Lawsuit threat gets no support

CARSON CITY — Tempers flared once again Wednesday between legislators and the governor’s administration staff members over who controls federal stimulus dollars.

Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, urged legislators to sue Gov. Jim Gibbons and let the Supreme Court decide whether the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee, not the governor, authorizes stimulus spending.

“There is only one place to go with this, and that is the Supreme Court of Nevada,” Coffin said.

He accused Gibbons of breaching state law by approving the spending of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars without securing the consent of the Interim Finance Committee.

The committee is a group of 21 legislators, currently mostly Democrats, that handles financial business for the Legislature when the entire 63-member Legislature is not in session.

Since an Aug. 3 hearing, Democratic legislators and Gibbons have been fighting over control of the state’s $2.2 billion appropriation in federal stimulus dollars. The matter is contentious, because the authority of the Interim Finance Committee to make any changes in state spending has never has been contested. Democrats want to maintain that authority.

Lynn Hettrick, Gibbons’ new deputy chief of staff, bristled at Coffin’s comments and warned that administration staff would not attend any meeting at which the governor is accused of being a lawbreaker.

“If you think this rises to the level of the Supreme Court, then take it there,” said Hettrick, a former Assembly co-speaker who was the Republican leader in the Assembly for more than a decade.

But Coffin found no backers for his lawsuit proposal, and Assemblyman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas, tried to stop the fighting.

Arberry pledged that from now on legislators with try to work with Gibbons “to get Nevadans back to work.”

At an Aug. 3 committee meeting, the Democratic majority, on a party-line vote, rejected Republican Gibbons’ request to hire a stimulus funds director who would work in his office. Instead they voted to hire a director who would work in the office of Democratic Controller Kim Wallin, who oversees state spending.

Gibbons then issued an executive order to hire his own stimulus director and advised state agency heads not to work with Wallin on reporting how they spend stimulus funds. Former deputy Clark County Recorder Charles Harvey took the job on Sept. 3.

In the meantime, Gibbons secured an opinion from Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, that he did not need to secure advance approval from the Interim Finance Committee before spending stimulus funds.

Under the opinion, the governor could secure funding immediately under the law if he declared an emergency exists and the funds must be released “for protection of property.”

During the Thursday meeting, Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, questioned whether sufficient emergencies existed for Gibbons to invoke the law as defined by Masto’s opinion.

The committee reviewed 14 instances in which Gibbons invoked the emergency provision so that he could spend stimulus funds.

Twice Gibbons declared an emergency existed so he could spend money on computer system improvements. In another instance, he invoked the provision to hire three parole and probation counselors. He also said an emergency existed so he could make a half-time position in the Department of Public Safety full-time.

Buckley questioned why in some of this cases the administration did not just wait a couple of weeks before the Interim Finance Committee reviewed and approved the spending.

She noted that hiring the new employees will cause problems for the Legislature in 2011, since the stimulus funds will run out and there may be no money to continue their jobs.

Contact Las Vegas Review-Journal Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.

News Videos
Homeless residents speak about safety
The homeless residents living at the corner of Owens Ave. and Main St. reflect on how they feel about their safety after two homeless men died, one was hit crossing the street and another was beat to death by another homeless man. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
CCSD Superintendent address alleged racially motivated threats at Arbor View
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara gives update on alleged racially motivated threats against Arbor View High School, and says such threats will not be tolerated. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Super Bloom Near Lake Elsinore, California
Crowds packed the hills near Lake Elsinore on Saturday to capture a rare selfie amidst the super bloom of poppies turning the landscape purple. The super bloom was caused by the larger rainfall this year. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fiery accident in Las Vegas
A three-car accident on Spring Mountain Road around 6:30 pm on Monday night
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Stardust implosion anniversary
Twelve years ago today, the Stardust Resort and Casino was imploded. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Lawsuits filed against security contractors at Nevada National Security Site
Two lawsuits were filed today against the current and former government security contractors for the Nevada National Security Site, one on behalf of Jennifer Glover who alleges sexual discrimination and assault and the other on behalf of Gus Redding who alleges retaliation after he gave statements supporting Glover’s claims. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New housing option helps Las Vegas moms keep kids while kicking drugs
WestCare Nevada Women and Children’s Campus in Las Vegas has added a new transitional housing wing for women who have completed the inpatient treatment at the behavioral health nonprofit to help them as they go through outpatient treatment, shore up their finances and prepare to secure long-term housing. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Teenager in critical condition after being struck by an SUV in Henderson
Authorities were called about 2:45 p.m. to the scene in the 2100 block of Olympic Avenue, near Green Valley Parkway and Sunset Road. The teenager was taken to University Medical Center in critical condition. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Water Question Part 3: Conservation loves a crisis
Future growth in the Las Vegas Valley will rest almost entirely on the community’s ability to conserve its finite share of the Colorado River.
The Water Question Part 7: How much can we grow?
Many experts agree that Southern Nevada can continue to grow, so long as residents are willing to do what needs to be done to stretch our crucial resource as far as it will go.
The Water Question Part 6: How many people can Southern Nevada’s water sustain?
The number can swing wildly depending on a host of variables, including the community’s rates of growth, conservation efforts and the severity of drought on the Colorado River.
Mylar Balloon Demo
NV Energy presented a demonstration Wednesday to depict the damage that can be caused by the release of Mylar balloons.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students. Educators from around the State are bringing the Red for Ed movement to the steps of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, NV, and to the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Nature Conservancy Ranch
The Nature Conservancy just bought the 900-acre 7J Ranch at the headwaters of the Amargosa River, north of Beatty. The property could become a research station, though ranching will continue.
Swift water rescue at Durango Wash in Las Vegas
On Thursday, February 14, 2019, at approximately 8:42 a.m., the Clark County Fire Department responded to a report of a swift water incident where people were trapped in the Durango wash which is located near 8771 Halcon Ave. Personnel found one person who was trapped in the flood channel. The individual was transported to the hospital in stable condition. Video by Clark County Fire & Rescue.
Flooding at E Cheyenne in N. Las Vegas Blvd.
Quick Weather Around the Strip
Rain hits Las Vegas, but that doesn't stop people from heading out to the Strip. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries. The Cleveland Clinic will begin researching the brains of retired bull riders to understand the impact traumatic brain injuries have on cognition. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Matt Stutzman shoots arrows with his feet
Matt Stutzman who was born without arms shoots arrows with his feet and hits the bullseye with remarkable accuracy. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Secretary of Air Force Emphasizes the Importance of Nellis AFB
US Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited Nellis Air Force Base during Red Flag training and described how important the base is to the military.
Former Northwest Academy student speaks out
Tanner Reynolds, 13, with his mother Angela McDonald, speaks out on his experience as a former student of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff member Caleb Michael Hill. Hill, 29, was arrested Jan. 29 by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of child abuse.
Former Northwest Academy students speak out
Tristan Groom, 15, and his brother Jade Gaastra, 23, speak out on their experiences as former students of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff and excessive medication.
Disruption At Metro PD OIS Presser
A man claiming to be part of the press refused to leave a press conference at Metro police headquarters, Wednesday January 30, 2019. Officers were forced to physically remove the man. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience after the city began operating around the clock. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas parts ways with operator of homeless courtyard
Jocelyn Bluitt-Fisher discusses the transition between operators of the homeless courtyard in Las Vegas, Thursday Jan. 24, 2019.(Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police and Raiders partner with SafeNest
Las Vegas police and the Raiders partner with SafeNest on Project Safe 417 (the police code for domestic violence is 417). The program partners trained SafeNest volunteer advocates with Metropolitan Police Department officers dispatched to domestic violence calls, allowing advocates to provide immediate crisis advocacy to victims at the scene of those calls. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
North Las Vegas police chief discusses officer-involved shooting
North Las Vegas police chief Pamela Ojeda held a press conference Thursday, Jan. 24, regarding an officer-involved shooting that took place on Jan. 21. The incident resulted in the killing of suspect Horacio Ruiz-Rodriguez. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Volunteers gather for annual Clark County homeless count
Volunteers gather for the annual Southern Nevada Homeless Census, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who can understand hospital price lists?
Lists of costs for procedures, drugs and devices are now posted the websites of hospitals to comply with a new federal rule designed to provide additional consumer transparency. Good luck figuring out what they mean.
Home Front Page Footer Listing