By Mark Waite
The school of hard knocks will be a suitable substitute for a formal education, Nye County commissioners decided Tuesday.
Job descriptions for the assistant county manager are being revised following the appointment of former County Commissioner Joni Eastley to assistant county manager. Eastley was term-limited after 12 years on the commission in December. But Eastley didn’t meet all the formal requirements for the assistant county manager position, namely she did not hold a master’s degree in public administration or business administration.
The revised job description for the assistant county manager — which in this case would be retroactive — states a typical way to gain the required knowledge and ability is graduating with a masters degree in public administration, business administration or a closely related field and five years of management experience in the public sector or any equivalent combination of education and experience.
Commission Chairman Butch Borasky wanted the job description for the county manager and assistant county manager to be equal, but District Attorney Brian Kunzi pointed out there are key differences as currently written.
County Manager Pam Webster said she’ll retire at the end of this year, the assumption is the assistant county manager will be groomed to replace her.
Under education and experience, the qualifications for county manager were changed, which seemed to cater to Eastley’s situation. That job description states: “a typical way to gain the required knowledge and ability is: Five years in a management level position in the public sector elected official status counts or any combination of training, education and experience that would provide the required knowledge and abilities.”
There is no mention of any college degrees for the county manager position, though Kunzi wants to bring back a rewrite of the job descriptions, rather than do major edits based on the commissioners’ comments Tuesday.
“Personally, I’m not hung up on education like some people are. If you’re qualified to do the job, you can do it. If you’re not, you’re not. There was conversation about finance degrees, we have people in the system who do that, the comptroller and folks. Managing is the key word,” Borasky said.
Commissioner Dan Schinhofen liked the substitution of four years of experience or a college degree in public administration.
“I would rather have someone who has done the job for 30 years than have someone who just came out of college with a degree in their hands. From my own life experience, I’d rather have someone who has done the work,” Schinhofen said. He has a degree in theology, but joked about the value of his degree asking, “do you want fries with that?”
Commissioner Frank Carbone concurred.
“I spent 30 years working for one particular company. Throughout my years with the education I have, my job experience got me to the position I needed to get to,” Carbone said. He added, “if we’re not getting what we need to be getting from the assistant county manager we know the county manager needs to follow through.”
Under state law, the commissioners only have the ability to hire and fire the county manager and the public works director, Kunzi said. Regardless, the county already has a contract with Eastley for the assistant manager job, he said.
He referred to NRS 244.135, which states: “The county manager shall perform such administrative functions of the county government as may be required by the board of county commissioners,” and section two, “the county manager may, with the approval of the board of county commissioners, appoint such assistants and other employees as are necessary to the proper functioning of his or her office.”
County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman didn’t want anything to restrict the best candidates from applying for the job. She said it can be hard attracting candidates to rural Nevada.
“Anything that’s going to make it more restrictive for more candidates is going to be a disservice to all taxpayers in the time and aggravation in trying to fill a position,” Wichman said.
Borasky would prefer a candidate from the western states due to the different culture, though he himself comes from upstate New York.
“You give me somebody who has the experience, nine times out of 10 they will be a much better performer. Just because they have a bunch of letters behind their name, that doesn’t tell me anything about their ability,” Wichman said.
Kunzi didn’t think the county could find enough candidates with a masters degree to apply for assistant county manager in Nye County.
“I think it’d be silly to require a masters in public administration in order to be assistant county manager in a county of this size,” Kunzi said.
He said the alternative educational requirement should’ve already been downgraded to a bachelor’s degree.
In other county news:
* County commissioners voted to name a conference room after former Pahrump Regional Planning Commission Chairman Charles Dupre and a training room after former RPC member Sheldon Bass. Both men died in office or shortly thereafter.
Dupre, a retired U.S. Army colonel, served on the RPC from November 2004 to February 2007 when he retired due to lymphoma. He died later that year.
Bass died during his second term on the RPC in December 2005 after suffering two massive heart attacks and a five-way heart bypass. While employed, he was part of a team of engineers that worked on the Lunar Excursion Module LEM and was known for paying attention to detail on the RPC.
Borasky, who asked for the item, said plaques would be donated to put up in those rooms at no cost to the county.
He also persuaded commissioners to approve a plaque for Opal Jones, who died recently, the wife of local advocate Art Jones. It will be placed over the seat where she always sat when she attended town board meetings.
The namings come after commissioners in 2008 voted to name the boulevard leading to the county commissioners’ chambers Walt Williams Drive after the owner of the Pahrump Ranch.
The Bob Ruud Community Center is named after the three-term county commissioner who moved to Pahrump from Madera, Calif. in 1958, and bought 320 acres; he died in 1982.
Elementary schools are named for Pahrump pioneers Tim Hafen and Ron Floyd, who died recently.
In May 2010 commissioners renamed the county courthouse in Pahrump the Ian Deutch Justice Facility, after a Nye County sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed two days after returning to duty following his deployment in Afghanistan. The Pahrump Town Board renamed Honeysuckle Park after the slain deputy.