The Mesquite Local News just finished a six-week series about the Paradise Canyon LLC, dba Wolf Creek golf course, lawsuit that it filed against the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) in May 2018. Virtually all of the text for the series was quoted directly from a seven-hour, 350-page deposition transcript taken of Wolf Creek’s part owner Cory Clemetson by VVWD attorney Bo Bingham.
As I said in the very beginning, our mission was to educate and inform the public about the genesis of the lawsuit. I couldn’t think of a better way to carry out that goal than to use Mr. Clemetson’s own words and explanations for his actions.
To those of you who thought the city of Mesquite or the water district filed the lawsuit against Wolf Creek, hopefully you now know differently.
Mr. Clemetson proudly promotes his expensive golf course as one that people traveled from all over the world to play – and pay dearly for that. That’s fine by me.
But from that very essence, I have quite a few problems about why Mr. Clemetson is doing what he’s doing against every water ratepayer in the Virgin Valley.
He said he quit the locals’ golf market quite a few years ago. So it’s okay for all of us ‘locals’ to pay for his golf course water but he doesn’t want any of us to play his little gem.
He portrayed himself as a very astute businessman. Yet, in all these years of contention between the city of Mesquite and the water district, he has never done two very important things.
He wants you to believe he hasn’t done a study of how an extra $5 tacked onto his $200 golf fee would affect the number of golfers ‘from all over the world.’ That’s how much VVWD estimates he would have to charge to make up for the increased water rate the district has the ‘sole and absolute discretion’ to set.
He wants you to believe he has never investigated exactly how much water his golf course is using. He admits he has no evidence that the golf course needs or actually uses all 150 shares that he leases for a paltry sum of $250 a share.
His answer to that? “Why would we. Guess what, we have a contract.”
One can only guess he tracks just about every other cost to his operation down to the nickel, but not water? Not the most vital ingredient to running a golf course?
He certainly found out how much water he was subleasing to the two housing areas built beside the course. In 2012 he found out the Classics and the Cascades were using portions of his irrigation water and immediately began charging them for it. He did all that but not an investigation of exactly how much water his major operation uses?
You can believe those things if you’d like but I don’t.
Yes, he does have a contract. He has a lease that expires this year that says in plain terms that the VVWD Board of Directors has the ‘sole and absolute discretion’ to set new rates beginning Jan. 1, 2020.
It’s the same lease that other golf courses and irrigation water users signed and who have faced the same expiration and will incur the same or similar water rate increases.
The Palms golf course gave up their 80 shares a year ago and went with a private water provider who charges far more than $250 a share. The Conestoga golf course gave up their $250 a share lease rate and gave back 50 shares of water they weren’t using. Their lease rate went to $650 a share with 10 percent increases every year until 2034.
Bunker Farms in Bunkerville agreed to give up their $250 a share lease rate and went with a $1,357 a share lease rate beginning in 2020.
And what about you, the average ratepayer in the VVWD service area. Your water rates went up 10 percent in 2008 and 2009, 36 percent in 2010, 43 percent in 2015, and one percent in 2017 and 2018.
Did you sue the water district saying it wasn’t allowed to raise rates at its ‘sole and absolute discretion?”
Part 6 of the series discussed the people Mr. Clemetson has hired over the years. There is nothing legally wrong with hiring former, and as it turned out, future elected officials of the water board and the city council.
I speak of the former water board member and current Mesquite City councilwoman Sandra Ramaker and former city councilman and former water board member Robert ‘Bubba’ Smith.
Yes, they both ‘officially’ worked for Mr. Clemetson in between their elected terms in office.
Ramaker said after she was elected to city council that she was never an ‘employee’ of Mr. Clemetson but merely a ‘contracted consultant.’ She apparently drew a very fine line between the two terms. But wasn’t it all out of the same pot of money for the same purpose of promoting Mr. Clemetson’s business interests?
But here’s the kicker. Mr. Clemetson admitted that Ramaker sent him confidential documents while she served as an elected member of the water board. There are numerous court documents showing the emails she sent in conjunction with those confidential documents.
Do you believe she didn’t know the documents were confidential, especially when the person sending them to her – before she forwarded them on to Mr. Clemetson – clearly told her in the email that they were confidential and not to be shared with anyone.
Ramaker’s disregard for her duty to the public versus her loyalty to one person, one business is beyond comprehension. It clearly shows her contempt for ethical obligations to her elected positions.
More importantly, it shows Mr. Clemetson’s pattern of using people in a corrupt, publicly contemptuous manner with no regard for the good of Mesquite and the Virgin Valley as a whole.
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