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Pahrump, Nevada
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January 16, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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January 16, 1997
 

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lOThursday, January 16, 1997 Pahrump Valley Gazette Editorial I I I Fanning Fickle Flames of Fame By Robert Lowes For Nye County's recently elected Commission Chairman Dick Carver, the flames of fame continue to flicker like the stubborn lingering embers of an abandoned high-desert campfire. For Carver, the embers continue to burn bright and long after the Sagebrush Rebellion he championed was judi- cially was by a federal judge last year. However, Time Magazine's one-time cover boy and cowboy commissioner keeps on making news. In one recent week, for example, Carver was not only featured on network television on Robert Stack's Unsolved Mysteries, but also that same week in an Associated Press feature by staff writer Michelle DeArmond, which appeared prominently in the Las Vegas Review-Journal and numerous other member newspapers throughout the country. For those readers who may have forgotten, Carver, armed only with his well-worn copy of the United States Constitu- tion, was catapulted into the national media spotlight when he climbed aboard a rusting county bulldozer to open a closed rural road in direct defiance of a federal agent's order. Not a shot was fired, but the commissioner's courageous action triggered a widespread western rebellion that wound up in the federal courts to decide who would control the public lands. That symbolic gesture occurred, interestingly enough, on the 4th of July in 1994. It took the courts more than a year to finally rule in favor of the federal government. When that decision was rendered in the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, Carver nevertheless found some degree of victory in that defeat. In fact, despite the obvious oxymoron, I used a courthouse quote from Carver to headline my story that week: "CARVER CLAIMS LOSING IS WINNING." Not only was it an atten- tion-getting headline, but it also accurately described the commissioner's honest reaction to the long-awaited and controversial court ruling regarding the management of public lands in Nevada and throughout the rural West. But before anyone starts to think that Carver took a dive from his previous hard-core position on the issue, let me assure readers, this is not true. Sure, he had basked for awhile in the spotlight of national attention. And, who among us can honestly say they wouldn't like to see themselves favorably featured on the cover of a national magazine? While it's never happened to me personally, I was around when it happened to both Bobby Kennedy and former Los Angeles Police Chief Tom Reddin. Growing up in the spotlight of publicity surrounding the Kennedy family, Bobby was used to getting such star treat- ment in the media; however, Tom Reddin was not, and he soon started to believe his own publicity. He shortly resigned as the "Nation's Top Cop," a designation given to him by the magazine, and became an anchor personality for Channel 5, a local television station in Los Angeles. But Tom was neither Tom Brokaw or for that matter Jerry Dumphy, the two by R.P.L top-rated, local TV anchors of the day, and he didn' t last long in the tough and highly-competitive LA media market. Literally, it took him years to recover from the publicity of having been a public icon, with feet, after all, that turned out to be made of human clay. Frankly, I was somewhat concerned that a similar fate might befall our Commissioner Carver. For a country boy, he seemed to revel in the limelight of attention as the overnight spokesperson for a growing public outrage against abusive government control. In a way, he became the public's Marlboro Man of the sagebrush movement. He has gone around the country giving speeches and spreading his message of local control to anyone who would listen to him. Often maligned and frequently misunderstood, Carver and his sagebrush rebels were accused at one time of having ties to militant militia groups and even were suspected of being involved in two still-unsolved forest service bombings in Carson City, which resulted in the recent Unsolved Mysteries program. Carver insists he has never advocated violence and has never worried about the safety of any federal employees in Nye County, most of whom he has known personally for many years. In his interview with the AP writer that he revealed he's tired of being in the limelight and is even considering leaving the commission before the end of his current term. Carver was elected last year to a new four-year term, his third, and is currently serving as chairman of the five-member board However, Carver believes his missionary work is far from being over. He still doesn't think the federal government has a right to most of the public lands in the West. In Nevada, some 92 percent of the state's land is currently under some form of federal management and control. He remains con- vinced a high-court judge will some day rule that the states rightfully own the land and counties have the right to manage it. Realistically, he knows he can't count on getting th, needed support from current Nevada Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa, coincidentally raised in Tonopah in Nye County, who sided with the Justice Department in federal court during the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion. The attorney general, a politically-prominent Democrat, was quoted as saying that the 1979 Nevada Statutes claiming ownership of the public lands were "invalid and unenforceable." With some help from a more sympathetic state attorney general, Carver hopes someday he will succeed in getting the controversial land issue before the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meatttime, the commissioner continues to believe that his sagebrush rebels won a victory in their apparent defeat by the federal government. He contends that the federal agencies are now at the same table discussing critical land issues with the local governments which the entrenched former bureau- crats had previously refused to do. Regional Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service offices have been reorganized for improved, client- oriented service to the public. Since the ruling, attorneys for Nye County and the Justice Department are meeting to write guidelines on how to get along and address concerns about issues such as road maintenance, water rights and other rangeland issues. Maybe, just maybe, the cow county commissioner was right, after all, and there are some sure signs of winning in the losing. Ambush at the Taj - only time will tell in contrast to the ambush I witnessed in Tonopah on January 6, when Pahrump's Cameron McRae and Red Copass got waylaid by Chairman Dick Carver of Round Mountain; Tonopah's Bob Davis; and Beatty's Bobby Revert, it was refreshing to attend a couple of Pahrump Town Board meet- ings. More on the town board later in this column. Actually, in reference to the alleged ambush: the event was nothing more than a typical political takeover. The laughable part is the three northern commissioners were about as subtle as a jet crash. Smooth as the Bill Copeland Highway. Yessiree, for every curve they had the angle. The Three Amigos could have charmed the cherries offa tree and had a flamin' jubilee before they hit the ground. This blood- less coup certainly marks a strange beginning to the new political season and only time will tell if the angry rumblings of some of Pahrump's most notable citizens are fiction or prophecy. For instance, the loudest and most frequent concern of the people I'm talking to is the issue of not meeting in Pahrump anymore. Actually, Chairman Carver never said he would never meet again in Pahrump. He said the commissioners would meet in Pahrump if the need arises. In other words, "if it affects P .ahrump." Mr. Chairman, I respectfully submit for your consideration the fact that 100% of what goes on during a Nye County Board of Commissioners meeting affects Pahrump, Tonopah, Amargosa Valley; Round Mountain; Beatty; Gabbs, Belmont, Duckwater, Currant and Dyer and on and on and on. It is our tax dollars, Mr.Chairman. What the two new commissioners and Mr. Carver need to prove to the citizens of Pahrump, and the other rural towns for that matter, is that they recognize they represent all the citizens of Nye County. Only time will tell. Anyhow, since there's only one meeting down in the year with more than a dozen to go; I suggest we hold our collective breath for a few more weeks to see which way the wind blows. As far as Cameron McRae no longer serving as chairman; I have only two items to note on that subject: 1. McRae could use the break from chairman duties and his influence may emerge just as prominent. Intelligence and articulation will do that for argument. 2. The following are comments made by JonEastely of Round Mountain during the January 6 meeting held in Tonopah. Eastely has resided in the Smoky Valley for thirteen years and currently serves as chairman of the Round Mountain Town Board. The subject matter concerning her comments was McRae's tenure as chairman and the idea of meetings no longer occurring in Pahrump. Eastely praised McRae, "I would like to thank Cameron McRae for the four years he has been chairman. I believe he has provided in- formed, intelligent, and decisive leadership." Concerning the issue of the meetings, Eastely addressed all the commission- ers, singling out Carver for thanks in his original efforts to hold meetings outside of the county seat, "...for making government accessable by encouraging meetings to be held in Pahrump. These meetings gave me the perfect opportunity to build relationships that I would not have been able to other- wise. It also created an environment that encouraged us to focus on our similarities (and) our concerns about infrastruc- ture, education, and the health and safety of our families, rather than continuing to point out our differences. Despite the four hour drive, meeting in Pahrump helped make the county much smaller in my eyes." Eastely lives a short 225 Know What I Mean? by Doug McMurdo miles from Pahrump and yet she is willing to drive to Pahrump to attend a meeting. We could use more citizens like her. If a pattern of consistent 3-2 votes occur which "affect" Pahrump, everybody will see the writing on the wall. This is comment number two. Again, only time will tell. But I do recall Carver noted during his acceptance speech that Revert and Davis, along with himself, were "raised in Nye County.,' Carver also stated "this is the strongest board in the nation and now it's even stronger with the addition" of Revert and Davis. I suspect it's time to put up or shut up. At least let us know where the Nye County line begins and ends according to your map. Only time will tell. On the other side of the coin and the basis of this compare and contrast editorial lies the Pahrump Town Board. This past Saturday, January 11, the board held a "strategy session." On the 14th, the first official meeting of the Pahrump Town Board occurred. Both meetings were informative and encour- aging. It appears the five members, despite some obvious but minor personality glitches, are determined to march, albeit conservatively, into the coming years with quiet optimism. At the Saturday meeting, which was really no more than a rap session, town manager Scott Neilson presented an impressive program for those in attendance. Two major items seemed to take precedence regarding this session. The first has to do with priorities. As in, Pahrump's number one priority should be public safety. Steve Rainbolt said it first in a public meeting but all board members agreed. The other item is that Pahrump must do all it can legally do to be independent from Tonopah. Actually, the two go hand in hand. Public Safety and Independence. Sounds kind of seccessionist don't it? There is no evolution without revolution! Power to the people! While the town of Pahrump supports the continued protec- tion of Sheriff Lieseke and the NCSO, the town of Pahrump is looking into going solo on the ambulance service. If the money's there and the numbers support the gambit; let's go for it. As far as the independence part, Pahrump is very limited in how much rope they get. Voters overwhelmingly rejected incorporation and nothing could change my mind they don't still feel that way. Other good things I've heard that board members agree to in spirit if not in terms: Pahrump should stay as rural as possible. They will look into minimizing sub-division capac- ity to no less than one-and-a-quarter acres. They are looking into the water situation and what can be done to abate it. They are looking into fire suppression and how to improve it. Fire Chief Vern Long presented a preliminary draft and a ten-year master plan foi" the fire department. The arena is about to get some major improvements, an alternative fairground is being investigated, economic development is moving ahead, and most important, the Pahrump Regional Planning Commis- sion is determined to not be a "paper tiger" as an overworked, exhausted Ron Williams suggested to the commissioners last week. And they are throwing nickels around as if they were manhole covers. They're pinching pennies until they scream. Fiscal responsibility is being practiced to the nth degree. This board appears to have matured to a new level. New boards, new faces, new ideas, another era. Only time will tell.