Officials Score Well with Public Records Request


The state's salvation comes from watchful citizens.

The law gives us all a right to know, a right many government officials take seriously.

NTV filed a number of records requests. Most officials responded very quickly, in some cases despite small staffs and vacations.

No one questioned our requests, and all gave us something. NTV made ten records request, large and small.
We contacted a village, a public power district, a few cities and schools to see how they'd respond when we asked them for public documents. The Village of Doniphan wins our award for quickest response, providing us the answer to how many businesses had asked for city economic incentives.
In Central City and St. Paul, key officials were out of the office, but in both cases, the cities still responded.
Sharon Brooks at Hastings College has made similar requests with her journalism students and says you can cut busy officials "some slack."
And the fact they responded at all is a good sign.
Only Grand Island's response came from an attorney.
In all other cases, those in administrative roles handled our requests.
We chose three school districts and asked what their superintendents make.
Aurora, Central City, and Grand Island Northwest are nearly identical, all around $130,000.
The CEO of Southern Power is paid $180,000.
The information is out there, in many cases, citizens can just walk in and ask for it.
Professor Sharon Brooks says anyone can do the same, even if it may raise a few eyebrows from public officials. "They wonder why and you don't have to say why necessarily, it's just the system is important to everyone, checking it out is nice," she said.