If you wanted to know the price of making a complete jackass out of yourself in front of the entire Nye County officialdom, now you have it. That and attorney’s fees.
This is how much the state ethics commission decided to fine county Assessor Shirley Matson, who was found guilty yesterday of two out of four ethics charges filed against her.
She faced much harsher punishment had commissioners agreed on all the charges she faced. They could have asked a judge to sweep her from office.
That was probably too optimistic even if she were found guilty on all charges — after all, voters of Nye County elected Matson, and when given the chance to remove her after she bumbled into controversy, most just yawned.
Why should these five ethics commissioners do what voters refused to do?
Of course, the ethics commission had a very narrow set of violations and legal issues to work through. Complaints ranged from using county property improperly — which she was found guilty of — to essentially retaliating against her underlings when she found out they supported the recall effort against her — she was not so guilty of this since the accusations amounted to a human resources problem more than an ethics violation.
Whatever the case may be, our feelings all along are that Ms. Matson is an unstable individual with extreme right-wing prejudices and is likely over her head at the assessor’s office. When given the chance to remove a crazy person from office, our feeling is that it should be done post haste.
That’s our opinion.
Another viewpoint might be that more than half the voters in Nye County happen to not disagree with Ms. Matson’s virulent right-wing prejudices and don’t mind a bit of “wacky” representation in their life, no matter how important the office, no matter the real impact should the job be done improperly.
One looks around at some of the other elected officials in this county, past and present — we won’t name names — and really, is Matson all that bad? Ummm. Yes.
Example: When our teary-eyed elected official described going to Carson City by way of California because local wingnut “attorney” Nancy Lord told her someone might run her off the road, it made our collective temples throb, our cheeks blush with embarrassment. We already have big heaping bowls of incompetence stew around here. Is crazy an ingredient we really need?
We’ll pass on the “cracked” pepper, thanks.
Even some of the ethics commissioners wondered aloud what type of government dysfunction must be taking place in Nye County to allow this kind of three ring circus to burp forth from the body politic. How did it get this far? Where were the county commissioners? County manager?
Golly gee, that’s a grand question. County commissioners, to their credit, reprimanded Matson when they figured out that they had to do something. Other than that, we have no earthly idea what they do, or did, or could have done or are even allowed to do.
As much as we’d really like to agree with the ethics commissioners on this one, we can’t.
The true fall guys for Matson, if there are any, are the people you passed on the road to work. The people in the grocery store shopping alongside you. Your neighbors. The people sitting with you at church and in the bleachers at the ball game. It’s both the residents over age 18 who can vote but don’t and the people who do vote, but who enjoy the taste of crazy.
Fortunately for us, and for Matson, there are other newsworthy items sure to keep us occupied for the time being. So long as Matson pays her fine on time, keeps her opinions out of her office and does the best job she is capable of doing, our best hope is that this sordid chapter in Nye County history fades into the ether.
Until, of course, voters get a chance to elect a new assessor, in which case we will dredge all this back up again and urge you to vote for the least crazy person at the polls.