Readers of the Prior Lake American will recall that the School District’s payment of $602,000 to Nexus for the purchase of two “back-up” generators raised numerous questions. Why purchase top-of-the-line new generators for back-up use that almost never occurs? Why buy them from Nexus instead of from a distributor or the manufacturer, and why pay with a cashier’s check (which kept the payment less visible than if paid with a School District check). The biggest question of all is why did the District try to hide the name of the employee who approved the $602,000 payment. It has taken almost 6 months to learn that it was School District employee Jim Dellwo.
Here’s the timeline. In a written Data Request dated May 4, 2017, CAG asked for the name of the employee who approved the payment to Nexus. In an email dated May 10, the District refused. CAG subsequently filed a formal complaint to School Board Chair Richard Wolf, alleging a violation of MN Data Practices law, with expectations that he would place the matter on the Board’s agenda for discussion and resolution. However, we find no record indicating that he sought the Board’s input. CAG then solicited the help of the MN Department of Administration (MNDAC). After MNDAC contacted the District, the District’s Communication’s Coordinator K. Mussman sent us a copy of the Nexus $602,000 invoice, but the initials of the person who approved payment were illegible. CAG then contacted MNDAC again who then specifically requested the District to provide us the name. An email was then received from the District dated Nov. 29, 2017 that acknowledged MNDAC’s request, and provided Dellwo’s name.
The School District’s oft-repeated claim of transparency rings hollow when it takes the intervention of a State agency to gain information that should be readily available. Now that the name is known, it would be interesting to learn the real reason the District tried to keep it hidden.
For the full story, we encourage reading the formal complaint we filed http://bit.ly/2l2inVL on the CAG website https://c-a-g.org/