Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Clark County... WTF?!

Yesterday, I was shocked. And I wasn't the only one. Even Ralston was appalled.

So what actually happened? In case you can't see the above video, let me give you a quick synopsis.

Steve Sisolak wanted to be Clark County Commission Chair. And he knew 3 of his Commission colleagues (outgoing Chair Susan Brager, Larry Brown, and Mary Beth Scow) agreed.

However, Tom Collins also wanted to be Chair. He figured he had 2 more votes in his corner (Lawrence Weekly and Chris Giunchigliani), but Giunchigliani was still out of town and Collins needed more time to round up the extra vote he needed to get that Chair.

Here's where it starts getting nasty. When Tom Collins tried to delay the vote for Chair by mentioning Chris Giunchigliani's absence, Susan Brager quickly shot him down and claimed Giunchigliani never requested a postponement! With that out of the way, Steve Sisolak was then elected as the new Commission Chair.

But wait, there's more! The Commissioners present even squabbled over their seats! Larry Brown no longer desired to sit between Tom Collins and Chris Giunchigliani, so he asked to move. Yet right after Brown made his request, Lawrence Weekly refused to change his seat! And Tom Collins followed suit!

I'm not even kidding here. So what happened? Jon Ralston has an idea.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks. This really happened at a public meeting of the most powerful elected body in Nevada.

Beyond the immature pyrotechnics, here’s the serious conclusion: This is a bitterly divided board, one of the most in memory. And it’s personal. If Giunchigliani had been there, it would have been 4-3 on many votes, including for the chairmanship, perhaps, and certainly on one at the end on the coroner’s inquest system.

But the Sisolak-Brown faction won that one, too, with only Weekly and Collins opposing a proposal put forward by the new chairman and his lieutenant that abolishes the current coroner’s inquest system and replaces it with one derided by critics who say it is not nearly as transparent.

Certainly not as transparent as the power play executed by Sisolak and Brown on Monday, which gave us a window into a board that someone will soon be calling The Silly Septet.

So there are actually some serious policy disagreements behind the personal squabbles. In particular, there is a sharp divide on issues like reforming Metro (Police) and privatizing UMC. Still, that was some awfully juvenile behavior on display at Clark County HQ yesterday.

And this has folks asking what's next over there. Last year, there was a renewed focus on the problems facing city governments in Southern Nevada. Will 2013 be the year when Clark County retakes center stage?

There's actually another dynamic behind what happened yesterday. Rumors abound on the political future for Steve Sisolak. Will he run for Governor next year? Will he run for another high office? So is he using his new Chairmanship of the Clark County Commission as a launch pad for higher office?

And does Tom Collins resent that? Or is his animosity towards Sisolak mostly rooted in policy disagreements? Or may it be a combination of both? And is it really a coincidence that Collins seems to have the support of the more progressive Commissioners while the moderates and conservatives are coalescing behind Sisolak?

Whatever the case, it looks like we'll all need to buckle up... Because Clark County HQ will be in for quite the bumpy ride this year.

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