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Time to Evaluate Water Board Attorney Performance in Water Pricing Case

Bo Bingham by Andrew Davey

On Monday, April 19, and on May 3, Virgin Valley Water Board (VVWB) Attorney Jedidiah (Bo) Bingham again went to court. This time, to present his contention that Mesquite’s Wolf Creek Golf Course owners violated an irrigation lease by sub-leasing irrigation water shares to a Master Homeowners Association (M-HOA).

Both hearings were pre-trial motions for a  tentatively set September 20, 2021 Jury trial before Las Vegas District Court Judge Timothy Williams in this two-year nine 1/2-month old civil case (No. A-18-774539-B).

In this case, the owners of Paradise Canyon dba Mesquite, Nevada’s Wolf Creek golf club seek legal adjustments from an attempt by the VVWB to raise their river water irrigation rates from $250 per share to originally $1,246 [i] per share but now reduced to $1,115.00 per share.

Again, as he has done before in other motions hearings, Bingham rambled for hours. He repeatedly ranted (at billable hours) claims that the VVWB lacked knowledge that leased golf course water flowed to potions of two adjacent housing communities.

Much of Bingham’s ramblings were attempts to diminish the actual role he and former water district manager Ken Rock, present manager Kevin Brown, and former water board member Sandra Ramaker played in either directly or indirectly accepting the historical use of water on the adjacent properties.

In contrast, Jeffrey R. Sylvester, Attorney for Paradise Canyon (Wolf Creek), argued succinctly and with incontrovertible evidence that Bingham, Rock, Brown, and Ramaker all knew the water use patterns were both historical and within the scope of the existing contract.

Sylvester told Judge Williams that the existing record, not Bingham’s “gossamer” reflections and distractions, supports his motion to dismiss Bingham’s charges.

Sylvester noted that the golf course and adjoining housing units came from a common ownership development project with a single irrigation system.  Further, he said, leases between the owners of Paradise canyon and the water board in 2005, 2007, and 2011 while prohibiting sub-leasing, did not disallow how water flowed to those common areas.

There is no dispute that the owners of Wolf Creek own the irrigation system, all the pipes, and pumps serving the golf course and the HOA. Sylvester told the Judge that it is undisputed that there were no sub-leasing of water to the HOAs nor, and more importantly, any water use restrictions in the lease.

Both the former and current General Managers received a notice and knew of the everyday use arrangement, Sylvester said, adding that Bingham knew of the deal as early as 2012- adding that not even he objected.

Further, Sylvester pointed to a deposition he took from Clifford Gravett, an attorney for Bingham’s law firm.  Gravett, who Bingham appointed as a subject matter expert in this case, told Sylvester during the deposition that the lease between the water district and the golf course owners involved the leasing of shares, not individual amounts of water. Since shares were not sub-leased, there were no lease violations.

Further, Sylvester said, the water district does not regulate the water or its use. That is the responsibility of the Mesquite Irrigation Company (MIC). The VVWB does not provide water nor an infrastructure. They collect rent by sub-leasing water shares they acquired from MIC to the golf course owners.

The Paradise Canyon attorney argued that the actual knowledge of the shared water uses by Rock, Brown, and Ramaker, a current member of the Mesquite City Council, was undisputed and lacked any counter testimony that questions their veracity.  Adding that attacks on them “is inappropriate and irrelevant.” “It is true, Sylvester said, that attorneys have protections against defamation of character, but they [Bingham] have exceeded those limits, especially as to Ramaker.

Bingham acknowledges that Rock and Brown received information from Wolf Creek about the water use issue but argues they lacked the authority to waive a potential breach of the contract.

Sylvester told the Judge that Bingham provides no declaration from any board member that Rock or Brown lacked authority, adding that no evidence exists that Bingham’s assertions are factual. No citations in the record support his claim, Sylvester noted.  It is uncontroverted that Ramaker, Rock, and Brown acted within the scope of their authority by accepting the water use arrangement, he said.

Sylvester pointed to the VVWB manager’s job descriptions that gave Rock and Brown the authority to act on leases. He presented evidence that Bingham knew of the water use arrangement, and Rock signed a waiver in August 2012. And Brown consented to water distribution maps which including the HOA’s. And Rock and Bingham jointly drafted Wolf Creeks’ water lease agreement without any water use restrictions. Further, In 2011, and 2014 the water board accepted rent payments for the water lease without objection.

It was Bingham who in 2012 talked with Paradise Canyon co-owner Cory Clemetson about the water use arrangement and made no objections, Sylvester told the Judge—adding that a July 21, 2012 letters signed by Bingham and Rock to the HOAs, acknowledging the arrangement.

In referring to Bingham’s rants, Sylvester reminded the Judge: “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell.

Judge Williams will likely rule on the motion to suppress Bingham’s contract violation argument before hearing another motion hearing set for 9:30 a.m. May 24.  This time, the attorneys will argue about the perpetuity of the lease between the water board and Wolf Creek owners.

Editors note:

Bingham’s behavior in this motion hearing is consistent with previous rants and raves. During November 06, 2020, motion hearing before Judge Williams on another subject, Bingham denigrated the owners and attorneys for the local Wolf Creek Golf Course by accusing them of lying and engaging in fraud.

Since being filed on May of 2018, this case has resulted in some 168 hearings and events. Most of them driven by Bingham’s interjection of issues unrelated to the original purpose of the litigation – the water board’s arguably lack of good faith and dealings in water pricing decisions.

Judge Williams rejected Bingham’s motions to dismiss the case. The Judge rejected Bingham’s attempt to involve the city and interject the use of effluent before using water board provided irrigation water.

On March 15, it took Judge Williams less than 10-minutes, ruled against Bingham’s claim that the Virgin Valley Water Board (VVWB) had absolute discretion to set water rates. They must comply with Nevada’s Covenant and Good Faith law, the Judge said.

Of course, we have yet to hear how the Judge will rule on this issue or how he will consider Bingham’s diatribes during further motions.  Still unresolved are leasing in perpetuity, the beneficial use of wolf creeks irrigation water. Then there is the propriety of pricing deals between the VVWB and the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA).

Even after the Judge hears and rules on those issues, Bingham wants more time before the court.  On April 5, Bingham announced his intention to continue with frivolous and burdensome motions to overcome previous rulings against him and his publicly elected clients while at the same time attacking previous Judicial orders.

Bingham’s seemingly unnecessary motions require expensive hearings and, when coupled with his repetitions, result in extensive billable hours (likely to exceed a  million dollars) paid with public funds to him and his law firm: Bingham, Snow, and Caldwell.

None of the water board members attend these hearings to understand what Bingham is doing and evaluating the costs and benefits of continuing both this issue and, more importantly, Bingham as the board’s attorney.

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About Author

Michael McGreer Mesquite, Nevada
Dr. Michael Manford McGreer is managing editor of Nevada-today.com and writes on issues that impact public policy.

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