LAS VEGAS -- The Clark County Commission relied on a 2005 state law when it designated Nevada Legal News at 930 S. Fourth St. downtown as the sole location for foreclosed property auctions in the county.
The newspaper's publisher, Scott Sibley, served in the Assembly as a Las Vegas Republican when Senate Bill 172 was being debated. He even testified on its behalf. But when the legislation came to a vote in the Assembly, he abstained while the bill sailed through by a 40-0 margin.
SB 172 also passed the Senate 20-0 and was signed into law by then-Gov. Kenny Guinn.
The legislation, which addressed deeds of trust, grew out of complaints that foreclosed properties sometimes were being auctioned at trustees' offices in other counties or even outside Nevada.
Jim Kierman, then president and owner of the Northern Nevada Title Company in Reno, told the Assembly Judiciary Committee in May 2005 that this prevented some individuals from bidding on properties if the sales were out of town.
"It doesn't happen very often, but it does happen," Kierman said.
State law also permitted foreclosure sales to occur at county courthouses. In Clark County, auctions took place outside the courthouse in the front plaza. But Sibley testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in March 2005 that Metro Police didn't want foreclosure sales to occur at the courthouse because of the large crowds and safety concerns. Instead, Sibley said Metro preferred that the sales occur in places such as the county recorder's office, a title company office or an attorney's office.
The Nevada Legislature ultimately directed rural counties to hold foreclosure sales at their respective courthouses. But SB 172 gave the Clark and Washoe County commissioners the authority to designate another public auction place in their respective jurisdictions.
The law also states that the auctioned property must be sold to the highest bidder but it prohibits the agent who holds the auction from becoming a purchaser.
Without discussion, the Clark County Commission at its Sept. 6, 2005, meeting unanimously chose Nevada Legal Services as the auction location. The decision, part of the commission's consent agenda, was based on an offer by Nevada Legal News to allow its facilities free of charge for the auctions.
The approval, effective Oct. 1, 2005, came with stipulations that auctions be conducted weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and that the commissioners could choose a different auction location in the future.
Another bill supported last year by the State Bar of Nevada, Senate Bill 402, would have allowed auctions of foreclosed commercial property to be held at public locations other than Nevada Legal News. But that legislation died because the Assembly and Senate couldn't agree on proposed amendments.