Editorial: Tumultuous times, steady leadership in Carson City

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For folks passionate about the quality of life and the quality of governance in Carson City, last week was one for the books.

A quick skim of the front-page headlines bears this out: "Charter panel gets down to business." "Political Shout Night draws variety of opinions, positions." "City to 'scrub' budget for savings." And finally, the big one: "Put (City Center) on ballot, library says."

When Mayor Bob Crowell delivered his State of the City address in February, we came away feeling that the city was in good hands. The actions of Crowell and other city leaders last week justified that confidence. To wit:

• The Carson City Charter Review Committee picked new leaders and set its course for the coming couple of months. Although the committee meeting drew only a handful of residents, it was encouraging to note that one of the first orders of business was a briefing by Chief Deputy District Attorney Randal Munn on the topic of openness in government and laws governing public meetings and public records. We like the fact that city leaders made this a high priority for those who volunteer their time to review and improve the city's version of a constitution.

• When the Board of Supervisors met to consider next year's budget, they spent the morning in "earnest, thoughtful and collegial" discussion on how to turn the red ink back to black. City Finance Director Nick Providenti noted that "things are stabilizing and the revenue is creeping up," and proposed that while cost-of-living raises aren't yet in the cards, merit raises could be. We like that balance.

Still, Mayor Crowell sent city administrators back to the drawing board to "scrub this budget" for more cuts. His calm, rational approach struck just the right note.

• Free speech and passion are alive and well in Carson City, as evidenced by the panoply of opinions voiced Tuesday night at "Political Shout Night" at Western Nevada College. Scores of people showed up to speak (and listen) on a variety of topics, from the local to the global. WNC is a vibrant asset to the community, and we love seeing it serve as a magnet for free speech and social engagement.

• The Carson City Library Board similarly did its job - and, just as important, didn't overreach - in approving Library Director Sara Jones' recommendation to ask the Board of Supervisors to put the controversial City Center Project on the November ballot.

Some residents who attended Thursday's Library Board meeting wanted the recommendation to include specifics on funding, but the board properly chose to leave that decision to the supervisors.

Tempers and passions predictably flare in tumultuous times, and sometimes the political becomes personal.

There was some of that last week at the various city meetings and hearings and also in the pages of the Appeal.

We'll close here with a quote from Appeal columnist Marilee Swirczek's April 11 commentary: "We Nevadans can set an example for the rest of our nation. If you agree that it's time for Nevada to be No. 1 at something positive, why not make it civility? We can disagree passionately - but politely and logically. And we can start with our own local politics."

That's a great message to keep in mind as city leaders set about making some tough calls.


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