IN A MOMENT DRIPPING WITH IRONY COMMISSIONER LANCE GILMAN CREDITED SHERIFF ANTINORO FOR MAKING THE MUSTANG RANCH A MODEL OF OPERATING EXCELLENCE AND A TIGHTLY REGULATED BROTHEL…… WHY THE EARTH DID NOT OPEN UP AND SWALLOW HIM WHOLE WHILE HIS PANTS BURST INTO FLAMES I’LL NEVER KNOW.
LANCE REPRISED HIS DECEMBER 2014 SANTA CLAUS PERFORMANCE WHEN HE FAMOUSLY DECLARED A (NON-STARTER) PROPERTY TAX ROLLBACK DUE TO THE RICHES OF TRIC….. THIS TIME HE SAID THAT EACH COMMUNITY WILL GET AN EASTER EGG BEFITTING THEIR NEEDS…A PROMISE THEN….ANOTHER PROMISE NOW.
THE COMMISSION ISN’T SURE THAT IT CAN MUSTER THE WILL TO APPROVE THE $4 MILLION DOLLAR JUSTICE CENTER SINCE IT IS SPENDING TAXPAYER DOLLARS …..BUT NEVER BLINKED AT GIVING AWAY $16 + MILLION DOLLARS OF OUR TAX REVENUES IN CORPORATE WELFARE, PAYING BONUSES OR PAYING FOR PARKING LOT CONSTRUCTION
THE GOOD=GOLD HILL WILL BE GETTING A NEW SEWER PLANT
THE BAD=WATER RATE PAYERS IN GOLD HILL ON SEPTIC MAY HAVE TO FOOT THE BILL
THE UGLY=A FEW RESIDENTS WILL HAVE A SEWER PLANT AND POND NEAR THEIR YARD POSSIBLY AFFECTING THEIR PROPERTY VALUES
THE TENTATIVE BUDGET WAS APPROVED……WILL HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE FINAL TO SEE WHAT’S ACTUALLY FUNDED.
By Nicole Barde
At the beginning of the meeting, I asked that an item from the consent agenda be moved to the regular agenda. It was relating to an indemnification agreement with the County Manager of Humbolt County for his part in recommending an action in regards to a County personnel matter. Apparently, County Manager Pat Whitten has a conflict in this particular case. DA Langer basically said that this has been done before in about 2009 when Pat acted in a similar manner for another county. She could not tell us any detail tho.
SIDENOTE– I am glad that this is an option that the county has. We are a very small county and County leadership can’t swing a dead rat without hitting someone that they are related to, were once married to, are buddies with, hunt with, drink with or generally just like a whole lot. I’d like to see this employed more….but that’s just me.
Deny Dotson, VCTC Executive Director made the informal announcement that the “Rural Roundup” conference of tourism professionals has selected Virginia City as the locale for next years conference. There are hundreds of people who attend and this means room nights and revenues for the merchants during “shoulder season”. He also said that there was another convention that will piggyback on the Rural Roundup Conference so that’ll be a whole lot of room nights! The VC locale for 2020 will be formally announced at this year’s event next week. Great for the town!
Cherie Nevin, Community Relations said that there will be part-time jobs for the upcoming 2020 Census. She said they pay well and have benefits. People should go to the website at “2020census.gov” and put in an application if you are interested. If you have trouble with it I’m sure she would be happy to help.
Assessor Jana Seddon gave an update on some of the audit activity out at TRIC. These are property audits from which she can then bill the companies based on valuation. The result of the 2016 audit added about $485k in new assessments and about $185k in payments so far. The 2017 audit added about $685k in assessments and about $136k in payments and they are working on the 2018 audit. She noted that there were two companies at TRIC who were non-compliant, Arrow was one of them. If they don’t get with it…..they won’t have their business licenses renewed. Good job Jana… Love it when we get more revenues!
Austin Osborn gave the legislative update….still no Bum Hess. There were several bills relating to workers Comp and collective bargaining which the County is opposed to, the Sexual Misconduct bill which the County supports, the Brothels study action which they are neutral on and the Anti-Brothel bill which they oppose.
Comptroller Hugh Gallagher as well as Pat Whitten chimed in and said that the diesel tax bill, which the county supports, is moving right along. That the truckers are against it but that the Trucking Association is for it. Part of the revenues go towards the building and maintaining of the truck rest stops. He also noted that there is a “public records request” bill which sounds pretty financially onerous which the county opposes as well as a Courts fines and fees bill which would syphon off monies from the counties in favor of a smaller set amount from the state.
SIDENOTE– We voted NO to adding/increasing the Diesel tax in Storey County. It’s a new tax. This legislative action would allow the Commission to override that NO vote and impose it without another vote. A slippery slope.
Commissioner Carmona testified during this Legislative session in favor of this voter override and Commissioner Marshall McBride testified last time to override the NO vote as well. What part of NO NEW TAXES do supposed Republicans not understand??? Either you mean it or you don’t. Work on the spending side….not the pick peoples pockets side.
The reason that Commissioner Carmona said he supported it was because we need $7 Million dollars in revenues for our roads. Uh, wait. I thought that TRIC was going to line our pockets with money. Apparently there just isn’t enough money for services but enough to pay more bonuses and to give away $16 + million dollars in revenues as corporate welfare here in Storey County. So we have to make up for that by paying out of our pockets.
We have a VC station which has diesel and so WE WILL PAY out of our pockets.
And then it is curious to me why the county isn’t looking at bills related to impacting the property tax cap, the red flag bill, the one where you report your mileage to DMV and you pay even more to drive your car in addition to the fees and other “pick pocket” bills. I mean these are things that affect all of the residents…….are they for or against these bills and what are they doing to support their postions? If only Bum could make the time to give us all an update on all of his work.
But I only begin to digress…….
Assistant DA Loomis said that the Construction Tax increase requested by Todd Hess for the school district will require a business impact statement…which is underway. He also reported that the attorney who is pursuing the Anti Brothel legislation submitted a public records request for all of the work cards at the Mustang brothel going back 10 years. The DA’s response is that they are confidential and will not be giving them to him. Loomis expects to get a lawsuit over the denial.
SIDENOTE– I find this interesting. If the information on the work cards is confidential how come the applications were included in the Commission agenda packets all those times when the women appealed their denials by the Sheriff? Seems to me that confidentiality is an all or nothing kind of thing.
During Board updates Commissioner, brothel owner, TRI principal, former BLOCKCHAINS consultant and aspiring hemp grower Lance Gilman made a few comments. One was about the Mustang Ranch. He said that brothel operations are a hot topic in Carson City with several bills pending. He said that the Mustang Ranch brothel has been visited by several legislators and that the general consensus is that the Mustang Ranch is the poster child of excellence and professional operations. Lance said that it is important to point out that Sheriff Antinoro has a lot to do with that due to the strict oversight of operations and insistence that they follow protocol. Lance further said that this has played well in Carson City. He thanked the Sheriff and his people and added that we should all be proud.
SIDENOTE– Yes , I AM proud that Sheriff Antinoro stood his ground all of these many years in the face of proposed censures by Lance, a tongue lashing and formal public rebuke by Roger Norman, repeated and dramatic whining and complaining by bunkmate Kris Thompson as well as attorney Joey Gilbert, the constant parade of working girls calling the sheriff mean for denying them the right to work in the face of their erroneous and questionable applications…..yes…..and now that the brothels are in the spotlight he backs off all of the nasty antics and tactics to say thank you because the optics require it.
I don’t know how the Sheriff sat there and didn’t throw a clot on the spot…..I know I did.
What the legislators need to know is that Lance vigorously fought the oversight and protocol requirements enforced by Antinoro EVERY STEP OF THE WAY in the meetings. That at one time the Commission, which means Lance, approved several requests from Lance to amend the brothel ordinance , that the brothel stonewalled Antinoro’s requests for documentation, that based on these and other tactics there would be little oversight, few controls, and certainly girls working at the ranch before any background checks could be done….including checking for age. Were it not for Antinoro the ranch would be freewheeling without limits….who knows what they would be doing out there.
This demonstrates that there needs to be MORE, not less oversight of the brothels to ensure that the other counties are not cowed into being lax by the owners just as Lance has tried to do in Storey County.
I’d like to say that I’ve seen it all but I haven’t…..and neither have you.
Want to digress more but won’t do it right now……….
The second comment that Lance had was what he called a “ bold initiative”. He read it out loud for all to hear. He spoke of his frustration in trying to get the property tax rollback done. He highlighted the revenue growth in Storey County from $3.5 Million to $36 million in 17 years.
He noted that the Unions have benefited from this prosperity. That Virginia City has been able to benefit from the prosperity thru the County’s purchase of Pipers, the Fairgrounds, the Senior Center support, and the water and sewer projects to name a few. It is now time that the whole county be considered for enrichment. He was proposing:
- a series of town hall meetings in the “outlying areas” like Mark Twain, the Highlands and Lockwood to get resident inputs on what their needs are for capital projects.
- $25k per year for the food pantry’s for seniors and families in need
- to consider the county taking over complete ownership and maintenance of all of Lousetown and Cartwright roads to save Highlands residents money
- adding these expenses to the budget so that it can all get done.
Why does the County only now want to know what we think? Oh, wait…..Lance must be running for re-election for a third term so has to start cranking out the promises.
Sound familiar Lockwood?
When I was campaigning in 2014 and 2018 I heard a LOT of comments from many people that the County has never cared about anything except for Virginia City. Guess they were right. Don’t get me wrong I love VC and have been involved in several efforts there for many years. But Lance’s language is tone deaf and a validation to what people have been feeling for decades.
For him to say that now that VC has gotten its fill of the “riches” it’s time to let the “outlying areas” get a little taste is insulting. More insulting is calling where the majority of the taxpaying residents live “outlying areas” as if there is banjo music playing Deliverance.
Additionally, the Commission has talked several times about things slowing down at TRIC, that they need to be looking at prudent spending and prepare for a bit of lean time as we slowly go into a recession. To promise these types of budget additions and raise expectations only to then say we’re in lean times and not deliver is unconscionable. You should do this when you have the money to do it….not ask what is wanted then say “you’ll get it one day when we have the money”.
The things on the list are great but hardly original, they are in the process of being done and/or have been talked about and asked for for years. These are all things that the County should have been doing already.
Lance has himself been generously paying for the food pantry at Lockwood and Mark Twain thru Mustang Cares …unless it is a totally new program adding to whatLance is already doing this will just shift those costs to the County, so it’s not a new program. The Highlands has been asking the county to take Cartwright and Lousetown for years ..to be met with legal reasons not to do it….maybe those legal reasons have been surmouted…or not. So while it’s all good if we get this stuff…it just smells like another marketing ploy like the tax rebate/rollback to get Lance election visibility.
Also, I don’t know where he got $36 million in revenues since the highest I’ve seen in revenues on the budget has been this year with $17 million. Maybe there is a slush fund out there we know nothing about.
But I digress excessively….
Next up was the Discussion and approval of the Gold Hill Waster Water Treatment Facility loan application for $1.5 million.
The bottom line here is that Gold Hill needs this facility ASAP since the current water and sewer systems have been crumbling for years. The other bottom line is that the placement of the Plant will be immediately adjacent to several homeowners who understand that the plant is necessary but don’t want it literally in their back yards. John and Kelly Dufresne both voiced their concerns about the impact the plant will have on their property values in addition to the obvious air quality and visual issues. Minimally they are looking for compensation for the devaluing of their properties.
At one point John said to Commission Chair Marshall McBride “ how would you like a sewer plant in your back yard”…to which Marshall said, “ you know what the answer is…no one wants an open pit either but you have one”.
During public comment, Mike Nevin, construction projects manager, said that they understand these issues and will try and minimize the impacts.
Pat Whitten said that they will look at the property values.
Jana Seddon, Assessor, said that the addition of the sewer plant will, in fact, increase property values since there hasn’t been any development in Gold Hill due to lack of hookups for sewer and water.
Jerry Antinoro said that the area already suffers from the odors and dust from the mines and he hasn’t complained but now having a sewer pool right below his house is too much. Additionally, he is on a septic tank and said that the sewer plant has no benefit to him and expects that the price tag will not be paid by those not connected to the sewer plant.
Clay Mitchel asked how much will be added to the existing water and sewer bills and will just the current customers be paying it or will the future customers pay it as well?
Finally, Lance said that the residents don’t know or understand what is being done. He wants to be sensitive to their concerns and so will vote to approve getting the funds but stop short of approving the building until the county knows the answers to the questions posed today.
Next was the discussion about beginning the planning and preliminary expenses for the required Justice Center which will house the Justice Court I.T, and Dispatch initially. This was confusing to me.
The County has known for several years that Judge Herrington’s Justice Court had to move out of the Courthouse. Minimally she can not continue to use the courtroom for the Justice Court. This is a requirement made by the District Court…to whom that courtroom belongs. It has been discussed many times…the issue being do they move it into an existing building or build a separate one.
Needless to say, the court will have some specific security requirements that existing buildings in VC may not be suited for. The use of a temporary trailer type solution was also discussed. This conversation just keeps coming up and going nowhere.
Today we saw a set of plans for the new building should the county decide to build it and the agenda items were to approve the engineering and architectural costs of starting it. At the end of the presentation, Pat Whitten said that he wasn’t sure that they should commit to the $4 million dollars to build it since it is spending a lot of taxpayer money and that they need to continue to look for alternatives.
SIDENOTE- SO……Giving away $16 million dollars of OUR taxes in corporate welfare…no problem
-Giving away $25 million dollars of USA Parkway while carrying the debt…..no problem
-Giving over $200k in unapproved bonuses…no problem….no consequences
-Water and Sewer projects and debt for VC……..DONE …..and ……DONE
-VC Parking lots, fairgrounds, Pipers, hole in the ground Black and Howell….all no problem
While $4 million dollars IS a lot of money and I like it when/if our public officials think of us taxpayers before they spend our money ..they have been looking at alternatives for years…..I don’t know what the deal is….unless they don’t really have the money or don’t want additional debt given all of the other spending commitments and other “ bold initiatives” that they have…. Regardless…it has to be done (just like the sewer/water for VC) so this shrinking from spending taxpayer money smells like grandstanding to me.
End of digressions…..
Lastly, the Tentative budget was reviewed. The budget looks to be in the black with revenues exceeding expenses by a bit so that’s good but it’s not the final and a lot goes on between now and the final. Things like unfunded mandates, the Department of Taxation’s “give” to the county, the Tesla agreement and other things will come into play. The Sheriff’s budget will get its usual colonoscopy since it is the largest.
I asked several questions during public comment but the one that is still unanswered is just exactly WHAT is on the Capital and Infrastructure lists. It’s usually just VC and some TRI projects. No outlying areas. No detail was provided with Hugh saying that they will be a part of the final budget.
And so the meeting ended………the smell of sulfur gradually dissipating…….