Las Vegas Sun

August 22, 2014

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Editorial: Definition of brazen

Wendell Williams, who has a full-time job with the city of Las Vegas, already is in trouble for billing the city for work he claims he did at the same time he was serving -- and getting paid -- as a state assemblyman during the 2003 Legislature. But the concerns about possible double-dipping don't stop there. A review of city payroll records from 2001 has found that Williams billed the city for the entire time the Legislature was in regular session at his then-wage of $36 an hour. Williams also was brazen in collecting 208 hours of sick time, 112 hours of vacation time and 32 hours of holiday time during that period. Williams should have taken an unpaid leave of absence, but he didn't -- a path also taken by Morse Arberry, a state assemblyman who chairs the Ways and Means Committee. Arberry, who was a city of Las Vegas employee until 2002, also took pay, v acation and sick time during the 1997, 1999 and 2001 legislative sessions.

With respect to the work Williams did for the city while serving in the 2003 Legislature, he subsequently amended his time cards so that his more than 700 hours of billed work were cut by 208 hours, a revision that he said his supervisors coerced him into making so as to quell media inquiries. Deputy City Manager Betsy Fretwell is investigating the matter, a probe that probably will expand to include Arberry, but the central problem with such a review is that once it's done there will be lingering doubts about how tough it was. Fretwell reports to the city manager and there are questions as to whether the city government itself has some culpability in this affair, possibly having allowed Williams and Arberry, high-ranking Democrats in the Legislature, to have received special treatment. Based on the information that has been slowly trickling out about Will iams -- and now about Arberry -- the city should ask a government agency or someone not affiliated with the local governmen! t to conduct an independent investigation.

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