“Complex” has a number of meanings. It can be a group of buildings or facilities sharing a related purpose or, in psychology, it can refer to “distorted sensory and thought patterns that lead to unnatural behavior.” We all know somebody with a complex, like a God Complex, a Martyr Complex, Guilt Complex, etc. Often the sufferers leave the rest of us baffled and scratching our heads, because they’re clearly not God, martyrs, or necessarily guilty of anything.
The county where I live in northern Nevada has the distinction of hitting both those birds with one stone. Yet, because of that, our county has a unique opportunity to take the first small step in leading the way back from the abyss, or the dark, bottomless waters that Donald Trump — like a drowning man seizing his would-be rescuer in a full-body death grip — is dragging us under.
A couple of years ago, our County Commission Chair decided it was time to cement the memory of President Trump into the citizens’ consciousness. To that end, he proposed changing the name of a road in one of our communities to “Pres. Trump Way” — the limits of a standard street sign necessitating the abbreviation.
This quickly went wrong. To begin with, the agenda item at the relevant Commission meeting only mentioned changing the name of some street somewhere in one community. Only when discussion started did he spring it on the audience, attending in person and via Zoom, exactly which street’s name (actually a road) would be changed, and what it would be changed to.
This was a blatant violation of Nevada’s Open Meeting Law, which prohibits this kind of surprise at official meetings. Complaints were filed with the State Attorney General, although for whatever reason, they have not been heard from since.
More to the moment, the name targeted for change began with “Old.” History is a big deal around here, so once the Historical Society got wind that one of the original travel routes through the community was about to have its name recycled the Commissioner’s plan was doomed. It didn’t help that people pointed out the high school, grade school, branch library, and senior citizen center were all located on the road in question. That meant a lot of new addresses and obsolete stationery.
Plan A was quietly swept under the political rug, to be replaced by Plan B. A month later, the Commission concocted a resolution changing the name of the building housing the Sheriff’s office, County Jail, and District Court to the “Donald J. Trump Justice Complex.” It passed 3-2.
The place was already generically known as a “complex,” thus nailing the first above mentioned bird. As for bird two, if naming the various facilities encompassing the county’s legal system, from investigation to your day in court to possible jail, after Donald Trump is not an example of “distorted sensory and thought patterns that lead to unnatural behavior,” I don’t know what is.
To be specific, the Commissioners attached a plaque to the wall in the lobby that said, among other things, “President Donald Trump demonstrated outstanding support for the men and women of law enforcement and the judicial system.” He also “faithfully supported the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
It takes a moment to catch your breath, but this is the man who called a mob to Washington, D.C. and incited an attack on our Capital. This is the man who sat watching the carnage on TV, two miles away in the White House dining room, without lifting a finger to stop it. The mob assaulted, beat, and sprayed toxic chemicals at the “men and women of law enforcement” who stood courageously in their way. More than one hundred “men and women of law enforcement” were hurt, some with life-threatening and ultimately career-ending injuries. Several were traumatized to the extent they eventually took their own lives.
As for the Constitution, this is the man who claimed Article II made him a dictator.
But wait. That was then. At present, only two of the three “yes” votes on the Complex are still on the Commission. Technically, it’s only one, but the other was replaced by her husband so no news there. Granted, the two “no” votes still on the Commission couched their objections in a discomfort with the make-it-up-as-you-go example for renaming buildings. They did not object to the new name, but let’s not get picky. And a new commissioner has since been added — a blank slate for now. That makes a skinny three.
The Trump Justice Complex is a profound, insidious psychological condition. It cannot be assumed that any of our five Commissioners are immune, so we need to proceed with caution. We wouldn’t, for example, want to just tell an overweight person to eat less and exercise more. Big help that is. We must be quietly persuasive, no demands, no repudiation, and we have to acknowledge for now that some parts of the Complex are genuine.
But we do have a baseline — courtesy of former President Trump, prosecutors, and various litigants — for how much legal trouble a person can get into and still have a building named after them in our county. That’s the floor. That’s the part we acknowledge. But there is no help without an accurate description of the problem, as any therapist knows. So where’s the ceiling?
To that end, I would offer our Commissioners the following resolution:
Whereas, the duties and privileges of the County Commission include recognizing and honoring certain individuals by affixing their name to roads, streets, buildings and other facilities under the County’s jurisdiction; and
The County Commission has the authority to set standards and conditions for such recognition and honoring; and
Such standards and conditions can include setting a maximum number of judicial findings, counts charged, indictments, or convictions which, if exceeded, disqualify an individual from being so recognized and honored; therefore
Be it resolved that,
- The maximum number of findings, counts charged, indictments, or convictions for sexual abuse shall be one (1). An individual found to have exceeded that number, i.e. two (2) or more, shall not be recognized or honored as above; and
- The maximum number of findings, counts charged, indictments, or convictions for felony falsification of business records, specifically regarding payments to pornographic movie actresses, shall be thirty-four (34). An individual found to have exceeded that number, i.e. thirty-five (35) or more, shall not be recognized or honored as above; and
- The maximum number of findings, counts charged, indictments, or convictions for the willful retention of National Defense Information in violation of the Espionage Act shall be thirty-one (31). An individual found to have exceeded that number, i.e. thirty-two (32) or more, shall not be recognized or honored as above; and
- The maximum number of findings, counts charged, indictments, or convictions for Conspiracy to Obstruct, Withholding a Document or Record, Corruptly Concealing a Document or Record , Concealing a Document in a Federal Investigation, Engaging in a Scheme to Conceal False Statements and Representations shall be one (1). An individual found to have exceeded that number, i.e. two (2) or more, shall not be recognized or honored as above; and
- Individuals found to have exceeded the above stated maximums, if previously so recognized or honored, shall have such revoked; and
- The County makes no statement as to guilt or innocence, however timely application of the above standards is necessary to spare the County widespread mockery and ridicule during the often long period of time between indictment, verdict, and resolution of appeals. Eventual acquittals will, of course, be deducted and no longer count against the above maximums.
The first step is always the hardest, but it might just be the beginning of a long journey toward a much better place.