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Citizen's View: Disclosure change may have chilling effect

It is my opinion that a change in state law will have a chilling effect on volunteerism at the local government level, affecting members of the City Council, Planning Commission, Development Review Commission and Historic Resources Advisory Board.

Volunteerism is very important to the operation of government. This law affects 26 Lake Oswego volunteers and two staff members. Let me share the situation with you.

In the past, the affected volunteers were required to file an economic disclosure statement annually with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. We were required to disclose all sources of income in excess of 10 percent of our annual income by name, and all sources of income in excess of $1,000 if the source might do business with the City.

Each person’s statement was available upon request. The request part of the process was seen as a deterrent to ID theft and other sorts of mischief. Seemingly, the former law did not have a chilling effect, although I am told that some volunteers in other jurisdictions did resign.

We are still required to disclose the same information, but the law has been revised to require affected volunteers to file electronically, beginning in 2016. (The deadline to file is April 15.) This is not a problem. The problem is: All of our names will be listed on a state website, and our personal information will be available to every person in the world having access to a computer by a click of a mouse on our name. Every person means those with good and bad intentions — again, throughout the world. To date, the state has failed to explain this fact. I got the information by asking questions.

Let me be clear. I do not have an issue with filing the disclosure; the issue is that the information will be available to everyone in the world for good or bad purposes by a click of a mouse on a name. What is needed is to require a request for the information. That would be viewed as a deterrent.

My friends are active participants on boards. I wanted a check on my reactions. To a person, they have said they would never again volunteer for public service where a disclosure is required, given the change in law. Would you volunteer under these circumstances — for example, run for council? Would your friends?

Write or call your legislators if you share my concern.

Adrianne Brockman is a Lake Oswego resident and a member of the Planning Commission.