Raiders’ deal gives new meaning to the term Black Hole

They apparently call the section of the stadium taken over by the most ardent, raucous, symbol bedecked and loudest fans of the Oakland Raiders the Black Hole.

On Monday the NFL owners voted to allow the Raiders to move to Las Vegas, opening just a bit wider the chasm that will become a black hole into which Nevada taxpayers money will be endless, relentlessly sucked.

That $750 million in Clark County room tax money is just the first of the piles of tax money that will be swallowed by the supposedly $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed (doomed?) stadium that someday might house the Raiders and possibly UNLV football.

Artist depiction of a black hole (NASA)

Remember, the Nevada Department of Transportation estimates it will take $900 million to improve the roads to access the most likely stadium site. Don’t think for a minute that the billionaire Raiders owners are going to pay for that.

In any other development the developers pay for the roads. You see all those sawtooth roads around the valley — ones that switch back and forth from two lanes to four lanes? That is because first builders in the rural areas were only required to pay for two-lane roads, while later builders were asked to pay for wider roads. Who do you think paid for the parkway that provides access to Howard Hughes’ Summerlin development?

Then there will be demands for upgrades, just like at every other NFL stadium in the history of the world, fleecing the taxpayers for billions.

As for economic improvement, most workers will be minimum wage and part-time, adding more to the welfare rolls than lifting people off.

When billionaire hotel, casino and newspaper owner Sheldon Adelson floated the idea of building a $1 billion stadium for the Raiders, I thought it would be like any other hotel amenity — just something to attract a few more suckers to the gambling tables and into the beds. But somehow Adelson wriggled out of his supposed $650 million commitment, though the stadium project lives, meaning he gets the amenity without footing the bill.

And who is to say it will ever cost $1.9 billion to which the price tag is said to have grown? Perhaps it can be built for less and stick the taxpayer with the bulk of the cost.

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

Black hole indeed.

The Black Hole

Bill would start compulsory education at the age of 5

It is one thing to throw other people’s money at a feel-good, but senseless and futile gesture. It is entirely another to spend money on something that may actually do more harm than good.

North Las Vegas Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz has introduced a bill that would lower the mandatory school age from 7 to 5 and require schools to create prekindergarten education programs for children as young as 4. It is Assembly Bill 186. The fiscal note says this will cost $352 million in the next biennium and $420 million over the next two years.

Diaz claims this will benefit children.

But the federal Head Start program has been around since 1965 and costs $8 billion a year and continues, despite the fact a massive federal study found it has no lasting educational impact.

“In summary, there were initial positive impacts from having access to Head Start, but by the end of 3rd grade there were very few impacts found for either cohort in any of the four domains of cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting practices. The few impacts that were found did not show a clear pattern of favorable or unfavorable impacts for children,” reported the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in 2012.

Worse, a study by Stanford and Berkeley universities in 2005 found that early education programs can be harmful. “The biggest eye-opener is that the suppression of social and emotional development, stemming from long hours in preschool, is felt most strongly by children from better-off families,” said UC Berkeley sociologist and co-author Bruce Fuller in a press release.

The study found that the earlier a child enters a preschool center, the slower his or her pace of social development. It also noted that prekindergarten education actually “hinders social development and created poor social behavior, such as bullying and aggression, and a lack of motivation to take part in classroom activities.”

Some things look like a good idea but don’t turn out to be so.

We may also recall that the Nevada since 1990 has spent close to $2.5 billion on class-size reduction in the early grades with nothing to show for it. A 2001 report by the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau found that achievement data did not produce results. Students in larger classes outperformed those in the smaller classes.

Over the past four decades, according to a Cato Institute analysis, Nevada has increased K-12 public school funding by 80 percent per pupil, adjusted for inflation. During those four decades student test scores have actually fallen slightly.

A number of people testifying against AB186 Wednesday afternoon suggested the state is taking away too many parental rights.

 

 

 

Congress should slow the slide down ObamaCare’s slippery slope

Darn you, Charles Krauthammer. Why do you have to write what I was going to write just before I write and say it so much better than I ever would?

Take the lede on today’s column in the local newspaper, which is actually his Friday column in the Washington Post:

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, but for governments it’s not that easy. Once something is given — say, health insurance coverage to 20 million Americans — you take it away at your peril. This is true for any government benefit, but especially for health care. There’s a reason not one Western democracy with some system of national health care has ever abolished it.

I’ve already protested that RyanCare contains too many of the market manipulating machinations of ObamaCare, lamented the efforts to make sure no one ever has any handout taken away.

But I’m getting hoarse from screaming at the TV and printed page over the reporting that millions will “lose” health insurance cover, when in reality many of those millions will be gladly “throwing” away that pathetic and nearly useless coverage due to sky high deductibles. (Never mind that the CBO estimates of the uninsured under RyanCare are probably just as inflated as its estimate of the newly insured under ObamaCare.) And just what were those able-bodied millions added to Medicaid doing before the Democrats charity?

But, as the astute Krauthammer notes:

There is no free lunch. GOP hard-liners must accept that Americans have become accustomed to some new health-care benefits, just as moderates have to brace themselves for stories about the inevitable losers in any reform. That’s the political price for fulfilling the seven-year promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare.

Retrenching is better than leaving ObamaCare in place and letting it evolve in the single payer system Obama and Harry Reid wanted to begin with.

Reid, asked on public radio a couple of years ago if the country will eventually work beyond private health insurance, Reid enthusiastically replied, “Yes. Absolutely, yes.”

He was later quoted by the Las Vegas Sun insert in a rare local article: “What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever. We had a real good run at the public option … don’t think we didn’t have a tremendous number of people who wanted a single-payer system,” but he could not get enough votes back then.

As Krauthammer points out, once that happens there will be no going back: “There’s a reason not one Western democracy with some system of national health care has ever abolished it.”

Nate Beeler, The Washington Examiner

A bill making libraries gun-free zones is a superfluous exercise

So, what is the point of this bill?

Now that the video has been posted from Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, we learn that Senate Bill 115 — which purportedly would add public libraries to the legislatively mandated gun-free zones — can be whisked away by a simple vote of any library district board.

The Legislative Counsel Bureau’s digest of the bill states: “This bill additionally prohibits a person from carrying or possessing certain weapons while on the property of a public library unless the person has written permission from the governing board of the public library to carry or possess the weapon.”

The bill amends current law which creates gun-free zones on the parking lots and in the buildings of universities, public and private schools and child care facilities by adding public libraries.

According to the LCB attorney present at the meeting, “written permission” need not be for every individual seeking to bring their weapons onto library grounds and into library buildings, but can be a sweeping policy to allow any any patron to openly or concealed carry.

As is pointed out in this week’s newspaper column, the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District already prohibits weapons in library buildings, and presumably any library district could do so as well, making SB115 a superfluous exercise in hoplophobia by nanny state lawmakers. One person joked that Eureka could allow patrons to bring their shotguns.

We still think someone should a amend the bill to add language from Assemblyman John Hambrick’s unsuccessful 2015 legislation that  would have allowed guns in vehicles at the aforementioned locales so long as the vehicle was locked or occupied.

 

Newspaper column: Lawmakers should narrow, not expand gun-free zones

Lawmakers in Carson City continue to exhibit rabid hoplophobia — fear of guns. A bill has been introduced to further extend gun-free zones to public libraries and their parking lots. Senate Bill 115, introduced by state Sen. Mo Denis of Las Vegas, would add public libraries to the current law, which already prohibits guns and other weapons in the buildings and parking lots of universities, public and private schools and childcare facilities. Now, we have no problem with the private owners of land and buildings demanding that visitors come unarmed, and the state is surely the owner or custodian of universities and public schools. Though why lawmakers should be allowed to dictate to private schools and private childcare facilities is beyond us.

Additionally, this bill is a pointless endeavor that does nothing but add needless paperwork and wastes time, because every library district in the state has the power to control its own grounds and facilities. The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District already has a policy barring arms inside buildings and has guards who check to make sure that the holster on your belt holds a cellphone and not a handgun.

This law would require someone to get written permission to bring his or her weapon onto a library parking lot or into a library building.

During a recent committee meeting on the bill, Republican state Sen. Michael Roberson of Las Vegas, said, “I’m concerned that if these libraries don’t have adequate security that what we’re doing is we’re telling the public that we’re creating gun-free zones. And those here that want this bill can disagree with me but there have been studies that show gun-free zones are a magnet for criminal activity and mass shooters.”

He said the bill undermines law abiding Nevadans and actually endangers the public.

Republican state Sen. Don Gustavson — who represents all of Esmeralda, Humboldt, Lander, Mineral, Pershing and parts of Nye and Washoe counties — echoed Roberson’s concerns about creating gun-free zones. He asked rhetorically whether one would have a quicker response by pulling out a cellphone and calling 9-1-1 or pulling out a weapon. He said many in his district carry concealed weapons wherever they go.

According to the Nevada Firearms Coalition, since about 1950, more than 95 percent of all mass shootings in America have taken place where law-abiding citizens are banned from carrying guns.

Most puzzling is why it is a crime to have a gun in your car in the parking lot of these facilities. In fact, in the 2015 legislative session Assemblyman John Hambrick introduced a bill that would have allowed guns in vehicles at the aforementioned locales. A hearing on the bill was packed with proponents and opponents. A digest of the bill stated it would add an exception to the law so that a person would not be prohibited from possessing a weapon on those specific grounds if it were inside a locked or occupied motor vehicle. Seemed like a common sense approach, but it never got out of committee.

So people who are accustomed to keeping a pistol in the glove compartment or a rifle in a gun rack or the trunk are breaking the law if they drop their children off on school or daycare parking lots or visit a college campus. Now this bill would add public libraries, even if one is dropping a book at an outside collection box. Having a gun in the parking lot is not as good as having one on your person if the need arises. Just ask the vice principal of the Pearl, Miss., school who had to run a quarter mile to his vehicle to retrieve a gun to stop a shooter.

In October of 1997 a young man showed up on a school campus carrying a .30-30 rifle. He fatally shot two students. At the sound of gunshots, the vice principal ran a quarter of a mile to his truck, because the school was declared by law to be a gun-free zone, to recover and load his pistol before returning to campus, where he captured and disarmed the gunman and held him for four minutes until police could arrive. This could be an opportunity for an enterprising lawmaker to show some common sense for a change. Amend SB115 by adding the parking lot exception offered by Hambrick two years ago. That would not go far enough but would be a move in the right direction. Also, let library districts set their own policies.

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.

A little sunshine would do the Legislature good

Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

According to the morning paper, the lawyers for lawmakers in Carson City are telling those lawmakers what laws they can make and not make.

Democratic state Sen. Tick Segerblom of Las Vegas tells the paper he asked to have a bill drafted this session that would have made legislators’ emails and calendars public records and thus subject to perusal by the public. He said the Legislative Counsel Bureau told him it could not be done.

 

A time traveling reporter quotes a March 2018 memo as saying lawmakers and their staffs do not fall within the definition of “governmental entity” in the Public Records Law. Pay no attention to the fact that lawmakers wrote the Public Records Law and conceivably may rewrite that law and change the definition of “governmental entity.”

The LCB also was quoted as saying that putting lawmakers under the preview of the Public Records Law would “conflict and interfere with the constitutional doctrines of separation of powers and legislative privilege and immunity.” Such doctrines may be widely embraced but they are not spelled out in the state Constitution, except that lawmakers may not be arrested during a session.

Finally, the memo eventually will say lawmakers’ emails and calendars “do not come within the ordinary definition of ‘public books and public records’ as those terms are used in the Public Records Law.” See above: Lawmakers can change the definition in the law.

But, according the morning paper, the American Civil Liberties Union will plow ahead anyway and try to amend a bill already pending by adding language similar that Segerblom had proposed.

 

The chances of lawmakers voting to expose their own backroom dealmaking and horse trading is slim to none, but it is good to see someone trying to shine a little sunshine into the dark recesses of the Legislature.

Legislative building in Carson City

 

Newspaper has a couple of takes on lawmakers practicing medicine without a license … or a clue

This is one of those days when I really wish the morning newspaper still allowed online comments about its stories and columns. The interplay of comments could be quite interesting and probably quite heated — picture heads exploding.

On the cover of the Nevada section today there is a story about a state senator introducing a bill that would ban psychotherapists from providing sexual orientation or gender identity conversion therapy for people under the age of 18. (Is that practicing medicine without a license, Mr. Legislator?)

“Senate Bill 201, sponsored by state Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, and a host of other lawmakers, would ban the practice, which has been denounced by major medical groups and condemned by critics as leading to anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide among LGBT young people exposed to it,” the news story relates, without noting that Parks has been described as the state’s first openly gay lawmaker. Nowhere in the article were Parks’ “scientific” contentions challenged, though opposition for various reasons — such as parental and religious rights — was reported. The word “cure” in the headline is in quotes.

(For the record, SB201 specifically states: “A psychotherapist shall not provide any sexual orientation or gender identity conversion therapy to a person who is under 18 years of age regardless of the willingness of the person or his or her parent or legal guardian to authorize such therapy.”)

Then a couple pages later there is a column by Victor Joecks basically calling the fundamental premise of the bill pure quackery.

Joecks somehow managed to uncover some evidence contrary to the presumptions underlying the bill:

The science, however, isn’t what proponents assert, and looking at the evidence undercuts the bill’s rationale. In a review of almost 200 scientific papers published in The New Atlantis Journal in Fall 2016, Dr. Paul McHugh, a professor from Johns Hopkins University, and Dr. Lawrence Mayer, a scholar in residence at Johns Hopkins University, found that scientific evidence doesn’t show sexual orientation and gender identity are immovable.

“The understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings — the idea that people are ‘born that way’ — is not supported by scientific evidence,” they write. “The hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex — that a person might be ‘a man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’ — is not supported by scientific evidence.”

McHugh and Mayer find that 80 to 95 percent of youths who have transgendered feelings “abandon them as they mature.”

SB201 would prevent counselors and therapists from helping these youths in any way process and navigate their changing feelings about sexual orientation or gender identity — even if the child is desperate for professional help.

Perhaps someone should recommend to the sponsors of the bill psychotherapy for delusions of grandeur and infallibility?

It is one thing to argue that such therapy is ineffective or even damaging and possibly futile but to deny people the right to try something “regardless of the willingness of the person or his or her parent or legal guardian” is the height of arrogance and presumptiveness. This gives new meaning to the term nanny state.