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New Clark County commissioners sworn in, Kirkpatrick tapped as chair

Updated January 7, 2019 - 5:44 pm

Recently elected Clark County Commissioners Tick Segerblom and Justin Jones, former Democratic state senators, were sworn in Monday by District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez.

Segerblom replaced termed-out Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani in District E. Jones took over for term-limited Commissioner Susan Brager to represent District F.

Commissioner Jim Gibson, who won election in November, was also sworn in Monday. The former Henderson mayor has been on the commission since July 2017 after being appointed to serve the remainder of Mary Beth Scow’s term.

Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick, who represents District B, was chosen by her colleagues to chair the board, while Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, the District D representative, will serve as vice chair.

Kirkpatrick assumes the role vacated by Steve Sisolak, who was sworn in as governor on Monday. Sisolak will appoint his replacement to the seven-member board.

Legal aid for immigration

Clark County officials appear open to helping people facing deportation to obtain legal aid through UNLV’s Immigration Clinic; however, the commission on Monday opted to seek alternative plans to a grant-matching opportunity through a criminal justice reform nonprofit.

Segerblom suggested the board consider spending $500,000 over two years, and secure a $100,000 grant through the Vera Institute of Justice, to allocate special funding to the Immigration Clinic. It provides legal representation to county residents in immigration-related proceedings.

While fellow commissioners seemed to back the spirit of Segerblom’s request, they also recoiled over insufficient details about the grant itself and how specifically the money would be spent. Facing a 10-day deadline to express written interest in the program, the board instead chose to explore partnering with other municipalities and identifying potential other avenues to help.

Michael Kagan, a law professor and director of the UNLV Immigration Clinic, said there were roughly 200 deportation cases heard monthly in Las Vegas courts and that many individuals are typically left on their own to negotiate “a notoriously arcane and illogical area of law.”

The clinic’s largest program, he said, defends unaccompanied children from Central America.

“We know historically that if you have an attorney in that process,” Segerblom said, “you probably have a 10-times-better chance of not being deported.”

Members of SEIU and Culinary Union Local 226 backed Segerblom’s proposal, but resident Cyrus Hojjaty fiercely rejected it, saying illegal immigration was tantamount to “a form of invasion” and that the county should not be reinforcing illegal activity.

Homeless funding

The commission agreed to a conceptual plan introduced by Kirkpatrick to spend at least some of the roughly $20 million in marijuana-related tax revenue collected over the former and current fiscal years to buoy homelessness programs.

Policymakers directed county staffers to return with a plan that includes goals and how much money to allocate.

“This is a way we can do something really significant that will affect education,” Gibson said, “and the first group of people that we need to address, whose needs are incalculably difficult, are the children who are affected by homelessness.”

The county collected $9.3 million in marijuana tax revenue during fiscal year 2018 and is on pace to near $11 million this fiscal year, which ends June 30, according to Jessica Colvin, the county’s chief financial officer.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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