Pahrump Town Manager Susan Holecheck has lots of questions, most involve the future of the town board and ongoing town projects as the county takeover looms.
Another, though, involves her own office and the curious nature of a former town manager.
Head scratching town officials have collectively been asking themselves lately: What is former town manager Dave Richards up to?
Richards, according to Holecheck, has requested to review all of the internal memos between she and town board members since she was hired roughly a year ago.
On Monday, Holecheck said the timing of Richards’ request was puzzling.
“I’m not quite sure why he wants them and I think it’s interesting because this is my one-year anniversary month and I’ve not seen him at any meetings lately. It’s been a year, so why all of a sudden now does he want my memos? It all seems very unusual to me,” she said.
The town manager said she has complied with Richards’ inquiry after he agreed to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request per standard procedure.
However, she also said she is not bound by any laws to provide such materials, which is normally used to keep board members apprised of internal town business.
“He wanted them within five days and we provided those to him within four days, but I’m not really required to do it. The memos are something that I give the board because I don’t always see them every week. I just don’t want them to have to wonder what I’m doing,” she said.
On Thursday, Richards said his inquiry was merely an exercise in freedom.
“I just wanted to make the point that this town manager’s activity reports are not confidential and it’s defined by the NRS, but I had to file a FOIA request. The issue is are her reports confidential or not? I’m pleased that she responded in a timely manner to my FOIA request and provided the material that I requested without objection. I’m not satisfied that she wouldn’t answer my question regarding the confidentiality of her reports,” he said.
Town board member Amy Riches said this week that the memos provided by Holecheck are a valuable tool for the board and even she is not sure why they are of interest to Richards.
“It’s strictly for the town board on things that keep us up to date on what she’s doing, the progress that she’s making on things she is working on. Dave Richards requested them from her and she has given them to him. I don’t know why anyone who is not on the town board would want them,” she said.
Additionally, Riches said there are times when the memos contain information that should remain confidential as prescribed by Nevada Revised Statutes, and should not be disseminated by anyone who is not a board or staff member.
“Sometimes these memos deal with very delicate issues of human resources and employment. I do know that the memos were given to Dave Richards, but the parts about employees and other sensitive issues were redacted. That’s why I was shocked by his request. I don’t think they are for the general public. We never voted to make them public,” she said.
Board Vice Chair Bill Dolan said on Wednesday that he’s not exactly sure what Richards’ motives are, considering his history with the town.
“Why did he want his job back a year ago when he abruptly resigned from the town in 2007? In 2008, Bill Kohbarger came on a month before I was appointed to the town board by the governor. A lot of the town’s housekeeping items that needed to be taken care of, were direct problems from previous town boards and town managers. What is his motive? I don’t know. He has either resigned or been not renewed by every municipality he has been in since,” he said.
Town Board member Dr. Tom Waters said Holecheck has complied with every request made by Richards.
He was also at a loss on the former town manager’s designs.
“I sent a message to him saying just that. He made a request, it was taken care of. Why is he still complaining? Susan has not ignored any request under the Freedom of Information Act. If he can undermine the town manager, it may be an opening somewhere for him in the future. I really don’t know because he never explained it to me. I know he did that to Bill Kohbarger because he wanted to come back in as town manager, but if we’re not going to have a town manager position, I don’t know what it is he’s looking for,” Waters said.
Richards, meanwhile, suggested he’d do pretty much anything to make a living rather than assume his former position.
“The last job I want is the town manager of Pahrump but they don’t know that. They don’t know I don’t want the job anymore than they know I want it. I’ve never had a conversation with them about that. Any suggestion on their part is pure conjecture. I’ll say it again, the last job I want is to be the Pahrump Town Manager,” Richards said.