|Commissioners and DA may compromise on contract review policy|
|Written by Photography by Michael Michaelsen|
|Tuesday, January 26 2010 13:11|
(shown) Humboldt County DA Russell Smith.
WINNEMUCCA — Humboldt County Commissioners took the opportunity at their yearly retreat Monday (January 26) to revisit policy that allows the DA’s Office to review county contracts before the commissioners do so. The contract issue caught the commissioner’s attention when they learned Humboldt County DA Russell Smith has reviewed potential contracts from Recology, the company proposing to build a landfill on Jungo Rd., in advance of the commission being aware of it.
As Smith has tried to explain several times before, that’s just business as usual on a policy in place since before he was elected. His office is not negotiating hosting fees with Recology; rather, they’re looking for aspects of the contract that might represent liabilities for the county.
“When we get to a point where we feel the county is protected on the legal issues we bring it to the commission,” he said.
However, Commissioner Tom Fransway has repeatedly called for a change in the way contracts are reviewed prior to being presented to the commission. On the landfill issue he said, “We have not been in the loop and we should have been.” While Fransway has long been aware that Recology intended to develop a landfill on Jungo Rd., having participated in the vote that changed the ordinance to allow out-of-state garbage, he has repeatedly claimed the commissioners were unaware of the sheer magnitude of the thing, which is expected to receive 4,000 tons of garbage five days a week.
Smith countered that everything being done with the landfill was done at properly noticed meetings and was covered by local media. In addition, two other county departments were involved: the Regional Planning Committee and the Landfill Committee. Smith commented, “Both of those departments could have given you the heads-up. We weren’t doing this in a vacuum.”
As a compromise, Smith suggested a monthly meeting between himself and the commissioners in which he updated them on the contracts under review by his office. Although many of the details will have to be ironed out, Smith said the meetings will probably be closed to the public because the issues represent the potential for litigation. Nevada’s Open Meeting Laws allow government officials to close public meetings to discuss pending litigation. There may have to be some discussion about whether or not 'pending litigation' includes 'the potential for litigation'.