Community center vote leads to recall petition

A group of about 20 Indian Hills residents filed paperwork Monday to begin distributing recall petitions targeting three members of the Improvement District board.

Petitions against Richard Fairfax, Renee Haskell and Joanne Riekenberg are being circulated in the Douglas County community just south of Carson City.

Douglas County Clerk Treasurer Barbara Reed said the recall committee must obtain 216 signatures within 60 days to have an election.

"If they have enough signatures, I expect we'll be looking at a late July or early August recall election," Reed said.

Recall organizer Art Baer said one of the petitioners' chief issues is the Feb. 23 rejection of a community center.

"They sent out two surveys to which the residents responded and then held an open workshop, and in defiance of what the residents wanted they voted against it," Baer said Monday.

Baer said organizers are actively seeking signatures.

"We have 20 residents right now going door to door collecting signatures," he said. "Hopefully a few more will join."

Board members Haskell and Fairfax said their vote on the community center was based on cost.

"I am not opposed to the community center. I'm opposed to trying to do it before we know how we are going to finance it," Fairfax said. "It's their right. If they want to do it, that's fine."

Fairfax pointed out he was the one to cancel plans to move into office space being built in the Sunridge Office Park and put the issue on the ballot for the voters to decide.

Of the board members targeted by petitioners, Haskell has been on the board the longest, since 1995. Both Fairfax and Riekenberg were elected in 1998.

"This is news to me. I don't know what they are basing that filing on," Haskell said. "I will continue to do what I think is in the best interests of this district, period."

Riekenberg was not available for comment.

Fairfax and Riekenberg said the district faces two financial obligations for sewer and water systems.

The district bonded for a new $1.7 million sewer system which could end up costing $500,000 more than expected, and it has had to borrow another $400,000 from the state for water infrastructure, Fairfax said.

"If they want it and it's going to cost, that's up to the people to say so," he said.

Haskell agreed, saying the money just isn't there for a community center yet.

"I'd love to own a Ferrari, but I can't afford to own one," Haskell said. "This is a group of people looking out for their own special interests."

However, Baer said the price tag should not have been a surprise to the board.

"The big thing that came down on the Feb. 23 workshop was that those three board members claimed that the price tag totally shock to them," he said.

Another issue Baer raised was the treatment of improvement district employees by the board.

"Between these three board members, they've created such a hostile environment that the employees now asked to talk to the Teamsters union for protection," Baer said.

Fairfax said the district has received a letter from the union seeking to organize its 10 workers.

"I'm going to demand an election," he said. "It's the employee's right to organize. I don't feel they'll be better off, but they think they will."

Fairfax said he sees a bright side to the recall.

"If it gets more people to meetings, then that tickles me pink, even if they do recall me," he said.


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