Commentary – Lyon County Sheriff’s political maneuvering an insult to Lyon County residents
Lyon County Sheriff’s political maneuvering an insult to Lyon County residents.
The recent request from Lyon County Sheriff Alan Veil to eliminate two appointive positions and create two new lieutenant positons (Lyon County Employees protected by the Sheriff’s Employees Association) is unabashed politics at its worst. But Veil’s confrontational, antagonistic tirade in front of the Commissioners on December 18, 2014 was not exactly a new and unusual scenario for the retiring Sheriff.
First, let’s deal with the current situation, taking the politics and egos out of the picture to make it simple and clear.
The two positions Sheriff Veil now wants to eliminate on his own volition (Under-Sheriff and Field Services Director) are appointive positions.
When the current Undersheriff and the current Field Services Director agreed to serve in these appointive positions they most certainly were aware they were accepting the status of “at will” employees. In other words, if their elected leader were to change, new leadership could replace these employees “at will”, with no requirement to abide by the employees association rules governing terminations.
These two employees, by originally leaving their positions within the “protected” ranks of the Sheriff’s Association, took a risk and now, with the results of the recent elections obviously putting the two appointive positions at risk, want to be back in the ‘protected’ realm of the Sheriff’s Association employees.
And not just any position. They want two new positions created just for them and want the taxpayers of Lyon County to support the two new high-level Sheriff’s Association positions (Lieutenants) just for them.
(Editor’s note: The official notices from the Sheriff’s and Under Sheriff’s office requesting these two position eliminations and ‘voluntary’ demotions included a request to restore these two employees to their former Lieutenant positions, one of which has since been eliminated. There are currently no vacancies in the Lieutenant ranks.)
County policy clearly states any departmental addition or elimination of positions or reorganization must be approved by the Board of Commissioners. Sheriff Veil claims he is not governed by this County policy. And, he assumed he should be able to appoint whomever he wanted to these new positions, no application process required for these hirings.
Imagine an elected State Constitutional Officer, such as the Governor, filling his appointive positions (his aides) – and then, a few months before leaving office, eliminating these positions and creating new public service employee positions (Nevada State Employees) and simply appointing his former aides to them…..all without going through an application process or to the legislature for approval of the new positions.
I think you can clearly see the above scenario is illegal and could not happen. It should not be expected for the Lyon County Sheriff to be able to do so, either!
Ask yourself, should appointed aides to elected officials expect to keep those positions when that elected official leaves his/her office – particularly if there is a sharp philosophical policy division between the outgoing and incoming elected official?
The current Sheriff has a history of challenging the obvious. Let me remind you of a few past confrontations between Sheriff Veil and the BOC:
- The 2014-15 Sheriff’s Department proposed budget (As explained in a previous NewsDesk article)
The 2014 budget season was barely getting started when Lyon County Sheriff Alan Veil started it off with a challenging and loud salvo over the bow of the County decision makers’ balance sheets.
As one of the most economically stressed areas in the state, and perhaps the country, all Lyon County departments have faced very tight budget limitations for the past several years – with a number of staff reductions, cutbacks in hours and equipment/material limitations. Services throughout the county have been severely strained.
Sheriff Veil, who in past budget battles has shown antagonistic behavior to the stringent budget limitations, proposed some hefty staffing increases (50 new employees) and additional equipment and equipment upgrades.
Veil’s fiscal year 2014-15 requests for his four budget responsibilities, if granted, would have been a $3.9 million (35%) increase over his current budget.
And, during this past budget session, he was, once again, asked to eliminate the position of Under Sheriff. Sheriff Veil emphatically argued it was a necessary position.
- Suing the County because non-union (at-will) employees did not get a merit pay increase:
This dispute arose from a July 19, 2012 vote (3-1) by the Lyon County Board of Commissioners to freeze a 2.5 percent merit pay increase for non-union employees.
A formal complaint was then filed against the Board of Commissioners, County Manager and County Comptroller, on behalf of the affected employees by their elected supervisors – Lyon County District Attorney Robert Auer and Sheriff Alan Veil. The complaint was filed through the private law office of plaintiff Assistant District Attorney Mark Krueger (appointed by District Attorney Auer), charging the July 19 vote was contrary to state and county policies.
When final agreements were reached with the two bargaining units, the Employee’s Association agreed to forego the 2.5 percent merit increase. The Sheriff’s Employees Association, however, pushed for and received the 2.5 percent merit increase.
However, since the inception of the employee associations in Lyon County over 30 years ago, non-association (appointive, at-will) personnel have been granted the same benefits/lack of benefits that the Employees Association contract granted – regardless of what the Sheriff’s Employees Association received. Because the appointed officials (Undersheriff, Assistant DA and others) did not get the increase the Sheriff’s Association employees did, the Sheriff and District Attorney did not agree this 30-year policy should be followed through with. (No complaints were ever filed in those years when the Employees Association got an increase and the Sheriff’s Association did not!)
Following the filing of the complaint, the Board of Commissioners on August 16 authorized County Manager Page to hire an attorney. The County hired Madelyn Shipman of Laxalt – Nomura. Her contract rates were $200.00/hour for her; $175.00/hour for an assistant attorney (if needed); and, $100.00/hour for a paralegal (if needed). I do not know the total cost to the county resulting from this complaint.
The suit was rejected upon appeal by the County – with the 3rd Judicial Court basing its decision on the filing of a suit by the District Attorney or on behalf of the District Attorney violates NRS. This negated any further action.
- Open Meeting Law violation charged:
In September 2012, Sheriff Allan Veil also filed an Open Meeting Law complaint with the State Attorney General’s office charging the Lyon County Commission Chair did not offer an opportunity for public input prior to the commission’s vote on September 6, 2012 to deny the claim filed against the County asking for a 2.5 percent merit pay increase for certain non-Association employees in fiscal year 2013.
Review of the tapes of that meeting contradicted Veil’s charges and no ethics violations were found.
Think about it…..
Nancy Dallas, Editor/Publisher
NewsDesk (Est. January 2003)