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EDITORIAL: People out of the loop

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By The Staff

Bottom line: Our elected representatives on the Las Vegas City Council should be kept in the loop when it comes to spending a more than $1 million grant.

Sadly, that hasn’t been the case with a $1.2 million grant designated for a water project, and the city may lose all that money because of the resulting confusion.

A couple of years ago, it was well known that the city was to get the money from the state Water Trust Board to pay for a study to pipe water for members of the Storrie Project Water Users Association. In return, the association was to give the city more water storage rights in Storrie Lake.

Very quietly, officials during Mayor Henry Sanchez’s administration tried to switch the purpose for that money — to spend the money on effluent and sewer lines along Cinder Road. And they got the go-ahead from the Water Trust Board earlier this year.

Did the officials consult with the City Council? Nope.

Indeed, the council never discussed the matter or voted on it.

At the same time, an influential local developer, Carlos Gallegos, was kept fully in the loop. The former three-term city councilman encouraged the Sanchez administration to change the designation for the money.

What was Gallegos’ interest? He has a 32-lot development on the north side of town, an area that badly needs additional sewer capacity.

Gallegos notes that the project will help Las Vegas’ economy as a whole. After all, the north side is growing.

We agree that another sewer line is a big need in that area, and we don’t begrudge Gallegos’ constitutional right to lobby officials to fund a public works project.

But we have a big problem with the city administration bypassing our elected representatives. They should have their say when it comes to spending a huge chunk of state money designated to the city.

Former City Manager John Avila insists he kept the council informed about the matter. He may think so, but it seems as if just about all concerned had no idea that the switch for the money had taken place.

Both Mayor Tony Marquez and Councilman Morris Madrid — by no means political allies —have said they weren’t told about the change. And Councilman Andrew Feldman, who was active in water issues before he joined the council in March, also said he never received word about the behind-the-scenes maneuvers.

The council is working on the people’s behalf. When they are left out of the loop, we all are.