Las Vegas Sun

July 31, 2014

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County commissioner named in threat on Facebook

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Steve Sisolak

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This screenshot shows a threat made to County Commissioner Steve Sisolak.

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The Facebook page as it appeared Wednesday.

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The Facebook page as it appeared Wednesday.

Las Vegas officials are investigating whether a city firefighter wrote on a public Web site that she wanted to shoot a Clark County commissioner.

The comment appears on the social networking site Facebook, which allows users to create their own Web pages, on a page called “Las Vegas Valley Firefighters Against the LVRJ and Sun Newspapers.” The comment came from a woman with the same name as a city firefighter.

Diana Paul, city spokeswoman, said officials learned Wednesday about the issue from the Sun and “is looking into the matter.”

On the site, people criticize articles posted from the Sun and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The city is scrutinizing one particular comment made after an April 4 Sun story posted on the Facebook page. In that story, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said he wanted to introduce an ordinance to prevent county firefighters from doing charity work while on the job. Sisolak had said in an earlier story he was surprised to learn firefighters collected money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association while on the clock.

Beneath the posting appeared the comment: “I want to ... shoot Sisolak in the (groin)!!!!” The comment is attributed to “Joy Sager” and was posted at 7:31 p.m. Sunday.

Sager has a Facebook page where she refers to raising money to fight muscular dystrophy and lists Las Vegas Firefighters Local 1285 as one of her “pages,” which Facebook users employ to show allegiance to causes and groups.

A city spokeswoman confirmed that a Joy Sager is a Fire Department employee. The Sun wrote an e-mail to Sager’s Facebook page Wednesday afternoon seeking comment, but did not receive a reply by deadline. A phone number for her could not be found.

Sisolak called the Facebook comment about shooting him “inappropriate.”

“I hope that the city administration looks at this behavior,” he said. “This kind of thing should not be condoned. They have no right to threaten anybody with physical harm.”

The anti-newspaper Facebook page also posts a picture of a firetruck that has been hit by an egg, followed by comments blaming the media. One person says a fire crew was spat on entering a store a few weeks earlier.

Firefighters faced increasing scrutiny beginning about a year ago as Las Vegas and Clark County were trying to reconcile budgets stricken by plummeting tax revenue. Although many unionized county employees made salary concessions, the county firefighters union’s offers were considered inadequate by commissioners.

Las Vegas has been facing similar fights with its own unionized employees over contract concessions, with Mayor Oscar Goodman threatening layoffs and privatization.

The county’s February compensation study showed firefighters averaged $181,829 in salary and benefits in 2009; battalion chiefs averaged $288,785.

When Commission Chairman Rory Reid established a citizens committee that came up with cost-cutting ideas last year, they highlighted Fire Department reductions.

On Facebook, commentators defend firefighters, saying their jobs force them to face horrific sights; firefighters spend much of their time responding to ambulance calls.

One of the last messages posted on the Web site Wednesday urged people to attend Sisolak’s town-hall meeting tonight at Lake Las Vegas.

Sisolak doesn’t doubt firefighters will show. They arrived in force at a similar meeting earlier this year. He said he just wants it to be civil.

“We can disagree, but they don’t have to be threatening about it.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, the threatening comment had been removed.

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