Monday, August 23, 2010
By Paul Martin

Town debates poverty


In these days where transparency in government is sought after, some residents would prefer to hide unpleasant facts of life in Pahrump from the sight of outsiders — especially business owners who might be considering a move to the valley.

As reported last week, the Pahrump Town Board passed Resolution No. 2010-08, related to poverty, by a vote of 3-2, at their August 9 meeting, with members Frank Maurizio and Mike Darby voting against passage.

The adopted resolution recognizes the need for volunteers as well as public and private organizations in Pahrump whose ongoing actions are necessary to help alleviate the physical, mental, economic and other known problems associated with the conditions of poverty.

The resolution was discussed with passion by supporters on both sides of the issue.

Darby asked for a clarification on the words stating the town would be “supporting the actions” of those working to alleviate poverty and was assured that the town was not pledging any monetary support by board member Vicky Parker and others, such as volunteer Don Rust, a member of NyE Communities Coalition.

“This resolution was introduced to simply give government recognition,” said Rust. “It supports the actions of volunteers and nonprofits.”

Parker said, “I know there is a great deal of poverty in this town, and I know that a number of people and organizations are doing the best they can to help. I feel it’s within the purview of the town board to officially support them in this effort.”

Parker then made a motion to accept the resolution and Vice Chairman Bill Dolan seconded it, opening the way for public comment.

Andy Alberti questioned whether a business would come to an area where residents didn’t have enough money to make purchases.

“To me, we are advertising to the rest of the world that we don’t have enough talent here to attract business” Alberti said. “Jobs eliminate poverty. Lack of work and subsidies are the things that create poverty.

“I would like to see this town board reject this and encourage every organization that wants to do something about poverty in this town to look to see what they can do to help attract light industry or other types of jobs.” Alberti left the podium with a round of applause, as did each speaker offering an opinion on the resolution.

Dave Stevens had a different take on the subject: “I want to say to this town board, God bless them for bringing something like this up. People are at least thinking about others. These people are no magicians. There’s no jobs here.”

According to resident and town activist Margery Hansen, Nye is the most poverty stricken county in the country.

“Nevada is number eight in the country for poverty and our unemployment recorded rate is 14 percent, but the actual rate is 25 percent,” she said.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most recent unemployment figure for Nye County was 16.7 percent in June.

Hansen also said there are 50 delivered eviction notices in Pahrump each day.

“Yes, we need jobs here. However, we are averaging five suicides a week. I don’t care about corporations — I care about the people we save.”

Isabelle Isherwood was next at the public podium. “Corporations create jobs. This town is begging for business and … it has turned businesses away. I think that a resolution is pap. It’s worthless. It doesn’t do a thing.”

Auctioneer Carl “Ski” Censki, said he was a little confused. “We are quite active in trying to raise money to feed a lot of people. We’ve got children that are sleeping in vans. We aren’t asking to put a big billboard up to say Pahrump is poverty stricken.

“This is just asking for an endorsement. Can you really look at yourself in the mirror if we have one child starve to death just because we don’t want the world to think that Pahrump is poverty stricken?”

Don Cox said Pahrump is branded right now with the prison. “Are we going to get branded again for being the most poverty stricken town in the nation?” He blamed the Nye County Board of Commissioners for “running jobs off.”

Candidate for town board Harley Kulkin was the last at the podium. He was for adopting the resolution.

“If we are willing to publicly admit we have a financial crisis in our community, that’s the first step toward recovering from that crisis,” Kulkin said. “I think it’s a good idea.”

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