oversee the financial dealings that greatly affect the our public university system.
Anyone interested in viewing the documents we obtained today can do so online.
PUBLIC INFORMATION — Steven Aftergood, whose Secrecy News blog tracks federal resistance to transparency, has called into question the ethics and motivations of WikiLeaks, the weebsite dedicated to outing information governments and other powerful institutions want to keep hidden. As Aftergood noted Monday, one of the nation's chief sources of foundation support for innovative online efforts to open government in the public interest has declined to give WikiLeaks a grant.
OPEN MEETINGS —
A Tulare County Superior Court judge could throw out a
lawsuit seeking to force the county Board of Supervisors to end its
practice of holding lunch meetings without notice or access by the public, reports David Castellon in the Visalia Times-Delta.
OPEN GOVERNMENT — "California cities and
counties have destroyed millions of public records over the past
decade with almost no oversight," reports Tracy Wood for the Voice of OC. "And most of the shredding happens
because of policies designed to protect local governments from
WHISTLEBLOWERS — If you want University of California faculty and other employees to have the same protections from retaliation as their counterparts at the California State University in reporting waste, fraud, abuse, gross negligence or dangerous practices, contact the Governor by close of business Wednesday and urge him to sign SB 650.
FREE SPEECH/ASSOCIATION — The U.S. Supreme Court today held that a public university can
require that officially sanctioned and supported student groups allow ''all comers'' in order to receive the
benefits of formal recognition. Such a requirement, a 5-4 majority led
by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg decided, does not violate the First
Amendment's guarantees of freedom of speech or association, reports Chris Geidner for MetroWeekly.
PUBLIC INFORMATION — "Sarah Palin leveled criticism at Californias attorney general and others raising questions about her visit to a cash-strapped university, telling supporters that students had better things to do than dive through Dumpsters to find out how much she earns speaking," reports Garance Burke for the Associated Press. The university's foundation, which sponsored the event, said the net proceeds were $200,000. But despite a lawsuit the university has never released records of its costs.