Las Vegas Sun

April 23, 2014

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LOOKING IN ON: CLARK COUNTY:

Group home a bad neighbor, some say

County will weigh whether it should be closed following complaints of residents behaving badly

Eagle Ridge Manor, a group home for the elderly and mentally ill, has been under fire during the past year.

Neighbors tell all kinds of horror stories about the home, which is tucked into a residential cul-de-sac in the northwest part of the valley.

One woman says her child was inappropriately touched by one of the group home’s residents. A registered sex offender who lived at Eagle Ridge went inside the private school next door to beg for money, according to school officials. And a woman from the home allegedly forced her way into a neighboring home — and began baking brownies.

Clark County filed a formal complaint against the group home two weeks ago. A hearing on whether the home should be allowed to keep its business license is scheduled for Tuesday’s commission meeting.

Now, the group home is firing back.

What do the owners have to say?

In a response to the complaint, the attorney representing the home’s owner, Albert Silvestre, denied the vast majority of the accusations against the home.

“The complaints from neighbors reference alleged home, garage, yard, automobile, mailbox and trash invasions, as well as inappropriate contact with children and fights in the neighborhood,” attorney Mark Braun wrote. “The complaining neighbors, however, offer no proof that the police were called in all or even most of the instances cited.”

Braun argued that if the alleged problems were real, “it makes no sense” that police weren’t called. He said police have never arrested a resident of the home for conduct in the neighborhood.

Braun did acknowledge some of the incidents attributed to the home, though he says neighbors exaggerate.

Braun also acknowledged that there had been a sex offender living at the facility, but said neither the home nor the placing agency knew the individual was a sex offender.

Braun accused the neighbors of breaking a mediation agreement with the home that was signed in August.

Moving on, any word on which lobbyists are interested in representing the county?

Yep. County officials met recently with representatives of six firms to explain the selection process. Most of the firms represent other interests, and that could be a factor in the selection process.

The county may be especially sensitive to potential conflicts because of last year’s legislative session. Then-county lobbying duo Tim Crowley and Josh Griffin also represented MGM Mirage. That became a problem when lawmakers dealt with a bill to reduce tax breaks for environmentally friendly construction projects.

The county wanted to cut the tax incentives, but MGM Mirage wanted as much of a tax break as possible. The conflict left Griffin and Crowley more or less sidelined as advocates for the county on the issue.

What kind of conflicts do potential applicants have?

Here’s some background on each:

• Dan Hart, a political consultant who has worked on the campaigns of Commissioners Rory Reid and Chip Maxfield. He’s also working on Las Vegas Councilman Larry Brown’s run for county commission. During the past legislative session, he represented the state teachers union and Sussex Financial Group.

• Lobbyist Dylan Shaver of Sagebrush Nevada, a new firm that includes Alison Schwartz, who is presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s Nevada political director, and Steve Redlinger, a political fundraiser who has worked on the campaigns of Commissioners Chris Giunchigliani and Tom Collins.

Shaver says he is seeking the county contract with lobbyist Peter Krueger. During last year’s legislative session, Shaver and Krueger represented 13 clients, including the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, the Cigar Association of America, the Mechanical Contractors Association, the Nevada Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association and the Rental Industry Association.

• Lesley Pittman, who recently started a government relations and communications firm, Sierra Strategies. She was vice president of corporate and government relations for Station Casinos. The gaming firm is now one of her clients.

• Public relations and government relations firm Faiss Foley Warren. The company represented Pardee Homes, T-Mobile USA, Boys & Girls Clubs, PacifiCare and several other clients at the Legislature last year.

• Dan Musgrove of McDonald Carano Wilson, a lobbying and law firm. Musgrove was the county’s director of intergovernmental relations until 2006. McDonald Carano Wilson represented many clients at the Legislature last year, including the Northern Nevada Apartment Association, Independent Gaming Operators, Southern Nevada Multi-Housing Association and XO Communications.

• Attorney Thomas Naylor, who did no lobbying at the Legislature last year.

Needless to say, many of those contenders will have to assure the county of their loyalty before getting the job.

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