Las Vegas Sun

November 26, 2014

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Metro Police:

County counselor contends arbitrator didn’t adhere to law in police union ruling

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Las Vegas Sun

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, left, and Sheriff Doug Gillespie

Updated Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 | 5 p.m.

An arbitrator’s decision to award a cost-of-living raise and increase in health benefits to Metro Police officers did not meet standards required by Nevada law, according to a memo from Clark County’s in-house legal counsel.

The Sept. 23 decision by Chicago-based arbitrator Robert Perkovich is at the core of an intensifying battle between Commissioner Steve Sisolak and Sheriff Doug Gillespie.

Last week, Sisolak raised allegations of impropriety and possible collusion on the part of Gillespie, pointing to several irregularities in the arbitrator’s decision, which awarded a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase and an increased health plan contribution of $1,154 to members of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association. Perkovich estimated that the award’s total cost would cost taxpayers more than $6.9 million.

Sisolak has argued the arbitration process didn’t follow state statute and wasn’t transparent.

Gillespie fought back fiercely, conducting a news conference in front of Metro’s downtown headquarters where he denied Sisolak’s allegations.

“The arbitration process is set in stone,” Gillespie said Friday. “There are rules. There are processes. They were followed.”

But a memo from Clark County’s legal staff requested by Sisolak points to something being amiss in the process.

“It is clear the arbitrator’s conduct of this arbitration was not in compliance with Nevada law,” county counsel Mary-Anne Miller wrote in the memo, dated Tuesday.

Miller pointed out several issues in the way the case was handled – including improper selection of Perkovich, a lack of documentation throughout the process and an improperly rendered decision.

Miller said she was not, however, able to determine whether the issues are the sole responsibility of the arbitrator, or whether the negotiating parties, meaning Gillespie and the police union, improperly waived certain statutory requirements.

Sisolak said that even if his suspicions hold true and the proper arbitration process was not followed, the decision will likely stand.

“They’ve made a decision. We’re going to have to live with the award as it stands right now,” he said. “My problem is the process, not the result of the process.”

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