I-Team: Boulder City Mayor Responds to Ethics Allegations - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Boulder City Mayor Responds to Ethics Allegations

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Former Boulder City Police Chief Tom Finn. Former Boulder City Police Chief Tom Finn.
Boulder City Mayor Roger Tobler. Boulder City Mayor Roger Tobler.

BOULDER CITY, Nev. -- Boulder City's mayor has fired back at allegations his town is controlled by the so-called Mormon Mafia.

Mayor Roger Tobler says the fact that Mormons control most political positions in Boulder City is unfair criticism. Tobler was responding to statements made by fired police Chief Tom Finn, who also filed numerous ethics complaints, one of which names Tobler.

The I-Team had an opportunity to talk Mayor Tobler. He made several sweeping statements about his town, his faith, his ethics, and about the circumstances leading to the ouster of Chief Finn.

There is no Mormon conspiracy, Mayor Tobler said. "I think that was offensive to Boulder City and I'll tell you why. Boulder City has a higher voter turnout that anybody else in the area. They participate. They stay involved and engaged and they know what is going on."

Tobler says there's just no way a so-called Mormon Mafia could call the shots in his town because the public is too smart and well-informed for that. The fact that four of the five city council members are Mormon, as well as the city manager, city attorney, state lawmakers and county commissioner is an historical aberration, Tobler said, not the result of a power plot, adding that until the issue was raised by fired police Chief Finn, he hadn't heard it before.

"They should have called us on it, if that is the type of politicians that we are, they should have called us on it. We have not heard this complaint up until now," he said.

That would make him perhaps the only political figure in Nevada who hasn't heard it. Mormon voters historically vote in high percentages and often in a bloc.

In a small town like Boulder City, a solid base like that is a major advantage in low turnout municipal elections. Finn alleges, in his ethics complaints, that Mormon control of city government means relatives and fellow church members get preferential treatment.

Tobler says Finn had total support within the city, even after the Mongols came to town generating complaints about police behavior. That support only waned when Finn filed a lawsuit in November.

"It would have been the lawsuits. I was not creating any problems for the chief before that," Tobler said.

The record shows otherwise. On several topics, Tobler makes sweeping generalizations, and then backtracks when confronted with contrary examples.

"I am not elected to tell the police department how to do their job. I'm not qualified for that," Tobler said.

And yet, Tobler has intervened in police business over and over. Tobler says the first time he ever called the city manager to complain about Finn was during the Mongols event because Finn didn't respond to a business owner's concerns. He admits he complained to the city manager previously because he heard rumors Finn wasn't spending much time in his office, which proved unfounded.

In early 2012, police tried to pull over a 16-year-old girl, who didn't stop until she got to her home, right next door to the mayor. Tobler's neighbors -- fellow Mormons -- complained that squad cars had come into the "Mormon part of town."

The mayor called the manager, then the chief to complain. Months before that, Tobler pressured the police to increase red light enforcement on the town's main drag, coincidentally in the same area where Tobler's hardware store sits.

"I asked for enforcement on that intersection a number of times," Tobler said.

The mayor's hardware store also became an issue in a state ethics complaint after it was reported the city had spent $150,000 at the store since Tobler was first elected. The mayor initially disclosed that his store was being paid, then didn't disclose 23 times.

Ethics investigators say Tobler pressured the city manager to make sure his store got as much business as the other hardware store in town.

"They actually dismissed all of the ethics charges against me with the city's business going to my hardware store. They threw all those out," Tobler said. However, one was upheld, butTobler was not fined, and to this day his store does business with the city he presides over.

"There is not something going on behind the scenes where we are secretly meeting and trying to infuse Mormon doctrine into city council. We are not doing that," he said.

Mayor Tobler says he got a good chuckle out of the I-Team's earlier report of an interview with city attorney Dave Olsen. After 20 minutes, Olsen was pulled out of the interview by the secretary for the city manager, and the I-Team heard her speak into the wireless microphone that she had done that because the city manager and councilman Cam Walker said enough was enough.

Tobler told the I-Team that Walker and the city manager weren't watching the interview from another room. That was just silly. Dave Olsen had to end the interview because the mayor and city manager decided ahead of time how much time he was allowed to spend with us. The secretary came in to make sure their edict was followed.


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