Oleson won’t allow Board employee to answer questions related to the Harris Building

You can’t make this stuff up.

At 10:37am this morning, I received some questions from a private party and I passed them along to the Director of Policy & Administration – a manager reporting to the Board of Supervisors. I did not receive a reply from the manager, but at 3:32pm, I received the email below from Supervisor Chairperson Brent Oleson – the main advocate for the manner in which the Harris Building is being financed and built.

Oleson directed the manager to not respond to me.

If the Harris Building project is legitimate in every way, then why is Supervisor Oleson stonewalling me?

I was not suspecting anything was out of order before, but now I am very curious and I suspect something is not quite right with the Harris Building project. I hope I am wrong because the taxpayers will be on-the-hook if Oleson and/or the Board did anything inappropriate.

Once again, I find myself asking questions that our local investigative reporters should be asking. But they always seem to leave the hard questions up to me either because they don’t understand the topic or because they don’t want to upset the sources they need to write everyday stories.

See how easy it is for me to get into something controversial? Just ask a question or two, and then wait. The character assassinating and misrepresentations will begin soon because that’s how Oleson operates. Now I am interested in the Harris Building! -Joel D. Miller (NP) – Linn County Auditor


From: Miller, Joel
Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 3:44 PM
To: Oleson, Brent <Brent.Oleson@linncounty.org>
Cc: Board of Supervisors <BOARDDL@linncounty.org>; Alexander, Joi <Joi.Alexander@linncounty.org>; Tucker, Steve <Steve.Tucker@linncounty.org>; Jindrich, Dawn <Dawn.Jindrich@linncounty.org>; Jarvis, Gary <Gary.Jarvis@linncounty.org>; Gage, Darrin <Darrin.Gage@linncounty.org>
Subject: RE: Questions related to the Harris Building

Brent: You just gave direction to an employee you do not have the authority to direct. You can recommend and you can request, but you have no authority to direct employees – only the Board can officially direct employees

Why are you afraid of answering these questions? Now, I suspect something is wrong with this deal when I had no reason to believe otherwise before this moment.

Darrin: My 10:37am request to you stands.

Joel D Miller(NP) – Linn County Auditor


From: Oleson, Brent
Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 3:32 PM
To: Gage, Darrin <Darrin.Gage>; Miller, Joel <Joel.Miller>
Cc: Board of Supervisors <BOARDDL>; Alexander, Joi <Joi.Alexander>; Tucker, Steve <Steve.Tucker>; Jindrich, Dawn <Dawn.Jindrich>; Jarvis, Gary <Gary.Jarvis>
Subject: Re: Questions related to the Harris Building


Please have the so-called inquirer contact me. Darrin, please do not respond to Joel any further without Board Authorization.

Board members, all responses will come from the Board as whole not individually.

Merry Christmas!

Sent from my iPhone

Brent C Oleson

Linn County Supervisor




On Dec 20, 2017, at 1:38 PM, Gage, Darrin <Darrin.Gage@linncounty.org> wrote:

Note:  Darrin’s email was redacted by either him or Supervisor Oleson.


From: Miller, Joel
Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 10:37 AM
To: Gage, Darrin <Darrin.Gage@linncounty.org>
Cc: Harris, John <John.Harris@linncounty.org>; Rogers, Ben <Ben.Rogers@linncounty.org>
Subject: Questions related to the Harris Building


I received these questions this morning and since you seem to be managing this project, I am asking that you answer them or seek answers to them.  The questions are:

Who is issuing the notice to bidders?

Who approves the design and the contract documents?

Who oversees the bid letting?

Who is  the authority that will be exercising the contracts / signing the contracts for construction?

Who issues / issued the Request for Qualifications and the Request for Proposals?

Who determines the RFQ and RFP criteria?

Who will be in the room during the contractors’ presentations?

Who ultimately has the authority to determine the winner / entity with whom the contract will be awarded?

Is the project bonded? 

Does the contract elude to Iowa Code Chapter 73A (Bonding)? 

What protections are provided in the event of a contractor default (and who is left holding the bag)?

Is Linn County afforded the protections of Chapter 73A if we are not building the public improvement? 

When do you think you can provide me with answers so I can set expectations with the questioner?


Joel D Miller  (NP) County Auditor, BS, CERA

Office of Linn County Auditor – 

935 2nd ST SW – Cedar Rapids, IA  52404

2 Responses to “Oleson won’t allow Board employee to answer questions related to the Harris Building”

  1. Stop the Board of Supervisors from spending $31.5M without getting your approval first | JoelMiller.us Says:

    […] Conversation bond? Why are they skipping the competitive bid process? Why won’t they answer basic questions? Why did the Harris Building’s cost go from $10M to $31.5M in less than two […]


  2. Fake news and a kangaroo court | JoelMiller.us Says:

    […] if we directed staff not to answer him, there would be a big stink.  Fake news:  Actually, the Board did direct its staff not to answer my questions regarding the Harris Building.  No stink – no news […]


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