Public administrator/guardian brings scrutiny to conduct, configuration of office

Ordinance would separate public administrator, guardian positions
Kurt Hildebrand
September 1, 2010
The Record-Courier (NV)
http://www.recordcourier.com/article/20100901/NEWS/100839952/1062&ParentProfile=1049
County attorneys are proposing unhitching the office of public guardian from that of public administrator.

Douglas County commissioners on Thursday will discuss the introduction of an ordinance revising Douglas County code that will separate the two offices.

The two offices were linked in 1997, when the county approved an ordinance making the elected public administrator the ex officio public guardian.

Under Nevada law, the public guardian oversees those wards of the state who don’t have family or any other guardian to handle their affairs.

Public Administrator Lynn EnEarl, who serves as public guardian, is resigning.

EnEarl came under criticism for failing to file reports on the welfare of her wards, or even meet with them during her tenure in the office.

Judge Dave Gamble ordered her to meet with her wards on a weekly basis, and the office has been filing make-up reports to deal with the issues. At least two of EnEarl’s wards required less restrictive care than they were receiving, something she would have known, critics say, if she had met with them.

As public administrator, EnEarl handles the estates of people who die without a will.

She is running for re-election in November, facing Independent American Sam Dupuis.

Her resignation is effective after the election. If she is re-elected, commissioners will appoint her successor. If Dupuis wins, he will take office at the beginning of the year.

District Attorney Mark Jackson said the ordinance has not been amended since it was adopted, even though the Nevada Legislature has made several changes to the law.

Under the new ordinance, the county would have four options for appointing a public guardian, including contracting with a private professional guardian or designating a county officer to serve.

Jackson said the district attorney’s office will recommend removing a clause at the end of the ordinance that revokes all previous appointments and designations of public guardians.

Approved in 1997 with the original ordinance, the revocation was intended so that the terms of the office of public administrator and public guardian would start at the same time.

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