THE COUNTY HAS NEGOTIATED PROPANE PRICES FOR ALL RESIDENTS BUT NO HOUSEHOLD DIESEL PRICE HAS BEEN FIXED…..THEY WILL TRY AND DO THIS AS WELL
SAD TO SAY THAT MOST OF THAT DANGEROUS SPEEDING ON WASHINGTON STREET IN VC IS LOCAL KIDS WHOSE PARENTS DON’T SEEM TO CARE THAT THEY ARE RUDE TO PEOPLE TRYING TO KEEP THEM FROM DOING SOMETHING STUPID
COMMISSIONER MCBRIDE CONTRADICTS FORMER COUNTY MANAGER PAT WHITTEN BY SAYING THAT THE JEEP POSSE GETS ITS REVENUES FROM BLOCK GRANTS INSTEAD OF FROM THE CELL TOWERS…hummmmm
THE JEEP POSSE SAYS THAT NOTHING IN ITS BYLAWS SAYS THAT ONLY MEN CAN JOIN…. AND THAT NO WOMEN HAVE ASKED TO JOIN….EVER…..OK, BUT YOU CAN’T APPLY OR ASK TO JOIN….YOU HAVE TO BE NOMINATED IN SECRET AND HAVE 2/3 VOTE FOR ACCEPTANCE…..hummmmm
PROVE IT……..I AM SUPPORTING DEBRA DURDEN AND PEPE PIERCE IN THEIR BID TO JOIN THE JEEP POSSE AS THEIR FIRST FEMALE MEMBERS!
You can find the Agenda HERE, County manager Austin Osborn’s Summary HERE, and the recording HERE. Commissioner Carmona’s post was not available at the time of this post. I will post it when it arrives.
The meeting was very procedural and you can get the detail in Austin’s report. I will just focus on a few key items.
During staff updates, Austin said that they were in the process of making some more parking available at the Freight Depot in time for the Camel Races. The County now owns that property and will be pulling together a task force to plan and implement the needed improvements to the property.
Austin also mentioned that he will be working with Linda Ritter, outside consultant, for the County Strategic Plan. Lastly, he said that he had been dealing with a public records request that totaled 52 hours to compile
Later in the meeting, Sam Toll, editor of The Storey Teller Online said that when he submits a Public Records request that it stipulates that if it will take more than 30 minutes to call him so he can arrange for a different method of acquisition. He asked Austin if it was his request that caused this amount of time and that if it was then they needed to talk. Austin did not reply
SIDENOTE– I’ve been told that there are at least two people who are responsible for the majority of these requests. They have embroiled the county is some legal action. Sam Toll is not one of them and neither am I.
As mentioned in a previous report the county has been in negotiations with Waste Management as well as with propane and diesel companies to get better prices and terms for service primarily for the county’s use but also for some residential use.
The Diesel contract was approved with Carson Valley Oil for the County’s properties and vehicles.
The Waste Management contract is still ongoing but there are added items such as a recycling station in the Highlands, improvements to the transfer station in town and the use of the Dayton transfer station for our Mark Twain residents.
The propane contract approval with Ferrellgas was moved to the next Commission meeting. If approved ALL Storey County residents as well as the County and its employees will lock in lower rates.
During public comment, I thanked the Commission for doing these negotiations on behalf of and for the benefit of Storey County residents in some cases. I then asked why there was no negotiated rate with the diesel provider for residents. I for one have a diesel generator which I use a lot in the winter and I know many of my neighbors in the Highlands have them too. I have to think that VC, as well as Mark Twain, may have need of diesel as well. The answer to this was that they just hadn’t thought of it. They were merely continuing what was already in place. Mike Northam, the project manager for this effort told me later that he will see if he can still get a discount for residents outside the contract. No guarantee but he’ll try.
I’m going to skip to Public comment from the end of the meeting now so that this comment doesn’t get buried once I go into the Posse lease.
Resident Debra Durden got up to alert the Commission on the speeding that goes on on Washington street in VC by locals mostly, many of them underage. She noted that no one can see the 20 mph speed signs since they are not clearly visible. She requests that more be put up. She noted that many of the speeders are on ATV’s which don’t belong on the streets.
Additionally, she said that she has stopped and talked to some of the speeders only to be treated very rudely. She has gone to their parents who don’t seem to care. She has seen them run over quail and frighten horses, in particular foals who can’t deal with it.
Her other issue was that of barking dogs left outside to bark. She said that dogs do bark but that they should be brought in.
Next up was the Jeep Posse 99-year lease for the Ice House.
SIDENOTE-First some background.
The Jeep Posse incorporated in 1970. It was started as a search and rescue group and was attached to the Storey County Sheriffs Office. They started occupying the Ice House on Toll Road about 60 years ago. They use that property to hold their meetings as well as do fundraisers for their projects and allow others to use it to practice shooting, archery and other things.
In 1992 they got a 99-year lease from the county for $1 per year. The Posse also receives funds from the county to support their organization.
The Ice House is an historic building since it was used in times past to store ice hence its name. During the time that the Jeep Posse has occupied the Ice House they have had to make many repairs and at this point the Ice House needs substantial repairs. The Jeep Posse wanted to ensure that the 99-year lease was solid before they invested any more time and money in its renovation.
The 1992 lease payment receipt HERE is vague and so the County redid the lease (in the packet) with all of the proper language in it still utilizing the original terms of time and payment.
It is not unusual for the county to lease property to the local non-profits. The County owns the Fourth Ward school, St. Mary’s Art Center, Pipers , both buildings which house the North and South Senior Centers as well as others. They lease them to the 501 (c) 3 organizations who run those organizations also at a nominal price. Those organizations are responsible for ensuring building maintenance.
Back to the meeting…..
During the discussion on the lease it was brought up by both ADA Loomis and County Manager Austin Osborn that a lease existed but that it needed to be brought into compliance with the format and protections of all other leases so that this was mostly an administrative housekeeping issue not the granting of anything new.
During public comment, both Bum and Rollie Hess got up to describe the issues with the building, its need for extensive repairs and the need to ensure that the lease is solid before they begin. Rollie also described the many things that the Posse is involved in which included up to $5000 in scholarships to local high school students each year totaling about $50-60k over the years. He said that 90% of these were to students who were not related to Posse members. He said that the Posse contributes and donates money and help to other organizations and the Ice House property is used by numerous organizations who use it for target practice, archery, qualifying for CCW and they hold their annual fundraiser at the Ice House.
Bum also stated “yeah we drink but we’re not a drinking club” and “some people call us the good ole boys…whatever that means but I guess I’m proud of it”
During public comment, I got up to point out some missing language in the new Lease as well as to question why the county would do business with and give public funds and property to an organization which discriminates against women in its membership practices. That while the Clampers is men only, as is their right, they don’t take public money for their operations. The Eagles also don’t take public money, used to be male only and have entered the 21st century allowing women members. I stated that the Posse’s exclusion of women members isn’t something that public money should support.
VC Resident Debra Durden got up to say that it was nonsense that it is only for male members since no women have applied.
Pepe Pierson got up to say that she would like to apply for membership in the Jeep Posse
Casey Kelley, Jeep Posse President said that there was nothing in the bylaws that states that women are excluded from membership
Sam Toll got up to say that the Clampers and Eagles own their own buildings without county funds and rather than a lease why doesn’t the county just sell the Ice House outright at a nominal charge to the Posse. He noted the lack of transparency over the years on their financials (990’s), practices, activities, and membership. He noted that the Jeep Posse is the only non-profit that the county supports that does not have a Board of Directors which oversees their operations.
Sam further questioned the source of funding for the Posse from the cell towers and suggested that the lease only cover the Ice House and not the property that the cell towers occupy. Former County Manager Pat Whitten had told Sam several meetings ago that the revenue from the two new cell towers, which were on leased Posse property, were to be shared with the Jeep Posse. During Sam’s public comment in this meeting Commission Chair, Marshall McBride said that Sam was off track on this question but that the Posse gets it’s funding from County block grants, not the cell towers, just like the other non-profits that the county supports.
Sams last comment was that selling the Ice House to the Posse and then letting them raise their own funds like the Eagles and Clampers do would be a better solution to the use of public funds. That the Posse’s block grant monies would go much further in terms of services if given to Community Chest where we know that Eric Shoen can take a nickel and make it worth $100 worth of services.
The Commission voted unanimously to approve the reworked Jeep Posse lease.
SIDENOTE – Wow…so much to unpack here….First of all I agree with Sam Toll that the county should just sell the Ice House to the Posse and stop funding them directly . Let the Posse get grants and other funding to support their activities. All of the other organizations do this. With no public funds supporting them if they want to remain all male membership and do good deeds they can do so with no complaining from me!
But a sale is not likely to happen.
There are MANY other organizations and events who also do a lot for this community and do not receive public funding to do it. The Eagles, Clampers, Silver Barrons, VC Motor Cycle Marathon , Mustang Cares and many, many more. Many individual residents do a great deal for the county…with no thought of asking for County money to do it.
To be clear, I have nothing against the Jeep Posse per se….However, I object to the lack of transparency and downright obfuscation by both the county and the Posse on its financials and practices as well as the outright discrimination against women for full voting membership. I object to the county giving them public monies given these issues.
So why the objections by me and many others? It is longstanding and altho some of the initial issues may have been rectified the overall practices and lack of transparency has not.
In 2013-2014 I, as well as other residents, began to question the county’s financial support of the Jeep Posse.
We had heard numerous comments and complaints from residents which ranged from “it’s just a drinking club for county officials” to “ they just give the money to themselves or their own children” to “only men can join”. I found that there was some evidence supporting these complaints.
I began to question the commissioners in the meetings at that time during the budget hearings and objected to the financial support as early as April 2013. They had a line item giving the Posse funding in the Community Services budget at the time…( remember this fact for later).
I made a public records request at the time and got the following documents:
-1970 Articles of Incorporation
-2012 Financial Audit
The Financial Audit is interesting since it notes that there is little accountability, the majority of funds being spent on the fundraiser with a lot of that being alcohol. Additionally, they were not able to account for the money raised. The Scholarship form clearly states that the children of the Posse will get first consideration. Also, two relative children of a Posse member who did not go to school in Storey County each got scholarships. Sending public money out of the county didn’t make sense to me.
One of the other residents, Kay Dean did substantial work and began to dig into the Jeep Posse’s financials and practices. A lot happened between April 2013 and April 2014 and it culminated in a full mustering of the Jeep Posse at the April 18, 2014 Commission Meeting.
Kay Dean essentially summarized the issues with the Posse …here are a few :
1. There is no written lease in Storey County’s records for this property to the Posse.
2. A document from 1992 acknowledging receipt of $99 for 99 years rent has errors as it specifies a 79 year period, not 99 years. No lease is attached, there is only a acknowledgement of receipt of money.
3. The Jeep Posse is not a 501 (c) 3. It is a Nevada non-profit only.
4. Our County Comptroller has never issued a 1099 for these monies paid to the Jeep Posse, in violation of federal statutes. He is also a member of this private Posse group. When I questioned him regarding this on May 2nd, he told me that it was their money, thus he didn’t need to give them a 1099! Nor has he backup withheld.
5. The Jeep Posse has never filed a federal tax return. Since 2006, Storey County alone has paid them over $68,500. The Posse also fundraises each year, usually accumulating upwards of $10,000 annually. And there is the FMV of the property they “lease” also.
6. The cell phone contracts are all between Storey County and the cell phone providers. The Jeep Posse is never mentioned as having a lease to the entire property parcel in any of these contracts, as our former sheriff and Jeep Posse member, Jim Miller, stated is the case in the April 15, 2014 Commission Meeting. Mr. Miller also stated that ALL the cell phone revenue should be given to the Jeep Posse, but half of the revenue was verbally offered to Storey County to do all the paperwork. If this is true, Storey County has shorted the Posse over $50,000 since 2004, when Storey County began receiving this revenue.
As to financials and why all of this is still relevant today…The county’s answer as to the source of their funds has changed several times over the years and even just THIS year. During the Jeep Posse muster at the April 18, 2014 Commission meeting Jim Miller stated that the Posse was responsible for bringing in the cell tower and that it was their money not PUBLIC money. He also said that they were not a 501 (c) 3…which we were led to believe that they were.
The Commissioners at that meeting unanimously supported the Jeep Posse, the revenue sharing arrangement and how the Posse operated.
Below is a headline and a quote from one of the 2014 articles:
Miller says Jeep Posse giving half of lease monies to county
to process paperwork
Jeep Posse has never applied for a 501 c 3 tax exemption. We do not claim these donations can be written off of anyone’s taxes. We are not and have never been delinquent in paying taxes. The organization does not have any filing requirements with the federal government. The Posse does pay sales tax on purchases made. The Jeep Posse meets all state requirements and is a domestic non- profit organization registered annually with the State of nevada.
In subsequent Commission budget meetings the Posse’s budget line item disappeared out of the Community Services budget and was moved elsewhere…either into the Pat Whitten budget or the IT/Services budget. A few years later they showed back up in Community Services where they have been for a couple of years.
HERE is the revenue recap of monies to the Posse thru 4/4 2014
Currently as to financials it’s a bit confused. Forgetting about what Miller said in 2014 for a minute….in the February 5, 2019 Commission meeting the question of the “revenue sharing” with the Jeep Posse came up during the SUP discussion for the cell towers. Sam Toll asked Pat Whitten if the monies from the two new cell towers was going to be split between the Posse and the County and Whitten said probably half and half.
In this current Commission meeting when asked if the Posse gets revenue from the cell towers Commission Chair Marshal McBride said that they don’t get revenue from the cell towers that they get block grants from Community Services. Hummmmm….thats not what Pat said only a couple of months earlier.
So…….which is it? Direct public funding thru block-grants? Cell tower revenue share? Was Pat right? Was Marshall right? Why the change in the revenue story?
As to practices…they still have no women members, and despite the Posse President getting up during this meeting to say that the Posse by-laws don’t have anything in them that says men only….their practice says otherwise.
So there you have it….nothing has really changed with the original issues with the Posse from 2013-2014…lack of transparency, and discriminatory practices. Which is OK with me as long as they do not receive money or assets from the public coffers.
If they continue to get public money then they need to open up their membership to everyone, open their books to the public, submit to Financial audits like the other non-profits and while the entire membership list may not have to be public…all county employees who are members should be made public.
And before someone says that I am living in the past and we need to move on…..uh…..the situation we have today is what has moved on from the past…nothing has essentially changed. These things were ignored in 2014 and the same issues exist today. Apparently “moving on” in Storey County government means ignore it. This form of “moving on” goes on with more than the Jeep Posse issues. We’ll save that for another day.
History is always there ….waiting to be heard….sometimes inconvenient as hell when it is. It created the present and isn’t erased because the current players say to move on…..criminals would love for that to be the case….get a grip.