Open Oregon opposes HB 3273 for adding too much secrecy to the arrest process

Open Oregon has sent a letter to the members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Ballot Measure 110 Implementation regarding H.B. 3273. The bill would prohibit law enforcement agencies from releasing booking photos (“mug shots”) except in rare cases. 

Our letter reads, in part:

Open Oregon urges a no vote on this legislation. Government has the unique ability to take away someone’s bodily freedom and should never be allowed to do so in secret. Without a photo, it is impossible to fully identify an individual — be they an innocent citizen, a public school teacher, an elected official or a babysitter. It is in the general public’s interest to continue to make arrestee photos disclosable documents.

Our board’s media members say they have already changed their practices and rarely publish photos for low-level accusations. Additional regulation is not necessary.

According to our NFOIC colleague in Virginia, legislation like this was proposed there, but ultimately the legislature found that existing laws for extortion, computer threats and others were sufficient to combat the privacy violations. In Kentucky, in 2016, a law was passed to prohibit the commercial use of mugshots, which helped sidestep predatory websites. Those would be good alternatives to take here.

HB 3273 is slated for a work session May 24 at 8:30 a.m. and, depending on the outcome of that meeting, may have a public hearing after that.

Open Oregon opposes indefinite attorney-client privilege (HB 2478 – 2021 session)

The Oregon legislature is currently debating HB 2478, a proposal that would make documents under attorney-client privilege secret indefinitely. Currently, following a court of appeals ruling, the window is 25 years. Open Oregon believes this should remain the standard in the state. What follows is an excerpt of our testimony for a hearing of the House Committee on Rules on April 1.

Oregon’s 25-year sunset on the attorney-client privilege exemption is a recognition that government business is for the ultimate benefit of the public at-large.

Public bodies and those working in the public interest are unique clients. The work they do has the expectation of being in the public interest. No public client should expect to keep hidden forever the details of matters in the public interest.

Maintaining this privilege indefinitely will mean that many records — even those without privileged information — will need expensive attorney review in order to release. This will have a chilling effect on the public’s ability to learn about the workings of its government — even many decades after the fact.

The dawn of the information age, approximately 25 years ago, means that very soon the volume of emails and other digital information that will need to be reviewed for this potential privilege will soon overwhelm archivists and transparency advocates.

Maintaining the 25-year sunset is the best of both worlds. Government officials receive privilege for the pertinent duration of the activity and the public at large maintains their right to know. 

Thank you for providing the opportunity for public debate on this proposal. This is a complicated issue that deserves greater study and discussion due to its potential for unforeseen consequences. 


Open Oregon sends letter to Oregon Health Authority regarding secret vaccine committee meeting

Open Oregon, concerned about the report of a secret meeting by the Oregon Health Authority’s Vaccine Advisory Committee, today sent a letter to OHA Director Patrick Allen. The board urges the health authority to release any recordings of this meeting and to ensure that all future meetings are conducted in the open spirit of Oregon’s public meetings laws.

Read the complete letter below:

Re: Feb. 2 closed meeting of the Oregon Health Authority’s Vaccine Advisory Committee

Dear Director Patrick Allen:

This letter is on behalf of Open Oregon: A Freedom of Information Coalition. Open Oregon, a nonprofit dedicated to educating Oregonians about their rights to government information, objects strongly to the Feb. 2, 2021, secret meeting of the Oregon Health Authority’s Vaccine Advisory Committee.

The committee was established to “advise OHA on vaccine sequencing plans for Phases 1b, 1c and 2, with the goal of ensuring that communities most impacted by COVID-19 are included.”

The vaccine advisory committee appears to be subject to Oregon’s open meetings law: A body that has authority to make recommendations to a public body on policy or administration is a governing body. ORS 192.630.

While OHA might argue the body did not have a quorum deliberating toward a decision, nevertheless the views expressed by the committee members are vitally important to Oregonians trying to navigate and understand the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Closing the meeting to the public certainly violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the open meetings law. It also goes against Oregon’s strong and enduring tradition of government transparency.

If OHA argues no deliberations or decisions occurred, the agency’s position requires the public to simply trust that is indeed what happened.

We ask in the spirit of transparency — given that the lives of Oregonians are literally at stake — that OHA release any recording, notes or record of the Feb. 2, 2021, meeting.

If no recording exists in OHA custody, we respectfully ask that OHA inquire of the members of the committee if they have such a recording to provide for release.

We look forward to hearing from you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to acting board president Shasta Kearns Moore at if you have any questions or concerns.

Shasta Kearns Moore
Vice President and Acting President, Open Oregon
A National Freedom of Information Coalition chapter

cc: Open Oregon Board
Therese Bottomly, Secretary/Treasurer
Duane Bosworth
Tim Gleason
Emily Harris
Mary Beth Herkert
Lisa Phipps
Norman Turrill
John Schrag
Kateri Walsh
Nick Christensen
Justin Mitzimberg
Adam Gibbs


We’re back!

Open Oregon has a new website with much stronger security. Our all-volunteer group appreciates your patience as we have worked to get our website back up and running after a hack in June 2020. We are working to update this older copy with our new and most up-to-date information as quickly as possible. Thank you.