Kevin MacMillan: Know thy neighbor…
May 7, 2014
If you're ever looking to kill some time and have a hearty chuckle — or, depending on your view of things, a good gasp — take a look at the pages within the agenda packets for Incline Village General Improvement District Board of Trustees meetings.
At times, you'll find out that some people will go to interesting lengths to prove a point.
For example, take Crisanne Zufelt, an Incline property owner who refers to people living in neighboring communities as "trailer trash."
"You have opened Pandora's Box to lowlifes from Reno, and wherever else," Zufelt wrote in an email to the board. "I bought property in Incline Village because we were protected from the trailer trash in nearby communities, and you may as well have given them an engraved invitation to our private beaches."
Zufelt's email is among several pieces of "correspondence" included in the agenda packet for the April 30 IVGID meeting. For those unaware, correspondence is generally defined as pages of emails and statements written to board members and/or staff. All correspondence like this is supposed to be shared publicly and included in the agenda in an effort for government to be transparent and to avoid any perceptions of collusion.
Anyone familiar with IVGID meetings knows the packets (find them online at ivgid.org/news_events/agendas ) these days often are more than an inch thick, thanks to all that correspondence coupled with pages and pages of written statements from residents.
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But even for IVGID standards, more than 100 pages purely of correspondence is quite an accomplishment. By the way, the entire April 30 packet is 328 pages. And for those keeping score, the regular meeting agenda packet for April 9 is 360 pages, 287 for Feb. 12, and, amazingly, 520 for the Jan. 8 meeting.
But what makes the April 30 agenda interesting isn't the amount of comments, but because of the, shall we say, "colorful language" presented by a handful of residents like Zufelt — another being Bruce Soli, a property owner and a Realtor practicing in California and Nevada.
"…. I have the great sense of comfort that my children are safe at the beaches because the exclusive nature keeps the riffraff out," Soli wrote in an email to the board that's included in the April 30 correspondence. "Now we can give a beach pass to Gangsters and drug dealers from out of the area. Perhaps we should open a concession at the beach for tattoos and sunscreen."
Zufelt's and Soli's comments are among hundreds made recently regarding the latest controversy to hit the community, with the IVGID board's approval of changes to its recreation laws.
Without boring with details, the big-ticket item is allowing homeowners to give their recreation passes to anyone (previously limited to blood relative relationships), and thus, the privileges that come with them, such as access and discounts at Diamond Peak, the recreation center, the golf courses, etc.
A major argument is the changes — which the board voted April 30 to put on hold due to public kickback — could overcrowd the community's venues and its most prized possession, its restricted beaches.
Now, as a rule of thumb, I generally don't take sides on the issues I cover for the newspapers, but notwithstanding that internal policy, I must say I very much understand this argument.
But how some go about expressing their point is a different story.
There are plenty of other head-scratching conclusions, including that Incline Village will turn into a "circus," and the changes would immediately create "contentious and overwhelming congestion."
But my favorite correspondence — again, all this is public record — comes from Incline property owner Stan Wolken (published as written): "… 4th of July will be mayhem. It is already very crazy at times-the pool will be over run-its already very crowded-one of the reasons we moved here was because it was semi-private and safe-with all the outsiders it will bring some rift raft-this needs to be reanalyzed," Wolken writes. "Just go visit some public parks and see the bathrooms and the large group of weard people. Does the insurance carrier really want to provide coverage for this kind of activity???"
The irony about these and other inappropriate comments is some will go on to "respectfully request" the board to change its vote.
Look, I'm all for people expressing their opinions and providing examples to prove a point, but what I don't endorse is throwing civility out the window in the process by belittling our neighbors and calling them names.
When push comes to shove and you need to add value to public opinion to help make a decision, comments like these, to me, are merely white noise added to an otherwise serious conversation.
— Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspapers; he may be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin1MacMillan.