What is the Ely City Council trying to accomplish in steamrolling the management board of the Nevada Northern Railroad?
In what can only be described as a bizarre move, the council in its last meeting fired the president and the vice president of the Railroad Management Board.
And, what did they do to deserve it?
Well, Councilman Bruce Setterstrom said that the Railroad’s president, John Gianoli, and vice-president Stephen Leithhave been doing a “fantastic” job for which the councilman has the “utmost respect.”
But, he said in so many words, “you’re fired.”
What is up with that? If this were not such a potentially detrimental move against the economic health of White Pine County, one might be tempted to joke that it’s a good thing the Railroad Management Board wasn’t doing an even better than “fantastic” job, otherwise the City Council might want them executed.
But this is not a joke.
The city dismissed the top two members of the board — who by all accounts performed their civic duties with excellence — because someone in the city has some hazy “fiduciary” concerns about the railroad.
That doesn’t add up. The railroad operates well and when it comes to running a financially ship-shape organization there are few with a better reputation and track record than John Gianoli.
Something else is up for the city to hammer the railroad in such an ugly way.
If the city continues on this path and winds up screwing up the railroad — as some say it has already begun to screw up the city — the people of Ely will suffer the consequences of that error for a long time.
Should the city have an abiding interest in the railroad? Of course. Everyone in Ely has a stake in that. And, there’s a right way for the city council to do that. But firing a board they credit with doing a “fantastic” job is, as we said at the beginning, “bizarre.”