Attempt to Influence Water Hearing
Was a Coordinated Group Effort
By Steve Miller
copyright (c) 1997, Electric Nevada
|A U.S. Forest Service official's newspaper campaign to trigger a wave of letters to Nevada's State Engineer while the latter conducts quasi-judicial water rights hearings turns out not to have been a solo effort.|
undertaking -- decried by Eureka County officials last
week as "highly improper" and "absolutely
reprehensible" -- also involved the assistance of
other members of the Forest Service bureaucracy across
Nevada, it has been learned.
Assistant Forest Supervisor Monica Schwalbach, of the Ely ranger district and "Central Nevada Ecosystem," authored the 10,000-word exhortation suggesting that letters be sent to State Engineer Michael Turnipseed. But also involved with the piece was a U.S. Forest Service lawyer, who examined it, and U.S. Forest Service personnel out of the agency's Sparks and Tonopah offices, who distributed it.
Two newspapers -- the Pahrump, Nevada, Death Valley Gazette and the Tonopah Times Bonanza -- published Schwalbach's opinion piece in mid-January as an advertisement. It measured 11 1/4 inches high by six 1/2 inches wide, and was to be billed to the Forest Service.
That, said Schwalbach, grew out of a mistake.
"What happened was, I gave the article to two people, the district ranger in Tonopah, and our public affairs officer in Sparks. [I] had never asked anyone to put out an ad...
happened, though, is Tonopah always puts out an ad when
they're trying to get something in the newspaper. So
that's just something they did out of habit."
adjudication process is largely a process of looking at
evidence to see exactly who, under laws established by
Nevada legislatures over the 130-year-plus history of the
state, already, in fact, holds those previously
employees from certain political activities, Schwalbach
was asked if she knew how her activity, on what is a
political issue, would be categorized under that law. She
said she didn't know.
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