20 January 2012

Anonymous the Keyword for Carter Lake Group

When it comes to the Carter Lake Advisory Group, anonymous is the keyword for how this team which has directed technical features of the project, but which is now focused on implementation and funding. Group members are regularly making decisions on the project underway at this Missouri River oxbow which has and will cost millions of dollars. These are primarily public funds.

It was possible to determine some of the people involved with this group's efforts and the agency with which they are involved:

  • George Antoniou - lake restoration program, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  • Gerry Bowen - natural resources planner, Papio-Missouri NRD
  • Paul Brakhage - Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
  • Nina Cudahy - stormwater program coordinator, city of Omaha stormwater program
  • Lynn Dittmer - Associate Planner, Community Development, Metropolitan Area Planning Agency
  • Rachel Glaza - Iowa DNR project officer
  • Jake Hansen - community and economic development manager, Metropolitan Area Planning Agency
  • Bobbi Holm - Extension Educator-Urban Environments, Douglas County Extension Service
  • Steve Hopkins - Nonpoint Source Program coordinator, Iowa DNR
  • Russ Kramer - mayor, City of Carter Lake
  • Chris Larson - fisheries biologist with the Iowa DNR
  • Mike McGhee - lake restoration program, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  • Sara Mechtenberg - with the engineering firm TetraTech
  • Paul Mullen - executive director, Metropolitan Area Planning Agency
  • Heather Tippey Pierce - general services manager, City of Omaha Public Works Department.
  • Mark Porath - aquatic habitat program manager, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
  • Brad Richardson - project coordinator; this is the only person whose name is given on the website for this project
  • Steve Satra - fisheries, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
  • Mary Schroer - Source Water Coordinator, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
  • Kevin Seevers - Pottawattamie County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Pat Slaven - parks planner, Parks Recreation and Public Property, city of Omaha
  • Mike Sotak - TetraTech
  • Dave Tunink - Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
  • Bob Waters - Iowa chapter of National Association of Conservation Districts

There may be others and perhaps a couple of the names given on the list are not regular group participants.

At the informational meeting held on January 19th, the first speaker did not identify himself, until asked. None of the other people answering questions from the community members present had name tags, nor where they introduced at the start of the meeting.

The two other at the Thursday night meeting, did identify themselves before presenting their remarks.

Also at the meeting last night, project representatives would not allow any questions to be presented in a group setting, which completely stifled any public discourse on the project. Individual questions were okay, after the brief presentation, but this is not the same as getting a shared perspective to develop consensus and help interested community members to know hear other perspectives and comments.

They did not even provide — during the 35 minutes public portion of the meeting — the name of the contractor and the cost (apparently more than $2.5 million) for a project expected to begin January 23rd. This could not be located on the project website, either.

The anonymous character of this group extends to their meetings. Dates and times are never announced to the public (notably lacking on the project website), neither are agendas or meeting minutes provided. Nor are the regular advisory group meetings, composed primarily of public officials are not open to the public.

The reason for the situation is not known, but indicates an obvious and repeated modi operandi of secrecy.

These practices are the opposite of open government.