Is Assemblywoman Kathy McClain a dishonest and underhanded person trying rip off Clark County government and her constituents?
We don't know her personally, but by the accounts of her double-dipping - for which she was fired from her job and then reinstated - we don't see a thief.
What we see is a cavalier attitude toward accountability, a government payroll system that apparently is ripe for fraud, and a potential for political shenanigans that taxpayers shouldn't have to tolerate.
In other words, don't worry about the $1,670 McClain took in sick-leave pay from her Clark County job while she was actually serving in the Legislature in Carson City. Instead, worry about the looming cracks her case exposed.
First, we must point out that McClain's sick-leave hours weren't discovered until the Las Vegas Review-Journal asked to review county payroll records. That's great work by the newspaper, but doesn't she have a supervisor? Were they aware she was a legislator and that the session was going on? Who's watching the till in Clark County?
Second, we're told that McClain didn't actually write down sick-leave hours on her time card. She forgot, so she called a payroll clerk and said to use whatever leave she still had. When the clerk said there was sick leave available, McClain reportedly responded, "Well, this is making me sick."
Yeah, it makes us a bit ill too. Around here, employees are required to sign their time cards. They vouch for their accuracy and veracity. Apparently that's not necessary in Clark County government, which makes us wonder just how much time-card fraud is going on.
Third is the simple fact that Clark County was paying her a salary at all while the Legislature was in session. County policy says employees must take a leave of absence. So, again, was anybody paying attention?
The bottom line is that government employees not only shouldn't be double-dipping, they should be avoiding any appearance of a conflict of interest between their day job and their elected position in Carson City. The evidence here is that a serious ethical matter warrants little more than a wink and a nod from some legislators and county officials.
It's not about the $1,670. It's about trust.