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Business: RSCVA reverses course on live streaming board meetings

By Bob Conrad
Reno Business Weekly

CEO up for public evaluation Thursday morning

The Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority this week will hold its regularly scheduled meeting in part to evaluate CEO Charles Harris. Contrary to past practice, since the beginning of the year, the meeting will be available to watch while it is happening.

RSCVA ceased live streaming its meetings in January. That meant if members of the public wanted to participate in the public meeting, they had to attend in person.

Board members, however, could still attend meetings virtually on Zoom. RSCVA’s attorney said the group didn’t have to provide live access to the meeting online to members of the public.

Sparks City Council member Charlene Bybee.
Sparks City Council member and RSCVA Board Chair Charlene Bybee.

RSCVA Board Chair Charlene Bybee, also a Sparks council member, said that will change because of reporting last month by This Is Reno. 

Charlene Bybee said she wanted the board meetings live-streamed.

“When you brought it to our attention …  looking at the other jurisdictions, Reno, Washoe County, other boards and commissions … we’re all on Zoom,” she said. “The fact that people are used to Zoom or a live stream … it’s super convenient for people. So I think that access is important because I think our transparency of RSCVA and what we’re doing – that just makes sense to go back and live stream it and fall in line with the other jurisdictions and what they’re doing.”

Open government advocates said they were alarmed by RSCVA’s past decision to deny online access to meetings.

“At a time when public officials often choose to use video conferencing technology to conduct the people’s business, it is unfair to then limit the public and news media to only attending and participating in those meetings in person,” said University of Nevada media law professor Patrick File, who also serves on the Nevada Open Government Coalition.

Bybee said Thursday’s 9 a.m. meeting, which can be viewed on YouTube, will cover Harris’ evaluation. He is up for a bonus and merit increase.

“I’ve asked for at each meeting, as we just finished our strategic plan about six months ago, we really need to be looking [at it as] we move along, [as well as] reports on where do we stand,” Bybee added.

Business news briefs

Reno Municipal Court names new administrator. Officials with the Reno Municipal Court announced Veronica Lopez as the new Court Administrator. Lopez assumed the position Sept. 9. “Veronica has been a fixture in the Reno Municipal Court for more than 15 years,” Chief Judge Shelly T. O’Neill said. “It is always beneficial to our organization when we can promote from within, and Veronica is the latest shining example of that at the City of Reno. I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank Steve Tuttle, the former Administrator, and wish him well in his retirement.”

NDOT receives $101 million in federal spending authority. The state’s transportation board of directors last week announced that $101 million in additional federal highway spending authority – the most Nevada has ever received – has been made available for state road and bridge projects in Nevada as part of the August Redistribution from the Federal Highway Administration. This additional spending authority will allow the state to receive federal reimbursement more quickly for planned projects.

Legislature’s interim finance committee approves federal funding for small businesses. Nevada small businesses could receive a $35 million boost for the next three years from the first tranche of the State Small Business Credit Initiative. “Small businesses are the backbone of all of our communities in Nevada,” said Gov. Steve Sisolak. “This first phase of funding will hopefully lead to up to $105 million over the entire duration of the program to bolster our small business owners. I’m proud of the work done by GOED who will now partner with the US Treasury to enter the implementation phase.” 

Ag department seeking Farm2Food Accelerator participants. The Nevada Department of Agriculture is seeking participants for the Women’s Farm2Food Accelerator program, starting in November. The program is designed to help Nevada women farmers and entrepreneurs with value-added food or beverage products, or product ideas, grow their business and expand into new markets. “This is a great opportunity for Nevada’s women farmers to receive entrepreneurship training and tools,” said NDA Director Jennifer Ott. “This program supports women owned, small-scale businesses in growing their operations and increasing their marketplace success.” 

Community garden opening at Boys & Girls Club. Katie’s Community Garden is scheduled to open Monday, Sept. 26, from 9 to 11 a.m. The garden is located behind the Bridge Church on Foster Drive. The garden is named after Katie Weingartner, a young girl who died in 2017 at the age of 15. Katie was passionate about finding solutions to the food security problem facing Reno’s homeless population. Katie’s Community Garden is an educational site where youth are taught sustainable farming methods, and community members can learn social and emotional skills through regenerative agriculture. 

21 students named semifinalists in National Merit Scholarship program. Twenty-one high school students in the Washoe County School District have been named semifinalists in the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program. They are among about 16,000 scholars nationwide who now have the opportunity to continue in the competition for nearly $28 million in college scholarships to be awarded next spring. They are:

  • Ella Benoy, Galena High School
  • Maya Bringhurst, Damonte Ranch High School
  • Andrew Chen, Galena High School
  • Jeferson Cordova Solares, Earl Wooster High School
  • Archit Dash, Galena High School
  • Chantal Gabrielle Ebonia, Earl Wooster High School
  • Megan Godfrey, North Valleys High School
  • Syarra Goldstein, Procter Hug High School
  • Megan Goode, Reno High School
  • Grace Goodsel, Reno High School
  • Elias Gorauskas, Reno High School
  • Charles Hoist, Reno High School
  • Ananya Madhira, Academy of Arts, Careers & Technology
  • Allison Marshall, Damonte Ranch High School
  • Violet Mulligan, Reno High School
  • Brayden Myers, Reno High School
  • Derek Ngu, Reno High School
  • Riyaa Rajesh, Galena High School
  • Ashton Sharp, TMCC High School
  • Cagin Uz, Reno High School
  • Violet Wilhelm, Damonte Ranch High School

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