Originally Published on NevadaNewsmakers.com, 5/30/2007 2:23:40 PM
An interesting bit of north-south contrast observed in the Senate Finance Committee, as a pitch for more family court judges turned into a discussion of where to put the judges if such positions are approved. There’s little disagreement on the need for the judges, but what will it cost to expand the brick-and-mortar capacity of court facilities? This is a relevant question since the state pays judicial salaries, but the counties are on the hook for all other expenses resulting from an expanded court.
Clark County says it would have to undertake a complex reconfiguration of its “justice center,” as court houses are known in the evolved language of the latter 20th century. Some 30 million dollars, more or less, to move district attorneys to a different building — displacing other district attorneys to yet another location, unidentified at this point — and therefore, it would seem, in doubt as to cost. Clark has projected annual operating costs to support five additional judges at 5.7 – 9.9 million dollars. A range of 4.2 million, depending on whether the judges are assigned to the criminal, civil, or family division.
Clark has has approved the range, without knowing concretely where the new judges will be assigned.
As the committee’s questioning intensified, one of Clark’s representatives began to testify against the other, declaring her account of things to be “just wrong.” Ultimately, we learn, the other person had never set foot in the facility she was describing.
Washoe County, meanwhile, would receive two additional family court judges under the terms of AB 246. Washoe’s representative came to the table, and in exactly 30 seconds, she summed up the manner in which Washoe has precisely anticipated the expenses, and the need for physical space, and plugged all of it into the next three years’ budgets.
All of which led the Reasonable Reporter to wonder whether this difference in presentation and planning is characteristic of the two counties in all matters. Or even in most matters. This too, is a relevant question, since we are constantly reminded that southern issues dominate the lawmaking process because 70 percent of the population resides in the south. And that’s the way it is, period, so there.
The committee’s vice-chair, Senator Bob Beers, is from Clark. So it seemed reasonable to ask him whether this episode illustrates any typical differences in county operation. He wasn’t prepared to go that far, but offered something else — a theory that incompetence and bureaucratic chaos correlate to the size of government. Beers also offered a caveat to Washoe County: “Don’t let this happen to you.”