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Clark County, constable play blame game over medical waiver

Clark County commissioners voted more than a year ago to request Nevada’s police standards and training board waive police certification requirements for the North Las Vegas constable due to a medical condition.

But that may have been an empty gesture.

County staff revealed this week that it never sent a petition on behalf of Constable Robert Eliason — because, they say, it was not the county’s responsibility.

“It was incumbent upon the North Las Vegas constable to pursue the matter,” county spokesman Erik Pappa said Tuesday. “And as far as I know, he did not.”

Eliason’s attorney sees it differently. He filed suit against the county last week after commissioners considered declaring the constable’s office vacant because Eliason is not certified.

“It certainly looks like Clark County created this situation, if they failed to do what they said they were going to do,” attorney Jeffrey Barr said. “We don’t control Clark County’s agenda. We don’t control letters signed by (commission) Chairman Steve Sisolak. We presumed the county acted in good faith. Perhaps we were wrong.”

Eliason sought a waiver from the Nevada Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) because of a neurological condition he says keeps him from performing situps required in the physical fitness test for certification.

Barr said Eliason’s condition has been documented by a doctor. He’s declined to share the proof, citing medical privacy, but the lawsuit shows Eliason has requested a workplace accommodation from the county pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Barr added he doesn’t expect to submit Eliason’s medical records to the court. The lawsuit is to decide whether the county commission or the courts have the authority to declare Eliason’s office vacant.

“The issue in this particular lawsuit is not to adjudicate whether Robert Eliason is fit for office,” Barr said. “The issue in this case is who gets to determine whether Robert Eliason is fit for office.”

A hearing in the case is scheduled for July 28.

Pension scrutiny

Some commissioners are interested in how much Eliason’s pension will benefit from him staying in office.

Payouts in the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada are based on a rolling three-year average of a government employee’s salary. Eliason has been constable for 2½ years.

The constable is paid about $103,000 a year. His previous government salary as a North Las Vegas city councilman was about $42,000.

Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak asked county staff to determine how much Eliason’s pension is growing with each month he is in office. Sisolak also wants to know if the county can request Eliason’s pension payout be calculated from the time he filed the lawsuit if a judge rules the county has the authority to declare the constable’s office vacant.

“That’s a lifetime pension he’s going to get forever. He can pass on to a beneficiary after the fact,” Sisolak said. “It’s been my experience that once you get in the court system, a six-month delay is nothing.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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