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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
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January 30, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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January 30, 1997
 

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" Pahrump Valley Gazette, Thursday, J'anuary 30,  97 9 D-Day for Nicholson - February 4, 1997 by Brent Mathewson At the upcoming meeting of the Nye County Commission, to be held in Tonopah on February 4, 1997, the commission will be faced with a decision of some interest to the special assistant to the Nye County Manager, Rachel Nicholson, and of enor- mous importance to all citizens of Nye County. The agenda item won't look like much on the surface. It will read something like - "discussion and decision regarding transfer of funds from the District Attorney's Office to Nye County Administration". Nye County Manager, Les Bradshaw, has stated in the past, both verbally and in print, that approval of this item would "memorialize", which means to commemorate or give honor to, is interesting upon examination. The referred action taken by the commission on October 1, 1996 was approval of an item buried deep in the consent agenda under the line item "personnel actions" and identified a transfer taking place from the D.A.'s office to county administration. The person being transferred was Rachel Nicholson. A reasonable person would conclude that this buried agenda item was meant to blur, confuse and negate action taken on September 17, 1996 when the commission retused to approve the newly created high priced position if it was going to be funded out of the Nye County General Fund. The position was then approved under the condition that it be funded out of Yucca Mountain grant money with Bradshaw assuring the commission that this could be an ideal situation. Rachel's position stands alone as the only newly created position in Nye County since a resolution was passed earlier in 1996 imposing a strict hiring freeze due to severe and ongoing budget difficulties that have already approached crisis level. Highly placed Yucca Mountain officials went on record almost immediately after being approached and stated verbally and in writing that there was no possible way that Nicholson's salary could be justified and paid out of Yucca Mountain grant money. At the very most, and only occasionally, 20% of the expense of her salary could be absorbed by Yucca Mountain Repository monies. In spite of this fact Nicholson' s salary from September 1 l, 1996 to October 6, 1996 was paid 100% out of Yucca Mountain funds in violation of the terms of the grant. Could it be possible that his alleged misappropriation of Yucca Mountain grant money has anything to do with the fact that a 4 million dollar grant that was applied for in mid-1996 has never yet been approved by the federal government? Informa- tion from a highly reliable source indicates that misappropria- tion of Yucca Mountain grant money goes back on a continu- ous basis to 1992. If these allegations were to be pursued by the federal government and proved to be correct, all federal grant money coming into Nye County could be placed in jeopardy. Salary paid to Nicholson out of the Nye County General Fund since October 6, 1996 is a felony criminal violation of Nevada statutes and this has been brought to the attention of the commission some time ago through a formal district attorney's opinion written by D.A. Bob Beckett and staff at the request of former District 3 Commissioner, Jeff Taguchi. The Nye County citizen deserves to be made fully aware that a tidal wave of debt is sweeping towards Nye County. Actions taken arid n?t taken by the Nye County manager and his special assistant appear to place them at the vortex of the cause of events that are unfolding and will continue to unfold in the near and immediate future. The crest of the wave broke on January 7, 1997 when the entire Nye County Commission sat dumbfounded and in shock as Bradshaw informed them that the Nye County group insur- ance fund was facing an immediate 1 million dollar shortfall that would have to be addressed in February of this year. In December 1996, when Bradshaw requested and received ap- proval of an illegal PETT fund loan of $250,000 to shore up this account not a word was uttered regarding this upcoming chaos of the county budget. A check of county records and conversa- tion with county personnel revealed that this problem could and should have been easily identifiable six months ago. Is anybody asking whether the commission, let alone the county citizen, is getting their money's worth for their high priced county manager and his equally high priced special assistant? To ignore the ramifications of the upcoming Bill Offutt lawsuits against the county, precipitated by alleged actions by the previous Nye County manager, is like pretending to be able to hide Mount Vesuvius inside the Amargosa Community Center. Anyone who is aware of even 2% of the documented evidence that would come to light should this case ever go to trial knows that it describes a man that is completely and totally morally bankrupt. Any Nye County commissioner that is not informed to this degree in this matter simply does not wish to be informed. Investigative journalism by its very nature requires a writer from time to time to gain ac- cess to information that can- not, will not, should not and will never be divulged by any person that has any respect for the creed or a code of ethics. What I can say is that it is the general consensus of those most familiar with the Bill Offutt lawsuits that these cases will never be allowed to go to trial and to do otherwise would only needlessly extend and magnify a tragedy that has already exceeded any realm of reason. These same people also share a consensus opinion that Nicholson's apparent incapability or refusal to act in an appropriate manner when first informed of Offutt's alleged actions in early 1994 increased Nye County's exposure to lability a thousand fold. In the future decades as we, who are still around, look back it will be obvious that the Bill Offutt lawsuits were not the straw that broke the financial back of Nye County One hundred thousand pounds of bricks dropped on the back of a mortally crippled and dying goat would be more like it. The Offutt lawsuit settlement will in the end be paid by the county's general insurance policy and therein lies the rob. Nye County participates in an insurance "pool" which includes most other counties in Nevada. The rates paid into the This Man's Opinion by Brent Mathewson "pool" depend on your "driving record" just like car insurance. Nye County's driving record is already atrocious and as a direct result of this fact the premium paid in 1996 of $412,000 reflected a 65% increase of the amount paid in 1995 which was right at $250,000. At the same time the "deductible" fee of $10,000 that was required to be paid to the pool with each claim submitted in 1995 was increased to $25,000 in 1996. To state that the county's driving record has deteriorated since the adjustment in the premium made back in 1996 is an understatement of vast proportions. The county's situation is worse than that of a person with two DUI' s including a fatality. When the county's general insurance premium next comes up for renegotiation Nye County will be thrown out of the pool like a bad penny, or a rotten apple if you prefer. For all intents and purposes the county will become uninsurable. It will be forced to go to someone like Lloyds of London and the cost of the premium will hit the stratosphere. A conservative estimate would be around 4 million dollars a year. Again, let me say that the Offutt lawsuits are not what will break the camel's back, for we were headed there anyway. Lawsuits against Nye County are virtually so numerous that no one is able to keep track of them. A review of the causes behind them reveals a common factor. That factor is an apparent arrogance if not incompetence or apparent criminal action reflected in decisions made by the Nye County Commission with the advice and consent of the Nye County Manager and staff. I will give one example of multitudes I could choose from. On July 18, 1995 the Nye County Commission fired Mark Zane, an employee of district attorney, Bob Beckett, who was working as a special investigator in the D.A.'s office. Zane had a sterling 14 year work record as a Nye County employee. Beckett had gone before the commission requesting a 30 day extension to an unpaid 30 day leave of absence previously granted by the commission in regards to Zane. The unpaid leave of absence was the result of an agreement between Beckett and Zane that would relieve a budget difficulty in Beckett's office. The commission voted to refuse Beckett's request and summarily fired Zane out from beneath Beckett instead. The decision was appealed by Zane and upheld by the commission. Zane brought suit against the county. In 1996, when the commission voted to turn the suit over to the insur- ance pool rather than pay the claim, Rachel Nicholson advised the commission that, "our attorneys (meaning the attorneys representing the insurance pool) have advised us that we have a solid case in this matter. Mark Zane just walked out of his office one day and never re- turned and now he has filed this ridiculous claim against the county." The truth of the matter might have something to do with the fact that Zane is a highly intelligent person that happens to know where most if not all the skeletons are buried in Nye County government. Just because Nye County is in all probability irrevocably i 00allstate i zluy Cars For Cashl 727-1050 headed for bankruptcy, do not expect the Nye County Commis- sion to address the problem head-on. If past actions taken and not taken regarding the Nye Regional Medical Center in Tonopah - which is surely going under - are any indication of what to expect, then the tidal wave of debt which is now cresting will drown the entire county before the wake up call is acknowledged. Some time ago one commissioner, to his credit, foresaw what was inevitably going to financially happen to the hospital in Tonopah. If his warning calls had been heeded as much as a year ago millions of dollars of taxpayers' money would have been saved and the good people of Tonopah would now be on their way to finding workable solutions to their health care problems instead of slipping deeper into the inevi- table trap of bankruptcy. Giving credit where it is due, that commission's name is Cameron McRae. By now the reader may think that I have gotten off the subject matter that this article started out with. That is not true. The material presented has been offered in an effort to show where we end up when high government officials use slight of hand, diversionary tactics, illusion and outright lies in order to mislead us and guide us down pathways that end up as blind alleys. Bradshaw says that be wants the commission to memorial- ize an action taken by the commission on October 1, 1996. What he means is that he wants the commission to legalize felony actions that took place in his office in regards to Rachel Nicholson's salary that are still ongoing today. Somehow the Nye County citizen is expected to believe that we owe Rachel Nicholson some enormous debt of gratitude and that her employment should be continued at any cost. Any cost? With the shape the county is in any cost is too high. That is this man's opinion. II r , COMMUNITY COLLEGE SOUTHERN NEVADA PAHRUMP COMMUNITY COLLEGE SOUTHERN NEVADA PAHRUMP Enroll now Automotive class AUTO 101B Monday & Wednesday 6 - 8 p.m. lnstuctor Bob Dandy. Course covers basics and beyond. Prepare for a career in the automotive repair industry. Music! Concert Band MUSIC 197 Wednesday 6 -9 p.m. Instructor Scott Riley. Open to all ages, all abilities. Accommodates most instruments. Could develop into a community ensemble! Career Development CAPS 123 Wednesday 6 -9 p.m. Instructor R. Knight. Confused about what it is you want to do? 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