LEILA NAVIDI / LAS VEGAS SUN FILE
Sunday, June 26, 2011 | 2:01 a.m.
- Work-card requirement for many jobs set to be eliminated (6-20-2010)
- Urgency lacking on cash flow proposals (6-20-2010)
- Right to work — without work cards (2-15-2008)
- Man convicted in slaying gets work card (7-7-2005)
- Overhaul of work cards OK'd (11-21-2003)
More than two years have passed since Clark County’s Business License Department set out to save money and make it easier for people to find jobs by reducing work-card requirements for several employment categories.
Did that ever happen?
Yes, but first let’s review relevant work-card history: This is an old-school regulation that has been debated since at least the 1970s.
It’s an onerous requirement for people seeking jobs because it costs money to get a work card. Many have argued it is simply a way for Metro Police to boost their budget — job seekers pay Metro a fee to do a criminal-background check.
Although work-card requirements were first adopted to screen crooks from casino jobs, it expanded. Soon maids, bartenders, carnival workers, fortune tellers, masseuses, ice cream truck vendors and on and on were added to the list of jobs that officials apparently feared might draw the criminal element.
In 2009, seeking ways to save money, one suggestion was to eliminate most work-card requirements — not because it costs much to issue a card, but because when job seekers were denied a card and appealed, it is expensive to investigate. In addition, job seekers — presumably cash-poor because they don’t have a job — were sometimes required to pay for duplicate background checks.
A card costs a minimum of $45, but the price can go as high as $135 for bartenders, who sometimes have to get multiple cards from several government entities if working in casinos.
Here is a list of occupations and businesses that no longer require work cards: carnival workers; amusement park employees; ice cream truck drivers; mobile food vendors; psychic arts practitioners; charitable solicitors; peddlers, solicitors and temporary merchants; bathhouse attendants; locksmiths; burglar alarm installers; secondhand dealers; pawnbrokers; massage establishments; unit brokers; theater managers; vacation certificate businesses; time-share programs; and telephone solicitors.
Some occupations that still require work cards include strippers and child-care workers.
Even though the county no longer requires work cards and the cost associated with them for these categories, doesn’t Metro still do background checks on some of them?
Yes. Nine of these jobs/businesses are still defined as “privileged” and require a criminal-background check. They are: ice cream truck vendor; mobile food vendor; psychic arts practitioners; peddlers, solicitors and temporary merchants; locksmiths; burglar alarm installers; secondhand dealers; pawnbrokers; and massage establishments.
In Burt Reynolds’ “The Longest Yard,” his buddy prison “caretaker” secretly fermented whatever he could to create a some hooch for the inmates, who were preparing to take on Ray Nitschke and the prison guards in the football game to end all football games.
It was entertaining in the movie, but making moonshine isn’t exactly what taxpayers expect or want inmates to be doing.
But do they want them to read, if reading is going to cost a half-million a year to pay for staff?
Clark County commissioners faced that question last week. And although the answer appeared to be that it doesn’t matter what taxpayers want — the federal government requires books be made available to inmates — a lively discussion ensued.
Why did it come up as a discussion item in the first place?
Because the Clark County Detention Center needed approval of $2.3 million to maintain its contract with Las Vegas-Clark County Library District to pay for six Library District employees: one librarian and five assistants. Three of the five do legal research for inmates; two deliver books to the inmates. The contract covers four years at a cost of about $550,000 per year. The previous four-year-contract, which ends June 30, cost about $69,000 more a year than this one.
Jim Dixon, Metro’s deputy chief in charge of the Detention Center, said electronic access to library materials is being looked at, but right now, using six library employees is the only way it can get done.
Where else did the discussion go? What other Detention Center issues arose?
Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani was stunned to learn that the jail has one inmate who has been there six years, when she thought no one was in jail more than 12 months.
“That’s wrong. Why is that?” she said.
Dixon replied: “The courts.”
“I feel like I’ve got a gun to my head.”
— Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak before a vote to fund several group homes for juvenile sex offenders. The county’s contract with providers ends June 30. Giunchigliani asked county staff to develop a policy requiring similar contracts to appear before the commission at least six months before expiration. The commission approved the funding, 5-1, with Sisolak voting no.