Andy’s Newspaper column archive

Town Board, Friend or Foe? ©

Now just what question does this beg. In the aircraft flight parlance IFF (friend or foe) is an electronic box in aircraft that transmits a signal which is used to identify each aircraft in flight. That signal is decoded by another system so we don’t engage our friends in combat.

Now when citizens attend a Town Board meeting, those in the audience are looking for that friend or foe (IFF) signal. The transmission is bi-directional. Audience to board and back. Citizens are packing the room to let the board know what they want and expecting a response that their views are being considered. Most in that room have the IFF sense that they, those attending, are the enemy or just meat taking up space. As an occasional participant and observer, the actions of the board seems to be reciprocal and the only thing that registers is that the town board is the foe.

We have been taught that this country has a representative form of government. It is most accessible by the people at the town level. There are writings at the Nevada Supreme Court level about these representative and their duties. Occasionally you will hear an elected official declare that once he is elected he votes his conscience.

Meanwhile, back at the town board, the question remains as to who the town board represents. The citizens voted to change from an elected town board back to an advisory board appointed by the commissioners. The actions of this board indicate they care little about the vote of the citizens and have embarked on plans to stay in place as an elected board. They are using the peoples money against them, to thwart their will, by filing a Nevada State Supreme Court challenge. They believe if the case is not heard within the next 17 months the board will continue. I believe the will of the people will instead be in force and these dictators will be no more.

The other current approach is an attempt by the board at incorporating the town again in opposition of the will of the people. This abusive action by the town chairman and cohorts will not even let the word incorporation be uttered during public comment.  They can’t obfuscate the fact that they are pursuing this by not allowing utterance of the word incorporate.

The citizens who attend the meetings are frustrated by comments from town board members towards them and their frustration is evident by their comments and outbursts at critical portions of discussion.

Government is a trust, and the officials of the government are trustees. Both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people. This is straight from the Nevada Ethics Commission manual.

“In Ethics v. Carrigan, the U.S. Supreme Court Found that Nevada State Ethics Law Does Not Unconstitutionally Restrict Speech of Elected Officials. Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the court, which held that a legislator's vote is not protected speech for two reasons.

The ‘first’ is that recusal rules have existed since within 15 years of the founding of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Quoting the earliest forms of the recusal laws, Justice Scalia noted that the history and continuing existence of these laws prove that they do not violate the first amendment.

The ‘second’ basis for determining that a legislator's vote is not protected speech is that a vote is not speech at all, to which the voter has no right. "[A] Legislator's vote is the commitment of his apportioned share of the legislature's power to the passage or defeat of a particular proposal.

The legislative power thus committed is not personal to the legislator but belongs to the people; the legislator has no personal right to it. In response to the Respondent and Justice Alito's argument that legislators use their votes to "express deeply held and highly unpopular views," Justice Scalia said that the act of voting symbolizes nothing, and that it is not an act of communication, but a disclosure of the legislator's wishes, and that a legislator has no right to use official powers for expressive purposes, because even if a vote could express views, the court has previously rejected the idea that the First Amendment allows a right to "use government mechanics to convey a message."

After all is said, the abuses by the Board chair towards those in attendance is bad public relations. His lecturing of the public in attendance being reminiscent of his disdain for the previous town boards, his wilful disregard of the outcome of public votes, his advocacy and wasteful spending on the ridiculous water park, his actions as chairperson and the rushed meeting in the middle of the July 4th weekend, need to be addressed by the other board members. It was also evident that Ms Holecheck thought she was going to be more of a permanent town manager and the chair pushed the issue. It may be that the position of Town manager, interim or not, is still town manager and should have been properly advertised before a decision was made. When Nye County filled the position of assistant manager, the position went through the process of advertising for the position. The town attorney seems to have ignored that issue.  More correctly she advised that the NRS did not provide for interim managers. The town board has the power to determine the chairs fitness to continue as chairperson.

This town needs a leader who can bring the populace together and he is not able to do that one thing. Robert Adams might be a welcome choice for the town board to become friend, not foe.

One last item. Each individual town board member was served a lawful request under Nevada Statutes for all their emails and correspondence relating to the interim manager position, among other things, for the period June 01 to June 30. Only one, Amy Riches responded. They are not above the law and these correspondence are not protected speech. They belong to the people.

Andrew Alberti Jr