The law is still not what Clark County Citizens United wishes it was

It seems like Clark County Citizens United just can’t catch a break — at least with state agencies.

For months, Susan Rasmussen and Carol Levanen, the group’s respective president and executive secretary, have complained that the county excluded input from rural residents when it was crafting its comprehensive plan.

Unable to get any traction with the county, CCCU took its concern to the State Auditor’s Office, which punted the matter to state Attorney General’s office. Rasmussen assured me that she would be following the matter up with the AG’s office. So I checked in with the AG’s office to see if they had uncovered any evidence of the county trying to keep rural citizens from weighing in on the comprehensive plan.

Here’s what I heard back from Nancy Krier, assistant attorney general for Open Government:

The Office of the Attorney General has responded to multiple inquiries from Ms. Rasmussen about this matter. For example, as the Open Government Assistant Attorney General, I have explained to Ms. Rasmussen that her issues with the comprehensive plan in Clark County and what is in the record in that administrative proceeding, are not Public Records Act (PRA) issues or Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) issues, so they are not within the scope of the Open Government AAG’s work.

As Kristen Mitchell, one of our Deputies, further explained to Ms. Rasmussen, the Growth Management Act (GMA) requires that counties provide an opportunity for public participation in the planning process. She explained that the GMA also requires review of comprehensive plan amendments by the Growth Management Hearings Board be based on a record developed by the county, as well as supplemental information that the Board determines to be necessary or of supplemental assistance. She explained that it appears Citizens United did successfully petition the Board to supplement the record. Ms. Mitchell also explained to Ms. Rasmussen that the GMA does not specify exactly what is in the record or how much testimony or comment received should be included. She explained the Board is the proper place to raise her concerns and the Attorney General’s Office does not have an independent role in oversight of local government land use planning. Because of this, she further explained that the Office is not able to be involved in the dispute on her or Citizen United’s behalf. Ms. Mitchell did direct Ms. Rasmussen to the Department of Commerce if she wishes to also raise her concerns there.

Finally, Ms. Mitchell and I both explained to Ms. Rasmussen that we are not able to provide her legal advice, or a legal opinion, and that she may wish to consult with a private legal attorney.

But Rasmussen still isn’t satisfied. Here’s part of the email she sent me when I asked for her response:

Surely, CCCU’s complaint over missing testimony, factual reports, maps, is at the very least, an ethical issue. Does the county have to resort to eliminating the public’s work in order to give themselves an advantage and prevail? As far as I can tell, CCCU was singled out for that treatment. Have you discovered anyone else’s work targeted for elimination? That is the overarching issue that taints the public process for the comprehensive plan. It was a plan with an agenda including specific goals, from the onset.

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