By Nicole Barde
The County prevailed in the October 21st Temporary Restraining Order and Injunction hearing filed by Vincent Malfitano. The Storey County Liquor Licensing Board’s decision to deny Vincent Malfitano liquor licenses for the Bonanza and the Delta were not proven to be capricious or arbitrary and Malfitano could not prove irreparable damage to his businesses and his reputation. The damage to his revenues was acknowledged but even if proven there is no remedy to recoup damages in this action. The KOLO summary of the hearing is here.
I have to say that it was interesting to say the least. The judge started the proceeding by first reading his understanding of the facts of the case which included a long and detailed timeline of events and communications. Among the many things he said, he drew the distinction between “conclusions” and “facts”. He stated that the Gaming Commission/Board had made a statement of conclusions about Malfitano’s financial status and activities. That there were no “findings of facts” entered per se.
After his summary of the case and events he gave both sides time to consider his suggestion that the County suspend their decision on the liquor license denials until Malfitano was given the opportunity to respond to the information used by the county to make their decision. The information used being the results of the Gaming Commission/Boards summary of conclusions which Malfitano has contested. After this recess county Asst. D.A. Lumos came back strong with a resounding “NO, we will not change our decision. “
With this the hearing proceeded. This was a 3 hour hearing so I’m just going to highlight those things that stood out for me.
Malfitano contended throughout the hearing that the information used by Storey County from the Gaming Commission and Board hearings was dated and stale in that the liens and lawsuits were in the past and that his financial status was currently in good standing. He further stated that he was prepared to present the facts of his financial standing to address any concerns that Storey County might have. He stated that he had already invested approximately $1.8 million dollars in the properties separate and apart from the purchase price over the last year and had business plans to operate both businesses even without a gaming license.
It was brought up that his application to the Gaming Commission/Board was incomplete and that it was also part of the Gaming license denial. To which Malfitano replied that the application was completed by his counsel in Las Vegas, and that it was HIS fault that there were omissions. Needless to say it means he signed the application without reading it.
It just never ceases to amaze me how often people shift blame and use “the dog ate my homework” as a defense. Nothing is ever anybody’s fault. No accountability.
Malfitano also contended, and the judge agreed, that he had no idea that there were issues with his Storey County application until after the October 6th Commission meeting where it was denied. He further stated that if he had been told there were issues he would have attended the October 6th Commission meeting to address each of those issues.
In the end, the judge said in his findings that Storey County based its October 6th decision to deny Malfitano his liquor licenses on information and conclusions used by the Gaming Commission/Board and that even if that information was incorrect that the decision was based on information Storey County believed to be accurate and was not made in an arbitrary manner. So…….according to the law….ignorance of the law is no excuse but ignorance of the facts is OK…..at least in government ……I continue to be very afraid of our justice system.
The law is the law in this matter but if one of my employees ever made a decision based on flawed data and then came to me with the excuse of “ well, I thought the data was right” because they had not checked it…… they wouldn’t have worked for me very long. Imagine your doctor saying that to you. It’s another accountability thing. But I digress.
The judge also said that Malfitano was blindsided by Storey County in the October 6th action by not informing him that things had changed since the September 1st meeting where he was told “there is no reason not to license Mr. Malfitano except the fact that it would be a duplication”. I can’t help but wonder why the County didn’t tell him that their prior favorable feelings towards him had changed so that he could have attended the October 6th meeting to address the issues. These are all things for the appeal I guess.
At any rate, the real tragedy here is that people have lost their jobs. Justifiably, I hear anger about that from the people I speak with in VC. There is also anger about the potential loss of the long history represented by the Delta and Bonanza. I hear that anger being aimed at Vincent Malfitano given the information that has surfaced thru the Gaming and Liquor licensing hearings which caused the Delta and Bonanza to shut down. I’m sure that Angelo Petrini regrets selling to Malfitano and not vetting him more deeply. Our own application process did not uncover the full detail of Malfitano’s background since the looser standards of our licensing ordinance and applications are designed to fast track things. We’re a county known for fast tracking and ease of doing business. Fast tracking has its downsides…..this is one of them….more to come I’m sure.
Lots of hindsight…no accountability…wonder what the plan is for moving forward?