Paul McGrath, former Carson City sheriff, wants action on use of road funds after next year’s Board of Supervisors begins work or he will consider a petition drive

gas taxPaul McGrath, former Carson City sheriff, wants action on use of road funds after next year’s Board of Supervisors begins work or he will consider a petition drive.

McGrath, the sheriff from 1987 until 1995 who later served 15 years as executive director of the Western State Sheriffs Association, said city government doesn’t use a nickel in gasoline tax authorized for the freeway or related local street expenditures as originally intended. He said the improper use, as he views it, has gone on for a decade.

“It’s not to embarrass the city,” he said of his petition idea and a running battle with Transportation Manager Patrick Pittenger over use of the funds. “It’s just to get something done.”

McGrath said he has talked with Supervisors Jim Shirk and Karen Abowd, as well as Supervisor-elect Lori Bagwell, in his bid to alter where the funds are used so streets badly needing maintenance get fixed. He didn’t divulge how long he would wait for board action before seeking a petition remedy. He did say he has consulted with an attorney about it but has yet to retain one.

“I want them to fix what they’re supposed to fix,” he said, noting from his perspective the money is intended for the freeway or for arterials leading from it or nearby neighborhood streets.

His contention is that if city government was going to broaden the use to all city streets or roadways rather than those closer to the freeway, local government should have sought a vote of the people.

Pittenger, for his part, says road maintenance money is short because of various matters that have lowered overall gas tax take, and that a city ordinance from a decade ago provides proper authority for use of the nickel.

The ordinance language says it may “be used for the design and construction of the Carson City Freeway, or any arterial, collector, roadway or alternative route related to the movement of traffic through Carson City.”

Whenever conditions of local streets is discussed and Pittenger comments, he remarks that gasoline taxes haven’t been boosted in years and no longer generate sufficient income. He did so just last Thursday at a governing board meeting with this comment: “There is a structural shortfall in the amount of funds available.”

Mayor Robert Crowell on Monday said he’s aware of McGrath’s contention and isn’t opposed to a board discussion on the issue at some point, but added it should come through the Regional Transportation Commission. McGrath has been to the commission (RTC), but that body’s makeup will change next year because Bagwell defeated Supervisor John McKenna in November. McKenna is the board’s representative on RTC, so makeup there must change as well

“I don’t think there’s any difficulty with discussion of how the funds should be expended,” said the mayor, though he was clear regarding his caveat about having another round at the RTC level first.

Hyatt Hotel coming to Carson City? What about the fucked-up Ormbsy House project that’s been stuck for years?

Finish one fucking project before starting another…

Public comments in Carson City about a private sector downtown project are putting it at risk, the developer said Friday.

Matt MacRitchie, principal of Carson City Center Development LLC, said two people in Carson City identifying the Hyatt Hotel chain as the firm bringing a lodging property to the city are jeopardizing negotiations. He was talking about Supervisor Jim Shirk and Lisa Helget, a candidate for a seat on the Board of Supervisors here. MacRitchie spoke from Chicago, saying his project is geared to become an economic engine in Nevada’s capital city.

“These two are putting this development at risk,” he charged.

The developer’s take was Shirk and Helget are “using this to advance their own agendas” but putting his work at risk. He asserted there’s no document from Hyatt putting the hotel chain on record as coming to Carson City.

On Wednesday, Helget told a candidates’ forum audience at a Chamber of Commerce Soup’s On luncheon: “I’ll break the news: the Hyatt’s coming here.”

The contemplated project is to build a hotel, technology-oriented conference center and retail outlets.

“The fact that Lisa has said this publicly has actually hurt the negotiations with Hyatt,” said MacRitchie, president and CEO of MacCompany’s a real estate and development firm.

Supervisor Shirk first spoke of Hyatt’s interest openly weeks ago, which in part is why MacRitchie named him. Shirk then said he learned of it from a website later stripped of the possibility because it appeared inadvertently. It had been divulged there by Northern Nevada Development Authority.

Shirk said he put it out when asked for comments on who might be coming here after declining to sign a confidentiality agreement aimed at keeping officials mum on such prospective project details.

MacRitchie indicated Friday his project plans are ambitious but negotiations require privacy at this stage. He said if the plans come together, he’s anxious to share the concept with the public fully. He said the goal is a development that would create jobs, as well as tax revenues for city coffers.

Ormsby House Renovation Gallery

She used to be the grand old dame of Carson City. The Ormsby House was not only the biggest hotel and most opulent casino in Carson City, but also the tallest building in town. The neon on her roof shone like a beacon, drawing travellers towards downtown. Plus, notice the emblem in the portecochere above. She was using the Guns N’ Roses motif before Axl Rose was cool.

But the 90’s came and hit her hard, and she went through a rough patch — bankruptices, foreclosures, shuttered doors for two years, and a handful of different owners. In those dark years she was still limping along, but just barely, and she was definitely a shadow of her former self.

Image of the Ormsby House in the mid ’90s.

In the year 2000 she was bought by a local computer company, and she finally had a parent who had some money and was willing to fix her up. Their solution? Shut her down, gut the building, and renovate it from the inside out. “Grand Re-opening July 4th, 2001,” they proclaimed!

Now, here we are, several years later. Is it open yet? No. In fact, they’ve just now started on the exterior renovation. All the usual excuses have been given: construction snags, inadequate original blueprints, unforeseen problems, etc. The owners have even gone so far as to say it would have been cheaper and easier to tear the whole thing down and startnew. In fact, at one point they threatened to do just that. But no, through it all they’ve stuck to the promise of renovation.

In November 2002 work started in earnest. They’re building a mini-casino, the Winchester Club, on the lower level of the parking garage. It’s supposed to keep people occupied while the main renovation goes on. They’re planning for a new sky bridge, valet parking, luxurious hotel suites, and the title of “Best Buffet in Town”. They promised a Five Star experience. The opening date was pushed back to July 4th, 2003, and then beyond. And so the cycle continues.

This derelict phoenix at the heart of town will eventually rise again, and I’ll be there to document it. These pages are a chronicle of the exterior renovation. Nothing fancy, just me and my spiffy new digital camera walking around and taking pictures. No interior pictures, since that would require a hard hat and the owner’s permission, and I have neither. No insider information, either, since I’m just a local goof with no connections. All I know is what’s in the newspaper, and what I can see with my eyes. I’ll write about the former, and post pictures of the latter. Half-assed reporting at its best.

Now, on to the pictures! Pick a page from the list below, or click on the marquee to jump in at the beginning! Check back often for updates.

Latest Updates RSS

2012-02-10 – Ormsby House Update

2011-01-31 – Another Article on the Ormsby House

2010-09-21 – Ormsby House Hits 10 Years of Dormancy

2009-10-29 – Ormsby House Construction

2008-09-24 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – Summer, 2008

2008-05-20 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – Spring, 2008

2007-02-10 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – Winter, 2006

2006-11-12 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – October, 2006 Special Report – Inside the Ormsby House – Page 5

2006-11-12 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – October, 2006 Special Report – Inside the Ormsby House – Page 4

2006-11-12 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – October, 2006 Special Report – Inside the Ormsby House – Page 3

2006-11-02 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – October, 2006 Special Report – Inside the Ormsby House – Page 2

2006-10-26 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – October, 2006 Special Report – Inside the Ormsby House – Page 1

2006-09-16 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – September, 2006

2006-05-21 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – May, 2006

2006-03-02 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – February, 2006

2005-12-05 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – November, 2005

2005-11-10 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – October, 2005

2005-10-14 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – September, 2005

2005-09-08 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – August, 2005

2005-08-02 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – July, 2005

2005-07-02 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – June, 2005

2005-06-04 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – May, 2005

2005-05-04 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – April, 2005

2005-04-03 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – March, 2005

2005-02-27 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – February, 2005

2005-02-04 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – January, 2005

2005-01-05 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – December, 2004

2004-12-10 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – November, 2004

2004-11-04 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – October, 2004

2004-10-08 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – September, 2004

2004-09-11 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – August, 2004

2004-08-23 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – July, 2004

2004-07-01 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – June, 2004

2004-06-10 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – May, 2004

2004-05-17 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – April, 2004

2004-03-31 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – March, 2004

2004-03-06 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – February, 2004

2004-03-06 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – January, 2004

2004-02-09 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – December, 2003

2003-11-30 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – November, 2003

2003-11-27 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – October, 2003

2003-10-17 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – September, 2003

2003-10-15 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – August, 2003

2003-09-27 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – Extra Commentary – September 2003

2003-08-07 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – July, 2003

2003-06-13 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – June, 2003

2003-05-17 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – May, 2003

2003-04-24 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – April, 2003

2003-03-14 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – March, 2003

2003-02-27 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – February, 2003

2003-01-19 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – January, 2003

2002-12-10 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – December, 2002

2002-11-02 – Ormsby House Renovation Photos – November, 2002

Today’s Board of Supervisors meeting highlighted an issue discussed previously in Carson City Politics concerning the inability of City Staff to coherently present issues brought before the Board.


carson politicsToday’s Board of Supervisors meeting highlighted an issue discussed previously in Carson City Politics concerning the inability of City Staff to coherently present issues brought before the Board.

Today’s hot mess was served up by Marena Works who has repeatedly provided piecemeal “briefings” to the Board on the NV150 Fair which lacked structure and detail. In what should have been an opportunity to highlight the pros and cons of the fair while making a (successful) pitch for next year’s event, devolved instead in to Works gushing forth on some topics and not having answers for others.

carson city corruption

At this level of management, the Board should expect professional staff work and the responsibility for this falls directly to City Manager Nick Marano. Marano has accommodated sloppy staff work on a myriad of topics for too long and consistently set the bar too low for Staff appearing before the Board.  “Business casual” is a fashion style not a management technique.

Read more here:

Without Board of Supervisors knowledge, Carson City DA pays Thorndal Armstrong Delk Balkenbush & Eisinger to defend against lawsuits filed by Ty Robben

The Carson City DA who also over sees the city’s civil legal matters hired Reno based Thorndal Armstrong Delk Balkenbush & Eisinger see without the approval of the Carson City board of supervisors.

In the past, an agenda item was placed on the BOS agenda and voted on. See minutes from 2001 where money was approved by the BOS for Thorndal here:

FBI protest carson city courts fbi protest reno

law-firm-thorndal-armstrong-delk-balkenbush-eisinger-a-professional-corporation-photo-1068674Carson City Taxpayers are now on the hook for possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees as the fat lawyers at Thorndal Armstrong Delk Balkenbush & Eisinger suck off the pubic tit for more money.

Carson City District Attorney Neil Rombardo and Assistant DA Mark Krueger have circumvented the rules and laws to hire Reno law firm Thorndal Armstrong Delk Balkenbush & Eisinger to defend against civil lawsuits filed by Ty Robben. corruption

Normally, the DA who also handles civil matters for Carson City as well as criminal matters, would have to get approval from the Carson City Board of Supervisors. In this case, the DA office completely bypassed the approval and expenditure of public money.

The Carson City Board of Supervisors includes: Mayor Robert Crowell, Ward 1 Karen Abowd, Ward 2 Brad Bonkowski, Ward 3 John McKenna, Ward 4 Jim Shirk

See the related story:

On Your Side: City of Reno spends thousands on legal fees without council approval

11-kill the lawyers

John L. Thorndal
James G. Armstrong
Craig R. Delk
Paul F. Eisinger
Brian K. Terry
James J. Jackson
Philip Goodhart
Deborah L. Elsasser
Christopher J. Curtis
Kevin R. Diamond
Michael P. Lowry
Senior Associate
Kenneth R. Lund
Senior Associate
John D. Hooks
Senior Associate
Meghan M. Goodwin
Gregory M. Schulman
Of Counsel
Meredith L. Holmes
Stephen C. Balkenbush
Charles L. Burcham
Brent T. Kolvet
Robert F. Balkenbush
Katherine F. Parks
Brian M. Brown
Thierry V. Barkley
Of Counsel
Brandon R. Price
Kevin A. Pick

CARSON CITY CORRUPTION: A father/son team took on city government full tilt Thursday, telling the Board of Supervisors to stop monopolistic contracts and rein in spending for city staff

carson city corruption

A father/son team took on city government full tilt Thursday, telling the Board of Supervisors to stop monopolistic contracts and rein in spending for city staff.

That action starts at  4:50

A father/son team took on city government full tilt

Carson City Mayor    Karen Abowd   Supervisor Ward 2   Supervisor, Ward 3   Supervisor, Ward 4
Robert Crowell
 Ward 1
Karen Abowd
 Ward 2
Brad Bonkowski
 Ward 3
John McKenna

Ward 4
Jim Shirk


josh groth

Jim Groth descend the escalator to the ground floor of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Jim and Josh Groth, respectively the father and his grown son, appeared back-to-back during the board’s open comment period to chide city officials for actions viewed as anti-competitive, inadvisable in tough economic times and a problem when viewed from the private sector.

“This is not sustainable,” said the younger Groth. He said that after citing data indicating that last year Carson City paid more than $56 million in payroll and more than 200 city …


  1. 1.
    dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery.
    “the journalist who wants to expose corruption in high places”
    synonyms: dishonesty, unscrupulousness, double-dealingfraud, fraudulence,misconductcrime, criminality, wrongdoingMore

the process by which something, typically a word or expression, is changed from its original use or meaning to one that is regarded as erroneous or debased.
synonyms: alteration, bastardization, debasement, adulteration More

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Carson City Tax hike done deal; city manager next

ImageBy John Barrette 

Carson City’s sales-tax increase for capital projects cleared the last hurdle Thursday, and the Board of Supervisors immediately turned to the task of choosing a new city manager.

Formal interviews start this morning in a public meeting at the Community Center; board members and the five candidates to head city staff spent Thursday afternoon meeting in one-on-one sessions privately, which allowed informal questions and discussions. One of the major tasks the winning candidate will tackle is overseeing what should prove to be a drawn-out process of capital projects under the tax hike adopted in final form Thursday morning.

“I am not in favor of this tax going through,” said Supervisor Jim Shirk, sticking with his opposition until the end. It was the fourth time the board voted 4-1 in favor of the one-eighth-of-a-penny hike, which will cost consumers $12.50 more for each $10,000 in taxable goods purchased. The tally was such a forgone conclusion that no one testified for or against the ordinance this time, though some proponents watched from the crowd.


“I am not in favor of this tax going through,” said Supervisor Jim Shirk, sticking with his opposition until the end.

Mayor Robert Crowell and Supervisors Karen Abowd, Brad Bonkowski and John McKenna supported the plan in February and March, when it was first approved, and again the past two weeks when it cleared first reading and was adopted once again Thursday because a notification glitch required the second go-round to assure it got done by the book. The glitch was caught by bond counsel.

Bonds amounting to some $17 million can be issued under the plan of expenditure and ordinance, which names and specifies the projects but doesn’t contain all the details of each capital improvement involved.

The projcts include a multipurpose athletic center, an animal shelter, downtown streetscape changes to make the business core pedestrian-friendly, other Carson Street and East William Street improvements outside downtown, and a Community Center upgrade to help improve cultural use of the Bob Boldrick Theater.

The tax hike to underpin the bonds and projects, which is expected to raise $900,000 to $1 million annually, required support from a supermajority, or four votes. That rendered Shirk’s effort to change the program insufficient. That wouldn’t stop him from making other efforts to shape the projects going forward, he said.

“I will make sure I play a role,” he said.

ImageHe reiterated, for example, he wants the athletic center in Mills Park rather than near the Boys & Girls Clubs. Another situation that could prove contentious, though it wasn’t raised Thursday, is whether downtown Carson Street will become one lane each way or remain two lanes both north and south. The current favored city staff plan calls for cutting down to a lane each way, but the board will approve final details later.

The five city manager candidates, meanwhile, were on hand Thursday for the one-on-one afternoon sessions conducted at the Community Center and City Hall.

The candidates are Jeff Fontaine, Nevada Association of Counties; Stacey Giomi, Carson City fire chief; Tim Hacker, former North Las Vegas city manager; Nick Marano, a consultant and former Marine Colonel who ran Camp Pendleton, and Jim Nichols, formerly assistant city manager in Midland, Texas, and deputy city manger in Las Vegas.

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The city’s website does not recap how the board voted after each meeting.

Opinion: Yay and Nay votes require study

Submitted by editor on Tue, 10/22/2013 – 7:08am

The city’s website does not recap how the board voted after each meeting. To learn how I vote on an item, you must watch or attend the meeting. I try to explain and ask questions before each vote so the public can better understand the process for my decision.

Since I took office, I have pulled many Consent Agenda items that will cost tax payers money for discussion prior to any approval. I believe not asking questions and not having public discussion about spending taxpayer money is wrong.

Today we have a $30 million bond debt to repair an aging sewer and water facility. It should have had been maintained throughout the years with smaller increases in service fees, rather than the recent enormous increase we just incurred.

Financially I believe we need to do better and having only a legislative mandatory reserve can no longer be the accepted way of doing city business. Looming city employee labor agreements could quite possibly erase any increase we have achieved in our tax revenue. We have almost capped out on the taxes we can raise and only the 1/8% sales tax remains to carry us through an emergency. The use of this tax does not require a taxpayer vote, just the board’s approval.

We currently have a $1 million shortage in our street and repair fund. It would be illogical at this time to use of the 1/8% sales tax on revitalizing our City corridors.

Supervisors make decisions that can have long-term effects on every taxpayer; therefore each agenda item should be vetted by the entire Board. I take my elected position seriously and lament that I have only a few days to thoroughly review my board meeting packet. Why isn’t the theory of “haste makes waste”, applied? Sorry, another question.

Each yea or nay vote I cast is done with much thought and study, numerous questions and always with you, the taxpayer, in mind.

We are embarking on a new direction in our city and selection of the right city manager is paramount for a bright and bountiful future. This process will take time and a sense of urgency to begin is not likely to backfire.

I continue to urge all Carson City residents and business owners to contact your elected officials with questions, comments and concerns. As I, will continue to ask questions of city staff and my fellow board members, it’s the best way I know how to get answers for my constituents.

Jim Shirk
Carson City Board of Supervisor, Ward 4

BLOOD MONEY – Carson City Supervisors to vote on $41,500 settlement with euthanized dog’s owner

carson city dog kill

The owner of a dog euthanized by Carson City Animal Services against her wishes will receive $41,500 in a settlement if she signs a waiver of claims and the Board of Supervisors approves the pact Thursday.

The shih tzu, Rollie, was put down July 30 after being turned over to Animal Services five days earlier. A new code section governing animal care at the pound says Animal Services should board such animals for 10 days at the owner’s expense.

Owner Jeraldine Archuleta tried to recover the unlicensed dog July 26-27 but could not pay the fees due right away, according to the city. She asked for more time to pay.

According to the agenda for Thursday’s meeting, the new Animal Services code, adopted in May 2013, includes a provision for hardship cases.

carson city corruption

It states that if an owner can document hardship, fees for the dog’s recovery may be waived by approval of Animal Services’ manager or director.

The item that will go before the city’s governing board requests authorization for payment of the $41,500 upon Archuleta’s “execution of a written settlement, waiver of claims and hold harmless …”

It also makes clear the payment would amount to a full settlement of all existing and any potential future claims and causes of action or damages against the city, as well as its current or former employees.

Archuleta made her case about the dog’s euthanasia public via a letter to the editor in the Nevada Appeal, prompting city government to close the Animal Services pound for three days for the stated reason of training personnel.

The city subsequently parted company with Animal Services manager Gail Radtke and has hired an interim manager. Radtke has sued the city, claiming she was unfairly let go.

The euthanasia controversy developed at the same time as an effort by a separate, private-sector group called the Carson Animal Services Initiative to raise money to help the city build a new shelter for dogs and other stray animals.

Archuleta’s lawyer, Cal Dunlap, declined to comment Thursday. He said he’d do so after the city and Archuleta have reached an agreement. Continue reading