Bureaucrats could make you laugh if they didn’t hurt so much

Surely it wasn’t true. The Nevada State Contractors Board isn’t going to cite a guy because of how he answers the phone. This must be an exaggeration. Think again.

An investigator for the board has said Tom Delahunty, owner of Advantage Builders of Nevada Inc., will be cited because his secretary answers the office phone saying, “Advantage Builders.”

Really. No joke.

Art Nadler, spokesman for the contractors board, said, “We have to follow the statutes, and by statute they have to use the legal name.”

Portions of the statute, NRS 624.300, state that a contractor can be disciplined for:

■ ”Advertising projects of construction without including in the advertisement the name, and license number of the licensed contractor who is responsible for the construction.”

■ ”Advertising projects of construction beyond the scope of the license.”

Answering the phone has been interpreted as a form of advertising.

Delahunty moved from California to Las Vegas in 2008 and received a license as a sole proprietor under the name Advantage Builders. Later, he decided to change to a small corporation and went to the contractors board to make sure everything was straight. He even changed the name to Advantage Builders of Nevada Inc. (at the board’s suggestion) because Advantage Builders sounded a lot like an existing company in Sparks called Advantage Custom Builders, which is now out of business.

He voluntarily surrendered the first license under the Advantage Builders name, which was duly noted on the board’s website, the place to go to check if someone has a license or has been disciplined.

Delahunty recently went to the board’s Henderson office to see whether he could get the “voluntarily surrendered” note changed to “entity change” so that it doesn’t look like there was any violation or suspicious activity on his part. Not possible, he was told. And when he gave the clerk his Advantage Builders business card, he was told he needed to change his card to the full name of the company.

“I told her I would immediately order new cards, no big deal.”

But then the nitpicking began.

Ernie Talavera, a compliance investigator with the board, called Delahunty’s business twice and heard the secretary answer, “Advantage Builders.”

Last Monday, Talavera contacted Delahunty and said a citation would be coming in the mail, and if the phone were ever again answered “Advantage Builders,” it would result in a fine, a citation and a note on the contractors board website. The phone needed to be answered, “Advantage Builders of Nevada Inc.”

I understand the reason for the board trying to distinguish one company from another in case someone is trying to deceive the public by piggybacking on a good name. Or someone adopted a new name to wipe the slate clean.

But that’s not the case here.

So why is the contractors board wasting its time? Nothing better to do now that the construction industry is in the tank? Gotta fill time?

All Delahunty wants to do is answer his phone “Advantage Builders” without going to the expense of changing legal documents. But because of the implacable stance taken by the board staff, he is forced to take it up to the board members or face a citation on his record.

“This is what is fueling the raging anger in America today. Out of touch bureaucrats trying to legislate and regulate every aspect of our lives,” he wrote. “I am so angry right now, I even did the unthinkable … thought of calling the ACLU.”

The small businessman, who came to Nevada as a sole proprietor and now has a business with 14 full-time employees, who did $2 million worth of business last year, said he is being “harassed by bureaucratic bullies.”

Remember “The Soup Nazi” on “Seinfeld”?

The contractors board Phone Nazi is equally ridiculous, just not a laugh riot.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/morrison.

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