Incline Village trustees forgo judicial review of open meeting law violation
February 11, 2019
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Although they were hardly unanimous in their interpretation of events, trustees decided against seeking a review of a Nevada Attorney General opinion that concluded the board violated the state's open meeting law.
Consensus was reached Wednesday to drop the matter. As previously reported by the Tribune, the board was obligated to agendize the AG's opinion. In discussing the item, the board was presented with an option to seek a judicial review of the opinion.
However, after some debate on the merits of the opinion, trustees expressed a desire to not litigate the matter further.
There is no need to spend more time or money on the issue, Incline Village General Improvement District Board Chair Kendra Wong said in expressing her desire to move on.
The issue, per the opinion from the AG, dates back to a 2017 when the district initiated a lawsuit against Governance Sciences Group, Inc., commonly referred to as FlashVote — a product offered by Governance Sciences.
The AG concluded the board did not initiate the lawsuit in an open meeting, as required, and that the district's policies did not grant the general manager or counsel the authority to initiate a lawsuit.
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"Here, the board violated the OML by taking action authorizing the initiation of the lawsuit during its attorney-client session," the AG opinion states.
District leadership has refuted the opinion for several reasons.
General Manager Steve Pinkerton said it was his decision to initiate the lawsuit as part of enforcing the contract with Governance Sciences Group.
He argued that in the actual lawsuit, the district court was not sympathetic to the argument made by the AG — that the general manager did not have authority to initiate the lawsuit.
Pinkerton also pointed to the amount of time between when the complaint, which was filed by IVGID critic Frank Wright, was filed and when the AG's office offered its opinion.
While there was consensus against seeking legal review, which is essentially an attempt to overturn the AG's opinion, several trustees expressed concern over several issues.
Specifically, trustees Tim Callicrate and Matthew Dent said they were concerned with a DropBox folder containing experts of public comments made by Wright at past meetings.
The excerpts, attorney Jason Guinasso explained, were compiled in response to Wright's complaint in order to prove he brought the complaint "in bad faith."
Nonetheless, Callicrate and Dent said they were concerned that resources were used to "smear" a member of the community.
"That's not right," Callicrate said.
Wong pointed out that Wright's remarks were made during public comment and part of the public record.
In addressing trustees during public comment at the end of the meeting, Wright called the collection of incomplete comments "sick."
Trustees Philip Horan and Peter Morris agreed that the AG's office erred in its opinion but also agreed that a judicial review was unnecessary.
Wong echoed the sentiment. She pointed to a new policy requiring board approval of litigation as proof that any questionable matters had already been addressed, making the case moot.
The AG"s opinion does not carry any further consequences beyond the requirement that it be agendized.