A dispute stemming from the May 9 meeting of the Nevada County Quorum Court regarding the purchase of a 2012 grader may eventually end up in a courtroom, although as of Friday, May 26 as the Picayune was preparing for an early holiday press run, no lawsuit or other legal action has been reported filed at the Nevada County Courthouse.

A dispute stemming from the May 9 meeting of the Nevada County Quorum Court regarding the purchase of a 2012 grader may eventually end up in a courtroom, although as of Friday, May 26 as the Picayune was preparing for an early holiday press run, no lawsuit or other legal action has been reported filed at the Nevada County Courthouse.
The dispute primarily centers around members of the Nevada County Quorum Court, in particular District 8 Justice George Smith, and public statements about a 2012 grader the county purchased from M&M Wrecker, who’s owners have a long history of doing business with the county.
Smith, in questioning county expenditures at the May 9 meeting, expressed concerns about the $122,000 purchase of a used grader, and he questioned why the expensive equipment wasn’t placed out on competitive bid.
At the same meeting, M&M Wrecker co-owner Donny McGuire addressed the full Quorum Court, and he said that his company sold the grader to the county.  He also cited a number of business transactions and in-kind aid that his shop provided the county over the years, and he said, “We are in business to make a profit.”
In a telephone interview on Thursday, McGuire did confirm that legal action was, in his words, “in the works,” and then he referred any more questions on the matter to his attorney, Q. Byrum Hurst of the Hurst Law Firm in Hot Springs.
A call to the Hurst Law Firm on Thursday did confirm that McGuire had contacted the firm, but a firm spokesperson said no legal action has yet been taken, and she referred any further questions to Hurst.  As the Picayune deadline was approaching for early holiday press run on Friday, Hurst had not yet returned inquiries from the Picayune on the matter.
Nevada County Judge Mark Glass said Thursday afternoon that he had not been served any papers or notices, but he was aware of the situation, saying, “I have heard there is going to be some type of action, which I think is unfortunate. I don’t like having the controversy; it would be good to have everyone on the same page.”
Glass said he hoped that “cooler heads could prevail,” and he offered that maybe a meeting between the parties involved could help clear the air.  In his experience, Glass said Nevada County has enjoyed a good working and business relationship with M&M Wrecker over the years.
“They’ve done a lot of work of us.  They’ve been really good to help us with diagnostic equipment and helping us out with our trucks. I would like to see everyone get together and smooth things out,” he said.
For his part, Smith remained steadfast that there is nothing wrong about examining county spending practices, and he maintained that questioning the circumstances regarding the grader’s purchase was a proper function of the Quorum Court as stewards of taxpayer’s money.
“During that presentation on May 9, it was noted that no blame should be put on the vendor, that the due diligence and analysis belonged squarely in the lap of the County Judge and the Quorum Court,” Smith said, “Even though the vendor was not named, McGuire stood up and acknowledged the company — of which he is co-owner — bought the grader and sold it to the county for a profit.”
Smith has since questioned the profit, which he estimated as 27-percent, as excessive, and he believes that overall, some good will come out of the dispute for taxpayer’s of Nevada County.
“The new attention to expenditures resulted after details of this transaction were revealed. To their credit, the Justices responded positively by increasing the total of money that could be expended with court approval on major purchases like capital expenditures and heavy equipment,” Smith said.
“That’s the first step to create better oversight of accounting for expenditures. The JPs also agreed to have the County Judge appoint a three-member committee to review the past three years’ worth of major expenditures. That committee is also charged with analyzing whether it would behoove the county to continue the practice of buying used equipment or get equipment via the lease route,” he said.
As for the possible legal engagement against the Quorum Court over the dispute, Smith characterized it as a scare tactic to get him to resign, and he quickly dismissed it.
“Threatening to sue is an old tactic used to scare people off.  Good luck with that,” he said.