I have been working on this piece for a couple of weeks. After I finished it and posted it, something was still bugging me that I couldn’t put my finger on. Well, that something just punched me in the face. Stay Tuned for Part Two…
- Pat Whitten authorized $ 215,000 in “retirement incentive buyouts” (payola) for Mike Nevin, Gary Hames, and Dean Haymore without Commissioner (or any other) Authorization.
- In the final two years of employment, annual pay for Nevin, Hames, and Haymore magically skyrocketed an average of 32%.
- On June 20, Pat Whitten submitted budget augmentations that he approved. I asked what was up. Everyone was sleeping.
- Pat Whitten claims he alone made the decision, but evidence suggests Hames actually planned for his own bonus. And Rob Du Fresne’s bonus. Meanwhile, Mike Nevin signed his own bonus forms!
- All Three County Commissioners were asleep while this was happening. Or were they?
- When it came time to hold Whitten accountable after Rob DuFresne woke them up, the Commissioners did nothing. Criminal Behavior – 1, Accountability -0
Very little has been made of the revelation that County Manager Pat Whitten misappropriated $215,000 when he paid the secret retirement bonuses for his homeboys Mike Nevin, Gary Hames and Dean Haymore. In the alternate universe that is “Team Storey”, this is a just and generous way for the community to show gratitude for a career of hard work and dedication to the special people in Storey County. People in the “Team Storey” alternate universe consider these bonuses, as Whitten suggested in the December 5th Commissioners meeting, cost-saving measures to entice overpaid employees to retire early.
To the rest of us who live in the real world, this is a textbook case of misappropriation of public funds. As in a criminal offense. One that gets you fired as you head off to jail in handcuffs.
This money was secretly paid by Pat Whitten out of the budgets of the individual agencies that each homeboy worked; Hames from the 474 Fire District Fund, Nevin from Public Works and Haymore from Community Development. He did it without Hugh Gallegher’s knowledge or permission. He did it without Commissioner Gilman, McGuffey or Gilman’s knowledge or permission.
It Just Doesn’t Look Good To The Taxpayer (Chumps).
The $215k homeboy handshakes are insulting to the folks who bust their tails for county taxpayers working the front lines working the counters and answering phones. These men and women bust their humps without cushy perks like company cars, the company gas pump at Public Works, company cell phones and junkets to conventions and conferences that come with plane fares, per diems, hotel rooms, and drink tokes.
The $215k homeboy handshakes are insulting to private sector folks who work on C Street for minimum wage trying hard to support themselves and their families without any retirement or health coverage.
The $215k homeboy handshakes are insulting to the business owner on C Street whose livelihood is based on the ability to service the customer to make enough money to cover overhead and then pay the licenses and fees and overpriced water and, of course, personal and real estate property taxes.
I have been contacted by county employees, business owners, and Joe and Mary Lunchbox on M Street, and guess what?
Joe and Mary Lunchbox? They’re Super Pissed.
But the $215,000 of bonuses Pat Whitten lifted from our collective pockets is only half the story. In fact, it’s less than half the story.
To tell the whole story, I did some old-fashioned digging.
If you don’t have time to read the details, here is the Cliff Notes Version:
- “Someone” poured $ 121,624.12 in salary bumps in 2015 and 2016 into the trough that Hames, Nevin and Haymore feed out of.
- “Someone” drafted and the Commissioners approved two sole source, no bid contracts to homeboy Nevin and homeboy Hames totalling $99,624 in 2017. These contracts continue in 2018 and add an additional $14,834 per month to the running balance.
- “Someone” added to the $215,000 of unauthorized retirement bonuses ; bringing the total to $436,248.12 and rising.
- “Everyone” knew about this deal. It went down in December 2016. It was approved in the budget augmentations of June 20 and June 30.
- “Someone” cut Rob DuFresne’s salary in 2016 and kicked him out of the bonus round. If I was Rob, I’d sue the county. After all he was promised he was in the bonus round by his boss.
- Only when Rob DuFresne asked for his cash did “Team Storey” feign shock and indignation at this surprise. I call BS.
For those of you who actually like details and facts*, here we go:
Here are some charts to provide a little background color:
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This article took about 30 hours to research and write. If you got value from it, please consider kicking down five or ten bucks (or a hundie if you’ve got one kicking around). Lance Gilman is trying to shut me up with a lawsuit. Don’t let him. Help me by helping me pay my lawyer.
The above three charts show the trends of the 5 people in question compared to the rest of the county. While the benefits are pretty much controlled by the contract negotiated with the union, the salaries paid can be adjusted at the pleasure of Human Resources. While Austin Osborne technically wears the Director of Human Resources hat, we all know that Pat Whitten wears the pants. Or does he? More on this later…
What in the world did these three do to deserve $ 121,624.12 in salary bumps (payola) in 2015 and 2016?
One can only guess. But they did make way more cash than they would have in the final two years of employment if I sat in Whitten’s seat.
I calculated the average salary growth from 2010-2014. This gave me a baseline percentage increase to compare the salary increases in 2105 and 2016 against. That is how I arrived at this data.
If you look at the average salary increase of the three musketeers and the odd man out from 2010 through 2014, you will see their salary adjustments were around 1.75% while the rest the county average was 3.62% year over year.
Chart 5 is a little awkward; the first colored cylinder shows what each person’s salary would have looked like if they had stayed with their average salary increase, the second cylinder shows what they actually got:
Hames got an extra $ 43,980, Nevin got an extra $ 47,201 and Haymore got an extra $ 30,441 while Du Fresne (and the rest of the county) didn’t. These salary bumps were certainly not for an increase in duties or commitments.
What were they for? ¿Quien Sabe?
Finally, there is the matter of the sole source, no-bid contracts that the county is in the habit of awarding to their friends. In this case, the amount of cash the county has paid to Hames is $ 68,124, and Nevin’s is $ 31,500 so far this year. These totals are through December 31, 2017.
Did Pat Whitten Hand Out Payola Alone? Nope.
This is where things get truly amazing. In the Commissioners meeting where the Commissioners were taking turns congratulating all over themselves and flogging Pat with a wet noodle. All the while Pat Whitten made it seem like this was his idea. He fell on the sword (microscopic pen-knife) and said this was his idea alone. Pat incentivized 17 other people to retire early and he did the same thing here. He alone decided how much to dangle in order to get these guys to retire. Or did he?
The Teller public record requested information from the Controllers office and we received this little email nugget:
That’s right, gentle reader, Gary Hames was planning his retirement party way back in October of 2016. From the looks of this email, he had already sized his golden parachute. And it looks like he fully expected Rob to get a golden parachute too. And to make things even more improper, he is stealing it from the Capital Improvement Fund!
Here is the document he signed to give himself a $35,000 pre-retirement buyout a full six months before he actually retired. And to game the system to it’s fullest, this payment was not made into PERS, it went into the VOYA deferred compensation fund.
But that’s not all. Mike Nevin fires himself and signs his own bonus voucher as employer and employee. Good thing no one was looking…
Is this real life? In. Freaking. Credible.
Sadly, somehow between October 18th, 2016 and the date of Rob’s happy retirement, “someone” canceled Rob’s party. Was it Gary Hames? Pat Whitten? Was it one of the Commissioners? ¿Quien Sabe? One thing we do Sabe is that Rob got punked. And that is when he went to the Commissioners and asked what up. And that’s when Pat Whitten’s hands should have been removed from the cookie jar and been fitted with handcuffs.
Accountability is for chumps and small little insignificant people.
But that isn’t the way things happen in the alternate universe known as Storey County. In Storey County, big people get away with big crimes. The bigger you are, the bigger the crime you get away with. Accountability is for the chumps and the small little insignificant people; You and me…
I got all the data for this analysis from Transparent Nevada. Feel free to fact check the snot out of it.
Should you visit TransparentNevada, It is important to note the data for 2013 or 2014 is mysteriously absent from the website because it has yet to be provided by Storey County. I used annual salary averages and calculated the approximate data for the missing years.
If you would like to discuss the granular details, hit me with a comment and I’ll answer your questions.
*For those of you living at 56 or 5B Wild Horse Canyon Drive, facts are things you can’t dispute even if you live in a brothel.
For Reference, the agenda packet contained the following relevant documents for your perusal.