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November 25, 2015

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It’s unanimous: County commissioners vote to abolish Constable’s Office


Mona Shield Payne

Deputies working under Constable John Bonaventura listen as Commissioners voted in favor of an ordinance to abolish the Las Vegas Township Constable’s Office during the Clark County Commission meeting at the Clark County Government Center in Las Vegas Tuesday, March 19, 2013.

Updated Tuesday, March 19, 2013 | 5:30 p.m.

County Commissioner's Meeting

Constable John Bonaventura, right, listens to commissioners discuss an ordinance to abolish the Las Vegas Township Constable's Office during the Clark County Commission meeting at the Clark County Government Center in Las Vegas Tuesday, March 19, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Barring a legal decision to the contrary, the Las Vegas Township Constable’s Office will be abolished in 2015.

The Clark County Commission, after two hours of discussion at their meeting Tuesday, voted unanimously to abolish the office, effective when the term of the current elected constable, John Bonaventura, expires in January 2015.

Bonaventura said the decision, which is not without precedent, was unwise.

"They tried to abolish it once and it didn't work. Now they're trying to abolish it again and it's not going to work," he said.

The primary job of the office is to enforce evictions and serve civil documents such as subpoenas, property liens, court summonses and wage garnishments filed in Las Vegas Township.

Although commissioners have not determined how the duties of the office would be divided among other agencies, most of them likely will fall to the sheriff's civil process section.

Sheriff Doug Gillespie, who attended Tuesday's meeting, said his office could take over the duties but would need more staff and office space. The Las Vegas Constable’s Office currently has 33 deputies and 12 administrative employees.

Commissioners last month introduced the ordinance abolishing the office using powers given to it under state statue.

Since Bonaventura was elected Las Vegas township constable in 2010, the office has been dogged by controversies including allegations of sexual harassment, the filming of a profanity-laced reality television show pilot and engaging in lawsuits against constable’s offices in other jurisdictions.

A last-minute effort to block the commission’s vote failed Monday when a Clark County District Court Judge refused to issue an injunction after Bonaventura filed suit late last week alleging the ordinance was unconstitutional. The judge set an April 30 hearing to consider the validity of the constitutional issues raised in Bonaventura's lawsuit.

The office was abolished previously in 1994 and re-created in 1995 after a badges-for-cash scheme brought down former Las Vegas Constable Don Charleboix.

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said the decision to abolish the office this time around stems from an effort to provide services more efficiently.

“The office in my mind is no longer necessary. We have a sheriff’s office that can handle it. We have private sector folks that can do it,” she said.

Bonaventura’s office drew some support from several property owners who testified during the public comment that they were pleased with the services provided to them by the constable.

The audience was filled with more than 20 constable’s employees, many in uniform. Several of the employees told the council they were worried about losing their jobs and that they shouldn’t be punished for Bonaventura’s actions.

“At the end of the day we’re just doing our job,” office specialist Tiana Cornell said. “We follow the rules and we get done what needs to get done.”

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