A criminal complaint was filed this past Friday against former Assemblyman Morse Arberry Jr. for failing to report as campaign contributions more than $120,000 from private individuals that wound up in his personal checking account, which we’re sure he simply forgot to transfer to his campaign account and may have accidentally used the private funds to make a couple of mortgage payments on his house in a gated community miles from his district. Just a momentary lapse. Or maybe the private donors really meant to give him the money to help out a friend — like Ensign’s parents did.
But when it comes to paying another assemblyman with taxpayer funds to do two time-consuming jobs simultaneously, not an eyebrow is raised, much less a criminal complaint.
Glenn Cook recounted Sunday in his Review-Journal column, Steven Miller dug deeper Wednesday with his Nevada Journal piece and Ed Vogel today reports on the collective shrug and disdain for the messenger over the “double-dipping” by Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, who collected his pay for serving in Carson City for the first half of the year and still managed to pull down a considerable salary for his day job as North Las Vegas assistant fire chief.
According to Cook, Oceguera from January to May was paid $67,383.89 by the fire department — including $4,417 for benefits, $11,306 in paid leave and holiday pay, $19,401 in pension contributions, $3,601 in longevity pay and $25,938 for hours worked.
Meanwhile, Miller obtained the NLV fire department work-roster logs for 2009 and 2011 and found Oceguera was credited during both legislative sessions with working four nine-hour days in most weeks of the sessions.
Both Oceguera and his boss, Fire Chief Al Gillespie, dismissed the disparity of work-roster logs and timecard data sent to Miller as merely the result of “ease of coding.” Though one timecard screen-shot showed Oceguera working nine hours for the department on both May 9 and 10 this year, both days he was in Carson City, Oceguera basically explained the hours were accurate but the hours were assigned to certain days “for the ease of coding.”
The apparently flippant attitude over a taxpayer funded job being well compensated while the person assigned the job spends at least five months every other year in a city 324 miles away was on display when Vogel quoted Gillespie as saying of Miller’s research, “John is a great public servant and does a terrific job as assistant chief and in the Legislature. There wasn’t much truth in the article.”
Vogel found an unnamed spokesman for Oceguera who called Miller’s report “complete ‘National Enquirer’ trash.”
When you can’t dispute the facts, resort to name calling.
If all the records are fungible and coding is all for convenience instead of accuracy, how can the taxpayers ever determine whether they are getting value for their money or simply paying someone to defend the power and influence of local government rather than their taxpaying constituents?
And pay no attention to the state Constitution that reads, “The powers of the Government of the State of Nevada shall be divided into three separate departments, — the Legislative, — the Executive and the Judicial; and no persons charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments shall exercise any functions, appertaining to either of the others, except in the cases expressly directed or permitted in this constitution,” because no one else does. Make no mistake, in Nevada cities are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Legislature and being a firefighter and a legislator is a conflict of interest, pure and simple.
Miller estimates Oceguera was paid nearly $30,000 by the state for his work and expenses in Carson City. Add this to Cook’s reported city paycheck of more than $67,000. That does not include his pay in June.
As the headline on Cook’s column stated “It’s great work — if you can get it,” but the term “work” is used in the loosest sense we are sure.
Don’t expect any criminal investigations. Don’t expect any outraged city council members to question the expenditure. They know who the boss really is.
Here is Oceguera replying to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s State of the State speech, talking about getting what you pay for:
“… creating good paying jobs as we build.”