How to screw voters/taxpayers out of their right to vote on $31.5M in County debt

How to screw voters/taxpayers out of their right to vote on $31.5M in County debt

Step 1 – Publish a legal notice in the Gazette on 12/21/2017 announcing the Linn County Board of Supervisors is going to hold a public hearing at its Board meeting on 1/3/2018 to approve a resolution authorizing the County to take on a $31.5M (million) obligation via a lease purchase agreement to build and furnish the Harris Building.

Step 2 – Do not hold any Board of Supervisors meetings after 12/20/2017 or before 1/3/2018 so the public cannot officially comment on what the Board is planning to do prior to the 1/3/2018 Board meeting. And time all of the legal notices over the end of year holidays when the public is distracted.

Step 3 – Advise the public via the 12/21/2017 legal notice that they can petition the Board to hold a referendum on the $31.5M obligation. But neglect to inform the public that they need to gather a minimum of 11,710 signatures from the eligible voters of Linn County and present them to the County Auditor PRIOR TO the Board’s 1/3/2018 public hearing in order to call for a referendum to vote on the $31.5M County obligation.

Step 4 – Instruct all Board employees not to answer the following questions:

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?

Step 5 – Ridicule the County Auditor and anyone else who might think to question the Board of Supervisors and/or Supervisor Oleson – see below email from Oleson to Miller.

Step 6 – Approve the resolution on 1/3/2018 and thumb your noses at any naysayers/questioners who dare to speak at the Board’s public hearing, and assassinate their character in public if the opportunity arises … because Supervisors always have the last word in Board of Supervisors meetings.

As I indicated in a previous post, I am not questioning the public purpose for the Harris Building. I am questioning the effort by Oleson and others to bypass the public bidding process that was used on everything the County has built or remodeled since its founding. The public will never know the true cost to build and furnish the Harris Building; therefore, they will never know if they, the taxpayers, paid $10M too much or $5M too much or $1M too much for it.

The taxpayers are paying an unknown, but likely heavy premium so Oleson can thumb his nose at the Iowa Legislature and take care of his union contributors at the expense of the 50% of the households in Linn County that earn $60K or less per household per year.

On 11/8/2016, the Board of Supervisors allowed the County’s voters to vote on a $40M Conservation Bond which passed with overwhelming support. The Board trusted the voters then, but they don’t trust the voters to make the right decision on the Harris Building. Why? –Joel D. Miller (NP) – Linn County Auditor


From: Oleson, Brent
Sent: Friday, December 22, 2017 1:17 PM
To: Miller, Joel <>
Cc: Board of Supervisors <>; Gage, Darrin <>; Jarvis, Gary <>; Tucker, Steve <>; Jindrich, Dawn <>; !!Elected Officials and Dept Heads <>
Subject: Public Hearing

Joel: If you want to comment on the Harris Bldg. project that we’ve been working on for the last few years, you will have the same opportunity as any member of the public on January 3, 2018. No more and no less. Your reverse referendum signatures (10% of last General vote) will be due then as well if you choose that route. Please consult legal counsel, as having a Westlaw account and a Black’s Law Dictionary are no substitute for sound legal advice. Finally, you will be given no special comment spot as your duties as Auditor (secretary to Board of Supervisors; payroll clerk; etc.) have no nexus to issue at hand. We all see this for what it is, a political stunt, and I won’t have you use the apparatus of county government and public service for your latest quixotic tilting at windmills adventure. Merry Christmas!

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