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Dan Schinhofen: Kick the can

Not much of a surprise on the vote for learning more about our aquifer. It seems that this board of county commissioners are more interested in not offending a special interest group than voting for facts. It appears that, like so many boards before, when it comes to water issues, this current board will follow those past boards and punt on this issue.

I have written a column before this last vote, but it didn’t make it in the paper before the “special meeting.” I doubt it would have changed the minds of the four that voted, as they have their own reasons for not wanting factual data on our aquifer. Of course they listened to the gang that actually did “sell out the well owners.” One of them even stated how proud he was of this board.

I for one am ashamed of this board and their actions, which include not allowing the Water District Governing Board to speak in defense of the action they proposed.

I would venture to guess that the mob that showed up for this hearing did not read ALL the backup for this action, nor were they aware of the years and hundreds of meetings that took place before this proposal was brought forward (Again, it was part of the water plan already adopted by the Nye County Board of County Commissioners).

Any board that sits and decides on issues for the public should, at the very least, hear both sides of the issue. It was clear that this board did not allow any dissent. They even went so far as to allow a “public petitioner” speak against this item sponsored by Commissioner Debra Strickland (Heavy thumb on the scale here).

So, what is the plan moving forward? Are we to remain willfully ignorant about our aquifer? I would also like to know when Commissioner Strickland will “fix the water issue” as she stated she would when she debated for her seat. Her statement was that she would “fix our water issue in her first year.”

After looking back over the agendas for this past year, I cannot find one agenda item from her to “fix” any part of it. Is it because she owns and sells water rights or that she and her husband drill wells, or is it because of the multiple properties she owns, none of which she has disclosed in the past year.

The way this agenda item was set up reminds me of how the Democrats ran the impeachment hearings in the House. Don’t let the chairman or manager of the water district talk, but by all means, let everyone else speak, especially the special interest group of well owners.

The water issue in this valley is not something that will harm just one group of people but ALL OF US if the board of county commissioners continue to ignore facts and even go so far as to not allow any facts that might have supported a yes vote.

Ok, as I always used to say when I was on the board, “don’t just complain, but give us a solution.”

Well, here’s my solution:

As this is an important issue for Pahrump Valley residents that use Basin 162, the town of Pahrump should foot the bill for this project. When I was on the board, we repealed one of the tax increases that was raised by the former town board (See, taxes can be repealed). The town has a few million in their funds to pay for this without raising more fees.

Maybe I’ll have to put this forward as a public petitioner unless one of the board will bring it up on their own. As a matter of fact, this could be Commissioner Strickland’s first attempt at actually fixing this issue instead of just playing to her friends and stalling so that water rights prices will continue to increase (When will she disclose that she sells water rights?).

I am a domestic well owner, as are two of our children. I want more factual data, not just rumor and fearmongering. How about we try to put our own interests aside and get facts before we charge the meetings with our pitchforks?

Of course, you should have at least heard the other side of the argument at that meeting, but it seemed that the BoCC had already made their minds up not to upset the special interest group, as evidenced by the prior meeting they held on this issue. Even at that “meeting,” no facts were presented for the proposal to get more facts on our aquifer.

So much was said during that “hearing,” but unfortunately, we didn’t hear from the water district because they were told not to speak. Making decisions without all the facts is why so many people today do not trust their government. I can only hope that in the future this board will not be guided by upcoming elections or special interest groups; but rather vote based on facts, or at least allow those proposing the study to present what they are actually trying to do.

I would much rather fix the problem than to fix the blame, but if this board continues to cave in to this special interest group, I have to wonder who will speak for the rest of us. The water in this Basin do not just belong to domestic well owners, but to ALL the people that live in this Valley.

Dan Schinhofen is a former Nye County commissioner.

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