Nuñez named interim public works manager

Deputy Public Works Manager Gus Nuñez has been named interim public works manager for the state of Nevada.

He replaces Dan O'Brien who resigned the position last week at the request of Gov. Kenny Guinn.

O'Brien's resignation followed the release of an arbitration panel's ruling that the state and its architects, not the contractor, were at fault for the problems, costly delays and poor quality work constructing the Southern Nevada Veterans' Home in Boulder City.

Arbitrators ordered the state to pay Addison Inc., the general contractor on the project, $10.3 million, $5.4 million of which is attorney's fees.

Public Works Board Chairman Rene Ashleman said the governor agreed with board members that having Nuñez take over while they look for a new manager would provide some continuity in the agency, which oversees construction of all state and university construction projects.

The vote was unanimous.

Nuñez is an engineer with extensive public and private experience. He was also an elected member of the Reno City Council before taking the job at Public Works.

The board, not the governor, appoints the manager. The law requires whoever fills that position be either an architect or engineer.

The board also received a closed-door briefing from its attorneys on whether there are grounds to appeal the decision by three arbitrators.

Under Nevada law, the substance of binding arbitration is not appealable, only whether the law and Nevada regulations were followed in rendering the decision. The primary question in the veterans' home case is whether attorneys' fees can be awarded.

The board made no decision on Tuesday whether to appeal, but Attorney General George Chanos said last week he expected to do so.

If the arbitration award stands, the total cost of the veteran's home will exceed $35 million, including nearly $10 million in legal costs. The original budget for the project was about $18 million.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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