After report, Sandoval wants Ag director out |

After report, Sandoval wants Ag director out

A spokesman for Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval said Friday that Tony Lesperance will not be approved by the new administration as state agriculture director.

The head of the Agriculture Department is “hired” by the state Board of Agriculture. But, by statute, the person selected must be approved by the governor.

Assistant Transition Director Dale Erquiaga told reporters Friday the agriculture board has been “notified that the governor-elect will not accept the name of Tony Lesperance.”

“We don’t want to go into the Legislative session with a conversation about the director. We want to go into the Legislative session with a conversation about agriculture.”

On Wednesday, the state personnel department released a report on the work environment within the agriculture department. An employee survey of about

50 of the 80 or so employees was harshly critical of Lesperance and his management style.

“Employees are allowed to exhibit bad behavior in the workplace, i.e. temper tantrums, bullying, gossip and maligning other employees, verbal abuse,” was one comment from a worker.

Erquiaga said no decision has been made about the fate of the department itself. Agriculture was briefly folded into the Department of Business and Industry in the state reorganization of 1993, but convinced lawmakers it should again become its own independent department.

The head of the department is paid $107,4765 a year.

Erquiaga said decisions still are pending on who will head five of the state’s departments: corrections, public safety, DMV, cultural affairs and wildlife. The directors of both corrections and public safety are retiring and not asking for reappointment.

He also said Sandoval and his team are still looking at the potential for saving money by combining, consolidating agencies in the state.

He said consolidations will be considered, “if there are cost savings in putting departments together.”

Erquiaga said Sandoval and Gov. Jim Gibbons are working together with their staffs to select mutually agreeable appointments to the Gaming Control Board is an example of the cooperation the transition team is receiving. Gibbons had promised after the primary election that was ordering his staff to do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition of power.

“I can’t praise the governor’s staff enough,” said Erquiaga. “They’ve been terrific.”