Before he became the University of Oregon's president, Dave Frohnmayer spearheaded an effort as a legislator to revamp Oregon's public-records law in 1979. As attorney general in the 1980s, he was a strong advocate for that law and shedding light on how public money gets spent.
But Frohnmayer seems more devoted these days to hiding records from the public, including plans to build a $200 million basketball arena with public financing. We're calling foul and naming Frohnmayer this week's Rogue.
First came Frohnmayer's refusal to turn over records sought by The Oregonian on revenue from UO's sports-marketing contracts. Attorney General Hardy Myers upheld that refusal, ruling such contracts are protected trade secrets.
Frohnmayer's latest snub to openness is a delay in fulfilling another request from The O. This time the daily wants records on how the school chose the contractors to build its new hoops palace. The arena will be built with $200 million in state-supported bonds, backed by a $100 million pledge from Nike President Phil Knight.
Those records haven't yet been turned over and may never be. That's because the UO Foundation formed a nonprofit group headed by Howard Slusher, Knight's consigliere, to choose the contractors. And such groups aren't subject to public-records laws, as Frohnmayer knows very well, since he helped write the law.
Frohnmayer says he approved forming the nonprofit, but not to conceal records. And he denies turning his back on his dedication to openness.
"The law is what it is," he says. "The reason a private foundation is being used for these purposes, frankly, is that it saves a ton of money. And that matters."
Looks like a rim shot to us.