I just love Joni Eastley.
I have to say it.
I’ve been in this business a long time. I’ve covered school boards, city councils, county commissions they call them county commissioners’ courts where I’m from, and the chairman is called a county judge , all manner of governing body, and I have not met one single public official in all my time that I find more intelligent, more ethical, more concerned with her community and more adept at their job than Eastley.
Not one. And I’ve had the pleasure of meeting quite a few decent men and women in government employ, elected and otherwise. There are even some great folks right here in this county. But something about Eastley really sets her apart from the crowd.
So, like a lot of us, I was absolutely ecstatic when I heard she had applied for the open assistant county manager job. And I am equally ecstatic to hear that the job was offered to her — all that’s left is for commissioners to vote on it. They do so on Tuesday.
Not only did I think this was the best idea of 2012 and 2011, 2010 and, well, the 20s , I actually kind of sighed — as in relief.
We have two wet-behind-the-ears commissioners starting next month, and God only knows how they will manage their new responsibilities. Losing longtime commissioners Eastley and Gary “Big Daddy Yucca” Hollis in one fell swoop seriously drains the institutional knowledge of this board. And that can be scary even in good times, much less the financially troubled era we live in today.
So, it is with my pleasure, that I fully endorse Eastley for this position, hands down. She’s already proven herself a great public servant. Not taking advantage of her expertise by hiring her full-time would be a catastrophically stupid mistake, akin to shooting yourself in the face while cleaning your shotgun. Who wants that?
I encourage the entire board to vote for Eastley; there simply is no better candidate.
Sadly, though, there’s one vote I don’t think she will get — but we won’t blame him for it.
Big Daddy Yucca was admitted to a Las Vegas hospital Thursday morning and it looks like he might be in for some serious heart surgery.
We’ve had our political differences with Hollis over the last two years, but I will be the first to tell you that he is actually a really great guy. He’s kind, funny, loves the community and truly cares about the future of Pahrump and Nye County.
He told some official that he thought he might be in serious trouble. I personally hope that’s not the case and wish him the speediest recovery.
I know he will be in my prayers until he comes home. Please keep him in your prayers, too. His public service over the years deserves nothing less.
Get well soon Gary!
GIBSON & KUEHN
There’s a story on the front page today that I had some trouble writing and I thought you might deserve to know why.
It’s pretty benign at the beginning, a good story really. The law firm that has the county’s contract to represent indigent criminal suspects is willing to break up, end its $550,000 a year contract with the county early, so its attorneys can sign individual contracts with the county. This maneuver, which is becoming popular in many cash-strapped counties, is meant to save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in conflict attorney fees.
This money-saving idea was generated by District Attorney Brian Kunzi. He deserves a round of applause for the effort. So do the lawyers at Gibson & Kuehn, Harry Kuehn, Jason Earnest and Tom Gibson, who all agreed to dissolve the firm and accept individual contracts, thereby resolving some of the issues that have cost the county so much money and would continue to do so. Of course, commissioners still have to approve the idea. I suggest they do.
I wish that were the end of the story. But like many stories in Pahrump, it’s not.
There’s another facet to this tale. One that I’d wished I could bring to the public’s attention in a more complete way. I will try, but can’t promise when I’ll be able to.
See, Gibson & Kuehn was a firm set to implode any day now. There were internal disagreements and some really nasty lawsuits and at least one hellacious state bar complaint that have already caused one partner to declare bankruptcy and may ensnare the other in a storm of legal trouble.
Normally such news would be a really bad thing when it comes to new contracts for services. But like so many stories in Pahrump, I don’t think that’s the case, and was loathe to include this on today’s front page because I really value the lawyers at Gibson & Kuehn.
Harry Kuehn is probably the best damn defense attorney in the state. The average resident has no idea how lucky this community is to have him as a public defender — I can afford a good attorney if I ever need one, but would hire Harry in a New York second, 7 days a week and twice on Sunday. Jason Earnest, ditto. He’s an excellent young attorney. Tom Gibson, I count him a friend, and he too is an excellent litigator.
Now, all three of them are going to read today’s front page and want to strangle me, because they know there are plenty of people who would love to tear them down and take their jobs.
My purpose is merely to inform this newspaper’s readers, and I simply could not gloss over what really is a fantastically horrific legal mess Gibson and Kuehn have gotten themselves into. It’s a truly unbelievable tale that remains fully untold, but shouldn’t, at least not forever. Good people make mistakes, but it doesn’t excuse those mistakes from being aired.
That said, I wanted to make very clear that despite this extremely serious issue involving the partners at Gibson & Kuehn, I count these attorneys as friends. I think they are an asset to this community in every sense of the word. I think they should be contracted on the spot. And I only wish them the best, because when I see them work for this community, I see them give the best.