INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The chairman of the IVGID Board this week adamantly defended the process he and fellow trustees followed in determining finalists for the district’s general manager position.
“We have bent over backwards to make sure we are transparent,” Incline Village General Improvement District board chair Bruce Simonian said during a special meeting Wednesday. “We may have made some technical errors … but there was never intent. To cite us (as having intent) is disingenuous.”
Simonian’s comments came amid allegations trustees violated Nevada’s Open Meeting Law earlier this year when working with the district’s search firm, Peckham & McKenney Executive Search and Consulting, to narrow the candidate pool.
Initially, 158 people applied for the GM position, according to previous reports, and the firm narrowed that list to 11.
Without knowing candidates’ names, locations or other redacted information, each trustee gave feedback to the company, which eventually settled on Keven Burnett, Tom Masterson, Richard Mears, Rosemary Menard, Eric Severance and Dan St. John as top candidates. Their names were revealed at the Sept. 11 board meeting.
The trustees acted independently in their responses, search firm co-founder Phil McKenney and Simonian said in previous interviews.
The finalists were scheduled for all-day interviews on Oct. 7; however, the event was canceled after Incline resident Aaron Katz filed an Open Meeting Law complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office.
In an early October interview, Simonian referred to the complaint as “frivolous.”
“There was no collusion, no serial emailing among the trustees, nothing like that,” he said in an Oct. 2 Bonanza story.
Katz reportedly filed the complaint because he wanted to know how and why the trustees concluded that five other candidates were not considered worthy of an interview.
It was a point that Katz, his wife Judy Miller, and Crystal Bay resident Frank Wright — all frequent critics of the district — each brought up at Wednesday’s meeting.
“Why don’t you just tell us the truth?” Wright asked the board.
The Attorney General’s Office has yet to rule on Katz’s complaint, said IVGID Legal Counsel Scott Brooke, adding that it’s his legal opinion the board did not break any laws.
Trustees later voted 5-0 to move forward with interviewing six candidates for the position, four of whom were among the initial finalists — Burnett, Masterson, Menard and Severance.
The others — Steven J. Pinkerton and Kirk J. Wooldridge — were among the original 11 who still are interested in the position, McKenney said. Mears and St. John previously withdrew their names.
An all-day Q-and-A session is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 2.
“It will be a robust process,” McKenney told trustees. “It’s a lot to handle in one day, but it provides ample opportunity … for the public to be involved in the process.”
Similar to previous plans, interviews will include statements and questions before three panels — the board, IVGID’s senior management team and a group of regional peers — and an evening social reception allowing residents to speak one-on-one with the candidates.
Previous candidates for the peer panel included Deborah Hackett, CFO of the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation; Fred Findlen, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe; Lynn Gillette, president of Sierra Nevada College; and Mike Brown, chief of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District.
Specific details, including panel members and a full agenda, will be ironed out in the coming weeks, McKenney said.