When reporters set out to write about someone who doesn't want to be written about, they'd better brace themselves for a lot of work. Especially if that person has a long history.
Sometimes people surrounding that person don't want to talk. Or they're dead. When it comes to reconstructing a career from documents, that, too, can be tricky.
All of the above came up en route to assembling our report about longtime developer David Jenkins, which begins here.
For instance, we were excited about a federal court case dating back to 1990 or so; such records can make for rich source material. Except when they've disappeared, that is. The filings weren't available online, so we sought the paper version and got a reply saying the file for the case "has been destroyed and is no longer available."
Our search of district court records was more successful, but a 2003 case file was empty except for the stipulation of dismissal. And the courthouse's public terminal is a nightmare. I sat for hours wading through dozens of cases at a computer that takes five minutes just to sign on to.
The point being, it would have been a great help to have Mr. Jenkins or one of his employees help us understand his rise in our community. As it was, he said no to an interview and no to written questions, as did his son, Chris.
But with their influence only growing in this community, we weren't going to let that stop us.