Is doing business in this state really a privilege reserved for political insiders?

Benjamin Franklin once said: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” This quote is fitting, as it personifies the current Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District board’s nebulous crusade against this director. And for what? Simply telling the truth about government? Since when should this get anyone in trouble? My friends, the PMRNRD fears that which it cannot control – that taxpayers will finally awaken from their torpor to discover, after all these years, that their trust has been misplaced in a board that operates more like a special-interest cult than a body of legitimate government.

To date, the PMRNRD has deftly used the media in an attempt to tarnish my credibility by misrepresenting the facts and distorting my character. For the record, I have no ownership in any business that the PMRNRD is involved with. I firmly believe that the PMRNRD is deliberately trying to poison the well by discouraging dissent and coercing landowners into accepting less than the best-use price for their land. The only people I represent that could gain anything from the company in question are my constituents who receive fair compensation for the best uses of their land. To this end, a conscientious board member cannot idly stand by and allow a governmental agency to threaten and abuse landowners via the dissemination of false and misleading information. I believe all landowners should be offered the same amount for their land with regard to the damsite project. The PMRNRD should not be in the business of favoring those landowners who have connections with developers and politicians at the expense of other landowners who might be less informed and/or lack the resources to seek fair compensation in their own right.

The PMRNRD’s ad hominem attacks on me appear to be a concerted effort at retaliation for blowing the whistle on its apparent mismanagement of the public trust. As you may already know, I’ve sent letters to both the attorney general and state auditor regarding what I believe to be potentially egregious irregularities in the district’s finances. The attorney general’s office is still investigating the matter, but it’s been several months since I have heard anything from them on this issue. The state auditor, meanwhile, has refused to conduct a formal audit of the PMRNRD for reasons that are unknown to me. In fact, the e-mail correspondence I received from the auditor’s office in reference to my complaint looks like it could have been written by folks at the PMRNRD, as some of the verbiage is practically identical to that used by PMRNRD officials. I know it might seem unfathomable, but it’s almost as if the auditor’s office has stepped aside and allowed the PMRNRD to police itself.

Since I have not voted for any portion of the project in question, I do no not have a conflict. If anyone has a “terrible” conflict, it’s some of the board members. They are the ones that receive contributions from engineering firms and developers. It is directors that allow staff to knowingly utter false statements at board meetings, to the media, and in letters to the public that are responsible for any injustice. Why else would PMRNRD staff and other board members support appealing a court decision to the Supreme Court so they do not have to pay landowners like John Camden for the value of top soil they took by condemnation? Since when in this country does a company that, again, has no involvement in the PMRNRD board’s decision process, not have the right to do business? PMRNRD board members and staff don’t seem to have any qualms when it comes to issuing exorbitant million-dollar contracts to companies like HDR and Olsson Associates. Is doing business in this state really a privilege reserved for political insiders?

 

Scott Japp
PMRNRD Director
Arlington, Nebraska
sjapp@abbnebraska.com

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