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City attorney search

The appointment of a new city attorney is usually as controversial as a Citizen of the Month award. But when the name Reid is involved, the dynamics quickly change.

The city of Henderson officially posted its city attorney position Aug. 11 to replace Elizabeth Quillin, who lost the job after being convicted of drunken driving. In that posting, the minimum requirements were 10 years of experience as an attorney, with five years in the public sector.

Enter attorney Josh Reid, the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. At the time of the posting, Josh Reid did not have 10 years of experience and had not worked as a government lawyer at all.

But just before the Sept. 6 application deadline, his powerful father called council members to advocate for his son’s application. The city later reduced the minimum requirements for the job. Going forward, the city demanded only eight years of work as an attorney. Experience in the public sector was no longer mandatory, but “highly desirable.”

Of the six semifinalists picked from 46 applicants, only Josh Reid failed to meet the original standards. He was the least-experienced attorney among the semifinalists. And yet he was named a finalist, along with interim City Attorney Christine Guerci-Nyhus, who has 11 years in private practice and eight years in government. Among those failing to make the cut: Luke Puschnig, the longtime counsel for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, licensed to practice in Nevada for 21 years.

City of Henderson officials deny that Josh Reid’s last name or his father’s phone calls had anything to do with the extension of the application deadline, the rewriting of the job’s minimum qualifications or Josh Reid’s advancement through the process. The council is expected to make a decision Tuesday.

Josh Reid has degrees from Yale University and the University of Arizona. Perhaps he wowed the council with his intellect and grasp of legal issues in his interview. He may do a great job, if hired.

But the city attorney isn’t the dog catcher. If hired, Josh Reid will be the chief legal adviser to the council, and his recommendations and decisions can expose taxpayers to huge liabilities. Just look at the fiscal disaster in North Las Vegas, where the City Council signed labor contracts, reviewed by counsel, that prohibited layoffs of public safety workers in an economic emergency.

Experience counts for a lot in this job, and Josh Reid doesn’t appear to have much related to the position.

 

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