Brothel and TRICster spokesman Kris Thompson took umbrage with my (and Nicole Barde’s) public comment on the Gary Hames Contract item at the Commissioners meeting on June 6th. In her blog (which can be read here) Nicole points out that Kris (a master of deflection), suggested that somehow, because Nicole was insisting Storey County follow the law with respect to Independent Contractor status and I was insisting on an aggressive personnel search and open bidding process, we were somehow trying to bring in a little of sunny California and Las Vegas into Storey County. Whatever that means.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I plan on taking the audio from the meeting and whipping up a podcast and article with commentary on a more in-depth nature for those interested. That will happen once I get my mitts on the audio…
In the meantime, I decided to sniff around a crumb that Pat Whitten dropped during his windy justification of the whole deal. He stated that the Hames contract was modeled after a contract written by Douglas County for a similar situation. This makes it copacetic for Storey County because of the precedent set by Douglas County.
I called the Douglas County HR folks and they referred me to the County Managers office. Landing there, I spent some time on the phone with the lone non-employee/contract holder in Douglas County; County Manager Larry Werner. He described, with full disclosure and transparency, the details behind how he got the contract.
He retired as Carson City County Manager and returned to his field of professional study; Engineering. His employer, BHC Consulting (more on them in a minute) was contacted by Douglas County who were seeking Mr. Werner’s Services for a finite period of time to help with both managing the county and projects that would benefit from his professional experience as an engineer. After a lengthy conversation, my interest turned to the legality of the contract and his status as Independent Contractor. At that point he referred me to the District Attorney’s Office.
I left a message and was surprised to get a return call from Mr. Doug Richie, Assistant District Attorney at 5:15 on Friday afternoon(!) Mr. Richie was equally informative, and after an interesting conversation, we got to the meat of the matter. Douglas County’s decision on the legality of Mr. Werner’s contract lay in the following facts:
- Mr Werner’s employer, BHC Cousulting, existed as a professional business entity with dozens of employees and numerous contracts with a variety of different public and private enties long before the contract between BHC and Douglas County was inked.
- BHC Consulting continues to employ numerous professionals and hold contracts with numerous other entities during the period of the contract with Mr. Werner and Douglas County.
- BHC Consulting will likely continue as a business entity in a similar manner long after the contract with Mr. Werner and Douglas County expires.
We will provide a light comparison of the two contracts below, but at first blush, the contract with Storey County and “Battle Born Consulding LLC” aka Gary Hames, Sole Propriator falls on it’s face looking at the above bullet points. You can do the same as the contracts appear at the end of this article.
A quick stroll around the BHC website reveals the tragic absurdity of Kris Thompson’s tirade at the podium. Had Pat Whitten bothered to click around the BHC website, he could have found a remarkable selection of people who are vastly more qualified than Battle Born Consulting; folks who have actual experience in the work that will be essential to the success of Storey County to attract more of those mythical “World Class” companies to our TRICy little corner of heaven.
Check it out:
The Folks at BHC are legit…
Check out some of the Roster:
This screen grab represents about 1/3rd of the folks whose qualifications make those of Battle Born Consulting look Bush League.
If we were looking to contract with a Fire Chief, Battle Born Consulting would crush these slide-rule-toting, pocket protector deploying propeller-headed nerds. Into dust.
As Community Development Directors, these folks crush Battle Born Consulting. Into nano-particles.
Big League vs. Bush League.
Now lets consider the Douglas County and Storey County contracts.
The purpose of the Storey County contract is Employee Payroll tax avoidance and allowing Gary to collect his $13,000 retirement while he is paid $ 11,354 for this contract. And to skirt the law, as Gary Hames’ time served on the county payroll disqualifies him to take another County job.
Looking at the contracts paragraph by paragraph, these points jump out:
- BHC Consultants is an actual consulting company offering these services to many other entities and they also specialize in this type of work. As I stated above, this is exactly the type of company who could have filled Dean Haymore’s job on an interim basis and brought a ton to the party since they have a great deal of experience. A big league team leadership would have had them help find Storey County a replacement for Haymore. Both contracts read like employment contacts but since BHC is an actual company it is a services contract. Additionally, since Gary is actually a sole proprietor of his psudo-LLC consulting firm and both Gary Hames and Battle Born Consulting do no other work for anyone else, the County should check with the IRS. I’ve been told the IRS disallows sole proprietor companies as Independent contractors. We are waving a big huge giant hairy Red flag.
- The contract term for Gary… er Battle Born Consulting is indefinite… and he is not allowed to play catch for any other team (big huge giant hairy Red Flag). The contract term for Mr. Werner is one year even though he can’t go to bat for another team either.
- Mr. Werner can hire & fire his employees, while Hames can only “assist and provide recommendations”. While he is responsible for the full running of the department he has to get Pat Whitten’s ok for anything important, i.e. ”as allowed by the County manager”. This phrase is not in the other contract p as Mr. Werner is the County Manager.
Pat Whitten got bunched up (on the record of the June 6th Commissioners meeting) because I referred to Mr. Hames as a former Fry Cook in an earlier article. My point with that apparently stinging quip was to illustrate while Gary Hames is an all around great guy and has a storied career as a professional in Fire Protection, he is no more qualified to run the world class, state recognized robust department Dean Haymore built than I am qualified to fly a 747.
Big League vs. Bush League.
The Real Bottom Line
The Storey Teller has learned that a person with ten years of actual “institutional knowledge” in Community Development has given Gary Hames a vote of no confidence by handing in her two week notice last week. The County chose to pay out her sick leave and other whatever else she was owed and walked off the property. She chose to end a ten year career rather than stick around for Battle Born Consulting’s first at bat.
This leaves the department with a pretty weak bench. There are solid people there, (some with less than a year of service) yet every one of them has forgotten more than Gary Hames ever knew about anything Community Development.
In the real world, employees learn from management not the other way around. What knowledge and strategy does Hames bring to the Team that will be new to everyone on the roster?
It blows my mind that County Management would risk gutting a department that has gained national acclaim under the astute leadership of Dean Haymore. Professional Companies will smell this coming and once they get into the same room with a guy who can’t hit over the Mendoza Line, things are gonna crumble. Fast.
The real bottom line here is that the County Management knows the only way to maintain control of the power and the money is to keep the inner circle filled with people under their spell. By restricting those at the top, they ensure things get done the “Team Storey” way. Those in control don’t want to deal with people who say “At my old job we did things differently.” Like following the law and demonstrating leadership.
Go Team Storey.
Big League vs. Bush League.
Great reporting! Thank you for your research and tireless efforts to expose the actions of our public officials that they prefer to keep hidden. Have you officially asked the DA if she will investigate this at all? If not, perhaps the State Attorney General would be interested. When the County finally hires a new auditor, I also think this should be presented to them, as an example of the business practices exercised by county management. In my opinion, I think we need someone with the power and authority, perhaps from an outside agency or government body, to hold our officials to the law.
Thank you for the kind words, Kay. The sad truth is that most of the folks at the state level are not all that interested in fixing what is wrong with Storey County. What we need to do is vote the rascals out of office. The fact that McBride and Gilman ran unopposed it a testament to something. Either they have the overwhelming support of the community or nobody thinks they can win a fight with either of them.
We will look at the upcoming election in 2018 with McGuffy and whoever runs against him very closely. I expect a dog fight. At that point we can only hope the people who are pissed off enough to say enough will have enough to carry the day.
My money is on the pissed off folks.
The inbred running of Storey has been known by a very few residents for years. If one tries to speak up they are shut down, scoffed at and totally ignored. The good ole boys club has gotten too big and too powerful since the TRIC leader has come aboard. He spends a small fortune trying to get rid of someone who really cares about this county and the residents only to do whatever necessary to hire other members with no experience. Unfortunately if we, the residents and bill payers, don’t speak up nothing will change. They will listen for your extended 3 minutes and then do exactly what they want. We can holler and beg but it makes no difference. Usually they don’t even bother to look at you while speaking. Too many papers to shuffle you know. We need Sam and Nichole and anyone else who care to continue to speak up. Maybe something will make them realize who pays the bills and who votes them in. It is time to stop letting Lances money drive the elections. There is so much more to where we all chose to live and how we want to be respected for what we are, paying citizens who don’t want all this garbage to deal with.
Karlyn, I couldn’t agree more. I will put the contact information below each of my stories from now on and ask that anyone who sends a letter or makes a call to let us know here. That way we can put them on notice and let the rest of the county know they are on notice.
At some point they will wake up and smell themselves. Or they will see themselves out of a job.
Think back to what things were like here before Nicole started attending and writing about ALL the county meetings, to what things were like before Sam Toll started picking up the rocks in our county’s government and examining what lay beneath. Do you have any idea of how time consuming it is to attend those meetings, make these investigations and phone calls, and then write about them? These two individuals, and a few others, are basically the Woodward & Bernstein of Storey County, yet it seems their efforts are mostly discounted.
If you read the contracts Toll submits in the above linked article, you’d have to be pretty numb in the head to not wonder WTF? Does the County Manager think he can throw out statements about how what Storey does is identical to Douglas County and not suppose SOMEONE will check his facts? We are so lucky to have Sam Toll. I don’t know if even Nicole would have had the time to contact several individuals at Douglas and follow the thread, thru numerous phone calls and a huge chunk of perseverance.
While 99% of us don’t attend the county meetings, Nicole and Sam DO! If it wasn’t for them, some of our county employees, who are supposed to be working for US, would be totally unaccountable. I hope in the next election, we come to our senses, awake from our oblivion, and drain the muck from our county government.
As a former advisor to business owners in the Silicon Valley, I constantly had to remind them of the severe IRS scrutiny when they would try to classify an employee as an independent contractor. This situation is a blatant violation of the code. An independent contractor has , by definition, many clients. When someone tries to classify themselves as an independent contractor they must be able to prove their independence from one employment situation to another. When you maintain one office with one employer you have defeated the definition of being an independent contractor.
I would encourage someone to contact the IRS and inform them of this situation. I believe they would take this very seriously. I have always told my clients that the IRS works from the viewpoint of “substance over form”. This means you can’t create a format to dodge the law. The Service will always look for the substance of what you are doing.
And, the person referring this to the IRS may be in line for a reward.