Maybe politicians should be called private servants

“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.”

One of the more illuminating realities your host discovered writing for this weekly is that the timing of the news cycle can make my opinions, shall we say, late. This week, I must have re-written this piece four times because every day another fact was uncovered about the latest to-do: the proposed Lazy 8 Casino in north Sparks.

If you’re one of those types who spent 300 bucks a pop to prance around the Black Rock and “artistically express” yourself at a place whose essence is the renouncement of capitalism, you may have missed the relevant facts, so here’s the short 411 version.

The situation came to a head when the Sparks City Council torpedoed gazillionaire Harvey Whittemore’s plans for a casino off Pyramid Highway by a 3-2 vote.

Whittemore claimed he was entitled to build the casino based on a development agreement that was signed back in 1994 for the Wingfield Springs subdivision.

When the city shot him down, he sued, seeking $100 million in damages. The City Council, on the advice of city attorney Chet Adams, caved, and one councilmember changed votes in a private vote. (Got that? Private vote.)

Now the state attorney general is seeking to sue the City Council for a host of reasons, not the least of which is the secret vote the council took settling the aforementioned lawsuit and whether the city even had the authority to waive its ability to review changes in the Master Plan—albeit perhaps a decade too late to question the latter.

To date, much has been made of developer Whittemore’s greed for having the audacity to try to develop his own property. Much has also been made of John Ascuaga’s championing the rights of the “little people” (homeowners) in challenging the new casino. (Or possibly, his attempts to maintain his casino’s major-player status among casinos in Sparks.) Competition can be bad, after all, for business.

It should come as no surprise that your host finds nothing nefarious about the actions of either Whittemore or Ascuaga. Much like people, businesses act in their own best interests—and self-preservation is king among those interests, particularly when you have employees who depend on you for their livelihood.

Similarly, I don’t find it surprising that homeowners would show up to protest the planned casino, as they felt it would be detrimental to their standard of living—although I do find it curious that people would move into an area near vacant land and be surprised that the owner might wish to actually develop said property.

Though, not surprisingly, this is the typical government stupidity that forever reigns supreme—hence the reason we conservative types really would prefer less of it. (Less government, I mean, and I suppose, less stupidity.)

On what planet does this City Council first vote to deny Whittemore’s petition and then, relying on their city attorney, privately reverse that decision? On what planet do they not seek legal counsel before their vote, particularly given the presumed threat of legal action in the event of a contested ruling? And on what planet does a public body suppose it can make private decisions without any sort of accountability?

I’m guessing the state attorney general’s office is about to explain to the council that Sparks is not a planet unto itself.

It’s a shame it won’t happen until after the elections—in which two council members’ terms hang in the balance.