County commissioner Brown still waiting for ethics panel ruling

Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown says he is not trying to be coy about avoiding public comments on the Las Vegas 51s’ pitch for a new publicly subsidized ballpark in Summerlin.

But Brown, who works for the Triple A minor league baseball club, said he does not want to create any conflict-of-issue problems with his dual roles of county commissioner and 51s’ paid employee who does community and fan relations work.

Brown said he is still waiting for legal guidance from the Nevada Commission on Ethics on whether he can vote and comment on any 51s issues that come before the Clark County Commission or the county in general.

“We are being proactive in asking for an opinion,” Brown said.

Brown said he made his request for legal guidance from the ethics agency last spring. The county attorney is still waiting to hear back, he said.

Caren Cafferata-Jenkins, executive director of the Nevada Commission on Ethics, said she cannot confirm or deny Brown’s request.

Brown needs that legal opinion, in part, because the new owners of the team want Clark County, the city of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority to band together and finance $65 million worth of bonds to pay for a new 51s ballpark next to Red Rock Resort in Summerlin.

If the 51s come to the county looking for public support, Brown said he needs to know whether he has to take a seat on the bench or whether he can engage in any potential public conversation and vote on the matter.

Brown recalled that when he served as a Las Vegas City Council member and was a member on the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority board, he was advised by city and LVCVA counsels to abstain from voting on a contract issue involving the LVCVA and the annual March Big League Weekend event at Cashman Field.

The LVCVA is the 51s’ landlord at Cashman Field, the team’s home ballpark just north of downtown Las Vegas.

Fellow Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said if Brown’s employer — the 51s baseball team — is going to ask the county for public support for a ballpark, it’s probably a good idea for Brown to step aside as a county commissioner on the ballpark public-policy debate.

“You probably should not participate,” Giunchigliani said.

Not much has happened on the 51s proposed ballpark since the new owners bought the team last year. Summerlin businessman Steve Mack, the public face of the new ownership group, said last year that he is meeting stakeholders in the ballpark funding request.

“We are working diligently forward,” Mack said.

But Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak and Giunchigliani said they have not heard from Mack or any 51s representative regarding the proposed ballpark.

Contact reporter Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter