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KUNR Today: Renown CEO ousted, Interior official touts federal funding for wildland firefighting

An image of the exterior of Renown Health’s emergency services
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

Renown Health ousts CEO-president after probe of ‘concerns’
By The Associated Press

The board of Renown Health has fired Dr. Tony Slonim as president and CEO of the northern Nevada health care network, ending his tenure that began in 2014. A Renown statement released Thursday said the board determined that Renown “required new leadership” following an investigation of unspecified concerns presented to the board.

Renown did not provide specifics, but KRNV-TV reported that the investigation was prompted by “allegations regarding confidential personnel matters.” A phone number associated with Slonim was not in service Friday and he could not be reached for comment. Two Renown executives will replace Slonim on an interim basis.

As a note of disclosure, Renown Health is a financial supporter of KUNR.

Las Vegas-area sheriff files for Republican nod for governor
By The Associated Press

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo has filed documents to seek the Republican nomination for Nevada governor, joining a crowded GOP field seeking to challenge Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak in November. Lombardo served two elected terms heading the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

His wife, Donna, was with him Monday at the Nevada Secretary of State’s office, along with state Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald and two other Nevada sheriffs, Mike Allen of Humboldt County and Ken Furlong of Carson City.

Other leading candidates for the June primary include former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore and attorney Joey Gilbert.

Interior Department official visits western cities to tout federal funding for wildland firefighting
By Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

A top Interior Department official is visiting several places around the West to tout federal funding for wildland firefighting. That included a stop in Boise on Monday.

Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau toured the National Interagency Fire Center and was briefed on the upcoming wildfire season.

He also talked with reporters about the billions in wildfire resilience funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. And the move to raise minimum federal firefighter pay to $15 an hour.

“This is one area where everyone, regardless of what part of the country you come from, or what political party you associate with, is united in calling for and providing more tools and training to protect our families, our lands from the increasing threat of fire,” Beaudreau said.

Much of the federal funding expires in a few years, though. So many in the fire community support more comprehensive, long-term funding, like that provided through Tim’s Act. That bill was named after Wyoming smokejumper Tim Hart who died fighting fires in New Mexico last summer.

Beaudreau says he can’t speak to that legislation, which stalled in the House late last year, but says the agency does support longer-term funding.

Sparks City Council moves forward with drive-through dispensaries
By Gustavo Sagrero

A new proposal for a drive-through dispensary is pending approval from the Sparks City Council. The staff will conduct a study first and come back to the city council with what they’ve found. A similar drive-through proposal was shot down by the council last year.

Curbside marijuana is common now, but it’s an emergency rule because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevada Highway Patrol attrition drawing union attention
By The Associated Press

Nevada Highway Patrol job vacancies resulting from troopers leaving for better-paying law enforcement jobs elsewhere has a union official calling for immediate legislative action.

Gov. Steve Sisolak last month acknowledged what he termed “a big problem” with unfilled jobs and said he’ll propose raises for state police officers next year if he’s re-elected. Nevada Police Union representative Wayne Dice told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that troopers can’t wait 17 months. The union had 735 members last September, but Dice said at least 30 members left the first two months of 2022 and that most departed for better pay and benefits.

Congress allocates federal dollars for cancer treatment on Navajo Nation
By Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

In a historic first, Congress has earmarked millions for cancer treatment on the Navajo Nation, and advocates hope this paves the way for more treatment options across Indian Country.

The Navajo Nation’s cancer treatment facility is one of the first to be located on tribal land. Advocates celebrated its opening in 2019, especially given the deadly repercussions of uranium mining. Navajo people face high cancer rates that some experts link to uranium contamination.

Now the facility will receive federal dollars to offer services like radiation oncology. Attorney Brandy Tomhave, a member of the Choctaw Nation, is working on this issue.

“This represents a historic moment because it’s the very first time the federal government has invested a single dollar into the creation of cancer treatment on an Indian reservation,” Tomhave said.

Tomhave says Natives battling cancer have died simply because they couldn’t access treatment with some facilities located hundreds of miles from reservations.

California aims to limit health care costs with new office
By The Associated Press

California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to create a new state office to keep health care prices in check. The proposed Office of Health Care Affordability would order hospitals, doctor’s offices and insurers to keep their costs below a certain level. Anyone who breaks the rules could face a hefty fine.

At least four other states have similar offices. But they rarely impose fines, and none would be as comprehensive as California’s office. The California Hospital Association warns there could be unintended consequences. They also say 45% of hospitals are already operating at a loss.

Produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

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