Posts Tagged ‘Haley’

Gov. Sandoval Calls For Reassessment Of Homeland Security Funding Priorities

By Sean Whaley | 5:23 pm November 2nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval today called for a reassessment of Nevada’s homeland security priorities given the news that federal funding for the ongoing fight against terrorism could be as much as 47 percent less in the 2012 federal fiscal year compared to last year.

Sandoval, who serves as the chairman of the Homeland Security Commission, noted that the panel’s priorities were last established in October 2010, before he was elected governor, and before many members of the current panel had been appointed to serve.

“It would helpful to me for us to go through that exercise again with the permission of the other members of the commission,” Sandoval said. “And also to have somewhat, of what I guess for lack of a better term is, a ‘state of homeland security’ both within Nevada and federally and where we may be, where we need to be, where we’re deficient.

A review of priorities would give the commission and Chris Smith, the new chief of the Nevada Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, an opportunity to have, “a reset for all of us to ensure that we’re all on the same page,” he said.

The commission agreed and set a special meeting for Jan. 7 in Las Vegas that will include a tour of the Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center, also known as a fusion center.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said the federal funding cuts being contemplated to states and local governments for homeland security would be on top of cuts this past 2011 fiscal year from 2010. The 2012 federal fiscal year began Oct. 1.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie.

“If you take all of the state homeland security money that comes to the local programs to include UASI (Urban Area Security Initiative) dollars, at the federal level right now at the Senate you are looking at close to a 47 percent reduction coming to state and local than that which you saw in 2011,” he said.

“So it’s even more important that we’re very specific and judicious with this money that is coming forth to the states because that funding stream is becoming significantly smaller than that which we’ve been used to in the past,” Gillespie said.

The commission also has to be flexible when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issues guidelines on where the spending priorities should be, he said. Submitting grants that don’t focus on those priorities won’t get funded, Gillespie said.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Nevada was eligible for $21 million in grants in 2010, but only $14.5 million in 2011.

Funding could have been even lower but members of the House of Representatives, including Reps. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Joe Heck, R-Nev., rejected a proposal to make UASI funding available only to the nation’s 10 largest cities, which would have excluded Las Vegas.

Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley said the reassessment should also evaluate which projects are achievable given current funding levels, and how close Nevada is to accomplishing those objectives.

The Homeland Security Commission has seen major changes since Sandoval took over as chairman of the panel. Several long-time members have left and new members are learning about the operation of the commission.

There are 14 voting members of the commission, all appointed by Sandoval. There are also non-voting members, including two representatives of the Legislature. There was some concern expressed at the August meeting that lawmaker representatives were not attending the meetings.

Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, the new Senate representative and a candidate for the new Congressional 4 seat, attended his first meeting. But Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, the new representative replacing Speaker John Oceguera, did not attend the meeting.

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Audio clips

Gov. Brian Sandoval says the state’s homeland security priorities need to be revisited:

110211Sandoval1 :21 where we’re deficient.”

Sandoval says the members of the Homeland Security Commission need to make sure they are in agreement on those priorities:

110211Sandoval2 :10 the same page.”

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie says federal homeland security funding could face major cutbacks in 2012:

110211Gillespie1 :21 saw in 2011.”

Gillespie says Nevada has to be even more judicious in how it spends its limited federal homeland security funding:

110211Gillespie2 :18 in the past.”

 

Investigation Of Former Nevada Nuclear Projects Chief Remains Unresolved After Two Years

By Sean Whaley | 8:12 am October 7th, 2010

CARSON CITY – An investigation into the conduct of the former executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, sought by a state lawmaker after questions were raised about salary increases he awarded himself on the job, remains unresolved after more than two years.

A Nevada News Bureau public records request sent to the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office generated a brief response saying the matter regarding Bob Loux was still under investigation and no information was available for release.

Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, asked the Nevada Attorney General’s office on Sept. 11, 2008, for an investigation into Loux’s actions for “malfeasance in office and possible criminal activity.”

Due to a conflict, the attorney general’s office asked Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley to look into Gansert’s concerns.

No results of any investigation have yet been reported by Haley’s office.

Gansert said she does not know why an investigation is taking so long but that it needs to be concluded in an effort to get the salary increases Loux awarded himself repaid to taxpayers.

“It is important that the taxpayers, at the minimum, get their money back,” she said.

Loux gave himself raises that were unauthorized, Gansert said.

The excess salary has not been returned to the state, although Loux’s retirement benefits were adjusted downward to account for the unauthorized pay hikes, she said.

Loux won a state Ethics Commission ruling on the matter, but Gansert said that ruling was based on a technicality.

Loux could not be reached for comment.

Gov. Jim Gibbons called in September 2008 for Loux’s resignation after learning of the salary overpayments, calling the level of mismanagement at the office “severe.” Gibbons said the salary overpayments, which went to other officials in the office as well, came to light when Loux sought funds to cover a shortfall in his budget.

Loux actually served at the pleasure of the Commission on Nuclear Projects, which accepted his resignation in September 2008.

Asked for a comment on the length of the Loux investigation, Gibbons said: “These are the types of situations that erode the public’s confidence in government. The progress of this matter should have been closely monitored by the attorney general to make sure the interests of the people of Nevada are protected.”

Gibbons’ comment prompted a response from Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto: “Unfortunately, the governor continues to want to play politics with this issue and ignore the facts. Based upon an internal conflict in my office, the case was referred out of my office to an independent law enforcement agency for investigation to protect the integrity of the legal process and the public’s confidence in that process. The very nature of the conflict requires that my office have no further involvement in the case.”

The salary issue went to the state Ethics Commission in March of 2009 based on a complaint also filed by Gansert. The commission ruled 3-2 that because Loux’s salary was actually set by the governor, the allegation he violated ethics laws by exceeding the legislatively approved salary for his office was not at issue.

Loux’s response to the ethics inquiry was that he acted within his authority and responsibility.

Information provided to Ethics Commission staff disclosed that the governor sets the salaries of the commission employees, not the executive director, and that they can be set at any level as long as the total amount in the salary budget category for the agency is not exceeded.

The two dissenting commissioners said the Legislature did set Loux’s salary by reviewing and approving the governor’s recommended budget for the office. They said the question of whether he violated the ethics laws should have been reviewed.

Gansert said the Ethics Commission decision never got to the issue of whether Loux gave himself unauthorized raises at taxpayer expense in violation of the state ethics laws.

According to an Ethics Commission investigator’s report approved Nov. 7, 2008, Loux’s salary was set by the Legislature at $104,497 in 2006 but he was paid $120,537 that year. His salary was set at $108,677 in 2007 but he was paid $125,355. He was authorized a salary of $114,088 in 2008 but received $145,718.

Gansert said the excess pay should be returned by Loux.

Homeland Security Commissioners, Sheriffs Frustrated With Lack of Progress

By Sean Whaley | 1:41 pm April 7th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Members of Nevada’s Homeland Security Commission expressed frustration today that more than eight years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, local law enforcement and other emergency responders still can’t communicate with each other when responding to an emergency.

Commission member and former Clark County Sheriff Jerry Keller said the lack of interoperable communications was a major problem in responding to those terrorist attacks, and Nevada still faces the issue after spending millions of dollars in federal funds in an effort to prepare for and prevent terrorist attacks.

“We’ve spent $200 million dollars of federal money in the state of Nevada, and we’re still in the same boat,” he said.

Keller said he would like a report at the next commission meeting on the status of the communications issue that would include a timeline on when the problem will be solved.

Robert Wideman, the newly hired interoperable communications coordinator for Nevada, said he shares the concerns expressed by Keller.

“I think your analysis of what has happened is spot on,” he said. “I guess my approach in the time I have been here is not to point fingers at anyone on what they did or didn’t do right, but rather to find a strategy to lead us out of this.”

Keller said: “I don’t want to point fingers, I just want a date.”

Commissioner and Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley said he would like to see a document showing where interoperability remains an issue.

“Because we do have interoperability and operability within certain regions of this state, and there are projects to connect those areas that don’t have it,” he said. “I think we need to clear the air by having folks in this room that are qualified to explain where those things occur presently and where we need to focus our attention at.”

Commissioner and Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie agreed, saying progress has been made on interoperability since the terrorist attacks of 2001. But there are factors state emergency responders don’t have control over, he said.

“It’s not just the voice information that needs to be shared, it’s the data information that needs to be shared,” Gillespie said.

“I share my former boss’s frustration in dealing with this particular issue because we never actually seem to get there,” he said. “We keep moving but then the target gets moved on us.”

Washoe County District Attorney and Sheriff Announce Intent to Run for Re-election in 2010

By Sean Whaley | 2:49 pm October 5th, 2009

Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick and Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley both announced today their intention to run for new four-year terms in 2010.

A Nevada native from Elko, Gammick was first elected to the position in 1994 after serving for 10 years as a deputy district attorney and chief deputy district attorney.

Haley is in his first term as sheriff, having served previously as under sheriff for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department. He has served in various positions in the department since 1980.

Both officials announced their political intentions on the Nevada NewsMakers program.