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What did the latest Sunshine Request show?

Not much of anything other than the inability of the county to deliver the information in a timely fashion.

As I told you recently I had filed another Sunshine Request with the County looking for something a tipster had said might be worth looking into. This individual had good reason to believe that there were plans to build some type of convention hotel at Smithville Lake.

I thought it worth at least looking into. We’ve seen with the last year at the County how one could believe something like this could be tried considering all the other bad ideas that are currently being tried out.

For those that don’t know, this is actually not a new idea. I have been told that the original plans around Little Platte Marina included space for a potential hotel. Having been studied by past commissions, the idea was put to bed as the feedback indicated that it would have been an unsuccessful endeavor. The studies that were done said that the hotel would have been too far from Kansas City for it to be a hotel for tourism, and too close to Kansas City for a lodge type concept.

The last thing we need in the area is another bonded public convention hotel…

The individual that contacted me had reason to believe that if a hotel was to be built, it would have been constructed on the east side of Smithville Lake. I have also heard, but never been able to fully confirm, that Commissioner Ridgeway spoke of this idea in a public speech at one point in time.

Could you imagine this current Commission involved in a major development project like a convention hotel?

The phrase “total disaster” comes to mind.

To figure out if this was just a rumor, I requested from the County searches of County Commissioner Ridgeway, County Commissioner Owen, County Administrator Dean Brookshier, and Assistant County Administrator Nicole Brown for two separate boolean search combinations.

I did not have Presiding Commissioner Nolte’s email searched as he told me that he knew nothing about the idea and was as curious as I was if something would turn up.

And, well, other than finding out that Nicole Brown was on TheNorthlandNews.com email list. (Thanks, Nicole, I always appreciate those that read the site.) The emails didn’t return anything remotely related to the topic at hand.

You can see the documents that were produced by clicking HERE.

As I quipped in the introductory paragraph, the production of these documents was slow. It was also expensive.

It’s the expensive part I actually would love to get some help in understanding from any of the more technically competent members of TheNorthlandNews.com audience.

According to my contact with Spencer Fane LLP, the lawyers who handle the Sunshine Requests, the County exports these email record requests in a file format called .pst. This is going to get a little technical, but I find TNN readers to be some of the smartest in all of the Northland so I thought I’d explain.

The proprietary file format was created by Microsoft and is used by Microsoft Exchange. From what I’ve read, it’s capable of storing data that is commonly found within Microsoft email applications.

Microsoft Exchange server has a built in compliance function that’s primarily used in organizations for human resource issues and opposing counsel in legal cases. It’s designed to be easily distributed.

Since the county is exporting email records requests in this format, it’s almost certain they’re using the export function of Microsoft Exchange Server. I read through the technical directions and it’s really not that complicated of a process to export the emails.

Where am I going with this?

I was charged $120 to get what is the equivalent of 54 pages of emails many of which were the same email sent to multiple inboxes. Supposedly this request to a “systems administrator” who makes the equivalent of $83,000 a year (benefits included) took three hours to complete?

In total fairness, I’ve never used Microsoft Exchange Server nor done this search, but I’ve been working on computers since I was the age of 3 and I have a hard time believing that my simple searches of 4 inboxes took this long. Plus, there’s no accountability for the county that indicates that three hours were spent. For all I know, it could’ve taken 30 minutes.

Any TNN readers able to shed any light on my thinking here?

My concern is that this is going to be the reality of county records requests going forward. Especially in the context of the Commissioner Ridgeway’s and Owen’s actions last Monday. For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, the most transparent Commission in the history of transparency itself decided to rip the Custodian of Records from County Clerk Megan Thompson.

And Ms. Transparency herself…

Commissioner Ridgeway is really transparent, Plus she’s accessible and accountable. After all, SHE UNDERLINED THE WORDS!

…led the charge to complete this action.

I reached out to Megan Thompson for comment about what happened last Monday. Here is what she had to say:

I am proud of my office for its accomplishments while acting as the Custodian of Records for Clay County.  We modernized the record retention center, streamlined the Sunshine Law Request process, and hosted statewide trainings on record retention and Sunshine Law.  We also made it a priority to interact with the public in a professional and responsive manner.  I stand ready, willing, and able to assume my duties if the Commission decides to appoint me as Custodian of Records.

I’ve had several conversations with Ms. Thompson and have found her want to get citizens information in an affordable manner highly respectable.

But… that now all goes through County Administrator Dean Brookshier. So, I’m sure it’ll be even better than it was before.

I’m tiring of the charades at the Courthouse and the good news is more citizens are everyday.

About Andrew Palmer