Clark County voters, it’s up to you. Again.
In the past, you’ve risen to the occasion, dumping the bribe-taking commissioners ensnared in Operation G-sting, long before the law caught up to them and sent them to prison. It was undoubtedly the fear of your ballot-box verdict that chased eventual G-sting bagman Lance Malone off the commission before his perfidy was consummated, too.
Well, we need your discernment again. And soon.
It seems Las Vegas Township Constable John Bonaventura has decided to run for the Clark County Commission, for the District G seat currently held by Mary Beth Scow. Because both are Democrats, they will meet in the June 10 primary election.
Originally, Bonaventura tried to file for re-election, but he was denied on the grounds that the County Commission (thanks to his outrageous antics in office) voted to do away with his office. That’s right: The all-Democrat County Commission decided to shrink the size of government just a tad by erasing an entire agency.
Scow told the Review-Journal’s Ben Botkin that “I kind of feel like this might be a revenge filing.” And she’s got good reasons for believing that. Said Bonaventura: “She voted to abolish the constable’s office. If she would not have voted to abolish the constable’s office, I might not have run against her.”
And again: “They’re going to take our jobs. We’re going to try to take their jobs and see how they like it.”
Case closed. It’s a revenge filing all right.
But the voters should know that Scow and the rest of the commission had some very good reasons for taking Bonaventura’s job. His soon-to-be-former employees shouldn’t blame the commission as much as their leader. Outside of felons convicted of violent crimes, he’s proved again and again he’s the last man in Clark County who should ever be given police powers, a badge and a gun.
Trouble started with the filming of a profanity-ridden reality TV pilot about his office (cover story: it was a “training video”). But it turns out, the real reality show was just beginning.
Allegations of sexual harassment — some against Bonaventura himself — and improper discipline and termination of employees have dogged the office for months.
When the insurance company that underwrites the constable’s office moved to settle a wrongful termination lawsuit with two former employees, Bonaventura moved to withdraw the claim instead of pay up and agree to the terms of a settlement.
After Bonaventura decided to sue his fellow constables, who were serving court papers and doing other business in the Las Vegas Township, the county refused to pay for legal support. So Bonaventura deputized two lawyers as constables so he could pursue the court case, and he engaged in some creative accounting to prevent the county’s managers from interfering in his efforts to pay them. (He lost the case; a three-judge panel of the Nevada Supreme Court ruled against him in November. Of course, Bonaventura vowed to fight on, because being elected means never having to say you’re sorry.)
He’s fought with the county over the financial management of his office, refusing to comply with perfectly reasonable requests for information and oversight.
And, of course, he’s suing to prevent the commission from exercising its authority to eliminate his office.
Bonaventura is certainly good for members of the State Bar, and he’s good for those of us in the Fourth Estate. Litigious, petulant man-children often are. But voters should act in their own interests and the interests of good government and put an end to the sorry reign of errors before Bonaventura’s real-life reality show has harmful consequences.
Oh, and while you’re at it, voters, don’t forget that constable employee Lou Toomin is running against District E Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani in the Democratic primary as well. It’s probably a good idea to show him the door, too.
You’ve done a good job discerning which problem children need a timeout before, voters. We need you to step up again.
Steve Sebelius is a Las Vegas Review-Journal political columnist who blogs at SlashPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702-387-5276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.