Gibbons, Breslow and Loux: Nevada’s ethical birds of a feather?

We’ve all heard the old expressions “blood is thicker than water” and “birds of a feather flock together.” But nothing is thicker than Republican blood in the political veins of our great Gov. Jim Gibbons, especially when it comes to a convicted ethics violator.

A good example is his appointment of former Sparks Mayor Bruce Breslow as executive director of the Nevada Commission for Nuclear Projects. He will replace Bob Loux, who resigned in September and is facing an ethics hearing for giving himself and his employees an unauthorized pay raise.

Breslow, another Republican with similar political bloodlines as Gibbons, seems to find his way to top-paying state jobs he’s not qualified for, despite being convicted of being as an ethics violator.

It started with former Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn, who held office from 1999 to 2007. When Breslow’s term as mayor of Sparks expired, Guinn appointed Breslow commissioner to the Nevada Transportation Services Authority. There he learned about taxi cab fares and tow truck regulations. Wow! That sure qualifies him to join the scientific and legal world of nuclear waste.

Breslow was chosen by Gibbons from a recommended list of three candidates submitted by the nuclear projects commission, chaired by former Nevada Gov. and U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan. The list included Tim Hay and Keith Tierney, along with Breslow.

Hay, a lawyer experienced in utility law and a former state consumer advocate, was at the top of the list. He received a unanimous recommendation from the nuclear projects commission’s six commissioners.

Joining him as a top contender, also with six recommendations, was another lawyer, Tierney. He worked on the MX missile project for the state in the 1970s. And, like Hay, has experience in utility and environmental law.

Breslow, at the bottom of the list, received only four recommendations from the committee but was appointed by Gibbons anyway.

Sen. Bryan said he thought Hay was the most qualified for the job but Breslow expressed enthusiasm for the position. Voicing the opinion of most Nevadans, he said “he was disappointed in the outcome of Gibbons’ selection.” Aren’t we all? Gibbons obviously thought enthusiasm was more important than experience.

Maybe before Gibbons gets carried away with Breslow’s enthusiasm, he should read the Las Vegas Sun interview with Breslow published on Friday and written by Phoebe Sweet.

One of her questions to Breslow was, “As mayor of Sparks you were fined $1,000 by the state ethics commission, which also ordered you to pay Sparks more than $3,000 for personal calls you made on a city cell phone. What did you learn from that?”

He answered the question with a lie.

Breslow said the city provided him a cell phone and back in the 1990s they weighed about five pounds. He said, “The city attorney told me it was OK to use it to make personal calls. But a citizen activist teamed up with my estranged wife, now my ex-wife, and filed an ethics complaint.”

Not true. I am the citizen activist to which he is referring. I did file the complaint but I did not team up with his ex-wife. She was subpoenaed by the ethics committee and testified that she and her friends also used the city cell phone with Breslow’s permission for personal use.

Breslow is also misleading the public in the Sun interview. He stated that he told Sparks City Attorney Chet Adams about the use of the cell phone, leading us to believe he asked the attorney for a legal opinion and that Adams approved his use of the city-owned phone for his personal use. But the attorney never approved it. If you read Opinion No. 98-21 handed down by the ethics commission and check No. 21 under “Findings of Fact,” you will read the following:

“When he (Breslow) was originally issued the cell phone, Mr. Breslow testified that he did not seek a legal opinion from the Sparks city attorney as to whether or not he could use the city-issued cell phone for personal business and family. Mr. Adams, the Sparks city attorney, stated that he never told Mr. Breslow that he could not use the city-issued cell phone for personal use.”

So, Breslow did not seek a legal opinion from Adams, but he did intentionally mislead the commission to believe he did. Adams said he never told Breslow he could not use the phone. Well that’s because Breslow never asked for a legal opinion, which makes it evident Adams never told Breslow he could legally use the phone either.

Speaking of Breslow’s wife, she testified that Mr. Breslow told her in the summer of 1997 that he was instructed by Sparks city officials that he should not use his cell phone to make personal calls. But he continued to use it anyway.

Sparks finance director Terri Thomas brought attention of Breslow’s misuse and high cell phone bills to Terry Reynolds, the Sparks city manager.

Mr. Reynolds said under oath he did tell Breslow to cut back on its use and refrain from using the cell phone in public because the media would pick up on it. I wonder what Breslow thought Reynolds meant by that. Too bad Breslow didn’t listen to him.

It seems to me Reynolds was telling Breslow, “You can’t use the city phone for your personal use and if the press sees you, they will take you to the ethics commission.” If Breslow couldn’t figure that out, how in the world can he figure out what’s going on with nuclear waste?

So, Loux, a suspected ethics violator is being replaced by a convicted ethics violator, Bruce Breslow, appointed by Gibbons, who is an accused ethics violator, proving the old expression that birds of a feather do indeed flock together.

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