For the record, today marks 14 weeks and five days since I filed a public records request under the Freedom of Information Act to Gage County.
All I wanted was access to some emails I believed were exchanged between county supervisors and former Gage County medical director Dr. Don Rice.
It’s been 10 weeks and three days since the Nebraska Attorney General’s office said the public has the right to know what’s in those emails and seven weeks and three days since Rice’s resignation became official.
Finally, it’s been about three weeks since the Gage County Attorney’s Office said we could have the emails, if and only if, we paid $210 in fees and services to the county.
Now, compare that with our friends one county north.
Lancaster County, as I’m sure most of our readers are aware, is nearly identical in geographical size to Gage County, but nearly 13 times as big in population.
Their county board -- all five members -- have been overseeing the construction of a new jail facility that behind schedule.
According to my colleague Jordan Pascale, who covers Lancaster County government for the Lincoln Journal Star, rumors and speculation about why the jail hasn’t yet opened have become commonplace in and around Lincoln.
“County officials have said the main problem is wire installation that is taking longer than expected. Sampson Construction is set to turn over the jail, at Southwest 40th and West O streets, to the county in October,” Pascale wrote in his weekly column.
The Journal Star filed a public records request under the Freedom of Information Act for emails regarding the jail project between the Lancaster County Commissioners and other public officials to find out if there was something the government wasn’t saying.
Pascale and I communicated through Twitter on Wednesday and I asked him about his investigation into the matter.
What he told me illustrates a major difference in politicians between our respective counties.
Get this: Lancaster County returned Pascale’s FOIA request in about 10 days. All 80 emails that applied to what he wanted.
And he didn’t even have to pay for them. Since they were electronic records, Lancaster County managed to send them to the Journal Star electronically.
What a novel idea! In this day and age...
All told, turns out there was no smoking gun into why the jail is behind schedule. Contractors are having problems installing internet, data, security and other wiring as well as some problems with late and improperly installed conduits.
While Pascale was writing his column to dispel some of the rumors, he did state that it’s always good to check into a perceived problem.
Gage County supervisors have told me that Rice simply lost support on the board or felt that he lost support on the board which led to his resignation.
I believe that. I really do, especially after seeing him in action a few years ago.
If the reason is something that trivial though, why make such a fight of it?