Supports the deputies
I am writing to you to express my strong support for the Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies in their labor contract negotiations. I appreciate the County Commissioner’s conservative fiscal approach. However, I submit that such an approach in the case of the sheriff deputies will be proven to be shortsighted. Retaining our deputies and recruiting highly qualified candidates are crucial to maintain and improve public safety.
My support for a compensation increase above market is formed by my experience as police chief and as a city manager (retired.) I have been on both sides of contract negotiations. I understand the internal dynamics of labor bargaining and the negative consequences to community safety when agencies cannot retain qualified professionals. Our goal should be to make the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office an organization where women and men seek to be law enforcement professionals and not a training ground for other agencies.
A high turnover of deputies will dilute organizational experience, young deputies will not have seasoned mentors and mature guidance as they develop. Studies have demonstrated the direct relationship between the retention of police officers/deputies to the quality of law enforcement professionals. Not surprisingly, the quality of public safety also has a direct relationship to a community’s economic strength. Quality of life, driven by a sense of safety, is a key factor when employers chose to relocate or expand in Douglas County.
It is easy to anticipate the negative impact Douglas County will experience without qualified deputies. Crime will increase, community policing will suffer, there will be a disengagement from the community, an increased sense of fear, slowing of economic development and other cascading results.
Additionally, expect the county to experience an increase in deputy misconduct, civil rights and use of force judgements as the ratio of unexperienced to experienced deputies grows. It is not unreasonable to suggest it is less expensive to increase salaries than payout a use of force or civil rights violation suit.
I would like to recommend your review of a study entitled Retention, Recruitment and Turnover of Law Enforcement Personnel co-authored by U.S. Department of Justice and the International Association of Chiefs of Police . The study details the inevitable negative consequences the community will experience without the retention of qualified deputies.
Retention of qualified law enforcement is also cited by the ACLU’s Fight Police Abuse: A Community Action Manual as prerequisite to stem police misconduct.
Increasing the salary of our Douglas County deputies is needed to ensure the recruitment and retention of qualified law enforcement professionals, enhance community safety, support the county’s enterprise risk management objectives, provide a salary that allows deputies to live where they work and aligns with recommendation from DOJ/IACP and the ACLU.
Lastly, providing our Douglas County Sheriff Deputies with a substantial increase reinforces one of the objectives of the County’s Strategic Plan; “Douglas County commits to the protection and safety of its citizens through professional public safety…”
Please invest in our community safety and economic foundation by providing compensation that reflects the cost of living since the last increase and incentivizes our deputies to make the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department an organization from which to begin and finish their careers.
Commissioners defunding the Sheriff’s Office
How have Douglas County elected officials allowed our public safety to become a Crisis? Yes, elected officials have many responsibilities, but the first and foremost responsibility is the safety of our community and the citizens. After looking into the proclaimed “crisis” Douglas County is in with the recruitment and long term retention of law enforcement personnel, we found several obvious facts. Not all that long ago, and maybe the current Commissioners, Chief Prosecutor Doug Ritchie, and our current HR Director Wendy Lang , aren’t aware or don’t care to remember, the SO Employees had no wage increases for 5 years !! We checked deputy starting wage comparisons (as others have stated) to other agencies in Northern Nevada, 25 to 47% lower. This explains why deputies hired by DCSO receive and complete extensive training, knowledge, experience, learn the County, become part of the Douglas County Family, and then have to leave to survive financially. Anyone with a basic knowledge of human nature would see why this is occurring. It seems very obvious to us, but apparently not to the “elected” and appointed officials of Douglas County.
In addition to the most obvious reason for lack of retention, it would appear the Douglas County Commissioners are fighting an active war against public safety within Douglas County (wages/benefits). A Freedom of Information Act request showed Douglas County has already paid nearly $50,000 of our tax dollars to the Las Vegas law firm of Fisher Phillips to wage this war to keep pay and benefits as low as they can. Not only have they already paid this amount, HR Director Wendy Lang has requested further approval from the Commissioners for more funding to pay Fisher Phillips even more money, (DC IRC Meeting section 1.6 - 11/09/22). Fisher Phillips web page states “Fisher Phillips’ Las Vegas, NV labor and employment lawyers are ready to help you take a stand in matters of wage and hour law, immigration, employee benefits, data security, union avoidance, and much more”. These tactics and the lack of commitment to public safety is similar to what government officials are doing in Portland, Seattle and other cities where “Defunding the Police” has caused those cities to spiral into chaos. It begs the question, why are our elected officials following the lead of “Defund the Police” and actively fighting against our public safety?
We have personally attended and heard Chairman Commissioner Mark Gardner publicly put his support behind law enforcement. It appears these are nothing more than false statements to get votes. We are ashamed of the Commissioners and especially Mark Gardner for mimicking the politics of Washington DC elites who say one thing, and then behind closed doors do the opposite. We thought Douglas County would be different, not like CA, but, by the actions of Mark Gardner and appointed officials, it would appear they are the same. We are ashamed of our local officials, and we deserve better!!
How has airport worked plan
I have been flying gliders and powered aircraft out of Minden-Tahoe Airport for three decades and have owned a hangar here for 18 years. I first came to Minden to fly gliders in the world class thermal soaring and wave flying conditions. I moved here permanently when I retired and was also attracted to hiking and skiing in the Sierra and fishing in the mountain trout streams.
Since then, the vibrant soaring community is much diminished, many departing to other area airfields where management was more welcoming and facilities better. As an example, the bathroom facilities for both local users and visitors are either not existing or uncompetitive compared to similar fields.
There is a long list of issues airport users have. A large group recently crowded into the Civil Air Patrol building to take part in the last Airport Advisory Committee meeting and raise some of these issues. Note that the chairman of the AAC had previously proposed disbanding the committee as “there was no need for it.” I found it an interesting coincidence that, being aware of the audience to be at that meeting, a quorum of committee members was not present, and the meeting was cancelled.
The Airport Master Plan was approved six years ago by the county and the FAA. I personally had planned to ask the AAC about the financing of the airport and such issues as how much public money had been spent, on what, and what progress had been made in developing the airport to the goals of the plan. Specifically, growth of the airport. The first I ever heard of attracting an airline service was the recent letter to you from the airport manager. I am not aware it has ever been suggested, but there has certainly been an interest in developing the business jet activity and attracting overflow from Reno. Jets create more noise than the vast majority of other airport users.
Personally, I disagree with the airport management that a control tower is needed. Pilots in all types of aircraft operate safely, as the record demonstrates. Gliders know to arrive from the east and stay on that side without interrupting the traffic flow on the big runway. Aircraft taking off from that most-used runway facing north, know to turn left to avoid creating noise to the communities on Johnson Lane and Stephanie Way, whose opinion should be sought out.
One significant safety requirement much overlooked is the need for a “crosswind runway” to replace the long-closed runway 21. Gliders and small power planes landing in the afternoon often face strong crosswinds and need an into-wind runway for safety. Like other needs of local aviators, this has been ignored and avoided for 20 years now.
These are just a few examples of issues for which I consider the AAC should be tasked to find solutions.
Big government is at it again
The agents of big government; Nevada Department of Transportation, Tahoe Regional Planning Authority, Lake Tahoe Vacation Authority have a plan known as the “Road Diet”, aka Highway 50 road management plan ”for 13 miles of Highway 50. The plan is to reduce lanes to make room for pedestrian-bike paths, center turn lanes and medians. Big government acknowledges, “massive increases of visitors” to Lake Tahoe. It claims that the way to “manage” this “massive increase” is with a Road Diet, and at the same time, increase visitors. Because they are BG; they can do the illogical; take away lanes, hence Road Diet.
“Road Diet” is a concept of the Federal Highway Administration. Evidently it is of such immense benefit to Kings Beach, Hwy 28 into Incline Village, Paradise, Calif., wants to impose one along Highway 50. This immense benefit was rejected by the minority stakeholder residents of East Lake Tahoe six years ago. Big government again claims that the only purpose of the “Road Diet” is to resolve traffic safety.
This is a problem and has been for a long time. The issues to be resolved are speeding, DUI, separation of speeding, opposite direction traffic and inattentive drivers. To big government, the resolution is lipstick on the pig of “Road Diet”. Apparently, it is blind to the fact that these traffic issues can be resolved through painting in, which there currently is room to do, medians and center turn lanes. If more room is needed and to reduce speed, lane widths of 10 feet can be considered. Increased presence of law enforcement is also needed.
If traffic safety is a major concern, why isn’t the government planning to paint center lanes and medians this spring. Apparently, traffic safety is really not urgent as big government wants minor stakeholders to believe. After all, they can wait 2-5 years until they has the money to implement the entire Road Diet.
Always a part of the pig is Pedestrian-Bike paths. The BG attractive “Road Diet” sales pamphlet twice claims NO!! they are not the reason. Traffic Safety as stated in the BG sales pamphlet is their awareness of the “massive increases of visitors”. I guess pedestrian and bike paths along a busy, noisy highway will deter visitors from coming?
Big government claims to not condemn property and no new asphalt. Yet after all the minor stakeholders unreasonably whined about the lipstick color, they changed the color and did not tell the minor stakeholder residents of the change. This change, along one stretch of the highway, requires this. NDOT negotiated a $1 million fence and would have to condemn it. I would think that big government would have foot noted this? No, in bad faith, they have not.
So now, I guess the minority stakeholder residents are to just continue to trust big government with resolving their issues, ignore the impact of their decisions on the minority stakeholder residents because they are big government, and know what’s best for us?
Highway 50 changes dangerous
The Camp fire happened in 2018, two years after the town of Paradise decided to reduce their main access road from a four-lane to a two-lane highway. They did this against severe concerns of citizens, and the backdrop of a previous fire. All to increase green Alternative modes of transportation, such as bike lanes and pedestrian zones, and increase commerce. Eighty-seven locals were overtaken by the fire racing faster than they could evacuate in their cars.
The East Shore development plan by NDOT and TRPA is exactly the same folly. In the name of fueling tourism and advertising the pristine beauty of Tahoe to attract more wellpaying tourists, these agencies, originally designed to preserve the lake are destroying it. They have very little data to support the feasibility of their Wishlist. It also does not include the local residents. The Star Alliance, a tourism lobbying group, sees bike races as a positive attractant. Readily sacrificing accessability and denying the creation of massive congestion. But the fact, that visitors and residents alike might be attracted to Tahoe for reasons that do not include traffic jams, eludes them.
Covid and the lockdowns already pushed the Tahoe Basin to the limit. The addition of the Stateline Event Center and its consequences for traffic patterns are entirely unclear. It is time to step in for Douglas County and the Board of Commissioners to act in the interest of its residents and the lake we call home.
TV and radio ads made it worse
I had to chuckle at the news story about how Dr. Sankar Mukhopadhyay at UNR studied the mental health issues caused by the 2020 election. Indeed, it was a lollapalooza. The stress of this recent election was just as bad if not worse.
May I suggest that the mountain of election advertisements received in mailboxes, as well as TV/radio ads contribute more than anything to the stress, anger, and depression during election cycles. Every single day for more than a month, we received large format glossy print matter from various campaigns, especially for Laxalt and Cortez-Masto. Every single day.
Is it really necessary to saturate the voters like this? Doesn’t anyone ever read the stuff even once. One glance at the name and the ad goes in the bin. Tons of it goes into the landfill. And that’s just from our mailbox. I’ve never seen so much ... stuff as has clogged our mailbox than in the past two elections. No wonder campaigns are so expensive. And if a candidate wastes money like this on their campaign, how are they going to spend your tax dollars while in office? That thought alone depresses me no end.
Some things don’t change
As our new school board members prepare to take office they may notice that some issues never change.
Political priorities may seem very important at election time, but the education and welfare of our children starts at home, always has. The 140-year-old Record-Courier reminds us that parents need to be involved and pay attention.