Clark County commissioners fail to get off to a happy new year

The hostility between Clark County commissioners, split into two factions, isn’t new, but it’s more overtly personal.

After Tuesday’s divisive commission meeting to discuss how University Medical Center might operate in the future, Commissioner Tom Collins tweeted a demeaning message about Commissioners Susan Brager and Mary Beth Scow.

“PTA Moms over their heads,” Collins wrote as “srbbrider,” slamming the two former School Board members. The tone of the tweet didn’t exactly demonstrate his own mental superiority.

Notice Collins didn’t slam new Chairman Steve Sisolak or Vice Chairman Larry Brown, who also disagreed with his position. His contempt was just for the two women.

Collins, Lawrence Weekly and Chris Giunchigliani have become a minority of three, voting at odds Tuesday with Sisolak, Brown, Brager and Scow. But a vocal minority of three is still a minority unable to accomplish much.

Tuesday’s meeting about the future of UMC is definitely a serious issue, one that will dominate this year because of the costs and importance of medical care for the uninsured.

But at Monday’s meeting, the selection of the new chair and vice chair turned ludicrous, and the squabble over who sits where turned looney.

Traditionally, once someone lines up four votes to nab the chairmanship, as Sisolak did, the others gracefully make it unanimous, just so everything looks harmonious to the public.

In this case, Brown nominated Sisolak as chairman, and Collins and Weekly cast the only no votes. Giunchigliani wasn’t present because her plane into Las Vegas was late.

Next, Brown was nominated as vice chairman, but Weekly nominated Scow. Again he and Collins were on the losing end. Even Scow didn’t vote for herself but voted for Brown. But Weekly helped stress the message that this is a board deeply divided.

Then the infighting over committee assignments began. Collins no longer wanted to be on the Southern Nevada Water Authority, saying he was too busy. So Brager put herself on that committee.

Yet moments later, Collins announced he wanted to be on the Metropolitan Police Committee on Fiscal Affairs, a panel his fellow commissioners removed him from in 2005 because he was so blatantly pro-union regarding salaries.

Surprise! He didn’t get that committee.

Next came Brown’s agenda item to “discuss seating arrangements.”

Brown didn’t want to sit between Collins and Giunchigliani any longer. Apparently, Collins and Giunchigliani lean over Brown and talk during the meetings, annoying and distracting him.

The chair and vice chair sit in the middle next to each other, so Brown escaped his unenviable seating position.

Routinely, seats are assigned by seniority, with the least senior on the outer edges. But Collins likes the seat on the far left, which is closest to the back room where he can make calls. He will continue to sit there.

One seating suggestion by Brager failed when Weekly said, “I’m not moving.” The audience thought he was joking and laughed, but his face made it clear he wasn’t joking. They took a recess to hammer it out, avoiding a potentially embarrassing public discussion.

So here’s the new lineup, left to right, Collins, Giunchigliani, Brager, Sisolak, Brown, Weekly and Scow. Looks like Brager took one for the team, and Brown moved as far away from Collins and Giunchigliani as he possibly could.

Brown disagreed with my view that these seven Democrats are not going to be able to work as a team to do the right thing for Clark County because of their philosophical differences, their inability to compromise and their egos.

Citing the two-hour UMC discussion, Brown said, their differences “are not a bad thing and are going to stimulate discussions.” (Collins deemed the discussion unproductive.)

Starting 2013 on this note of contemptuous tweets bodes poorly for Clark County residents, making us the real losers.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at or call 702-383-0275. She also blogs at

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