Nevada Legislative Representatives Are No Shows At Homeland Security Commission Meetings

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Legislature’s representatives at the state Homeland Security Commission meetings have been no shows this year, and the lack of participation is being cited as a concern by members of the panel, including Gov. Brian Sandoval.

The commission met Wednesday and Bob Fisher, president and CEO of the Nevada Broadcasters Association and a member of the commission, said the failure of legislative leaders to either attend or send alternates to the meeting is a concern.

His concern was echoed by Sandoval, who is now serving as the chairman of the commission.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, is listed as a nonvoting member of the panel but he did not attend the meeting.

Fisher said the Senate majority leadership has not yet selected a representative to serve on the commission.

Nevada state law says the Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker are to appoint one non-voting member each.

Sandoval appoints the 14 voting members of the commission.

The previous representative from the Senate was former Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, who attended many of the commission meetings during his tenure.

According to minutes of the commission meetings and workshops, Oceguera attended one of 14 meetings since Jan. 2009, in June of 2009. No member of the Senate has attended a meeting this year.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, could not be reached for comment.

In response to the concerns, Oceguera said that as a non-voting member, his presence is not required at every meeting of the commission.

“That being said, I am in constant contact with members of the committee and I’m fully briefed on the committee’s important work,” he said. “Further, as an assistant fire chief, my job entails dealing with homeland security issues on a daily basis.”

Oceguera said that with his time in the Legislature coming to an end, he is in the process of appointing a new Assembly representative to the commission.

Fisher said that if legislative leaders cannot attend, then maybe they could designate alternates to represent the Legislature at the meetings.

Bob Fisher, president and CEO of the Nevada Broadcasters Association and member of the Nevada Homeland Security Commission.

Fisher said the failure of lawmakers to attend the meetings has been raised as a concern at previous meetings as well.

“I think it is a concern because look at the meeting today,” he said. “There is so much that has been covered.”

Earlier in the meeting on a separate agenda item, Fisher said a majority of the Legislature does not know what the Nevada Homeland Security Commission does. The comment came during a discussion about the need to get increased federal funding for Nevada’s anti-terrorism efforts.

Fisher said the commission will approach the Legislature in 2013 on various issues, and having members who attend the meetings and who are up to speed on those issues would be beneficial.

Sandoval agreed that legislative participation is important.

If legislative leaders cannot attend, possibly they could designate alternates, he said.

“I couldn’t agree more,” Sandoval said.

In an interview today, Fisher put the blame for the failure to educate the Legislature on the activities of the commission on the panel itself, not lawmakers.

“I think over the years we’ve done a very, very poor job, or we haven’t done a good enough job, in helping to educate the public, let alone the legislators, on: This is the Homeland Security Commission, this is what we do, this is what we’re trying to achieve, this is what we’re working (on) to make all of Nevada safer,” he said.

This is why it is important to have legislators attend the meetings, Fisher said.

The effort to get changes to state law on behalf of the commission in the 2011 session was a challenge, but it was the fault of the commission, not the Legislature, he said.

“It is a failure of the commission to communicate adequately,” Fisher said.

This will likely change with Sandoval deciding to serve personally as chairman of the commission, he said.

“Having Gov. Sandoval as the chairman of the Homeland Security Commission is the best thing to happen to homeland security in the state of Nevada,” Fisher said.

Past governors have designated others to serve on the panel on their behalf.

The meeting was the last for the panel before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Kevin Favreau, special agent in charge, FBI Las Vegas, and a non-voting member of the panel, said that as the somber anniversary approaches, the commission has over the years created a system to keep Nevada safe.

He acknowledged the country is going into a period of heightened concern with the approach of the anniversary, but gave an optimistic assessment of Nevada’s readiness.

“Our director and others in our national security structure are very concerned about it because of the tape that was taken from when Osama bin Laden was killed, as it being a significant date, and also because of the potential for copycats or lone offenders, as we heard from Mr. Fisher; Mumbai-style attacks,” he said.

“But should anything happen, I’m confident that Metro and others in the northern part of the state are very ready to be able to respond, and of course we hope that doesn’t happen,” Favreau said. “But from a preventative aspect this commission has helped this state to be as ready as we can be to try to prevent it.”

Audio clips:

Commission member Bob Fisher says most members of the Legislature doesn’t know what the commission does:

081811Fisher1 :28 is responsible for.”

Fisher says the Wednesday meeting covered a range of important topics:

081811Fisher2 :05 has been covered.”

Fisher says the commission bears the responsibility for failing to educate lawmakers on what the panel does:

081811Fisher3 :28 of Nevada safer.”

Kevin Favreau, special agent in charge, FBI Las Vegas, says the upcoming anniversary of 9-11 is cause for concern:

081811Favreau1 :24 Mumbai-style attacks.”

Favreau says the work of the commission has ensured Nevada is ready to respond if need be:

081811Favreau2 :18 to prevent it.”

 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QL6VLWPUOGJGXFQIYKFVEKFSNI Mr. W

    If the legislators don’t want to work the job we elected them to do, I don’t want to pay them.  They must think this works like the NLVFD.  Don’t show and there’s  no problem, you get paid anyway.  Maybe someone needs to tell them that this isn’t a union job.  There isn’t anyone to wipe them after they go potty.

  • 3p1c f41l0p

    The governor appoints ALL voting members and this article is trying to spin the two non voting spots as actually mattering. It must be a slow news day. If you can’t vote, YOU DON’T MATTER.
    So, Sandoval has his little group of favorites and Sean Whaley is surprised that Dems don’t want to associate with them? Why would they? Given the option of campaigning or sitting in a meeting that I can’t vote in my time would be best spent campaigning.
    Neither Horsford nor Oceguera are experts on “Homeland Security” so what do they have to offer in a debate that doesn’t include them? NOTHING.
    This is one more ultra spin article trying to attack Dems or arbitrary garbage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=759123581 Wyatt Cox

    @ 3p1c f41l0p I can tell you that Bob Fisher is right on the money when he points out that the Legislature could care less if the public is informed in the event of an emergency.  Most of the Legislature – both sides of the aisle – give only lip service to Emergency Preparedness since it won’t get them reelected.  If the big bomb drops in Nevada, it won’t matter if they’re reelected or not.  This attitude, BTW, isn’t exclusive to the Legislature.  Local politicians suck this bad, too….

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_J3SDHVQJIM6LTMIMYDEDX2LQBY Wayne D

    “Further, as an assistant fire chief, my job entails dealing with homeland security issues on a daily basis.””

    Wow. Here’s a guy who’s REALLY impressed with himself.