‘Nonmeetings’ draw Grand Jury scrutiny
March 27, 2018
While not finding any specific evidence that nonmeetings held by county commissioners are in violation, grand jurors said they appear to be an end run around the Nevada Open Meeting law.
"Apparently the term nonmeeting has been adopted by several local governments," grand jurors wrote in their report. "There is not a clear understanding of why or where that term was derived."
Grand jurors said that testimony by both commissioners and the district attorney indicated that a quorum of commissioners attend the nonmeetings.
"The grand jury has concluded the term nonmeeting is a meeting organized to circumvent the statutory requirements of the open meeting law," they said.
District Attorney Mark Jackson said he plans to make a presentation regarding the topic at the April 5 county commissioners meeting.
Grand jurors reported that the nonmeetings were neither taped, nor were minutes taken.
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"The research that was conducted strongly indicated that all meetings, whether open or closed, should be tape recorded and minutes kept," the report said. "Although the grand jury did not find substantial evidence of any violations to the open meeting law requirements regarding the nonmeetings, it is our opinion that an abundant caution should always be followed during nonmeetings, and the open meeting law exceptions be fully respected."
Grand jurors recommended all closed meetings be recorded and written minutes taken. The clerk-treasurer should attend all closed meetings.
Grand jurors also recommended commissioners interview board or commission applicants before making appointments.
The county anticipated that recommendation by conducting interviews for board appointments in January.
The conflict between the county and Douglas County Sewer District No. 1 generated four out of the 10 complaints before the grand jury.
The district, which tried to leverage county approval of a gravel pit in the East Valley by filing an ethics complaint against a county employee, was dissolved by the Nevada Legislature in the 2017 session.
One complaint to the grand jury asked for a review of the county's numerous improvement districts.
The complaint claims deficits in county zoning enforcement, road maintenance and flood control are due to the countywide system of improvement districts.
The Legislature approved a bill calling for commissioners to create a committee to review existing districts.
Grand jurors recommended commissioners form a district review committee.