UGLY CARSON CITY POLITICS – Lori Bagwell, the challenger VS John McKenna, the incumbent

John McKenna

John McKenna MUG SHOT

Candidates vying for Carson City’s supervisor seat from Ward 3 clash over downtown changes and offer subtle shades of differing emphasis regarding other issues.

Lori Bagwell, the challenger, opposed the city sales tax hike for downtown and other capital improvement plans. She is concerned “frills” are taking the focus from basic service needs. John McKenna, the incumbent, supported the tax passed by the Board of Supervisors to help boost vibrancy downtown and across the city. He also says some service needs can be done efficiently and cost effectively by contracting for them.

Bagwell, a businesswoman and retired NevadaDepartment of Corrections deputy director, touts her candidacy as a chance for residents to choose change.

“I believe that I bring a different perspective,” she said. “I think you have to follow through with what you say. I don’t believe the other candidate has shown that.”

Lori Bagwell

McKenna, a certified public accountant who served on the school board before becoming supervisor from Ward 3 in 2011, called himself “a known quantity in this town” who advocates businesslike approaches to running local government.

“I don’t publicize it much,” he said, “but this is my 20th year as an elected official.”

McKenna said he uses his CPA skills and business acumen to separate solid information from misinformation as he makes difficult public sector decisions. In a world changed by such things as modern communications and the recent recession, he said, such skills are crucial. In part, he added, changes mean human beings are no longer a localized natural resource but operate instead in an international marketplace.

“I think we need less management, more efficient management,” he said. “I come from the business side. I don’t come from the side that says we need more bodies.” He said even though city government is lean, it employs too many.

Bagwell said the city’s complement of about 550 workers full time and 250 part time adds up to “just the right amount if the services you have are what you want.” She cited a Moss Adams LLP internal audit study upcoming to help sort out that question, but also said she looks to stave off or eliminate the frills she talked about in order to keep the city’s budget attuned to basic services.

The two candidates responded to a series of similar questions in separate sit-down interviews with the Nevada Appeal. Bagwell’s view city government needs to prioritize basic needs over frills prompted a follow-up question about whether Carson City is indulging in such froth.

“I think we’re moving toward the frills, and that’s why I’m running,” she replied.

Bagwell suggested easing into downtown change rather than cutting Carson Street from four lanes to three, widening sidewalks and sprucing that business area up to enhance foot traffic. As chairperson of the Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee, she backs the RACC-endorsed idea of closing 3rd Street just off Carson Street downtown for special events.

“It’s a small section in which we could test the theory,” Bagwell said. She said that concept is “much smaller and wouldn’t require the taxpayer to go into debt.” Reminded the tax already is in place and bonded indebtedness is expected before she would take office if she wins, she said the funding could be redirected or paid off after a decade rather than longer term.

Additional projects in the city-approved capital improvement plans, which are based on the tax hike and bonding, include: improving other major business corridors; building a multi-purpose athletic center; constructing an animal shelter, and upgrading the community center. A plan of expenditure envisions them all, but each still needs board authorization votes, prompting Bagwell to challenge proceeding with the current downtown design plan.

“We don’t have to do it,” she asserted.

McKenna, who supported the tax increase as funding for the entire project package, has stressed long term community backing for the athletic center and the need for other upgrades. But he didn’t duck the issue regarding downtown. Looking forward to 2019, he said the freeway bypass will be completed so what gets done downtown and in the community can mean “it will either be a wasteland or a vibrant community people come to.”

He also said he ran for a second term “basically to finish out what we started, and to move the city to a point where it can deal with the world as it exists now.”

That changed world — given his view it was altered markedly by the Internet, recession and other factors — prompted his preference for contracting over a swelled city staff. He cited the board’s decision to farm out city code enforcement and building services to Charles Abbott Associates, Inc., a private company.

“I’d like to see more of it,” he said. “We contract out just about everything we can now,” but, “I think there’s room for more of it; for shrinking the size of city government.” Despite that, he sees the city operating currently in a lean manner because job slots have been cut to cope with the recession.

Bagwell, meanwhile, cited another way to contract with the private sector but it doesn’t involve people. She proposed as one of her new direction ideas a movement toward leasing some city fleet vehicles. She said the fleet has aged so much during and after the recession basic public safety protection could suffer.

“I don’t want to see a call go out to a peace officer and he can’t roll,” she said. Calling for consistent and timely vehicle replacements, she said her leasing idea could mean “we don’t have to constantly revisit this issue.”

She returned often to her theme basic needs must come first, frills should be avoided, and tax relief should come after bedrock service needs are addressed. She acknowledged the board had provided some tax relief by lowering the property tax rate from $3.56 to $3.54 per $100 in assessed valuation, or about $14 on a new $200,000 home, but challenged the value of that from two perspectives.

First, she said, the relief was small and has been offset, and then some, by the sales tax hike. Consumers will pay about $12.50 more in tax for $10,000 in purchases of taxable goods.

Secondly, she said, such tax relief was premature given needs.

Over a year the property rate cut tax will ding city coffers about $100,000 overall, returning it to property owners, while the sales tax hike will raise about $1 million. But Bagwell’s point was the 60 percent coming from residents, along with some 40 percent from visitors, would go for new projects rather than ongoing needs.

McKenna, meanwhile, contends the property tax relief fulfills in part a promise to voters when the city years ago had to raise property taxes by a dime due to the recession. He said it was done to keep services, including fire protection, solid. He said as revenue streams showed signs of recovering earlier this year he moved to decrease the property tax rate a dime, but the board decided just two cents would be lopped off for now.

“I’m going to hold their feet to the fire,” he said, by continuing if re-elected to propose to colleagues the property tax rate go lower.

Both candidates want to address problems of deferred maintenance, saying it’s costly over the long term. Bagwell focused on the fleet, though she also said roads are bad; McKenna, as both board and Regional Transportation Commission member, decried the lag in street maintenance. “Deferred maintenance is deferred tax,” he said.

Outside the fiscal arena, Bagwell proposed revisiting city zoning to open up land in areas for development. She mentioned the airport as a particular spot so manufacturing or other business can be lured to that northeast part of the community.

McKenna said not only street maintenance, but promoting and enhancing local government’s public contact and involvement are important.

He wants to open information up to all citizens by using such things as live streaming of meetings and better use of the Internet, other electronic methods and future communications tools.

Bagwell cited good governance as another priority and said she favors the city manager government form with which she’s familiar in Carson City. She said someone is in charge and responsible. McKenna said many people like the city manager form.

While he didn’t advocate scrapping it, he said, he always questions the need for a city staff position when one opens up.

He raised the question when Larry Werner left last December, but added abandoning Carson City’s current arrangement is unlikely any time soon despite the changing world.

“It could happen,” he said. “Probably not in my lifetime.”

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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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