LAS VEGAS -- The Clark County Commission took the first step toward abolishing the Las Vegas Township Constable's office Tuesday. The move comes following the controversial service of current Constable John Bonaventura.
Employees of the Las Vegas Township Constable's office did not blend in with the wallpaper as they filled the back rows of the Clark County Commission chambers. Seemingly uncertain of his role, Bonaventura repeatedly changed seats until Clark Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak invited him to the podium.
On the agenda was an ordinance to abolish the Las Vegas Township Constable's office when Bonaventura's term ends in early 2015. Under his leadership, the office, which is charged with serving legal paperwork, has been a source of frequent controversy.
Among the issues were a questionable reality TV pilot, sexual harassment allegations and Bonaventura's recent arrest for driving under the influence.
Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani proposed the ordinance.
"The ordinance that I plan to bring says that the office is redundant, it's no longer working in the way that we believe it should and therefore we need to abolish it, and in two years, we still have an opportunity to look at that."
Bonaventura considers the ordinance a circumvention of the voting process and one that is more personal than professional.
"If somebody doesn't like you Mr. Sisolak or Chris G., do you think it would be right to say let's abolish the commissioner district, whatever district, you know? District A, District B, District C, just cause somebody don't like you?"
A number of Bonaventura's employees spoke against the plan reminding commissioners that they depend on the office for their livelihoods. Captain Jeff Hammack, retired from the Metro Police Department, says as law enforcement professionals, they've been stigmatized by the negative publicity.
"There are some things that I'm going to tell you," Hammack said. "Actions of this constable that I cannot support, but I can support this office and I think it provides a very important service for the citizens of Clark County."
The commission set another hearing on the issue for mid-March at which point it expects to take additional public comment. Though it seems after Tuesday's hearing, little was left unsaid.
Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani indicated that the Clark County Sheriff's Civil Division would assume at least part of the duties of the constable's office should it be abolished.
On Tuesday, Metro Police released a statement that read: "This is a Clark County proposed ordinance. It has nothing to do with the Office of the Sheriff or the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The topic is still being researched and we have made absolutely no commitment one way or the other to anyone involved."
The Legislature is considering the issue. At least one bill would consolidate the existing township offices into one appointed position. Southern Nevada currently has 11 elected constables.
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