Incline Village government commits felony-level crimes to conceal public records

By Michael Schaus
  • Wednesday, August 23, 2017

In a stunning admission reported earlier today exclusively by the Nevada Journal, staff at the Incline Village General Improvement District (IVGID) openly confessed to destroying or concealing public records as a matter of policy — a felony-level crime under Nevada state law.

After area resident Mark Smith submitted a public records request for, among other things, copies of all email correspondence between IVGID general manager Steve Pinkerton and the district’s trash company, Waste Management, IVGID staff responded by only providing copies of emails from the past 30 days, citing a “retention policy” whereby any emails older than 30 days were either destroyed or withheld from production.

Yet, NAC 239.155 expressly requires that local governments permanently retain the email correspondence of executives like IVGID general manager Steve Pinkerton. The only exception to this mandate is if a local government adopted their own written records retention schedule, which had received the approval of the State Library, Archives and Public Records Administrator. Yet, by IVGID’s own admission, their 30 day retention policy received no such approval.

As Nevada Journal managing editor and NPRI senior vice president Steven Miller reported:

If any of the requested emails still exist in some form of digital backup, IVGID would have illegally concealed them, a category C felony under Nevada law, specifically NRS 239.320. If the emails were destroyed, that, also, is a C felony under the same statute.

In addition to the District’s policy violating the letter of the law, it also eviscerates the spirit and intent of the state’s public records law, as this exact case demonstrates:

On August 1, 58 days after the initial request, IVGID finally turned over a handful of emails. Although Smith’s request had covered multiple years, with special attention to 2016, the district had released only a dozen recent emails. And the earliest was dated a couple of weeks after his June 4th request.

“So the two problems,” Smith told Nevada Journal, “are, one, they didn’t [provide] anywhere near [the records requested], but, two is, they received my email on June 4th, and after they received my request, they deleted emails.”

In responses to the allegations of criminality at IVGID, NPRI communications director Michael Schaus released the following statement:

It is imperative that local governments be transparent and are held accountable to the people they serve. In order to keep taxpayers in the dark, IVGID has chosen to blatantly and flagrantly defy state law. The State must immediately investigate IVGID’s unlawful actions and take any means necessary to bring them into compliance with the state’s public records law.

Be sure to visit NevadaJournal.com or click here to read the story, IVGID’s efforts to conceal public records gets bizarre, in its entirety.