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COMMUNITY VIEWPOINT: Understanding and evaluating the question of incorporation

This past week the chairman of the Pahrump Town Board took a dramatic step in the ongoing battle with the citizens here, and those who govern. This publication covered the event and the firestorm began on the comment page for the online version of the publication. To put this in perspective, rarely does the public leave more than half a dozen comments for a newspaper article. As of Tuesday, March 4th, there have been well over 100 comments.

What spurred the action by Mr. Kulkin is anybody’s guess, as he left the confines of the board dais during the town board meeting and took a seat at the microphone reserved for public comment. He then proceeded to announce his newest campaign of saving ‘we the people’ from ourselves, a petition drive to bring before the public a vote to either approve of incorporating Pahrump as a city or to go down in flames as all previous attempts did at the ballot box.

There is no value in me rehashing all of the events that led up to my vote to disband the town board manner of governing, but I do suspect the others who did as well had come to one simple determination, that after a succession of elections and town board members, it was felt that throwing out the baby with the bath water was the most direct and expeditious means to free ourselves from the egomaniacs who ruled over us. The state supreme court in a recent ruling was another nail in the coffin for the present board and most I believe, believe it is but a matter of time before the vote to disband the town board form of governing is affirmed. So it doesn’t take rocket science to connect the dots and come to a determination that Harley Kulkin and other board members believe through incorporation that they can set in place a vehicle in which they can run for office again and continue doing what they do best, promote disunity among the citizens, while promoting a never-ending stream of projects that were/are white elephants in the making here in Pahrump. The added twist this time around is carving out a new geographical city from the current town boundaries.

So what to do? Well, what not to do if you are not fully up to speed, is to paint the voters of Pahrump as a bunch of country bumpkins who would rather live in thatch roofed huts and traverse dusty trails than be as Mr. Kulkin and his fellow board members profess, — ‘progressive’. In a progressive education course labeled Propaganda 101, it must be taught I suppose, that the first matter of business is to take control of the messaging and frame the question in a manner that leads by the nose those on the sidelines to believe, that incorporation is the Godsend and answer to all our problems. A gold-paved path with city buses following well-paved streets, of tree-lined parks and tourist attractions. Of sparkling new county fairgrounds with brightly-lighted carnival rides and carnival barkers peddling cotton candy. Of new police patrol cars and an army of policemen in new uniforms with the City of Pahrump on shoulder patches, Superman on their side and on their payroll, as they wipe out all crime from our midst. All for you the plebian if you just vote to incorporate. ‘Utopia for your yea vote.’

The problem with all of this incorporation talk is again, quite simple. A city is not necessarily an answer. It could be a vehicle to solving problems, it could be a format for governing. Or it could be just another name and entity from which ego-driven, self-serving politicians continue ignoring the will of the people, their hopes and desires and continuing on with even more hair-brained schemes as Growponics, Harley World, blue berry enterprises, and so forth. Of gun control and God only knows what else this group has in store for us. The list is long.

County governance too is probably not a long-term solution. The county commissioners too have failed in many ways in their stewardship. In my opinion they got one thing right, they recognized the disconnect of town board governing by those on the board and put all of this up for vote. Gave all of us a timeout from town rule until we do some soul searching and can catch our breath after years of abuse at the hand of the town board and poorly thought out decision making on their part.

So where do we go from here? I’m not going to be so brash as to tell anybody what to do, I think we should all figure this out as reasonable adults. Each one of us should review what is before us and come to our own conclusion as to whether to sign a petition to once again vote on cityhood at the ballot box. But of even more importance in my mind is that while thinking all of this over, each one of us should dig a lot deeper in assessing who is running for elected office here in the valley. What really are their motives and what expertise do they bring to the table. Governing in my opinion should be about listening to the governed and being experts at managing problems, about setting goals and initiating plans and about doing the will of the people. Being good listeners, great stewards of community resources and again, DOING THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE. It’s about recognizing the makeup of the governed and UNDERSTANDING the rural nature of our community. Yes, above all, Pahrump is a rural community with conservative roots, and those that make up this community chose a rural lifestyle. The government here should understand what this community is and so should those who live here or consider living here. If you want an urban environment or to govern one, then there is one an hour’s drive to the east.

There have been studies before about the benefits of cityhood versus the cost. Taxes will go up, paving streets and building out infrastructure is expensive. I believe the latest demographics tell us that over 50% of the residents in Pahrump are seniors. Retired citizens have different needs and have fixed incomes for the most part. Raising taxes affects them more than those still earning and with the potential to earn more. Rather than list everything in this letter, I think we should all sit down with a tablet and draw a line down the center. On one side make a heading that reads ‘pros’ for cityhood and on the other side ‘cons’ for cityhood. Then begin listing what you and the community could reasonably expect to gain by forming a city, while in the other column what you believe would be wrong about forming a city at this time. While doing this list, consider this also, what is the true motive of those promoting a petition to form a city. Is it truly about a better form of governing or about furthering their agendas?

In closing, the question that should be foremost in all our minds is this, how did we as a community get to a point where we chose these people to govern us? It’s not the system of governing at fault but who is doing the governing that needs solved first. We can solve that question when choosing who to support and elect regardless of whether it is a town board, city or other entity we use as a vehicle to self-rule.