‘Transparency’ articles

Metro wants lawmakers to
believe in ‘magical number’

Staffing claims by LVMPD sheriff contradict 15 years of Metro’s own violent-crime data

Arguing for yet another Clark County sales-tax increase ostensibly dedicated to hiring more police officers, Las Vegas Metro Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told state lawmakers Monday that two officers per 1,000 residents is a “magical number” for police staffing.

While national authorities on appropriate police staffing levels almost universally criticize use of such ratios, Lombardo never acknowledged that consensus.

Instead, he pointed to the years immediately after the enactment of the “More Cops” Sales Tax Initiative and argued that the increased hires it permitted had forced crime downward.

Said Lombardo:

“Specifically, the years 2007 through 2011, that’s where we crested that two officers per thousand, and if you look at the crime numbers in Clark County, directly associated to that crest of two officers per thousand, you can see that [crime] is decreasing.

“And then after 2011, with the population increase and the downfall of the economy, and the inability to hire folks, [crime] started to increase. So I’m a firm believer that cops make a difference.”

Shortly thereafter, Bill McBeath — Cosmopolitan CEO and Chairman of Metro’s Committee on Fiscal Affairs —testified remotely from Las Vegas, echoing Lombardo:

“When you see the delta between when we did hit the two per thousand and the reduction in crime rates, and you see the increase in crime rates as we went away from it, there’s a linear relationship. This is not subjective.”

However, actual violent crime numbers reported by Metro do not support what Lombardo and McBeath told lawmakers.

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Metro pushes for even more ‘More Cops’ taxes

Enlists powerful tourism committee in bid for higher, longer taxation

LAS VEGAS — To get Clark County voters to pass the 2004 “More Cops” sales-tax ballot measure, Metro’s then-sheriff and other local-government officials repeatedly and very publicly promised the funds would only be used to put more police on the street.

Nevada lawmakers early the next year made the same pledge and even wrote it into state law.

Ten years later, however, lawmakers and Metro both quietly, but explicitly, broke that promise.

The pledge was removed from state law and Metro’s Fiscal Affairs Committee was authorized to spend More Cops dollars, not for new hires but to meet other rising costs — such as record and rapidly escalating police retirement benefits.

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PERS releases Social Security numbers
of over 100 retired and current judges

In apparent attempt to avoid transparency, Nevada’s retirement system causes huge security breach

In an apparent attempt to skirt Nevada’s transparency laws, the Nevada Public Employees’ Retirement System has released the Social Security numbers and other identifying information of over 100 current and retired Silver State judges.

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CCSD spent over $13,000 discussing controversial sex-ed program

Plan was to ‘impact’ individuals throughout
community, school district; allegedly skirt parents

LAS VEGAS — The Clark County School District spent over $13,000 this year to discuss the child sex-education advocacy program that made headlines when it was reported that the district was considering teaching masturbation to Kindergartners.

The amount CCSD spent on the program led by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) comes from documents released by CCSD in response to public-record requests.

Over $9,750 went to pay SIECUS to provide “professional facilitation” in multiple CCSD focus groups, according to two purchase orders. Printed materials for the events cost another $3,328.

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CCSD police dispatcher transferred
from post as new details emerge in
Angela Peterson death case

Jail-house phone call: “My mom’s going to go to jail now.”

LAS VEGAS — A Clark County School District police dispatcher who’s been named a defendant in the Angela Peterson wrongful death lawsuit was transferred out of her police department post Friday.

According to multiple sources, employees of the department received an email notice — "effective immediately" — stating Tina Zuniga is "no longer an active employee of the Clark County School District Police Department," and "should be afforded the same access and courtesy to CCSDPD facilities as would be extended to a visitor."

While Zuniga will "continue to be an active member of the Clark County School District," sources say, employees were asked not to communicate with Zuniga in the future regarding any official matter considered confidential by the district's police department.

Zuniga's transfer comes after what appears to be a recording of a 2011 jail-house phone call was submitted to school police internal affairs.

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Administrator on CCSD payroll working
for another state government?

District investigation underway

LAS VEGAS — Has one of the Clark County School District’s department honchos found a way to eat taxpayer cake in two separate states at the same time?

It appears so.

In Southern Nevada, for nearly 12 years, Bramby Tollen was the director of CCSD’s purchasing and warehouse department. Then this March, according to district officials, she was transferred to the CCSD human resources department as an “Administrator on Special Assignment” — while continuing to earn a base salary of $104,760 a year, plus $1,800 annually for longevity.

Tollen’s total pay and benefits for the 2013 calendar year were $140,663.82, according to CCSD information on Transparent Nevada.

However, as of June 13, Snohomish County, Washington, has had a new purchasing manager — also named Bramby Tollen.

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CCSD has spent $2.1 million on
outside legal counsel since 2011

Nothing comes before the school board, but CCSD’s legal department is well over budget

LAS VEGAS — The Clark County School District Office of General Counsel has an annual budget exceeding $3 million and a legal team of 10 attorneys, nine secretarial and clerical staff, plus one administrator.

Part of that $3 million each year is $500,000 allocated for the hiring of additional, outside attorneys.

Nevertheless, in the last three school years the office has exceeded its outside-counsel budget and has paid out over $2.1 million to 10 private law firms. Of that, over $1.2 million went to two firms — Greenberg-Traurig, and Lewis and Roca (now Lewis Roca Rothgerber), according to CCSD records reviewed by Nevada Journal.

For this school year, the CCSD legal office is some $179,000 over its legal services budget.

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Firm auditing NVPERS pays $35 million settlement for not detecting 20-year-long Illinois embezzlement

City comptroller stole nearly $54 million from city, bought ranch, 400 horses

LAS VEGAS — The annual independent audit of the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System’s financials will be conducted by a firm that recently agreed to pay a city in Illinois $35 million after it failed to notice that the city’s comptroller had embezzled nearly $54 million from taxpayers over the 20 years during which the firm was conducting independent audits.

In February, Nevada’s Public Employees’ Retirement Board voted unanimously to award a $113,500 contract to CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP, to audit the financials of the state Public Employees’ Retirement System, Legislative Retirement System and Judicial Retirement System for the current fiscal year.

The vote came just months after CliftonLarsonAllen settled a civil lawsuit with the city of Dixon, Illinois. The suit was over the firm’s acknowledged failure to notice that a high-ranking city official had been stealing from city coffers for years, forcing the small municipality to cut public services and lay-off employees.

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Dad told seeing state’s records
on his kids will cost him $10 grand+

Over 800 data points now collected on each Nevada public, charter school student

LAS VEGAS — Would you like to see the information the State of Nevada is keeping on your child?

You may have to take out a loan.

The State Department of Education recently notified one Washoe County parent it would cost him more than $10,000.

When John Eppolito, a parent of four, asked to view the information the state is warehousing on his children, he was informed that "the Department’s Director of Information Technology… has estimated that the cost will be approximately $10,194."

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Curious about compensation of top Southern Nevada government officials?

LAS VEGAS — The deeper meaning of data on TransparentNevada, the searchable database of government employee salaries provided by NPRI as a public service, is going to become more accessible, according to Victor Joecks, the Institute’s executive vice president.

In the seven years of the website’s existence, said Joecks, TransparentNevada.com has given the public unprecedented access to government compensation information, and, along the way, exposed compensation packages inflated by excessive overtime, sick leave/vacation sell backs and salary and benefit packages far out of line with the private sector.

Now, starting with the four biggest Southern Nevada government entities, NPRI is providing the public with different ways to examine and compare government compensation spending.  

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