John Barrette

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July 20, 2013
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Carson Perspective: Reagan's trust, but verify is a good policy for government

If you’ve never been to Austin — no, not the big one in Texas — you should know there is great mountain biking in Nevada’s version.

It’s nearly 7,000 feet up and 6 miles from Bob Scott Summit campground, where camping is a bit brisk even in July. But it’s wondrous.

Returning to Carson City brings you back from the middle of what was called by Life magazine the loneliest road in America. Life’s reporting was spot-on, not hype. It’s a great getaway three hours from home.

Returning to the capital city through Churchill County’s Fallon and Lyon County’s Dayton, things get less lonely. As today’s Nevada Appeal reports elsewhere in these pages, the road gets more crowded and risky.

Yet this is a problem law enforcement officials and state road engineers are on. What can be fixed will be. Do your part; drive defensively.

Speaking of defense, Carson City’s Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 for a new fraud, waste and abuse hotline program that whistle-blowers can use. The bet here is it won’t stick if little or nothing turns up.

Perhaps 80 percent or more of the calls will prove useless, while up to 20 percent will be sifted through for tips that need checking. Whether it will be worth the $27,000 to $34,000 first-year cost is anybody’s guess. But kudos to both the governing board majority and the lone dissenter.

Among the majority, Supervisor Jim Shirk made the case for the program after a city Audit Committee representative and the city’s internal audit consultant encouraged action. He said that perhaps the city will gain. Maybe, of course, always carries on its back an implied maybe-not. So it’s an investment or a gamble, whatever you care to call it.

Supervisor John Mc­Kenna, meanwhile, cast the dissenting vote. He offered various reasons afterward, too many to recap here without getting off-point. His rationale, plus what sounded like doubts about value, weren’t out of line.

So let’s get to the bottom line.

McKenna’s vote stood out because he is a certified public accountant and a member of the Audit Committee.

In other words, his dissenting vote was a minority report. It seemed a message to all that the program must produce or perish; Carson City isn’t a financial spigot for just any consultant accounting firm sporting bells, whistles and a good talker.

Yet a few phone calls and some digging over a year to see what’s up? President Ronald Reagan used to toss around the English version of a Russian proverb: “Trust, but verify.”

City government isn’t in the nuclear disarmament treaty business, but it is a $100 million operation.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jul 30, 2013 12:36PM Published Jul 20, 2013 10:51PM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.