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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
November 20, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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November 20, 1997

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8 Thursday, November 20, 1997 Pahrump Valley Gazette Service Forum Thermax Clean Care Center in Steam 00anin8 Home, Business Auto * RV Rent the world's best Steam Cleaner (7o 727-9 $8 for 24 hours 1200 N. Leelle St. -FREE- 10x12 Room Pohrump. NV 89041 Cleaned If mention Ibis od . Educat,on Center Diane York Igm Johnson 727-8679 751-0217 Taxation investigation moves forward In a move that is reminiscent of one trying to hide the proverbial elephant under a do/ly, the Nye County Commission along with the Nye County Manager, Les Bradshaw and his assistant, Rachel Nicholson, are pretending that the State of Nevada Department of Taxation's preliminary review/investigation into alleged fiscal improprieties, up to and including criminal activity at the highest levels in Nye County government, is a nonevent. This pretension has been exacerbated by the fact that no newsprint media in Nye County, of which there are several, other than the Pahrump Valley Gazette has devoted a single column inch to this unfolding drama. While the magnitude of the story is drawing interest from if Beckett had not fired her he could have conceivably faced disciplinary action for not abiding by his oath of office. Several days after Nicholson got fired the Nye County Commission cre- ated a new position called "Special Assistant to the Nye County Manager." There was a formal county-wide hiring freeze in place at that time. The commission voted to hire Rachel to fill the position and have her pay being retroactive to that action. In fact her pay was to begin, by agreement of the commission, from the very moment of her firing by Beckett. At the time the commission created this new position the commissioners voted to refuse to fund it out of the Nye County general fund. The Nye County Manager, Les Bradshaw, informed journalists in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento, Cali- I frnia' the Cun'Y newspa- T M I per, other than the PVG are sit- HIS AN'S ON ling on their hands. One might just as well be- by Brent Mathewson lieve that you could send your daughter down the aisle wearing -- a virgin white bridal gown while being eight months pregnant and not draw a raised eyebrow from the commission that they could fund the position out of Yucca Moun- tain grant money. The commission voted to do so. A while later a person or per- sons got in the county records and caused the word "void" to be writ- ten across the document signed by Beckett when he fired Nicholson. At the same time a new document, those in attendance. The states' interest as to the fiscal condition of Nye County was first aroused during an investigation of the financial condition of Nye Regional Medical Center (NRMC) that took place in the early part of this year. That investigation led to the state taking over complete financial control of NRMC. Prior to the state taking control of the hospital in Tonopah, NRMC was draining a quarter of a million dollars a month from the Nye County treasury in over- budgeted expenses. Since the first day that the state wrested control of NRMC from Nye County, this facility has not taken one unbudgeted dime from the Nye County treasury. Prior to the state usurping control of NRMC, the Nye County Commission held the reins of responsibil- ity for this whirlpool of debt that had been created. In spite of this fact, an uninformed reader in the act of browsing through supposedly hard news coverage in some Nye County newspapers of late is left with the impression that somehow the Nye County Commissioners are supposed to be the heroes and given credit for this stoppage of the incredible waste of taxpayers' money that was taking place at NRMC. Reportage of this type is known as putting a "spin" on a story and if the reader is less than fully informed it can have the effect of turning black into white. According to written statements made by personnel at the Nevada State Department of Taxation, an article published under my byline "This Man's Opinion" and titled, "Only in Nye - When an Audit is not an Audit," was at least a catalyst that helped move the state's present investigation into alleged fiscal improprieties taking place in Nye County forward. Whether I am supposed to take the credit or the blame for this state of affairs, I guess, depends upon your point of views. A preliminary review being conducted by the Department of Taxation began in earnest in early October, 1997 and is tentatively scheduled to be completed by November 30, 1997. Copious amounts of heavily documented material have poured into the offices of the Department of Taxation to assist that departments personnel in unraveling the mysteries of Nye County's true fiscal condition and the alleged illegal activities that led us to this point in time. Several people are anxiously waiting in the wings to supply more. Nye County citizens that have come forward to supply the Department of Taxation with information and express their con- ecru, encouragement and appreciation during this preliminary/ review stage of the investigation include the commonest of citi- zens, Nye County personnel, both elected and appointed, and business people who have been seriously aggrieved and suffered enormous economic loss because they are not among the chosen few that Nye County insists that it does the vast bulk of its business with. Much of the information that has been given to the Department of Taxation, and some that is still waiting to be given, I happen to be privy to. In order to not impede, prejudge or prejudice decisions to be made by state personnel in the course of the preliminary/ review I will say little about most of it at this time. However, in a free society that supposedly has access to a free press, it is not reasonable or necessary for the citizens to be kept in the dark when matters of this magnitude of importance are being decided. Some of the documented material being looked at by the Department of Taxation has been covered in previous columns by this writer. Much of it has not. One item of interest that miy perk your imagination. Some readers will remember that back in the fall of 1996 the Nye County District attorney, Bob Beckett, fired his chief civil deputy, Rachel Nieholson. This oceurred I believe on about September 11, 1996. Deputy D.A.s are "at will" employees. This issue was decided some time ago by the Nevada Supreme Court and is acknowledged by almost all attorneys in Nevada that know how to read a law book. The situation that led up to Nicholson's dismissal was such that signed by no one, was entered into the record stating that Nicholson had been "transferred" to county administration. At the request of then Nye county Commissioner, Jeff Taguchi, Beckett wrote a formal district attorney's opinion informing the commission that the alterations that had been done to these county documents were possibly criminal and that class "C" felony violations of the law may have taken place. Beckett's opinion was worded in such a manner as to put the commissioners on full alert that serious violations of Nevada law were apparently taking place because of this fiasco, and that remedial action should be taken immediately to rectify the prob- lem. Included in Beckett's opinion was also documented informa- tion that Nicholson's position could not be legally funded out of Yucca Mountain grant money which was contrary to the advice given to them by the county Manager, Les Bradshaw, at the time the position was created retroactively. The commissioner's response to Beckett's opinion and advice was to do nothing. Another thing that had come to light at about this time was that Nicholson was now being paid her $100,000 salary out of the Nye County general fund which was exactly what the commission had voted to refuse to allow at the time that the position was created in direct violation of their own resolution No. 96-13. A key question in this matter is, "How was Nicholson suddenly able to begin being paid out of the Nye County general fund account when such an action was in direct violation of a vote by the commission?" Who gave the order? Who signed the paperwork authorizing an action that would have to be considered illegal by any reasonable thinking person? The answer to that question happens to be just a very small part of a great mound of evidence presently being sifted through by the Department of Taxation in its preliminary/review investigation. I happen to have a copy of this county document in my possession. It is in the form of an interoffice memo from Rachel Nicholson to Donna Motis. Nicholson has initialed the memo authorizing the requested action. The subject of the memo is: Funding for special assistant position. The memo is dated October 21, 1996. The last paragraph of the memo reads: "For purposes of ease of payroll bookkeeping, please fund the position from administration on a bi- weekly basis. Then, quarterly, repository will reimburse adminis- tration for the appropriate portion of the salary." Because of the amount of information that the Department of Taxation is attempting to deal with in this matter the tentative November 30, 1997 date to wrap up the preliminary/review stage of this investigation may not be met. When the preliminary/review stage is completed recommenda- tions will be made to the Department of Taxation as to what actions the review team thinks may be appropriate. Recommendations which may be made includethe following. 1. That hearings be conducted to decide whether a severe financial emergency exists in Nye County. The results of such a hearing could cause the state to take over financial control of Nye County. This is, in fac 4, what occurred after such a hearing involving the financial condition at NRMC. 2. That information gathered during the preliminary review be turned over to the Attorney General's office for possible prosecu- tion. 3. That a grand jury be impaneled and staffed so that a more thorough investigation can be funded and any appropriate prosecu- tion move forward. 4. That a copy of the preliminary/review investigation be forwarded to the Nevada Commission on Ethics for consideration of appropriate action by the body. If there is anyone in Nye County that thinks that "none of the above" will take place, you're just whistling in the dark. That is this man's opinion. copyright 1997 by Brent Mathewson ii ii ii COg Ber Inc. pro. ing oft COE nin des bat Sil' the sig the Ve