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Regents get open meetings law twisted

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

The University and Community College Board of Regents has added a new twist to Nevada’s open meeting law.

Regents voted to demote Community College of Southern Nevada President Ron Remington and college lobbyist John Cummings on Nov. 20 after 18 hours of closed session on their competence.

Both men received the required five-day notice that they would be the subject of the closed session, but neither was permitted to attend.

On Wednesday, Las Vegas District Judge Jackie Glass agreed with university attorneys there was no requirement in the law that the subject of a closed personnel session be allowed to attend.

The firings occurred after regents spent two days reviewing an investigation conducted in the wake of the firings of Briget Jones, the woman who claimed to be Assemblyman Wendell Williams’ executive assistant.

Jones who, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal story, listed a fake degree on here resume, was fired by Cummings. Cummings claimed he hired her at Williams’ suggestion.

As a result of the investigation, system chancellor Jane Nichols reinstated Jones and invoked whistleblower status for her.

We tend to agree with attorneys for Remington and Cummings that the extended notice requirement exists to insure that the subjects of a personnel session are informed and may attend a closed hearing at which their “character, alleged misconduct, professional competence or physical or mental health” will be discussed.

Not all the regents were happy with the decision to demote the two college administrators. In fact the vote to do so was 7-6 in favor.

About 100 protesters marched outside regents’ Thursday meeting, hoping to influence one of the majority to change their vote.

Regents in the majority took the ruling as vindication of their actions, however, attorneys for the two men plan to appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court. If the court finds a violation of the Open Meeting Law, the Regents’ action could be overturned.

Regents should give the two men an opportunity to defend themselves. It is the right thing to do. The wrong thing is to spend public money defending a decision that in the end should be overturned.