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Douglas DA fires broadside at sewer district

Kurt Hildebrand
khildebrand@recordcourier.com
Douglas County commissioners listen to a presentation made by Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson on Monday at the Douglas County Community & Senior Center.
Kurt Hildebrand |

GARDNERVILLE, Nev. — A letter seeking a grand jury investigation into Douglas County Sewer District No. 1 and the district’s dissolution were among the actions proposed by Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson on Monday.

Jackson said he will send a letter to Douglas County District Judge Tod Young asking that he call a grand jury to investigate the district that serves the Stateline casino core.

In June, he said, he will bring an ordinance to Douglas County commissioners to dissolve the district and present alternatives to handle its service area.

He played a tape of the district board’s Dec. 22, 2015, meeting following a 4-3 planning commission vote against the sewer district. Board members can be heard talking about seeking someone to file an ethics complaint in an effort to influence county commissioners to vote in favor of a gravel mining operation in the East Valley. That operation is intended to subsidize the construction of a lined sewer pond. Included in the project proposal is a flood control basin.

Sev Carlson, attorney for the sewer district, accused Jackson of acting as Secretary of State, Legislature and even the state bar. He said Monday’s meeting was a violation of the Nevada Open Meeting Law.

“There’s always two sides to every story,” Carlson said. “The district attorney is relying on an AG’s opinion, with no reference from the Supreme Court on what people the board of commissioners have jurisdiction over. This meeting is a violation of open meeting law.”

Carlson said none of the district board members were at the meeting.

In a May 19 letter, Carlson said county commissioners have no jurisdiction over the sewer district, saying the meeting “amounts to a public flogging.”

Jackson contends the district is in violation of Nevada election law because it has been 32 years since the sewer district has held an election, and none of the directors live in the district. The last time the district held a public vote, nine people participated.

He said that the district board members have self-perpetuated their membership based on their positions with the Stateline casinos.

According to Jackson, Planning Manager Hope Sullivan was the target of an ethics complaint filed by former Douglas County Planning Commissioner and County Commissioner Don Miner after she recommended approval of the district’s proposal with six additional conditions.

The ethics complaint was based on Sullivan’s purchase of a home she’d rented in the East Valley about 1.6 miles away from the gravel mining operation.

Jackson said state ethics law says that an employee is required to make a disclosure to her supervisor, which Sullivan did after talking to Deputy District Attorney Cynthea Gregory. She was told by Community Development Director Mimi Moss that she didn’t have to disclose because she was outside the mile noticing range.

Jackson played a tape of a district board meeting in which they discussed Miner’s filing of the complaint a week before Sullivan knew about it.

He accused the district of using the ethics complaint as a means to influence commissioners to approve a gravel mining operation in the East Valley.

In the March 3 service of the ethics complaint, it said it lacks jurisdiction in allegations concerning abstention because that requirement only applies to public officers.

Jackson reviewed documents and tape for a Dec. 22, 2015, meeting of the sewer district board, where members can be heard discussing filing an ethics complaint against then Planning Manager Hope Sullivan.

Jackson presented his accusations against the sewer district at an open meeting of county commissioners on Monday afternoon that was attended by about 200 people.


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