Scene in Passing: Buck stops here; people build community

Never cottoned much to slogans, but the one for the company publishing the Nevada Appeal is appealing: “Great people connecting communities.”

It captures for me what often goes on in this community, surrounding communities, and at this newspaper.

When your scrivener first visited Carson City in 1970, it was a semi-sleepy state capital of about 15,000 people. It seemed a great community then. After moving here six years ago, I’ve found it has proven to be just so despite more than tripling in population over four decades. Semi-sleepy no longer applies, but community still does.

Bottom line, great people still must connect communities or communities they won’t be. They’ll just be collections of people.

So in these precincts it’s time to give Interim City Manager Marena Works some slack, some kudos as well. Though there was a lack of documentation on public notice before a public hearing and votes to approve a city sales tax hike and it happened on her watch, neither she nor her underlings did the deed on purpose. Nor did she try to hide it from the public forever and a day; it was just a day.

Then she stepped up into the glare and bore the brunt of it. She blamed no one else, an admirable trait. She didn’t make excuses or point to anyone else’s advice on how to cope with fallout. A great executive named Harry Truman used to remind people about the nature of his role with a sign on his Oval Office desk: “The buck stops here.” Works deserves an upside nod for understanding where the buck stops. Accountability takes guts when it hurts.

So let’s move on. Let’s contemplate how the Board of Supervisors will react on the issue or spin off possibilities. Boosting city sales tax an eighth of a penny — $12.50 per $10,000 worth of goods purchased — is aimed at helping finance capital projects. Few like tax hikes, even small ones shared by community visitors.

Supervisor John McKenna, the swing vote, repeatedly says he would like a vote of the people but he did support the tax when the board approved it initially. Four votes were needed then, and are still.

Supervisor Jim Shirk, the lone no vote the first go-round, has filed motions seeking an advisory vote of the people in November and other actions should that fail. A three-vote board majority is needed to put the question on the November ballot, according to Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover. It doesn’t appear they’re there, but who knows? Shirk assuredly still faces an uphill battle trying to delay or derail the hike.

The community, meanwhile, will survive and thrive. No matter which outcome you prefer or how it turns out, Carson City won’t falter. Great people live here.

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


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