Letters to the Editor for May 23, 2018
May 23, 2018
Editor's Note: Friday will be the last day to raise new issues in the Letters to the Editor. All campaign letters must arrive by noon June 6 in order to appear before the election.
Veteran statement offensive
As stated in your lead article in the May 6 edition of the R-C, I find it absolutely offensive that John Engels wants to force the veterans in Douglas County to seek shelter in Reno. Of course nothing is wrong with Reno; however, Douglas County is home to thousands of veterans. What else does Mr. Engels want to do to residents of Douglas County? As a candidate running for the Board of Commissioners, all voters should watch what Engels wishes for. Why it seems Mr. Engels wants to ban anyone who can't afford a very expensive home in Douglas to live somewhere else while he expects these very folks to cater to his needs as they work to provide his services here in Douglas County. How disgusting. When did Douglas County become a playground for the rich and famous?
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Engels bucking the establishment
The "Establishment" in Douglas County (and beyond) is throwing everything they have at candidate John Engels to stop him from winning the Commissioner District 2 seat.
That's because they all want the County to keep going in the direction of more houses, more traffic gridlock, more debt, more taxes, more County projects, more employees, and more services, and they openly say this. None of these are on John Engels' platform.
Many in the "Establishment" have been busy moving ahead with Redevelopment Area No. 2 (at Lake Tahoe). They have big plans for RDA No. 2—after all it takes "big plans" to come up with how to spend the nearly one-quarter of a BILLION dollars that the RDA diverts from the County's property tax collections. Keep in mind that the RDA rules are that the money has to be spent in RDA #2 (the casino corridor). John Engels opposes even having RDA No. 2. He sees it as unfair and its existence as a disrupter of county unity. Why should infrastructure throughout the County be left in need of drastic maintenance and repair because the County doesn't have money in its general fund to address this most basic of County obligations, while at the same time a huge influx of new property tax revenue gets spent building an event center to help out the wealthy casinos?
Another troubling item on the "Establishment" wishlist concerns County development and the constant stream of approvals for deviations from the land use section of the Master Plan. John's opponent says, and I quote, "We have to change the Master Plan, or we'd have to say no to the developers." John Engels believes we need to say no to those whose developments take away from the rural character of Douglas County. At present, his opponent has green lighted every development that has come before the Board and voted re-zoning or variances to facilitate those that violated the Master Plan (in some cases, even over the objections of the Planning Commission).
Last is the almost hysterical call by the "Establishment" for the County to provide Attainable Housing for "veterans, seniors, young families, first responders, teachers, and county employees" (this list taken from John's opponent's own ad). It's more typical of Democrats to hide behind sympathetic groups to push bad public policy. Just how many units would that be, and who's left to pick up the tab? Who would be "regulating" this housing? Conservative Republicans like John think the County mandating hundreds or thousands of houses to be sold below cost would be nonsensical. The County can't (and shouldn't try to) "fix" the market.
Vote John Engels: Vietnam Vet, financial expert with a BA in Finance and Accounting, commended LAPD Reservist (8 years), and experienced CFO.
Pick candidates who will listen
The race for Douglas County commissioner has focused entirely on candidate experience and policy platforms. Without considering the personality and temperament of candidates, voters could set themselves up for disappointment.
Our government is a republic, with elected officials making informed decisions for us. It is also supposed to involve us being engaged with those officials, once elected, to communicate our desires and interests.
Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free men." Andrew Johnson clarified the point further, "The life of a republic lies certainly in the energy, virtue, and intelligence of its citizens."
In the eight years I have been very active in politics, I've learned we voters suffer from perpetual self-inflicted wounds. These are caused by picking candidates based on their accomplishments and platforms, returning home to the TV and disengaging. Of course, we're always eager to return in two or four years to reprimand those we elected and ignored for not complying with our interests. If being engaged is key, logic then demands leaders capable of, and motivated to, listen to their constituents.
Engels and his running mate, Murphy have plans and ideas that should be part of the public debate. However, in my attempts to speak with each, I was mostly spoken at, not listened to. This flashed a warning sign.
The deal killer for me was when John Engels said at the May 3 Good Governance Forum that we didn't need veterans with housing problems in Douglas County. Political preferences aside, such an ignorant and rude comment portends extreme difficulty for citizens in dealing with this man's personality if he and his partner, Murphy are elected.
I do not fully agree with any of the four commissioner candidates, but I am very comfortable in my choices of Wes Rice and Steve Thaler. In the few areas where I differ from these gents on policy, I know they will be receptive to input and discussion, because unlike their competition, they have already demonstrated such to me.
Take the opportunity to meet candidates. Elect your choices and then remain engaged. Please join me in electing fellow Veterans Wes Rice and Steve Thaler to our county commission."
Shawn M. Meehan
Engels will preserve open space
I commend the three property owners who recently filed a lawsuit against the Douglas County Board of Commissioners for violation of the Hickey Conservation Easement. The Commissioners had no authority to approve building two houses on the property since all development rights had been stripped off this property when the Conservation Easement was approved in 1991. If Douglas County is serious about conserving open space and agriculture in our valley, such an amendment could never have passed. Why should it require a lawsuit to defend a legally granted and properly recorded conservation easement?
Careful reading of the minutes of the Commission Meeting in 1991 that granted the Hickey Conservation Easement shows the following: Commissioner Pumphrey made a motion to have a deed restriction that would indicate that the common property be restricted to agricultural use and the easement be in perpetuity and/or until the condition #11 is satisfied. Condition #11 stated that within one year a conservation easement had to be recorded on the balance of 141.56 acres. Condition #11 was satisfied by the recording of the Hickey Conservation Easement on May 7th, 1992. Mr. Pumphrey attempted to add to his motion by proposing that a future Board of Commissioners have the right at any point in time to release the easement and/or amend it to make it more favorable to the property owner. At this time Mr. Fisher withdrew his second of the additional motion and it was dead. Thus, Mr. Pumphrey's motion to allow future Commissioners to release or amend the conservation easement failed.
But our current Commissioner who read from the 1991 minutes neglected to mention the failure of the motion allowing future Commissioners to amend the easement. And as a result, all the Commissioners except David Nelson were misled. All the Commissioners had the minutes of the 1991 meeting in their packets. They should have read them and understood what had transpired. At the very least they should have had the minutes in front of them when they were discussing this issue. The vote was 4 to 1 to allow the new owner to build two residences on this legally restricted conservation easement. Now, the only remedy is a lawsuit.
We have an election coming up on June 12th. One of the Commissioners, Steve Thaler, is running for re-election. He voted Yes on this item. We need to vote for new people on the Board of Commissioners who will do their homework, who understand the scope of their authority, and who will vote responsibly. Length of time working in Douglas County does not guarantee these qualities. Choose carefully.
Doubtful about Janet Murphy
Janet Murphy is confident that she can help get Douglas County on track to take care of business while representing the interests of the people. How can she do that when during the Good Governance Forum Murphy said she was focused on infrastructure but hadn't been able to read the County Master Plan yet. She claims it's too long for her to get through at present. Murphy touts herself as a "Defender of the Master Plan" but she's never read it. She has worked and lived in Douglas County for 30 years and she's never looked at the Master Plan which is the defining document of our community.
Murphy wants to reduce the number of county employees by cross-training them to fill empty positions when someone finds another job or retires. Let's think about that scenario. She wants employees to do two jobs at once. Never mind that the job they were hired to do is a full-time commitment. Are they going to work overtime now to do two jobs at once? Will they be able to devote the amount of time needed to adequately perform each of those jobs and/or have to make a decision on which task is more important to complete?
On her campaign site, Murphy states that she recently prepared in collaboration with the Legislative Counsel Bureau, a successful Amendment to SB471 in the 2017 session. According to Nevada Legislature May 8, 2017 SB471 minutes, pages 23-26, Murphy submitted a letter to the Assembly Committee on Government Affairs on May 8, 2017, and an email to Sen. Settelmeyer on April 24, 2017, with her requested amendments to SB471. Sen. Settelmeyer stated "I have contacted the Legal Division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau and asked them about those amendments. They felt they were not necessary. They felt the issues had already been addressed".
NPRI had to sue Tahoe Douglas Sewer Improvement District, Janet Murphy named as respondent, on Aug. 24, 2014, to comply with Nevada's Public Records Act, NRS 239.
Janet Murphy's actions demonstrate a lack of principles and a very questionable resume to say the least.
If you want a county commissioner with integrity and leadership experience, vote for Wes Rice. He is dedicated to doing what is best for Douglas County. Wes is serving in his 12th year as Trustee for the Round Hill GID and was recently elected by his peers to serve on the newly reorganized Douglas County Lake Tahoe Sewer Authority. Wes is a 20+ year member of the Douglas County Republican Central Committee. For the Past 14 years, Wes has been the Rural Caucus Chairman of the Nevada Republican Party representing us against big city interests. State Sen. James Settelmeyer, Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, former Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki, Sheriff Ron Pierini, and Michael McDonald, Nevada Republican State Chairman have endorsed him because Wes is a leader. Wes will do what is best for all of Douglas County, doing the most good for the most people. Wes has earned my vote for County Commissioner.
Issue with affordable housing
At a recent campaign meet-and-greet, Douglas County Commissioner Steve Thaler and candidate Wes Rice enthusiastically advanced the case for building more affordable housing in our county.
New housing development of any type doesn't pay for itself, and this is particularly true for multi-family residential. Apartment complexes don't begin to generate sufficient property taxes to cover their sharply increased demands on fire, police services, schools, and added wear and tear on roads and other infrastructure. Messrs. Thaler and Rice claim they're generally not for government subsidized housing, but it's not the government that's going to pay these added costs, it's us – the current taxpayers of Douglas County.
Developers, low-paying employers, and others (who stand to gain financially) are using the emotionally neutral terms "attainable" or "inclusionary" housing, but don't be fooled; its low income housing.
Because renters have no equity interest in their dwellings and regard themselves as temporary residents, they do not look out for one another as is done in owner occupied neighborhoods. Gangs and criminals gravitate to multi-family housing precisely because of this which makes apartment complexes a source of graffiti, car burglaries, dope dealing, and similar crimes. This form of non-monetary subsidy hits those of us who will see our quality of life impacted in a county that has lost its rural nature.
At an earlier forum, one of the above candidates said that county government should do what's necessary to enable our adult children to move to Douglas County. What he means is that certain entitled people shouldn't have to pay market prices to rent or own a home. It's up to them to help out their own family members; Let them reach into your own pocket to help their children.
The housing projects (mostly apartments) currently underway and those stacked up in the county's approval pipeline will do permanent damage to the rural nature of our community and lower our property values. Our taxes will go up and our quality of life will go down. If you think traffic through town is slow now, just wait.
Keeping politics out of election
Now that it's election time I would like every voter in Douglas County to take a minute and remember what a small and close community we live in. All of the candidates are our neighbors and friends and we need to respect them as we would want to be respected if we were running for office. There is starting to be planted questions during forums for the candidates and some have even led us to believe they are qualified in areas that they in fact are not. I would like each candidate to be true to themselves and honest with the voters and let us decide who is best for the job. Let's keep politics out of our elections and vote in people who have the qualifications and deep respect for Douglas County and it's great people. We deserve only the best because we as a county are the best in Nevada.
Primary system disenfranchising
The June Primary for Douglas County is rapidly approaching. And once again a large part of the voting population will be excluded from voting for our local representatives thanks to SB499 and Sen. James Settlemeyer.
Many people like me have left the two party system because of how incestuous it has become. There is NO GOOD REASON why local government appears to cater to national party politics. That's why we have state and national offices. Local officeholders are supposed to represent EVERYONE, regardless of race, creed and/or party affiliation. Not the case in Nevada where it appears the only hope of voting or getting elected is by being a registered Republican.
Shame on you, Sen. Settlemeyer and the rest of our state officials for disenfranchising those of us who choose to be something other than Republican.
Not a fan of Ranchos Sierra
We attended the meeting because we received a letter from Community Development starting at 1 p.m. Instead at 1 p.m. a meeting was held on development project at Indian Hills/Sunridge. It was not until nearly 2:30 p.m. when commission began discussing the project in Gardnerville Ranchos with a representative of the developer providing selective information omitting direct impacts on the people in Gardnerville Ranchos regarding the project. Unfortunately, we had to leave around 3 p.m.
Why was an engineer of the county supporting the seven variances of the developer?
Also 353 homes on 80 acres is excessive with the majority of them with a small 5,000 square footprint.
Will my street Bluerock be extended into this large morass of housing on 80 acres? Also it is undemocratic for the commission to contact only people within 1,500 feet of the housing project which will impact on the entire Gardnerville Ranchos. Also why did residents only have about 10 days notice before such a major discussion and decision on the proposed project? Is the commission trying to limit public involvement? All in all it showed disregard for the Gardnerville Ranchos community.
To top it off the entire project's lifespan is 12 years which is too long disturbing the quiet of the neighborhood for a massive construction project in one's backyard.
Major impacts of water, taxes, schools, traffic congestion, police, fire, sewer system and roads were all omitted in our letter. Already there is a traffic bottleneck entering/leaving Gardnerville Ranchos at 395 and Riverview /Long Valley.
All these are major issues that need to be addressed before such a project can proceed.
The Commissioners of Douglas County like to put the carriage before the horse in horse country.
Will the commission approve this oversized development project on 80 acres?
In defense of the trees
Without a doubt your right, the trees might of been in poor condition, but was any tree given a chance to keep living? Now if you had a tree in your front yard and it started to look in need of some attention,your first thoughts would be, maybe I should call a tree doctor for some advice. Now if you look in the phone book you will find several tree specialist that are willing to check out your trees. If the town of Minden had done some tender loving care or some Timber Stands Improvement on all 28 trees they might of lasted another 10 years or more. Granted all trees have a living life span, some more than others, and if one dies you replace it with a younger species. This is what you call Timber Stands Improvement.
And yes I did attend the town meetings, as at the first meeting it was to replace the grass with rock to reduce the maintenance. And another thing about the board meetings, no matter what our thoughts are or what we say, the town board does it their way. So if anyone thinks that I am a tree-mad writer or any other person who likes trees, then they should help the Town of Minden plant and maintain them. I will be looking forward to seeing a new Lucerne plantation in the near future. And yes it all will be in the hands of God.
Where's decency these days
During my formative years I learned and believed that the vast majority of people are good and well intentioned. Throughout my life I have held fast to that idea. However, in retrospect and considering current events I have come to feel that the ratio of ill considerate boobs is far greater than a small minority.
The width of the divide between classifying good people and ne'er do wells is wide and impossible to clearly define. Regardless, there are those who are undoubtably far on the dark side.
The recent comment made in a private White House meeting concerning Sen. McCain's prognosis was cruel and mean spirited. The person who, probably with great glee, leaked the remark to the press full knowing it would be published, is even more complicit in the matter. Deciding to initially publish the remark was surely the decision of more than one journalists who bare an even wider guilt for the spreading of this egregious, ill-mannered remark. Compounding still further is the media's seeming affinity for their wide spread reporting of the remark.
What happened to the custom of ignoring an insensitive remark rather than amplifying its effect by drawing attention to it? It has been suggested that perhaps the White House should apologize for the remark made in private. Yes, perhaps now they should and where is the media's apology for disseminating the remark to millions?
The number of people reveling in this incident is disheartening. Common decency is sorely missing.
Whether you disagree or agree with any or all of McCain's life work it is undeniable that he cares a great deal for his country and people. He has assuredly done what he thought was right. No more can be asked of someone. During his most difficult struggle, he and his loved ones deserve the respect and consideration of us all.