On March 6, 2014 Las Vegas resident Mike Little met with the County Commissioner in an attempt to settle long running issues that dealt with penalties, fines, and quite a lot of ill-will from the commissioner’s corner; three minutes into the meeting and it was apparent that in this room, V was for vendetta, and this was a disturbing introduction to politics Vegas Style. Mike Little, who is running for Lieutenant Governor in Nevada, is a farmer who fell foul of the local “Fourth Protocol” or “fourth branch” of local government.
Never let it be said that the local representatives of all that is legal and illegal are non-biased or professional to such a degree that their personal feelings do not interfere with their duties. This was apparently not the case with local “code enforcement” officials for Clark County. This journalist was asked to attend the meeting on the 6th of March. Upon entering the conference room in the Clark County municipal building the vitriol from the opposing side of the room was almost palpable.
It was not just from the code enforcement duo. The vast majority of Team Janice (aka Janice Ridondo) was, bar one, definitely against Mr Little. Janice, who referred to Mike Little as Mister Letters, was just “this side” of antagonistic. To be fair, it did seem, to her, that she had been caught between two warring factions. The code enforcement officials had attempted, in the harshest means possible, to bully Mr. Little into accepting their ruling that he was a businessman who had stored “trash” in an unacceptable place and that his toxic waste was endangering the local population.
What was this “trash?” Well, therein lies the problem. This “dangerous” material, that was obviously endangering the local innocent denizens of this area, had been previously classified as “green” waste. For those who may not be up on the terminology of ecologically relevant terms; this means it is biodegradable. It is, in fact, earth. According to the recycling company present at the meeting, it was full of enough nutrients that when they tested it, by the expeditious avenue of growing vegetables in the stuff, the plants grew very, very well.
For those who are not cognizant of all things agricultural an explanation may be in order. The only things that can grow in a “trash” area, where the material has little to no nutrients, are weeds, or grass, which is a weed if you don’t want to grow it. The very fact that the “trash” could grow vegetables negates code enforcement’s claims that the waste was dangerous.
Another fact was brought to the attention of the commissioner’s meeting was that the material, which code enforcement continued to claim was trash, was composting, aka rotting. This made the dangerous material full of even more nutrients. The recycling company revealed that the waste was, in actual fact, very valuable and several farmers had queried the possibility of purchasing said trash.
But, be not deceived good citizen, this issue was never about the trash, nor was it about any sort of danger to the public. This was a vendetta, which does indeed start with the letter “V” as indicated by the film of the same name. Politics Vegas style operates, apparently, on the adage that if the residents do not do as they are told, then the local government will do their best to make their lives a living hell.
During the meeting, two things became apparent immediately. Firstly, like a true governmental function, the right-hand did not know what the left was doing. Secondly, not even the individual who was responsible for keeping everything running properly, knew which of her enforcers had the power to negate the other two. After hearing from two departments that determined that the waste was, in fact, green material and not harmful; the last department insisted that the earth was trash. The reasoning for this conclusion will be revealed later.
What was disconcerting about this entire exercise in hostility towards Michael Little was the undisguised vitriol directed towards the political candidate and farmer. Perhaps this is because Mr. Little refuses to be bullied by individuals who are determined to make him relinquish his rights. He has been fighting this local branch of government for a long time. Sending repeated letters to the “powers that be” detailing his dilemma and explaining that he was not a businessman, but a farmer was definitely a bone of contention by the opposition. They also did not like his pointing out that the rules being shoved down his throat did not apply.
It was also obvious that this man had received different answers from different factions within this local governmental “fourth protocol” or fourth branch of government. Another explanation is, perhaps, required. This fourth branch is completely separate from the acknowledged entities of government. The Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches are the three that every American learns about whilst pursuing an education.
This fourth branch can be termed as Administrative. Set up by the Legislative branch it has evolved into its own entity. One which has enough conflicting rules and “laws” that can be used to control the masses. It is also used to trample citizens and their civil rights. It is this “branch” that Mike Little has been battling against for so long.
Looking at the players in this local drama, it was evident that the two individuals who decided, regardless of the overwhelming facts, that the material in question was trash were pursuing a personal agenda. Both of the code enforcement officials looked like they had been sent over by central casting. It should be noted, that out of all the official representatives at this meeting, these two were the only ones who wore what appeared to be a police uniform. This “costume” of office seems designed to intimidate the hapless souls who come into contact with them. It is, seemingly, a show of their authority.
Power is the crux of the problem. There is an old saying that goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely; it does not mention the reality of local governmental officials. In this instance a little power turns individuals into “little Caesars” and Napoleons or “little Hitlers. Power in local officials makes them officious and priggish. When they are not treated in the way that they demand, they react accordingly.
In this instance, Mr Little refused to follow their mandates that revolved around fines and the requisite purchase of licenses that did not apply. Farmer’s are not, as a rule or legally, businessmen. They fall under the umbrella of agriculture and therefore the laws that rule businesses do not apply. These two “enforcers” decided to take Mike’s refusal to pay fines or purchase permits that did not fit his situation, personally. Regardless of the fact that said “penalties” did not apply to an agricultural entity.
After telling Mr Little that he could not enter the premises where his material was temporarily stored, one of the officials accused him of assaulting them. When local police attended the scene of the alleged crime, they could find no evidence supporting the charge. Since there was no physical evidence of this recent assault, law enforcement officials would not arrest Little. The governmental officials then upped their game and made a citizen’s arrest. This action required Mike to then be arrested.
On an interesting side note, during the meeting on March 6th, the two code enforcers denied their role in the arrest of this local farmer who refused to be bullied. Something else that became apparent during this “solutional” meeting, so called by the woman running it, was that Mr Little was basically on his own. One man stood up to fight for Mike’s corner. During the meeting, this individual’s face increased in color until it could be described as puce, and when it came time for him to speak, the man stood up and stated that he had never seen such an “obvious witch-hunt.” He was also, he said, disgusted at the proceedings.
It became even more apparent that this was a personal vendetta from the code enforcement team when they continued to classify the material as “trash.” It should be noted that each and every time that this declaration was made it was almost literally “spat out” of the speaker’s mouth. It was venomously stated in an overly aggressive and almost violent fashion.
Regardless of the obvious and childish attempt by the enforcement code officials to continue their campaign of bullying a local citizen, they ultimately lost. It became apparent that their trash argument was built on a very flimsy premise. The thing that quantified the material as possible toxic waste was the presence, they said, of plastic.
After repeating this accusation that said material was toxic, which they claimed to have seen thus making it trash; the question was asked, “What sort of plastic?” This was followed by another which was, “How much plastic?” Each question was met with a silence that was almost embarrassing. This prompted Janice Ridondo to look at provided pictorial “evidence” of the material and ask if there was plastic to be seen in the pictures of this green compost.
Again there was complete and utter silence from “Team Code Enforcement.” These two little Hitlers forgot the golden rule. If one is going to be overbearing and act like a petty tyrant, one should have all their ducks in a row before making waves. In essence, neither of them had any answer, because, there was none. Their claim had been questioned by their leader, perhaps for the first time, and in front of witnesses. The trash allegation was negated by the lack of response to the query.
Mike Little did something that rarely happens. He fought “city hall” and won. Not without great personal cost to himself, to say nothing of the monetary expenditure. As a new resident in the glorious state of Nevada and Las Vegas it was disconcerting, and not a little upsetting, to see local government operating with so little care as to how they were perceived by the local denizens and constituents that they rule over.
This farmer, who stood practically on his own against a larger populated enemy who clearly did not like him or what he stood for, finished by thanking all the participants for their time and stated that if he had said anything in the “heat of battle” that had been misconstrued and seen as being offensive, he most humbly apologised. He also mentioned that as he was running for Lieutenant Governor, that he would be pleased if they thought of him on voting day. With his rights intact, he was able to leave the meeting with the calm assurance that he’d won this particular battle against the fourth protocol and could continue on his farmer’s path.
“V is for vendetta” may seem like an almost trite and fanciful way of describing politics, Vegas style, but anyone who attended that meeting would have drawn the same conclusion. Here was the fourth branch of government pushed out of the shadows. Showing its teeth and evoking an image of outright hostility to one who dared to stand up against this non-existent branch of government. While it would be foolhardy to expect any of the administrative officials in that room to vote for Mr. Little, he has at least one from the journo who attended the meeting and watched David defeat Goliath.
By Michael Smith
Geneva Pipe Moapa Meeting 03/05/14