“We’re from the government. We’re here to help.”
Sends kind of a tingling down the spine, doesn’t it?
Particularly when by “government” you mean Nye County or the Town of Pahrump.
In one we have officials who vote against food banks, and who build training facilities by skirting every building permit and inspection requirement known to man — while forcing everybody else to do the opposite. In the other, we have top elected officials fleeing meetings and resigning over imagined coup d’etats, or calling newspaper editors liars and then going to corporate headquarters when their feelings get hurt.
When this is your government, there certainly are some cringe-worthy moments. Luckily, or a better word might be “hopefully,” this isn’t the sum of all parts.
Because right now there’s no better time, and there’s no better place than Willow Creek golf course, for a real display of vision and guts from our government leaders.
This week during court testimony in a civil trial here involving the owners of Willow Creek and the community’s main water and sewer provider, Utilities Inc., a few tidbits worth re-examination emerged.
Willow Creek, by the way, is that once lush green beacon drawing golfers and visitors from all over that today is nothing more than a desertified blight right in the middle of the community. It’s a disgrace is what it is.
It’s current owner, Caldera P&G, or Ashland Capital LLC, or better, let’s just name the wheeler dealer behind the curtain, Jim Scott, apparently ignored an injunction requiring that the ponds on the disgraced former golf course be maintained as part of an earlier agreement among Utilities Inc. and the various former holding companies owning, or leasing or squatting on the golf course.
Scott and Ashland Capital, along with the course’s former owner Jorei Enterprises were smacked with more than $600,000 in fines for ignoring the order to maintain the ponds since at least 2009. Scott is personally responsible for $100,000 of that total.
We bet your bottom, palm-greasing, wheeler-dealer developer dollar that no one will ever see a dime of that money.
As a matter of fact, Willow Creek seems to be entangled in a legal, economic, political twilight zone from which escape anytime soon is highly unlikely.
Even Senior Judge Bob Rose, who ruled in Utilities Inc.’s favor said this about Scott’s business involvement with Willow Creek: “It almost seems you have a shell game going on with the various companies and LLCs.”
About the violations and lack of due diligence cleaning up the ponds, Rose had this to say: “The violations continue to this day and present a dangerous and continuing violation to the residents on the golf course and the citizens of this state.”
Now, the question is this: County, town leaders, a freaking judge just told you that the big, fat, ugly dead-grass filled golf course in the middle of your community is an ongoing health hazard — not to mention it should be charged with murder for killing the home values in the area. What are you going to do about it?
Now, we understand it’s election season, and we’re not sure how many dollars are flowing from certain wheeler dealer developers to certain others (we’ll have to check!), but we can’t think of a better reason for this county to foreclose, condemn, take over, grab, steal, claim eminent domain, raise the taxes on or whatever it needs to do to secure title to the former Willow Creek — it’s a health hazard for crying out loud, the judge said so!
Sure. This is America. And forcibly removing assets from business interests just smacks of some kind of socialist plot. But when you do business in our community, you should understand that there are standards that must be met, and if they aren’t met, then there are consequences, especially if by not meeting those standards there’s a high potential for making our neighbors ill.
There’s an excellent chance that Mr. Scott will avoid paying his hefty fines by declaring some sort of insolvency — it’s a tried and true tactic, God Bless America. Willow Creek will likely be up for auction — again — soon. We say the county should seriously consider purchasing it if it comes to that (though taking it over would send a much better message to other folks who might want to come in here and perform similar misdeeds).
Times are tough in this county, financially. A $2.66 million budget deficit looms over next year, and that’s not good. Allowing this vast stretch of putrid wasteland to exist in the middle of town any longer will for sure not help this community’s future business prospects. Buying it, developing it smartly, perhaps forming ingenious public-private partnerships with honest business interests, seeking government grants and using this land to its fullest economic potential, no matter the short term costs, would be better than doing nothing — Jim Scott’s obviously not going to do it for us.
Vision and guts.
Willow Creek should be ground zero for a real effort to move this community forward; the longer it persists in the condition it is in, the further away we all move from any scintilla of real prosperity, or from any real ownership of our collective destiny. Any option than the status quo would at least be more healthy. We defy our leaders to challenge themselves and find a way to reform this blighted land, turning it back to its former glory.
Pahrump and Nye County deserve nothing less. And we deserve it now.