By Mark Waite
As early voters pulled into the Ian Deutch Justice Center this week, they were greeted by a sign on a truck that read, “Freedom’s last chance Ron Paul president 2012 register here.”
Activists with Concerned Citizens for a Safe Community, sitting under an extended canopy, invited voters to sign five petitions for the November election ballot. They were sitting next to another sign that read: “save tax dollars remove town board no incorporation sign petition here.”
One petition asks for residents to vote on whether to deny any attempt by the Pahrump Town Board to sidestep a fourth public vote on incorporation, like petitioning the Nevada Legislature. Pahrump incorporation went down in defeat at the polls three times by two-to-one margins, though the last vote was in November 2000.
” Town Manager Bill Kohbarger’s going right through the Legislature to incorporate Pahrump; we’re saying you got to put it on the ballot,” proponent Sam Jones said.
Another petition asks for a ballot question to decide whether to revert the Pahrump town board into an advisory board, an appointed board by the county commission, in which requests for funding would have to be approved by the Nye County commission. The question states it is “to prevent additional acts of incompetence and fiscal irresponsibility costly to the Nye County taxpayer such as the loss of $1.1 million in water rights for the Pahrump/Nye County Fairgrounds, among others.”
Another petition asks for a vote on whether to make the 50,000-foot, or 9.5 mile minimum distance between residences and correctional facilities permanent. Nye County commissioners in 2007 removed the minimum distance that enabled Corrections Corporation of America to build the Nevada Southern Detention Center on East Mesquite Avenue. But commissioners, in April 2010, by a 3-2 vote, reestablished the minimum buffer, that county planners admit would prohibit any more correctional facilities from being built in the Pahrump Regional Planning District.
A fourth petition asks county residents if they want to challenge the authority of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to round up feral horses or burros within the county. A statement of support mentions wild horses and burros are attractive to foreign tourists as a symbol of the old West and adds they eat cheat grass.
A fifth petition asks whether Nye County residents want to deny the U.S. Department of Energy demands to store 77,000 metric tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. The petition notes the area is a major seismic risk zone, 20 miles from Amargosa Valley or Beatty and 50 miles from Pahrump. It would be the only known county vote on the issue.
Jones said they just set up the truck and canopy this week. They planned to move to the Bob Ruud Community Center after the close of early voting Wednesday, until after election day next Tuesday. On election day they will also have a presence at J.G. Johnson Elementary School, the other polling place, he said.
Jones feels if the ballot questions pass, the vote will be binding, unlike the half-cent increase in the sales tax, which passed by 18 votes in 2006, then was enacted by the Nevada Legislature, only to be defeated by Nye County commissioners 3-2.
Don Cox said the petitions on incorporation, the Pahrump town board and the 9.5-mile buffer zone are the most popular. Fewer residents wanted to sign the Yucca Mountain petition, he said.
Cox said they are only asking people to sign the petition at this time to allow the issues to go up for a vote.
County Clerk Sam Merlino said the group will have to file the petitions by June 29 to get them on the November ballot. They will have to collect 1,445 signatures on the countywide petitions, 10 percent of the total that voted in the last election, like the Yucca Mountain petition, the wild burros and the minimum distance. For Pahrump incorporation and changing the status of the Pahrump town board, they will need over 1,200.
Two people who signed the anti-incorporation petitions were Sheriff Tony DeMeo and Nye County Commissioner Borasky, CCSC proponents said.
“Your biggest voting block is in Pahrump. Why are they ending voting here on Wednesday and in Tonopah on Friday?” Jones asked.