NOW EVERYONE KNOWS THE GRITTY DETAILS OF SHAWN MAHAN’S SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BUT DON’T KNOW WHY THEY SHOULD KNOW OR EVEN CARE AT THIS POINT. THE COMMISSIONERS ONCE AGAIN HAD TO EXPLAIN WHY THEY DENIED BUSINESS AND LIQUOR LICENSES TO VINCE MALFITANO AND TRI CONTINUES TO EXERT ITS INFLUENCE THRU ANOTHER COUNTY POSITION HELD BY ONE OF ITS EMPLOYEES WHO WILL HAVE TO REPEATEDLY RECUSE HIMSELF OR MISS MEETINGS.
By Nicole Barde
The amended agenda for the meeting and meeting packet looked like it would be a long meeting but it was done pretty quickly. County Manager Pat Whitten’s summary of the meeting can be found HERE
There were few staff updates with Hugh Gallagher, County controller, stating that the next commission meeting would include the 2nd quarter financial updates and review as well as the 2015 audit review. No word on rolling back property taxes yet. Hope he’s doing the analysis as promised in the last meeting. Shaun Griffin, Community Chest director, stated that they were ready to do the phase two proposal for the community center and he was pretty sure they’d get it. Dean Haymore, Community Development director, announced that NDOT had signed the contract for USA Parkway and will be using drones as part of the work….but not over Tesla since its airspace apparently is off limits. Fueling company Maverick will be adding to its acreage to add a truck stop and Panasonic has permitting for approximately $50 million in assets. Good news all around.
The Board comments were equally brief. Marshall McBride, Commission Chair, opened with a tribute to Bill Fain who recently passed. Lance Gilman, Commission vice Chair, pointed out that of the 19 business licenses approved for first reading in the consent agenda, 13 were Panasonic contractors which are a result of the Tesla deal. Jack McGuffey, Commissioner, commented that he was happy to see VC growing its parking capacity, improving the Senior Center in VC and the community center in Mark Twain. He noted that our county is the most generous county in terms of donations and support shown by its citizens and government.
Items 13 and 14 on the agenda was a requirement, made by the presiding judge in the Malfitano hearing , that the Commission restate its reasons for the denial of the business and liquor licenses for the Bonanza and the Delta saloons. The agenda packet contains the meeting transcript of those decisions as well as the court order. Marshall McBride restated that the decision for denying the business license for the Bonanza was primarily due to Gary Hames’ , Fire Chief, report that the Bonanza had failed to meet the required sprinkler system repairs as of the time of the meeting to approve the application and that the building was deemed unsafe for operation as a result. Thus no occupancy was granted. Lance and Jack said they had nothing to add to Marshall’s statement.
Public comment was allowed and the first to speak was Nick Guerra, owner of several VC properties, who made the comment that he would like to see the town prosper and has concerns about that with both the Bonanza and Delta essentially closed. He said that he would like to see both businesses open for the sake of the community and have the jobs back. He said he hopes that everyone can work together to come up with a solution.
Next to speak was Mr. Malfitano’s attorney who stated that there had been an agreement in place with the fire department for the repair of the sprinklers and that substantial progress had been made. His statement was abruptly cut short by Anne Langer, District Attorney, who implied his comments were inappropriate and were more appropriately part of his “brief”. He then left the podium. It wasn’t obvious to me why he was not allowed to finish his statement.
Marshall stated that the denial of the liquor license for the Delta was based on the county ordinance which states that a company needs to show financial probity and viability. That once the findings of the gaming commission investigating Malfitano’s finances were made public and Marshall and the other commissioners saw that he did not meet the requirements of the ordinance they denied him the liquor license. Marshall went on to say that Malfitano also omitted several items on his gaming application such as lawsuits, liens, and foreclosures and that his cash flow was an issue. Lance reiterated that Malfitano did not meet the county ordinance, and that his failure to disclose various items on his gaming application regarding employment and litigation issues contributed to the license denial. That he took all things into consideration when making his decision. Jack concurred with Marshall and Lance.
And so it goes. Ball in Malfitano’s court.
Agenda Item 15 was the appointments to serve on various State, County and Regional Boards. There are 20 boards and a mixture of county employees and citizens serve. For the most part the majority of the players were reappointed and it was fairly procedural with the exception of two appointments. It is recommended that Marshall McBride serve as an alternate to Lance Gilman for the VCTC Board. Pat Whitten said that it was to cover for Lance when he gets called away on business. This appointment is approved subject to legal review.
Board Number 20, Washoe-Storey Conservation District, which has Austin Osborn with Jason VanHavel as alternate, had a public comment from a member of Washoe County on that board. He stated that they would like to have an active and involved appointee to this board. That the current appointee is basically passive, inactive and has no inputs. Someone like Bret Tyler would be good.
Pat Whitten tersely responded by saying that our involvement and input is commensurate with what we receive and that we have other priorities. Our appointment stands.
The next agenda item was the filling of 3 planning commission vacancies. John Herrington was reappointed as the “at-large” seat and Ron Englebrecht was reappointed to the Mark Twain seat. Bret Tyler the incumbent for the Lockwood seat was replaced by Kris Thompson, TRI and Lance Gilman employee. Lance recused himself from the vote since Kris works for him. Before the vote Pat Whitten stated that there had been two written public comments opposed to the appointment. He then stated that he had a discussion with Kris Thompson regarding any conflicts of interest that may arise and that he would make sure that Kris is educated on how to handle them. That although Bret had served the board well during his tenure that “sometimes change is good” and that you need to look at other possibilities. Pat stated that when he saw Kris’s extensive background and his knowledge of TRI he saw that it could greatly benefit the county. Jack concurred with Pat Whitten and he and Marshall voted Kris Thompson onto the planning commission.
Now we have yet another person who can not perform the full scope of the job due to conflicts of interests with TRI, the major player in the county.
The following agenda items were pushed out to future meetings: #19 ($238k for court parking lot), 20 (Business and liquor license for the Delta saloon /Tina Perkins) and #23 (zoning amendments for TRI)
Last but not least ….agenda item 23 “Action for possible confirmation of Shawn Mahan Settlement Agreement for $99,000 and other consideration arising out of the termination of his employment with the Storey County Sheriff’s Office. Discussion of the matter may include Board involvement in settlement cases in general.”
Lance Gilman immediately recused himself because both Shawn Mahan and his wife work for one of his companies.
I must say …..I was confused. Typically employee issues are confidential and dealt with under the “closed” portion of a commission meeting. This one was not.
In the real world the terms and conditions of these types of agreements are highly confidential and per the signed agreement neither party may disclose the details. In this case not only was a copy of the agreement available to the public in the meeting but it had been given to the Virginia City News to print presumably by Shawn Mahan himself.
The agreement had been signed in October of 2015 and typically the terms and conditions are already agreed to and approved prior to signing by both parties. Apparently Pat Whitten as the County Manager and Anne Langer as legal counsel overstepped their authority in that signing if they had to bring this to the commission after the fact in such a public manner.
I wish I could say that I understood what went on but I didn’t. DA Langer said something about needing to decide how to deal with the approval of these types of agreements/settlements in the future. Obviously there is more going on here than we’ve been told, as it should be. However, it is also clear that this was a clean-up or CYA activity.
The final agenda item was the approval of numerous business licenses. I just hope that all of them have been thoroughly investigated as to their financial probity and viability and that they are all guaranteed to be financial successes as a result.