LAUGHLIN — The November meeting of the Laughlin Town Advisory Board generated a small share of drama when an item placed on the agenda regarding vacant LTAB seat caused a stir among current board.
LTAB member Jim Maniaci added the action item to the agenda and then nominated Cheryl Crow to fill the vacant seat left by Kathleen Whitehead, who resigned earlier this year. The agenda for the day’s meeting simply listed for discussion the fact that Clark County was accepting applications to fill the vacant seat. The meeting, on Nov. 12, was three days ahead of the Nov. 15 deadline for applications for the vacancy.
Maniaci’s agenda addition and nomination of Crow was immediately challenged by Vice-Chair Kathy Ochs who stated “I absolutely cannot back that nomination” citing what she said was a conflict of interest based on more than one issue. Ochs said that the appointment to the Town Advisory Board is the Clark County Board Commissioners jurisdiction, adding “Always has been, always will be.” She also said that Crow’s membership in the Laughlin Economic Development Corporation also created a potential conflict of interest, adding that it “impairs her ability to speak on LTAB matters.” Ochs said she would seek a formal opinion on the matter over the nomination of Crow, who was recently picked to represent Laughlin by County Commissioner Michael Naft. Ochs reiterated that she “absolutely cannot stand behind, or back that recommendation”.
Currently, there are two members of the Laughlin Economic Development Corporation on the Laughlin Town Advisory Board. LTAB Chairwoman Gina Mackey and Board Member Jim Maniaci are both directors on the LEDC. Adding another LEDC member to the town advisory board would essentially create a board under LEDC direction given they would hold the majority votes on the advisory board. That was one of Ochs’ objections. Ochs and Niles Smith are the only LTAB members who are not also LEDC directors.
As of Nov. 12, the day of the last LTAB meeting, seven people had applied for the vacant seat.
Ochs took the issue to the Clark County District Attorney seeking a formal opinion on the matter, and has raised the issue since 2017 about potential conflict of interest in the two bodies sharing members.
Following Maniaci’s nomination of Crow, and Ochs’ objection, the remaining two members of LTAB then spoke, with Mackey stating her support for the nomination and Smith making a lengthy statement about being caught between two bad choices. “I’d like to stay away” from it he said. He said that since the item was in fact placed on the agenda for action that they had to do something regardless of personal opinions. He said “We’re put in an unfair position by this. We can either table it and be the ‘do nothing’ board or take some form of action on it,” as dictated by the Roberts Rules of Order. He called it “The lesser of two evils” to act and then seconded the nomination of Crow to fill the seat for the remainder of the term, which expires in January of 2021.
The board voted 3-1 to recommend Crow with Mackey, Maniaci, and Smith voting yes and Ochs the solo no vote.
The board vote now goes to Naft for formal approval.