Agendas to watch in 2002

Who needs soap operas when you can get the Reno City Council broadcast Tuesdays on SNCAT? I know folks who tape entire meetings to watch at their leisure. Then later they boast of their conquests.

“I got the bit where Mayor Griffin says the Comstock Hotel would be better off if it burned down.”

“Oh yeah? Well I have Councilwoman Sherrie Doyle explaining how she must vote the way her campaign contributors tell her to vote.”

“Really? Could you make me a copy?”

I mention this because Doyle and Griffin are two interesting folks to watch in 2002, as Griffin runs for another term and Doyle may finally face the possibility of losing her council seat over questions of illegal campaign contributions.

In 2000, D. Brian Burghart, then RN&R associate editor, found that Doyle likely broke campaign finance laws in 1998 by pulling in $39,000 in contributions and personal loans from political activist Beth Miramon. That’s almost four times the legal limit that one individual can contribute. She reported about $13,000. That’s still more than the legal $10,000 limit. Oops.

Doyle pleads hapless ignorance, which would be a better excuse if it weren’t that hapless ignorance isn’t exactly a reassuring trait in a city leader.

The Nevada Division of Investigation spent more than a year looking at the case before turning it over to the attorney general. City critics speculate that the investigations are taking a long time because others in the city are counting on Doyle’s vote on issues like the big dig—a proposed trench for Union Pacific trains cruising through downtown Reno. These leaders, according to this theory, somehow have the political clout to pull strings at the state level. Possibly, though, it’s just a serendipitous break for Doyle and for Mayor Griffin & Co.—who must have the trench come hell or high water.

Speaking of hell and high water, I’m reminded of the development scene in the Truckee Meadows. There’s the scarcity of wet stuff and the abundance of building stuff to think about in 2002 as the city and county governments think about the reworked regional plan. Yeah, we know. Everyone wants to move out to the rural areas to “get away from it all,” but this tendency to sprawl is self-defeating in the end.

Here’s some free advice to those who dream of a large country estate far from the flight pattern of a local airport: Get over it. Move back to the urban core and become part of a community that respects the rights of all folks to have a place to “get away from it all.” Grow up, not out.

Speaking of growing up, I’m reminded that a mature move on the part of city government would be to consider taking real action on choosing a site for a homeless services facility. Yes, this would involve pissing off some businesses near the Sage Street site. And the Reno City Council may be accused of not caring that the homeless are exposed to the dangers of the industrial site. But a local alliance of homeless service providers say they can make Sage Street work. And something needs to be done. So do it.

And, hey, happy New Year.