HomePoliticsLV COUNCILMAN STEVE SEROKA HIT WITH ETHICS COMPLAINT Politics LV COUNCILMAN STEVE SEROKA HIT WITH ETHICS COMPLAINT May 15, 2018 . Tyson Wrench, a City of Las Vegas resident, filed an ethics complaint against Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Seroka. The complaint was officially received by the Nevada Commission on Ethics May 3, 2018. The complaint asserts that Councilman Steve Seroka has a relationship with the opponents of the Badlands Golf Course applicant that has been before the City Council for 36 months, and the complaint further asserts that a reasonable person would find Seroka to be biased in his voting on the item due to the recruiting and funding of his campaign for City Council by the opponents to the applicant. . The complaint goes on seeking an opinion on whether Seroka should have disclosed the relationships to the public and then abstained from voting on the agenda items. Brad Jerbic, City Attorney, should have been the one to advise Seroka of his conflicts under NRS 281A.420 which requires disclosure of conflicts of interest and abstention from voting because of certain types of conflicts; effect of abstention on quorum and voting requirements; exceptions. The Ethics Commission will evaluate the complaint filed by Wrench and determine if it warrants further action by the Commissioners. . On tomorrow’s City Council agenda there are nine items related to the 180 Land LLC applications. Numerous lawsuits have been filed by all parties related to Badlands development issues; naming the City of Las Vegas in those suites. In February, City Manager Scott Adams reported that Las Vegas city staff have spent 4,671 hours and the equivalent of nearly $420,000 in city salary and benefit costs working on the contentious the Badlands golf course development project since 2015. . In 1999, the Nevada Commission on Ethics in Opinion Nos: 06-61, 06-62, 06-66, and 06-68 the definition of relationships were examined. The critical factor in the definition and the application of the definition is not the judgment of the public officer as to the commitment of the close relationship, but rather the test given to the relationship by a “reasonable person”. In this complaint, the argument is that the public has a right to assess Mr. Seroka’s ability for “independent judgment”. THE COMPLAINT AS SUBMITTED: The Nevada Commission on Ethics has as its mission, “by the authority granted under Chapter 281A of NRS, strives to enhance the public’s faith and confidence in government by ensuring that public officers and public employees uphold the public trust by committing themselves to avoid conflicts between their private interests and their public duties.” This ethics complaint is filed under NRS218A.420, section 1(b), and asserts that the relationships Mr. Seroka developed and nurtured during his campaign should have compelled him, at the very least, to disclose, and if appropriate, abstain, from any agenda items in front of the City Council that are related to the BADLANDS GOLF COURSE. He willfully and knowingly proposed and directed the creation of new ordinances, amendments to existing Title 19 regulations, and made motions for action(s) on agenda items based upon his relationships and recent success with the opposition to the Badlands Golf Project. The public has a right to know when their public officials may or may not be influenced by a vote on an item listed on the public agenda. Candidate Seroka was recruited by and funded in large part by the opposition to the Badlands Golf Couse project. The result of the “relationship” between Seroka and the opposition to the Badlands project, is a $70,000 a year salary with benefits for Mr. Seroka and the immense increase in his public profile and influence as a City of Las Vegas Councilman. A reasonable person in Councilman Seroka’s position would have a difficult time remaining objective on matters associated with the items before the council; bias is almost unavoidable. The individuals involved with this item have a relationship with Councilman Seroka that resulted in personal gain and recognition that could not have been attained without their assistance. Under such circumstance, a reasonable person would have undoubtedly strong loyalty to these individuals, so much so that it would materially affect the reasonable person’s independence of judgment. 2 NRS 281A.420 Requirements regarding disclosure of conflicts of interest and abstention from voting because of certain types of conflicts; effect of abstention on quorum and voting requirements; exceptions. 1. Except as otherwise provided in this section, a public officer or employee shall not approve, disapprove, vote, abstain from voting or otherwise act upon a matter: (a) Regarding which the public officer or employee has accepted a gift or loan; (b) In which the public officer or employee has a significant pecuniary interest; or (c) Which would reasonably be affected by the public officer’s or employee’s commitment in a private capacity to the interests of another person, without disclosing information concerning the gift or loan, significant pecuniary interest or commitment in a private capacity to the interests of the person that is sufficient to inform the public of the potential effect of the action or abstention upon the person who provided the gift or loan, upon the public officer’s or employee’s significant pecuniary interest, or upon the person to whom the public officer or employee has a commitment in a private capacity. Such a disclosure must be made at the time the matter is considered. If the public officer or the employee is a member of a body which makes decisions, the public officer or employee shall make the disclosure in public to the chair and other members of the body. If the public officer or employee is not a member of such a body and holds an appointive office, the public officer or employee shall make the disclosure to the supervisory head of the public officer’s or employee’s organization or, if the public officer holds an elective office, to the general public in the area from which the public an officer is elected. 2. The provisions of subsection 1 do not require a public officer to disclose: (a) Any campaign contributions that the public officer reported in a timely manner pursuant to NRS 294A.120 or 294A.125; or (b) Any contributions to a legal defense fund that the public officer reported in a timely manner pursuant to NRS 294A.286. 3. Except as otherwise provided in this section, in addition to the requirements of subsection 1, a public officer shall not vote upon or advocate the passage or failure of, but may otherwise participate in the consideration of, a matter with respect to which the independence of judgment of a reasonable a person in the public officer’s situation would be materially affected by: (a) The public officer’s acceptance of a gift or loan; (b) The public officer’s significant pecuniary interest; or (c) The public officer’s commitment in a private capacity to the interests of another person. 3 In 1999, the Nevada Commission on Ethics in Opinion Nos: 06-61, 06-62, 06-66, and 06-68 the definition of relationships was examined. The critical factor in the definition and the application of the definition is not the judgment of the public officer as to the commitment of the close relationship, but rather the test is given to the relationship by a “reasonable person”. In this complaint, the argument is that the public has a right to assess Mr. Seroka’s ability for “independent judgment”. 4 Background: In 2015, EHB Companies purchased the companies that owned the golf course land and related assets at the Badlands Golf Course in Queen’s ridge. The company began the Land application and entitlement application process as described in Title 19 in the City of Las Vegas. Met with neighborhood opposition, the issue ignited into a political battle, which included the recruiting and funding of candidates to run against incumbent City Councilman, Bob Beers. Steve Seroka won the Democratic primary and ran in the general election against the incumbent, Bob Beers. Mr. Seroka raised $271,576.51, exclusive of PAC money. Donors who were identified on the Contribution and Expense reports, 1 thru 4, as having direct involvement with the opposition to the project, donated over $45,000. Contribution and Expense Report: http://nvsos.gov/SOSCandidateServices/AnonymousAccess/ViewCCEReport.aspx?syn=zEg7MZhy6vDc 1fPdz2IUdw%253d%253d According to Mr. Seroka’s 2017 Candidate Financial Disclosure, Mr. Seroka was unemployed and had retirement as is a primary source of income prior to r5 The City Council of Las Vegas agenda Item 53 on August 2, 2017 Development Agreement for the Badlands Golf Course Development; the applicant is 180 Land Co, LLC. It is well documented in both the media, and City of Las Vegas public records that the opposition to this item has engaged in legal action, recruited candidates, and made candidate contributions in order to influence the actions of the City Council. Robert and Nancy Peccole, whose property abuts the golf course, filed a lawsuit in District Court in July over the plans, alleging a breach of contract and a fraudulent scheme to “deprive the plaintiffs as Queensridge homeowners of their entitled rights to a golf course, open space and flood control …” Donated $3,500. Another lawsuit, which was filed in December and includes among its plaintiffs Schreck and businessman Jack Binion, alleges efforts to openly “circumvent” state law and city code. Donated $5,500. 53. DIR-70539 – ABEYANCE ITEM – DIRECTOR’S BUSINESS – PUBLIC HEARING – APPLICANT/OWNER: 180 LAND CO, LLC, ET AL – For possible action on a request for a Development Agreement between 180 Land Co, LLC, et al. and the City of Las Vegas on 250.92 acres at the southwest corner of Alta Drive and Rampart Boulevard (APNs 138-31-201-005; 138-31-601-008; 138-31-702-003 and 004; 138-31-801-002 and 003; 138-32-202-001; and 138-32-301-005 and 007), Ward 2 (Seroka) [PRJ70542]. Staff recommends APPROVAL. Motion made by STEVEN G. SEROKA to Deny – NO DISCLOSURE Passed For: 4; Against: 3; Abstain: 0; Did Not Vote: 0; Excused: 0 BOB COFFIN, LOIS TARKANIAN, STAVROS S. ANTHONY, STEVEN G. SEROKA; (Against-MICHELE FIORE, RICKI Y. BARLOW, CAROLYN G. GOODMAN); (Abstain None); (Did Not Vote-None); (Excused-None) Motion for Moratorium – City of Las Vegas City Council meeting September 6, 2018 Steve Seroka initiated a Moratorium on development. The intent is to stop all major project applications. The Badlands donors to Mr. Seroka’s campaign, his new friends, were there in force to ask for the Moratorium to be passed. This is a second effort to derail and/or financially cripple the developer of the golf course. September 6, 2018 City Council Meeting Transcript. 6 Pages 58-63 of the meeting transcript details dialogue with City Council, Brad Jerbic and the applicant. It is clear from the conversations that the underlying intent of the moratorium is to continue to stall and impede progress for the applicant. The public speakers in pages 1-34, who spoke in opposition, are donors to the Seroka campaign. (Refer to enclosed C&E). http://www5.lasvegasnevada.gov/sirepub/cache/2/wburkjv40h54gpwkmhl0zfky/145650490117201802 1740104.PDF Councilman Seroka made several motions and did not once disclose his relationship to the opposition. NO DISCLOSURE. January 3, City Council meeting DIR-72290 is an appeal submitted by the opposition to the Badlands Project to once again delay and confuse further the land use application process for the applicant. Councilman Seroka commented and struggled with a motion. He voted against the Motion to Deny made by City Councilwoman Michele Fiore. NO DISCLOSURE. Agenda Summary Page: http://www5.lasvegasnevada.gov/sirepub/cache/2/wburkjv40h54gpwkmhl0zfky/1487722701172018 080547744.PDF 78. DIR-72290 – PUBLIC HEARING – For possible action on an Appeal of Director’s decision to not require applications for a General Plan Amendment and Major Modification in conjunction with applications related to three Planning Projects (PRJ-71990, PRJ-71991, and PRJ-71992) generally located on 282.08 acres at the southwest corner of Alta Drive and Rampart Boulevard (APNs 138-31-601-008; 138-31-702-003; 138-31- 702-004; 138-32-202-001; 138-32-210-008; and 138-32-301-007), R-PD7 (Residential Planned Development – 7 Units per Acre) and PD (Planned Development) Zones, Ward 2 (Seroka). Staff recommends DENIAL.