At least one county commissioner wants to look at eliminating the office of the Las Vegas Township constable.
Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said Tuesday that she wants the issue to come before the board in the next few months, after Constable John Bonaventura again caused controversy when he deputized two lawyers and clashed with the comptroller when he tried to pay them.
"Do we really need to have a constable?" Giunchigliani said. "I don’t think we do."
It wouldn’t be the first time the county has eliminated the constable’s office in a cloud of controversy. In 1993, after Don Charleboix resigned after pleading guilty to two criminal charges stemming from his conduct in office, the county abolished the office and appointed someone else to fill his term.
But county officials needed legislative approval to make the change to an appointed constable permanent. When state lawmakers turned them down, they reinstated the office.
Aside from a period when the office was run by former Las Vegas police officer Robert "Bobby G." Gronauer, the constable has been under scrutiny since.
Commissioners on Tuesday heard from county Comptroller Jessica Colvin over her dispute with Bonaventura.
The constable last month made lawyers Spencer Judd and Robert Pool deputies with law enforcement powers, apparently to pay them for work that wasn’t approved by county officials. Officials earlier this year rejected his request to pay for them.
The county approved his first request to pay them. But then the Review-Journal published an article noting that the lawyers had been deputized and that they were probably not doing a deputy’s work: serving paperwork and evictions.
Colvin turned down the request after Bonaventura failed to show what kind of work the lawyers were doing for the office, and she forwarded it to the board for discussion.
Bonaventura disputed her decision, stating that he is an elected official and can hire anyone he chooses.
County Counsel Mary-Ann Miller said Bonaventura can hire whom he wants, but the county doesn’t have to pay them.
"There’s nothing in Nevada law that says if you’re an elected official you can do whatever you want to," Miller said.
She added that if Bonaventura could show that the lawyers were working as deputies, they could be paid.
Other commissioners praised Colvin for denying the payment and sending the issue to the board.
"We support you. You’re doing your due diligence," Giunchigliani said.
Bonaventura didn’t appear at Tuesday’s meeting.
"I’m disappointed that he’s not here today," Commissioner Lawrence Weekly said.
Commissioners didn’t take any action Tuesday.
A proposal to eliminate the constable would only add to Bonaventura’s woes. Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick said she will propose legislation that will rein in Nevada’s 14 constables when the Legislature meets in February.
Bonaventura’s two years in office have spawned controversies, including a roundly criticized foray into reality television, allegations of sexual harassment, jurisdictional disputes and hiring of deputies with questionable histories.
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at email@example.com or 702-405-9781.