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  1. Proposed Rule Implements “Transparency by Design.”

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    Today, Secretary of State Richardson filed a proposed rule to make more accessible public information on how his agency spends money.  The financial transparency rule will disclose expenditures monthly.

    This is another step toward “transparency by design,” which refers to making public information public, without anyone needing to request public records and waste resources to respond to requests.  The public may comment on the rule, and I urge people to do so.

    Oregon adopted many changes intended to improve public records law over the past few years.  (I summarized those changes here).   They included creating a State Chief Information Officer, a Chief Data Officer, The Public Records Advisory Council, and the Public Records Advocate.  Nevertheless, public bodies and elected officials still must decide how transparent they want to be.  They can fight requests, they can keep secrets, or they can make public information publicly available.

    I congratulate the Secretary of State for “walking the walk” and moving toward more – and more timely – transparency.

    Jeff Merrick

    (c) Jeff Merrick and Merrick Law, LLC

  2. “Leaders” continue to dodge good ideas from concerned citizens.

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    On July 31, I was pleased to participate in the meeting of citizens concerned about the proposed low-barrier homeless shelter across the street from a schoolhouse on SE Foster.  Although South East Allied Communities invited public officials, no public official attended or sent a representative.

    Officials continue their approach of not wanting public input that might offer insights not raised behind closed doors by the usual suspects or at steering committee meetings of people hand-picked by officials.  Continued inbreeding only spawns more of the same policy that has caused Oregon to rank 49 of 51 (states plus District of Columbia) in sheltering homeless.

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  3. Lying stealing attorneys: Disbar, Sue and Arrest Them

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    Last month, the Oregon State Bar charged a Portland, Oregon attorney with misconduct arising from settlement dollars that belonged to her clients.  Really bad conduct, including settling a personal injury case for $100,000 but not telling the client.  Instead, the attorney told her client she settled for $40,000.  Under that scenario, the client would receive roughly $26,000 instead of $67,000 of the actual settlement of $100,000.

    Then, I wonder if the attorney earned full value for the case.  Did she need to settle fast for money SHE needed and fail work the case hard enough?  Should the case have settled for $200,000 instead of $100,000?  Could the client have received 2/3 rds of a $200,000 settlement, instead?

    The Portland attorney was Lori Deveny, who gave up her law license instead of fighting the charges.  I know her.  I’d seen her at professional meetings.  I’d sent her Christmas cards in the 2000s.  I was surprised.

    Today, a New York attorney was arrested for stealing from his clients.  His past included being the President of the Brooklyn Bar Association.

    So, as a client, who do you trust?

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  4. Six Multi-Million Dollar Employment Law Resolutions Last Quarter Announced by EEOC

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    EEOC announced six multi-million dollar employment law settlements or verdicts last quarter, including a jury award of $5.1 million because an employer pushed a self-help “religion” on its employees.  Here’s the count down.

    #6:  University pays $2.66 million and will increase women’s salaries in pay discrimination case.

    EEOC charged the University of Denver paid a class of female full professions at Sturm Collage of Law lower salaries than it paid similarly situated male professors.  The average disparity was almost $20,000 per year.

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  5. Sometimes, you have to agree with your adversary.

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    In Portland Public Schools v. Beth Slovic and Kim Sordyl, we won and submitted a petition for attorney fees.  In response, the opposing lawyer wrote to the judge:

    “Mr. Merrick stepped in due to the untimely death of Rick Van Cleave and picked up and filed the final briefing and argued the cross-motions for summary judgment in an efficient and effective manner.”

    Certainly, I cannot argue with that.  Thank you!

  6. Public Body Must Reveal Information from its Attorney’s Bill

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    Public Records Law requires public body disclosure of more detail from attorney’s billing statements, ruled the Kentucky Attorney General.

    The request came from the editor of the College Heights Herald to Western Kentucky University seeking billing and payment records between the University and a law firm. WKU produced a heavily blacked-out version of the billing statement.

    WKU argued redactions were appropriate to preserve the information protected by the attorney-client and work-product privileges.

    The attorney general’s opinion sets forth the following points:

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  7. Woman may sue former co-worker for badmouthing her after she left employment.

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    Yesterday, the Oregon Court of Appeals held a woman may sue a surgeon (who allegedly harassed her at work) for defamation AND for retaliation under the employment laws even though surgeon was not her employer.  The employment law claim provides for attorney fees, where a defamation claim does not.  He badmouthed her AFTER both left their place of employment.

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  8. EEOC Settlements During the First Quarter of 2018

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    EEOC settlements last quarter included calling a veteran with PTSD “psycho,” firing a pregnant bartender who could not fit into hot pants, and refusing to hire a recovering drug addict under medical supervision.  I highlight these plus the other resolutions announced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Continue Reading