Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008 | midnight
I rise to defend Pam Malmstrom’s record as city clerk. She really doesn’t need my defense, but I hate to see an impression left with some of the public that she may, somehow, be bumbling, inefficient or exceeding her authority.
Tracy Strickland, a member of the Airport Advisory Committee and husband of Council Member Linda Strickland, used the Public Comment segment of the Aug. 12 City Council meeting to accuse Malmstrom of violating the election laws by the way she appointed residents to write the pro and con arguments for a ballot question. It concerned the County Commission question about the creation of a tax district for Boulder City Hospital.
During the Aug. 26 council meeting, Linda Strickland contended the minutes of a previous meeting were incorrect regarding a consultant on the landfill problem and contract, even though Strickland had voted to approve those minutes.
Over the past years I have been writing this column, I have often called on Malmstrom and her deputy, Lorene Krumm, in person, on the phone or by e-mail for vital information concerning city business. There has never been a hint of obfuscation or hesitancy fulfilling my request. It has always been done quickly and efficiently.
What had Malmstrom done in selecting the ballot question authors? I believe that Malmstrom, in her pleasant and accommodating way, was trying to help out Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax get a tardy ballot question from the County Commission onto the Boulder City ballot. Whether the request came directly from the commission or through Lomax, in my opinion, it was still Lomax’s responsibility.
Now we move into lawyers’ territory: interpreting the law. Who is charged with, or allowed to do what, or what is the correct procedure according to Nevada statutes?
Both Stricklands are lawyers, but that does not mean their interpretation is always the correct interpretation. Differences among lawyers are what cause lawsuits.
You probably have read all the ins and outs of this entanglement. They have been well published in the news sections. However, to impugn the motives of Malmstrom is way off base. She was doing her best to accommodate and assist the County Commission. As I understand it, it was something she didn’t have to do. Probably shouldn’t have done. And the commission led her down the wrong path.
On the question of the minutes, what was the problem? A motion was recorded as requesting a consultant to review the landfill contract. Linda Strickland contends the motion was to hire a consultant to examine the landfill.
If you have attended a council meeting these days, you know there is often a conflict of opinion over a council action or motion. In an attempt to compromise, it is often bandied back and forth between members, modified several times and revised before the council seemingly comes to an agreement. Or it may be tabled.
Malmstrom frequently has to ask Mayor Roger Tobler to repeat what was finally decided. This usually leads to further discussion. So it’s no wonder a city clerk might make mistakes in the midst of all of the regular duties she has and the confusion that often exists at today’s council meetings.
Then she is asked by the County Commission to help out with a hurry-up process selecting pro and con authors for the hospital ballot question. She’s not a lawyer. She follows directions, if the directions are clear.
This is a tempest in a teapot. The Stricklands have caused the teapot to boil over because they believe Malmstrom exerts authority she doesn’t have.
No, she occasionally makes mistakes. Don’t we all! Or, to put it biblically, let he who is without mistakes bring the first lawsuit.
Bill Erin is a Boulder City News columnist.