The Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation (CART), a vocal critic of the Ohio River Bridges Project, is welcoming an attorney general’s decision that could yield greater transparency in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s (KYTC) April 2012 purchase of the historic Drumanard Estate.
KYTC’s $8.3 million purchase of the estate from the Soterion Corp. pushed the long-idling project one step closer to reality.
But CART questions the transaction. In May, CART’s attorney, Clarence Hixson, filed an Open Records Request with KYTC seeking a long list of documents disclosing Soterion’s shareholders, partners and ultimate beneficiaries of the purchase, as well as a property value assessment of the estate.
(One particular area of concern is that during the time of purchase, Soterion’s president, Robert Scott Jones, was tangled in a lawsuit over $96,000 in unpaid child support, a signal that maybe this wasn’t the man to be entering into a legal contract with.)
But, in a nutshell, the ORR was denied, indicating that no such records existed within their possession. Back in May, Hixson told LEO that the the exchange between CART and KYTC was like a “cat and mouse game to thwart Open Records laws.”
For the most part it appears the attorney general agrees. In a decision released on July 27, the AG says KYTC must make an intent to locate the records CART seeks … with one exemption. When it comes to the appraisal of the Drumanard Estate, KYTC does not have to release that until all the 35 remaining parcels for the project have been acquired.
Dan Borsch, with the group Say No To Bridge Tolls, looked over the AG’s decision earlier this week and tells LEO:
“It’s embarrassing for the transportation department to be denying legitimate open records requests in 2012. The rules are firmly established. Everyone knows what they are. And they’re clearly trying to hide something.”
KYTC has 30 days to comply with the AG’s decision or file an appeal in circuit court. A spokesperson for KYTC says the department has no plans on filing an appeal and that they’ve turned over all the requested records. Hixson, however, tells LEO that “KYTC is sitting on responsive records.”