Responding to letters
I’m responding to two letters to the editor in the Dec. 12 edition. Adrienne Sawyer shared her research regarding Douglas County School Board attorney Joey Gilbert’s fees. She is correct that much of Mr. Gilbert’s time is expended time dealing with multiple OMLs, document demands, and writs of mandamus. Is it possible that these time-consuming demands are coming from the small minority of sore losers who are lashing out at the school board’s winning - and now governing - trustees who won with very large margins of victory? Maybe Ms. Sawyer could tell us how many of these types of demands were dealt with by the prior board. For the record, Mr. Gilbert has reduced his normal fees and even refunded some payments he had already been paid.
Martha Betcher’s letter was a warm farewell to the retiring trustee Tony Magnotta. Unfortunately, Martha repeated Tony’s comment that “opinions and comments from the greater Douglas County community” are being dismissed. Here are the vote totals from voters who attended the most recent debates with their incumbents, answered questions at large gatherings, and went door to door with their intentions if elected: The winning margins of victory were: Katherine Dickerson, 1,322 votes; David Burns 1,667 votes; Susan Jansen 2,519. Martha should wonder how the current board won with such large majorities by dismissing questions and opinions.
Transparency, truth and integrity
As the calendar turns to 2024, citizens should prepare for an active election year. Candidates and officeholders are required to file various documents that disclose campaign contributions and expenses as well as sources of income, real property, creditors, gifts, and business interests.
This information is designed to provide voters with an understanding of who is supporting candidates. It can also be a tool for the media to ask why certain individuals or special interests support one candidate or another.
Complete and accurate information about who is spending money to back candidates empowers voters to more meaningfully evaluate their choices. Be aware that there are prohibitions against contributions made in the name of another person. It is illegal to make contributions through a “straw donor” — a person or group that receives money and then passes that money to a campaign in their own name.
Campaign expense reports can reveal questionable spending, as was the case with former Congressman George Santos. There, the House Ethics Committee concluded he obfuscated his financial transactions, suggesting a deliberate effort to construct a misleading and fictional financial narrative within official records.
Whether a candidate or not, many public officials are required by Nevada law to file an annual Financial Disclosure Statement. This is an important document, due in mid January, that should be reviewed for possible conflicts of interest or questions about gifts that might influence an officeholder.
Unfortunately, watchdog groups like the Center for Public Integrity rate our ethics laws poorly. In 2015 their analysis concluded that Nevada has a lax attitude toward verifying information provided by candidates and elected officials, a crippled ethics enforcement system and a legislature that basically polices itself. Nevada was given a grade of F, and it ranked 46th worst among 50 states.
Little has changed in recent years.
Citizens should ask if candidates are filing reports in a timely manner, are truthful, and if they contain sufficient detail to be fully transparent. Some politicians may say they believe transparency is important to check abuses of power and increase accountability. But do they practice what they preach? Brings to mind a certain federal official that questioned the precise use of the word “is.”
Contending his statement that “there’s nothing going on between us” had been truthful, he said, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement.”
Our community should place a high value on transparency, truth and integrity. Their should be no acceptance of coverups, misinformation, or disinformation.
Thanks for the great light displays
It is such a pleasure to see all the holiday/winter lights that people put up every year. Our Christmas Eve tradition has been to drive around the neighborhoods to view these offerings of giving and good will. Energy costs, physical ability, and bravery often limit willing people to bring light to the community, but my deepest gratitude goes to all of those who put forth the effort to do so. And a special thank you goes to the couple on Coloma in Indian Hills for their wonderful over-the-top display as well as the direct contact of sitting out in the cold for hours every night to meet and greet all the visitors to their front yard. It gives me hope to see people really get into the spirit of the holidays.