To the Editor:
The Nevada Attorney General’s (AG) opinion requiring the Mesquite Regional Business Inc.(MRBI) to comply with the open meeting law has implications beyond simply opening meetings from now on.
This issue is not mere squabbling as implied in the Mesquite Local News. It is serious business with serious repercussions.
The opinion said that spending tax dollars to provide a direct service to the city makes them the” functional equivalent of a public agency.” The author of the opinion further stated that the MRBI “performs a government function (for the city of Mesquite). That makes the MRBI significantly different from other 501 (c) organizations.
All the city actually accomplished, through the convoluted MRBI contracting process, was to hire two people from Rawlings, Wyo., to perform economic development for the city.
The AG’s opinion should not be taken lightly. This is not the end of the issue. The AG must now determine if misdemeanor and civil penalties for the violation of the Open Meeting Law should be imposed. The Attorney General is required to take action if “prosecution would be in the best interests of the public.” They also must determine if all past activities are void.
Further the opinion reinforces the complaint to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that the MRBI is not and never was a tax-exempt organization. You cannot be a 501(c)(6) organization and a public agency at the same time. The opinion and other supporting documentation have again gone to the IRS to investigate. An additional request was sent to the IRS Inspector General to follow-up on the request.
Besides the open meeting violation, and the IRS investigation the process used to contract is with the MRBI is under review.
In the final analysis, state and federal law enforcement agencies, not the MRBI nor city officials, will resolve the problem “in the best interests of the public.” One can only hope that the city does not waste any more tax dollars trying to defend an indefensible situation. But if they do, it will simply shine more light on the decision making activities of elected officials.