TO THE EDITOR:
I would like to clarify a few things that were stated by Bruce Setterstrom and George Chachas in MEET THE CANDIDATES in last Friday’s Ely Times.
I’ll start with Bruce Setterstrom. Bruce states that a lot of positive things have happened since being in office with two of the bigger things being the STREETS & RECYCLING. He stated to keep from having your rates from going up the city raised the Hotel & Motel tax 2% to take out a $10 million dollar USDA loan to partially pay for doing the water and sewer lines under Aultman Street next year when NDOT reconstructs Aultman Street and the rest of the money to pave the worst streets. I would like to know what happened to the money that was raised by the water and sewer capital improvement fees that was put in place to pay for these repairs. With NDOT setting back the construction date for the past 6 years due to budget cuts there should be enough money to pay for this project, unless the money was spent somewhere else when it shouldn’t have been.
Since I retired from the city 3 ½ years ago as the Street Supervisor, the condition of the streets have gone backwards. There haven’t been any new street repaving projects done, any major slurry seal projects done, but the STREET DEPARTMENT WENT IN THE RED THIS LAST BUDGET YEAR $184,000 PLUS DOLLARS. Where were you Bruce Setterstrom while all of this was going on? It is the responsibility of the City Council members to oversee the finances of the City to prevent it from going into the red.
Bruce Setterstrom stated the City of Ely made money on the recycle center and put that money into the General Fund when in reality the City of Ely lost money. It cost the City in manpower and equipment fees $4,381.02 and they only made $1,890.16. That calculates out to a total loss of $2,490.86 to the City, so where is this money that was made? That calculates to a loss.
With prior permitting that was put into place at the landfill for burying recyclable materials, over a 50 year period the landfill would only use of approximately 4 months of space. This is calculated into the landfill fees currently being paid and recycling will not save or cost the landfill any additional money for the post closure costs.
As for George Chachas, please be advised his statements regarding my being in office and breaking the open meeting laws is a false statement. I was never in a public official capacity, I was only an employee of the City of Ely so just what exactly is George trying to do here? As far as the Parker Avenue project goes, George Chachas states he brought that to my attention numerous times. I was not the Water Department Supervisor, I was the Street Department Supervisor and had nothing to do with those decisions. I did mention concerns to my bosses about the way some things were done on this project and was informed that it was a Water Department project, not a Street Department project. The winter road is just that, a winter access road. It was repaved and meets all the proper specifications for an access road, meets ADA regulations regarding handicap access and sidewalk on one side of the road. This road has been in place for over 50 years and the City Engineer at that time staked out the street measurements and specifications, not me.
I don’t know why George Chachas used his candidacy space in the paper to bash Ernie Flangas and myself, referring to us as opponents. We are not running for the same seat George is running for. He should have tried using positive comments to better himself versus bashing us as a ploy to make himself and Setterstrom look better.
On June 20, 2007, the Ethics Commission issued the following finding on George Chachas:
N. R. S. 281.551(4)(c) states: If the (Ethics) Commission finds that: Three or more violations have been committed by a public officer removable from office pursuant to NRS 283.440, the Commission shall file a proceeding in the appropriate court for the removal of the officer.
The Commission finds that Mayor Chachas committed three willful violations of the Ethics in Government Law. If Mayor Chachas continues to hold his current office at the time this written opinion is signed, or if he holds any office in Nevada in the future, the Commission must file a proceeding for his removal pursuant to NRS 28I.551(4)(c) and NRS 283.440.
Based on the foregoing, the Commission finds no violation by Mayor Chachas of subsection 1 of NRS 281.481. The Commission finds one willful violation of subsection 2 of NRS 281.481, one willful violation of subsection 2 of NRS 281.501 and one willful violation of subsection 4 of NRS 281.501. The Commission imposes a fine of five hundred dollars ($500), payable to the Commission within thirty (30) days after Mayor Chachas’ receipt of this Opinion. Further, the Commission is statutorily obligated to file a proceeding for Mr. Chachas’ removal from office pursuant to NRS 28I.551(4)(c) and NRS 283.440.5.
NRS 281.551(4)(c) states:
If the Commission finds that: Three or more willful violations have been committed by a public officer removable from office pursuant to NRS283.440, the Commission shall file a proceeding in the appropriate court for removal of the officer. 7 The Commission finds that Mayor Chachas committed three willful violations of the Ethics in Government Law. If Mayor Chachas continues tohold his current office at the time this written opinion is signed, or if he holds any office in Nevada in the future, the Commission must file a proceeding for his removal pursuant to NRS28I.551(4)(c) and NRS 283.440.
Based on the foregoing, the Commission finds no violation by Mayor Chachas of subsection 1 of NRS 281.481. The Commission finds one willful violation of subsection 2 of NRS 281.481, one willful violation of subsection 2 of NRS 281.501 and one willful violation of subsection 4 of NRS 281.501. The Commission imposes a fine of five hundred dollars($500), payable to the Commission within thirty (30) days after Mayor Chachas’ receipt of this Opinion. Further, the Commission is statutorily obligated to file a proceeding for Mr. Chachas’ removal from office pursuant to NRS28I.551(4)(c) and NRS 283.440.
NRS 281.551(4)(c) states:
If the Commission finds that: Three or more willful violations have been committed by a public officer removable from office pursuant to NRS283.440, the Commission shall file a proceeding in the appropriate court for removal of the officer.
The Commission finds that Mayor Chachas committed three willful violations of the Ethics in Government Law. If Mayor Chachas continues to hold his current office at the time this written opinion is signed, or if he holds any office in Nevada in the future, the Commission must file a proceeding for his removal pursuant toNRS 28I.551(4)(c) and NRS 283.440.
Based on the foregoing, the Commission finds no violation by Mayor Chachas of subsection 1 of NRS 281.481. The Commission finds one willful violation of subsection 2 of NRS 281.481, one willful violation of subsection 2 of NRS 281.501 and one willful violation of subsection 4 of NRS 281.501. The Commission imposes a fine of five hundred dollars($500), payable to the Commission within thirty (30) days after Mayor Chachas’ receipt of this Opinion. Further, the Commission is statutorily obligated to file a proceeding for Mr. Chachas’ removal from office pursuant to NRS28I.551(4)(c) and NRS 283.440
N. R. S. 266.400(2) states: Eligibility for public office . . . 2. A person who is a defaulter to the city is ineligible to hold any city office.
George Chachas currently is indebted to the City of Ely in the sum of $10,522.49 for past due nonpaid landfill fees. Per this N. R. S. he cannot legally hold a position with the City of Ely because he is in default on paying his debt to the City of Ely.
I would ask the voters of Ely to please do one very important thing. Vote for Tony DeFelice in the primary election. Vote for Ernie Flangas or vote for Rick Stork in the primary election.
To The Editor:
A recent letter to the editor (March 24th) cast some misleading statements about the City’s audit report for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The author implies there is some level of fraud or corruption involving the City’s finances. The following will attempt to correct the record. Last year the City Council hired the accounting firm of Keddington & Christensen to perform its annual audit. The accounting firm of Hinton & Burdick had performed audits on the City in the past and a representative was present at the Council meeting to help explain and answer questions on the audit performed by Keddington.
In September of last year, the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) Division performed an audit on contributions made over the past three years. The audit found the City had underpaid contributions for some employees while in a few cases had overpaid some accounts. Since the audit findings, the City has begun to correct all accounts as needed and has ensured that personnel and systems are in place to keep timely and accurate records, and payments.
The finding of financial assurance for the landfill closure and post-closure costs is an issue which will need to be resolved with the State of Nevada. During fiscal year 2016, the City had provided a financial assurance document to the Nevada Dept. of Environmental Protection (NDEP) on projected costs of closure and post-closure and the State had signed off and approved the projections. There apparently is a conflict between Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) and the approval by NDEP. Of course, that was the issue identified in the audit and again is not an example of fraud or deceit.
As far as expenditures from the General Fund, several functions were noted as over budget and the City is continuing to take corrective actions such as augmentation, i.e., moving funds between functions all within the General Fund, and reducing labor costs during this fiscal year to keep at or under budget. What is not mentioned in the audit report is several functions such as Animal Control and the Cemetery, both within the General Fund, were under budget.
The author then conjectured the City presumably has spent 70% of its General Fund budget as of December 31, 2016. That is not true. As of December 31st, which is half of the current fiscal year, the City’s General Fund is at 45.4% of its budgeted amount of expenditures with a net positive $23,863.50. None of the three findings in the City’s audit were a result of something nefarious by either the City Council or administrative staff. Of course, an audit with no findings is a preferred outcome and the City has been working in that direction. Before the current administration was hired, the City’s audit had 14 findings or deficiencies in fiscal year 2013-2014. Our last audit showed three findings, none of which are repetitive.
The City is currently in its annual budgetary cycle and all citizens are encouraged to attend our budget hearings. Also, quarterly financial reports and the City’s current budget are listed on our website www.elycity.com.
Robert Switzer, City Administrator
TO THE EDITOR:
Hello. This is Mayor Melody Van Camp, and this letter is in response to Linda Burleigh’s letter to the Editor, which ran in last week’s newspaper. I have requested Bob Switzer, City Administrator, to address Ms. Burleigh’s concerns regarding the City finances.
I think it is time city residents were told exactly what has been happening concerning the city of Ely and Ms. Burleigh over the past two years. There have been many accusations made and a lot of time, effort and money expended by the city and in the end the citizens of Ely because of Ms. Burleigh’s continued assault on the city, its elected and appointed officials.
Ms. Burleigh stated in her letter that she “supports JaNeal Mathew’s letter which appeared in the February lOth issue of the Times”. She and Ms. Mathews disagree with the appointment of Mike Coster as Municipal Court Judge because he is not a city resident and they question his moral judgement. The first issue, at my request, has been submitted to the Attorney General for an opinion and the public is invited to request a copy of that letter from City Hall. I am unaware of any reason to question his moral judgement or ethics.
I do, however, have concerns regarding other’s “moral judgement”. I received a visit from Ms. Mathews, prior to her filing an application for the Municipal Court Judge position, regarding the old Catholic Church she had purchased. She came to me and requested I use my “mayoral power” to circumvent the State Fire Marshal and the Building Inspector so she could open the church for business. It was her plan to then slowly do the required work to comply with the law, which was meant to ensure the safety of the renters and visitors to the business, and bring the church up to code over time. I declined to do this because it is against the law. When I refused she appeared to be furious and stormed out of my office.
When it came to the Municipal Court Judge appointment, I interviewed all the candidates that appeared either in person or telephonically, at the January 12, 2017 City Council meeting. Even though it was not a requirement, there were five candidates who had some kind of Law/Judicial Degree. Everyone who applied, including Ms. Mathews, was given my full attention and consideration. The City was fortunate to have so much talent interested in the position, but in the end I felt Mr. Coster was the most qualified candidate and was able to invest the most time to the job. I did have two alternates in mind, in the event the Council did not approve my selection, but with the talent presented to me and the Council, Ms. Mathews was not one of my selections. The very next day, she resigned her position with the City Planning Commission, and then shortly thereafter, her letter in the Times was published. You decide why.
Since his appointment Judge Coster has worked to streamline and keep the Municipal Court cost effective and he is improving the community service program. When community service is ordered, I assign the offenders to garbage/trash cleanup, weed removal and cleanup, snow removal, and recycling at the landfill, all of which benefits the taxpayers of our city.
More about “moral judgement”. In her letter Ms. Burleigh says you should “educate yourself’ and “find out where your money is going”. Ms. Burleigh sued White Pine County on two occasions during her term as the County Clerk and received a nominal cash payment for each case. She says she cares about the city’s finances, but had no problem taking this money from taxpayers.
Since January of 2016, Ms. Burleigh has filed 31 open meeting accusations in two different complaints, against myself, the prior and current City Council members. Of these thirty four allegations, the Attorney General’s office has found we violated the Open Meeting law on two occasions, one we acknowledged in our response, when the City Attorney failed to identify the name of property owners for an administrative hearing on the agenda items, and the other for failing to list the names of candidates to be interviewed for appointed positions. Both of these have been fixed and no other action was required by the Attorney General’s office. The amount of time and effort our City Attorney has spent defending us against these mostly baseless charges is astronomical
When an allegation is made one has very little time to submit a response with the supporting evidence. Sometimes an extension must be requested from the A.G.’s office and on the last response a brief extension of five days was requested and granted. I cannot begin to tell you the amount of hours our attorney has put in, along with other city staff members, pulling records, making copies, listening to meeting recordings and preparing written responses to each of these charges. One response was 32 typewritten pages and approximately 200 pages of documents supporting the responses provided. This takes the attorney away from doing other city business, and the job he was hired to do. Ms. Burleigh’s action have resulted in wasting precious city staff time and resources which wastes taxpayer dollars with these unfounded charges!
Ms. Burleigh says “Do not believe, and do not trust them”. “Stupidity is running the government”. She is speaking of myself, the City Council, City Attorney and City Administrator. I find it hard to believe someone can be so vindictive against all of us. What is more concerning is there is no apparent reason for this anger and vindictiveness. Her letter to the editor is nothing short of embarrassing to our city. People are not perfect, and neither are we. We make mistakes, and when we do, we acknowledge them, correct them, and try not to make the same mistakes again.
If someone cares about the City of Ely they are encouraged to volunteer to work on any number of committees, boards or other volunteer cleanups. If someone is unhappy with the way the city is being operated please make an effort, run for a council seat, come to the meetings and discuss your issues openly and provide constructive input, it could make a difference! I think Ms. Burleigh wants to cause dissension and try to get you, the citizens, to believe her allegations, even when there is no legal or factual support for them. Most notably, she fails to provide meaningful and constructive input on possible solutions to her alleged stated concerns.
When Ms. Burleigh’s letter was published in the paper, for reasons unknown to me, the Times omitted her last paragraph. I know it was omitted because I saw the full letter when it was published on Facebook. It appears Ms. Burleigh not only has a problem with the City, but the County as well.
Thank you for allowing me to set the record straight! These are just a few facts I thought the citizens of Ely should know. I encourage each of you to become active with the City, volunteer for city activities, attend our City Council, Planning Commission, strategic tourism, and Utility Board meetings. Provide us with your constructive input and the services we provide for all of our benefit.
Mayor, City of Ely
TO THE EDITOR:
Why have democrats declared war on Nevada sportsmen?
Wildlife management by sporting groups in Nevada has enjoyed the enviable status of being largely nonpartisan. Whether sportsmen were re-seeding fire-ravaged rangeland in the northern end of the state, building waterfowl nestboxes, or constructing a water development (i.e. guzzler) in southern Nevada, they didn’t care if the person standing next to them was Republican, Democrat or Libertarian. But all that has recently changed. Even the most politically naive sportsmen have been astounded this legislative session at the rapidity and thoroughness with which Democrats have assailed sporting families.
For example, despite overwhelming opposition by sportsmen, the Assembly passed AB101, which will no longer allow money from the $3 predator fee (collected from each hunting tag application) to be used for sensitive species or for lethal control of predators. Within a week, Democratic leaders declared SJR 11 to be dead on arrival. As you may recall, SJR 11 was the proposed constitutional amendment that would make it a right to hunt, trap and fish in the state. This resolution was originally proposed to the 2013 legislature, but Democrats wouldn’t even let it get to a vote. It was again submitted to the 2015 legislature, which was controlled by Republicans. The measure passed in 2015 by a 76% margin in a bipartisan vote. Since it must be passed by two legislatures before being sent out for a vote of ALL Nevadans, SJR11 arrived at the 2017 legislature, this time finding a hostile welcome from a now-Democratic controlled Senate and Assembly. After one hearing, which again was dominated by support from the sporting families of Nevada, Senate Democrats have signaled they intend to kill the measure. Apparently those who were concerned that future legislatures could eliminate hunting, trapping and fishing were one legislature too late.
Within hours of the death of SJR 11, Senate Democrats introduced SB364 and SB365, which would eliminate trapping on public land in the state. Since Nevada is roughly 87% public land (the remainder being comprised mainly of metropolitan and residential areas), the message is clear to this group of sportsmen – get off the land! Oh, and under these bills, those trapping on their own private land would be required to post signs advising others that traps had been placed there (apparently to give trespassers a heads up there were free traps for the taking).
So why the blatant animosity by Democrats toward the sporting families of Nevada? One explanation may be that Democrats perceive sporting groups as more conservative (read: Republican). However, that doesn’t seem to be born out when one considers the diverse membership of the sporting groups across the state. Another possible reason is that Democratic leaders tend to be . . . well, urbanites. They have never had the contact with the land that sportsmen and women have had, and therefore don’t mind seeing them dismantled.
But I think there is another reason. Money. After all, most wars are fought over land or money. This one appears to be about both. Decades ago when the legislature was made up of more amicable folks, they got together (at the request of sportsmen) and established the Heritage fund and other accounts, derived from the sale of specialty hunting tags. These funds are to be used for only specific wildlife management-related purposes. Now, however, these funds have grown into multiple millions of dollars and have caught the attention of legislators who feel this money could be put to better uses. Of course, these same legislators would have to eliminate or greatly weaken the sporting groups that advocated setting up the accounts in the first place.
No problem. Just start whittling them down. The death of SJR 11 was a clear signal that hunting, trapping and fishing are not “rights,” but merely “privileges” that can be revoked by legislators at their whim. AB 101 told sportsmen that the legislature knew better how to spend sportsmen’s dollars. And SB364 and SB365 are major steps toward complete cultural genocide. Never before has the legislature been so clear in telling one user group, they can no longer use public land. Harkening back to the Native American experience, trappers (and soon hunters) are being told, get off the land. Ironically it was trappers who discovered, explored and settled this great state, making way for the railroad, ranching, mining, gaming and a whole host of other industries. In a previous day, Nevadans honored such pioneers by naming their cities, towns and streets after them (i.e. Kit Carson=Carson City; Jim Bridger=Bridger Avenue, etc.). But now, they are despised by the very beneficiaries of the hard work, courage and adventure these great men displayed in establishing our state.
The North American model of wildlife management is being usurped by a Democratically controlled legislature who has signaled to wildlife groups – “we not only don’t need you, we don’t want you.”