Northern Nevada government defies state's public records law to keep its own Board in the dark

  • Tuesday, September 26, 2017

 

In a recent board meeting, the Incline Village General Improvement District (IVGID) Board Chair and General Counsel confessed to illegally withholding public records from IVGID Board Treasurer Matthew Dent.

This shocking admission makes clear that the previously reported IVGID policy of denying access to emails older than 30 days — a felony-level crime under Nevada state law — was merely one example of an agency-wide hostility to transparency and disregard for the state’s public records law.

Initially, District General Counsel Jason Guinasso claimed that the financial record requested by Treasurer Dent — known as a Chart of Accounts — did not exist, stating that “…the fact is it doesn’t exist and — It just doesn’t exist. There’s no Chart of Accounts. There is nothing to be seen.”

This demonstrably false claim was laughed at by Board Chair Kendra Wong who admitted that, “It has to exist for us to have an accounting system.”

Yet Chair Wong still supported denying Dent access to the very financial documents necessary to carry out his responsibilities as Board Treasurer, based on the fear that doing so would allow the public at large to see how IVGID spends their money.

Specifically, Wong expressed concern that “if [the Chart of Accounts] gets shared with us, it becomes a public document.”

Nevada Policy Research Institute Transparency Director Robert Fellner says Wong’s claim is simply false.

“Nevada state law explicitly defines public records to include ‘information stored on a computer,’ regardless of whether or not that information has been previously shared with others.”

Even more troubling than IVGID's chronic ignorance of Nevada's public records law, however, is the District's relentless effort to operate without public oversight — even going so far as to keep Treasurer Dent from performing his duly-elected duties.

“It is baffling to see a government agency so repeatedly and brazenly defy state law in order to keep its books hidden from the public — including its own Board Treasurer,” commented Nevada Policy Research Institute President John Tsarpalas.

“We implore the Attorney General’s Office to take swift action to ensure that IVGID is brought into full compliance with Nevada’s public records law.”

For more information, please visit NevadaJournal.com to read the full report.