WESTERN WATER: Judge on landowners’ plight: ‘I won’t say the word “screwed”‘

Ellen M. Gilmer, E&E News reporter

There, government lawyers urged the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to toss a lawsuit from Nevada landowners who say a federal restoration project stole their water and flooded their land.

At issue is Patch of Heaven, a Christian camp on private land nestled within the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.

The Nevada church Ministerio Roca Solida bought the 40-acre site in 2006 for $500,000. At the time, a stream called the Carson Slough flowed across the property, feeding plants and a small pond and sometimes serving as a site for baptisms.

In 2010, the Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages all of the surrounding land, rerouted the channel in a restoration project to help the Ash Meadows speckled dace, an endangered fish that lives in the area’s warm springs.

Annette and Victor Fuentes, who own Ministerio Roca Solida, say the government owes them compensation for eliminating the stream from their property — except for a trickle of water the site claimed through a state permit — and rerouting it in a way that causes repeated flooding on another part of the parcel.

The couple teamed up with the conservative Mountain States Legal Foundation and attracted the support of Westerners opposed to federal land management, including the Bundy ranching family infamous for its conflicts with government agencies.

Speaking at a boisterous rally at Patch of Heaven last year, Ryan Bundy offered to demolish the FWS project himself (Greenwire, April 23, 2018).

The mood was decidedly tamer during yesterday’s hearing, where just five spectators — including one reporter and one court employee — listened to more than two hours of technical arguments involving property rights, water law and hydrology.

Judge Elaine Kaplan must decide whether to grant the government’s motion for summary judgment rather than allowing the case to proceed to trial.

The church’s claims are twofold: that the government’s elimination of streamflow on the land without payment amounted to an unconstitutional taking of vested water rights, and that the diversion project’s contribution to flooding was also a taking.

Justice Department lawyers yesterday disputed both claims. The government contends the landowners are not entitled to the water rights they claim, and, in any case, that issue should be adjudicated by the state of Nevada, not the Federal Claims court.

The two lawyers from DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division also attempted to poke holes in the Fuenteses’ flooding claims, dismissing the plaintiffs’ expert testimony as unsubstantiated and noting that the broader area is prone to flooding.

“Plaintiffs would like this court to believe … that there was never flooding on that part of the property,” DOJ attorney Davené Walker said, adding that the area is part of a flood zone and has a well-documented history of such events.

Walker explained that to win a takings claim against the government for flooding, the plaintiff must show that FWS caused the flooding and intended or expected it to happen. Ministerio Roca Solida has offered no evidence to support either prong, she said.

Mountain States Legal Foundation lawyer Zhonette Brown, in turn, questioned the evidence presented by the government.

Kaplan, an Obama appointee, agreed with the government that Ministerio Roca Solida’s expert testimony appeared “a little thin,” but she questioned whether it would be appropriate to resolve the case in favor of the United States at this stage, without allowing the church to make its case at trial.

She also empathized with the Fuenteses on their loss of the stream, regardless of whether FWS’s project was lawful.

“I won’t say the word ‘screwed,'” she said of the landowners, eventually landing on the word “injured.”

The judge added that she’s never heard a water rights case or a flooding case before and will need some time to consider the competing evidence.

“Your Honor’s more than welcome to come out to the property,” Brown said, “so you can make your own conclusion.”

Dried-up baptimisal pool. Photo credit: Jennifer Yachnin/E&E News
The former baptismal pool at the Patch of Heaven camp in Amargosa Valley, Nev. A “legal evidence” sign refers to the camp’s owners’ lawsuit with the Fish and Wildlife Service over diverted streams and flooding. Jennifer Yachnin/E&E News

Source


Household hazardous waste disposal event set for May 18 in Pahrump

May 8, 2019 - 7:00 am ~ Pahrump Valley Times

Nye County and U.S. Ecology are teaming up for the county’s very first Household Hazardous Waste Collection event, and residents will want to mark May 18 on their calendars.

Members of the Pahrump community and the surrounding area will be able to pack up all of the household waste that they cannot dispose of for curbside trash pickup and haul it to the Pahrump landfill to have it properly disposed of by U.S. Ecology.

Old paint is just one of the many items that will be accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste Collection event set for May 18.

“The Hazardous Household Waste Collection event is something that has been talked about for years but never executed,” Nye County Public Information Officer Arnold Knightly said of the effort.

“U.S. Ecology does these events with its community partners around the country. This event came out of a site tour of their facility last year. Nye County Manager Tim Sutton placed the event as a priority, and Nye County Public Works Director Tim Dahl has been in close contact with U.S. Ecology representatives, who live here in Pahrump, in organizing the event.”

Knightly said events of this type are important to communities as they provide a safe, proper method of disposal for all sorts of products used in the home, ensuring they do not harm the environment.

Electronics, including computers and cell phones, can be taken to Nye County's upcoming household hazardous waste event so it can be properly disposed of by U.S. Ecology.

“There is always a concern that hazardous household waste will end up in our beautiful desert through illegal dumping and will damage the ecosystem. Whether it is animals digesting items, killing or slowing the growth of plants, or waste that ends up in the groundwater, this event is to give an outlet to people to get rid of those items in their garage they don’t know how to get rid of,” Knightly detailed.

U.S. Ecology will have large trucks on site which will run continually throughout the day, with all hazardous waste bound for disposal at the U.S. Ecology site just south of Beatty.

Acceptable waste

Many of the items commonly found stockpiled around homes, awaiting disposal, will be collected as part of the household hazardous waste event.

One of the most common household products and something that generally should not be thrown in the regular trash is batteries. Those made from lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, lithium metal, lithium ions, mercury, and alkaline will be gathered and disposed of properly.

Hazardous liquids will be taken as part of the event as well, including used oil, antifreeze and paint-related materials, such as latex or water-based paints, oil-based paints, lacquers and thinners, and lead-based paints.

Pool chemicals can also be disposed of, so long as they are in their manufacturer’s original packaging and contain a legible label.

Aerosols, both flammable and non-flammable, will be taken, along with electronic waste such as televisions, computers, printers and cell phones.

Mercury and sodium bulbs will also be accepted, as will equipment containing mercury, such as thermometers and thermostats.

Unacceptable waste

There are a variety of items that cannot be accepted at the upcoming disposal event.

Propane cylinders, fire extinguishers and smoke detectors will not be collected, and residents may not dispose of fireworks, flares or flammable liquids. Household cleaners are also on the unacceptable list, along with acids, bases, oxidizers, pesticides or herbicides.

Medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, are unacceptable waste products, as are illicit drugs. Epoxies and resins, appliances, home furnishings, and explosives will not be accepted either.

The Household Hazardous Waste Collection event will take place from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 at the Nye County Landfill, 1631 E. Mesquite Ave. in Pahrump.

Source: Household hazardous waste disposal event set for May 18 in Pahrump


Editorial: Minimum wage hike will increase prices and crime

by Thomas Mitchell

Despite all the evidence that it will do more harm than good, a bill to raise the minimum wage in Nevada is still wending its way through the halls of the Legislature in Carson City.

Assembly Bill 456 would raise the minimum wage 75 cents per hour each year as it climbs from the current $7.25 per hour for those receiving company health insurance and $8.25 for those not insured until it reaches $11 or $12 per hour.

In his State of the State speech, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak called for raising the minimum wage and declared, “It’s impossible for an individual, let alone a family, to live on $7.25 an hour,” ignoring the fact almost no one “lives” on minimum wage. Fewer than 3 percent of workers are paid the minimum wage and most of them are under age 25 and working part-time. Most are supplementing family income rather than being self-supporting.

In fact, raising the minimum wage often results in jobs being cut and/or working hours reduced. One study found the average low-wage worker in Seattle lost $125 a month because the minimum wage was raised to $15 an hour.

Now, a recent study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that raising the minimum wage can harm even those who are not being paid the minimum wage.

Using national crime data from 1998 to 2016, the study found “robust evidence that minimum wage hikes increase property crime arrests among teenagers and young adults ages 16- to-24, a population for whom minimum wages are likely to bind.”

The study projects that raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour nationally would result in approximately 231,000 additional property crimes, costing the nation $1.3 billion. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would generate over 410,000 additional property crimes and $2.4 billion per year in additional crime costs.

“We conclude that increasing the minimum wage will at best be ineffective at deterring crime and at worst will have unintended consequences that increase property crime among young adults,” the study authors concluded. They said that previous studies that projected a decrease in crime due to raising the minimum wage ignored the possibility of hours being cut and jobs being lost.

Don’t ignore the costs imposed on everyone when the minimum wage is hiked. A Cato Institute analysis in 2012 found that a “comprehensive review of more than 20 minimum wage studies looking at price effects found that a 10 percent increase in the U.S. minimum wage raises food prices by up to 4 percent and overall prices by up to 0.4 percent.”

The Congressional Budget Office in 2014 estimated that if the federal minimum wage were increased to $10.10 an hour — as proposed by President Obama and others — up to a million workers would lose their jobs.

According to the American Enterprise Institute, when the minimum wage rose 41 percent between 2007 and 2009, the jobless rate for 16- to 19-year-olds increased by 10 percentage points, from about 16 percent in 2007 to more than 26 percent in 2009 — even higher for minorities.

Without those entry level jobs younger Americans cannot build the skills needed to earn higher pay for a lifetime.

Still another Heritage study reported that every dollar increase in minimum wage really only raises take-home pay by 20 cents once welfare benefits are reduced and taxes are increased.

It’s the immutable law of unintended consequences. Lawmakers should abandon their support for this bill, which would cause more harm than good.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Source: Editorial: Minimum wage hike will increase prices and crime


Newspaper column: National Popular Vote would make Nevada voters “irrelevant”

by Thomas Mitchell

The Nevada Assembly voted 23-17 this past week to cut the impact of your presidential vote by at least a third.

Assembly Bill 186 would have Nevada join something called the “Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote.” Instead of awarding Nevada’s six electoral votes — one for each representative and senator in Congress — according to how Nevadans vote, those six electoral votes would be awarded to the president and vice president team that wins the popular vote nationally.

One could say this cuts the value of Nevada’s votes from six to four, since the votes nationwide would be proportional to population. Or one could say it negates our votes entirely since it matters not how we vote.

Not a single Assembly Republican voted for the bill and five Democrats had the good sense to reject this attempt to emasculate the federalist system on which this country was founded.

If only three state Senate Democrats have the temerity to buck their party leadership and reject AB186 it would fail.

An email to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office asking whether he would sign or veto the bill should it pass did not garner a response.

Backers say the compact would become a reality if it is adopted by states possessing a combined 270 electoral votes, or a majority of the 538 electoral votes. A similar bill passed in Colorado earlier this year, giving the proposal 181 electoral votes, just 89 votes short of becoming binding.

A similar measure passed the Nevada Assembly in 2009 on a party-line vote but failed to come up for a vote in the state Senate.

The instigation for the current push is the fact that in 2016 Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote by 304 to 227, though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million.

If the National Popular Vote had been in force in 2000 Nevada’s then four electoral votes would have been enough to flip the election to Al Gore, even though George W. Bush won the popular vote in Nevada by 49.5 percent to 46 percent, winning every county except Clark. Bush won the electoral vote 271 to 266, but lost the popular vote by 540,000.

Janine Hansen, state president of the Nevada Families for Freedom, mentioned just such a scenario in testimony opposing AB186.

“There are three dangers I’d like to mention with the National Popular Vote,” Hansen testified. “One is the National Popular Vote will potentially betray the voters of our own state. If our state voted for candidate A and the National Popular Vote winner was candidate B, our votes would be stolen from our desire and given to the National Popular Vote winner, betraying the voters in this state. I think there would be a lot of angry voters if they found out that that’s what happened.”

Hansen also noted there is no national authority for determining the accuracy of the National Popular Vote.

In his testimony, Jim DeGraffenreid, vice chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, pointed out Nevada is currently a battleground state, getting significant attention from national candidates. He said the state’s first-in-the-West caucuses provide opportunities for all Nevadans to participate.

“The Electoral College exists because the Framers of the Constitution believed that each state should matter in selecting the president,” DeGraffenreid testified. “It is designed to protect the smaller states like Nevada. To suggest that a state should disregard its own voters and instead follow the will of voters in some other state is the exact opposite of what the Framers intended.”

He said the bill could make Nevada voters irrelevant.

The Founders created the Electoral College and the U.S. Senate to assure the smaller populated states were not relegated to powerlessness in a one person-one vote system. The states were meant to be sovereign and to hold the powers not specifically delegated to the federal government.

The National Review pointed out in a recent article that using 2016’s turnout stats a candidate could have won 54 percent of the vote in 48 states, losing only California, New York and D.C., but if an opponent won 75 percent of the vote in just those three locales, a 451 to 87 electoral vote landslide would have turned into a popular-vote defeat to 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent — even though the voters in 48 states rejected that candidate.

Should Nevada surrender its presidential votes to California and New York?

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Source: Newspaper column: National Popular Vote would make Nevada voters irrelevant


Nevada DMV offers gender-neutral driver’s licenses, ID cards

April 22, 2019 - 1:38 pm

Nevada residents who don’t identify with a specific gender now have the option to remain gender-neutral on state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards.

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles announced Monday that residents can choose gender “X” on their IDs, marking the final step in a year’s long effort to update policies toward transgender residents and those who don’t identify as either male or female sexes.

“The DMV is committed to being inclusive and realizes some people don’t want to be forced to identify as either male or female,” said Julie Butler, DMV director in a statement. “We would like to thank the Nevada community groups who brought these issues to our attention and worked with us to bring about the changes.”

A gender change to a license or ID must be completed in person at a DMV office. Applicants can also identify male by choosing “M” and female my picking “F,” according to the DMV.

Last year, the department changed its regulations to allow applicants to self-certify the gender on their ID with no further documentation required. The DMV completed the computer programming required to enable the “X” designation to be printed on the license and shared to outside agencies such as law enforcement and courts.

The DMV has worked to be in line with other agencies, including the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, which changed its rules in 2016, allowing people to change the gender on their birth certificate.

In 2011 the Legislature added gender identity as a protected category in employment discrimination.

Nevada is the 10th U.S. jurisdiction to offer a gender-neutral designation on IDs, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. Arkansas, California, the District of Columbia, Minnesota and Oregon allow self-certification, like Nevada. Colorado, Indiana, Maine and Vermont require documentation.

Maryland is slated to begin offering Gender X later this year.

Source: Nevada DMV offers gender-neutral driver’s licenses, ID cards


Clark County pushes for off-highway vehicle recreation areas

The move to request that federal lawmakers establish three OHV recreation areas drew fierce criticism from an environmental nonprofit due to potential implications for the threatened desert tortoise.

The Clark County Commission recommended on Tuesday that federal lawmakers designate more than 100,000 acres for off-highway vehicle recreation south of the Las Vegas Valley in a future public lands bill.

Elected officials are urging Congress to consider three specific areas: More than 42,000 acres near Nelson Hills, nearly 40,000 acres by Sandy Valley and more than 18,000 acres close to Laughlin.

Both the Nelson Hills area, near the town of Nelson, and the Laughlin area, northwest of that city, are already being used for OHV events and recreation, county officials said. The Sandy Valley area, along the state’s southern boundary between that community and Primm, would be new for prioritizing OHV recreation.

They said the recommendation is meant to strike the delicate balance between keeping environmental protections and affording OHV enthusiasts with defined locations to ride. Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said the plan is broad and does not restrict officials from pulling back if necessary.

The unanimous decision was preceded by monthly open meetings held since August by the OHV advisory committee — 10 members of the public representing OHV interests. They sought equality in land use after designations in recent years had gone toward environmental protections, the solar industry and others, according to a presentation by Kimberly Jenkins, a principal environmental specialist for the county’s Department of Air Quality Management.

The plan was delayed in February after criticism from off-roaders and environmentalists. Certain environmental concerns were incorporated as changes in Tuesday’s resolution.

Lands designated as areas of critical environmental concern or with wilderness characteristics were removed from OHV recreation boundaries, and the Sandy Valley area boundary was moved further away from the tiny unincorporated community of Goodsprings after residents complained about the proximity.

But the move to request that federal lawmakers establish three OHV recreation areas drew fierce criticism from an environmental nonprofit due to potential implications for the threatened desert tortoise.

About 27,000 acres of the desert tortoise’s habitat would be included in the Nelson Hills OHV area, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

“This is an outrageous attack on Nevada’s state reptile,” Patrick Donnelly, the center’s state director, said in a statement. “The commission wants to permanently designate protected areas as off-highway vehicle sacrifice zones. These elegant tortoises really have no defense against a swarm of vehicles racing through the desert.”

The Nelson Hills area was designated a desert tortoise critical habitat in 1994 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to the county’s presentation. But four years later, the Bureau of Land Management deemed the area appropriate for competitive off-road events “in accordance with applicable FWS Biological Opinions to protect” the habitat.

Still, Donnelly suggested the three-area plan was part of a larger effort by the county to convince Congress “to dramatically expand the urban growth boundary around Las Vegas” as he called for lawmakers to reject it.

Commissioners greenlighted a resolution in June that included 45,000 acres of public land for commercial and residential development between Sloan and Jean as part of a host of public lands issues they sought to have addressed through federal legislation.

There is no timetable for when Congress would consider rolling the three OHV areas into future federal legislation. But the resolution Tuesday called for the BLM to complete travel, transportation and recreation management plans for the areas within two years after a bill is signed into law.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

Source: Clark County pushes for off-highway vehicle recreation areas




Legal complaint: lobbyist submitted false testimony to aid in bill’s passage – Nevada Policy Research Institute

Legal complaint: lobbyist submitted false testimony to aid in bill’s passage

The Legislature cannot effectively serve the public if policy is being shaped based on outright falsehoods and misinformation, which is why it is illegal to knowingly submit false testimony before a legislative committee.

Nevada Policy has alerted Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Rick Combs and the attorney general’s office to what appears to be a clear violation of NRS 218E.085(2) — the state law that makes it a crime to knowingly misrepresent any fact when testifying before a legislative committee.

The false statements were made by lobbyist Marlene Lockard during the March 1, 2019 Senate Government Affairs Committee hearing on SB224 — the PERS secrecy bill.

Ms. Lockard appeared on behalf of the Retired Public Employees of Nevada (RPEN), and was featured as part of Senator Julia Ratti’s formal presentation for Senate Bill 224.

As part of this formal presentation, Ms. Lockard relied almost entirely on known falsehoods when explaining why the secrecy proposed by SB224 is ostensibly necessary.

Specifically, Lockard told the committee that passing SB224 was necessary because of a recent court order that allegedly requires PERS to disclose its members’ passports, addresses of ex-spouses, birth certificates and other similarly invasive information. In reality, no such court order exists and none of that information is, nor has it ever been, public under Nevada law.

Given the status bestowed upon her by Senator Ratti, Ms. Lockard’s demonstrably false comments were accorded extra weight. Indeed, the first time a member of the committee had a question about SB224, that question was posed to, and answered by, Ms. Lockard rather than the bill’s sponsor, Senator Ratti.

More information about that hearing can be found here.

Because the knowingly false statements were made specifically to justify the secrecy proposed by SB224, and were made by a paid lobbyist invited by the bill’s sponsor to help present the bill, they represent precisely the type of deception NRS 218E.085(2) was designed to prevent, according to NPRI Policy Director Robert Fellner.

“It is fine to have different policy views and argue those differences vigorously,” Fellner said. “But I think we all would agree that enacting law based on falsehoods and misinformation is wrong, and erodes confidence in our public institutions.”

“It is hard enough for ordinary Nevadans to be engaged with the legislative process thanks to the proliferation of tax-funded government lobbyists and other special-interest groups,” Fellner continued. “Requiring that citizens fact-check all of the claims made by those who help introduce bills is an impossible task, which is precisely why Nevada state law prohibits the making of knowingly false testimony before the Legislature.”

“NPRI has long fought for transparency in government,” Fellner added. “Nowhere is transparency more important than in the legislative process. We hope that legislators remember their duty to serve the public and ensure any bills brought on behalf of lobbyists are done so in an open and honest manner.”

A copy of the complaint can be viewed by clicking here.

Source: Legal complaint: lobbyist submitted false testimony to aid in bill's passage - Nevada Policy Research Institute




Twitter Drops SPLC Following Controversy. But What About Facebook And Google?

Facebook, Google, Amazon Silent For Days After Twitter Drops SPLC

Author’s Comment: I have been personally attacked and labeled on the SPLC hate-watch list. My crime was supporting the Bundy Ranch Patriot Political Prisoners and their families during their unjustified incarceration while waiting for the trials that ultimately exonerated them. At one point I was also removed from Facebook for more than 2 months. It took the actions of an Attorney to have my account reinstated.

Twitter distanced itself from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) following reports suggesting that the group scams liberal donors out of money. Facebook has not yet revealed whether it plans on ending its partnership with the group.

Twitter appears to be one of the only big tech companies in Silicon Valley to completely divorce itself from the SPLC, an Alabama-based group that got slammed in March following reports it takes donors’ money while ignoring racial harassment. Facebook has not responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s repeated requests for comment about its affiliation with the SPLC.

“The SPLC is not a member of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council or a partner the company has worked with recently,” a source within Twitter told TheDCNF on the condition of anonymity. The company listed the SPLC as a “safety partner” working to combat “hateful conduct and harassment,” according to a June 2018 DCNF report.

Twitter also included the Trust and Safety Council, which “provides input on our safety products, policies, and programs,” the company’s policy page noted at the time. Twitter’s page no longer includes SPLC as a member helping to govern certain types of conduct. Facebook’s involvement with the group was apparently more intimate.

The SPLC is on a list of “external experts and organizations” that Facebook works with “to inform our hate speech policies,” Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja told TheDCNF in June 2018. The company consults with outside organizations when developing changes to hate speech policies, he said at the time.

Budhraja declined to name all the outside groups working with Facebook but confirmed the SPLC’s participation. The SPLC accused Facebook in a May 2018 article of not doing enough to censor anti-Muslim hatred. That article did not disclose the SPLC’s working partnership with Facebook.

Amazon has not responded to TheDCNF’s repeated requests for comment after SPLC fired co-founder Morris Dees on March 13 over “inappropriate conduct.”

(RELATED: Twitter Backs Off Partnership With SPLC Amid Bombshell Reports. Amazon Stays Silent) 

Google was also dinged in 2018 for using the SPLC to assist YouTube in policing content on its platform. The left-wing non-profit group is one of the more than 100 nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and government agencies in YouTube’s “Trusted Flaggers” program, TheDCNF reported in June 2018. Google has also not yet responded to TheDCNF’s requests for information.

The group designated the Family Research Council a “hate group” in 2010 because of its occasional belligerent defense of traditional marriage. Media outlets often rely on the SPLC to craft stories.

CNN, for instance, published the group’s list of 900 hate groups in 2017 under the headline “Here Are All the Hate Groups Active in Your Area,” then was forced to modify the story after conservatives complained that the story effectively conflated conservatives with neo-Nazis. CNN maintains that the SPLC is one of the only groups that monitors hates groups.

Source ~ dailycaller.com/2019/04/15/splc-facebook-conservatives/




VEA Board Calls Special Membership Meeting

Valley Electric Association’s board of directors has called a special member meeting to address concerns over the board’s fiduciary responsibilities and the process of recalling members of Valley’s board, according to a news release from Valley.

The special meeting, pegged to occur following Valley’s annual meeting on April 27, is set to answer questions that have arisen on these topics, following the announcement by a members’ group on its intentions to recall Valley’s current board of directors in February, said Ken Derschan, president of Valley’s board of directors, in the news release.

“We have heard member concerns, and we are listening to what members say,” said Derschan in the news release. “Questions and comments revolving around the board’s fiduciary responsibilities and how a recall can occur have come up. Members have a right to elect board members, and they have the right to recall them. That process is spelled out in the bylaws. We want our members to hear firsthand about what being a fiduciary means and how a recall needs to be conducted in accordance with the bylaws and the articles of incorporation.”

The special meeting is set to occur at approximately 2 p.m. on April 27, following Valley’s annual meeting, at the high school. Registration for the annual meeting begins at 11 a.m. with that event getting underway at 1 p.m., also at the high school, according to Valley’s news release.

According to Valley’s release, it takes three board members to call for a special meeting, though all six of the current directors signed a notice to call for a special meeting at the end of April, following the annual meeting.

On another front, hundreds of area member-owners have signed a petition being circulated by organizers of VEA Members for Change, a members’ group that is working to remove several of Valley’s board of directors.

That action could occur at a special meeting that the group is working on calling via a petition of Valley’s members.

According to organizers for the group, new directors can be voted in by Valley’s members at the special meeting if any of the current directors are voted out at that meeting.

Members for Change was launched amid increased rates announced by Valley earlier in 2019 for its broadband customers and on energy rates for residential customers. The members’ group saw an influx in people signing the petition in light of allegations of a financial cover-up of sexual harassment at Valley and embezzlement.

Ken Johnson, an organizer for Members for Change and a former executive of Valley, said in prior interviews with a reporter from the Pahrump Valley Times that the group has put efforts into finding replacements for the current board should they be voted out during a special meeting.

Members for Change has not publicly named any potential replacements of Valley’s board of directors should the group be successful.

Organizers of VEA Members for Change have commented that Valley is not following the bylaws by not calling a special meeting of the membership following the group’s obtainment of a signature requirement under the bylaws.

The group surpassed what it said is a required number of signatures equating to 5 percent of Valley’s members and has asked Valley to schedule a special meeting, according to Johnson.

To start the process on removing any of the directors, VEA Members for Change has to obtain enough signatures equating to 10 percent of the membership; the 5 percent marker is to call the special meeting, according to organizers of Members for Change.

According to the Members for Change’s Facebook page, the effort has amassed just under 1,600 signatures. The group needs to collect enough signatures to match 10 percent of the membership. According to Members for Change’s social media page, that number is approximately 18,750.

Kathleen Keyes, who ran unopposed in Valley’s District 4 (Fish Lake Valley), for a seat on the board, is not listed on Members for Change’s petition.

A reporter from the Pahrump Valley Times reached out to Michael Hengel, vice president of corporate communications for Valley, on the upcoming special meeting, not connected to any action by Members for Change, that was recently called by Valley’s board and on other topics.

Hengel said Dick Peck, Valley’s interim chief executive, “has gone on record as saying that we have one interpretation of the bylaws. You’d have to ask them (VEA Members for Change) about their interpretation. According to our interpretation of it, there’s still some work to do.”

In Valley’s news release, Derschan was noted stating that Valley’s independent auditor, Lubbock, Texas-based Bolinger, Segars, Gilbert &Moss LLP will make a presentation on Valley’s 2018 audit. Representatives for the firm will also discuss the board’s fiduciary responsibility, according to Derschan.

Valley’s corporate counsel, Tammy Peterson of Peterson Baker PLLC, also plans to make a presentation on Valley’s bylaws and the “intricacies of a recall election,” Valley’s release stated.

“The bylaws and articles of incorporation are there to protect the cooperative and the members,” said Peck in Valley’s release. “If members wish to go down that road, that is their right. Everyone needs to follow the bylaws, however, or little will be accomplished.”

Lunch is set to be served prior to the annual meeting at the high school starting at 11:30 a.m. until the annual meeting begins at 1 p.m.

Several vehicles and items currently held by Valley will be auctioned off following the conclusion of the special meeting, according to the news release.

Vehicle auction

Valley Electric Association is planning to auction off 13 vehicles and two trailers following a special meeting at the end of April.

The auction will occur following the conclusion of Valley’s annual meeting and a subsequent special meeting at Pahrump Valley High School at 501 E. Calvada Blvd. on April 27.

“We have too many vehicles in our fleet, so it’s time to move them out,” said Valley’s Interim Chief Executive Dick Peck. “If a member needs a vehicle like one of the ones we have, this will be a good opportunity to get one at a good price.”

Valley is scheduled to start its annual meeting at 1 p.m. at the high school with a special meeting pegged to begin at 2 p.m. Following those meetings, the auction will get underway.

The auction includes late models cargo vans, along with vehicles from the mid-2000s and prior: trucks, SUVs and other “articles from Valley’s warehouse” will be included in the list of auction items, according to a press release from Valley.

Source: VEA board calls a special meeting


“One Nevada lawmaker’s journey from silence to action” does not mean it’s Good Law.

An April Fools day article by Colton Lochhead in the Las Vegas Review-Journal perhaps, by many, could be considered an Aprill Fools Prank if it were not so serious to everyone attending the joint Assembly-Senate hearing in Carson city on AB291, introduced this session by Nevada Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui.

The article, chronicles, Nevada Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui’s journey from Route 91 as a participant in the most horrific mass shooting in our countries history.  It was a horrific and tragic night for those that died, those that were injured, everyone who was there, their friends, their families and everyone else that learned of/or watched any of the media and images about the incident.

“Vegas Strong” became the mantra of everyone everywhere as victims, friends, families, neighbors, emergency personnel and everyone else that was touched by the incident, whether they were there or not.

Las Vegas Metro is still slowly releasing documentation from the incident over a year later.

I do not know anyone that was Not horribly impacted as a result of that event. However, what we do with those feelings and emotions is important too.

Writing and passing a law, that nowhere within its text, purpose or understanding, does one additional thing that could prevent such a horrific event from happening again in the future, is not productive use for all of our emotions of this incident.

Please don’t let all of these very real legitimate emotions cause us to do things that won’t help our community and in fact actually will complicate our lives.

“BumpStock”,  a legally acquired accessory for sport shooting, was part of what was used by the shooter that night.  Basically, a tool that lets the forces of the firing of the gun continue the firing via the shooter’s finger without the shooter squeezing the trigger over and over again.  Many believed that automatic weapon/s were being fired that night.

The device is scary to many people both as an observer and many as actual shooters also.  AB291 starts as a state law making “BumpStock” accessories illegal without clearly defining what they are and how they do it.

In spite of the fact that the Federal Government has already made these devices illegal through regulation that became effective just two weeks ago, there is no amendment to take this language out of the bill. This language is unnecessary and redundant in intention as the current federal law.  The vague and dangerous method of defining what was used has great potential to impact good honest citizens unintentionally.  This part of the bill has absolutely no additional benefit to the people of Nevada and their safety.

The next issue with the bill is not clear to anyone without a bit of knowledge about Nevada state gun law history.  Current Nevada laws referred to as preemptive are on the books that have removed the power of local government, cities, and counties, to make gun-related law or ordinances that are not codified in state law.

The reasons and intentions of the Nevada Legislature were very practical and important then as they are today. They made it so that the very mobile population and tourists could move about through the whole state and know that they are not accidentally violating gun laws when they move from city to city or county to county or between a city and unincorporated county.

The language above and beyond the unnecessary “BumpStock” related restrictions discussed above are intent on one purpose and one purpose only, to add more confusion and bureaucracy to the daily lives and gun laws of our state by removing the current preemptions.

I urge our state legislators to amend, removing such language before any consideration of the bill ab291.

Last but not least. a third aspect of the new law being put forth here is changing the Blood Alcohol Level restriction to be the same as they are in motor vehicle DUI laws, 0.08. The only aspect of this bill ab291 that has any practical credibility or value to the population of Nevada.

Selling this legislation to the people of Nevada as an effective hinderance above and beyond any of the currently enacted Federal Regulations on “BumpStocks”, is not only unjust, deceiving and purely unethical, but dishonors everyone that was killed, injured or impacted by the events of 1 October.