A suggestion as to who should pay for Obama’s security during a weekend of golf

Obama plays golf in North Las Vegas. (AP photo)

I think Brian Greenspun should pick up the tab, don’t you?

It turns out President Obama’s weekend trip to Henderson in November to putatively sign off on an amnesty plan for millions of illegal immigrants but really to play golf all weekend with the Sun newspaper owner and various celebrities is costing state and Henderson police $170,000, according to the Review-Journal newspaper.

Though officials plan to bill the Democratic Party no one really expects to be paid. It took the school district four years to get paid by the Obama campaign for a 2008 political visit.

Since the Greenspun family made its fortune off the city of Henderson with a shady land deal so the family could build Green Valley, it is only fair that Greenspun pay the security costs of his golfing partner, right?

According to an R-J report by A.D. Hopkins, in 1971 the city sold 4,720 acres to Hank Greenspun, Brian’s father, for about $280 an acre. “They did so largely because he promised to include it in his proposed Green Valley development, increasing the city’s tax base and establishing nearby residential areas and amenities, which would attract further development in the stagnating small town,” the story says. “Instead, Greenspun sold much of that land at $3,000 to $5,000 an acre” — around $15 million at the low end.

The city also gave Greenspun a deadline to build and called for a $1.7 million penalty if he did not comply. He did not and the city never enforced the penalty. How much would that be in 2014 dollars with interest?

Henderson should send Brian Greenspun a bill.


Did R-J pick a fine time to quit the AP?

Lloyd Bridges’ character in the comedy movie “Airplane” kept saying he picked a fine time to quit drinking, smoking, sniffing glue, etc.

Did the Las Vegas newspaper pick a fine time to dump The Associated Press and replace it with Reuters, Washington Post, CNN, Sports Xchange, etc., which have no presence in Nevada? Today the print version used a free-lance banner story by a former AP Nevada reporter on the amount of water the Tesla Motors battery plant in Storey County will require and two stories with bylines from the Reno newspaper. There appears to be a need for additional resources across the state.

But what makes this interesting is an AP blog posted recently in which the newspaper cooperative promises to reverse a trend and beef up statehouse coverage in 50 state capitals:

Brian Carovillano (AP Photo)

Building on The Associated Press’ unmatched presence in all 50 U.S. statehouses, we are adding to our competitive advantage by creating a team of state government specialists.

As announced today to the AP staff, the specialists will collaborate with statehouse reporters, as well as on their own projects and stories focused on government accountability and strong explanatory reporting. Their over-arching goal will be “to show how state government is impacting the lives of people across the country,” said Brian Carovillano, managing editor for U.S. news.

Specifically, the AP says it has hired 13 statehouse reporters in the past year and plans to add 40 or so contract reporters to cover legislative sessions in 2015 — over and above the current staffing level.

The cooperative promises additional reporters for beats such as such as politics, immigration, crime and education.

“Beyond that, we are really pushing our state bureaus to focus their time and effort on content that is exclusive to AP and that our members and subscribers can’t get anywhere else. That needs to be our guiding principle,” the blog says.

It goes on to say the AP will set up editing operations to handle “shared” news from the members of the cooperative. That apparently will not include the R-J.


Mere threat of listing sage grouse as threatened scares off economic development

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell came to Nevada earlier this month and told a meeting of Western governors in Las Vegas that her department’s goal is to find ways to protect the greater sage grouse without resorting to listing the bird under the Endangered Species Act.

“We want to create an environment where a listing is not warranted,” Jewell was quoted as saying by the Las Vegas newspaper. “So we’re all working with that common objective. … It truly is epic collaboration. It’s not just the sage grouse that’s at stake. It’s the Western way of life that’s at stake.”
Rep. Mark Amodei had already attached a rider to the congressional spending budget that prohibits for one year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a division of Interior, from listing the sage grouse, thus blocking a federal court decree that required the agency to make a determination by September 2015.

The people who count, the ones who invest their money in developing profitable uses on public and private land in Nevada, aren’t buying it.

Gunnison sage grouse (Denver Post file photo)

Days after Jewell’s speech, the Bureau of Land Management attempted to auction off 97 tracts of federal public land for oil and natural gas drilling leases. The agency received no bids on 96 tracts and only the minimum bid of $2 an acre on a single 473-acre tract in Nye County, according to an Associated Press account. That was before the price of oil tanked.

Patricia LaFramboise, chief of BLM’s minerals adjudication branch, told the AP the main reason oil and gas drillers are balking is concern over the likely listing of the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

“Sage grouse is a huge issue here. We’ve removed a lot of the parcels for sale until the Fish and Wildlife Service makes its decision,” LaFramboise said at the time. “The areas of interest have some serious environmental impacts.”

Instead of leasing 186,000 acres of federal public land from Austin to the Utah border and creating jobs and economic benefits in dozens of rural communities, the land will lie fallow.

It probably did not help that just a few weeks earlier the U.S. Geological Survey came out with a report recommending a buffer zone devoid of most human activity within 3.1 miles of any sage grouse lek, as nesting grounds are called, an area of 30 square miles. The distance was chosen because that is where most of the grouse are located, not because any human activity was proven harmful to the birds. That was presumed.

Neither did it help that in early November Fish and Wildlife listed the Gunnison sage grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, stunning officials in Colorado and Utah who thought there “truly is epic collaboration” with federal officials to protect the bird and they were being successful.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper told the Denver Post the decision was discouraging and that it “complicates our good-faith efforts to work with local stakeholders on locally driven approaches.”

The mere threat of federal listing of greater sage grouse — which seems all the more likely with every action every day — is already stifling economic activity.

Amodei succinctly noted, “I am unaware of the fact-based foundation for Interior’s drawing lines on maps and focusing on human activity when in our part of the country the threats are wildland fire and invasive species. If it is really about the habitat, the preoccupation with 15 percent of the threat while ignoring the other 85 percent is yet another example of forwarding political agendas ahead of dealing with environmental facts and solving the resource problem.”

Congress should repeal the Endangered Species Act currently on the books and start all over with something more reasonable and based on scientific fact instead of speculation and supposition from so-called environmentalists with a herd of stampeding lawyers.

Is Nevada GOP snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?

mer·cu·ri·al mərˈkyo͝orēəl/ adjective 
(of a person) subject to sudden or unpredictable changes of mood or mind.
Republican Assembly Speaker-apparent-perhaps-maybe John Hambrick has changed his mind again. First, he ousted arch-conservative Michele Fiore as majority leader and chair of the Taxation Committee, after old allegations about liens placed on her companies by the IRS. Then, without explanation, he reinstated her. Now, after she has tried to explain her situation and say she has negotiated a deal with the IRS, he has ousted her again.
“I found that Michele’s explanations of her IRS issues were unacceptable,” Hambrick was quoted as saying by the Las Vegas newspaper. “They left unanswered questions, were full of deflections and slanderous allegations that have left our caucus further divided. At this time I feel it is best to (relieve) Assemblywoman Fiore of her leadership roles in the Assembly.”

Michele Fiore (R-J photo)

The current story online says Fiore was not available for comment.
 The story did not say who she slandered, but on Alan Stock’s KDWN radio program earlier this week she said she was being targeted by Monte Miller, a key GOP fundraiser, and two paid political consultants.
Doubtlessly this will fuel further talks of a nuclear option, in which RINO Republicans join with the 17-member Democratic minority in the Assembly to name someone other than Hambrick as speaker.
To flip a phrase from Will Rogers, I think these players can honestly all say they don’t belong to any organized political party, they are Republicans.

FIRE shines a light on Nevada universities

FIRE report

Of course, both Nevada major universities are on the naughty list.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education studied the policies at at 333 four-year public colleges and universities and at 104 private institutions to find which have the greatest and least freedom of speech and awarded each a red, yellow or green light: “A red light institution is one that has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech …”

Both UNLV and UNR made the red light list. They are in good company, because 55 percent of the institutes of higher indoctrination earned the red light designation.

UNLV, if you recall, is the place that tried to foist on its students and faculty a 14-page speech code a couple of years ago.

It sought to punish bias:

‘Bias Incidents’ refers to verbal, written, or physical acts of intimidation, coercion, interference, frivolous claims, discrimination, and sexual or other harassment motivated, in whole or in part, by bias based on actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color, religion, creed, sex (including gender identity or expression, or a pregnancy related condition), sexual orientation, national origin, military status or military obligations, disability (including veterans with service-connected disabilities), age, marital status, physical appearance, political affiliation, or on the basis of exercise of rights secured by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Got that? A bias incident includes replying to an exercise of rights secured by the Constitution.


Fondly remembering the late, great Bill of Rights

On this day in 1791 the Bill of Rights was ratified by three-fourths of the states, adding 10 amendments to  the new Constitution.

It has been downhill and out the door ever since.

They might more properly be called a Bill of Prohibitions, since they are not so much a delineation of rights as a list of things the federal government may not take away from individuals and the states and local governments.

Perhaps they should now be called the Bill of Vague Suggestions.

The First Amendment has been trampled repeatedly over the years as newspaper editors were locked up by Abraham Lincoln for questioning the Civil War — freedom of the press — and dissenters to the War to End All Wars were jailed by Woodrow Wilson — freedom of speech.

Freedom of religion is hardly extant when devoutly religious people must provide contraceptives in violation of their conscience.

Right to redress of grievances? You’ll be ignored, like the citizens of Nevada who voted 18 years ago to take over federal public land.

Free to assemble? Not if you wish to pass the hat and fund a political campaign without listing your home address to your government overlords.

Some may celebrate the Second Amendment today, but others have circulated a petition to require background checks before obtaining a firearm.

We celebrate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unlawful search and seizure, despite the Hiibel case in which Larry Hiibel was arrested for not giving his name to a Humboldt County deputy.

There’s the Fifth’s protection against taking of property except for public purposes? That was bounced by the Kelo decision that let government take property for private development.

As for the Sixth’s right to speedy and public trial? Forget it. No explanation needed.

The right to trial by jury according to the Seventh? Try that in traffic court, buddy.

No cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth’s prohibition. Lifetime sentences for possession of pot belie that one, as well as execution of American citizens by drones.

The Ninth’s and 10th’s guarantees that rights not delineated are prohibited to feds? Let’s see the states try to set the drinking age or voting age or speed limits.

There’s still the Third’s prohibition against housing troops in private homes.

Oops, that one went South when the Henderson cops commandeered two homes to use as staging posts during an hours-long standoff with a domestic violence suspect holed up in a nearby home.

The resulting lawsuit claims a “deprivation of rights, privileges, and immunities secured to Plaintiffs under the Third, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”

So far as I can find the case is either still pending or was quietly settled and ignored by the media.


‘Identity’ politics keeps raising its ugly head

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” — George Orwell

We just can’t seem to escape “identity” politics. It should be an oxymoron. Politics should be about ideas, not looking out for your kind, your group — whether gender, complexion of skin, social standing, youth, etc.

But no, it is the first rejoinder cast.

When the new Assembly Speaker-apparent John Hambrick summarily ousted Assemblywoman Michele Fiore and Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman from their posts as chair and vice chair of the Taxation Committee, respectively, the women promptly fired off a scathing email accusing Hambrick of engaging in a Republican war on women.

“It appears a few men in our party are not happy that we have Republican woman in key leadership roles in the legislature, and may look to Democrats for help in unraveling more leadership roles”, said Fiore.

“To replace the two women elected to the Taxation Committee with two men, sends a very dangerous message to Nevada women voters.  Women pay taxes too in Nevada,” Seaman added.

Hambrick — who gave no reason for the ouster — almost immediately reversed himself, again without explanation.

This broad brush (pun wasn’t intended but will stand, perhaps to my chagrin) painting of one group or other as victims is just as repugnant as showing favoritism. But we can’t seem to resist.

Who can forget Harry Reid’s exclamation:

“I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK. Do I need to say more?”

Blacks tend to vote Democratic, despite the fact minority economic well-being seems to suffer when the Democrat wins, even if that Democratic is half black.

We all are minorities of one. We are not lemmings. Are shouldn’t be.

Reason, logic and facts seem to go out the window when any demographic is singled out.

Apparently we can now add “identity” justice to “identity” politics.

Congressional staffers walked out onto the steps and raised their hands in that hands-up-don’t-shoot gesture, though a grand jury found that to be an utter fabrication.

Politics and justice should be based on facts and not us against them.

Ramirez cartoon

Speaking a couple of months ago at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual black tie dinner — which would exclude me right there — former President Bill Clinton said:

“I believe that in ways large and small, peaceful and sometimes violent, that the biggest threat to the future of our children and grandchildren is the poison of identity politics that preaches that our differences are far more important than our common humanity.”

He reminded in audience that “we’re 99 and a half percent the same.”

What is in our heads is far more important than the pigment of our skin or our biological plumbing.