Friday marked the 56th day since The Sacramento Bee’s Diana Lambert filed a Public Records Act request with UC Davis asking for records to answer questions about whether the university is protecting certain intellectual property rights.
It was the 43rd day since Lambert requested copies of hiring contracts, travel records and other documents connected to The Bee’s ongoing coverage of now-suspended Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and the university’s employment of her husband and two other family members.
It was the 31st day since reporter Sam Stanton asked for fundraising materials and correspondence concerning a proposal for a Museum of Natural History. “How hard would that be to cough up?” Stanton said last week.
It was the 25th day since Stanton requested a copy of the university’s contract with a certain fundraiser.
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It was the 18th day since Stanton asked for additional emails concerning The Bee’s stories revealing UC Davis spent at least $175,000 to scrub from the Internet negative postings connected to the pepper-spraying of UC Davis students.
It was also the 18th day since Stanton requested documents regarding Blue Moon Consulting Group, which UC Davis hired for crisis management during a student occupation of Katehi’s outer offices earlier this year. After the occupation ended the university continued to retain the firm, but Katehi told The Bee she could not reveal why.
8 the number of record requests Bee reporters have made to UC Davis
Friday was the 15th day since Lambert asked for additional travel documents, including trips outside the country, so that we can check out tips we’ve received from insiders about potentially inappropriate, taxpayer-financed travel.
And Friday was the 10th day since Lambert asked for correspondence involving Katehi’s daughter-in-law, who works at UC Davis, because of questions about her supervisory chain of command.
I last wrote about how long it was taking to obtain public records from UC Davis on April 9. Some of those documents have been provided, and UC Davis staff told Lambert and Stanton they are working as quickly as they can to provide the documents, all of which have been requested under California’s Public Records Act. Only the last request, filed May 10, is within the 10-business-days window envisioned by those who fashioned the act to ensure public accountability and transparency.
Sometimes such PRA requests are complicated and we know they will take time. Yet many, if not all, of these requests are pretty simple. In light of UC President Janet Napolitano’s decision last month to suspend Katehi – after she asked the chancellor to resign and Katehi refused – it is all the more imperative that the university be transparent in its activities and responsive to the public.
The Bee’s investigation started earlier this year with a tip that Katehi accepted a $70,000-a-year seat on the board overseeing DeVry Education Group, a for-profit school under scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission. The chancellor violated UC policy by doing so.
We... sincerely appreciate your understanding and patience with us.
Michele McCuen, UC Davis Office of the Campus Counsel
Lambert and Dale Kasler then reported Katehi received $420,000 in compensation as a board member for John Wiley & Sons, a textbook publisher. It took some time to get a response, but we have since reported Katehi had approval from Napolitano’s predecessor to do so.
Our reports unleashed an avalanche of tips from university insiders, and Stanton was able to document the dollars spent to “scrub” the Internet in an attempt to protect the reputation of the university and Katehi. We’ve filed the eight PRA requests to vet other tips as well.
In an email to Stanton and Lambert last week, Michele McCuen in the Office of the Campus Counsel said the university hopes to “continue to provide records to you on a rolling basis.” Documents should be provided by or before June 1, she said, warning that some information will be redacted. “We understand you are on deadlines and sincerely appreciate your understanding and patience with us,” she said.
We hope university leaders hold to their word as the clock continues to run. By the end of the month, for the first of these requests, we will be at 67 days.