Mike Olson will be the first to tell you that he's just a people person, just trying to do the right thing. Don't be taken in by his "aw shucks" demeanor and "good ole boy" hugs. His actions speak otherwise. They speak of someone beholden to special interest groups, of someone who lacks leadership, judgment and integrity.
In early December, 2011, Mike Olson demanded that Planning Commissioner Margaret Pross resign from her position because she had written letters of support for Commissioner Dave Brady and candidate Lawrence Howell. Ms. Pross stated that she was exercising her right of Freedom of Speech as a U.S. citizen but Mike told her that she lost that right when she became a Planning Commissioner. Now you may or may not agree with what Ms. Pross did, but we all know she didn't forfeit her rights as a U.S. citizen. Mike told Commissioner Brady, that he had the votes to remove Ms. Pross and that he was going to ask for her resignation. Mr. Brady mentioned there was a potential open meeting law violation and advised Mike to check with the D. A. before acting to make sure that he was on solid ground. Mr. Brady believed that Mike was pressured by his fellow commissioners to act. So here we have a lack of leadership and judgment in that he allowed his actions to be dictated by others.
At the Jan. 3, 2011, county commissioners meeting, Mike voted to replace Planning Commissioners Bob Conner, Lawrence Howell and Rick Ross with Frank Godecke, Don Miner and Jeremy Davidson. What's wrong with that, you might ask? Mike Olson complained that he didn't like that they had to name each incumbent Planning Commissioner and name the person who was replacing that Planning Commissioner. He said it made it too personal. Too personal! What's more personal than Mike contacting both Lawrence Howell and Rick Ross, soliciting both of them to reapply to the Planning Commission, knowing that he was going to vote to replace them? That's not being a people person, that's someone who lacks integrity.
Fast forward to the January 5, 2012 BOCC meeting: Mike supported Lee Bonner for chair because Bonner had the time and fire to do the job. In retrospect, Mike displayed poor judgment putting such an inexperienced Commissioner as Chairman.
Mike frequently references the invaluable knowledge that he has acquired from his 5 year as a Planning Commissioner. Yet, at the February 2, 2012 BOCC meeting, he said he would be a cheerleader for the special interest groups and voted to approve variances for the Ranch at Gardnerville that were in direct conflict with the Master Plan, ignoring the fact that these variances would result in the need to implement a Master Plan Amendment to correct the misguided actions they had taken. Wait, he is a "good ole boy". He put his special interest groups above the good of the County and the Master Plan.
There's more "good ole boy" stuff a comin'. At the May 3, BOCC meeting he gave a shout out for R. O. Anderson, one of his strongest financial backers and urged commissioners to deny approval of a contract for the Manhard Consulting Firm in favor of R. O. Anderson Engineers. Even though the county had already invested in a very successful contract with Manhard in which Manhard had submitted map revisions to Fema that were approved within three months of submission with no technical comments, an unheard of response time for FEMA. Olson was the only commissioner to vote against the contract. That's what a "good ole boy" does. He keeps the special interest groups happy. Again, Mike exhibits a lack of integrity and leadership.
On July 19, 2012, instead of having a county commissioner meeting, Mike thought it would be better for him to play golf at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in the Celebrity Amateur event at a cost of $1,750. Edgewood Companies, formerly Park Cattle Co. who will be coming forward with another master plan amendment, accounts for over 80 percent of Olson's campaign contributions. Did they just add $1,750 to his campaign? Good judgment on Mike's part? I don't think so.
I'm voting for Barry Penzel. Barry will put the county's interests first. Barry isn't beholden to special interest groups. Barry brings experienced leadership, with 25 years of service in the U.S. Army as a retired Colonel, executive level experience, a degree in economics and respect for the Master Plan. Won't you join me and vote for Barry Penzel.
Mary Jane Harding is a Ruhenstroth resident