I wish to thank Barbara Ellestad for the opportunity to clarify any concerns the public may have about my consulting with Paradise Canyon dba Wolf Creek Golf Club during the time I was not an elected official on either the Virgin Valley Water District Board or Mesquite City Council.
In 2017, I was contacted by the owners of Wolf Creek, who live in Reno, and asked if I could advise on local activities, including water, to help them better understand how to enhance their business model throughout our community. Over two years as a private citizen, I earned $11,540 for consulting, which I gladly shared with my six children, ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
My last day in office at VVWD was Dec 30, 2016 and my work with Wolf Creek Golf Club ended prior to my taking office at Mesquite City Council on December 4, 2018. Furthermore, I have recused myself from any discussions involving Wolf Creek and its lawsuit against Virgin Valley Water District.
I am concerned that information in Ellestad’s article has come from privileged documents presented to VVWD attorney Bo Bingham as part of his discovery request in the lawsuit. In fact, I saw Ellestad arrive at Bingham’s office as I was leaving after delivering these documents to him at 10:00 a.m. on March 13, 2019.
Ellestad claims that I “refused to meet with Mesquite Local News to answer questions or clarify her current contract situation with Wolf Creek.” In fact, on April 1 Mesquite City Attorney Bob Sweetin called me and he said that Ellestad asked him to set up a meeting with both of us in regards to this lawsuit. As he knows, I have recused myself from any discussions in the city regarding it. I said absolutely not, as I won’t discuss ongoing litigation. Sweetin said that’s what he figured and if it was okay with me, he just won’t return Ellestad’s call. There was no mention of my consulting contract with Wolf Creek during this call and he stated that he told Ellestad he is not my personal attorney. That is correct. Nor is Bob Sweetin being paid by the taxpayers of Mesquite to serve as Ellestad’s go-fer.
Since I received no direct request from Ellestad to meet with her, nor did I receive any question about my consulting contract with Wolf Creek, her statement is false.
To my knowledge, Ellestad has never questioned Mesquite City council member Brian Wursten and his full-time employment with Mesquite Gaming whereby he manages Casablanca Golf Course and the Palms which also had some of the same water share issues that Wolf Creek did. Also, Wursten has not recused himself from any discussions on golf course water issues or the city’s attempted involvement in the lawsuit between Wolf Creek and the Virgin Valley Water District.
On November 27, 2018, Judge Timothy C. Williams rejected the city’s Motion to Intervene.
My resolution to adjust the membership of the Virgin Valley Water District has absolutely nothing to do with Wolf Creek. Currently there are three Mesquite members and two Bunkerville members, although Mesquite has 93% of the population and 99% of commercial use in the District. Two years ago, I brought this resolution to members of the Nevada Assembly to discuss possible legislation. This year I was advised by Assemblywoman Heidi Swank, who chairs the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining Committee, to present the issue to city council. It didn’t pass. I still believe that a four to one Mesquite to Bunkerville representation on the water board is more fair to Mesquite citizens.
After Ellestad was elected to the Board of Virgin Valley Water District in 2014, she took a job with Battle Born Media as Editor of Mesquite Local News. Some in our community called for Ellestad to step down from one position or the other since there is an inherent conflict of interest for a member of the news media to be an elected official. She refused. I then filed an ethics complaint because of Ellestad’s participation in confidential matters concerning the water district and her editorial role at Mesquite Local News. The Nevada Ethics Commission found no wrong doing, but since that time Ellestad has used her position in the media to find opportunities to attack my reputation.
It is my hope that the lawsuit between Wolf Creek and Virgin Valley Water District be reported in a fair manner as the legal process plays out.
I am concerned that the information Ellestad published has come from the office of VVWD attorney Bo Bingham who appears to be releasing selected tidbits of my discovery in an underhanded attempt to discredit me.
Mesquite City Councilmember
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