Loux ordered to court Wednesday

Nuclear Projects Office Director Bob Loux has been ordered to appear in Carson District Court Wednesday to answer a demand by political activist Chuck Muth that he be removed from that position.

Under Nevada statute, certain public officials can be removed from office for not performing the official duties of that office.

Muth filed to remove Loux last week after it was reported Loux confessed he had improperly raised his salary and the salaries of other employees at the Nuclear Projects Office above the level authorized by the Legislature and governor.

Gov. Jim Gibbons sent a letter asking for Loux's resignation, but Loux doesn't report directly to the governor. He reports to the Nuclear Commission and he said he will make no decision until he meets with that commission.

The statute authorizing a court to remove public officials requires the party being challenged to appear not more than 10 days or less than five days after the complaint is filed. It requires a hearing on the matter not more than 20 days after the complaint was filed.

Carson District Judge Bill Maddox set the hearing for 9 a.m. Wednesday. And he set a hearing to resolve the issue for September 29.

"You are further advised that if, on the hearing, it appears that the charge or charges of the complaint are sustained, the court shall enter a decree that the party complained of shall be deprived of his office," the summons issued by Maddox states.

The salary issue came to light after the legislative Interim Finance Committee discovered that the Nuclear Projects Office was over budget for the year. According to a spreadsheet prepared by the state budget office, Loux is paying himself $151,542 this fiscal year - $37,454 more than the $114,088 his position is authorized to receive.

The spreadsheet also shows he paid himself more than he should have every year since Fiscal Year 2006.

In addition, the spreadsheet shows five different employees in his office were being paid anywhere from $19,723 to $38,877 above what is authorized this fiscal year.

In addition, Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, has filed an ethics complaint against Loux over the salaries.

"His actions are both egregious and indefensible and the citizens of Nevada deserve better," she said.

Loux is one of the state's longest serving administrators, having headed Nevada's opposition to the Yucca Mountain nuclear dump project since he was appointed by Gov. Mike O'Callaghan in 1978.

Some of his supporters have already raised concerns that it would be unwise to remove him now because the federal government announced earlier this month it is moving ahead with the process to license and open the dump 75 miles north of Las Vegas.

Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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