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Let’s get mad as hell

Would it be foolishly tilting at windmills if I, as a civic-minded Las Vegan, were to wish for a cure for cancer?

Of course not. Hope’s a good thing, and there’s reason for optimism as long as there are dedicated folks behind the Nevada Cancer Institute, which every day edges closer to a scientific breakthrough.

Is it, then, too much to hope for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease?

Ditto. The Larry Ruvo Brain Institute in downtown Las Vegas aspires to find the answers not only to the disease, but also to helping work-a-day doctors and caregivers provide assistance to those with dementia.

Then finally, if I may ask, is it too much to ask that Las Vegas Valley politicians dutifully do their jobs for the sake of the people they serve instead of feathering their own nests? Well, I gotta tell you, if things keep going like they are, I like the chances of curing cancer and Alzheimer’s better.

Right now, there is no hope that ethically diseased local politicians will behave better so long as good citizens stand by and do nothing. Take, for example, Henderson Police Chief Richard Perkins. Please.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Perkins, the former Democratic leader of the Assembly and now the top cop in Henderson, decided to open up a little side business as a “political consultant.” The whole arrangement distinctly reeks of under-the-table politics that, I am sad to say, is the norm in Southern Nevada.

Even those who think Perkins is incorruptible must admit that his side job creates an awful appearance. Want to get a ticket fixed? Erase the kid’s DUI? Would you like to drive a business competitor out of town with a police investigation? Would hiring Henderson Police Chief Richard Perkins to “consult” for you help your cause? If you put a couple of thousand dollars in Perkins’ personal bank account for consulting, who knows what might happen within the bureaucracy of the Henderson Police Department?

Now look, so far as I know, none of this has happened. But because Perkins refuses to disclose his list of clients and his fees, we’ll never know for sure.

I know that by mentioning those scenarios I’m ringing the alarm bell pretty hard on this Perkins deal. But, given all the corruption we’ve seen in Clark County of late, am I really overreaching?

If you think so, then please forgive me that tendency. Sounding warning bells is one of the primary functions of newspapers. Plus, let’s face it, we’re never going to get the kind of public service we deserve out of politicians and public servants so long as we look the other way when this kind of behavior is made public. What Perkins is trying to get away with is bad — no-brainer bad.

And if you think Perkins is smart enough to navigate the rocky coast of his consulting side job, I encourage you to revisit the May 8 report by Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith. Even the most ardent supporters of Perkins can’t finish that column without muttering a fearful “uh-oh” under their breath.

I’m telling you, this guy seems to be on a path that leads straight to an ethical swamp. Because he hasn’t been told by his bosses in Henderson that his moonlighting is improper, then the people must rise up and say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. Enough is enough.”

This isn’t curing cancer or Alzheimer’s, folks. This is just simply a matter of expecting integrity — and the appearance of integrity — in public service.

Sherman Frederick is publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and president of Stephens Media. Readers may write him at sfrederick@ reviewjournal.com.

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