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DA office expresses concern about county personnel policy change

The Nye County personnel policy manual that contains changes to the employment of relatives rules has a criminal violation, according to the Nye County District’s Attorney’s Office.

Marla Zlotek, chief civil deputy district attorney, said a review of the manual that was conducted by civil deputy district attorneys and criminal deputy district attorneys found “some ambiguity” that could be interpreted as a criminal violation.

“The item as written, the backup and verbiage that’s been changed, it’s the district attorney’s office’s opinion that this cannot move forward as it is written,” Zlotek said.

Zlotek said that the verbiage that the Nye County District Attorney’s Office expressed concern about the Nevada Revised Statute 281 reference.

As stated in the documents, “pursuant to the provisions of NRS 281.210, no officer or appointing authority of Nye County may employ in any capacity on behalf of the county any relative of such person who is within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity.”

Consanguinity is a blood relation or near relative.

Existing employees may continue in their current position or another position which maintains a comparable supervision level to the relative following the election or appointment of their relative to an appointing authority position, according to the documents.

“We recommend and insist quite strongly that it cannot go forward as written, and we would like to work on that and get back to you as quickly as possible,” Zlotek said.

“What we would like to do, because this would be some lengthy discussion with both input from the criminal and the civil violations, as to the verbiage, terminology and ambiguity as to the definitions throughout and within the policy and procedure manual, that we would like to get back to you with a lengthy analysis that would cover all those issues,” Zlotek said.

County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman said the personnel policy manual change is “to tighten up the consanguinity of employees working within the county” who they can work for, how many spots in between them and the relative.

“The other part of this is the adjustment where you can smoke, where you cannot smoke, or vape,” Wichman said.

Wichman made a motion to recommend passage of the policy manual amendments “and that we have 30 days before it takes effect” and without any further action on this board to remove it, then it comes effective in 30 days.

She said Nye County District Attorney’s Office has 30 days to review the Nye County personnel policy manual before it goes into effect.

Following the meeting, Wichman said that she has read NRS 281 and the personnel policy amendments that were included in the motion were consistent with NRS and the bargaining unit contracts.

“I have absolutely no idea what could be considered a possible criminal violation,” Wichman said.

“Establishing policy is the primary duty of the Board of County Commissioners,” she said. “Nothing criminal there.”

The Nye County District Attorney’s Office didn’t return multiple requests for comments.

The other change to the employee manual was updating the use of tobacco policy.

According to the document, the prohibition of use of tobacco products extends to areas that are routinely or regularly used by county employees, including but not limited to work areas, restrooms, hallways, employee lounges, cafeterias, conference and meeting rooms, lobbies, and reception areas. Meanwhile, e-cigarettes may be used in county vehicles by one employee and cannot be used in general-use fleet vehicles.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @dariasokolova77

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