LAUGHLIN — Laughlin Town Manager Dr. Brian Paulson has come under increasing fire by constituents from both Laughlin and Searchlight with numerous complaints sent in letters to the Laughlin Nevada Times and a petition signed by about 50 residents of Searchlight seeking his removal as both town manager of Laughlin and Clark County liaison for Searchlight.
Paulson was appointed to the position in 2016 by then-District A Commissioner Steve Sisolak (now Nevada’s governor) to replace former Laughlin Town Manager Jackie Brady, who held that position for more than 20 years before retiring. When Sisolak was elected governor in the 2018 election, he appointed Michael Naft to fill his seat on the Clark County Board of Commissioners.
The complaints about Paulson are varied, but for Laughlin they center mainly on his alleged lack of leadership during the height of the COVID-19 crisis starting shortly after Sisolak announced March 18 the closure of all “non-essential businesses” in Nevada, the states lucrative gaming industry among them. It was shortly thereafter that the Regional Government Center in Laughlin was ordered to close by Clark County. The RGC closed March 20 and reopened June 1. Only the Justic Court, which operated Mondays through Thursdays, remained open during the RGC closure.
Paulson distributed by internet notices issued by the Southern Nevada Health District on compiled COVID-19 statistics which were taken from the SNHD website, last of which was sent to the Laughlin Times on May 15.
A letter from chairman of the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce Fred Doten, sent to Naft June 2, read in part: “Subject: Recommendation and justification to eliminate the Laughlin Town Manager position.”
Doten wrote, “Below I discuss reasons to support why the Town Manager position is no longer necessary; some of which are based on savings to the county, while others are specifically related to the effectiveness of the present Town Manager Dr. Brian Paulson. I have observed Dr. Paulson’s detrimental deterioration of the relationship of Laughlin with the communities, hotel/casinos and businesses that encompass the Tri-state area.
“Dr. Paulson since assuming the position as Town Manager has been ineffective in maintaining a harmonious relationship with our sister communities within the Tri-state area,” adding, “The fact of the matter is he has earned the disdain of government officials throughout the area.”
Doten suggested that Paulson had created a divisive relationship with the Bullhead City government, mainly Mayor Tom Brady and City Manager Toby Cotter, in regard to the approved bridge soon to join Laughlin and Bullhead City for a third crossing between the two.
Doten also wrote: “Very early in his Town Manager position, Dr. Paulson was unanimously voted off the Chamber’s Board of Directors and their by-laws were revised to no longer include a Town Manager.”
“Previous Town Managers held mostly voting positions on the Chamber Board and were positive liaisions between the Chamber and the County on many projects that served the community,” Doten wrote. “During LTAB (Laughlin Town Advisory Board) meetings, Dr. Paulson has reprimanded members of the board and stopped citizens from speaking before the board. As a public employee attending a meeting of elected officials, this type of behavior is counter-productive and detrimental to the image of Clark County government and distasteful to the citizens of Laughlin. His overbearing attitude with one of the recent LTAB members culminated with their resigning from the LTAB rather than tolerate the verbal abuse.”
In a letter sent by American Legion Post 60-Laughlin Commander Pam Walker, she wrote “RE: Laughlin Leadership Lacking.”
In that letter to the Laughlin Nevada Times and the Las Vegas Review Journal, Walker wrote: “I am writing to make an official complaint about our Town Manager Brian Paulson. During emergencies, the community looks to it’s leadership to ensure their needs will be met. Dr. Paulson has been a complete failure. It appears he has abdicated his paid position at a time when our elected and appointed leaders should be setting an example of organization, resolution, and partnership to the community.”
She went on to list her reasons why she felt Paulson should be removed from his current position. They included lack of leadership, emergency plan, absence from community and communication.
In regard to the COVID-19 pandemic during the shutdown of much of Laughlin, Walker wrote: “Our community organizations have stepped up and taken the actions needed to ensure the needs of Laughlin’s most vulnerable and needy citizens. We have been successful in acting as convenors of the most influential and passionate leaders to address the challenges of our town during this public emergency.”
From Searchlight came letters and a petition signed by nearly 50 of the residents of that township.
One such letter read, from resident Diane Kendall, “I am writing this letter as the spokesperson of Searchlight. It is very clear that the residents of Searchlight unanimously agree that Brian Paulson needs to step down as Laughlin town manager.”
Kendall apparently gathered the signatures and initiated the petition in Searchlight.
The letter continued, “Our experiences with Brian Paulson have been extremely negative. His favorite words are ‘No’ and ‘Absolutely Not.’ Brian Paulson has shown that he does not have the finesse to speak to the general public nor does he have the knowledge or experience to assist a town with it’s needs.”
She cited some examples of what she felt were a lack of assistance to Searchlights wishes. They included “Marijuana growers came to town and the town board asked that they be put on the agenda. This was refused.”
“In the general Fund Searchlight has approximately $20,000 she wrote. Many residents came up with ideas to beautify the community. This also has not been placed on the agenda (of town advisory board meetings).”
Concerning an issue when the town of Searchlight needed to file an appeal regarding horses in their community, she wrote “We strongly believe that Brian Paulson should have been our liaison to assist with the task, but it was Alex Ortiz (assistant director administrative services-Clark County) who assisted, along with other county employees.”
In a separate letter from Searchlight Town Advisory Board, member and former Chair Ellie Deever to Commissioner Naft in 2019, when the township gathered signatures on a petition to formally declare that Paulson ‘Would no longer be accepted as a liaison in Searchlight,” she stated that not one dissenting opinion in his defense arose, and that when then chair of the STAB (Searchlight Town Advisory Board) requested that there be a vote at the following meeting to determine the stance of Searchlight Town Advisory Board concerning the proposed cannabis farm, that “Brian Paulson unlawfully declared that the cannabis issue could not and would not be placed on the agenda,” according to her letter.
All of the correspondence concerning Paulson has been sent to Naft, as well as other officials in Clark County. No official statement has been made by Clark County or any of those officials regarding the complaints to date.
The Laughlin Nevada Times did reach out to Paulson for comment on the letters but no reply was received by press time for this article.