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Local
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Carlin's police chief submits resignation after audit of evidence room

ELKO – Carlin Police Chief Dennis Fobes is resigning after an audit revealed the department’s evidence storage room was not adequately maintained, throwing an unknown number of pending criminal cases into question.

The Carlin City Council is scheduled to approve the resignation Wednesday night, along with an agreement that would put the Elko County Sheriff’s Department temporarily in charge.

According to District Attorney Tyler Ingram, “on or about Jan. 16, 2020, events transpired which called into question the adherence to best practices and/or standard policies and procedures” relating to property and evidence in Carlin.

In a Feb. 10 letter to the county’s defense counsel, Ingram said the third-party audit also revealed that handling of the department’s K-9 “may have been contrary to policy procedure and certification requirements.”

As a result, the District Attorney’s office is reviewing pending cases “to determine whether we are in a position to ethically and/or legally proceed with prosecution,” Ingram stated.

Following a preliminary review of 160 cases linked to Carlin — mostly from 2018 or later — Ingram told the Elko Daily on Thursday that the majority of active cases do not involve physical evidence. He also said there are few active cases involving the use of a K9.

“While I have not reviewed every case yet, it appears that most of the cases fall within the category where physical evidence is not a factor,” he said. “It is important to keep in mind that not all the cases will be affected by the issues with property and evidence maintenance.”

Once the evidence room is organized, Ingram said he would have a better idea of which cases the DA’s office is “legally and ethically obligated to dismiss or move forward with.”

“It is also possible that a court will ultimately have the final decision on some cases, even if we believe that we can legally and ethically proceed,” he said.

Overall, both agencies have worked together “to ensure that every step is taken to remedy this situation,” Ingram said.

“Above everything else, ethics is our number one priority. If I believe that a case must be dismissed because of evidentiary issues, I will do so. We will never compromise the integrity of our character, nor the integrity of this office, even in the face of adverse social and personal consequence,” Ingram said.

“While I recognize that dismissal of criminal prosecutions may not be popular, I will not sacrifice our Constitution and laws for the sake of a prosecution,” he continued.

Ingram stressed that the audit did not provide evidence of corruption or misconduct by any law enforcement or staff employed by the Carlin Police, and he did not receive any confirmation of evidence being unlawfully manipulated or tampered with.

“It was just improper handling of the evidence,” Elko County Commissioner Cliff Eklund told the Elko Daily on Thursday. “I’m not sure how the audit all got started.”

Commissioners are scheduled to approve the agreement with Carlin on Wednesday afternoon. The plan calls for the Elko County Sheriff’s Office to oversee day-to-day operations of the Carlin Police Department, organize and catalog evidence, and provide training for officers and administrative staff for up to six months or longer if needed.

Sheriff Aitor Narvaiza told the Elko Daily he learned about the audit Feb. 7.

Lt. Kevin McKinney has been stationed in Carlin for the next six months, and the Sheriff’s office evidence team was sent there this week, he said.

“We have taken the task of helping out with evidence gathering and administration,” Narvaiza said. “They are reviewing reports and figuring out what evidence goes to what case.”

The K-9 named “Chief” has been retired, but Narvaiza said he hopes to train a new dog for Carlin that meets the requirements of the Sheriff’s Office.

Fobes’ resignation will be effective Feb. 14, according to the Carlin City Council agenda. He was named Carlin’s police chief in 2015 after working for the department as a patrolman since 2004.

At the time of his appointment, Fobes told the Elko Daily Free Press that if he hadn’t taken the job, the Carlin Police Department would have attempted a merger with the Elko County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Eklund — who was Carlin’s mayor at the time — that deal was rejected.

“We had [then-sheriff] Jim Pitts submit a proposal where the sheriff’s department would take over Carlin, and at that time the city council was not conducive to doing that,” Eklund told the Elko Daily this week.

Eklund said the Sheriff’s proposed supervision of Carlin is being considered as a temporary measure only.

“What goes beyond the temporary part, that’s a decision for the Carlin City Council,” he said.

A request to the City of Carlin for a statement was not returned by press time.

Narvaiza said the goal for now is to help Carlin’s police officers, who “are young, strong and anxious to go.”

“We’re not taking over Carlin, but just helping with evidence, training, and helping those young police officers move forward,” he said. “Right now, we’re just there to guide those kids and help that city.”

If the Carlin City Council approaches the Sheriff’s office to remain, Narvaiza said he would look forward to having that conversation.

“I feel we would be able to provide a lot of logistics and guidance to those officers. If that’s something they decide to do in four or five months, we could have a good discussion on that,” he said.

Ingram praised the City of Carlin for their quick action to resolve the issues found in the audit.

“The City of Carlin was tremendously responsive to this situation and is doing an incredible job in addressing the issues. We will continue to work with the City of Carlin and provide any assistance that it needs,” he said.


Mining
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Mining History Association conference coming to Elko

ELKO — The Mining History Association holds its annual conference each summer in a different U.S. city with roots in mining, and this year the conference is coming to Elko.

The MHA’s 30th Annual Conference will be June 11-15 at the Red Lion Hotel and other sites in town. About 150 people are expected to come to the conference one week after the 2020 Elko Mining Expo, which will be June 1-5 at the Elko Convention Center.

The Mining History Association is a group of individuals, mainly throughout the U.S., who share a common interest in mining history and in documenting and recording the important role that mining has played in North America’s advancement. The group is diverse, from all over the country, and includes miners, metallurgists and geologists — many retired — as well as people in academics or just folks interested in mining.

This year’s conference will highlight the historic and current significance of mining in the Elko area.

The conference will feature two days of presentations as well as tours of historic and active mine sites. Schedule details are still being worked out, but the tours currently being planned include Carlin Trend and Northeastern Nevada Museum on June 11, California Trail Interpretive Center on June 13, an all-day Cortez mining district tour on June 14, and an all-day Eureka mining district tour on June 15.

Dean Heitt, retired Newmont geologist, will lead the Carlin Trend field trip. Heitt recently published “Before the Gold: Early Mining History of the Carlin Trend 1874-1961.”

Robert McQueen will lead the Cortez mining district tour. Robert is the co-author of the book, “Historical Archaeology in the Cortez Mining District: Under the Nevada Giant.”

Richard Reid, also a retired Newmont geologist, will lead the Eureka mining district field trip, which will focus on historic downtown Eureka and selected historic mine sites.

More information about the Mining History Association’s conference in Elko can be found at www.mininghistoryassociation.org or by contacting Richard Reid, richardreid.geo@gmail.com.

The association welcomes any local folks to attend the conference for a small charge. Vendors interested in having a booth at the conference can contact Reid.

Anyone interested in making a contribution to the Mining History Association to help support the conference can also contact Reid. The Mining History Association is a nonprofit public charity and any contributions are tax deductible.


Lifestyles
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'Parasite' to play at Great Basin College Film Festival

ELKO – The Great Basin College Film Festival Committee promises many cinematic surprises during its 15th annual film festival, including the Academy Award-winning film “Parasite.”

Russ Minter, film committee chair, is intrigued with the festival’s feature film, especially after journalists at its premiere reported receiving hand-delivered letters from the director begging them not to write about all of the twists and surprises in the movie.

“It’s fascinating to me that the director actually ‘begged’ critics to not reveal any spoilers,” said Minter during a December interview. “So, there has not been much written about the movie.”

“Parasite” won “Best Picture” at this year’s Academy Awards, making it the first non-English speaking film to win this prestigious award.

The movie is about a lower-income family who infiltrates a wealthy household, only to learn a much darker secret. The film also won “Best Screenplay,” “Best Director,” and “Best International Feature Film.”

The cast was also awarded the “SAG Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble Cast.”

This movie will be shown Feb. 21 at the GBC Theater. The culinary sponsor of the night is Double Dice.

The festival will be held Feb. 14-15 and Feb. 21-22. Movies will be shown at the Western Folklife Center and the GBC Theater. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for snacks provided by culinary sponsors. The bar at the Western Folklife Center will also be open during screenings there. Showtime is 6 p.m.

Ticket prices are $10 per night or $7 with a student or senior discount at the college only. A three-night package costs $25. Tickets are available at the Western Folklife Center and Great Basin College, respectively.

2020 Films at the Western Folklife Center

Friday Feb. 14 – Oscar-nominated documentary short films at 6 p.m. Culinary sponsor: Pizza Barn

Saturday Feb. 15 – Oscar-nominated, live action short films at 6 p.m. Culinary sponsor: Garibaldi’s

2020 films at the Great Basin College Theater

Friday Feb. 21 – Feature film, “Parasite,” at 6 p.m. Hors d’ oeuvres will be served.

Saturday Feb. 22 – Oscar-nominated, animated short films at 6 p.m. Culinary sponsor: Hunter Ray’s

For more information about the films or the GBC Film Festival, contact Minter at 738-1533 or go to Facebook.com/gbcfilmfest.


State-and-regional
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Nevada's biggest union will not endorse in Democratic race

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Culinary Union, the most influential union in Nevada politics, has decided to stay out of the state’s Democratic presidential caucuses, denying candidates who aggressively courted the group from getting a major leg up in the upcoming contest.

The casino workers’ Culinary Union, a 60,000-member group made up of housekeepers, porters, bartenders and more who keep Las Vegas’ glitzy casinos humming, said Thursday that it will instead use its organizing power to get out the vote for the caucuses.

“We have weighed each candidate and believe the best thing we can do for Nevada, for our members and for greater voter participation, is to focus not on delivering for a candidate, rather to deliver voters to the caucus and then to the general election,” Geoconda Argüello-Kline, the secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union, will say at a Thursday afternoon news conference, according to prepared remarks.

The move is a blow to former Vice President Joe Biden, who is looking to shore up his support in Nevada’s Feb. 22 caucuses after disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. But the union’s decision wasn’t unexpected: The union’s parent organization, Unite Here, announced last month that it would stay out of the primary, and the Nevada members were expected to follow suit. Biden’s campaign had told donors on a call Wednesday that it wasn’t counting on the Culinary Union’s support.

The Culinary Union, which is majority female and Latino, is a political powerhouse that can turn on a get-out-the-vote machine that’s been credited with helping deliver Democratic victories in the swing state. White House hopefuls had worked over the past year to win over the union, holding meetings with the labor group’s leaders, issuing public statements in support of their organizing battles with casino resorts, touring the union’s health clinic and training facility, and appearing at town halls.

After the union’s 2008 decision to back Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton caused division among the union’s ranks, the union decided to stay neutral during the contentious 2016 Democratic primary between Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

With the 2020 primary field still crowded as it barrels toward Nevada, the Culinary Union can likewise avoid stepping into a contest that could split its members. Many unions nationally have made a similar calculation this year, deciding to stay on the sidelines of a volatile field without an unambiguous front-runner.

A number of Culinary’s sister unions and Unite Here affiliates have entered the contest, siding with the field’s most liberal candidates. Five of Unite Here’s affiliate unions based in California are backing Sanders. Another affiliate, Unite Here Local 11 out of Southern California and Arizona, announced in January that it was backing both Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The union’s New York affiliate, the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, issued an endorsement in June 2019 of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who later dropped out of the presidential race.

While the Culinary Union isn’t endorsing a candidate, it has not refrained from wading into the contest. Over the last two weeks, the union has distributed leaflets to members in the employee dining halls at casinos warning that “Medicare for All” plans espoused by Sanders and Warren would threaten union members’ health care.

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has sought to capitalize on the controversy, name-checking the Culinary Union on the debate stage and on the campaign trail as he contrasts his health plan with Sanders’ and Warren’s.

Sanders said Wednesday that union officials “will tell you they spend half their lives just trying to protect the health care benefits that they have.”

“We are the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all people. And in those countries, unions don’t have to defend the health care benefits they have. They already have health care. They can talk about better wages and better working conditions,” he said on CNN.

Biden has long-standing ties to labor and the Culinary Union, in particular. He was introduced at a December town hall with the Culinary Union as the keynote speaker at the 1974 convention of the union’s parent organization. In 2018, he headlined a get-out-the-vote rally for Democratic candidates at the union’s hall.

He has locked up the endorsement of the Culinary Union’s former political director, state Sen. Yvanna Cancela, who is now serving as a senior adviser to his campaign.