Monday, May 31, 2010
Bonanza Column 187 – The Washoe County DA
This column began some years ago as a point-counterpoint between Jim Clark and me, representing the right and left, respectively. We quickly discovered, however, that while Jim and I may disagree on political issues on the State and National level, more often than not we are pretty close on local matters.
In his column last week, Jim asserted that it's time for a change in the Washoe County District Attorney's office, and on this one I couldn't agree with him more, though at the end of the day we will probably disagree about who to replace him with, Jim and I are of one mind that Dick Gammick should go. (Though by the way, Jim, it's the Black Knight in Monty Python who keeps getting limbs hacked off and keeps on coming, proclaiming "I'm alright!" The French Knight stays in the castle and hurls first imprecations ("Your parents were silly people" and then a cow.)
Despite Jim's weak knowledge of the Monty Python canon, he's quite right about DA Gammick, who seems to think his job is to stall and obfuscate rather than to execute on the court's decision, no matter how many times the various courts tell him he must. It strikes me as very strange that the chief legal officer of the County seems to think it is his job to use legal chicanery to subvert what the courts, through due process, have found to be the appropriate legal action.
Lord Acton famously said "power corrupts," and for the most part we think of this as moral corruption. Officials of the Minerals Management Service cavorting with oil company executives comes to mind as an example. But there is another, more pernicious form of corruption that occurs when highly placed officials forget who they work for. When corporate executives put profits ahead of the public good (think BP) or when an elected official like Gammick thinks it is his job to protect the county's coffers rather than execute the office to which he was elected, it seems to me that that is as corrupt as any of the other actions.
It's time for the courts to put an end to this foolishness and dismiss these transparent attempts to stall the process. I know the County will take a financial hit from having to provide the refunds, but we in Incline, to whom the refunds are due, have absorbed our own financial hit for years as the County Assessor systematically milked the supposed Incline cash cow for the County's benefit. It's also time for the County to recognize that, like the explorer who was captured by cannibals and bled for their ceremonies, we are tired of getting stuck for the drinks. If you look at the rate of short sales and foreclosures in IV/CB, at the number of properties for sale, at the growing vacancies of commercial space, we are at least as hard-hit by the economic turmoil as the rest of the County, and while I for one don't mind paying my fair share, if I'm going to do more than that, I'd like it to be by my choice.
I sincerely hope that DA Gammick will be defeated in the primary next week. Either way, the question to be asked of candidates for the November election is "do you intend to execute the courts' orders with regard to refunding tax overpayments from IV/CB?" Hopefully we will have two good candidates to whom we can direct this question. If, however, one of the candidates is Dick Gammick, I recommend to your attention Roger Whomes – he has stated that he is on our side, so let's give him a chance to prove it;