By Nicole Barde.
Mustang Ranch joins the TRI family of businesses! Did you know that Mustang Ranch is part of TRI? I didn’t until Roger Norman made a special appearance at this week’s Commission meeting to help Don Gilman, the brothel manager, ask for work permits to be given to three workers who were declined because they can’t seem to fill out the applications correctly, accurately, or consistently. Turns out this is the Sheriff’s Office fault because it won’t approve incorrect applications. Roger wants a “friendlier” Sheriff’s Office. Meanwhile it is a taxpayer burden because the S.O. administrators have to continue to spend time on the same application over and over again. It was a whine fest and as splendid a ” dog ate my homework ” defence as I have ever seen.
Vincent Malfitano was denied liquor licenses for both the Delta and the Bonanza and denied a general business license for the Bonanza … essentially being run out of town on a rail without the benefit of the feathers. The decision to deny Vincent Malfitano licenses to operate anything except a vacant building in VC was made arguably for the right reasons but in the wrong way in an ad hoc manner the irony of which was lost on the commission.… I doubt that we’ve heard the last of this one.
You can find Pat Whitten’s summary of this meeting at the end of this article.
This week’s agenda was shortened up quite a bit after the three zoning items (#16, #22, #23) got pushed out again. These are the items to do with the permitting of the above-ground renewable energy projects and the two requests to rezone portions of TRI (covered in my August 4, 2015 meeting summary ) including the portion Storey County got from Washoe County for Lance Gilman and TRI last year. The TRI rezoning activity (or lack of it) is getting close to a year since it first came up. Either there are big problems with the rezoning that need working out (i.e. let’s make a deal) or the specifics keep changing or who knows what. I’ve never seen anything get postponed this many times or for this long.
The meat of the meeting was divided between two agenda items: The first was the request for liquor and business licensing for the Delta and Bonanza by Vincent Malfitano who purchased both properties from Angelo Petrini the first week of October last year. Typically, I am one of maybe two or three “civilians” in the commission meeting. This meeting had lots of people in the room … a sure sign of citizen interest (like the great Jeep Posse muster of 2014) or a controversial topic (all things CMI) or a public lynching (last year’s multiple pile-ons onto Sheriff Antinoro by Lance Gilman and Bill Sjovangen) or a sideshow (all of the above). This one was of great interest to VC residents and merchants.
Just a quick synopsis: Malfitano was recently denied a gaming license by the State Gaming Board and Commission due to a combination of failure to disclose material information and the fact that he has tax liens, lawsuits and significant cash flow problems based on looking at his financials. Not only did they deny him a gaming license, but they stated that they did not feel he should even be a landlord to a third party running a gaming establishment on his properties. The gaming license denial resulted in the gutting of the Bonanza and Delta of all gaming equipment, the loss of many jobs, seller’s regret on Angelo’s part, and a lot of emotion on the part of VC residents and merchants.
To net this out … the county took a risk by denying Malfitano a Storey County liquor license based on (a higher) criteria not used for any other liquor license applicants in Storey County. The risk here is a lawsuit. It was hard for them to “un-know” the details brought out through the State Gaming licensing hearings on Malfitano’s application and so they used that information to deny the Storey county business and liquor license applications. Based strictly on Storey County liquor licensing criteria, he meets the requirement for approval.
It was unbelievable and interesting to watch as they made this sausage.
The agenda item was lead off by D.A. Anne Langer who spoke about “moral character” being a factor to consider for approval of a liquor license.
Moral character?…………..??…………….I waited for the Almighty to strike everyone in the courtroom dead like in Sodom and Gomorrah. Moral character? What standard would we use? Who would judge? Why is moral character suddenly part of any criteria in Storey County? Is it now a criterion for everything, all the time or just for today? A fine example of ad hoc rulemaking I must say.
She then stated that although it is not part of Storey County Code or the ordinance governing criteria for approval or denial per se that moral character could be considered. She then went on to list several of the legal reasons for denial among which were: failure to meet code, unpaid taxes, and lack of financial viability leading to profitability.
Sheriff Antinoro stated there was no reason to deny Malfitano a Storey County liquor license based on the background check that the Sheriff’s Office is required to perform or based on the statute that covers the Storey County licensing criteria. He stated there was nothing in Malfitano’s background check that is significantly different from other applications he has done background checks on in Storey County based on the ordinance. He further stated there are lots of current business owners who have some of the same issues as Malfitano.
He stated the criteria to get a gaming license is significantly higher than for a liquor license. He further stated that to use the higher gaming license criteria to deny this applicant a liquor license based on a different set of criteria used for other Storey County applicants sets a bad precedent.
Hugh Gallagher, county comptroller, talked about “first and best use.” He said that the Delta and Bonanza have historically been and should always be gaming establishments and that without a gaming license, there is no profitability, hence, no financial viability.
There was a great deal of discussion about the denial of the State gaming license and the details of those hearings, which Marshall McBride, Commission Chair, attended. There were comments in support of approval made by Bruce Kittess of Carson City, a friend of Malfitano, and by Tina Perkins, a manager for Malfitano’s properties. She indicated Malfitano had other business plans outside of gaming for the two properties to make them successful.
In the end Pat Whitten, County Manager, recommended that they deny the liquor license applications based on Malfitano’s lack of solid financials to conduct a viable business. Meaning that without gaming the Delta and Bonanza would not succeed. I must say, I don’t know how stringent the commission has been with past non-gaming businesses on the point of future business viability. It’s kind of a “minority report”, magic 8 ball approach.
Then the meeting went on to discuss the general business license applications. The Delta was approved for a general business license although I don’t know what type of business it will operate since there is no liquor or gaming. The Bonanza was denied a general business license because it was deemed unsafe by Fire Chief Gary Hames. He said it is not up to code in at least one critical area, the sprinklers. This is interesting to me since the sprinklers were in bad shape when Angelo owned the Bonanza so why wasn’t he made to bring them up to code? The Bonanza is now inoperable as any kind of business. With these decisions, Vincent Malfitano was sent the message to get out of town.
Meanwhile, this was but an appetizer for the next agenda item which read “20. Request by Don Gilman for assistance re ad hoc rulemaking”. This was a case of agenized whining, and ironic given the ad hoc process used in the prior agenda item. More importantly, it was one of the most unmitigated, blatant and straight-faced denials of accountability I have ever witnessed.
Don Gilman, manager of the Mustang Ranch, claimed that Sheriff Antinoro kept changing the rules on what was required on the application for work permits thereby causing his workers to be confused about their own criminal records. That the many mistakes, omissions, and errors made by his workers resulting in multiple denials for work permits were because the Sheriff was being arbitrary and unreasonable. He also stated that the Sheriff should not “ban for life” people who fail to submit an accurate work permit application repeatedly. There was more along these lines as the meeting continued.
A litany of woe followed as three of his workers, whose permits were denied due to inaccuracies and omissions, pleaded their case. One stated she was still strung out on alcohol and so wasn’t sure what she was doing on one of the applications. Additionally, asked if she is supposed to put down her juvenile offences? (DA Langer clarified that juvenile offences are NOT part of a person’s public record so only convictions as an adult should be listed.)
Sheriff Antinoro stated there is no “ban for life” but that he is tired of seeing the same application come through wrong every time, that the brothel needs to make sure the applications are right before they are submitted to his office. He further stated the workers get work permits every year, fill out applications every year; the applications are the same for at least 5 years. He can’t understand how, from one year to the next, an applicant can get their own criminal history wrong. Additionally, workers make different errors and omissions in the multiple applications they submit within the same year and every time it is denied for errors or omissions. He doesn’t know what he is expected to do if they are incapable of supplying the required information and repeatedly fail to comply with the requirements of the application.
Then Kris Thompson, project manager for TRI, got up to read a prepared statement which he prefaced by saying he was there at the request of Roger Norman, principal developer for TRI, in support of a business just like the other businesses in TRI. His statement referred to the willingness of these workers to work and earn a living to support their families and that unlike some other people who live off the public dole, these workers actually want to work and contribute … that they deserve the right to work and should not be denied that right.
Next Roger Norman, the principal developer for TRI, got up and made comments to support Kris Thompson’s statement made at his request … basically supporting himself … and further stated that “we need a friendlier Sheriff.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
But I digress. In the end, all three brothel workers got their permits approved by the commissioners, the brothel said it would try and do a better job of preparing the workers and applications, and Sheriff Antinoro said he’d continue to communicate with Don about any issues.
Several things struck me: The first one was, of course, the attitude displayed by Don Gilman, Kris Thompson and Roger Norman that the Sheriff is responsible for their workers’ errors and that the Sheriff needs to change. Their utter lack of accountability and blame-placing is astonishing to me. I mean, is this what they taught their children?
The second thing is the waste of taxpayer money on having to deal with the continued rework involved with these incorrect applications. Sheriff Antinoro says that fully 40% of his administrators’ time is spent processing work permits and other related issues. Out of about 142 permits per year, about 23 were denied with 8 of those being reinstated. The rework uses up a lot of staff time. The county makes no money from the application fees since the county charges what the state charges the county to do the background checks … it’s a pass through. I don’t care that the brothel pays taxes, as Commissioner Jack McGuffey stated. Their lack of effective management on their part of the process should not be the county’s problem. It doesn’t give them the right to waste our resources.
The third thing that struck me was Roger Norman not only showed up in support of the brothel, but referred to it, through Kris Thompson, as a TRI business. I didn’t think there was a direct connection between the brothel and TRI, but I guess there is. I had thought Roger had distanced himself and TRI from the brothel. Guess I was wrong given his public on the record support.
Lastly, Kris Thompson frequently speaks on behalf of TRI representing Lance, as the TRI land developer. He introduces himself as a TRI employee. But in several Commission meetings where Don Gilman was petitioning to be the legal owner of the brothel but didn’t pass the criteria based on the background check, Kris Thompson spoke on Don’s behalf, then again this week in support of the brothel. If Kris Thompson is a TRI employee, why is he doing brothel work? Does he get paid by the brothel to do it? If not, why would TRI pay him to represent the brothel’s interests? Are the resources and finances co-mingled in some way? Just curious … it’s a legal thing.
On the bright side, the cap seal for the remainder of Cartwright in the Highlands will happen according to Marshall McBride, and Pat Whitten. It’ll happen next year when paving season starts again.
Finally, Hugh Gallagher reported that during the annual conference of county auditors and controllers he described the budget process that Storey County goes thru ( think a process similar to a real business instead of the low standards which government aspires to ) and he said that he was met with surprise, envy, congratulations and awe. Apparently the other counties don’t have commissioners who spend the time in open meeting doing what ours do. I have to give Lance credit on this one. He said he’d instill and implement a more business like financial process and he has. It IS greatly improved over what I first experienced. However, and there IS a “but”. He and the staff refer to it as a “zero base budget”. It’s not. In a ZBB you start from zero, justify every expense, prioritize the work and the dollars associated with the work allowing you to cut, add or move resources according to shifting or changing objectives and environment. I’ve never seen a prioritization of the work and nothing seems to fall off if work exceeds budget or gets justified based on priorities when they add to the budget. But…maybe next year!
STOREY COUNTY COMMISSION MEETING HIGHLIGHTS
FOR MEETING TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2015
Highlights are distributed on behalf of Pat Whitten, Storey County Manager. You are receiving this update as a subscriber to Storey County news and alerts in an effort to keep you informed of the activities of the Storey County Commission meetings as well as Storey County happenings.
GENERAL MEETING SUMMARY
Work on the Courthouse parking lot is moving along. Comstock Mining, Inc. will be providing rip-rap for stabilization of the slopes at a low cost. The balance of the project will go out to bid this week.
The Fire Department announced that fuel management activities will begin next week in the Virginia City Highlands. The Fire Department’s new excavator will be used to complete this work. After the Highlands, work will continue at Six Mile Canyon and the top of Bailey’s Canyon. A presentation will be given this month at each of the Highlands homeowner association meetings regarding fuel management.
Community Development Director Dean Haymore was honored by EDAWN for his great efforts and successes in working with businesses at Tahoe Reno Industrial Park.
Work continues on the Master Plan. March 2016 is the projected date for completion and presentation to the Board. Written comments and questions from the public regarding the Master Plan are welcomed and encouraged. Comments become part of the record supporting the Master Plan and should be directed to the Planning Department.
The Planning Department is currently reviewing and updating signage codes in Storey County. Public input regarding this issue is requested.
An interim project is planned for the Black & Howell building on C Street. This will be a “pocket plaza” which will provide a deck with a shade structure and benches for seating. Plans are available for review in the Planning Department office.
The Health Center in Virginia City will re-open October 28 with an attending physician’s assistant. The Health Center will be open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Wednesday. Health services will be available on Thursdays in Lockwood beginning November 5. Lockwood outreach-health services will be coordinated by Adrienne Sutherland at the Community Chest..
Plans are nearing completion and progress continues on Phase 2 of the Community Center.
The Veteran’s Memorial being built in Mark Twain is almost complete with dedication anticipated to be held Veteran’s Day. This will be a great presentation with local Vietnam vets and American Legion members being invited.
An arts & crafts fair will be held at the Mark Twain Community Center in November. A spaghetti feed will be held in December. Exact dates to be announced.
A review of Storey County employee health benefits has begun and the County will be establishing a committee of employees to discuss any issues. An employee benefits fair will be held in May.
COMMISSIONER VOTING ITEMS
Approved Variance 2015-029 for a setback of placement of a proposed well house on property located in Mustang.
Approved liquor and general business licenses for Storey County School District for Piper’s Opera House.
Denied the liquor and general business licenses for The Bonanza.
Denied the liquor license and approved the general business license for The Delta.
Approved Resolution No. 15-431 approving portal-to-portal payment for CFAA mutual aid requests.
Seven new business licenses were approved:
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Storey County Senior Center’s 5th Annual Lasagna Cook-Off & Feed, October 9
Redrun III, October 10
V&T Pumpkin Patch Train to Gold Hill, October 10-11, October 17-18
V&T Day out with Thomas, Thomas the Train, October 23-25, October 30-31 and November 1
Governor’s Ball, October 24
Goblin Parade, October 31
Haunting of the Opera House presented by Cemetery Gin, October 31
The annual Health Fair will be held November 7 at Piper’s Opera House from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Flu Shot Clinics are scheduled for November 14 – 21. More details will be provided in fall.