Last week Storey County announced that it had received $200,000 CARES ACT funding thru the National Association of Counties Organization (NACO) to which it belongs. The money is for small business relief. It’s a good thing since many businesses in the rurals are VERY small and basically didn’t get access to the many other types of emergency funding available to small business.
I was happy to see this. I know firsthand that many if not most of our C Street merchants and other small businesses didn’t get much help and have been struggling to make it.
Then an article came out from the RGJ stating that the Mustang Ranch, located in Storey County and owned by Storey County Commissioner Lance Gilman, was deemed to be eligible to receive funds out of that $200k CARES ACT fund. It was designated a “small business” by Austin Osborn the County Manager. I scratched my exploding head.
A couple of quotes and my commentary from that article:
“The Mustang Ranch is a legal business in the county and the state,” Storey County Manager Austin Osborne said in an email. “This business is subject to the same requirements as all other businesses which may be eligible for COVID assistance.”
Austin Osborn singlehandedly decided that the Mustang with at least $20 million in revenues ( based on Gilman’s statement) was a small business. Exactly what metrics did he use?
The SBA and the IRS actually have multiple “small business” definitions depending on the industry. Consequently, the employee count and revenues can be different in one industry to qualify as a small business than in another industry. The SBA uses a calculator to determine if a business is or is not eligible to qualify as a small business based on NAIC codes.
If you plug entertainment into the calculator it gives you several options…none actually fit the brothel so just pick other and plugin $20 Million dollars as the three-year average and you get “ NO…not eligible as a small business”. The annual revenue ceiling looks to be $8 million to qualify…the Mustang looks to be $20 million…..per Gilman’s own words.
The Brothel didn’t qualify for any of the previous federal CARES loans since it is “adult entertainment “. Storey County is THE ONLY COUNTY who deemed its brothel as eligible to receive these funds..the other counties with brothels did not allow it. I wonder why? Only Storey County has a brothel owner as Commissioner …does that have something to do with it?
(Gilman)”estimates he’s lost more than $1 million in operating expenses since the state-mandated brothel closure and more than $10 million in revenue.
“If there’s help, it’s going to be a drop in the bucket. We’re going to put it toward surviving,” he said. “We’re in the same plight as anybody else. We have to be a standing business when, finally, the administration decides they can open the state.”
Lance saying that whatever he got would be a “drop in the bucket” but he’d take it. This surprised me. If it is a drop in the bucket…why take it? There is little money to go around…to the little guys his “drop in the bucket” is a lot of money. For someone who say’s he cares about the community this is pretty tone-deaf to me.
I along with Sam Toll ( candidate for Storey County Commissioner running against Clay Mitchell) and Phillip Hilton ( Candidate for Storey County Commissioner running against incumbent Gilman) as well as other residents voiced our opposition to the Mustang getting these funds on several Facebook and other community chat boards. There were no comments from candidate Clay Mitchell.
A few days later, another article comes out from the LV Review-Journal about the Brothel being deemed eligible for the CARES ACT money. It had pretty much the same facts as the prior one but a few more quotes. Here are a few quotes and my commentary from that article:
Gilman, who also oversees Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, wouldn’t confirm whether he intends to apply but said that if he did, it’s very likely the money would go right back to the county, noting that he donated $2,500 of the $10,000 he has pledged to Storey County’s school system Thursday.
“I love the fact that we are respected as a business in that county and by God, they stand up tall for us,” he said. “I don’t know how to tell you but bottom line I have no idea how the grant application process works, but if the money came, I’d just send it back to the county who needs it.”
If he applies and gets the money then turns around and gives it back …how is that charity? Again, why take it at all? In the prior article, he said he’d take it…what changed?
Owner Lance Gilman, a Storey County commissioner, said the news took him by surprise.
“I’m really grateful that Storey County thought enough of us to put us on the list,” he said. “It certainly wasn’t up to me, and I didn’t even know how it evolved.”
This one astonishes me…..ASTONISHES ME…..How could he not know that this was coming? During County Manager Austin Osborne’s spectacular and accolade ridden performance review a few months ago Lance said that he met with Austin DAILY and that there was nothing that he was not apprised of by him….How could Austin not tell him? Did Austin suddenly decide to go rogue? Did he do it as a surprise like a birthday party? How odd.
Storey was the only county to allow brothels — a bold move considering other small-business grants and even loans such as the federal Paycheck Protection Program do not allow adult-oriented businesses to qualify.
Really… A BOLD MOVE…or not….there are many things that go on in Storey County that are considered normal that elsewhere are unnatural acts…really ….people wonder about our definition of “conflict of interest”. Really…they do.
“It’s simple — the brothels are a legal business in the state of Nevada and in Storey County,” Storey County Manager Austin Osborne said. “The purpose of this grant is to provide CARES assistance to all small business.”
Again I ask, at a $20 million dollar run rate….“small” by what standard Austin???
Well…not to be outdone…the AP ran another article about the Mustang. Below are more quotes and my commentary:
Gilman did not return a message left by The Associated Press.
Osborne did not return messages from The Associated Press.
Could be that they were busy. Could be that there was nowhere to shift this story. Who knows.
I still want to know what Austin’s metric is for deciding that the Mustang is a small business and if he had none or got it wrong I want to know how it is that he was such a flawless employee in his last review.
I still want to know how it is that Lance didn’t know this was coming since he speaks to Austin every day.
I still want to know how you can claim charity when you give back the money you get from the County.
Most importantly I want to know how Lance continues to come out ahead on these sweet deals from the county….