Saturday, November 12, 2011

Does Southern Nevada Give Government a Bad Name?

Coolican is back... But this time, he wrote something that troubles me in a wholly different way.

Quail Hollow Farm in Overton had — or tried to have, anyway — a “farm-to-table” dinner last month. This is when a chef takes vegetables and freshly butchered meats and serves them up right there at the farm to fancy food types — “locavores” — who like their food really fresh. Sounds pretty great, right?

Well, someone at the Southern Nevada Health District saw an ad for the event and decided to get on the case.

The health department called farm owners Laura and Monte Bledsoe and said they’d need a special-use permit because it was a “public” event. They complied, or tried to at least.

The night of the event, the guests arrived at the farm, and so did the food inspector. Here were the issues, according to Laura Bledsoe: Some prepared food packages had no labels; some of the meat was not USDA certified; some food was prepared in advance off-site and not up to proper temperature; vegetables were declared unfit; and there were no receipts for food.

(Um, do you not get the whole farm-to-table thing?)

The Bledsoes asked the inspector if they could make the meal a private event, thereby eliminating the health department’s jurisdiction. A church, for instance, can have a pancake breakfast for its congregants, without health department oversight. And for locavores, this meal was to be something like a religious experience.


In the end, the health inspector demanded that bleach be poured on the food, including vegetables, to ensure it was not consumed. Bleach really ruins a meal, I gotta tell you.

Pouring bleach on fresh food? Seriously? Bleach on food that literally came right from that very farm?

Why? Why would they do that? Why ruin good food like that?

Apparently for the Southern Nevada Health District, that food wasn't really "good". Really? So fresh produce from the farm isn't "good", but horrid gas station junk "food" that some in our inner cities have to call their "groceries" is?

What's wrong with this picture?

Honestly, I'm still scratching my head. And I honestly have to ask (again) why Southern Nevada is out to give government a bad name. This is something that's definitely been brewing since G-Sting. And between Pat Mulroy's desired SNWA water grab, District Attorney David Roger's "retirement" from there to the Las Vegas Metro Police Union, the continuing controversy over "privileged gaming" and Dotty's, and so much more that isn't at the top of my head, the public sector here in Southern Nevada has been getting a whole lot of black eyes lately.

There is most definitely a role for the public sector here. That should NOT be up for debate. However I fear that because of all the years of corruption followed by all the strange instances of incompetence, our uneven system of local regulations is clouding Southern Nevadans' view of government. And unfortunately, it makes the "tea party" message of "NO BIG GUV'MINT!!!" sound that much more appealing (when it would devastate our society if implemented). Why is it so hard to ask Metro not to beat up and gun down law abiding citizens? But why is it so easy for Southern Nevada Health District to conduct an amazing(ly stupid and ridiculous!) sting operation on a local farm? Our government should be providing essential services, like public safety, park recreation, and sound municipal planning. It shouldn't be pouring bleach on family farms' food and shooting innocent citizens while offering sweetheart deals to casinos and developers that fill campaign coffers the most.

We in Southern Nevada have to ask ourselves what went wrong, and what we can do to fix it. And then, we have to hold our local governments accountable for what's wrong until they make it right. It should really be as simple as that. But without a doubt, the public sector here in Southern Nevada needs to be rethought, reformed, and restored after a decade of decay.

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