A Muth’s Truths Special Report
(Chuck Muth) – In the first two parts of this four-part series (Part I, Part II), I outlined the shenanigans being pulled by a rag-tag team of environmental extremists, liberal agitators and NIMBY’s who have been trying to kill a housing project on private property out near Red Rock Canyon.
When we left off, Clark County commissioners had inserted a federal road access requirement before the project could move forward. And that “poison pill” requirement forced the project into bankruptcy.
The developer, Jim Rhodes, then sued the county alleging an “illicit deal” engineered by Democrat County Commissioner Justin Jones (who happens to be up for re-election in November).
Reporter Daniel Rothberg of the Nevada Independent has been all over this story. And what he found stinks worse than a barrel of week-old dead fish on Dina Titus’ back porch in July.
Let’s start with this: The commissioners knew they were on weak ground if they continued to obstruct Rhodes’ effort to build his project. As Rothberg reported…
“In a 2012 email to lawyer Laura FitzSimmons, (then-County Commissioner Steve) Sisolak wrote that ‘I am not a fan of Jim Rhodes and I love Red Rock. That being said, some of the residents are being totally unreasonable, and he does have property rights.’
“In a follow-up, Sisolak wrote that county staff said ‘if [Rhodes] takes us back to court, we will lose.’ FitzSimmons had previously represented Sisolak in a dispute against Clark County.”
Yes, a dispute in which Sisolak siphoned $16 million from the pockets of county taxpayers in 2008 over the alleged “taking” of his property by what SHOULD be named the Las Vegas International Airport.
And as Sisolak admitted, a lot of this brouhaha is based solely on the fact that some people just don’t like Jim Rhodes personally regardless of the fact that “he does have property rights.”
Enter, stage left, Justin “Red Rocker” Jones.
After losing his re-election bid in 2014 – after just one unremarkable term in the Nevada State Assembly – Jones was retained as the attorney for the “Save Red Rock” gaggle of “We Hate Jim Rhodes” wackadoodles hell-bent on stopping his development project.
And with political ambition still burning white hot in his veins, Jones announced in May 2017 that he was running for the Clark County Commission seat then-held by term-limited Susan Brager, who represented the district in which the project was to be built.
But even Mr. Red Rocker admitted, in a March 2017 interview, that the land was “private property” and Rhodes was “entitled to build what he bought.”
That didn’t, however, stop Jones from trying to strip Rhodes of his rights. So his mob of Red Rockers & Rhodes Blockers sued to prevent the project from moving forward.
At the same time as Jones’ political comeback attempt, Sisolak and then-County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani were locked in a bitter Democrat primary fight for governor. Chris G was an adamant, unrepentant Rhodes Blocker and used the Red Rock kerfuffle as a bludgeon against “Shady Steve.”
In the end, Sisolak won. But the controversy over Red Rock followed him into the fall general election campaign.
And the Red Rocker brigade knew they could hurt Sisolak’s chances in his close race against Republican Adam Laxalt if Shady Steve refused to take a firmer, public stand against the project he’d already voted for “several times in the past.”
So on October 20, 2018 – just days before the election – Jones emailed an offer to Jim Ferrance, one of Sisolak’s top campaign advisers, in which his “Save Red Rock” clients would drop their lawsuit in quid pro quo return for Sisolak publicly announcing his opposition to waiving the road access requirement for Rhodes’ project.
“If the case goes to trial, it will likely be uncomfortable for Commissioner Sisolak,” Jones threatened.
“If Sisolak doesn’t want to play,” Jones boasted in a separate text to a Red Rocker, “then it is going to blow up in his face tomorrow.”
And lo and behold, On October 24 Shady Steve caved and announced publicly his opposition to granting the waivers Rhodes needed to continue the application process.
In return, the Red Rockers at the Nevada Conservation League issued a glowing statement headlined: “Sisolak stands up for protecting Red Rock Canyon.”
Sisolak went on to win, as did Jones.
The stench of this behind-the-scenes political extortion scheme remained secret…until Mr. Rothberg’s recent investigative report blew the lid off; the political equivalent of a loud fart in church.
I’ll wrap this all up in Part IV tomorrow. Buckle up and hold your nose.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“The (Rhodes) litigation with the county, pending before U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro, revolves around the bankruptcy (of the Gypsum Resources project). In filings, Gypsum describes the county causing $1 billion to $2 billion in damages. A settlement of that magnitude, if awarded, would have a cratering impact on the county’s $1.5 billion budget.” – Daniel Rothberg, Nevada Independent, 7/31/22
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views and blogs at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.