May 21 Letters to the Editor
Protecting our rural lifestyle
A friend recently asked me why I was running for re-election. I told her that I care about Douglas County and those who will come after us. I care about keeping the Carson Valley rural while maintaining a healthy economy.
The job of a Douglas County commissioner is very satisfying but often complicated. My dad was the first one to tell me that you can please some of the people all of the time but you can’t please all of the people all of the time, or something to that effect. This statement never rang truer than in politics when tasked with making decisions for all of the people whom you represent.
During the first 3-plus years that I have been in office, I have led through decisive action and fulfilled campaign promises. Under my co-leadership, the Board of County Commissioners has completed the reconstruction of five major roads in the Carson Valley; consolidated many of the county-owned water utility companies and stabilized base rates; allocated millions to maintain rural roads; created the stormwater management department to address flooding issues in the most prone areas; and, replaced and stabilized senior management at the county level.
Emerging successfully from the COVID-19 crisis is the most pressing issue facing the county today. We must continue to keep our residents safe while at the same time supporting and growing the continued success of our small business owners. I will continue my avid support for clean-air businesses in our existing industrial parks. We must keep the Tahoe Township portion of Douglas County pristine and support a vibrant tourism-based economy. A very important issue is how to protect our rural beauty. In the Carson Valley, my plan considers the needs of the ranchers first.
Many residents, especially new folks to our area, love to look at the greenery and livestock but often don’t understand the economic and physical pressures endured by our local ranchers. A hundred years ago, the vast majority of land in the valley was undeveloped. Moderate development has occurred since then, but overbuilding cannot occur because we have a growth management ordinance that protects against out-of-control growth. Some elitists who have purchased their little slice of heaven want to close the door to development and economic growth with no plan to help our ranchers keep the valley green.
My plan is simple. We must put future development in receiving areas which are areas planned for future growth according to our master plan. Receiving areas should be near existing infrastructure and services. By utilizing the existing transfer development rights program, developers must purchase TDRs from ranchers and pay for the right to develop each house in a receiving area while protecting the vast majority of our ranch lands. The ranchers can utilize the TDR money received to sustain their livelihood and conserve their ranch lands.
I care about our rural heritage, and my plan will protect it.
Douglas County Commissioner
Editor’s Note: This is the Walsh campaign’s lone letter
Ad was a smear tactic
A full-page ad appeared in The Record-Courier on May 9 in which the casino/developer/good ol’ boy group attacked Dave Nelson, Mark Gardner, and Walt Nowosad. The ad, paid for by “Working Citizens Douglas County,” employed nothing but smears, absurd name-calling, and distortions (typical, socialist tactics) about who they are and what they stand for. For shame! Even Mr. Tarkanian, recently on live radio, spoke against “name-calling” in political campaigns.
The beyond-absurd claim that the three candidates and their campaign teams are liberals is false and absolutely ridiculous. If they are liberals, then I am Santa Claus! Nelson, Gardner, and Nowosad all are longtime, Trump-supporting, fiscally conservative Republicans who are tired of Douglas County being run by spendthrift, progressive RINO elitists who cater to special interests like the casinos and developers. All of them have lived in Douglas County for at least 15 years, with the exception of Gardner who has lived here four years. They have been fighting against the way the Board of Commissioners has kowtowed, for far too long, to casinos, developers, and special interests, ignoring what the people want. They support the people.
On the other hand, Working-Citizens-Douglas-County-PAC candidates promote “business as usual” if they get elected. These candidates are being manipulated by developers and casinos that are pulling the strings. Candidate Larry Walsh (1) approved more than 3,200 houses in just his first, four-year term. He voted to give his friend, David Park, a $12 million plus taxpayer-funded road for his 2,500 home development (which Walsh also approved) and (2) has been a cheerleader for giving $34.25 million in Douglas County property tax revenue (that Douglas County citizens pay) to build an Event Center that is so risky the Casinos won’t build it themselves. Danny Tarkanian only moved here about nine months ago and just appears to be following, the lead of and language spoken by, Larry Walsh. Nathan Tolbert, who’s lived here more than 30 years, would have you believe he still doesn’t know enough about anything to have formed an opinion. His campaign literature is curiously “empty”.
I want to keep our valley as rural as possible, and I agree with those who promote a need for prosperity. I believe we can do both but we need to do so through sustained, managed growth, and we also need to address our already-overburdened infrastructure (traffic, water, police, fire, schools, etc.). Additionally, the developers should pay for the infrastructure needed to support any additional growth, including planned developments already on the books.
Everyone I talk with (friends and people I don’t even know) say they are so angry their voices are being ignored. Do not vote for the three developer-and-casino-backed candidates. Bring solid, conservative values to the Board of Commissioners and help keep this county rural by voting to re-elect Dave Nelson, and by voting for Mark Gardner and Walt Nowosad. Then, and only then, will there be a majority on the Board who listen and follow what the people want.
Here’s some other vested interests
In his opinion article that appeared in the May 14 edition of the Record Courier, Jim Slade took it upon himself to personally attack myself and Frank Godecke, labeling us as examples of special interest groups backing the election of Tarkanian, Walsh and Tolbert. Thank you, Mr. Slade for the lead in. Let’s examine all the vested special interests that join with Mr. Godecke and myself in backing Tarkanian, Walsh and Tolbert. They include the East Fork Firefighters Association, the Douglas County Employees Association, the Douglas County Sheriffs Protective Association, The South Tahoe Association of Resorts, The Realtors Association, The Chamber of Commerce, and just about every working-class citizen of Douglas County. Indeed, these groups do have vested interests in Douglas County that are very special. These groups serve as our first responders, our heroes and the businesses that keep Douglas County an economically viable place to live. These groups largely fund the tax revenues that funds vital services for all residents. The vested special interests of these groups include having elected officials who will support them in their efforts to provide vital and essential services, securing the safety and well-being of all Douglas County citizens
Since he leveled his attack on me personally, let me tell you about my vested special interests, Mr. Slade. I am a local business owner, home builder, entrepreneur, and leader in the community. My special interests include the employment of twelve full-time employees, and hundreds of construction subcontract workers across Northern Nevada, including many that live in Douglas County. My special interests also include the bright futures of the hundreds of Carson Valley youth I have coached and mentored over the last decade through recreational sports programs and the Boy Scouts of America. These are youth that should have an opportunity, if they desire, to return to the only place they know as home, the Carson Valley.
Even more of a vested special to me is my beautiful wife of 18 years and five children that have come to us through either natural means or foster care adoption. Go ahead and vilify me and every other first responder and business leader in Douglas County that supports the election of Tarkanian, Walsh, and Tolbert. It only serves to further discredit you as little more than a disgruntled community agitator. If you want to further vilify me because I actively lead an effort to facilitate the American dream of home ownership in the Carson Valley for the working class, go ahead. Be my guest and vilify me for successfully attracting hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in Douglas County, helping lead development efforts of a world class resort (Edgewood Tahoe Lodge) and desperately needed attainable housing projects in the Carson Valley. I will wear your attacks as a badge of honor as I continue to fly the banners for Tarkanian, Tolbert and Walsh. These candidates will be objective fair-minded decision makers looking after the best interests of all Douglas County citizens, not just the small handful of those who moved here in the last couple of decades looking to shut the door of opportunity behind them.
Gutter politics on display
This campaign season has been one for the books with the gutter politics of the special interests who feel threatened by average citizens. Special interest groups have been around ever since I moved here but never so transparently as this political season. Take a look at the full page ad that ran in The Record-Courier on May 9 and paid for by the PAC, Working Citizens Douglas County. This ad was mean spirited and elementary school level with the names penned for those running against its candidates – Walsh, Tarkanian and Tolbert.
On one hand, we have Walt Nowosad, Mark Gardner and Dave Nelson who have heard from citizens in their respective areas and represent their views as to their vision for Douglas County which is to remain rural, grow responsibly and be financially responsible stewards of the resources of Douglas County.
On the other hand we have Larry Walsh, Nathan Tolbert and Danny Tarkanian who represent the interests of the developer community and casino interests. They all claim to want to maintain the rural character of Douglas County but who support having 7,000 homes approved but not yet built. Did Commissioners Walsh, Rice or Penzel and candidates Tolbert and Tarkanian ever ask where the demand for these homes was coming from? These three also claim they will listen to voters and their concerns. At a BOCC meeting in December regarding the proposed Park Development of 2,500 homes, Commissioner Walsh got upset with those in opposition to the Park proposal and uttered (I’m paraphrasing) all those opposed to the Park proposal were Saul Alinsky supporters and advocates of his book Rules For Radicals. If this is what Commissioner Walsh considers listening to to his constituents, his tone surely did not reflect his commitment.
Citizens of Douglas County have a choice this coming June. You can vote for candidates that will listen to you and your concerns and represent you or you can vote for those who are supported by the special interests will vote the way they are told by those who are their financial backers.
If you want to have a BOCC that represents you, I encourage you to vote for Dave Nelson, Walt Nowosad and Mark Gardner.
Difference between approvals
Apparently, Mark Gardner doesn’t understand the difference between approvals of zoning versus approval of tentative map lots versus building of houses. Gardner professes to be a private property rights advocate but ignores these rights for the convenience of playing to his political base. Gardner doesn’t understand that the BOCC approves zoning and tentative maps that are subject to stringent conditions of approvals. Houses are built by builders who invest in the future of Douglas County and which are subject to the ever changing market place. For example, over the past 10 years, an average of 132 houses has been built in Douglas County each year. But the Growth Maintenance Ordinance allowed 368 houses to be built, each year (average), over the last 10 years. So only an average of 36% of allowed building was actually used and this equates to 0.7% growth in houses built, which is much lower than the Growth Ordinance target of 2% growth. So approval of zoning & tentative maps, does not equate to out of control building of houses; the market does. Plus the existing Growth Management Ordinance protects against out of control growth.
Let’s examine the approval of the Rancho Sierra project. This property was classified as a Receiving Area under the Master Plan adopted in 1996. As such, it was slated for future development. The owner already had the proper zoning which is a private property right. The project was originally denied by Walsh in 2018 because the project was too dense (350 units) and did not conform to surrounding neighborhoods. The owner reworked the plan to 239 lots, and is required to provide all water infrastructure, including a new well, that would be required to serve the project. A “No” vote would have certainly resulted in the owner prevailing in a lawsuit because Douglas cannot infringe on private property rights. The owner contemplates building houses in phases thru the year 2032.
Let’s examine the Valley Knolls project. This property is located in the already approved North Valley Specific Plan which is an area slated for future growth. Again, this is a private property right. The number of SFR & MFR lots approved were actually less than allowed under the approved Specific Plan.
Finally, let’s examine the Park Ranch Holdings project. No specific plan, zoning or tentative map has even been applied for, all of which will require numerous public meetings before any lots are approved. The reason there is a cap of 2500 units is because Commissioner Dave Nelson voted NO to amend the original Park agreement that would have given the county the right of way for Muller Parkway in exchange for no development rights.
Private property rights are sacred. Working with developers to create a better project enhances the community. Voting for what makes sense will strengthen Douglas County. Don’t listen to the voice of inexperience but rather re-elect Larry Walsh, county commissioner, who has the experience.
We’ll never see RDA money back
Unfortunately, candidate Danny Tarkanian did not read an informative study from the April 17 edition of Reason magazine on stadiums and events centers before publicly supporting Redevelopment Area No. 2, the taxpayer-funded event center that will benefit Tahoe casinos.
Recently, the governments of Portland and Kansas City supported their own taxpayer funded projects as “economic development.” However, Reason points out that the COVID-19 pandemic has put taxpayers, who funded generous incentives for stadiums and events centers at risk of never being paid back.
To my knowledge, RDA2 proponents have not promised to pay back taxpayers, only predicting that the event center revenue will generate taxes and provide jobs for tax-paying employees, thus benefiting Douglas County.
Reason cites Michael Farren of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center: “Targeted economic development subsidies don’t work nor raise the standard of living in the communities that use them.” Farren refers to the work of University of Texas professor Heywood Sanders to argue that local governments have oversupplied the market for convention space.
Long after the immediate pandemic threat subsides, companies and promoters will be rethinking putting their employees and customers into large crowded venues.
Like all local governments, Douglas County will be under tremendous financial strain, even as the demand for county services continue with a shriveling tax base. Yet, amidst the economic shutdown, Commissioners Penzel, Walsh and Rice voted against Commissioners Nelson and Engels to commit $34.25 million to RDA2 to benefit the casinos.
Tarkanian has cited the “success” of RDA1 in the north county as justifying RDA2. But the Grand Jury report on RDA1 points out: “… there was also concern of an attitude of looking for ways to spend the revenue in areas and with projects that may not be the best use of that revenue or in the best interest of the public.”
Regarding the finding of blight to justify RDA2, the Redevelopment Association of Nevada Code of Ethics (cited by the Grand Jury) states that “Redevelopment plans should be adopted only for areas where physical and economic blight are detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare, and redevelopment projects should be geographically limited to only those areas which are necessary for the elimination of blight. Redevelopment activity should be undertaken with due regard for its impact on other local public-sector entities and the services they provide.” Like tax revenue lost to the Covid-19 pandemic?
“During the review of the RDA1 it was noted that several entities are being negatively impacted by the loss of revenue. Those entities include (listed in order of impact): Douglas County, Douglas County School District, East Fork Fire Protection District, State of Nevada, Carson Valley Swimming Pool District, Indian Hills GID, Douglas County Mosquito District, Carson Water Sub-Conservancy District and Town of Genoa. The amount of tax money being generated from these nine overlapping entities and 10 funds is a significant amount and increases annually.”
Danny Tarkanian’s position on RDA2 would make him a bad bet for Commissioner.
Stateline is paying our bills
In this state the local governments get most of the revenue from property taxes and various fees. Douglas County between the valley and our portion of Tahoe is a among the most scenic and best places in the nation to live. For decades the Lake Casino properties and the higher residential values at the Lake have paid a large portion of the property taxes in the county. The current Kingsbury Grade would not exist without the Casino influence at the Lake. There are few left who ever drove the Old Kingsbury Grade “road.” It was a challenge for any vehicle in the summertime and closed for 4-6 months each winter.
Three gaming pioneers – Bill Harrah, Harvey Gross and John Ascuaga – loved this county and protected it. Today the casinos are largely owned by non county presence corporations. The post-COVID period will be a challenge for all casinos with on line competition, the changing demographics of their customers and the constrains on social distancing in a climate where physical closeness with many people has been part of the gaming experience forever. None of us can know if our lake properties will survive nor how long the recovery will take. However, if they feel they need an event center to survive, we as voters and residents need to pay attention because they have been paying the bills in this county for decades.
We have thousands of residents in Carson Valley with jobs at the lake. They need the properties to survive and thrive and the rest of us need their residential property taxes in the valley and property taxes from the lake to keep the county viable. Please consider this view as you are ask to sign petitions and as you vote in the primary which will decide three commission seats. Should growth in this valley stop and the casino corporate honchos find any excuse to close the lake casinos, we will all find ourselves in a very different and unpleasant situation. The voting by mail process is easy and voting is really important this year.
Ad smacks of desperation
The recent ad in The Record-Courier by the Political Action Committee, Working Citizens for Douglas County shows how desperate the special interests are in this election of County Commissioners. The ad basically slanders our current commissioner Dave Nelson along with challengers for the Board Mark Gardner and Walt Nowosad. Who is the PAC, Working Citizens for Douglas County? Nothing more than a front for the casinos who want Douglas County tax payers to pay for their event center and the big land developers who want to turn prime agricultural land into subdivisions. The PAC, Working Citizens for Douglas County, was registered by Dreu Murin, a publicist in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. It is a vehicle for special interest money. There are no reports posted on the Nevada Secretary of State website about this PAC. This is typical, murky, special interest activity. I have worked with Dave Nelson, Mark Gardner and Walt Nowosad in the Douglas County Republican Central Committee for the past five years. All these men have devoted countless hours on Committees and in Republican events for many years in contrast to Tarkanian and Tolbert who have never participated in or devoted any of their time Republican activities Douglas County. Nelson, Gardner and Nowosad deserve your vote.
Thanks for supporting GGG forum
The Good Governance Group of Douglas County had a Candidate Forum for our Commissioners at the Carson Valley Museum on Tuesday May 12. We will able to film the event and make available to anyone that wants to see it.
I am Bev Anderson and I was the chairperson for this event. I want to “Thank” my committee members Barbara Smallwood, Chris Golightly, Barbara Decker and Jim McKalip for helping me make this Candidate Forum a success. I want to “Thank” Pat Tafoya and Marshall Goldy for taking care of the filming and making it available on the Good Governance Group Website and You Tube.
I also, want to “Thank” Jerry Evans of 99.1 FM for being our Moderator.
Also I can to “Thank” the Carson Valley Museum for making the room available for us to have it so we could have Social Distancing for the candidates.
You can view it on the following https://youtu.be/Ie4fpegAKbs
You can go to the Good Governance Group Website dcnvggg.com and view the video also.
Supporting Patricia Ackerman
I am a retired rancher, having lived in Douglas County for more than 75 years and have been active in the community for many decades along with my wife.
We would urge support of Patricia “Tricia” Ackerman for congressional district 2. We have worked with her over the past three years and find her a capable and compassionate person who would make a fine representative in the U.S. Congress.
She is a major conservationist who cares about the water, climate, agriculture, people and wildlife in Nevada, the U.S., and the world. To learn about her other priorities, such as health care for all, fighting corruption and restarting our economy, visit ackerman4congress.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graham (Gim) and Joyce Hollister, Jr.
Thanks for recycling column
Thank you, Autumn Resney, for you letter in a recent R-C guest opinion column. Sorting my recycling is not one of my favorite household chores and you’ve made it so much easier. From another source, I heard that China bought all our unrecyclable plastics because they claimed to have a way to recycle it all. But they didn’t and I watched in horror a video of truck after truck dumping plastics into a river which, of course, went straight to the ocean where the large plastic island is located. At least if we put that plastic in our landfills here, its carbon content is sequestered. From what was described in your letter, I will be more careful in the type of packaging I will buy and try to cut down on the waste that way. Thank you again for listing the plastics that are recycled.
Solar bill still an issue
With Gov. Sisolak gradually reopening the Silver State, SB 358 isn’t top of mind. In an economic downturn likely as deep as the Great Depression and the Forgotten Depression of 1920-21, it matters. The bill sanctimoniously declared a goal of producing at least 50 percent of Nevada’s electricity from “zero carbon dioxide emission resources” by 2050. SB 358 was approved unanimously by the legislature. It’s lazy, feel-good, virtue-signaling legislation, which will harm every Nevadan, except for rent-seeking renewable producers that can’t compete without mandates. Sisolak touts new renewable jobs. The unseen costs are jobs destroyed and never created because of more expensive electricity.
Cheap, reliable electricity is a sine qua non of modern life. We take it for granted. But a billion people worldwide don’t have electricity. Several billion more have unreliable electricity.
Electricity is a component of everything Nevadans consume and produce. More expensive electricity makes Nevada businesses less competitive and consumers poorer.
Sisolak’s putting Nevada, paying 8.67 cents per kWh, on the renewable path followed by California and Germany, which pay 16.58 and 30.4 cents per kWh, respectively.
Our governor is in thrall to the dogma CO2 is a dangerous pollutant and powerful greenhouse gas, that anthropogenic CO2 is a major driver of global warming, that global warming is occurring and an existential threat to life as we know it, and that the best response is reducing man’s economic footprint. None of these assumptions bears scrutiny.
CO2 isn’t a pollutant. Puppies and babies exhale CO2 with every breath. Plants consume it. CO2’s a minor greenhouse gas, and, historically, has lagged warming periods.
The models warmist alarmists rely on can’t predict past climate, much less the future.
The Earth has been warming and cooling for billions of years. Climate alarmists implicitly assume the current climate is optimal. However, many (most) people would benefit from a warmer world.
The richer we are, the better we can cope with a cooler or warmer world.
Romanticized solar and wind are unreliable and environmentally-destructive energy sources, requiring vast swaths of land, dirty materials to manufacture and for batteries, and extensive transmission lines. Wind mills are unsightly, noisy, and massacre birds and bats.
The only sources of massive incremental electricity needed to power Nevada’s and the world’s growing economies in the 21st century are nuclear and fossil fuels. Nuclear is the most energy dense, and least environmentally destructive. It emits no CO2, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, or particulate matter, yet has been demonized by fear mongers and is almost universally opposed by those clamoring CO2’s an existential threat. Cost-effective gas has provided most additional US electricity over the last several decades.
Less expensive and more reliable sources of electricity don’t have to be mandated. If Sisolak cared about Nevadans’ welfare he wouldn’t mandate any energy source. He would demand the repeal of the Renewable Portfolio Standard, challenge industry to lower the cost of electricity 50%, and grease the skids for gas and dense, CO2-free nuclear power.