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VIEWPOINT: Reinstating elected town board easy, if voters want

Do Pahrump residents desire to re-establish town board?

First, is it difficult or easy to do?

Second, why is it necessary?

Third, why is it still being discussed?

And, fourth, why should we be very cautious in possibly reinstating an elected town board for the town of Pahrump?

To answer these questions, it’s easy to do if that’s what the voters of Pahrump want. The commissioners could easily reinstate the elected town board by using NRS 269.017 but why would they do that if it “appears” to be against the “will of the people” who voted in 2012 to disband their local government? Of course, if enough residents contacted their commissioner and requested an elected town board, the commissioners might consider that action.

It could also be forced onto the ballot in 2016 if enough people signed an initiative petition by using NRS 269.0165 to require it. It’s only necessary if that’s what the voters want. And it’s still discussed because many in our community still don’t understand what happened in 2012, only three years ago.

Let me repeat some information from a previous letter to reiterate the details for the residents who don’t know or don’t remember.

As I’ve stated previously, I continue to hear complaints about the way the Nye County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) are handling the “management” and “operations” within the town of Pahrump. I will say in this “Open Letter” exactly what I continue to tell the people who complain to me on a continual basis: “STOP BLAMING THE COMMISSIONERS.” They have only been responsible for the town since January 2015 (ten months) and are doing the very best that they can. None of them had ever been responsible for a town the size of Pahrump before and they are proceeding by “trial and error.”

If you want someone to blame, then blame the people who caused the problem in the first place. So, who caused the problem?

It certainly wasn’t the five commissioners even though it was advocated by Dan Schinhofen to allow the BoCC to replace the town board (YOUR LOCAL GOVERNMENT). And, it was Butch Borasky who asked that the item be placed on the ballot.

But still, they didn’t MAKE it happen. It was the 50.8 percent of the Pahrump voters who FORCED the commissioners to take on town responsibilities that they weren’t (and apparently still aren’t) prepared to handle. Of course, the 49.2 percent of us who voted to retain your local government can’t sit back and say “we told you so” because this is still our town and we (collectively) need to help the BoCC in the town’s operation or find a way to ease the burden that the 50.8 placed on them.

To remind everyone of the 2012 General Election results, there were 14,357 total voters for the town of Pahrump of which 7,294 of you voted to terminate your “local” voice in favor of the “county” voice. The other 7,063 voted to retain the “local” voice, a difference of only 231 votes.

Remember that it took only 50-percent-plus-ONE vote to place the town of Pahrump where we find ourselves today. So, as I stated, STOP blaming our commissioners when voters forced them to implement the consequences that according to NRS 269.022 that states; “… and the government of the town and all of its assets and liabilities shall revert to the board of county commissioners.”

And, even though four of the five commissioners actually live in Pahrump, I will continue to reiterate that living in Pahrump does not make them a town board; they are still county commissioners who are responsible for the entire county.

Also, in 2012, the worst commissioner ever elected (in MY opinion) was elected for District 3. Hopefully, the people of District 3 won’t make that mistake again in 2016.

That commissioner has led other commissioners to make devastating decisions against Pahrump and Nye County by erroneous statements and actions that are not checked or corrected. One such false statement was: “Using effluent water on the fairgrounds soccer fields would kill soccer players” even though it is used across the United States with no ill effects.

And, while proven wrong by numerous “fact checkers,” the damage to the town and county was already done.

And, that’s why we are where we are today. Also, please know that Pahrump is the largest unincorporated municipality (by population) in the state of Nevada and one without a “local” government.

So, why should we be cautious about reinstating the ‘elected’ town board for the town of Pahrump?

Even if the commissioners reinstated the elected town board or after getting an initiative petition signed by the appropriate number of voters and getting it on the ballot, we still need at least five people who want to ‘run’ for a position on the board. I know from history that 10 to 15 people (or more) will ‘run’ for the five positions.

I am also positive that at least 10 of those people will be what, in the past, have been called CAVE people, “Citizens Against Virtually Everything.” Once they are in office, they will have four years to devastate whatever positive actions have been accomplished for Pahrump in the previous 30 years of local town and county governance.

Be careful who you vote for.

So, if you’re working to get the elected town board reinstated, please be willing to seek one of the positions and to devote your energy to making Pahrump a place to be proud of.

Recently, I saw an individual in Pahrump who wore a T-shirt that read, “We made a difference at the Bundy Ranch.” Unfortunately, that person and supporters like that don’t seem to realize that the “difference made” was to present a negative picture about Nye County to the entire nation. It didn’t help our image when several of our commissioners rushed there to show support for an individual who refuses to obey the laws of the land, i.e.: the U.S. Constitution through court orders.

And, of course that action took place in Clark County where our commissioners have NO jurisdiction.

Please don’t assume that I support the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) because I don’t. The BLM was wrong in their actions and the confrontation that followed. But, two wrongs don’t make a right if we are to remain a “Nation of Laws.” The little credibility that our county commissioners had established with the governor and our congressional representatives (Heller and Reid) evaporated completely after that incident.

It was very unfortunate that two of the people who attended the ‘gathering’ at the Bundy Ranch later murdered the two Las Vegas police officers and a citizen who tried to stop them. This is the same ‘gathering’ that some of our commissioners supported by their presence. Not a very smart move by our Nye County commissioners.

So, back to the original questions and here are some options of what can be done: 1) Allow the BoCC to continue to be the “town board” for Pahrump; 2) Ask your commissioner to place “elected town board” for Pahrump on the November 2016 ballot for the residents to decide; 3) Get signatures on an initiative petition to place the question on the November 2016 ballot for the residents to decide about an “elected town board”; 4) Consider incorporation of the town of Pahrump (via a charter or other viable options) and the process needed to place it on the ballot in November 2016 for the residents to decide.

I would recommend to you that choices 2-4 are better than what we have now. However, it depends on what YOU (the Pahrump residents) are willing to work for in re-establishing a “local government” to make “local” decisions about “our” town.

Questions?? Feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments about this letter or any of my comments.

Dr. Tom Waters is was an elected member of the now dissolved Pahrump Town Board (2011-14). Contact him at 702-379-3449 or twaters2015@gmail.com.

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