Updated August 20, 2020 - 6:38 pm
Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore on Wednesday called the city’s public health compliance observers “snitches” and pushed for stopping the program.
The city implemented its “compliance ambassador program” after the federal government designated Clark County as a coronavirus red zone. The program has been in place for about 30 days.
At the City Council meeting, Fiore told Planning Director Robert Summerfield that it was nice to see most businesses are in compliance.
“But at the same time, in plain language, not politically correct, not as sweet as yours, we have sent out 65 snitches into businesses, to then call code enforcement on them to harass them,” Fiore said.
She said code enforcement officers should be the only ones to handle noncompliance.
“For me to support sending more code enforcements out to please a governor who doesn’t even like us anyway, I do not support it,” she said.
In response to Fiore’s comment, Gov. Steve Sisolak’s spokeswoman, Meghin Delaney, released a statement saying the governor is focused on stopping the spread of the coronavirus in areas with increased risk of transmission, including Las Vegas.
“No one person, entity, or measure can solve the public health crisis we currently face — it requires a collaborative and aggressive effort across all levels of government and requires the participation of every business and resident in the state,” Delaney said. “The COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force will continue to partner with local governments who share the common goal of taking this virus seriously, and will find solutions to mitigate the spread in areas of the state that lack critical leadership to protect residents.”
Fiore expressed frustration Thursday about the ambassador program being developed without communication with the mayor or council, and said no other municipality operates an ambassador program. Fiore said business owners were upset because they were not aware of the program before city workers visited them.
Despite her comments, she said she does not view city employees as snitches. Her issue is with the program itself, but she would be fine with a version of the program that focused solely on education.
The program was set up as a short-term approach to provide businesses with information on compliance with public health directives and to gather data on compliance, Summerfield told council members.
Repeat and blatant violators are referred to license officers. Summerfield said the vast majority of businesses are complying with directives. Most cases of noncompliance were resolved with no fine, he said.
Council members ultimately voted 4-3 to keep the program. Mayor Carolyn Goodman said she wants the incoming city manager to be part of the process of either disbanding or making adjustments to the program. Council members Fiore, Stavros Anthony and Victoria Seaman voted to stop the program.
Las Vegas had 65 staffers from the planning and parks departments working on the program. At the end of this week, most workers will return to their normal jobs, Summerfield said.
Summerfield said interactions with businesses are supposed to be educational to maintain compliance.
“It’s not to fine people, it’s not to close businesses, it’s not to hamper that activity,” Summerfield told council members. “It is to have businesses that are operating in a safe and productive manner for the city of Las Vegas.”