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April 17, 2014

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Big-league campaign tactic takes small town by surprise

The buzz in Boulder City this week focuses on a series of automated phone calls targeting City Council candidate Joe Roche.

Roche, a recycling consultant, said claims made in the calls challenging his employment history and role on a charitable board are inaccurate.

Such “robocalls” are commonplace in high-level politics. But not in small-town Boulder City.

So there’s been a lot of speculation about who is behind BC Truth, the political action committee that announces itself as responsible for the calls.

Well, here’s the answer.

It is run by Don Smale. He’s a registered Boulder City voter, but beyond that nobody knows much about him, starting with Roche.

“I don’t even know who this person is,” Roche said. “I’ve never met him.”

Smale didn’t return my calls.

And many of the old-timers in town said they had never heard of him.

Residents do know a family named Smale participated in local bowling leagues. According to Bowlingmuseum.com, a Don Smale bowled a perfect game in 2001.

The condo on Capri Drive that serves as the group’s headquarters is owned by Lee and Karen Ziegler, a couple with a Las Vegas mailing address.

They couldn’t be reached, either.

Contribution and expense forms filed Tuesday show BC Truth has not raised any money and has paid $424.15 to Global Connect, a New Jersey-based voice messaging company.

Automated calls typically cost 5 to 10 cents each.

• • •

It seems that Henderson City Manager Mary Kay Peck will not be returning to her $225,000-a-year post after she finishes her vacation in 10 days.

Peck, who is not talking publicly, has hired an attorney to begin negotiating a severance package, four City Council members tell me.

The city spokeswoman says only that Peck is on vacation and is expected back April 13.

Peck’s annual performance evaluation is scheduled for the following day, but they may not get to it if both sides by then have agreed to her separation package.

The problem is over revenue projections.

According to sources, Peck adopted figures that projected a lesser decrease in tax revenue than did more conservative figures favored by other city staffers.

As a result, the city faces a greater budget pinch than it would have.

Additionally, critics say Peck was a micromanager who was abrasive toward her staff.

No City Council members will publicly discuss the situation, citing fear of affecting severance negotiations.

They promise to share the details once the separation is final.

• • •

The two City Council seats up for grabs in Boulder City will not come cheaply.

Boulder City Elections

Cam Walker Launch slideshow »

Cam Walker, a project manager, has raised $22,517 — more than any other candidate. It’s about $2.25 for each of Boulder City’s 10,038 active voters.

Duncan McCoy, a retired Boulder City Library director who has shared advertising with Walker, raised $14,888.

In third place: Tim Clifford, who raised $11,000 before dropping out of the race. He’s still on the ballot, and if he wins, he can keep the money. If he loses, he has several options, including giving it to other candidates, donating it to charity or returning it to the contributors.

Other totals: Roche, $4,713; John Schleppegrell, a retired government manager, $2,000; Bill Smith, a retired travel agent, $1,286; and Matt Di Teresa, an operating engineer, $940.

The other three candidates have raised less than $500 each.

In comparison, Travis Chandler and Linda Strickland, the council race winners in 2007, each spent less than $5,000.

But spending enough for a new car — or two — on a Boulder City election isn’t unusual.

In 2007 Mayor Roger Tobler spent $32,000 to win the top seat. His closest competitor, Councilman Mike Pacini, also spent more than $30,000.

In 2003 Mayor Bob Ferraro spent more than $70,000 to win a hotly contested race.

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