in brief

ABSENCE UNEXPLAINED

CSN police chief returns to duty

The College of Southern Nevada’s police chief is back on duty after a six-week absence that remains unexplained.

Chief Sandy Seda was placed on paid administrative leave Dec. 12. College officials would not comment on why Seda was on leave, saying it was a personnel matter.

CSN President Michael Richards has said Seda’s situation was not directly related to the indictment of Bob Gilbert, the college’s facilities manager, or three of his deputies. An investigation by the attorney general’s office contends that Gilbert used CSN equipment and employees to build his house. All involved have pleaded not guilty.

During Seda’s leave, Deputy Chief Daniel Bennett served as interim chief. Seda was hired in 2002 and earns $120,000 annually.

$52.6 MILLION AWARDED

County won’t fight arbitration decision

Clark County will not fight a recent arbitration decision ordering it to pay $52.6 million to AF Construction, the contractor that built the Regional Justice Center.

“Our position is that the arbitrators are way off the mark, but it’s not worth risking more taxpayer money to challenge it,” county spokesman Erik Pappa said Monday. “No matter how wrong the arbitrators are, the legal standard is such that it’s almost impossible to win on appeal.”

However, the county will challenge the way $3.7 million in interest was calculated.

The contractor and the county had been at odds over the Regional Justice Center, which opened in 2005 — four years late and millions of dollars over budget. The county blamed the contractor, which countersued, alleging defamation and financial hardship because of withheld payments.

After arbitration, the county was ordered to pay $39 million in damages and $13.6 million in total interest.

The award will come from the county’s capital projects fund, Pappa said.

LAS VEGAS POLICE

Orthodox Jew wins discrimination case

A Las Vegas police detective was awarded a $350,000 settlement from his employer after claiming he was experiencing religious discrimination on the job.

Steven Riback, an observant Orthodox Jew, was approved for the sum Monday by the Metropolitan Police Committee on Fiscal Affairs.

Riback filed a federal lawsuit in August 2007 seeking an injunction to prohibit Metropolitan Police Department officials from disciplining him for wearing either a short beard or yarmulke at work.

Lawyers on both sides of the debate reached the settlement after a U.S. District judge concluded that the department’s no-beard policy violated Riback’s First Amendment right of religious freedom.

Riback, who works in the office of quality assurance, is a 10-year veteran of the department. The position does not require him to wear a uniform.

Riback will be able to wear a department-approved baseball cap to work. If he chooses to wear a yarmulke underneath the cap, he is allowed if the skullcap is not visible.

Liesl Freedman, general counsel for the department, said Riback will be paid in a lump sum. It is unclear how much of the settlement will be awarded to the detective.

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