The Portland Public Schools Board, including Martin Gonzalez and Trudy Sargent who are also candidates, have refused to allow competing candidates such as Steve Buel and Rita Moore,  the press - Willamette Week, and taxpayers Richard Ellmyer, Nola Rathburn et. al. have access to public data related to PPS Pulse, a public newsletter published and distributed by the Portland Public Schools. The issue has statewide consequences involving the future relevance of the Oregon Public Records law and the legitimacy of certain public elections. Legislators, lawyers, the Oregon Secretary of State and Oregon's Attorney General as well as Oregon voters and taxpayers should pay close attention to the outcome of this conflict (See below).

The mayor of Portland just reported that "46% of those entering 9th grade will not graduate from high school within four years." This is a stunning indictment of the PPS board failure. The plans, programs and policies of the PPS Board which account for this abysmal graduation rate are continually promoted in PPS Pulse, unchallenged and paid for with public funds.

One issue of PPS Pulse featured a positive story about declared PPS board candidate Martin Gonzalez after his appointment to the PPS board. More recently PPS Pulse thanked its readers, "for your advocacy." PPS Pulse has nothing to do with protecting the rights of individual students as speciously argued by the PPS board. PPS Pulse is the political voice of the Portland Public Schools Board masquerading as a benign calendar of events. It promotes the people, plans, programs and policies that underlie the PPS Board's epic failure as evidenced in the colossally distributing fact that 46% of those entering 9th grade in the Portland Public Schools will NOT graduate from high school within four years.

80% of the taxpayers that contribute to the education of school age children do NOT have children in the Portland Public Schools.  OUR expectations are NOT the same as the minority 20%. On behalf of the vast majority who actually pay the lion's share of the education bills here are three matters which the PPS Board and others MUST address:

1. We demand that the highest priority be given to increasing graduation rates to the maximum possible. 

Every year Portland taxpayers send individual tax payments of hundreds to thousands of dollars to the Portland Public Schools. We expect, indeed, demand that the PPS Board produce educated voters. The percentage of students entering 9th grade who will graduate from high school within four years is the statistic by which we can meaningfully measure the return on our investment.

2. We demand responsible fiduciary stewardship of public property.

The public property which was paid for with our tax dollars must remain in public use unless an overwhelmingly compelling case can be made to the contrary.

3. We demand that the PPS Board support a solution to Oregon's moral and economic health care crisis that is based on a model in which elected officials and public employees and voters and taxpayers have EQUAL ACCESS to the SAME LEVEL of health care and oppose the perpetuation of our current multitiered health insurance CLASS system.

Health insurance payments demanded by public employee bargaining units are unsustainable, work against the interests of taxpayers and will continue to escalate public health care class warfare.

Healthy, Educated Citizens And Transparent Government Is The Goal

Richard Ellmyer


From:   Richard Ellmyer

Subject: Official Request For PPS Pulse Distribution List

Date: April 13, 2009 12:56:40 PM PDT

To:   Multnomah County District Attorney

Hi Multnomah County District Attorney and others with an interest in the legal and political processes of Portland:

The Multnomah County District Attorney's office has already been sent this information, twice. Nevertheless, here it is again.

1. The obvious and previously stated custodian of the public records sought is the Portland Public Schools Board. 

2. The written request to the public body was sent to the Portland Public Schools Board and the MCDA on March 29, 2009. See Below.

3. As is the habit of the Portland Public Schools Board they have refused to send a timely denial thereby potentially extending the period of compliance beyond the upcoming May PPS Board election.

The denial of a petition for this information in February 2008 is irrelevant to this request.

1. The original decision by the MCDA's office was biased, wrong, unjustified, indefensible and based on a deliberate misinterpretation of the facts and the law. The one word legal appeal decision written by Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schrunk, I "disagree", insulted and trivialized the process. I "disagree" would NOT be an acceptable legal argument in any appellate court in the United States of America.

2. There is ample new evidence to prove that in the 14 months since the MCDA rejected the first request PPS Pulse has demonstrably proven to be a public newsletter expressing the ideas, policies and programs of the elected Portland Public School Board using public funds.

3. There is a much wider audience and community of interest observing the behavior of the PPS Board, candidates for the PPS board and the Multnomah County District Attorney's office decision making process this time around.

4. This issue involves the election process of public officials and therefore will be of considerably more interest to the public, voters, the legal community and those elected public officials charged with election oversight in our state.

Thank you for your assistance.

Richard Ellmyer


From:   Richard Ellmyer

Subject: Request For PPS Pulse Distribution List For Candidates, Taxpayers And Voters

Date: March 29, 2009 5:46:25 PM PDT


Hi Portland Public School Board Members:

The upcoming PPS board election makes time of the essence. By April 3, 2009 please send the twelve individuals named at the bottom of this email a tab delimited text file of the database distribution records of ALL those citizens that received an email copy of the PPS newsletter entitled PPS Pulse ( 

"Thanks are due to PPS employees, who are being asked to forgo cost-of-living wage increases to balance our budget. Thanks also to the state leaders who have pledged to use federal stimulus dollars and state reserves to keep schools from deeper cuts. And thanks to you, for your advocacy."

This is a statement published in PPS Pulse made by the Superintendent on behalf of and approved by the PPS board. It most certainly advocates for public policy issues related to public employee job performance and the spending of discretionary federal tax dollars. In addition, it thanks its readers for their, "advocacy." There are many such examples scattered throughout  PPS Pulse issues.

PPS Pulse is a public newsletter containing ideas, stories, programs, policies, projects etc. endorsed, promoted and controlled by the current elected PPS board designed to influence its targeted and limited set of voters and taxpayers.

A. Candidates for PPS board, both registered and potential write-ins, MUST have equal access to PPS Pulse recipients to have an equal opportunity to influence this constituency.

B. Taxpayers MUST have equal access to PPS Pulse recipients to have an equal opportunity to influence this constituency.

C. Elected public officials that have competing interests regarding the spending of discretionary federal tax dollars MUST have equal access to PPS Pulse recipients to have an equal opportunity to influence this constituency.

D. The strong probability that PPS Pulse will be used by the current PPS board to advocate directly or indirectly to support a school bond measure demands that taxpayers, voters and candidates for PPS board be given equal access to the PPS Pulse distribution list.

Using taxpayer funded public school resources to promote the views of the publicly elected PPS board without allowing taxpayers, voters and candidates an equal opportunity to challenge those views to the same audience is blatantly unfair, unethical, undemocratic and probably illegal. 

Other Arguments In Favor Of Producing This Public Data

1. The public records of the email addresses used in this PPS Pulse mailing fall under the authority of the Oregon Public Records law.

2. On two occasions the Multnomah county counsel's office acknowledged that newsletters sent by former Multnomah county chair Diane Linn and Multnomah county commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey to county employees and other voters and taxpayers qualified under the Oregon Public Records law and made those records publicly available. The current circumstances at PPS Pulse are no different.

3. Challenging PPS Claims Of Privacy Based On The Family Educational Rights And Privacy Act:

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. ... FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. ... Schools may disclose, without consent, "directory" information. ... "Directory information" means information contained in an education record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. It includes, but is not limited to, the student's name, address, telephone listing, electronic mail address. (Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1232g (a)(5)(A))

3A. The files requested do NOT involve any student education records and therefore have no connection to FERPA.

3B. The public files requested are email records of citizens NOT STUDENTS and therefore have no connection to FERPA.

3C. Willamette Week described PPS Pulse as a "new email marketing campaign" which has no connection to student education records and therefore has no connection to FERPA.

3D. Willamette Week described PPS Pulse as an "online newsletter" which has no connection to student education records and therefore has no connection to FERPA.

3E. Willamette Week described PPS Pulse as, "Emailed ...  to 34,000 inboxes, the online newsletter going out to parents and others." No students nor student education records are involved and therefore this emailed newsletter has no connection to FERPA.

3F.  Willamette Week described the most popular article in PPS Pulse as "A story about the Trail Blazers’ slapping logos on the floors of PPS gyms." This obviously has NOTHING to do with student education records and therefore has no connection to FERPA.

3G. Willamette Week described PPS Pulse as sent by a software program called, "EMMA" which "has a tracking feature that lets school officials monitor how many people open the newsletter and what they read. And if they use the forwarding feature embedded in the newsletter, PPS can tell how many times and to whom recipients forward PPS Pulse." Sending newsletters to citizens in order to track their reading and mail forwarding habits has absolutely nothing to do with student education records and therefore has no connection to FERPA.

The Oregon Public Records law requires the following:

1. Identifying the custodian of the public records. The PPS Board is the custodian of the requested public records.

2. Specifically identifying the public data. The data is identified as the database distribution records of those citizens that received an email copy of the PPS newsletter entitled PPS Pulse.

3. Cost to provide data. The requested data can be produced as a database export file then sent as an email attachment in a matter of minutes. The cost to provide this data is nil.

PPS board members and candidates for the PPS board Trudy Sargent and Martin Gonzalez are urged to demonstrate their very serious consideration to this request by acting on their own initiative and authority in a timely fashion in support of American democratic principles which are taught in the Portland Public Schools and share the data they currently control with their competitors, the press and the public.

Thank you.

Scott Bailey

Mark Bartlett

Steve Buel

Travis Burke

Richard Ellmyer

Martin Gonzalez

Pam Knowles

Richard Meeker

Rita Moore

Nola Rathburn

Trudy Sargent

Lynn Schore

[All of the above are Portland taxpayers, voters, candidates for the PPS board or potential write-in candidates for the PPS board.]