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EDITORIAL: Remembering a wacky year

Last year brought fond memories for some, nightmares for others, perhaps something in between for most. Regardless of where you come down, 2016 certainly can’t be labeled dull. Dave Barry tackles the national and international news in his amusing look back on the past 12 months (see Page 1E). But that leaves plenty of state and local folly to highlight. With apologies to Mr. Barry, we aren’t making this stuff up. …

A woman fired from the Las Vegas Valley Water District over a $4.5 million scam involving ink-jet cartridges somehow then managed to land a $50,000 a year job at UNLV in the purchasing department. … The Nevada Supreme Court ruled that voters were too stupid to understand that a proposed ballot question seeking to repeal the commerce tax, passed during the 2015 Legislature, might leave the state with less money to spend. … A consultant with a sweetheart six-figure county deal to teach small and minority business owners how to win government contracts found himself in the news after shaking down a former student for a large loan. …

The Bureau of Land Management took two years to respond to a Freedom of Information request regarding documents related to the 2014 standoff at the Bundy ranch in Bunkerville — and then blacked out a large portion of the information. … The folks at the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles celebrated “Impact Day” in May, which involves DMV agents ticketing garage and body shop owners who lack the proper government permission slips to operate. … A state audit revealed that the Nevada health insurance exchange paid almost $400,000 to nine contractors charged with promoting health coverage to hard-to-reach populations. That amounted to 17,900 billable hours even though the audit found documentation for only 3,000 of those hours. …

An embattled North Las Vegas municipal court judge who argued that she shouldn’t be subject to a recall election because she’s not a “public official” attempted to unseat the District Court judge who rejects her ridiculous assertion. She lost. … Locals are enraged when MGM Resorts announces it will no longer offer free parking at its casinos. Other hotels follow despite the brouhaha. … A Clark County prosecutor defends asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement to seize cash and valuables from people who are never charged with any crime. “We are not taking money from people,” he says. “We’re holding it until they can show it came from legitimate means.” …

Former Democratic Assemblyman Morse Arberry, who struck a plea deal in 2011 after being charged with misusing campaign funds, launched a congressional campaign despite still owing more than $120,000 in restitution. … A Las Vegas Justice of the Peace ordered a public defender handcuffed and confined to the jury box after she attempted to argue on behalf of her client. … Results from the ACT revealed that just 11 percent of Nevada students were prepared for college-level courses in English, reading, math and science. … After a handful of carnophobes apparently complained to the tech giant, Facebook took down a page created by the owner of a Henderson barbecue joint featuring photos of the eatery’s menu items. …

A Review-Journal report revealed that the chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education actively worked to undermine legislative efforts to reform system funding formulas, going so far as to present a false document to lawmakers. … The U.S. Department of Education found that 18.1 percent of Nevada’s school-aged children missed at least 15 days of class during the 2013-14 school year, the eighth worst rate of chronic absenteeism in the country. … Meanwhile, a report found that 56 percent of teachers in the Clark County School District missed more than 10 days of work in 2013-14, more than double the national average. … Just months after announcing that it would have to trim $1.8 million from the budget, officials at the College of Southern Nevada revealed plans to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to add up to five new sports teams. …

An environmental group threatened to scuttle the 20-year-old Vegas-to-Reno desert rally because the 640-mile course was originally set to cross a tiny portion of a national monument created only last year. … The Henderson Police Department promoted to lieutenant an officer who was caught on tape repeatedly kicking a man in the head during a 2010 traffic stop. … The state’s public pension fund grew by just 2.3 percent during the 2016 fiscal year, far below the 8 percent investment target necessary to ensure long-term solvency. … Taxpayers had to the foot the bill for a cosmetologist after a District Court judge ordered a criminal defendant to cover his tattoos from the neck up so as not to prejudice the jury. …

Happy New Year.

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