Guest column: What’s wrong with this picture? (opinion)
At the July 9 trustee candidate debate for the Incline Village General Improvement District Board of Trustees, Kendra Wong when asked what actions she had taken as Board Chair against the employees who illegally sold public land and launched a lawsuit without board approval, she replied: “Absolutely nothing!”
In addressing the lawsuit, she said: “We had a legal non-meeting in which the board was notified that the lawsuit was being initiated.” She then explained that “the Supreme Court action — law that essentially says that all lawsuits have to be initiated by the board … so there was no way for us to actually have complied with that law because the law didn’t actually exist at the time.”
Ms. Wong, a former Sierra Nevada College associate professor, was surprisingly uninformed about the operations of our American court system. Apparently, she was unaware that our courts don’t make laws. They interpret, apply and uphold the constitutionality of laws. In the Hansen Case, the Nevada Supreme Court decision Ms. Wong was referring to, our court simply validated EXISTING state law, which requires all public bodies approve all litigation in a PUBLIC MEETING.
By Ms. Wong’s own admission, this did not occur. In addition to violating the open meeting law, this litigation secretly instigated by trustees Wong, Horan and Morris, General Manager Pinkerton and legal counsel Guinasso against a respected local business cost our taxpayers more than $60,000 and shut down our citizens’ voluntary participation in FlashVote surveys.
The employee who unlawfully sold public land without board approval, also violated State regulations. At the debate, Kendra Wong stated that there are only two ways to sell land when you are a governmental entity.
She said: “First, if it stays open space then you’re not required to pay back taxes. … If you’re going to sell the pieces of property and it’s going into private hands and they’re going to build something on it then you have to pay back taxes.”
Again, Ms. Wong displayed a surprising lack of knowledge. With few exceptions, public land must go out to bid, must have public notice of sale, and be a totally transparent process. Our three unbuildable lots were sold to secret buyers on a secret list by an employee who set his own prices for the land, all outside the view of our board and our citizens.
Under Chair Wong’s leadership, there have been 16 open meeting law violations in the last three years alone. The Office of the Attorney General has repeatedly admonished the board and legal counsel for violating the spirit and intent of the open meeting law by creating a hostile environment for public participation.
Rather than taking responsibility for these violations and assuring us that the District would make every effort to comply with the law, Ms. Wong made light of the Board’s unlawful actions. Like a game show host keeping score, she proceeded to shout out the names of our citizens and the number of times each had filed complaints. One violation of Nevada’s Open meeting law is unacceptable. Sixteen violations by a governing body is totally outrageous!
Equally outrageous is Ms. Wong’s disrespect for the Nevada Public Records Act. Last August, the Nevada Policy Research Institute filed a Complaint with the Attorney General “after learning that IVGID adopted the felony level crime of concealing public records as a matter of policy.” Now, along with IVGID, Trustee Wong and Counsel Guinasso are named as defendants in a citizen’s lawsuit seeking public records.
Question: What is wrong with this picture? Answer: Kendra Wong!
Frank Wright is a Crystal Bay resident.