Your letter confirms that you did enter into this independent contractor position. Can you give me the dates that it started and ended and an explanation of your duties under this contract?
Ramaker’s response to MLN’s questions
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to your questions.
I started on February 1, 2017 and it ended on November 27, 2018. The owners of Wolf Creek live in Reno and cannot attend meetings and events in the community so I was asked to give written reports about what is going on and let them know what could affect their business. This included city council, water board and chamber events and any other local activities that could be important to their business. I am on the Advisory Committee of Kids for Sports which is sponsored by Wolf Creek and they know that I am active and participate in as many events as I can and I have a lot of knowledge about what’s going on.
This contract was in effect during the time frame in which you were running for city council. You included the information on financial statements as appropriate, but why didn’t you disclose this fact during the election? This isn’t a legal question, but an ethical one.
I did disclose it. This information was on my public financial records which were accessible to Ms. Ellestad and anyone else who reviewed these documents, Since no one asked me in interviews or at the public forums I participated in, I didn’t and I don’t think it is an ethical issue because I didn’t hide it. Had I been asked, I would have answered honestly.
On Feb. 1, you wrote a letter to the editor in Mesquite Local News regarding changing the composition of the water district. In this letter, you wrote, “I am not an employee of Wolf Creek.” While this is technically true, why didn’t you disclose this previous contract at this point?
There was an assumption made that I was bringing this issue before the council for or in connection with Wolf Creek, so I was simply clarifying that it was not the case when I wrote that editorial. This is because Annie Black attacked me during the city council meeting during the discussion of the resolution by saying it looked suspicious that I was bringing it forward at that time and she read out loud the contributions Wolf Creek has made to my campaigns over the past several election cycles. But the truth is I had been asked by Assemblywoman Heidi Swank to bring it to council at that time because the Nevada legislature was about to start its 2019 session. The documents of my correspondence with Ms. Swank and Assembly members Ellen Spiegel, Yvonne Cancela and Edgar Flores over the last two years have been turned over to VVWD attorney Bo Bingham as part of his discovery request. So this idea that I am doing this at the behest of Wolf Creek is simply false. I wasn’t an employee of Wolf Creek, I didn’t receive the benefits of an employee and I didn’t think of myself as an employee., I was simply pushing back since Ms. Black had attacked me specifically regarding Wolf Creek at the council meeting.
In your letter, you mention Brian Wursten’s employment with Casablanca golf course and imply that his courses have the same water issues and that he should recuse himself from these issues. He has since issued a statement clarifying that his courses don’t get water from the same sources so there is no reason to recuse. Do you still stand by this statement and why?
What I said was that to my knowledge Ms. Ellestad has not questioned Brian Wursten about his participation in city discussions and votes regarding the lawsuit which affects the pricing of water shares for all the golf courses. I have recused myself so I see no reason to be questioned about my association with Wolf Creek as regards this lawsuit. Mr. Wursten has not recused himself although he manages two golf courses, one of which was asked to return its water shares. The other golf course he manages (Casablanca) obtains its water from the Hafen family, according to Mr. Wursten. The Hafen family have a large number of water shares in MIC (Mesquite Irrigation Company) which is heavily involved in price setting. The lawsuit involves the pricing of MIC shares, so Mr. Wursten is skirting the issue as to whether he is working with or for someone who is involved in this lawsuit. The Palms Golf Course was asked to return its shares as part of the Virgin Valley Water District’s attempt to take back golf course water shares which is an issue in the litigation. When the city is discussing effluent they are, by definition, discussing the price of water which affects all the golf courses and one could question whether Mr. Wursten should step away from those discussions. Whatever the water prices are at Mr. Wursten’s golf courses contribute to the local irrigation water market just as the effluent does. So, Mr. Wursten has inside information on the market price for irrigation water at the golf courses he manages, as well as the effluent prices. Before I was on city council, Mr. Wursten was one of those who voted that the city should intervene in the lawsuit between Wolf Creek and VVWD which was rejected by Judge Timothy Williams. As the manager of two golf courses which is by nature competing with Wolf Creek, some might question whether he should be voting at all regarding litigation against Wolf Creek. I did not say that he should or should not recuse. What I said is that Mr. Wursten is not being questioned and there is enough there to wonder about. Again, I am the one who recuses herself and I am the only one being questioned.
Mesquite City Councilmember