Las Vegas Sun

August 30, 2014

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Unions target North Las Vegas councilman up for re-election

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Richard Cherchio

Election season is already heating up in North Las Vegas, even though candidates won’t officially file to run for office until the end of the month.

The North Las Vegas Police Officers Association and the North Las Vegas Firefighters Union will pass out more than 5,000 door hangers Saturday to condemn sitting Councilman Richard Cherchio for failing to list three of his four North Las Vegas residences on his official campaign finance forms in 2009.

The unions’ protest is also, and perhaps more so, about Cherchio’s perceived votes to cut public safety. He's become the target because he's up for re-election.

Cherchio claims the houses – two of which he bought to rent to his daughter and sister-in-law – were listed on forms during his bid for council in 2007. He didn't list them in 2009, he said, because a city staffer told him he didn’t have to.

“Regarding my oversight in listing all of the property that I own, I received advice from a city staffer when completing my disclosure form, but I should have verified that advice,” Cherchio said in a statement. “I accept full responsibility for that oversight, and have already filed an amended disclosure form.”

“Why would I try to cover them up if I listed them in 2007?” Cherchio asked during an interview. “That would be really stupid.”

In October, City Manager Maryann Ustick presented the council with the city staff’s budget reduction plan. The plan was drafted to help the city close a $35.1 million budget gap over the next two years.

According to the plan, 27 police officers and 33 firefighters would be laid off if no concessions were made.

That was a threat, said Michael Yarter, president of the police officers' association. He bristled at the idea that public safety would receive the same percentage of cuts as other departments because, he said, they’re not of equal importance.

“They just went across the board and made the same 15 percent cut to everybody,” Yarter said. “The citizens have voted … to keep officers on the streets. It’s what people want.”

But Cherchio, who was president of a mail carriers union in Florida for 23 years, sees it differently.

“If we can’t get concessions from the unions, we will have no alternative but to lay people off,” Cherchio said. “If they consider that to be a threat, so be it. How can you convey that to someone unless you explain that to them?

“All we asked them to do was to come to the table and try to save their jobs,” Cherchio said. “Obviously, they’re not happy about it.”

Jeff Hurley, president of the city’s fire union, said he simply disagrees with Cherchio’s decision-making.

The city’s fire union hasn't reached a concession agreement with the city, but it should soon, Hurley said. The fire union has made four rounds of concessions in the past four years, he said.

Yarter’s union entered into a tentative agreement with the city Wednesday, in which it gave up cost-of-living increases and sick-day sell-back, but no base pay. In exchange, the city agreed not to lay off union members for 18 months.

Cherchio has voted along with three other North Las Vegas Council members – Anita Wood, Robert Eliason and William Robinson – on votes that pressured unions to come forward. Mayor Shari Buck has refused to vote to make any cuts to public safety, aside from approving union concessions.

Wood went as far as to say the city would become a “police state” if all other services but public safety were cut. Eliason has said city employee salaries are too high.

But Cherchio is the clear target, the union presidents said.

He isn't the only one voting for cuts, Yarter said, “but he’s the next person who’s up for re-election.”

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  1. I am so sick of the police and firefighters and their unions being the bullies of this city and Las Vegas. They are no better then the rest of us. To say that cutting their services is a "public safety issue" is simply fear mongering. And to target a councilman makes them look like the pack of wolves they really are. For the record, I do not personally know any council people or the Mayor. I am simply sick of seeing the police and firefighters use scare tactics to get their way. The economy effects us all.

  2. Whether or not there is any wrong-doing by Cherchio, public employee unions should be utterly banned from participating in any way, shape or form in the political process. It is a huge conflict of interest for them to be exercising an influence over the election of officials who are responsible for approving or negotiating contracts with them.

  3. keystone6,

    I have consistently said in the past that I believe that public employee unions should not exist. That there is a fundamental contradiction in them.

    On the other hand, I have always said that unions are a legitimate force in the private sector.

    In this case, and similar ones, I am opposed to allowing public employee unions, as an official organization, taking action that influences the officials that are charged with negotiating with them. I have no problem at all with public employees exercising their rights as individuals.

    I have, in the past, also said that public employee unions should be forbidden to endorse candidates for the very same reason, it is a gross conflict of interest for the candidate in question.

    In general I think any corporation or organization should be prohibited from political activity. The individual members of such have the right to participate on their own. By also doing so as members of a corporation or organization they get a second bite at the apple compared to those of us who don't.

  4. 1-true-taxpayer,

    You seem to be ignoring my point that allowing public employee unions affect the election of those who are charged with negotiating the contracts is a conflict of interest. Our elected officials should be beholden to no one but us, the citizenry who elects them.

    When an official is elected with a large amount of help from a public employee union just how objective do you think he or she will be when it is time to sit down and negotiate with that very same union? We, as taxpayers (which I presume includes you) deserve to have officials who will spend our taxes responsibly and not use them to pay back political favors to supporters. In the case of public employees, you and I and every other taxpayer are the shareholders who expect our representatives to act on our behalf and give us good value for our investment.

  5. I would like to disenfranchise *any* collective voice in politics other than political parties themselves. We have the best government money can buy thanks to the collective voices of corporations and other organizations, including unions.

    The case of public employee unions endorsing (or working against) candidates is especially conducive to corruption because it is such an obvious conflict of interest.

    The members of such unions are free to participate as private citizens, I just want them to do so without displaying or saying anything to indicate the union affiliation.

  6. The Unions in this state have become nothing more then legal racketeering. Al Capone would be proud.

    It does not matter if they are after a business or elected official, they want it their way or no way.

    Cuts are needed because the money is not there. The union does not care about the people in this state as long as their "members" get what they want and only what they want.

    The elected officials knew they did not have the money to go on so they found a way to keep everyone employed but the Union is not happy with that. Until they bust the city/county and state they will not be happy.

  7. Just HOW MANY Police do we need? HOW MANY Firefighters to we need? WHO DETERMINED these numbers?

    It's almost impossible to be hired onto the Fire Dept because of the Nepotism and back room dealings that go on during hiring.

    What is said to me: "If you don't like your job and can get a better one or make more money somewhere else - DO IT". Isn't that what Freedom is All About?

  8. Cherchio is nothing but a liar, his answer now is he received advice from a city staffer on what he had to put on his form. Does he think that we are stupid.
    How he ever got appointed in the first place is crazy. Vote the liar out of the office, he was never elected for it in the first place.

  9. The unions need to ve voted out, The "TAXPAYING" public needs to be allowed into the bargining process.

  10. I know Richard Cherchio to be a class person who is highly commited to making North Las Vegas
    the very best City it can be. He is the target of malicious conduct by the police and fire fighters unions for his attempts to bring fiscal accountability to the City. Also, the hand of Mayor Buck is all over this tirad against Cherchio. Buck is consistently on the opposite side of the votes of Cherchio and three other councilpersons on most issues and wants to rid the council of her opposition. Buck is for Buck make no mistake about that. Public safety is not her first priority. Power is.It would be a horrendous mistake for Rirchard Cherchio not to receive the full and faithful support of his constituent in North Las Vegas. He is a true gentleman and a class act.

  11. I have been a volunteer with Richard Cherchio for years both in North Las Vegas Community Watch activities and on the North Las Vegas Police Department's Northwest Area Command Community Council. Public safety and quality of life for North Las Vegas residents are two themes that have driven Richard since I met him many years before he entered the political arena. In my opinion, what Richard strongly opposes is self-serving organizations or politicians; e.g., public safety unions that seem more interested in benefiting themselves than benefiting the public they are supposed to serve, or a mayor whose focus appears to be more on preparing the groundwork for her future political ambitions than in standing up to public safety unions to ensure a balance between fiscal responsibility and public safety. If you will take the time to get to know him on a personal level, you will find that there is no one with a higher standard of integrity or a stronger sense of public service than Councilman Richard Cherchio.