Nevada Commission for Women votes against being decommissioned |

Nevada Commission for Women votes against being decommissioned

By Jessica Garcia

The Nevada Commission for Women on Tuesday voted to reject being decommissioned and converted into a nonprofit organization whose efforts would be refocused on fundraising as a 501(c)3.

The commission, originally created in 1991 to examine issues impacting women in the state and advise the governor and the Nevada Legislature in areas such as career advancement, pay equality and gender discrimination, was reactivated in 2014 when former Gov. Brian Sandoval was in office. It falls under the oversight of the Department of Administration through Nevada Revised Statute 233I and typically meets monthly. Ten members were appointed by the governor to serve three-year terms, with no more than five members to be chosen from the same political party.

This year, the commission set out to focus on gender equality, increase women in leadership and promote the public’s awareness of the commission itself using social media channels.

The state is facing 12 percent budget cuts in the next biennium, according to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office. The possible decommissioning is in response to these potential cuts, according to NCOW chair JoEtta Brown, Douglas County activist, and Commissioner Ann Silver, CEO of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

Silver said Sisolak asked for budget reductions from department administrators. Repurposing NCOW as a 501(c)3 as a means of saving funds was one strategy, Silver said, adding she had consulted with the commission’s sole staff member, management analyst Molly Walt. Walt provides 30 hours for the commission and 10 hours for the director’s office.

Commissioner Durette Candito, vice chair and a Las Vegas resident, said she understood but expressed frustration.

“I’m a little shocked in this age of this #metoo movement in Nevada, in this country, that we would be cutting in this manner,” Candito said. “They’ve already cut our administrators’ salaries and cut Molly back on her salary, so I feel like we’ve already been chopped enough.”

Silver said she didn’t believe Walt’s salary had been cut.

“We are all at the governor’s mercy,” she added. “We don’t have the authority to weigh in on compensation.”

Commissioner Heather Engle, CEO of Las Vegas Rescue Mission and raised in Carson City, also was irritated about a sudden lack of representation given the commission’s accomplishments after the Nevada Women’s Suffrage celebration this year.

“I find it embarrassing and awful, this idea of being put in a corner,” Engle said. “As soon as it’s a little inconvenient, it’s a little inconvenient, right? We’re all in until we have a confrontation. We compartmentalize, then we move through it. It doesn’t mean we get silent about it. Watching this all go down right now, it’s terribly sad. I’m going to fight for it.”

The commission rejected the motion in an 8-0 vote, which will be forwarded to Director Laura Freed via e-mail by Brown now for consideration, and it will be informed of a final decision.

During the meeting, ladies representing the Nevada Women’s Lobby, the American Association of University Women and the Nevada League of Voters at first expressed their support of the decision, with some asking to change their opinions after clarification on the item’s language.