Mesquite, NV., Last Wednesday Barbara Ellestad for Battle Born Media (BBM), published her last opinion piece stating her opinion of the case between the owners of the Wolf Creek Golf course and the Virgin Valley Water Board (VVWB). This time she supports the water district attorney Jedediah (Bo) Bingham in an attempt at character assassinations.
Let’s do a brief recap. In part 1, Ellestad argues that the case is over a 2011 lease agreement. Not true. In fact, the owners of Wolf Creek felt that increasing their irrigation rates from $250 to $1,246.00 per share (now reduced to $1,115.67 per share) was inconsistent with local irrigation rates, was arbitrarily and capriciously and violated Nevada contract law and is full of absolute abuse of the legal process. In other words, it is the action of the board, not the contract itself that the owners of Wolf Creek contest.
I pointed out in Part 1, that Article 8, Section 9 of the Nevada Constitution (the Gift Clause) prohibits “the donation, or loaning of money, or its credit, subscribe to or be, interested in the Stock of any company, association, or corporation, except corporations formed for educational or charitable purposes.” A water share is, in fact, a stock.
In part 2, she attempted to use a 2011 lease agreement between the owners of Wolf Creek and the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) as a defense against the lawsuit. In rebuttal, I again mention the Constitutional prohibition against “gifting” public money to stockholders of river shares. And I add that Nevada’s, the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) sets out the process by which organizations like the VVWB are to set regulations such as price setting. The APA is a process designed to protect the public against violations of the “due process” clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In Part 3, Ellestad tells her readers that VVWB could claw back alleged unused water from Wolf Creek and lease that potion to the Nevada Water Authority (SNWA). Another false accusation. At the present time, federal restrictions prohibit the SNWA from taking clawed back water from the golf courses.
In part 4, Ellestad returns to her theme that the water board has sole discretion to set water rates and again uses selective wording from the Bingham- Cory Clemetson deposition. Not true. As stated above, there are a host of constitutional, regulatory, and stock handling issues that responsible elected officials must consider in a range of administrative activities, not the least of which is rate setting.
In part 5 she again attempts to convince her readers that the VVWB has an absolute right to set the price of public water used for irrigation on Wolf Creek. That seems to be her theme: elected officials have an “absolute right” to do whatever they want and whenever they want.
In response I detailed SNWA and the Water District leasing and purchasing practices. I argued that it is the VVWB practice of purchasing Virgin River shareholders water rights that have driven lease and purchase prices of Virgin River irrigation water and asked the question if those practices reach the legal definition of state or federal anti-trust violations or self-dealing is a legal question for others to decide.
In part 6 Ellestad, on behalf of Bingham is an attempt to convince the public that Wolf Creek was/is paying off local politicians Sandra Ramaker and Robert “Bubba,” Smith.
This entire line of questioning has nothing to do with the legal case. The case is about the water districts pricing practices and Bingham’s potential process violations not about individuals who contracted with Wolf Creek. This entire line of questioning by Bingham and the reporting by Ellestad is disingenuous, cynical, and blatantly misleading.
Ellestad and Bingham know that Ms. Ramaker is not on the Wolf Creek Payroll. They know that while Ms. Ramaker had a small contract with Wolf Creek for consulting in the past, she was never on their payroll nor did she consult at any time while serving as an elected official.
Smith did consult with Wolf Creek on behalf of all the local golf courses to better coordinate relations with elected officials. However, he did not consult while serving in a public office.
If anything, Smith acted against Wolf Creek and the other golf courses when he was on the water board and voted to spend $9,148,628.96 for 124.5 shares of Mesquite Irrigation Company (MIC) and Bunkerville Irrigation Company (BIC). That averaged to about $73,483.00 per share.
Remember Ellestad maintained her position with BBM while serving as an elected representative on the VVWB. She constantly used that elected position to tout her opinions and ideas while sitting on the VVWB, which not surprisingly appeared in the MLN.