All the news that’s fit to … not print?

On Friday afternoon the Review-Journal published online an article about a massive wind farm proposed for the Nevada-California border being rejected by the BLM.

The article has yet to appear in print. Not Saturday. Not Sunday.

Isn’t that something the Sun does all the time? Is the R-J becoming more like the Sun? Heaven forbid!

A sign marks the state border near where 220 wind turbines were proposed for construction. (R-J pix)

 

 

Sun takes cheap shot at owner of newspaper into which it is inserted

We do believe the Jewish owner of the Sun insert in the morning newspaper just called out the Jewish owner of that morning newspaper.

In an editorial about a spike in hate crimes for which it blames President Trump the Sun alleges:

For one, Trump’s Jewish financial backers must take responsibility for the president giving aid, comfort and recruiting material to white supremacists.

In backing Trump and his agenda, these donors are helping anti-Semitism thrive in America and putting Jews increasingly at risk by figuratively providing matches to light the torches of extremists.

Trump’s Jewish backers are engaging in self-interested, history-denying behavior — you’d have to imagine the NAACP funding the Ku Klux Klan to find something as perversely self-destructive.

The owner of the morning paper is the family of Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who have given $113 million to GOP causes this election year. Trump is giving Miriam the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Friday.

The Sun — which is owned by the family of Brian Greenspun, who is CEO, publisher and editor — editorially links Trump’s so-called embrace of nationalism with “white supremacy” and sees a causality link between that and a rise in hate crimes, especially anti-Semitic ones, such as the mass shooting at a synagogue in the Pittsburgh area.

It further pokes Adelson in the eye by saying, “Americans won’t stand for this corrosion of our values, as they showed during this year’s midterm referendum on Trump. That was particularly true in Nevada, where candidates who aligned themselves with Trump got destroyed in the balloting in favor of those calling for an end to the administration’s divisive politics.”

Adelson’s morning newspaper editorially endorsed virtually every one of those losing candidates and Adelson generously contributed to many of them.

The Sun is inserted into the morning paper under a joint operating agreement (JOA) that began in 1990 and runs through 2040. The Newspaper Preservation Act allows competing newspapers to skirt anti-trust law and combine operations if one of them is about to go out of business, which the Sun was at the time.

The Sun in the past has sued the morning paper disputing the amount of money it received under the agreement. That went to private arbitration. In January the Sun started charging for access to online content, saying it was no longer getting a share of profits from the JOA because there are no profits.

We wonder how much longer this pissing match can continue.

 

Time to end those NFL tax subsidies?

Nearly entire Raiders team sits for national anthem.

Before you poke someone in the eye, you should take your hand out of his pocket.

Michelle Malkin’s column posted at Townhall points out that those NFL players kneeling during the national anthem are doing so on turf paid for by taxpayers, not just ticket holders.

“Over the past decade, new tax-supported NFL stadiums rose up for the Indianapolis Colts (the $720 million Lucas Oil Stadium), the Dallas Cowboys (the $1.15 billion AT&T Stadium) the New York Jets and Giants (the $1.6 billion MetLife Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings (the $1.1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium), the Atlanta Falcons (the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium), and the San Francisco 49ers (the $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara),” Malkin notes.

She also reports that there soon will be a $2.6 billion stadium for the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams, as well as a $1.9 billion stadium for the Oakland Raiders when they move to Las Vegas. Though she neglects to point out that $750 million of that Raider stadium will be covered by room taxes, she does note that there is an $83 million taxpayer debt on two-decade-old renovations to the Alameda County Coliseum that the Raiders are abandoning.

Malkin also noted that a majority of economists say providing state and local subsidies to build stadiums for professional sports teams usually costs taxpayers more than any economic benefits.

So team players and owners are sticking it to taxpayers figuratively and literally.

If you just can’t wait till Thursday’s newspaper for Wayne Allyn Root’s predictable pro-Trump screed on this topic, it is already posted at Townhall. He argues that the NFL is committing economic suicide.

“It’s time for a nationwide boycott,” Root cheer leads. “It’s time for 63 million Trump fans to stop watching. Turn off NFL games on your TV for the next month. Watch the owners cry. Watch them panic. Watch them beg. Watch them order an end to all kneeling or disrespect for the national anthem. Watch them sing a whole new tune.”

He, too, gets around the taxpayer aspect and suggests that people call their governors and demand an end to all subsidies for the NFL.

Brent Bozell, also posted at Townhall, points out the liberal media jumped all over Trump’s tweets about the anthem kneeling equating them to racism and censorship, spurring “cowardly NFL teams” up the ante on Sunday with bigger displays of disrespect.

“The liberal media are shameless hypocrites when they polarize the country and then complain the country is polarized,” Bozell writes. “They have honored (Colin) Kaepernick as some kind of ‘star-spangled’ patriot and pushed his radical racial agenda. They have pressured the NFL and every other televised sports league to take liberal stands on everything from race to gun control to imposing transgender bathrooms.”

Local newspaper columnist Victor Joecks also weighed in on the NFL tax subsidy boondoggle today.

He noted how Gov. Brian Sandoval boasted that the Raider stadium would be a boon to the state’s economy. There were projections that the stadium would produce almost 6,000 annual jobs, total wages of $230 million and an increase of 1 million visitors annually.

“By putting taxpayers on the hook for a significant portion of the stadium’s cost, Raiders’ owner Mark Davis reduced his risk and directly benefits from a $750 million subsidy.  That makes sense for him. It never made financial sense for you,” Joecks writes. “The NFL protests are just another reminder of why government shouldn’t pick winners and losers in the economy.”

 

 

 

Editorial: Lawmakers should repeal football stadium funding

Lawmakers were summoned this past fall to Carson City and asked to pitch in $750 million toward financing a $1.9 billion domed football stadium that would house the Oakland Raiders and the UNLV football program.

The Raiders and the NFL would add $500 million to the pot and Las Vegas casino and newspaper owner Sheldon Adelson’s family would tip in another $650 million.

Since then Adelson has walked away from the deal, taking his money. He was miffed at the fact the Raiders’ owner never told him before hand about a proposed lease agreement with the stadium authority that legislators created to handle the “publicly owned” stadium.

The lease proposal envisions the Raiders paying $1 a year in rent, and the team owners pocketing all revenue from tickets, events, naming rights, etc., as well as having total control over the use of the stadium by UNLV and the Las Vegas Bowl.

“In addition to being discouraged by the surprise submission, I was deeply disappointed for the disregard the Raiders showed our community partners, particularly UNLV, through the proposed agreement,” Adelson said in a statement given to his Las Vegas newspaper. “It was certainly shocking to the Adelson family,” the statement also said. “We were not only excluded from the proposed agreement; we weren’t even aware of its existence. … It’s clear the Raiders have decided their path for moving to Las Vegas does not include the Adelson family. So, regrettably, we will no longer be involved in any facet of the stadium discussion.”

It is high time lawmakers, now meeting in regular session, reconsider the state’s commitment of room tax money to this harebrained, half-baked scheme to enrich billionaires.

Instead of sticking tourists with a 0.88 percent hike in the room tax, lawmakers should let them keep that money to spend on food, drink and gambling, which net nearly 10 times as much in tax revenue.

Sam Boyd, where there are more people on the field than in the stands.

Sam Boyd, where there are more people on the field than in the stands.

Now, we are reticent to suggest that the proponents of this stadium deal are so Machiavellian as to have plotted this from the start, but …

Lawmakers should note that there is no stadium price tag in the bill they passed, and the stadium backers flatly refused to consider capping public funding at 39 percent of the cost of construction. It was $750 million or no deal. The cost of the stadium when first proposed was a mere $1 billion. It ratcheted up from there. What is to stop the Raiders from building a $1 billion stadium, tapping the taxpayers for three-quarters of the tab and getting the state to make the estimated $900 million in road improvements needed to access the stadium?

Besides, does UNLV really need a new football stadium, when it can’t fill the one it has? One that has adequate traffic access off a major freeway and abundant parking. Why is there a need for a stadium on or near the campus, when 93 percent of students live off campus? And never mind the problems it might create for air traffic into McCarran International Airport.

A stadium is a liability, not an asset. It is an insatiable maw that swallows tax money in perpetuity.

The Kingdome in Seattle was repaired in 1994, costing more than $50 million in 20-year bonds, which were paid off in 2015. The stadium was imploded in 2000.

Renovate Sam Boyd Stadium if that is needed and forget this domed stadium boondoggle. If Adelson can take a hike, so can the state.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Newspaper column: Lawmakers hand out unconstitutional corporate gift to another billionaire

Gov. Brian Sandoval signs a bill giving public tax money to build a football stadium. (AP photo by John Locher)

Gov. Brian Sandoval signs a bill giving public tax money to build a football stadium. (AP photo by John Locher)

Meeting in special session in Carson City this past week Nevada lawmakers opened the windows and threw caution and tax money to the wind, voting to raise the room tax rate in much of Clark County by 0.88 of a percentage point in order to contribute $750 million toward construction of a 65,000-seat domed football stadium estimated to cost $1.9 billion.

The measure, Senate Bill 1, passed by the constitutionally mandated two-thirds majority in both the Senate and Assembly – 16-5 in the Senate and 28-13 in the Assembly.

The stadium is being pushed by billionaire casino and newspaper owner Sheldon Adelson who promises to shell out $650 million from his rather deep pockets to pay for construction. The National Football League and the Oakland Raiders are supposed to contribute $500 million toward construction. The $750 million public sop is the largest ever by any public entity for a sports facility in this country.

All profits from stadium operations accrue strictly to the private investors.

At one point during the Assembly hearings, Assemblyman Ira Hansen of Sparks asked what happens if the stadium comes in under the $1.9 billion estimate. Would the taxpayers still be on the hook for the full $750 million?

Steve Hill of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, which had touted the project, replied: “Technically that’s correct.”

Before Hill could elaborate, Hansen cut him off with a terse: “Thank you.”

So, if the project comes in closer to the original estimate of $1 billion, the taxpayers will pick up 75 percent of the cost and the billionaires keep their money.

One of those testifying against the public spending for a football stadium for the Raiders was former Las Vegas City Councilman Frank Hawkins, who noted that he played seven seasons for the Raiders, including winning a Super Bowl. Hawkins said billionaires don’t need the public tax money to fund 40 percent of their stadium. He also noted that Raiders owner Mark Davis had called to try to change his mind by agreeing to no television blackouts locally for games that are not sellouts.

SB1 creates a stadium authority to build and operate the stadium, exempts the authority from any legal requirements for competitive bidding and makes just about every financial deal cut by the authority exempt from public records laws.

The bill says “the Stadium Authority shall keep confidential any record or other document provided to the Stadium Authority by a developer partner, the National Football League team or the Stadium Events Company,” if asked to do so. The public will be kept in the dark about whether their “public” stadium is providing valuable public assets to a favored few at below market value.

The Legislature certainly has the power to create exemptions to existing laws.

What it does not have is the power to create exemptions to the state Constitution. That document has a Gift Clause, which states, “The State shall not donate or loan money, or its credit, subscribe to or be, interested in the Stock of any company, association, or corporation, except corporations formed for educational or charitable purposes.”

Self-styled economic development advocates have tried three times to amend the Constitution and remove the Gift Clause. The voters rejected those attempts all three times — in 1992, 1996 and again in 2000 by wide majorities.

The state Supreme Court has said that when the state provides something to a private entity without getting adequate compensation for the value, that is a gift and thus a violation of the Constitution.

Nevada’s high court has cited an Arizona Supreme Court ruling on that state’s nearly identical Gift Clause. The Arizona court said its Gift Clause “represents the reaction of public opinion to the orgies of extravagant dissipation of public funds by counties, townships, cities, and towns in aid of the construction of railways, canals, and other like undertakings during the half century preceding 1880, and it was designed primarily to prevent the use of public funds raised by general taxation in aid of enterprises apparently devoted to quasi public purposes, but actually engaged in private business.”

Professional football hardly qualifies as even a quasi public purpose unless you include “bread and circuses.”

This was the third special session in as many years. The previous two handed out billions in tax breaks and abatements to the billionaire owners of electric car companies Tesla and Faraday Future.

Perhaps some public spirited group will ask the courts to take a look at this latest generous gift and determine whether it truly is for a public purpose.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Update: Space was insufficient to provide this quote from a Nebraska court ruling:

“Every new business, manufacturing plant, or industrial plant which may be established in a municipality will be of some benefit to the municipality. A new super market, a new department store, a new meat market, a steel mill, a crate manufacturing plant, a pulp mill, or other establishments which could be named without end, may be of material benefit to the growth, progress, development and prosperity of a municipality. But these considerations do not make the acquisition of land and the erection of buildings, for such purposes, a municipal purpose. Our organic law prohibits the expenditure of public money for a private purpose. It does not matter whether the money is derived by ad valorem taxes, by gift, or otherwise. It is public money and under our organic law public money cannot be appropriated for a private purpose or used for the purpose of acquiring property for the benefit of a private concern. It does not matter what such undertakings may be called or how worthwhile they may appear to be at the passing moment. The financing of private enterprises by means of public funds is entirely foreign to a proper concept of our constitutional system. Experience has shown that such encroachments will lead inevitably to the ultimate destruction of the private enterprise system.”

This and the Arizona court ruling were cited by the the Nevada Policy Research Institute’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation in its case against the Governor’s Office of Economic Development for handing out state gifts to companies such as SolarCity.

 

Newspaper column: Lawmakers should punt on stadium funding plan

Gov. Brian Sandoval is calling the Legislature into special session in October to consider raising the room tax on Las Vegas tourists by almost 1 percentage point to put $750 million toward a $1.9 billion domed football stadium for the Oakland Raiders and the UNLV football team.

So, why should anyone other than those tourists who will be shelling out a couple bucks more a night even care? It’s other people’s money not ours.

But as Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas Sands hotel-casino magnate who is pushing the stadium plan, is fond of saying: Money is fungible.

If state lawmakers approve the outlay, that will be $750 million — $268 for every man, woman and child in the state — not being spent on education, on roads, on other public services. Additionally, every dollar spent for tickets to events in the proposed stadium is a dollar that would have been spent buying goods, or at the gaming tables or in restaurants and bars — all of which are taxed.

The Adelson family reportedly plans to put up $650 million of their own money, while the Raiders and the NFL would chip in $500 million, but taxes would provide the most.

According to a 2014 economic impact study for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, $140 million of Clark County’s room tax went into the statewide distributive school account, $130 million for parks, recreation and transportation and nearly $80 million to Clark County schools. None of that additional $750 million in tax revenue would be available for those purposes.

Since the proposed stadium would be publicly owned, presumably it would pay no property taxes, which fund the state budget.

Speaking of fungible, in January the stadium was estimated to cost $1 billion, but grew to $1.2 billion in February with the taxpayer picking up 65 percent of the tab and the Sands 35 percent. By June the price tag had grown to $1.4 billion with the public chipping in $500 million, the Sands $400 million and the NFL and Raiders the rest.

Today the cost has ballooned to $1.9 billion with taxes covering 40 percent and the Sands 34 percent.

Does anyone think that if the stadium comes in under budget, at say $1.2 billion, that the developers will say: Never mind, taxpayers, we don’t need your money after all?

The more you tax something the less you get of it. Raising the room tax for that stadium plus another half cent or so to expand the Las Vegas convention center would make the city room tax the highest in the nation. Visitors might choose to dispose of their disposable income where it goes a bit further.

In a statement announcing his plans to call the special legislative session to consider funding the stadium, convention center expansion and more Las Vegas police officers, Gov. Sandoval pontificated, “We have before us the opportunity to invest in Nevada’s most foundational industry, tourism, by providing for the infrastructure and public safety needs of the 21st century. We can and must usher in a new era for tourism in the Las Vegas market …”

But economists have been telling us for years that stadiums are more of a drain on an economy than an investment. Most of the jobs created by stadiums are part-time and minimum wage.

In his book “Field of Schemes,” author Neil deMause estimates that sports stadiums and arenas drain $2 billion a year from public treasuries to provide profits for millionaire team owners.

Sandoval decided to call the special session after receiving a recommendation from the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee.

“I have thoroughly reviewed the committee’s documents and I am comfortable with the recommendations related to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority expansion, additional support for law enforcement, and the development of a county-owned stadium that could host a National Football League franchise and be the home of University of Nevada, Las Vegas football,” Sandoval stated.

This will be Sandoval’s third special session, the other two provided billions in tax breaks for electric car makers Tesla Motors and Faraday Future — neither of which has yet proven to be worthwhile. Sandoval keeps throwing tax money at billionaires.

No one has said how much UNLV will be charged to play at this “publicly owned” stadium.

Any tax increase will require a two-thirds majority of lawmakers statewide for passage — 14 in the Senate and 28 in the Assembly. This should be a referendum, just weeks before the election, on who represents the people and who is obliged to power brokers.

 A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.
Rendering of proposed stadium.

Rendering of proposed stadium.

Update: Stadium opponents spell out reasons why it is a bad deal.

State senator wants to rename airport for Harry Reid

McCarran Interrational (R-J photo by Jeff Scheid)

Democratic state Sen. Tick Segerblom’s proposal to rename McCarran International Airport after Sen. Harry Reid smacks of a pot calling the kettle black mentality.

According to KTNV-TV, Channel 13, Segerblom plans to ask lawmakers in the next legislative session in 2017 to make the change, even though the naming of the airport is probably up to the Clark County Commission instead of lawmakers. The airport is named for longtime Democratic Nevada U.S. Sen. Pat McCarran, who was ardent anti-Communist after World War II in the same vein as the now much reviled Joe McCarthy.

“I think people it may take a few years to adjust, but we don’t want our town and our major airport named after somebody who’s history is just so repulsive,” the television station quotes Segerblom as saying.

In fact, Reid himself has been railing against having anything named after McCarran for years. In 2012 he called for the airport to be renamed.

“Pat McCarran was one of the most anti-Semitic … one of the most anti-black, one of the most prejudiced people ever to serve in the Senate,” Reid was quoted by the Las  Vegas newspaper as saying. “It’s not a decision I am going to make, but you asked me to give you my opinion. I don’t think his name should be on anything.”

County commissioners at the time balked at the idea of a name change — though they were contemplating changing the name to Las Vegas International — due to the millions of dollars it would cost to make the change in signs and literature and online, etc.

Reid has also called for removing the statue of McCarran from the U.S. Capitol.

Segerblom told the TV station, “As Democrats, we owe it to our state to acknowledge what he’s done for us. He’s preserved more land as far as federal protections, he’s brought the solar industry through, he has put us on the map, nationally and internationally, and so I think it’s important to recognize that.”

He took federal land out of economically productive use and jacked up all our power bills by demanding coal-fired power plants be replaced with expensive and expansive swaths of solar panels. I thought Bugsy Siegel and Moe Dalitz put Nevada on the map.

Bugsy Siegel International sort of has ring to it.

Harry Reid is a self-serving gaffe machine. He rants against free speech. He has made himself a multimillionaire while in public office. He has improperly interceded on behalf his family and friends. He already has an empty research park named for him. Peter Schweizer’s book, “Extortion,” contains a whole chapter on Reid.

Reid called for removal of McCarran statue.