Whereas we screwed up the first time …

Posted on | February 11, 2010 | 4 Comments

Behind the rain shadow, the news just gets more eye-popping. This deliciously poker-faced article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal is dated today but went live yesterday. Today, yesterday. Today, twenty years ago. What is time when there is groundwater in five rural basins in central eastern Nevada and to the south, hot dry Las Vegas wants it?

Time, it turns out, is the issue. Last month, the Supreme Court of Nevada ruled that the State Engineer had violated the due process rights of those protesting a nearly 300-mile-long pipeline proposed by Las Vegas. Under the law, hearings awarding Las Vegas rural water that began in 2006 should have begun in 1991.

Oddly enough, the first defense of the State Engineer arose first not from his Carson City offices, but from Las Vegas, from the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which quickly issued a press release arguing that  the Supreme Court ruling would jeopardize more than a thousand awards. The State Engineer had busted the legal time limit more than 1,800 times by its reckoning. Think of the farmers, miners and municipalities who could lose their water.

It’s taken a whole two weeks for the position of the Southern Nevada Water Authority to become the position of the State Engineer’s boss at the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. According to yesterday/today’s report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the state engineer’s boss is now writing the Governor to ask for an item to be put on the agenda for a Special Session of the Nevada Legislature later this month. This item, described by the Las Vegas newspaper as a “quick fix,” will ask: Could the lawmakers please break from their tax crisis to revisit a bill that was crafted by Southern Nevada Water Authority lobbyists in 2003? It was intended to amend state law to retroactively strip the protestants of their due process rights going back to 1991, but clearly the Supreme Court needs this clarified.

Yes, you’ve got it: The boss of the man who is adjudicating the case between the protestants and Las Vegas says he’s going to write the Governor on behalf of Las Vegas to use the Legislature to get around the Supreme Court, which just censured his office on behalf of the protestants. Nevadan jurisprudence has a phrase for it. It’s called “gaming the table.”


4 Responses to “Whereas we screwed up the first time …”

  1. EmilyGreen
    February 11th, 2010 @ 12:18 pm

    This came via e-mail from a Las Vegas subscriber to the Review-Journal. While the headline to today’s story in the online edition is “Pipeline future: Water officials rush to craft bill in response to court ruling; Special session might include bill to address court ruling,” the headline on the story in the home print edition was “Water Law Fix Sought”.

    The reader commented: “The word ‘fix’ is probably more appropriate than the paper realizes.”

  2. Dennis Ghiglieri
    February 12th, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

    You have nailed it down; thanks for these thoughtful and insightful postings. SNWA’s influence on the State water officials appears to be very “cozy” to say the least.

    The crisis is one for SNWA but they’ve managed to try to make it look like it affects other’s water rights, too — none even slightly on the scale of the massive grab by the Water Authority which was protested by thousands.

  3. Here All Along I Thought It Was Climate Change…. : jfleck at inkstain
    February 13th, 2010 @ 9:22 am

    […] this explains Pat Mulroy’s recent travails: A court in drought-plagued Malawi has jailed a man accused of casting a spell that blocked rain […]

  4. The governor will think about it | Chance of Rain
    February 17th, 2010 @ 9:51 am

    […] governor to use the legislature to render the state’s supreme court’s decision moot, here. Category: Las VegasTags: chance of rain > Jim Gibbons > pipeline > Southern Nevada Water […]

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