Newspaper column: Jobs and wildlife can coexist

In 2015 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that years of science-based protections by federal and state land use plans had substantially reduced risks to more than 90 percent of the greater sage grouse’s breeding habitats across its 173 million-acre range.

Thus, its extinction no longer imminent, the breed was removed as a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Despite this finding the Obama administration unilaterally instituted draconian land use restrictions across 10 Western states intended to prevent any presence of the non-native, invasive species known as mankind.

But the Interior Department under Montanan Ryan Zinke is displaying an uncommon outbreak of common sense.

Just this past week the Bureau of Land Management canceled Obama’s prohibition of mining on 10 million acres of federal lands across six Western states, including Nevada. The BLM also announced plans to invite public comments on reworking land use plans that a Nevada federal judge had determined were illegal.

Greater sage grouse (BLM pix)

In a press release the BLM reported the withdrawal of 10 million acres was unreasonable, because mining affected less than 0.1 percent of sage grouse range.

“The proposal to withdraw 10 million acres to prevent 10,000 from potential mineral development was a complete overreach,” said acting BLM Director Mike Nedd. “Secretary Zinke has said from the beginning that by working closely with the states, who are on the front lines and a valued partner in protecting the health of these lands, we can be successful in conserving greater sage grouse habitat without stifling economic development and job growth. And that’s what we intend to do — protect important habitat while also being a good neighbor to states and local communities.”

The 10 million acres had been off-limits to mining for two years, but that restriction expired Sept. 24.

Gov. Brian Sandoval issued a statement saying, “I support Secretary Zinke’s action to cancel this withdrawal and terminate the environmental analysis associated with it. Mining has not been identified as a widespread significant threat to the sage-grouse and I appreciate the Department of Interior recognizing the overreach of this action, which had such significant economic impact on our state mining and exploration industries.”

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt said of the BLM’s decision, “I am gratified that the BLM has accepted our basic argument, which is that we can balance conservation of the sage grouse without injuring the economic lifeblood of Nevada’s local communities. In our suit, we consistently urged that the BLM failed to properly take into account Governor Sandoval’s well-supported and convincing comments about the many shortcomings of the 2015 plan.”

On March 31 in a suit brought by the state of Nevada, nine counties, several mining companies and a ranch, Nevada federal Judge Miranda Du ruled Interior land agencies erred in preparing environmental impact statements for 2.8 million acres of land primarily in Eureka and Humboldt counties and must prepare a supplemental statement.

BLM’s Nedd said of the decision to rework the environmental impact statement, “The BLM is committed to being a good neighbor and cooperating with its partners at all levels of government, including states, as well as tribal leaders, industry and conservation groups, ranchers, and other stakeholders throughout the amendment process. During this process, we are particularly interested in hearing from the many governors whose states put hard work and time into collaborative efforts to develop the existing plans. We welcome their input.”

Sandoval has complained in the past about Nevada’s input on sage grouse protection being ignored.

Nevada Mining Association President Dana Bennett was quoted as saying of the BLM change of direction, “A wholesale land withdrawal that encompassed 20 times more land than all mining activity combined did little to address the risk of fire and invasive species that threaten the species and its habitat.”

Of course the usual environmentalist reaction was one of doom and gloom. “This move shows Zinke’s total contempt for imperiled species and the places they need to live,” said Randi Spivak, public lands director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Zinke might as well form a shotgun posse to kill off these animals directly. The Trump administration is perfectly willing to wipe out sage grouse, and a host of other species, to reward its industry friends.”

Interior’s own draft environmental impact statement estimated its grouse restrictions in Nevada alone would reduce employment by 739 jobs every year for the next 20 years.

Jobs and wildlife can coexist when just a little common sense is applied.

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.

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A whole new perspective on driver’s license expiration date

Waiting at the DMV

Everything in the grocery store has a shelf-life, sell-by or, worst of all, expiration date.

Now, I know how that feels. I recently renewed my driver’s license. Nevada is transitioning to driver’s licenses that are good for eight years instead of four, but not for those over the age of 65. We can only get licenses good for four years. Do they think we might expire before eight years? Become too infirm or decrepit to handle a couple of tons of steel at 80 mph on the freeway?

Sounds like age discrimination.

Real ID

I’ll have you know that I can still take to the road and maneuver as well as any well coordinated, rapid-reflex whippersnapper — so long as I have the appropriate cushions and pillows and lidocaine patches to relieve the arthritis. Yes, there are 100,000 miles on the odometer and far more on the driver of the SUV with the vanity plate “4TH ST8,” which is a reference to Edmund Burke’s description of the press gallery in Parliament in 1787 as the Fourth Estate. The other estates of Parliament were the royalty and the church and the commoners. And no I wasn’t there to report on it.

 

At least the DMV offers a senior discount. During the transition those born in even-numbered years receive an eight-year license upon renewal, which must be in person at a DMV office. The fee is $42.25. Those born in odd-numbered years receive a four-year license and may renew by internet, mail or kiosk. The fee is $23.25.

Standard license

In 2018 everyone except the geezers receive eight-year licenses upon renewal. At least the fee for those in their dotage is only $18.25, though it is only for those four precious years.

At least these days you don’t have to spend a large portion of those four years waiting in line at the DMV. You can make an appointment on your computer. The DMV gives you options for appointment times in a couple of days.

You can also opt for a standard license or the Real ID, which you will need to board an aircraft after Oct. 1, 2020. To get the Real ID you need to bring one document for proof of identity, such as birth certificate or passport, one document for proof of Social Security number (I still carry the card I got at age 16 so I could work in the oil fields, the one that says, “For Social Security and tax purposed — not for identification.” That disclaimer was removed in 1972.), two documents to prove your Nevada residential address, such as utility bills, and a completed driver’s license application form.

Once you’ve made the appointment you get text reminders on your cell phone.

So, I made an appointment and dutifully drove to a DMV office and arrived at the appointed hour, only to realize I had left all the documents required for the Real ID on my desk at home. Did I mention something about dotage? I canceled that appointment via cell phone, drove home and made another appointment for the next week.

With documents in hand, I arrived 15 minutes before the next duly appointed hour and stood in line at the appointment desk for an exhausting three minutes. All signed in, I sat in the gymnasium-sized waiting room until the last four digits of my cell phone were called almost precisely at the appointed hour.

An efficient young lady made copies of all the paperwork entered data in her computer terminal and efficiently administered the vision test — at least after I explained to her that I was bionic. The cataract surgeon had replaced my original lens with ones in which the right eye handles distance and the left one close items. “Monovision,” she said, and adjusted the device accordingly.

I was then directed to the photograph section where there was one person in line ahead of me. Photo taken, current license perforated to make it invalid and handed an 8-by-10 sheet of paper to stuff into my already overstuffed wallet — one tends to collect stuff to stuff in one’s wallet over the years — as a temporary license until the new one arrived in the mail about a week later. I was out of there in less than half an hour with my four-year license.

There is something about the whole thing that gives added and ominous meaning to the term expiration date.

Shutterstock

 

 

 

Newspaper column: Nevada’s rural congressmen chip away at federal lands

The Virgin River

Nevada’s congressional representatives who represent the state’s rural communities continue to chip away at the massive federal public lands under the control of various federal agencies in an effort to aid economic development and recreational opportunities.

Both managed to get bills passed out of the House this past week.

Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy of Mesquite saw the House pass his Eastern Nevada Implementation Improvement Act (H.R. 1815) overwhelmingly. The vote was 360 to 7.

Republican Rep. Mark Amodei of Carson City cleared the House on a voice vote with his Nevada Native Nations Land Act (H.R. 2733).

Hardy’s bill, introduced a year ago, affects tracts in Lincoln, White Pine and Nye counties, as well as the town of Mesquite.

In Lincoln, the bill authorizes efforts to reduce fuels and prevent wildfires that devastate grazing land and damage greater sage grouse habitat.

The bill also corrects language in previous legislation that was blocking creation of a conservation plan for the Virgin River watershed to protect various species and allow Mesquite to acquire land for development.

Arc Dome Wilderness Area

In addition, the bill releases from the Arc Dome Wilderness Area land containing a small dam that is owned and maintained by the Yamba Tribe, releases from the High Schells Wilderness area land where a frequently used Girl Scout camp is located and adjusts the designation of a road near McCoy Creek and releases from the Mount Moriah Wilderness Area a section that will allow access to the main road and facilities at the Big Canyon Trailhead.

“This is a well-balanced, bipartisan piece of legislation that will reduce wild land fire threat and greatly benefit local communities, wildlife and its habitat, and the future management of public lands in Nevada,” Hardy said.

Amodei’s bill places 70,000 acres of federal public land under the control of six Nevada tribes. The bill allows those tribes to address housing shortages, promote development of natural resources, support additional grazing and agricultural activities, promote renewable energy and preserve cultural resources.

The Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Tribe will take over 19,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land in Humboldt County. This will help resolve jurisdictional issues over checkerboard lands — which were created when the railroads were built and they were granted every other section of land along the right of way. It also will enable housing development.

The Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation would receive 82 acres of U.S. Forest Service land in Elko County for housing and offices.

The Summit Lake Paiute Tribe would take over 941 acres of BLM land in Humboldt County to unify the reservation around Summit Lake.

The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony would take over 13,000 acres of BLM land in Washoe County to better manage the Hungry Valley residences.

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe gets more than 6,000 acres of BLM land in Washoe County to expand the reservation boundary to fully incorporate the watershed of Pyramid Lake.

Pyramid Lake

The Duckwater Shoshone Tribe receives more than 31,000 acres of BLM land.

“I commend my colleagues in the House for joining me to pass this critical piece of legislation that will transfer more than 70,000 acres of Nevada public lands back into local control – empowering those who are best suited to make decisions surrounding economic development,” Amodei said. “By carefully balancing the unique needs of our Nevada tribal nations with those of local ranchers, land owners, public lands recreationalists and businesses, my bill will allow Nevadans to chart brighter futures for their communities while preserving their cultural heritage and traditions. I urge the Senate to take up this common-sense measure as soon as possible.”

While these two efforts are welcome, the House needs to press forward with Amodei’s Honor the Nevada Enabling Act of 1864 Act (H.R.1484), which was introduced more than a year ago and has been referred to two subcommittees of the Committee on Natural Resources. The bill calls on Congress to hand over 7.2 million acres of federal public land to Nevada in a first phase — only a little more than 10 percent of the federal land in Nevada.

The bill states: “The Federal Government promised all new States, in their statehood enabling Act contracts, that it would dispose of federally controlled public lands within the borders of those States,” but it failed to honor the promise.

Now, that would be significant.

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.

Newspaper column: Feds flagrantly infringe free speech rights with futile ferreting

Reason magazine has been hit with a federal subpoena seeking “any and all identifying information” about comments posted on an online blog discussing the conviction and harsh sentence given to the founder of an online website called Silk Road, where illegal drugs could be bought and sold.

One comment on the blog suggested, “Its (sic) judges like these that should be taken out back and shot.” Another, “Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly.”

For two weeks the magazine was under a gag order to not discuss the subpoena, but that has been lifted.

Personal liberty blog illustration

“From press accounts of similar actions at other news publications and social media sites, we know that it is increasingly common for the federal government to demand user information from publications and websites while also stifling their speech rights with gag orders and letters requesting ‘voluntary’ confidentiality,” a recent Reason blog posting states. “Exactly how common is anyone’s guess …”

Excuse me, but Nevadans have been there and done that.

In 2009 in a remarkably similar case the feds issued a sweeping subpoena for information on those who commented on a Las Vegas Review-Journal story about the trial of Las Vegan Robert Kahre, who was charged with tax fraud for using the rather inventive argument that he could pay people in U.S. minted gold and silver coins based on their precious metal value but for tax purposes use their face value, which is many times less.

One online commenter called jury members “12 dummies” and said they “should be hung” if they convicted Kahre.

Another called the federal prosecutor “evil incarnate and everything that is against the American justice system.”

The newspaper was served with a subpoena from the U.S. attorney’s office demanding that the paper turn over all records pertaining to those postings, including “full name, date of birth, physical address, gender, ZIP code, password prompts, security questions, telephone numbers and other identifiers … the IP address,” etc. There was no indication what they were looking for or what crime, if any, was being investigated, just a blanket subpoena for voluminous and detailed records on every private citizen who dared to speak about a federal tax case.

As editor of the paper at the time my instinct was to fight the subpoena tooth and nail. Instead the paper convinced the prosecutors to narrow their search to a couple of comments. Of course, the paper only had an email and name for each comment, both of which could be fictitious and most were.

But the American Civil Liberties Union vowed to fight on, believing a chilling effect remained. ACLU attorney Margaret McLetchie sought a court order declaring the original subpoena unconstitutional. She said the ACLU had filed on behalf of three clients, who posted anonymously on the newspaper website. They remained anonymous during the legal action.

“The right to speak anonymously about politics is older than the Constitution,” McLetchie said at the time.

At one point I asked readers what they would do if confronted with such a subpoena.

The readers were quite brave with my company’s money and my freedom. Nearly 700 people voted. Of those, 51 percent bravely said they would have fought to the highest court in the land even if they (meaning I) landed in jail. Only 16 percent said they would immediately turnover what the feds were asking for, while 33 percent said they would surrender information only on those who clearly made threats or admitted criminal acts.

“For many people now and in the future, this is not academic. What will happen when a friendly federal investigator visits your employer asking about what you’ve been posting online?” I wrote then.

All of the comments on the Reason site and the newspaper site were cliches of outrage and mere hyperbole, which are protected free speech rights.

In 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a case against a man who while protesting the draft had stated that if he were made to carry a rifle “the first man I want to get in my sights is L.B.J.” The court called this “crude political hyperbole which, in light of its context and conditional nature, did not constitute a knowing and willful threat against the President …”

Why the feds continue to pursue such matters is a mystery, but they do.

In December 2010, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed federal Judge Kent J. Dawson’s ruling that the claims of those persons who had been subpoenaed were moot because the subpoenas were no longer in effect. The feds made everyone scramble, but then just slithered away.

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

Feds continue futile and constitutionally shaky subpoenas of people anonymously expressing hyperbole

“Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears. To justify suppression of free speech, there must be reasonable ground to fear that serious evil will result if free speech is practiced.” — Justice Louis Brandeis

Reason magazine has been hit with a federal subpoena seeking “any and all identifying information” about comments posted on an online blog discussing the conviction of the founder of an online website where illegal drugs could be bought and sold.

One comment on the blog suggested, “Its (sic) judges like these that should be taken out back and shot.” Another, “Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly.”

Robert Kahre on trial for tax fraud. (R-J illustration, probably by David Stroud)

For two weeks the magazine was under a gag order to not discuss the subpoena, but that has been lifted.

“From press accounts of similar actions at other news publications and social media sites, we know that it is increasingly common for the federal government to demand user information from publications and websites while also stifling their speech rights with gag orders and letters requesting ‘voluntary’ confidentiality,” a recent Reason blog posting states. “Exactly how common is anyone’s guess; we are currently investigating just how widespread the practice may be.”

May I reply? Been there done that. It is all too common and entirely outrageous and a futile waste of time and money on the government’s part.

In 2009 in a remarkably similar case the feds issued a sweeping subpoena for information on those who commented on the trial of Las Vegan Robert Kahre, who was on trial for tax fraud for using the rather inventive argument that he could pay people in U.S. minted gold and silver coins based on their precious metal value but for tax purposes use their face value, which is many times less.

One person who signed himself “Louis D. Brandeis” called the federal prosecutor “evil incarnate and everything that is against the American justice system.”

“Christian Patriot” wrote a couple days later, “I suggest we go back to a gold and silver standard, which would immediately wipe out the national debt, not charge us interest for their toilet paper, or better yet, I’ll trade you eggs for milk. Tax that if you will.”

“Randall” wrote, “If it is legal tender, value of said legal tender it set by the gov and stamped on the face. Maybe the Government should be on trial.” (The comments have long since been removed from beneath the story.)

The newspaper was served with a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. attorney’s office demanding that the paper turn over all records pertaining to those postings, including “full name, date of birth, physical address, gender, ZIP code, password prompts, security questions, telephone numbers and other identifiers … the IP address,” et (kitchen sink) cetera. There was no indication what they were looking for or what crime, if any, was being investigated, just a blanket subpoena for voluminous and detailed records on every private citizen who dared to speak about a federal tax case.

I wrote at the time:

My first instinct is to fight the subpoena tooth and nail. After all, John Peter Zenger was just the printer who published anonymous essays critical of the colonial governor. His jury nullified the existing law and freed him.

On the other hand, if someone were to confess to a real and specific crime on our Web site, I’d give him up at the drop of a hat.

Bottom line: We could fight the federal subpoena, at considerable expense, and lose. Our attorneys are now trying to see if we can limit the scope of the information sought.

What the prosecutors don’t appear to understand is that we don’t have most of what they are seeking. We don’t require registration. A person could use a fictitious name and e-mail address, and most do. We have no addresses or phone numbers.

To add prior restraint to the chilling effect of the sweeping subpoena, we were warned: “You have no obligation of secrecy concerning this subpoena; however, any such disclosure could obstruct and impede an ongoing criminal investigation. …”

Even writing that was provoking the beast with long talons and unlimited tax money to feed its fight.

Within about a week the prosecutors did in fact narrow the subpoena, asking for information pertaining to only a few comments that might be construed as threatening to jurors or prosecutors. The paper agreed to comply.

“I’d hate to be the guy who refused to tell the feds Timothy McVeigh was buying fertilizer,” I quoted by the paper as saying, referring to domestic terrorist McVeigh, who destroyed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

But the American Civil Liberties Union vowed to fight on, believing a chilling effect remained. Staff attorney Margaret McLetchie said the civil rights organization wss seeking a court order declaring the original subpoena unconstitutional. She said theACLU had filed on behalf of three clients, who posted anonymously on the Review-Journal Web site and who would remain anonymous during the legal action.

“The right to speak anonymously about politics is older than the Constitution,” she said.

At one point I asked readers what they would do if confronted with a subpoena from a federal grand jury demanding extensive identifying information about people who had posted comments about a federal tax fraud trial.

The readers were quite brave with my company’s money and my freedom. Nearly 700 people voted. Of those, 51 percent bravely said they would have fought to the highest court in the land even if they (meaning I) landed in jail. Only 16 percent said they would immediately turnover what the feds were asking for, while 33 percent said they would surrender information only on those who clearly made threats or admitted criminal acts.

“For many people now and in the future, this is not academic. What will happen when a friendly federal investigator visits your employer asking about what you’ve been posting online?” I wrote then.

All of the comments on the Reason site and the R-J site were cliches of outrage and mere hyperbole, which are protected free speech rights.

In 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a case against a man who while protesting the draft had stated that if he were made to carry a rifle “the first man I want to get in my sights is L.B.J.” The court called this “crude political hyperbole which, in light of its context and conditional nature, did not constitute a knowing and willful threat against the President …”

Why the feds continue to pursue such matters is a mystery, but they do. A 2012 Southern Law Journal study reported on several such subpoenas, including the R-Js.

The study reported that in June 2010, Judge David A. Ezra, the presiding judge in Kahre case, commented:

There is no stronger defender of the First Amendment than me … My concern here, however, is that it is a federal crime and a very serious one to attempt in any way, shape or form to threaten or obstruct or impede a jury in either a civil or criminal case … Somebody writing in and saying, you know, if the jury reaches a … verdict of conviction, they should be hung, is really no different than saying, you know, if President Obama does X, Y or Z, he should be killed. That’s a crime, too. So I think we have to be very, very careful when we say that there is no basis to be concerned here or that this is simply government demagoguery or something of the sort. (See the L.B.J. comments above.)

But in December 2010, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed federal Judge Kent J. Dawson’s ruling that claims of those persons who had been subpoenaed groundless because the subpoenas were no longer in effect and “alternatively, that there was no set of facts supporting Does 1-4’s First Amendment claims. We do not reach the First Amendment claims because we decide the case on standing and mootness grounds.”

So the case just petered out, ending not on constitutional firm footing but no standing and mootness.

This is not academic. This is a serious waste of tax money and a breach of fiduciary responsibility and constitutional rights by federal prosecutors.

Reason found a 2013 report by Mother Jones magazine stating that Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft have received “tens of thousands of requests for user data from the US government annually.” The magazine reported that a Facebook spokesperson said the company provided information in response to 79 percent of the data requests it received between July and December 2012.

Here are three ACLU of Nevada postings on this topic that contain cogent arguments and cite specific cases:

Protecting Anonymous Online Speech

ACLU of Nevada’s Case Protecting Anonymous Online Speech

ACLU of Nevada Continues to Fight for Anonymous Online Speech

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. — Fourth Amendment

 

 

 

Longtime newspaper rivalry continues to this day with references to the past rivalry

The photo that warranted an inside page in the Sun in 1967 but no printed page in today’s R-J.

You’ve got to love a good newspaper spat, especially one that goes back decades.

Today the Las Vegas Review-Journal has a story about how a few teenagers in 1967 hoaxed the Las Vegas Sun with a Polaroid “UFO” photo that was actually a hubcap tossed into the air. The photo warranted a screaming red, all-caps banner headline in a size they used to call a “wood,” because no one had metal type that big. The headline reads: “Mysterious flying ship ‘scouts’ Las Vegas area.”

But the photo that was the central topic of the tale ran on an inside page, while the dominant photo on the front page was one of Gov. Paul Laxalt talking at some pro-Israel function, a favorite topic of the Sun, possibly because its editor had been convicted of running guns to Israel. Next to that photo was Hank Greenspun’s “Where I Stand” column. He gave the column that name because an R-J editor once wrote a “Where I Sit” column.

Now, in my way of thinking, a photo that warranted a screaming headline on the cover screamed to be printed on the cover, but no. As for the R-J’s coverage of the hoax, it did not find that photo worthy of print, relegating the actual hoax pix that was the topic of the piece to a package of photos online.

The R-J story also noted that it was the R-J that corrected the hoax the next day:

On June 14, 1967, a mere 24 hours after the hoax had gone as viral as something could go in the ’60s, the Las Vegas Review-Journal ended it.

“The mysterious flying ship ‘scouting’ Las Vegas Monday night turned out to be a hubcap, sources close to the ‘ship’ revealed Tuesday afternoon,” the lede read.

Yes, the story uses the old typesetter’s lexicon, spelling the word “lede,” which is not in most dictionaries nor in the AP Stylebook, which I think they still use, even though they don’t subscribe to the AP service.

But two old Hank Greenspun columns delivered on the same day is a bit much. Over in the Sun section, son Brian reprinted the second of three columns from the era of the hoax by Hank. The intro by Brian includes this dig at the R-J:

The first two columns talk about the building of the MGM Hotel (now Bally’s) and the third discusses allegations of mob association that existed only in the small minds of some hoodlums and on the pages of the other newspaper in Las Vegas.

I wonder whether the third installment will mention that in 1947 Greenspun was hired by mobster Bugsy Siegel as publicist for his Flamingo Hotel or that  Greenspun wrote a column called “Flamingo Chatter” for the R-J? Will it mention his stake in the Desert Inn was reduced to 1 percent when Cleveland racketeers Morris “Moe” Dalitz, Sam Tucker and Morris Kleinman won control.

The R-J story did not mention that there were a number of UFO sightings in 1967.

Of course, I must plead guilty to having tweaked the upturned Greenspun nose a time or two myself.

 

 

‘I am very proud of the fact that I stand for something’ and have not yielded

papers

Editorial pages from today and 2009.

 

“First of all, congratulations to the 17 legislative Republicans who stuck by Gov. Jim Gibbons and refused to go along with the biggest government cash grab in Nevada history.

“They failed to carry the day, of course, as majority Democrats on Thursday managed to override the governor’s veto of a $781 million tax hike — which is actually closer to $1 billion when a previously passed room tax increase is included …” — Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial, May 31, 2009

That editorial goes on to list the heroes and villains of the session and point out that for two decades Nevada’s lawmakers had been opting for double-digit spending increases instead of fiscal restraint. It also warned that the tax increases would hinder economic recovery and predict that if a Democrat were to win the governor’s mansion in 2010 that tax “sunsets” the GOP managed to impose would never happen and future tax hikes would dwarf the ones just passed. (I would link to the full editorial but it has been lost somewhere in the ether.)

What a difference half a decade makes.

Pardon us if this causes whiplash, but the lede on today’s R-J editorial reads:

“For years and years, the Nevada Legislature never failed to disappoint the citizens it serves. And so, being conditioned to expect the worst from the state’s most powerful body, it’s shocking to look at the work of the just-completed 2015 session and say … ‘Bravo.’

“Bravo to lawmakers. Bravo to Gov. Brian Sandoval. Bravo to everyone who shaped and championed a transformative agenda and passed policies that never, ever would have had a chance of approval going back decades. …

“Yes, there were tax increases. Record tax increases, in fact. And the state’s tax policy still could be much better and much broader. But that new revenue will flow into a K-12 system that will be more accountable and will give all parents more choices than they’ve ever had before. Education headlines the best work of the 2015 session.”

No mention of the fact the governor and the lawmakers ignored the concept of elasticity, which predicts the new taxes will not raise nearly as much as projected and there will be a shortfall in two short years when the money is spent and the tax revenues lag. Don’t fault the writers. They are just taking orders from the new regime, which apparently is sucking up to the powerful.

A front page story in the paper spells out the tax hikes and how much they are supposed to net in revenue — pipe dreams.

Though that 2009 editorial is no longer extant online, for some strange reason my column, which appeared beside it in print, still lurks among the electrons. The headline was: “I am very proud of the fact that I stand for something.”

I wrote:

“I don’t recall a single winning candidate saying back before the November election that the state of Nevada needs to raise taxes, much less $1 billion in new taxes.

“Not Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, not Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, not Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio.

“Despite repeated questions, Democrat Horsford would not say he would raise taxes. Buckley said her plan did not call for raising taxes. Other candidates of both Democratic and Republican stripes refused to allow the word to pass their lips.

“Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons is one of the few people to say no to new taxes and stick by it, so far. At an editorial board at the Review-Journal this past week, the day before he vetoed the state budget with that $1 billion tax hike, he said, ‘I am very proud of the fact that I stand for something, because I think the Nevada public is tired of politicians who walk in, tell you they’re going to do something and then turn around, when they get elected and go (to) the Legislature and do just the opposite. Mainly, go look at the comments of Majority Leader Steven Horsford when he was running for election. Your paper printed a whole series of comments saying we are not going to raise taxes during this session. Where is he today? He turned around and said I am going to support raising taxes. I tell you the people I speak with, as I travel around Nevada, hope that the people who (they) elected tell them something and stick to it.’

“Words and deeds should have consequences. Our legislators must someday be held accountable to the voters. If the voters have no problem with what was said on the campaign trail in contrast to what was done in the halls of the Legislature, so be it.”

Gibbons lost in 2010 in the Republican primary to Sandoval, who was re-elected in November.

During the 2014 election campaign I don’t recall any candidate, including Sandoval, calling for another round of record tax hikes, do you?

Words and deeds should have consequences, but apparently Thomas Jefferson was quite the seer when he wrote in 1788: “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yeild (sic), and government to gain ground.”

Eventually everything yields to bigger and bigger government, except a few old folks stuck in their ways even after being put out to pasture.