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* Barbara Ellestad, Publisher * ALL Content Copyright 2011-2014*
We’ve been reporting on some of the problems at the Overton Power District lately and, over the course of the last year, a few situations within the City of Mesquite that didn’t seem quite right. That’s our job.
One of the things I’ve noticed are the number of commenters who blame all the problems on the LDS church or the Mormon religion. They seemingly blanket all those in the religion with negative connotations. I totally and fundamentally disagree.
I’ve lived here for 11 years and have been writing about local government and politics for six years. I’ve been through four mayors and a bunch of council people. I’ve suffered with the rest of you during the Water District fiasco. I’m the first to say that many of the people involved in some of the problems we’ve had do indeed belong to the LDS church. But many of the culprits that caused some of the problems do not.
Just to make it perfectly clear, I am not Mormon nor do I participate in any institutional religious organization.
Two mayors previous to our current one were not Mormon. They gave us the unwanted median strips down Mesquite Blvd that businesses still rant about. We got the Desert Falls fiasco from a non-Mormon mayor. We got into really bad contracts with land developers at the hands of non-Mormon mayors and a city manager.
The $15 million bond taken out supposedly to help improve the downtown blighted area? You can thank a non-Mormon for spending all that money on everything but what it was intended for.
I don’t deny for a single second that every member of the Board of Trustees at the Power District is Mormon and almost every employee is also. I don’t deny that they have taken very good care of their fellow church members. I don’t deny that the cronyism rampant in the organization focuses mostly on members of the LDS church. Once again, we don’t blame the employees, just management and the Board.
Every Mormon I’ve talked to in the last month is absolutely sick about the situation at OPD. They hate the corruption, the cronyism, the sheer arrogance of the good old boys in charge. They complain about the mess at the Water District that we worked our way through
– still are, actually. They don’t like the idea that all of these problems seemingly created at the hands of LDS Church members paint them with the same ugly taint.
But these problems are not because the people causing them are Mormon any more than every Catholic Church member is a pedophile because of a few horrible people.
Take a look at who is cleaning up the messes we had at City Hall – two very prominent LDS Church members, Kraig Hafen and Mark Wier. Along with the other non-Mormon Councilmen they are one-by-one bringing all the badly written land development contracts to the forefront and cancelling them. Remember Nevada Community Solutions (NCS)? That contract was negotiated and written by non-Mormons and cancelled by Mormons.
Who is finally leading the way towards more responsible use of Redevelopment Agency money? The Mormons.
Who tried to foist on us a ridiculous amphitheater that no one really wanted just to appease a land developer that stood to gain more than the citizens would have? A non-LDS Church member. Who quickly led the way towards cancelling the ill-conceived idea that was inevitably going to cost us more money than we could imagine? A Mormon.
Who voted against issuing a request for bids on the proposed indoor sports center? A Mormon who thinks there are better ways to spend our money.
Who threw a nearly impenetrable cloak of secrecy over City Hall for four years? A non-Mormon. Who insisted that City Staffers give the media nearly everything they ask for and that the public has a right to know nearly everything they want to know? The Mormons.
I could go on and on. I’m positive you can give me your list of bad apples in the Mormon Church. I’m sure some of you can complain how you personally lost out to a Mormon for a job or a contract. I’m not naïve enough to believe that hasn’t happened.
Regardless of which church or religion you belong to, if you make decisions based on anything other than merit, then shame on you. Stop it or you’re part of the problem.
Corruption, stupidity, and wrong-headed decisions are not characteristics solely attributed only to Mormons. I’ve known plenty of non-Mormons that have them deeply embedded in their every move.
To paint all Mormons with a broad brush stroke of exploitation and dishonesty because of a few bad apples makes no sense.
As always, you are free to exercise your voice in the comments attached to stories on the Mesquite Citizen Journal.
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 Right on Barb!!! By: Leo Black
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 I totally agree Barbara - great column. If we were in the South, the conspiracy theorists would be blaming everything on "the Baptists." By: Steve
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 Please explain how a business run by church goers have any corruption at all? But you make it very clear the corruption is rampant, odd how those that do worship HIDE BEHIND THE CROSS.... For shame.... By: will lewis
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 Thank you for doing this MCJ. We are all sick of the hanky panky at OPD and not a single board member will own up to it. David and Craig Anderson don't even have the courtesy to resign when faced with the fact, the people don't want them there. Delmar Leatham -there is only one word- greed. This is not about Mormons, it is about bad Mormons. By: Paul
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 We never had too many interactions with Mormons until moving here some 8 yrs ago. We have not had one bad experience with anyone of the Mormon faith. Quite the contrary. Everyone we have met in the Mormon faith has been more than warm and welcoming. There is good and bad in every race and religion. Perhaps those that blame should take a long look in their own mirrors. By: Gloria
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 I think the LDS Church has a very heavy influence on Mesquite politics. I think the high honchos pull the strings. Maybe, maybe not. Something is just not right when a city has so many problems. It seems that Mesquite will return to a dusty little stop in I-15 soon. By: bobbiethompson
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 If I am not mistaken Mesquite was founded by Mormons, so why wouldn't they be the biggest population. The Mormons I know are great caring honest people. The city council has made great decisions for Mesquite in the last year. The Mayor only votes of a tie.
Thanks, Donna By: Donna
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 Thanks for this editorial Barb, it time that something was said and I must say said very well. I must add that most Mormans I have met throughtout my life are nice people with good, caring values and an asset to the community. Good Job Barb! By: Nan Kanwischer
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 @ Will Lewis -
If you knew anything about Mormons, you would know that they don't use or even revere the cross. By: Sal
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 The LDS church leaders have to take some responsiblity for the failure of their followers, in this case President Theron Jensen. Most recently starting with Bishop Randy Ence and the LDS board of VVWD, the local LDS began noticing greed overcoming church values. Little was done by President Jensen when another Bishop David Anderson began violating the law. These bishops, the OPD board and general manager are examples of a lack of church leadership in the Virgin Valley. President Jensen should know that when money becomes your God, there is no room for anything else. By: Becky
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 Iím sorry, Mrs. Ellestad, but there is just too much evidence that there is deep corruption and self-dealing among many members of the LDS religion in this area to write it off to a few bad apples. Like in many smaller towns, the founding families and groups feel entitled to more than others. The LDS religion engages in extreme secrecy and is more clannish than many others. What are they hiding? In Mesquite you are uncovering much of what they are hiding. Do you think the board of OPD is made up of 100% Mormons by accident or coincidence and they just didnít realize that they were outrageously and greedily helping themselves (and the almost 100% of their overpaid Mormon employees) to our money Ė and their kids to free trips on our dime? Why did none of these righteous people ever see the inequity of their activities and speak up? This has been going on for decades. The truth is that this is a religion that generally believes that they are superior to others in Godís eyes, and that they deserve more Ė even when it is otherís money! Do ALL Mormons act this way Ė NO - but when a self-serving conspiracy that is detrimental to an entire community is uncovered and 100% of the participants have one common bond, it is naÔve to believe that the common bond had nothing to do with their actions. If these were all Muslims would you say that their religious affiliation had nothing to do with it? When everyone in town chastises the network of Good ĎOl Boys who have been manipulating our government and money to the detriment of the community for a long time who are they talking about? Címon, we all know what the common thread is among the Good ĎOl Boy network. It is now time for the church members who do not condone these actions to call them out, and help throw these bad apples out of all positions of leadership. If you donít, then these few bad apples will set the standards of acceptable behavior for your flock! I noticed that Crescent Hardy was sitting with and supporting the O By: call a spade a spade
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 I am a lifelong devout Catholic and I firmly believe that Catholic church leaders that ignored the pedophelia problem should be tarred and feathered, heads should roll and demotions should rule. While not the same issue, LDS leaders (from Bishops upward) should be looking at the persistant problem that is plaguing that community. The rank and file LDS is not to blame but the church leadership is to blame. A culture of corruption has crept into the LDS church and President Jensen and other church hierarchy need to address it. I applaud those local LDS members who have spoken up about it. Those are the real leaders of Jesus community. We should be proud of them. By: Kathy
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 I agree Barb. Remember that it was Kraig Hafen, Mormon, who was the promoter of the Council agenda item that called for OPD schedule a public meeting to discuss the rate increase. I co-sponsored it but he was the initiator. Between Kraig and you we got their attention. By: George Rapson
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 Without question Theron Jensen has let a culture of corruption become commonplace in his church. The LDS people are good neighbors, friends and members of our community. Like mentioned above, the LDS church leaders need to address this issue fast. When the LDS bishops are the usual suspects there is something really bad. I agree with the Catholic commenter, if this was Catholics instead of Mormons we would be screaming for the bishop to do something...or else. It is time to sweep out all the good old boys and get new, fresh, honorable leaders showing our respectful community the way forward. By: Jason
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 1 Corinthians 6:10 Nor the greedy, the theives or swindlers shall inherit the kingdom of God By: Art
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 Yes, George, we "got their attention - but nothing really has changed! There is much more to be done or we will all just continue to be ripped off by OPD management and Directors. I, for one, will be working to keep pushing until we remove these people from power and hold them accountable for past actions. By: John
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 In my other life I traveled Quite a lot here is some things I found to be the gospel truths.
In Boston nothing could be aprroved at city hall unless it was approved by the Pope.
All the corruption in Philadelphia was the direct fault of the Presbytrians, they cracked the Liberty Bell.
High Point, NC. had rules enforced by Jefferson Davis that all non Baptist pay double for all services.
The Gays in San Francisco lit the match that burnt the city to the ground a few years ago.
Don't even think of going to Green Bay Wisconsis if your not Lutheran they won't let you in.
Here in Mesquite we have the Mormons' to blame for Harry Reed By: Ted Miller
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 I agree John. Hopefully we can get our "representatives" removed from the board and replace them with responsible and accoutable members. You have to start somewhere and this is a start. By: George Rapson
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 I think the community is finally getting completely fed up with these good old boys. A good example is Cresent Hardy elected by the people but he sides with the good old boys everytime. Theron Jensen wants to run for public office but won't handle the public problems in his own flock. It is time for church leaders to stand up for the rest of the hard working LDS who are getting the heat for the few bad apples. Time for a change Theron, take care of your people. By: Caleb
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 Kraig Hafen and Mark Wier are brave and honorable men, doing exactly what elected officials should be doing -working for the people. We are proud of you two. By: Gina
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 It is a good thing we get these things out in the open and talk about them (that is the LDS way, family night). Whether it could be racism, discrimination, child abise, or corruption, we need to fix it. The silence of Theron Jensen, Bishop David Anderson and Craig Anderson is simply not acceptable.The indifference of elected officials like Cresent Hardy cannot be tolerated. The cowardice of LDS men on public boards who are afraid to speak out is shameful. We can work together as a community to revamp all these boards and return respect to our LDS neighbors. By: Kenny
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 Since the Mormons are always stopping me in the middle of my activities and asking if they can help with anything...what are the chances of letting those bike riders roll up their sleves and take out those medians for free since we want them gone and the Mormons are looking for odd jobs to do? Sounds like a win / win. By: Scott
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 What this whole discussion really boils down to is pretty easy to understand. How do humans interact with one another?, how do people trust each other?, how do people feel about their society? We have let a small group, maybe 10-20 people, all of the same group, cause fear, anger and dissention in our community. Simple as that. They are the bad guys. They need to go away. Return our ideal community of openness and sharing. By: Thinker
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 My entire family has been LDS from the start, we have been in this valley since it began and these things come up from time to time. What the worst of it is, is not that it casts a bad shadow on LDS but it works to destroy the soul of LDS. Whether it be huge Poni schemes in Utah, unethical activities on a local board or church leaders that look the other way, we will get past it. Those who are wrong should do missionary work to recover their lost faith. New leaders will emerge and they will show us the right path. By: Believer
Posted Date: 09/24/2012 To Ted Miller...I grew up Catholic, went to parochial schools k-12, and lived in MA for over 50 years. Please, nothing gets done in Boston without the approval of the Pope? If we disagreed, we would tell the Pope to go shove it. Bostonians are too independent to believe in the Pope's omnipotence! Perhaps you are thinking of pre-Vatican 2 Catholics not todays! The Boston churches are actually trying to find a way to get Catholics back into the fold. And, Mormons to blame for Harry Reid? Go to Utah---they dont even like Harry! Now, folks in Massachusetts LOVE him!! By: J
Posted Date: 09/25/2012 Certainly the mormon influence at overton power is an issue but the face of the area has changed.
Only 2.25 % of the population says they are affiliated with a religion. Of those 17.37 % are catholic. Only 5.32 % are LDS.
While Mormons may have had a disproportionate influence those days are over.
We the people elected the people to the power district and to the city council.
In a very few months we will have the opportunity to elect 3 city council persons. And there will be some new appointments to the power district.
We only have ourselves to blame if we don't like the situation we can change it just as we the people are doing with the water board. By: mmcgreer
Posted Date: 09/25/2012 MMCGREER: I am not sure the regional scope of your statistics, but several reputable organizations report that over 70% of the adult population claims a Christian religious affiliation. Of these, 25% report Catholic and 1.4% Mormon/LDS. Also, all seats on the OPD Board are elected. There are no appointed seats. David Anderson is running for re-election as the Mesquite representative. But, since he is unopposed, he will not appear on the ballot. There is still a pending challenge to the validity of David Andersonís position on the Board and whether he can retain his seat. The strong point of this comment is that we all need to participate and hold all of our officials accountable on ongoing bases, not just in crisis situations. By: David Ballweg