Cal Poly student battles state over 20 cents

October 22, 2012

An attempt by a reporter at Cal Poly’s Mustang Daily in San Luis Obispo to get a copy of an email from the California State University chancellor’s office was thwarted over 20 cents. [LATimes]

Sean McMinn was working on a story about professors and the university advocating in favor of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 tax plan, which might be a violation of the law. McMinn made a public records request for an email that CSU Chancellor Charles Reed sent university presidents.

University officials’ first response was to claim the email might not be a public record.

McMinn pushed on and university officials agreed to release the email for a 20 cent charge. Even though California’s public records law does not permit charging for electronically available and delivered emails, McMinn tried to give a credit card number only to find out they do not accept credit cards.

Working on deadline, McMinn then asked if he could have a friend bring a quarter to the Long Beach office, and was told they only accept checks.

“It’s strange, this is the university that we’re attending, their mission is to educate us and support research,” McMinn told the LA Times. “It’s a record we know is public and they know is public.”

As for McMinn’s story, he was able to get the email from another source and make his deadline.



  1. The Gimlet Eye says:

    The state concedes nothing if it feels its power and authority are being questioned. Not even 20 cents.

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. kayaknut says:

    So Sean McMinn you are frustrated when working with a bureaucracy, welcome to the real world, when any regular person needs to interact with a government agency or politician we get the same treatment.

    (8) 12 Total Votes - 10 up - 2 down
  3. racket says:

    My 20¢ says Sean McMinn is a name to watch in journalism.

    Good article in the link. Maybe we can get him to come work here at CCN once in awhile!

    (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
  4. SLOBIRD says:

    This is happening all over the State. PTA’s sending letter’s home, high school students being lectured to the dangers if Prop 30 is not passed, Colleges injecting fear, and best of all Jerry Brown picking UCLA and Davis to give his solution for the schools with his peachy speeches. FEAR!

    VOTE NO ON PROP 30 – OR, at least read the measure. Go to Ballotpedia or other non-partisan site and read thoroughly. Be informed!

    (9) 21 Total Votes - 15 up - 6 down
    • r0y says:

      I’ve been in CA long enough to recognize the annual “Education Shakedown” via ballot initiative.

      Since “Bonds” rightly are falling out of favor, increased taxes are their only choice left. It’s still a shake down: “Give us more money or your kids will suffer!”

      (15) 21 Total Votes - 18 up - 3 down
  5. r0y says:

    “Jetty Brown” ? OK, I suppose that “T” is close enough to the “R” – kind of funny, CCN, that our gov’s name slips by the proofing overlords! =)

    I think the most interesting part of the story is what the kid was writing about: Politicking in the classroom. I recall from my days at CPSLO that there was no hiding/denying who or what many of my profs were for. Illegal or not, I always thought it unprofessional, but figured they don’t call academia a bastion of liberalism (just “democrats” back then) for nothing.

    I don’t mind if someone has an opinion, or even supports someone; the bigger problem we have is a crowd of mush-minded kids where most of them know very little, if anything, about the world around them except what someone else in a position of authority tells them.

    It’s a tricky issue, and not a bad piece.

    (5) 19 Total Votes - 12 up - 7 down
    • tomjones says:

      So did any of you commenters, thus far, actually read McMinn’s article (linked at the bottom of this article) on the contents of that email? I ask rhetorically, because it is obvious you did not.

      Taken directly from McMinn’s article:

      …But in an email dated Sept. 26 from CSU Chancellor Charles Reed to university presidents, he told the universities that using the classroom to inform students how politics, specifically Proposition 30, will impact the CSU is “not appropriate.”

      oh the irony of your statement above…”where most of them know very little, if anything, about the world around them except what someone else in a position of authority tells them.”

      (-5) 5 Total Votes - 0 up - 5 down
      • racket says:

        I read McMinn’s article, including the part you referenced. Does the fact that the chancellor was directing his employees to follow the law absolve the CSU from their obligations under the CA Public Records Act? Or what’s your point?

        (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
      • racket says:

        The fact that he felt he *had* to issue that direction to his employees speaks volumes about the political climate we a sending our kids to “learn” in.

        (2) 10 Total Votes - 6 up - 4 down
      • r0y says:

        tom, I did say (as you actually quoted me) “where most of them know very little.” – So, that somehow includes ALL of them? No, obviously the guy writing the article obviously knew better.

        Get off your high horse and read what is said (and quoted by YOU).

        (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down

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