SALEM, OR (KPTV) - Oregon’s first Public Records Advocate will leave her post next Monday. Wednesday morning, Ginger McCall issued her final reports and recommendations she says will make the government more transparent.
Wednesday, McCall talked about the importance of access to public records, not only for members of the press, but for members of the public trying to get a police report or other documents. She feels the records are important to shed light on what happens behind closed doors.
“I think it is really important, what I have managed to do here is to help people cut through the red tape on their public records requests,” McCall said.
Among her duties at the office of the Public Records Advocate was to present reforms to better public records laws.
McCall says she was pressured by staffers in the governor’s office who told her it was her job to represent the interest of the governor’s office on the Public Advisory Record’s Council and was not supposed to disclose it to the council she was the chair of. She told FOX 12 in September she felt that was dishonest and announced her resignation.
Since then, she’s been working on her final reports, recommendations to state leaders.
“If you have been a victim of a crime, you need to be able to have access to that police report in order to get insurance, in order to continue your life after that has happened to you,” McCall said.
In the report, she outlines four things she says will help Oregon public records. She would like to see lower fees for public records, similar to that of the Federal Government’s Freedom of Information Act. McCall says the current system makes it too difficult to access those records.
She wants to see a change in how denied requests are handled, saying the only option now is to go to court.
The third idea is a tool to track public records requests and give local government the tools to do just that.
The final suggestion is to make the Office of Public Records Advocate an independent office so the pressures she felt won’t hamper the work of her successor.
“I hope that this can last, lead to lasting reforms especially for the independence of the office of the public records advocate,” McCall said.
Gov. Kate Brown’s office sent the following statement:
“The Governor is eager to hear what recommendations the Public Records Advisory Council (PRAC) moves forward on based on this report. Governor Brown was very clear last month that she looks forward to supporting the changes the PRAC proposes to improve the independence of the office of the Public Records Advocate, including efforts to ensure the position is not directly overseen by any elected official, or in any way overseen by the Executive branch but by the Council itself.”
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