V&T commission criticized for not producing data on acquisitions
August 6, 2008
A candidate for Carson City supervisor criticized some officials of the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway for not making records available for scrutiny.
Dennis Johnson of Carson City said that on July 20 he asked to review records and the cost of those acquisitions, and received no response.
Commission attorney Mike Rowe said he declined to respond to Johnson’s e-mails because such records are confidential.
“Any records relating to accessions are confidential by the requirements of the federal act that governs this commission,” he said. “That trumps the Open Meeting Law and other laws.”
He said the court has said the provisions of the uniform relocation assistance and real property law required confidentiality.
“There isn’t anyone who is going to be reviewing those acquisitions,” he said. “They contain personal information such as Social Security numbers, which is an exclusion to the Public Records Act.”
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He also cited attorney’s rules of professional conduct also prevents him from commenting.
“I don’t intend to respond to the e-mail,” he said.
Jim Lohse, of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad Historical Society, said he had his own problems with obtaining records from the commission and said that even if it wasn’t legally required, it would have been more professional for Rowe to have at least responded to the request.
Lohse said the commission has in the past claimed that nothing ever went over budget, but the budget in 2005 was worth $36 million, while in 2007 the entire project was estimated at $54 million.
“To say you have never gone over budget is like saying you can’t see the forest for the trees,” he said.
The only figures released at the meeting came from the treasurer’s report, which indicated the Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau had set aside $300,000 for this project and also accumulated another $200,000 that was available for use.
Chairman Bob Hadfield said any person who wants to see non-confidential records should contact project manager Kevin Ray.
“I’m willing to meet with anyone, but I work out of my home and can’t be a repository for records,” he said. “I have asked Kevin to err on the side of public disclosure. This has been a learning experience for all of us.”
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or all 881-7351.