Newspaper column: Census should ask about citizenship

Ignorance is not bliss.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have sued in an effort to block the 2020 Census from asking about citizenship status, claiming the question will prompt illegal immigrants to not respond and thus result in an undercount of population. That, they say, could result in the loss of congressional representation and federal funding for states, such as California, that have large immigrant populations.

According to the 14th Amendment, “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.” That’s the whole number of persons, not just citizens.

The stakes for Nevada are also high.

According to a Pew Research report, in 2012 Nevada’s population included 7.6 percent illegal immigrants, its workforce was 10.2 percent illegals and its school enrollment included 17.7 percent whose parents are not in the country legally. All of those levels were the highest in the nation and climbing.

According to estimates posted by the Census Bureau in July, fully 19.3 percent of Nevada residents were foreign born. Fully 27 percent of Californians were foreign born. The problem is that there is no accurate number for how many of those have attained citizenship or legal residency.

The citizenship question was asked up until 1950 and is still asked on the more detailed American Community Survey that goes to about 2.6 percent of the population each year.

The Census Bureau explains why the citizenship and place of birth questions are on the long form: “We ask about people in the community born in other countries in combination with information about housing, language spoken at home, employment, and education, to help government and communities enforce laws, regulations, and policies against discrimination based on national origin. For example, these data are used to support the enforcement responsibilities under the Voting Rights Act to investigate differences in voter participation rates and to enforce other laws and policies regarding bilingual requirements.”

Those who oppose asking about citizenship status do so under the purely speculative supposition that non-citizens will spurn the census entirely, ignoring the fact the Census Bureau is legally bound by strict confidentiality requirements. It may not share individual data with ICE, the IRS, the FBI, the CIA or anyone.

Additionally, refusing to comply with the Census can result in a $100 fine and providing false data can result in a $500 fine, though reportedly no one has been fined since 1970.

Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto railed, “This decision trades the accuracy of a census designed to provide complete count of the entire nation’s population for a political win for President Trump. This is a direct attack on immigrant populations that could lead to undercounted and underfunded minority districts across the country. It is an assault on our representative democracy and our Constitution which requires a complete and accurate count of everyone living in the country, no matter their citizenship status.”

Nevada Rep. Jacky Rosen, a Democrat running for Republican Sen. Dean Heller’s seat, said the citizenship question “politicizes the census and drags its integrity into question. It’s clear that the Trump administration is looking to ensure Nevada’s immigrant communities are underserved and underrepresented for the next decade.”

The mostly Democratic-majority states that are suing over the Census question about citizenship are claiming the knowledge will somehow dilute minority representation, but the opposite is the case.

A Wall Street Journal editorial recently pointed out, “The progressive critics are also missing that Commerce says the Justice Department requested the citizenship question to continue a longtime progressive policy: to wit, enforcing Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices that discriminate by race. Justice supposedly needs detailed data on citizen voting-age population by census block, which the American Community Survey doesn’t provide.”

Hans von Spakovsky explained in an essay penned for The Heritage Foundation, “Citizenship information collected in the 2000 census was vital to our efforts to enforce the Voting Rights Act when I worked at the U.S. Department of Justice. When reviewing claims of whether the voting strength of minority voters was being diluted in redistricting, it was essential to know the size of the citizen voting age population.”

So it certainly seems that the self-styled progressives are ignoring the facts, the statistics and the well-being of those they claim to wish to protect.

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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What shall it profit a man to own a newspaper?

Newsprint heading to the presses. (R-J pix)

The print edition of today’s Las Vegas newspaper direly warns that this country’s newspapers could become thinner or even disappear altogether because of tariffs as high as 32 percent being placed on newsprint imported from Canada. For some inexplicable reason the story cannot be found on the paper’s website, but has been replicated at the PressReader website.

“It’s very possible that inadequate newsprint reserves will affect the page counts of the Review-Journal and perhaps that of our partner in the joint-operating agreement, the Las Vegas Sun,” Review-Journal Publisher and Editor Keith Moyer was quoted as saying. “We’ll do everything possible to keep popular features in the print edition every day, and if we have to cut some content, we’ll publish the newspaper in full for our e-Edition.”

He did not mention that the paper already has cut pages this year, dropping the Sunday opinion section from six pages to four and cutting out op-ed pages on Wednesdays and Fridays. It also appears the paper is being printed on thinner newsprint stock, possibly down to 30-pound stock from 32-pound stock. The tell tale is the curling of the pages.

That was before the tariffs.

Today’s poor mouthing comes after the newspaper recently reported that its owner, billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson’s annual salary at the Las Vegas Sands was doubled in 2017 to $26.1 million. Adelson purchased the paper two years ago for $14o million — $38 million more than the previous owner had paid nine months earlier.

As for that joint-operating agreement “partner” feeling the pinch of newsprint prices, the Sun for a month earlier this year ran a daily front page announcement saying that it is now charging for access to its online content, the Sun contracted to get a percentage of the R-J’s profits, but there are no profits, the article said.

Today’s article notes that, while putting news online is an option, it is print advertising that is the primary source of revenue and profits, if any, for most newspapers. But, if it comes down to it and print pages have to be reduced, the article said the paper is considering adding pages to its  e-Edition, an electronic replica of the paper available online for print subscribers.

The morning paper ran an editorial a couple of week’s ago bemoaning the tariff hike.

Today’s front page print story mentions that the News Media Alliance is conducting a propaganda, er, education campaign about the newsprint tariffs. The organization encourages people to contact Congress through a website: stopnewsprinttariffs.org. The campaign has the snappy title of Stop Tariffs on Printers and Publishers (STOPP) and warns that the tariffs threaten an estimated 600,000 jobs across the U.S. printing and publishing industry.

Now, don’t you feel sorry for Sheldon?

 

 

 

 

Who is really in the trenches of the War on Science?

So, who is engaging in a war on science?

Of course, it is those on the right who refuse to genuflect to the dogma of settled science on the topic of man-caused global warming, right?

Not so fast, says John Stossel in a commentary posted on Townhall today. He interviewed veteran science writer John Tierney, who says, “The real war on science is the one from the left.”

It is the left that quashes any attempts to perfect genetically modified foods to feed the masses. It is left that refuses to even look at any scientific evidence of any genetic differences between the races, such as intelligence. It is the left that refuses to even consider that there is a fundamental difference between the sexes.

Here is a video Stossel posted with specific examples of leftists fighting science:

Editorial: Nevada court rightly upholds public right to know

The Nevada Supreme Court has made it clear that public officials cannot skirt the state public records law by using privately owned electronic devices to conduct the public’s business.

This past week the court unanimously overturned a lower court ruling that rejected a request for records from Lyon County commissioners because those records were not stored on devices owned by the county. The county conceded that public business was indeed conducted using personal phones and email addresses. The county website even lists those phone numbers and email addresses as the commissioners’ contact information.

“The use of private entities in the provision of public services must not deprive members of the public access to inspect and copy books and records relating to the provision of those services,” wrote Justice Michael Cherry, author of the opinion.

The Nevada Public Records Act (NPRA) states that, unless otherwise specifically exempted by law, “all public books and public records of a governmental entity must be open at all times during office hours to inspection by any person, and may be fully copied or an abstract or memorandum may be prepared from those public books and public records.”

Cherry further clarified, “In light of these requirements, (NPRA) cannot be read as limiting public records to those that are physically maintained at a government location or on a government server and are immediately accessible to the public during the business hours of that governmental entity. Such an interpretation would render … (the law) meaningless, as the records of private entities rendering public services would not necessarily be stored at the government office, and providing a time frame for resolving a records request would be unnecessary if records were required to be immediately produced for inspection at that location.”

Barry Smith, executive director of the Nevada Press Association, called the ruling important and substantial.

“If it had gone the other way, it would have created a gaping loophole in the law,” Smith said. “During oral arguments, justices asked the right questions. Essentially, they wondered, ‘How could the open-records law work if public officials could simply avoid it by using their personal devices?’”

Smith noted that John Marshall, the attorney for Lyon County citizens seeking the records, had a good analogy. “He said it would be like an official typing up a county document on his own typewriter at home and storing it in his personal filing cabinet. The principle remains the same. If it was public business, then it was a public document,” Smith explained.

Nevada Policy Research Institute Transparency Director Robert Fellner issued a statement saying, “In finding that public officials cannot hide their activities by simply conducting government business on personal devices, the Court reinforces the mandate within Nevada’s Public Records Law that it ‘be construed liberally to carry out [the] important purpose’ of a transparent and open government.”

In order for the public to properly evaluate the conduct of their elected and appointed officials, they must be able to see, hear and read what those officials are doing, why they are doing it, how they are doing it and for whom.

In this particular case Lyon County commissioners had rejected a zoning request for an industrial development, but later reversed themselves. Citizens filed a public records request seeking access to communications about the zoning matter whether contained on public or private devices.

Cherry’s opinion made it abundantly clear that public business must be transparent, writing, “We conclude that the NPRA does not categorically exempt public records maintained on private devices or servers from disclosure. To withhold a public record from disclosure, the government entity must present, with particularity, the grounds on which a given public record is exempt.”

We applaud the court for again upholding the public’s right to know.

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: Customers should be able to shop for electricity

Question 3 on the 2016 General Election ballot — the Energy Choice Initiative — passed by an overwhelming 72.4 percent to 27.6 percent. The measure failed in only one county, White Pine, but by only four votes.

Because the measure would amend the state Constitution it is back on the ballot this fall for final voter approval, but this time around a coalition headed by the state’s largest power monopoly, NV Energy, has vowed to spend $30 million to defeat it.

The Energy Choice Initiative proposes that the Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to pass a law providing an open, competitive retail electric energy market by July 1, 2023. The law must include provisions to reduce customer costs, protect against service disconnections and unfair practices, and prohibit the granting of monopolies for power generation, but could leave in place regulation of transmission or distribution systems.

One of the chief arguments for the measure is that competition would drive down cost.

Nevada and many other states were well on the way to breaking up their electricity generation monopolies 17 years ago until the Enron market manipulation debacle that led to blackouts and price spikes that scared lawmakers into backing off, even though the free market was not the problem. The problem was collusion and manipulation.

According to a Wall Street Journal article at the time, Enron charged California’s Independent System Operator for relieving power congestion without actually doing so. The company also avoided in-state price caps by moving power out of state and then reselling it to California — fraud.

Expect to be inundated in the coming months with “facts and figures” that are wildly contradictory and warnings of another Enron debacle.

Michael Yackira, the former CEO of NV Energy, recently penned an op-ed for the donation-funded news website The Nevada Independent that argued the initiative could jeopardize energy dependability and not lower power bills.

“Fourteen states plus the District of Columbia have implemented deregulation,” Yackira writes. “The result: Not one of these has lower rates than Nevada and 11 of these places have higher rates than the national average. When compared to prices throughout the country, Nevada’s prices are below the national average. For example, California’s electricity prices per kilowatt hour are nearly double Nevada’s.”

Days later, Jon Wellinghoff, a backer of the Energy Choice Initiative as well as former general counsel to the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada and chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, fired back at the same website, saying the initiative is not “deregualtion” at all, because the grid would still be regulated and still operated by the power company and the various rural power cooperatives around the state.

Wellinghoff said it is a basic economic principle that competition lowers costs. “Consider the case of Pennsylvania,” he writes. “Since it enacted energy choice, consumers have saved close to $1 billion per year on their power bills and the residents of Pittsburgh are paying 50 percent LESS for energy than under the monopoly utility, according to former Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commissioner John Hanger.”

He also cited a 2015 study by two veteran utility regulators titled “Evolution of the Revolution: The Sustained Success of Retail Electricity Competition.” That study found that from 1997 to 2014 the states that had adopted customer choice for power saw inflation-adjusted residential rates fall 5.2 percent, while monopoly states saw those rates rise 3.9 percent.

Opponents of the ballot measure like to point out that Nevada’s rates are below the national average and nearly half that of California’s, which has driven up costs by demanding that a huge proportion of its power come from more expensive renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as of December 2017 Nevada power rates for all sectors ranked in the middle of the 11 western states, but since commercial and industrial users get lower rates in Nevada, our residential rates were the third highest in the region 12.34 cents per kilowatt-hour. Arizona’s residential rate was 12.85 cents and California’s 18.48. The lowest was in hydropower rich Washington at 9.63 cents.

Wellinghoff points out that large power consumers such as MGM, Switch, Caesars and Barrick Mining are already paying millions of dollars for the privilege of buying power on the open market — in the case of MGM, $87 million, which must mean they are going to save more than $87 million on the open market.

Why shouldn’t residential customers be able to shop for cheaper power?

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: An alert reader points out that a 2003 investigation of the power market manipulation determined that the underlying cause was poor regulatory plans. “Staff concludes that supply-demand imbalance, flawed market design and inconsistent rules made possible significant market manipulation as delineated in final investigation report. Without underlying market dysfunction, attempts to manipulate the market would not be successful,” the staff report concluded.

Ratcheting up renewable energy requirement will cost jobs, not create them

When the global warming alarmists set a goal for the amount of renewable energy Nevada must produce and the state successfully achieves that goal, it is not a sign of success. It is a sure sign the goal — gosh darn it — just wasn’t high enough.

For eight straight years NV Energy has met the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that ratchets up each year until it reaches 25 percent for 2025. It is currently 20 percent.

A sign of success?

No. According to Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association, that just means the goal was too low.

Solar panels

“NV Energy’s announcement demonstrates its commitment to expanding utility scale solar energy. Reaching their goal also makes clear that it’s time for Nevada to raise its Renewable Portfolio Standard to the next level, providing companies the certainty they need to invest, which will bring even more solar jobs to the state. Nevada residents will have their say on the ballot in November, and we strongly encourage them to vote to raise the state goal to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030,” Gallagher is quoted as saying in a press release.

To that end a group calling itself Nevadans for a Clean Energy Future is pushing a ballot initiative that would increase the RPS 50 percent by 2030. They have until the second week in June to collect 110,000 signatures to get it on the ballot in November.

Supporters talk about how many renewable energy jobs will be created.

But a study commissioned by Nevada Policy Research Institute and conducted by Beacon Hill Institute of Suffolk University found the current RPS is already costing Nevada jobs. Imagine what a doubling will do?

The report is titled RPS: A Recipe for Economic Decline. Using a range of estimates from low to high, Beacon Hill estimates the current RPS could cost Nevada between 590 and 3,070 jobs by 2025. This is because power bills would increase from less than 2 percent to nearly 11 percent due to the RPS.

While the residential power user’s bill might increase anywhere between $20 and $130 a year, an industrial ratepayer could expect power bills to increase from nearly $7,000 to more than $47,000 a year.

“One could justify the higher electricity costs if the environmental benefits — in terms of reduced greenhouse gases (GHGs) and other emissions — outweighed the costs,” Beacon Hill reports. “However, it is unclear that the use of renewable energy resources — especially wind and solar — significantly reduces GHG emissions. Due to their intermittency, wind and solar require significant conventional backup power sources that are cycled up and down to accommodate the variability in the production of wind and solar power. A 2010 study found that wind power actually increases pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Thus, there appear to be few, if any, benefits to implementing RPS policies based on heavy uses of wind.”

But never let the facts get in the way of a global warming alarmist.

 

Editorial: Wildlife panel drops unwise weapons restriction

At its March meeting the commissioners on the Nevada Board of Wildlife wisely tabled a proposed regulation that would have required hunters to obtain permission of the occupant of a dwelling before discharging a weapon within a certain distance.

The board was responding to reported instances of hunters engaging in unsafe practices near residences, but such a rule would have allowed dwelling occupants to create de facto no hunting zones.

The proposal was first prompted by an incident in 2016 in Genoa in which a hunter with an archery deer tag wounded a deer that then wondered into a residential area. The hunter went knocking on doors asking permission to finish off the deer in peoples’ yards, causing some consternation and raising the issue of whether there should be regulations dictating safe hunting distances from dwellings.

The proposed rule would have amended the Nevada Administrative Code to make it unlawful to discharge a firearm within 5,000 feet of any occupied dwelling without the permission of the owner or occupier of the dwelling. That is almost 1 mile. Further, the rule would prohibit firing a shotgun, bow or crossbow within 1,000 feet of such a dwelling without permission.

Under such a rule owners of land could conceivably be barred from hunting on their own property if there were a home within a mile in any direction where someone objects.

Members of the National Rifle Association, bowhunter groups and other Second Amendment backers questioned the need for the statewide law.

While based on good intentions, such restrictions are unnecessary.

There already is a law on the books that makes it illegal for a person to willfully and maliciously discharge a firearm at or into any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, aircraft, vehicle, vehicle trailer, semitrailer or house trailer, railroad locomotive, car or tender. If any of those places is occupied, the crime is a felony punishable by imprisonment for a minimum term of not less than one year and a maximum term of not more than six years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.

Further, many cities and counties already have laws on the books dictating where weapons may be discharged.

This proposal, as one person observed, was a solution in search of a problem.

Thankfully, wiser heads prevailed.

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.

Nevada Board of Wildlife meeting.