Guinn Holds Up Building Of Emergency Operations Center

Homeland Readiness
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Gov. Kenny Guinn has held up construction of a $7.6 million Nevada emergency operations center because preliminary design plans didn't take into account state homeland security needs.

Guinn was clearly peeved Wednesday that in the proposed 31,000-square-foot building, only 140 square feet would be set aside for state homeland security uses.

Peter Reinschmidt, a state Emergency Management Division official, told the governor and other members of the state Board of Examiners that he got his "marching orders" on the building design from his boss, Frank Siracusa.

"I am giving you new marching orders," Guinn replied.

Reinschmidt and state Public Works Board Manager Dan O'Brien had sought approval from the board, chaired by Guinn, to spend more than $2.8 million in state funds for the Carson City operations center.

Guinn persuaded the other board members, Attorney General Brian Sandoval and Secretary of State Dean Heller, to agree to delay spending the state money. About $4.8 million of the construction costs would come from federal funds.

"Homeland security is the No. 1 priority in America," Guinn said. "If we have a terrorist emergency, I am going to call them first."

He said state Homeland Security Chief Jerry Bussell and his staff must work closely with the Emergency Management Division and special consideration must be given for their space needs.

Guinn noted the emergency operations center will include space for several agencies, including Division of Forestry firefighting operations, the National Guard, emergency management and homeland security.

The governor also questioned why more than $500,000 in building costs would go for inspectors and construction supervision. He said inspectors wouldn't be on the site all day every day.

During the same meeting, the governor accused the University and Community College System of Nevada of "total incompetency" for submitting incorrect bills for psychiatric services medical school doctors performed at state mental health hospitals. He held up approval of $780,000 in funds until the system submits proper bills and answers his questions about the bills.

The university system submitted bills for the psychiatric services more than a year after some of the work had been done. It also didn't have a contract with the Board of Examiners to do the work at state mental health facilities.