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County blasts emergency manager

Staff writer

It took Hillsboro economic director Anthony Roy a month and a half to get a copy of the county emergency operations plan from emergency manager Randy Frank.

County commissioners want to know why.

Roy said Monday he was surprised Frank did not have a public copy of the plan available.

“I would also note that other counties have their plans readily available online, he said. “Harvey County is an example of that.”

Hillsboro’s emergency operations plan was outdated, and the city wanted to update it. Since the city’s old plan makes repeated references to the county’s plan, Roy emailed Frank Sept. 2 to ask for a copy.

Instead of sending a copy, Frank asked why he wanted it.

“He replied back, ‘What exactly are you looking for?’ ” Roy said. “I admit I was pretty frustrated.”

Frank told commissioners parts of the plan are not open record. He said he was trying to find out how he could help the city of Hillsboro.

Roy said Frank just kept asking what the city wanted.

Nine days of repeated requests were greeted with more back-and-forth from Frank, prompting Roy to submit an open records request to county clerk Tina Spencer.

Spencer sent Frank a request for the document Sept. 14.

Two days later, she emailed Frank again to follow up.

Frank told commissioners he calculated the cost of his time and wanted Roy to pay in advance for a copy of the plan.

“I wasn’t trying to stop him, I was just trying to protect the county,” Frank told the commissioners.

“Why did we not have it available sitting right there like other departments do?” commissioner Randy Dallke asked Frank.

Commissioner Kent Becker asked Frank if department heads have access to the plan.

Frank said department heads have access to the portions of the plan that affect them.

“Does every city have access to it?” Becker asked. “Does every school district have access to it?”

“They haven’t asked for it,” Frank said.

Commission chairman Jonah Gehring said several department heads said they don’t have access to a copy of the plan.

“They haven’t asked for it,” Frank said.

“I think what the whole thing comes down to, Randy, is you could give some guidance,” commissioner Randy Dallke said. “If you had to go work with them for a week, you should have done that. It’s just a communication deal that needs to be taken care of.”

Dallke asked if there is “top secret information” that can’t be given out.

Frank said some portions would need to be redacted.

“So you’re saying the shell of the plan could go out?” Dallke said.

“A redacted copy,” Frank said.

“You can avoid these problems just with proper communication,” Becker said.

Roy said if Frank had told him portions of the document would need to be redacted, he would have understood that — but Frank didn’t tell him that.

“I don’t think he communicated with me very well,” Roy said.

Spencer worked until Sept. 30 to get the plan from Frank, then she reviewed it to make sure redactions were proper and sent it to Roy on Oct. 14.

“Tina has been very cooperative and I have no complaints about anything Tina has done,” Roy said. “I have received zero help from Randy.”

Roy said the last time Frank emailed him was Sept. 8.

“I do find it interesting that he did not have a public copy of the plan ready to go,” Roy said. “I would also note that other counties have their plans readily available online. Harvey County is an example of that.”

Roy said Tuesday he plans to speak to commissioners in person at Monday’s meeting.

Last modified Oct. 21, 2020

 

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