Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2014

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Sun’s probe hindered by college’s slow response

Efforts by the Sun to investigate allegations of misconduct by Bob Gilbert, chief of construction at the Community College of Southern Nevada, have been stymied because college officials have not responded to some of the newspaper's requests for information.

Since December the Sun has sought documents relating to college policies, contracts, invoices and payment records, among other items, involving subcontractors working for the college who also have worked at Gilbert's 4-acre estate.

Such details might have corroborated Gilbert's claim that he has done nothing wrong, or supported allegations by employees in his operations and maintenance department that Gilbert had used his position to help build his residence.

While some documents were made available over time, the Sun still has not received documents that were requested three months ago showing the work done and the amounts paid by the college to subcontractors who also are working on Gilbert's estate, nor what other companies may have bid on that work.

And Gilbert did not respond to a request sent through his attorney last Tuesday to document what he has paid those contractors for their work at his residence. Nor did his attorney allow the Sun to examine serial numbers of equipment on Gilbert's property that employees allege was taken from the college.

The college also has not responded to questions surrounding what influence, if any, Gilbert has in awarding construction contracts. For instance, the Sun on Feb. 27 requested an interview with Jack Holland, director of purchasing. After Holland referred all questions to college spokeswoman Helen Clougherty, the Sun reiterated the request in an e-mail to Clougherty the same day.

Clougherty finally responded to the request Tuesday, after repeated requests from the Sun. She asked that the Sun's questions be submitted in writing. On Friday Clougherty said the questions were still under review.

For the past two weeks the Sun has tried to seek answers from Jeffery Foshee, vice president of administration, who is Gilbert and Holland's boss. He did not return phone calls.

President Richard Carpenter told the Sun that administrators at the college were diligently working on the requests and there was no intention to stonewall.

"I keep telling them to keep these things moving," he said. Carpenter said the college had spent $10,000 in staff time to compile the information already gathered for the Sun. The paper is being charged 7 cents a page for copies.

On Feb. 22 university system Chancellor Jim Rogers told the Sun that Carpenter reported to him that the college had spent $50,000 meeting the Sun's requests and that staff had stayed up until midnight Feb. 21 to complete the requests. Neither offered documentation to support those costs.

The following Monday, Rogers presented the Sun with a two-page letter - from CCSN to him - that stated the requests had been fulfilled.

But, in fact, the Sun has not received many of those documents.

Rogers, usually helpful in attaining public records, told the Sun the system office and state universities and colleges would no longer respond to the paper's information requests because they were too broad.

Rogers said they would provide documents to respond to only specific allegations .

The Sun on Feb. 27 clarified and narrowed the remaining requests.

State public information law requires documents to be made available in person during business hours or within three days. There is no requirement under state law to explain why information is sought.

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