Washoe County Commissioner Alexis Hill with crown

Queen Alexis’

Unilateral Block on Public Comment

by Thomas Daly

Commissioner Alexis Hill has decided, unilaterally, to deny her subjects the ability to speak on issues before the Washoe County Commission at the beginning of each of their public meetings, a long tradition in Washoe County. Apparently, those public comments by the little people are not worthy of her time, thus her diktat for Commission meetings since April.

Her action was taken without public notice, public comment, discussion in public session among other Commissioners or a vote by those Commissioners. This issue was not agendized for the April Board of County Commissioners’ (BCC) meeting.

While Commissioner Hill is a Democrat, her action was hardly democratic.

Perhaps Commissioner Hill forgot that she was elected by her constituents to be a public servant … with the emphasis on “servant.”

She works for us, and she and her entitled entourage are paid to sit through some long meetings to gain input from County taxpayers and voters on the issues of the day.

Citizens attending those meetings are not paid and have limited time to speak, thus their desire to provide public comment, on issues both on and off the agenda, at a time certain at the beginning of such meetings, rather than a time uncertain at the end. Citizens with disabilities, who are entitled to “reasonable accommodation” under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, are now subjected to hours long waits until the meeting’s end to speak. For that reason, historically, the vast majority of public comments occur at the beginning of such meetings

And recall the admonition of Nevada’s Open Meeting Law (OML) that any measure that diminishes public input, even if it is in technical compliance with that law, is a violation of the law’s spirit.

Our founding fathers warned us of the likelihood of elected officials decrying the views of their constituents. Alexander Hamilton, writing in the Federalist Papers No. 71, opined,

“The representatives of the people, in public assembly, seem sometimes to fancy that they are the people themselves and betray strong symptoms of impatience and disgust at the least sign of opposition from any other quarter ….”

Open Meeting Law and Ethics complaints against Commissioner Hill for this action are pending review by the Attorney General and Ethics Commission, respectively.

Let us hope Queen Alexis remembers to give us the royal wave, as when defeated in her bid for re-election in 2024, she exits our political stage.

by Thomas Daly

(Thomas Daly is a resident of Washoe County.)

(The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Nevada Signal.)