Las Vegas Sun

December 21, 2014

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Daily Memo: Courts:

Paver learns its skeletons cost it a 215 Beltway job, not record

Former executive’s child porn conviction influenced no vote

Beltway widening

When Fisher Sand & Gravel faces off with Clark County in court this month, a judge will have to confront something not typically associated with road construction: child pornography.

That’s one of the items in a booklet of charges and convictions related to Fisher Industries and Fisher Sand & Gravel that has been subpoenaed by Fisher attorneys.

The booklet was given to Commissioner Steve Sisolak by the operating engineers union. Sisolak used it while grilling Fisher representatives last month, leading up to the commissioners’ rejection of Fisher for a $100 million-plus contract to improve the Beltway from Decatur Boulevard to Tenaya Way. The commission, instead, awarded the contract to Las Vegas Paving, whose bid was $4 million more than Fisher’s.

The union’s interest stems from Fisher’s being nonunion and Las Vegas Paving’s using union employees, and the union’s booklet steered commissioners toward a conclusion that Fisher is not a “responsible bidder.”

The booklet includes sections on tax fraud and sexual harassment. Then there’s “Exhibit 14,” copies of articles about David William Fisher, former president and chief operating officer of Fisher Industries.

In 2005 he was sentenced to five years in prison and forfeited or was fined more than $44,000 for possession of child pornography. One of the known victims was a 10-year-old girl Fisher hired to do office chores.

Commissioners didn’t mention the child pornography charge before voting in favor of Las Vegas Paving’s $116.8 million bid, but it obviously made an impression on some commissioners.

After the meeting the Sun asked Commissioner Tom Collins about the likelihood that Las Vegas Paving could have lawsuits in its background, too. “Yeah, but I bet they don’t have any child pornography convictions,” Collins replied.

Sisolak said he weighed all the allegations together. But child pornography, he added, “is an insult to our society and innocent kids.”

“I don’t know if this was the first time the guy ever looked at child porn,” he said. “But it was present, it was part of the fabric of the company.”

But does that mean Fisher wasn’t a “responsible bidder”?

In Sisolak’s booklet, a Nevada statute is highlighted detailing what the State Contractors Board can use to determine whether an applicant for a contractor’s license has good character. Criminal background is one of the factors.

But the County Commission isn’t the contractors board, and, more important, David Fisher’s conviction was in 2005. He’s no longer with the company.

Sisolak said he couldn’t find a precise definition for responsible bidder in the state code book, so he figured “it’s pretty wide open.”

Until the Sun asked about it, the lawyer representing Fisher had not known the pornography charges had gotten the commissioners’ attention. The lawyer did not even know the booklet existed. It’s more evidence that Fisher was not given due process, he said.

But, he contends, whether that child pornography case or the other subjects of the booklet — a sexual harassment lawsuit against a Fisher supervisor in April, or a guilty plea for income tax fraud in May by Micheal Fisher, former Fisher Sand & Gravel vice president — are germane to a contract decision depends on whether they affected the company’s work.

“All we’re saying is that we want … a fair hearing, we want the opportunity to be judged according to the work that we do and are asked to do,” he said. Not because some person looks at child pornography ... if that distracts from their ability to do the job, then it’s relevant. If it doesn’t, then it’s not relevant.”

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