For the better part of three days, Assemblyman Steven Brooks claimed to be in such poor physical and mental health that he needed a leave of absence from the Legislature - fully paid, of course. Yet he was well enough to be sworn into office, participate in Monday's formal opening of the 2013 session and actively negotiate the terms of that leave, down to the specific number of days.
When he didn't get the deal he wanted, he decided he was well enough to do his elected job after all. But not well enough to take questions from the press.
Mr. Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, has provided enough distraction for an entire 120-day session, let alone three days. His arrest last month on suspicion of threatening Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick and a subsequent mental health meltdown were proof enough that he isn't capable of representing the residents of District 17.
Early Tuesday, Mr. Brooks' lawyer said a deal was in place to grant him medical leave of up to 60 days - a break that would cover half the regular session and amount to nonfeasance. But no deal had been signed by Mr. Brooks and Ms. Kirkpatrick by Tuesday afternoon.
That's when he announced he would take no leave and get to work. Not only had Mr. Brooks miraculously recovered, he was freshly committed to serving the constituents he had tried to ditch - on their dime.
Go home, Mr. Brooks. You're sick and you can't do your job. Whether you stick around or get anyone's written permission to leave Carson City won't change that.
Mr. Brooks should have followed the lead of former Assemblywoman April Mastroluca, D-Henderson. Ms. Mastroluca campaigned hard last year and won re-election to a third term. Then her personal circumstances changed. She didn't seek special treatment. Her constituents deserved better. So she resigned Nov. 29, citing "personal family reasons," in plenty of time to have an adequate replacement appointed.
The losers here are the residents of Assembly District 17, which is bordered roughly by Clayton Street to the west, Lamb Boulevard to the east, Craig Road to the south and acreage north of the Las Vegas Beltway. Who will be their voice in Carson City?
If Mr. Brooks' fellow lawmakers can't persuade him into resigning - and it doesn't look like they can - they need to do much more than investigate his conduct and competency through a select committee. They should reach out to District 17 to introduce themselves to voters and their concerns. These taxpayers deserve to meet someone they can call or correspond with as various bills make their way through committee hearings and votes. Mr. Brooks clearly isn't capable of such representation.
Especially if Mr. Brooks won't quit, the residents of District 17 need to be able to count on someone else to conduct their business in Carson City.