Gibbons rejected in request to have more control over adjutant general | NevadaAppeal.com

Gibbons rejected in request to have more control over adjutant general

The governor’s attempts to centralize homeland security and military issues under his direct command suffered another setback Friday when Senate Finance members refused his argument the National Guard adjutant general should serve at his pleasure.

At present, the governor appoints the adjutant general to a fixed four- year term of office. He can’t hire and fire that position at will, which limits his power over that office.

“The governor, being commander in chief, should be able to choose an adjutant general,” said Trey Abney, assistant to Gov. Jim Gibbons.

He said 34 states already give the governor that power.

But the proposal was strongly opposed by retired Nevada Adjutant General Giles Vanderhoof as well as Las Vegas Democrats Bob Coffin and Minority Leader Dina Titus.

“I look at this as one of the most harmful proposals ever made in the state of Nevada,” said Vanderhoof.

He said in other states, the post has been given to unqualified junior officers because they were politically aligned with the governor. He said it would also eliminate the requirement the adjutant general be under 65 years old, which is in federal law for any adjutant general who is “federally recognized.” And he questioned how a “non-federally recognized adjutant general can command federally recognized officers.”

“Being responsible to and serving at the pleasure of the governor makes him just another political appointee,” said Coffin.

“I think this would totally politicize this position at a time when we are at war and we need good advice, not political advice,” Titus said.

But she said it is just one part of “a kind of dangerous trend in what’s coming out of the governor’s office.”

In addition to the adjutant general’s amendment, she said Gibbons wants to create a homeland security Fusion Center to centralize intelligence data in Carson City, create the Nevada ChalleNGe national guard training program for wayward teens, move the Homeland Security Office out of Public Safety and into the governor’s office and hire a “cadre of his own kind of paramilitary body guards.”

“Next, will he be wanting a War Tzar in his cabinet?” she asked.

Thus far, lawmakers haven’t approved any of those requests. In addition to rejecting the adjutant general amendment, the money committees refused to move the Homeland Security office and removed the SWAT-team-style equipment from his proposed security budget. The Fusion Center for Carson City stalled after law enforcement opposed it, saying it isn’t necessary.

No action has been taken on Nevada ChalleNGe, which Titus has described as “a feeder system for the National Guard.”

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