Editorial: Voter registration version of don’t ask, don’t tell

After President Trump proclaimed to the world that the only reason Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million was that 3 million or more ballots were cast fraudulently — by noncitizens, by the dead or by Box 13 in Alice, Texas, where ballot stuffing first elected Lyndon Johnson to Congress, perhaps — the media dutifully reported that there is no evidence, no proof, no foundation for such a claim.

Even Nevada’s Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske put out a statement saying her office was unaware of any “evidence” to support claims of voter fraud here.

“There is no evidence of voters illegally casting ballots at the most recent election in Nevada,” reads a statement posted on her website. “The Secretary of State’s office is aware of attempted fraud related to voter registration in Nevada; however, with the help of local election officials, we were able to investigate and make one arrest.”

There is no evidence because voters are not required to prove they are citizens or to show valid ID to prove they are who they say they are. How many people after the fact are going to come forward and volunteer that they voted fraudulently?

Recently a former newspaper columnist, Vin Suprynowicz, dredged up a 2012 column by fellow columnist Glenn Cook that found there really is “evidence,” but only if you really look for it and actually, you know, ask questions. (I also wrote about it at the time.)

Cook spoke shortly before the election that year with two immigrant noncitizens who had been registered to vote by a representative of their union, Culinary Local 226 in Clark County. They spoke English but didn’t read it very well. They told Cook the Culinary official who registered them to vote didn’t tell them what they were signing and didn’t ask whether they were citizens. Later, Culinary canvassers started seeking them out and ordering them to go vote.

Cook verified their identities, their lack of citizenship and their status as active registered voters.

The two said they did not have to show a photo ID to register and merely showed a Culinary health insurance card and a power bill.

“One would establish identity and one would establish residence,” then-Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax told the columnist. “Just like every other voter in Nevada, they will not be asked to prove citizenship.”

The Culinary political director denied the union canvassers do such things.

Shortly before the election this year The Associated Press reported that the Culinary union in Las Vegas had registered 34,000 of its members to vote and had reassigned 150 of its members to full-time political work, intending to knock on 200,000 doors and confront their co-workers in casino cafeterias and by phone. The union also chartered buses to shuttle casino workers to an early voting site during their paid lunch break, and handed each a boxed lunch.

According to a New York Times account shortly before the election, 56 percent of the Clark County Culinary union’s 57,000 members were Latino. No indication how many were citizens.

According to Pew Research Center, in 2014 Nevada had the highest ratio of illegal alien workers in the nation at 10.4 percent.

Cook spoke to just two people who should not have been registered to vote and should not have been pressured to vote nor pressured to vote for the union ticket. How many more there might have been is unknown, because no one is asking.

And, while we are not speculating about the impact such votes might’ve had on the 2016 election, we will note that Hillary Clinton lost in every county in Nevada except Clark and Washoe, while newly elected Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto lost in every county save Clark, as did the new Congressional District 4 Rep. Ruben Kihuen.

Nevada lawmakers should take the opportunity in the coming session to require proof of citizenship and a photo ID. Our current honor system is just too risky, especially in close races.

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.

There is no evidence of voter fraud because no one asks

Casino workers vote at an early voting polling station in October 2016. (AP photo)

Casino workers vote at an early voting polling station in October 2016. (AP photo)

After President Trump proclaimed to the world that the only reason Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million was that 3 million or more ballots were cast fraudulently — by noncitizen, the dead or by Box 13 in Alice, Texas, perhaps — the media dutifully reported, even Fox News, that there is no evidence, no proof, no foundation for such a claim. It is utterly unsubstantiated.

Today the morning newspaper dutifully reports that Nevada’s Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske says her office is unaware of any “evidence” to support claims of voter fraud.

“There is no evidence of voters illegally casting ballots at the most recent election in Nevada,” Cegavske said in a statement. “The secretary of state’s office is aware of attempted fraud related to voter registration in Nevada; however, with the help of local election officials, we were able to investigate and make one arrest.”

She did encourage anyone with evidence of voter fraud to file a complaint with her office.

There is no evidence because voters are not required to prove they are citizens or to show valid ID to prove they are who they say they are. And how many people after the fact are going to come forward and volunteer that they voted fraudulently?
Vin Suprynowicz pointed this out in a blog posting Wednesday and cited a 2012 column by Las Vegas newspaper columnist Glen Cook to show there is “evidence” if you really look for it and actually, you know, ask questions.
Cook spoke shortly before the election that year with two immigrant noncitizens who had been registered to vote by a representative of their union, Culinary Local 226. They spoke English but didn’t read it very well. They told Cook the Culinary official who registered them to vote didn’t tell them what they were signing and didn’t ask whether they were citizens. Later Culinary canvassers started seeking them out and ordering them to go vote.

Cook verified their identities, their lack of citizenship and their status as active registered voters in Clark County.

The two told Cook that they did not have to show a photo ID to register and merely showed a Culinary health insurance card and a power bill.

“One would establish identity and one would establish residence,” then-Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax told the columnist. “Just like every other voter in Nevada, they will not be asked to prove citizenship.”

Cook also got the Culinary political director to deny the union canvassers do such a thing.

Shortly before the election this year The AP reported that the Culinary union in Las Vegas had registered  34,000 of its members to vote and had reassigned 150 of its members to full-time political work, intending to knock on 200,000 doors and confront  their co-workers in casino cafeterias and by phone. The union also chartered buses to shuttle casino workers to an early voting site during their paid lunch break, and handed each a boxed lunch.

According to a New York Times account shortly before the election, the Las Vegas Culinary union had 57,000 members and 56 percent of them were Latino. No indication how many were citizens.

According to Pew Research Center, in 2014 Nevada had the highest ratio of illegal alien workers in the nation at 10.4 percent.

Cook concluded his column by arguing:

We should ask every voter, upon registration, to prove citizenship, but we don’t. Instead, we have an honor system that’s exceedingly easy to cheat and gives political parties and politically active groups a powerful incentive to break the law without much risk of being caught.

There is no risk of being caught if no one asks.

Cook spoke to just two people who should not have been registered to vote and should not have been pressured to vote and pressured to vote for the union ticket. How many more there might be is unknown, because no one is asking.

Strange day at a strange place

New editor of R-J, J. Keith Moyer, with interim editor Glenn Cook looking on.

May you work at an interesting place. A curse? Or a blessing?

At noon Friday the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported online that the new publisher had named a new editor. This was an hour after two of the paper’s reporters had tweeted the news with photos of the new editor in the courtyard introducing himself and six minutes after the “competition” Las Vegas Sun posted the news online.

A half hour later, the R-J posted online an editorial endorsement of Marco Rubio for the Republican nomination for the presidency. This included a rather odd disclaimer:

The RJ met with Sen. Rubio on Oct. 9, two months before the announcement of the newspaper’s sale to the family of Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. The Adelsons have detached themselves from our endorsement process, and our endorsement of Sen. Rubio does not represent the support of the family.

Since when has anyone known Adelson to detach himself from anything?

Though the endorsement is online, it has not been published in print, which will probably come in the more widely circulated Sunday edition. Why it was published before the new editor could shake the Minnesota snowflakes from his hair is another oddity.

On Oct. 12 Politico published a story about Rubio courting Adelson for his support, phoning him several times a month to update him on his campaign. Rubio met with Adelson during that Las Vegas visit and Politico described Adelson as “leaning increasingly toward supporting Marco Rubio …”

It also stated, “Adelson, seated at the head of his conference table, heaped praise on Rubio’s performance while he discussed the dynamics of the 2016 race. Those briefed on the meeting described it as short but said it had an air of importance …”

On Jan. 10 The Hill reported, “Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson has joked privately that he belongs to a divided household: He likes Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and his wife Miriam likes Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.”

The story reports that Adelson and his wife spent nearly $100 million supporting Republicans in 2012, a chunk of it going to Newt Gingrich.

Despite the claim of detachment, most of the headlines about the endorsement of Rubio made note of the fact Adelson owns the newspaper.

As for the new editor, J. Keith Moyer — senior fellow in the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication for the past five years and president and publisher of the Minneapolis Star Tribune from 2001 to 2007 and editor for Gannett and McClatchy — there is a surprisingly small online footprint.

A search for “by J. Keith Moyer” turns up a laudatory review of a book by former Star Tribune editor Tim McGuire, who I know from American Society of Newspaper Editors conventions, and a recommendation for cocktail onions.

There is a rather disquieting report online by a former desk editor who worked with Moyer in Fresno and claims Moyer killed stories about the troubled Fresno State basketball team coached by Jerry Tarkanian and expressed a willingness to bury ledes to curry favor with local government.

Here’s to interesting times at an interesting place to work.

 

 

Education savings accounts by any other name …

The headline on the story in today’s newspaper about the attorney general asking the state Supreme Court to expedite the appeal of the injunction blocking the start for legislatively approved education savings accounts (ESAs) calls them vouchers. So does the refer hed on the cover of the B section.

But nowhere in the story is the word voucher ever used.

In fact, backers of the ESAs have insisted they are not vouchers.

In fact, the newspaper’s interim editor — in a column in August when he was the senior editorial writer — has said ESAs are not vouchers.

“ESAs are not vouchers,” Glenn Cook wrote. “ESAs are controlled by parents, not the state. Once state money is transferred into the accounts, it’s no longer the public’s money, and as such it’s perfectly constitutional for parents to choose to spend the money at a religious school.”

The term voucher is the word that the opponents of ESAs insist on using.

Memo to editors: ESAs are not vouchers. Got it?

voucher

Has Las Vegas newspaper gone over to the dark side?

Nevada Legislature opens. (R-J file photo)

Did the Las Vegas Review-Journal today endorse Gov. Sandoval’s mammoth mound of tax hikes and education spending?

The short editorial on the opening day of the 2015 Legislature appears at first blush to be the standard admonition to lawmakers to do right by the citizens and conduct themselves civilly and not waste time on petty bills.

The opening paragraph sets the tone:

“Triumph or train wreck? Boom or bust? The Nevada Legislature convenes its 2015 regular session today amid high hopes for bold reforms and pessimistic fears of an epic partisan meltdown.”

It goes on to call on the legislators to prioritize and focus on the important stuff and also to not engage in foolish and time-wasting bickering.

Then it augers into a realm where the editorials of the newspaper have seldom gone. The editorial tells the lawmakers to not worry about who gets credit.

“Already, minority Democrats are implying that Gov. Sandoval has copied some of their legislative priorities — policies and programs they couldn’t get passed when they were in the majority,” the newspaper points out.

It then says:

“Gov. Sandoval needs support from both parties to pass his $7.3 billion budget, the tax increases needed to fund it, and the K-12 improvements that will result from it.”

Huh?

It concludes by telling the governor he needs to “rally the divided Republican Assembly caucus and convince all Nevadans that his plan will position the state for a prosperous future. He must lead like few governors have led before.”

Sounds like an endorsement.

I was curious about the paper’s near silence in its editorials about the governor’s tax plans, which fly in the face of voter direction by raising taxes on mining and imposing a form of a gross receipts tax. The voters just rejected both in November.

Columnist Glenn Cook did point out the hypocrisy of the governor opposing the margin tax on gross receipts on the ballot and then calling for a graduated business license fee based on gross receipts.

But that was a column. This is the stance of the paper and its new publisher.

As I’ve pointed out before, the editorial board of a newspaper has a majority of one.

It has been a long time since the Review-Journal endorsed any tax, except an occasional school bond question, but the biggest tax in history? Perhaps, we should have seen it coming. The paper did endorse the mining tax hike in November. Dipped its toe in the water and now it has dived in head first.

Turn out the lights. The party is over.

 

Columnist has a strange view of how editorial boards work

stevesjpg

In his op-ed column in today’s Las Vegas newspaper, Steve Sebelius uses the term majority a dozen times to refer to a “majority” of the paper’s editorial board and the decision to publish an editorial this past Sunday opposing the margin tax for education, Question 3 on the November ballot. He, of course, endorses the tax and I happen to agree with the editorial stance.

“Sunday’s editorial made the case against The Education Initiative, saying it would be economically destructive across a wide variety of businesses, and that, in fact, ‘it does guarantee a much worse economy.’ In these contentions, I believe the majority is simply wrong,” Sebelius writes.

The column leaves the distinct impression that a newspaper’s editorials are determined democratically by a “majority” of the editorial board members. At all the papers I’ve worked at since the early 1970s, that has not been the case.

People would ask me, when I was editor of the Review-Journal, how editorial decisions were made and I would explain that the editorial board would discuss the various aspects of an issue, the board would vote, and the publisher always won — a majority of one.

There is a tagline at the bottom of the editorial column that reads: “The views expressed above are those of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. All other opinions expressed on the Opinion and Commentary pages are those of the individual artist or author indicated.”

Unless things have changed far more than I could imagine at the R-J, the term “majority” is a misnomer.

In fact, in my current incarnation as a free-lance columnist and editorialist for a string of rural newspapers owned by the R-J’s former publisher Sherman Frederick, this distinction has in fact arisen.

Back in December I penned a column pointing out a better way to reduce the caseload of the Nevada Supreme Court than creating an appeals court, which is Question 1 on the ballot.

But the publisher wanted to endorse Question 1. I told him an editorialist is like a gunslinger or a hooker. Who do you want shot or screwed? The price is the same. (Borrowed from a description a lawyer once used for his profession, but it works in this case as well.)

By the time I finished the editorial I may have convinced myself to vote for the appeals court, since the better solution is not on the ballot and the current situation is untenable.

That’s how it really works at the vast majority of newspapers. It’s hardly a democracy.

(By the way, at this year’s Nevada Press Association contest my columns and editorials won first places in the community newspaper division. I also had first places in both categories while at the R-J. Both of those were deservedly captured this year by Glenn Cook.)

Connecting the dots on the Chinese nuclear threat

Map purportedly showing fallout from Chinese submarine nuclear missile attack on Seattle.

I wouldn’t start building that bomb shelter just yet.

Yes, both Las Vegas and Reno are black dots on that Chinese newspaper map showing damage from a Chinese nuclear attack, but so are Helena, Mont., and Nashua, N.H. Though a Washington Times article discussing the potential for Chinese missile attacks via both submarines and over-the-pole ICBMs lists both San Diego and Norfolk, Va., as potential targets, neither is a dot on the map.

A reporter for the Nashua Telegraph called the Washington Times columnist about the map that accompanied his article and was told it came from the Global Times, an English-language Chinese newspaper. The Chinese paper has carried a number of stories about Chinese nuclear capabilities online recently, but I could not find the map there.

The Nashua paper said the columnist, Miles Yu, said the map was labeled by the Chinese newspaper as a target analysis showing projected damage from a nuclear strike in Seattle. He was uncertain what the black dots on the map are supposed to show. “I think those are urban centers,” he said. “I have no idea what they are. It didn’t explain.”

R-J columnist Glenn Cook said of the Chinese newspaper account, “Las Vegas can appreciate the self-promoting aspect of the Chinese reports, which mentioned the ‘awesomeness’ of the country’s fleet. It’s all posturing and no threat.”

But the other reason to hold off on that bomb shelter is that it might not do you much good, especially if you live anywhere near Nellis Air Force Base and its nuclear bomb storage igloos. Whether Las Vegas is a dot on a newspaper map or not, Nellis is surely a prime target.

As I wrote nearly 34 years ago, a good-sized nuclear attack would leave a big, big crater.

First in a series of articles on the impact of nuclear attack on a Louisiana Air Force Base.

First in a series of articles on the impact of nuclear attack on a Louisiana Air Force Base.