Editor’s note: As publisher of Nevada-today I generally reserve Sunday for light-hearted features. Not today.
On Sept 5, Barbara Ellestad for the weekly Mesquite (Nevada) Local News (MLN) published a disgusting opinion piece that deserves immediate attention.
Ellestad damaged whatever is left of her “journalist integrity” by saying in the opinion piece that her previously published 6-part series for Battle Born Media “was quoted directly from a seven-hour, 350-page deposition transcript taken of Wolf Creek’s part owner Cory Clemetson by VVWD attorney Bo Bingham.” The deposition was taken as part of a law suit filed by Paradise Canyon (owner of the Wolf Creek Golf Course) against the Virgin Valley Water District.I also read the deposition, and while she did use quotes, they were taken out of context and clearly motivated by her desire to defame Clemetson, and anyone else who may have an opinion about the law suit that differs from hers or those of Jedediah (Bo) Bingham, the attorney for the water district.
In the opinion piece Ellestad acknowledges, as if anyone cares, that she has a problem with the lawsuit in general and Clemetson in particular. She tries to paint Clemetson and his family’s investment in Wolf Creek as if they are some kind of anti-Mesquite investors.
In fact, the Clemetson’s family’s investment in Mesquite in general and Wolf Creek in particular is measured in millions of dollars of returns to the community and untold donations to various groups and individuals and golfing pleasure for tens of thousands of individuals from all over the world who play at the golf course.
Ellestad hammers away at Bingham’s theme that the golf course is using less water than allocated in their lease. Neither her nor Bingham acknowledge that it was Kelby Hughes, the president of the Mesquite Irrigation Company (MIC), and former superintendent of the Wolf Creek golf course who set that rate. They also ignore that basing the use of water on any given year ignores the need for water should the course expand its water use to improve the play on formerly dry areas.
Ellestad guesses that Clemetson “tracks just about every other cost to his operation down to the nickel, but not water.” Not true. Clemetson made it clear in his deposition that water is a cost factor and he is a member of a state-wide committee including golf course operations, developers and state legislatures to decide what to do about out of control costs, particularly in the area of water.
She continues to insist that the water district has “sole and absolute discretion” to set water rates. They don’t. There are several Nevada, federal and regulatory reasons that prohibit elected public officials from having absolute rights. Click on the 6-part series link above to get a complete rundown on those reasons.
Ellestad points to Bunker farms as a shinning example of an agreement to pay the higher rates. Actually, the owners of Bunker Farm, Brian D. Haviland, and Robert Bunker, agreed to pay the increase rate since doing so allows them to sustain higher values for their BIC shares or for those they manage for other BIC shareholders.
Then she rants about an average (potable) water ratepayer who payed when underground water rates went up 10 percent in 2008 and 2009, 36 percent in 2010, 43 percent in 2015, and one percent in 2017 and 2018. She ignores that Wolf Creek paid those increases as well.
In the middle of her tirade, she gets to her favorite sport, assassinating the characters of City Council woman Sandra Ramaker, her former adversary on the water board.
According to Ellestad, Clemetson admitted that Ramaker sent him confidential documents while she served as an elected member of the water board. Sounds omnibus, doesn’t it? Actually, they were talking about one email sent from Bingham to the Water Board that Ramaker allegedly forwarded to Clemetson. Regardless, as Clemetson’s attorney advised, the question calls for speculation on his part.
Bingham likes to claim that all his correspondence is confidential and Ellestad tags onto that thought like a dog on a lease. For several reasons that may not be true. Not the least of which is a requirement that classification levels must be clearly defined, and disclosure must represent actual or real potential damage. Many so called classified emails, etc are rather mundane. Further, truly classified material is never sent in the “open” over public email channels.
When Bingham asked what Clemetson did with the correspondence, Clemetson said “I don’t think I did anything at all.”
On she goes, arguing that Ramaker disregards her duty to the public because of a perceived (by Ellestad) allegiance to Clemetson. Councilwoman Ramaker serves all the community, and neither she nor her husband has any reason to be beholding to anyone else except their family.
Ellestad knows that she can assassinate Ramaker’s character because there is a higher threshold for libeling public officials.
Not only are the attacks on Ramaker, Clemetson and others misleading, disingenuous and, potentially libelous, they represent the ugly side of Ellestad’s personality and suggest venom so deeply embedded in her personality that one can only feel pity for her.