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April 19, 2014

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ANSWERS: CITY COUNCIL:

Councilman criticized for extracurricular activities during public meetings

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Sam Morris

Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony has come under criticism for his behavior in recent public meetings.

It’s difficult for anyone to stay awake during government meetings. But the unwritten promise by those who run for office is that if they get elected, they will pay attention.

After the city’s Recommending Committee last week altered a proposal dealing with the distance between food trucks and restaurants, several people from the audience spoke bitterly about what some felt was rude treatment by committee members.

First of all, what’s the Recommending Committee?

The three-person committee reviews and sometimes changes bills before the entire City Council sees them. It consists of Councilmen Stavros Anthony, Ricki Barlow and Bob Coffin.

And they were hearing something about the food truck proposal?

Yes. Mayor Carolyn Goodman has proposed requiring food trucks to go through more traditional licensing procedures, while restricting where they can park to no less than 150 feet from a mortar-and-bricks restaurant. Restaurateurs said that is too close. They wanted it to be 800 feet. Several of those restaurant owners spoke at the committee meeting Tuesday morning.

What was the rude behavior?

During emotional testimony by Maria Galvino, who choked up talking about the damage food trucks could do to her Mamita’s Mexican restaurant, 611 Fremont St., councilman Anthony laughed and talked to Barlow as Galvino spoke. The meetings are conducted in a smallish room in the City Clerk’s Office, so Anthony sat just 10-15 feet away from and directly facing Galvino.

Numerous times, another person said, Anthony talked loudly to Barlow during public testimony.

Did anyone complain?

As they told us, they wouldn’t dare out of fear of retribution.

“You just have to take it,” one person said, noting that Barlow shushed members of the public when it was the councilmen’s turn to talk.

Criticism of Anthony didn’t stop Tuesday. At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, during public comment, one audience member refused to speak until Anthony stopped talking to others and listened.

Later, Goodman asked Anthony to make a motion to accept a party-house report. He was busy with his phone; onlookers said it looked like he was texting.

“Are you playing a game?” Goodman asked jokingly. Anthony stayed focused on his phone, not looking up, while everyone waited. Then he made the motion.

• • •

While the City Council gave a glowing review to City Manager Betsy Fretwell on Wednesday, Councilman Steve Ross lamented that Fretwell’s compensation wasn’t in the same ballpark as that of other local city or county managers.

Click to enlarge photo

Las Vegas City Manager Betsy Fretwell says the local economy likely hasn't hit bottom, but she thinks it will begin to turn around this year.

Is that true?

Not really. County Manager Don Burnette in fiscal 2011 earned total compensation of about $306,000 with a base pay about $199,000. Fretwell’s compensation was about $300,000, with a base pay of some $179,000. Burnette oversees an agency with many thousands more employees than Las Vegas. The city employs 2,375 people; Burnette oversees roughly 11,000 employees, including those at University Medical Center.

Why did Ross say that, then?

After his comment, council members promised to improve Fretwell’s compensation when the economy improves. Councilman Bob Coffin said he was “not proud of the fact that we are not paying you as much as you are worth.”

“We will compensate you at the right time,” Goodman added.

What should Fretwell earn?

Councilman Anthony said the city investigated and determined the minimum base pay for someone in her position is $175,311 with a max of $249,819.

Well, did they give her anything extra after that nice review?

Fretwell was awarded an extra 40 hours of vacation time and will be able to become part of the city’s developing gain-sharing program, which is akin to profit-sharing in the private sector.

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  1. I can't believe my eyes! Paid too little? How many taxpayers make $300,000 a year? How many even have a job or are underemployed? Coffin is "not proud we're not paying" Fretwell enough & Goodman has the nerve to say, "We will compensate you at the right time?" BS! It's not Coffin's or Goodman's money that is being so lavishly strewn about; it's mine & yours! We, the taxpayers, pay the salaries for pencil-pushing, bureaucratic drones such as Goodman a & Fretwell. Those mopes on the council simply don't understand that.

  2. The RUDE, BOORISH behavior of Stavros Anthony...

    NOT BEFITTING OF A PUBLIC SERVANT, to say the very least.
    Time for his short tenure to be curbed by the voters.
    Wow; how DO people get this way???

    Hey, FINK...
    People get PAID for their skills, be it in the public or private sector...and the PAY is based largely on what THE MARKET WILL BEAR for their services.

    For comparison's sake...
    Henderson has been paying beau coup bucks...

    http://transparentnevada.com/salaries/he...

    http://www.lvrj.com/news/henderson-manag...

    Others;

    http://www.sacbee.com/2010/09/10/3019670...

    http://www.texastribune.org/library/data...

  3. Councilman Stavros needs to audit my explorations class at a local behavior school. A good part of the curriculum consists of listening skills,respect,and common courtesy,all of which the good councilman seem to be lacking.

  4. I have to say this is one of the stupidest things I've ever read in the newspaper!!! So are we now to say that elected officials can't have their cell phones in meetings, their staff members can't speak to them, and that any distraction during a public meeting is rude and deliberate? Of course not; whoever complained about Mayor Pro-Tem Anthony obviously doesn't know him--I'm guessing they disagreed with this position and therefore launched a character assassination! You can say a lot of disparaging things about a lot of elected officials in Nevada, but I know Mayor Pro-Tem Anthony to be one of the most respectful, attentive, and thoughtful elected officials in the state!