Leader needed for state's cultural affairs

A complaint about the qualifications of the temporary director of the state's Department of Cultural Affairs didn't uncover any ethical lapses, but it did shine a light on a rather large loophole in the law concerning gubernatorial appointments.

The question was whether Scott Sisco, who holds the job on an "interim" basis, was qualified because he doesn't hold a college degree. Nevada law requires a college degree for the position, but the Ethics Commission determined there was no minimum requirements for an interim director.

No one is saying Sisco is doing a lousy job as director, at least no one we know. In fact, he's a well-respected administrator in state government.

But Cultural Affairs is one of the more academic-minded departments, and until a few years ago required not only a college sheepskin but a master's degree. That requirement was removed so Dale Erquiaga, another appointment of Gov. Kenny Guinn, could fill the job.

The loophole must be closed. There should be a time limit on interim appointments to either meet the job qualifications or be replaced by someone who does. Otherwise, the standard is a sham.

Sisco's appointment is something of a cost-saving measure by Guinn for the $86,776 position. A recent editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal wondered, "Does this job need to be filled at all?"

Yes, it does. Not merely a bureaucrat who can keep the department afloat during lean budget times, a permanent director should be someone who is prepared to lead Cultural Affairs and the professionals who work there on their mission to serve Nevadans with quality libraries, museums, art and history.

It won't be an easy job. But somebody's got to do it.


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