Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Column 107 - Ethics

It's too bad that Bill Horn was named in the Nevada Commission on Ethics findings regarding the Bohn/Mapps affair of last Fall. As I've stated publicly and was noted in the story, I was one of those who filed complaints with the Commission, and my complaint at least was limited to John Bohn's actions – in my view, as an employee of the District, Bill Horn's options were pretty limited and I think it is the elected official who should be held to account.


That said, I was gratified to see that the Commission takes this seriously. My raising the issue in this space after the election was the occasion for a certain amount of mud to be slung my way, with "sore loser" among the milder epithets that came from Bohn's claque, however small it might be. I have to admit that this was somewhat vexing to me – sure, given I ran I would have liked to win, but the ethical questions in Bohn's actions raised a concern to me that was much more important than my being on the Board, and that's why I withdrew from consideration for the appointed seat now very ably filled by Chuck Weinberger.


To cite Lord Acton's famous (and overused) maxim, power corrupts. The IVGID Board of Trustees has pretty limited power, but for those without the maturity and integrity to wield it, that limited power still has the potential for corruption and this is a case in point. Whatever his motivation, Bohn's actions were inappropriate. The resignation of an elected public official is inarguably something the public has a right to know about and to find out about in a timely manner, particularly on the eve of an election that will fill 40% of the seats on the Board, and Bohn as Chairman had an affirmative obligation to disclose it. Given he was also a candidate for re-election, this disclosure would have, at the very least, avoided the appearance of a conflict of interest.


Bohn's recent intractability in the Beach access discussions continues his long-term pattern of arrogance in placing his opinion ahead of the facts and of the law. While Chairwoman Epstein and the other trustees seem to be doing their best to find a solution that will work and will protect the interests of property owners. Bohn has, since before the election, been obdurate in his insistence that the Board has no power to change the status quo, even in the face of legal opinion to the contrary, and while citing no authority more competent than his own questionable opinion to support his position.


Bohn should save the Board and the Village from a protracted process and resign from the Board. Lest this suggestion send my respected correspondents to the lakeshore to gather a fresh supply of mud, let me say that the only dog I have in this fight is that of being a concerned citizen. In the unlikely event that Bohn puts the interests of the village ahead of his own dubious position, I have no interest in being appointed to fill his seat and if asked to stand I will not do so.


I also think that the Ethics Commission should rethink the wisdom of their investigation of Bill Horn. I looked into this whole affair pretty carefully last Fall, and I don't think an investigation is warranted. For historical reasons, I am loath to cite "following instructions" as a defense, but in this case it was not Horn's place as General Manager of the District to disclose a situation that involved only the elected Board and did not touch on the staff directly. For the GM to go around the Chairman in a matter like this would have been questionable in terms of proper procedure and arguably inappropriate. I don't know who included Horn in their complaint to the Commission, but I would call upon them to withdraw that complaint. It was Bohn who acted unethically and Bohn who should be held to account.

No comments: