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Novak turns over computer for open records request

Expedition Wind requests commissioner’s emails that relate to wind energy projects

Staff writer

Marion County commissioner Dianne Novak is temporarily without her county-owned computer while an open records request related to a lawsuit is being dealt with.

Expedition Wind, a company working to develop a wind farm in the southern portion of Marion County, on April 22 filed an open records request seeking all of Novak’s records requests, emails in both county and non-county accounts, and correspondence including text messages from Novak that relate to land use, zoning, wind energy, Expedition Wind, Doyle or Stonebridge projects, that Novak wrote in her capacity as commissioner from Feb. 1, 2019 until April 22.

Development of the wind farm has been met with repeated lawsuits filed against Expedition Wind, the county board of zoning appeals, and the board of county commissioners. Peabody farmer Randall Eitzen is the lead plaintiff in those lawsuits

On April 27, Expedition and 10 other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Eitzen and five other defendants who are the final plaintiffs in a pending anti-wind farm lawsuit.

“The purpose for us making this open records request is related to obtaining additional information regarding the claims Expedition and some of its landowners have against Mr. Eitzen,” said Lindsey Ransom, chief operating officer for Expedition.

Novak turned her computer over to county clerk Tina Spencer April 27 so the county could comply with Expedition’s open records request.

Novak is apparently resisting turning over emails from her private email account and has hired a lawyer.

“Mrs. Novak has retained personal counsel, and with independent legal advice, is asserting that records which are made, maintained, or kept by an individual who is a member of the … governing body of any political … subdivision of the state are not included in the definition of a public record,” Spencer wrote in a Friday letter to Expedition Wind.

Last modified May 7, 2020

 

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