Friday, June 12, 2009

Register-Guard attempts to violate your privacy.

I recently recieved word from the Lane County Sheriff that the Eugene-Springfield area daily newspaper, The Register-Guard, requested each and every name of the 10,000-plus CHL holders in his jurisdiction. Here is the full text of the letter I recieved from Sheriff Russel Burger:

Lane County Sheriff’s Office
Russel E. Burger, Sheriff

June 12, 2009
Jack Moran
Register Guard
3500 Chad Drive Eugene OR 97408

Dear Mr. Moran: I am in receipt of your email requesting public records, specifically a list of all concealed handgun license holders in Lane County. We have the records you are requesting.

Earlier this year I sent a letter to all concealed handgun license holders in Lane County, asking if they wanted their personal information released to the public. A copy of that letter has been provided to the Register Guard.

A few individuals responded stating that they did not want their information to be confidential; and, I will provide copies of those responses. The vast majority of concealed handgun license holders responded that they obtained a concealed handgun license as a personal security measure and they do not want their personal information disclosed.

Regarding those responses, I am denying your request pursuant to ORS 192.501(23). The names and addresses of license holders that stated they obtained a concealed handgun license as a security measure are exempt from disclosure. I am also denying the request under ORS 192.502(2) since the release of that information would be an unreasonable invasion of privacy; and, ORS 192.502(4) as a confidential submission that is not otherwise required to be submitted.

If you are interested in obtaining a redacted copy of those responses, with the names and addresses removed, we are able to provide that to you. Those responses asking for confidentiality, numbering approximately 8,923, were sent to this office both electronically and by mail. In order to provide that redacted information, we estimate it will take approximately 80 hours of staff time, in addition to photocopying charges; and approximately 5 hours of time for our information services department to redact and provide the electronic information.

I do not believe that the public interest would be served by redacting and providing this information, since the remaining information is a simple yes or no response to two questions posed in our letter. Because of that, we will not waive the fees associated with providing a redacted copy of these records.

If you wish to obtain a redacted copy of these records, please send a written request and I will provide you an estimated cost. Upon receipt and approval by you of that estimated amount, we will provide the redacted records.
Russel E. Burger Sheriff
cc: T. Turner - Undersheriff
Lane County Counsel
125 E. 8th Avenue ∙ Eugene, OR 97401 ∙ Phone: (541) 682-4150 ∙ Fax: (541) 682-3309 ∙

I think the Register-Guard's actions really speak for themselves to the necessity of a comprehensive and uncompromising CHL privacy bill. There WAS such a bill, HR 2727 which passed the Oregon House by a huge bipartisan margin. Unfortunately, this bill has been held up in the Oregon Senate by those opposed to gun rights on principle. Thankfully my Sheriff has been incredibly proactive in ascertaining the privacy desires of CHL holders and honoring the nearly 9,000 responses in favor of complete privacy.

But the fact remains that under the current laws in Oregon, he didn't have to. He could as easily have justified selling Lane County's responsible gun owners down the river.

I don't have much else to add, and would love to hear comments and ideas about making them pay. They had no reason to take such actions against the responsible citizens of their community. I'd like to give them some reasons not to. Maybe financial. It's no secret that readership of newspapers across the nation is at an all-time low, and I hardly think the Register-Guard can afford to alienate 10,000 plus current and potential subscribers.

EDIT: Here's a link to the Oregon Firearms Federation's take on this and how it relates to the recent blockade and weakening of our CHL privacy bill.

PLEASE contact your Oregon state senators and demand that they follow the Oregon House in protecting us from these fishing expeditions and intrusions which, while doing nothing to prevent crime, punish those who seek to comply with the law.


Zak Johnson said...

I agree with OFF that this is terrible that the bill isn't passing. But I disagree with them that Judy Stiegler in the House is to blame. The House passed HB 2727. It is the senate, apparently due to the influence of Ginny Burdick, which is refusing to take up this important civil rights and anti-crime bill supported strongly by Oregon's sheriffs.

Here's another link to the story on Sheriffs losing the right to protect privacy.

Hallie said...

I talked to my Senator, Betsy Johnson about this critical bill about 3 weeks ago. She told me she would support maintaining CHL privacy. We all know how these things work - simple horse trading. And lots of horse crap.

As for the Register-Guard, I agree, we had a similar anti HB-2727 rant in the Daily Astorian a few weeks back. The Eastern Oregonian publishing group, which owns the Daily Astorian, owns several of the smaller papers throughout the state. Those are great targets for boycotts and online blogging and such. These papers are losing their reader base for a reason. It's all I can do to continue to read my daily local, but I am committed to staying involved in the community, so I write editorials at least monthly. Their views are so one sided and geared towards an agenda of corporate greed, which I know sounds crazy, but that’s the closest thing I’ve been able to figure out. I am not anti-corporate by any stretch, but I do think the tax base should be more reflective of the output, in all forms, including environmental. Many of these papers are owned by businesses that are trying to get in their communities. I am not anti-business - let me restate that point, but I have seen the effects of a local out of control organization up here in Clatsop County, one which has no real ties to the community, only interested in getting everyone riled up over the LNG issue. Mind you, I am against LNG, after researching it thoroughly I don't think the market can bear it right now and it's not worth the ecological damage. Both sides have played dirty because for the most part, neither cares about the community; they are myopically interested in their issue. Being a delegate at the 2008 democratic convention, I met and spoke with lots of people who live and work in the Mississippi Delta, working in the LNG industry. While I did not change my mind, I moderated my stance considerably when people I knew were added to the equation. I had already done a lot of research, but they informed me of the safety records, and other things I was unaware of. As I say, I remain unswayed, from a business and an environmental perspective, but life is all about learning, and I learned a lot from the delegates from Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. One of the best ways I learn is to open my mind to my fellow living beings and let myself change my mind. I will not change my mind on the LNG issue though - just for the record. Too much info in the ol' noggin. I simply choose to not act like a moron and hold votes 2 months before the general election because I don't care what it costs the County. I have researched the hell out of this issue.

The Daily Astorian has owned this issue, using it to exploit the worst fears of the community for more than 2 years. They don’t care about the issue, they want to sale papers. They weigh in on an issue, be it "gun control" or LNG, it's completely biased reporting, not reflective of the community in my opinion. I recommend we begin to hold these papers accountable. They are small town papers who can't afford a statewide, well coordinated effort. I don't want to destroy anyone; I just want them to realize journalist integrity is guaranteed in the constitution for a reason. They are abusing that privilege in my opinion.

I’ll work on the effort if anyone else is interested. We can focus it around the 2nd Amendment, but it extends well beyond that issue. The media has lost its collective mind and finally the blogosphere seems to have earned some credibility. Let’s see if we can get some traction and hold the Register-Guard accountable for poor reporting in a BIG way, linking them to other half-ass reporting efforts. Thoughts?

For anyone wanting the editorial on HB2727 from the Daily Astorian, you should be able to google it. If you can't get to it, email me and I will send it to you directly because they will have it as "subscriber only" access if you can't get to it from google.

Let's hold these little papers accountable!

The Different Drummer said...

I'm really glad you spoke up, Hallie, because I think you've hit the nail on the head. My paper's editorial board is similarly sensationalist. The latest subject they've latched onto is jail funding. The serious issues receive shallow, hyped-up coverage, heavily pro-business but more importantly inattentive to the people's side of the story.

I'd love to make some waves, Hallie, but I'm not sure how, like I said. You sound like a savvy organizer, and I'd love to get behind some good ideas that will get some deeper, more sensitive coverage to local issues.