By Gerald Lent
President Nevada Hunters Association
With every legislative bill, there are always two sides. Let’s present these two sides so you can decide which group is doing the right thing and which wants to continue with bad government. You be the judge. In this current legislative session, there is a bill, AB3, to do an audit of Nevada Department of Wildlife. (NDOW)
First and foremost, this audit is long overdue as the last financial (performance) audit was completed in 1989. Even with the length of time there are people who do not want this audit. A payroll audit in fiscal year 2001-2002 revealed an NDOW employee worked 1100 (eleven hundred) hours of overtime in one year. Anyone with just a slight inclination of having a brain should realize there is something wrong with this. How can one employee work 1100 hours of overtime which is the equivalent of 137-½ days in one year?
Here are the facts of that misuse of funds. Terry Crawforth is the director of NDOW. One of his employees, Steve Bremer, was called into full time National Guard duty. Terry Crawforth chose to keep him on the payroll stating that he was working at home. In one year, Mr. Bremer accumulated 1100 hours of overtime.
Let’s put this into perspective. Mr. Bremer works eight hours in the National Guard. In order to receive overtime from NDOW, he must put in an additional eight hours. We are now up to sixteen hours a day without overtime. In order to receive 1100 hours of overtime in one year, he must work four plus hours in overtime. We now have an employee who is working twenty plus hours a day for a full year. Does anybody really believe this is possible?
This was not a mistake. This was not a clerical error or oversight. This was a planned act on Mr. Crawforth’s part and it cost the sportsmen thousands of dollars in one year. How many other blatant acts are being covered up by Crawforth? This should send up a clear signal that something stinks in this state agency and a complete audit should be implemented as soon as possible. This is what real sportsmen’s organizations should have wanted to happen, but not NDOW’s puppets who claim to be sportsmen or represent sportsmen’s organizations. They testified against this audit.
At the first hearing on AB3, NDOW had their puppets stand up (Larry Johnson, Rick Elmore and Fred Church) and say the audit wasn’t necessary as it would cost too much money and hurt the sportsmen. This is not even close to being the truth and shows their ignorance about wildlife issues. The legislative auditor stated this audit could be performed with the funding that has already been requested by the Audit Division in its budget. This means the money is already in place now. Yet the Wildlife commissioners and their puppets from the so-called Wildlife Coalition testified against the bill stating the Department couldn’t afford an audit.
The estimated cost of the audit would be $125,000. The billing for this audit wouldn’t start until 2009 and the audit would be billed over a seven year period. That is $17,000 per year from an agency that has a $21 million budget and the cost of the audit won’t start for four more years.
Perhaps the so-called “Larry’s Coalition” members who are funded by the Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, Reno would not get the big game heritage bid tags for their auction if they went against NDOW. It appears they don’t really care what’s best for Nevada sportsmen, only themselves and they are against better and cleaner government.
As president of Nevada Hunters Association I testified in favor of this badly needed bill. Audits are helpful to an agency and they might show NDOW a better way to do things. All state agencies that handle public funds must undergo these performance audits. This audit is long overdue. In the last legislative session, the legislature gave NDOW a $7.5 million fee increase without any accountability as to where the money was being spent.
It is good government to hold a state agency accountable for the money that is given to them by the public. In this case, it is the sportsmen who fund 97 percent of this agency and what real sportsman would be opposed to better government? If you are opposed to an audit, you wave a red flag. Yet the Wildlife commissioners who were present were opposed to this bill.
If there is a waste of dollars, why wouldn’t NDOW want to know? Why wouldn’t they want to change if things are being improperly run. If they really want sportsmen to believe in their programs, show them that their funds are being spent wisely and properly.
They have stonewalled the audit in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee saying it has fiscal impact on NDOW. This is their way of trying to stop this bill from being passed. It would be poor government by those who have a responsibility to watch over public funds if this were to happen.
An audit would determine if NDOW had adequate control over wildlife revenues and expenditures and also to determine if they have complied with laws, regulations, policies, procedures, contract requirements significant to the administration of wildlife revenues.
This is good government! Any sportsmen’s organization should want this!
Gerald Lent is president of Nevada Hunters Association,
PO Box 50757, Reno, Nevada 89513