Expanded from the 10-22-2006 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
"Hi Andy. Is there a way that you can help me to decide how to vote on Questions 1 to 11? I have in the past listened to your advice. I will appreciate your help," wrote a longtime reader.
I'll try to be uncharacteristically brief, but the decisions are easy to make.
Q1: GIBBONS GIMMICK. Rep. Jim Gibbons' BS "fund education first" initiative is the latest such shuck to promote his gubernatorial candidacy, just as he did in his first run for the governor's mansion in 1994. Because it's on the ballot, it's already cost you money. Passing the education budget five minutes ahead of the rest of the state spending on the last day of a legislative session will mean nothing but more paper shuffling for bill drafters. NO on Q1.
Q2. EMINENT DOMAIN DISASTER. Trying to take advantage of public emotion after a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision and outright corruption in Las Vegas, some clever lawyers put this turkey on the ballot. It provides windfalls to attorneys for years to come in the form of taxpayer-paid legal fees. Other than a couple of cases in Gomorrah South, eminent domain has not been abused in Nevada. What would life be like without it? Can you imagine all the traffic on Interstate 80 being routed via Victorian Avenue in Sparks and 4th Street in Reno? That's where we'd be if eminent domain had not been available to complete the interstate freeway through the Truckee Meadows. NO on Q2.
Q3, the government and school-gutting "tax and spending control" initiative was removed from the ballot by the Nevada Supremes because its backers broke state law by circulating conflicting versions. The justices should have removed Q2 because it also violates state law by illegally encompassing different issues, but Justices Becker and Douglas are both on the ballot this year and the court protected its own from angry voters by cutting down some of the scope of Q2 and leaving it on the ballot. Talk about judge-made law.
Q4 AND Q5: PUFFERY. Q5 is a legitimate attempt to keep people from having to inhale secondhand smoke in public places. Q4 is the well-funded vice industry (gambling, alcohol, tobacco) attempt to pass a limp, cosmetic version. Q4 also strengthens Nevada's "pre-emption law," which says local governments can't enact restrictions on tobacco more stringent than state law, already the weakest in the nation. The Nevada Constitution says if two ballot questions address the same issue and both pass, the one garnering the most votes wins. Last poll I saw, Q4 was leading. Damn 'em. NO on Q4, YES on Q5.
Q6, RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE. HELL YES!
Q7: MARY JANE AND THE SKINHEADS. Our skinheaded DA Dick "Mills Lite" Gammick is so pissed off over this one he even elbow-jostled me in the ribs and told me to shut up on Sam Shad's Nevada Newsmakers a couple of weeks ago. I asked him if his action constituted social contact or minor assault and battery.
Turns out that if you replace the word "legalization" with "regulation," a narrow majority of Nevadans favors this one. It probably won't pass, but it would save untold hundreds of millions in law enforcement and prison costs to stop demonizing weed.
For some damning facts, read former Tribune columnist Dennis Myers' revelatory Lies Our Drug Warriors Told Us, which will be linked to the web edition of this column at Barbwire.info.
If you lack any other reason, VOTE YES ON Q7 just to tweak Gammick's nipples.
Q8 AUTO-TRACTOR SALES TAXES. Nevada already has too many exemptions taking money from schools which already starve because of corporate welfare programs like downtown redevelopment, convention authority casino advertising and giveaways like Cabela's-Verdi and Sparks Marina STAR bonds. NO on Q8, but don't tell the auto dealer lobby how you're voting. I'll expand this online. (See Smoking Guns, below.)
EDITOR'S NOTE: Anyone interested in looking further into university affairs may go to the Barbwire 1996 archive and read everything from Oct. 27 forward and then occasionally throughout 1997. That interest has never waned, witness Prof. Jake Highton's presence in these parts. You may also use the NevadaLabor.com search engine for university-related keywords.
Q9, UNIVERSITY REGENTS. This would allow the governor to appoint some of them. The U-system has enough problems with corruption and cronyism (see my 1996-97 six-month Tribune series of exposes online, starting with the Oct. 27, 1996, edition). NO on Q9.
Q-10, SPECIAL SESSIONS. Allow the ledge to call itself into special session? So that it can do things like liberalize smoking laws, for instance? NO on Q-10.
Q-11 LAWMAKER PAY. I can't call myself an advocate of workers' rights and not support this one. Right now, a seat in the Nevada State Assembly or State Senate is a sub-minimum wage job. Q-11 will not raise pay, which is sorely needed, but allow lawmakers to be paid for every day they work. Right now, they work most of a legislative session for free. YES on Q-11.
WC-1, SALES TAX INCREASE. Cloaked in the garb of police and fire protection, this is a Trojan Horse. Our local governments want us to give them permission to go to the ledge to raise our already excessive and regressive sales taxes while at the same time they continue to give away tens of millions a year to corporate welfare programs. (See Q8.) Just how dumb do they think we are? Don't answer that. It will probably pass. NO on WC-1.
CHEAP SHOTS AND SHORT SHOTS. As Travus T. Hipp once wryly opined, sometimes cheap shots are the only shots you get, so here goes.
JOHN L. SMITH
In sticking to his script, Gibbons loses chance to clear campaign headache
Las Vegas Review-Journal 10-22-2006
CHEAP SHOTS DEPT.
Titus and Gibbons run dead even. Her worst is the TV spot potshot from the aggrieved war widow, his the commercial blaming Titus for dinnertime boileroom phone calls. Can potholes be far behind?
First, dont make your decision in the governor's race based on the latest high-profile allegations against Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev.
There are too many legitimate reasons for voting against him, such as his proposal to gut the Public Employees Retirement System or closing the V&T Museum in Carson City.
His wife, Dawn, has proven a fine public servant. (The only criticism I can lodge against Mrs. Gibbons is her taste in men.) She doesn't deserve to suffer from this public shaming of her husband with only an allegation to back it up.
Next, please don't vote early.
Too much can happen to affect your opinion in the final few weeks. For boosting participation, early voting has proven just about as ineffective as the motor-voter law allowing both auto and voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Early voting does allow political parties to exhort their sheep to fill out a straight party line ticket without thinking.
More important, if you don't take the time to learn about the candidates and issues, please don't vote at all.
Let me do it for you.
Because of chronic low turnouts, every Nevada voter effectively carries the proxies of three other citizens.
More latebreaking rumors, cheap shots and poll results at Barbwire.info.
Be well. Raise hell.
LIKE CURRENT GOV. DUDLEY DO-RIGHT, GIBBONS PROPOSES TO SLASH PUBLIC EMPLOYEE RETIREMENTS AND OTHER BENEFITS
Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2006 11:06:26 -0700
I am a retired public employee, having worked for both the State of Nevada and Washoe County. I read your article in this mornings paper and was very curious about the statement in it that referred to Mr Gibbons' proposal to gut the Public Employees Retirement System. I had not heard anything about this until now. Could you please explain his idea to me and or let me know where I can find out more about this. Thank you in advance for your help.
Dear Reader: Glad to. Not only does Mr. Gibbons present a true risk to retirees, but Sen. Titus could also use a little labor education. See below, spread the word, be well, raise hell. Andrew
BARBWIRE 10-8-2006: Rock and Roll
Includes audio/video links to Gibbons' statement on the Nevada Public Employee Retirement System (PERS)
Subject: Re: Your e-mail re Gibbons & PERS
Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2006 12:20:24 -0400
Here is a copy of my original email sent out regarding the comments on PERS from Mr. Gibbons. I sent it out to the Northern Nevada Police organization, PORAN (Police Officers Research Assn. of Nevada) and the Corrections Officers Association. They endorsed Mr. Gibbons.
Rusty McAllister, President
Professional Firefighters of Nevada
I attempted to get a straight answer from the candidates regarding the stance they have on our current PERS system regarding the defined benefit vs. defined contribution debate.
Here is the question that was posed during the debate: The Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada currently has 98,000 active and 33,000 retired members, the majority of whom do not qualify for Social Security or Medicare eligibility. Would you continue the current defined benefit plan or would you favor changes to the system for current or future public employees?
Here were the answers:
Dina Titus: "I favor a defined benefit plan. I believe that Nevada PERS is solvent and is managed well. I believe that when a firefighter or police officer puts their life on the line for us they deserve to know what benefit they are going to receive when they retire. I would not support any changes to our current system."
Jim Gibbons: "I'm glad you asked that question. From my lips to your ears I want you to know that I will veto any bill that comes to change PERS in any way for current employees. Nevada does have a liability however for PERS in the future and therefore I think there will need to be changes in the future for all future employees that are hired. I would say to you that all current employees will get what they expect and have earned but the newly hired future employees will quite probably see a change."
McAllister continues: I know that I cannot support any changes for the newly hired employees. I can't see any employee representative that would support selling out future employees retirements. His answer was pretty much exactly what he told to the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and why they sent out the letter stating he proposed changing the system for future employees.
Just thought you should know how his answer went in a public forum and not over emails or phone calls with individuals. My understanding is that the debate was recorded and I believe that the transcripts can be accessed at some point in time although I'm not sure where. When I find out I will email those to you.
Rusty McAllister, President
Professional Firefighters of Nevada
EDITOR'S NOTE: I asked Mr. McAllister for the time and date of the abovequoted remarks. Here is his response: The forum in which Mr. Gibbons made his remarks about the PERS system and future employees was the 4th and final debate in Elko, NV last Friday (Oct. 20, 2006). I have attached the link to the debate. The question was the 2nd of the night and came at about the 12 minute mark of the 1 hour video.
To view the program, go to http://www.kenvtv.com/Gov%20Debate.wmv
It requires an up-to-date web browser.
FROM DANNY THOMPSON, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY-TREASURER, NEVADA STATE AFL-CIO: "I have told everyone for months that the Republicans want to gut the Public Employees Retirement System by changing it from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan....We all know that every union member in the State of Nevada has a defined benefit plan for retirement and that a defined contribution amounts to nothing more than a stock plan that will never provide a real retirement for those stuck in that plan. In addition, if you stop making contributions to the plan for future employees, you will underfund the plan for existing members. If any public employee is thinking about voting for Jim Gibbons, they need to see this. I am asking all of you to post this in your halls and inform your members about his position. (The latter was part of a 10-21-2006 bulletin which distributed Bro. McAllister's comments to Nevada State AFL-CIO affiliates.)
Titus and Gibbons on the Issues
Las Vegas Review-Journal 10-22-2006
Q: Should public employee unions have the right of collective bargaining? What should be done about the liability posed by the public employee retirement and retirement health care systems?
GIBBONS: "I've always supported collective bargaining for first responders. Other state employees don't need that sort of protection." The Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada "is a very viable system that should not be touched." The state workers' health care program, however, poses a problem. Gibbons would not change what current employees get but supports reducing future hires' benefits along the lines of what Gov. Kenny Guinn proposed unsuccessfully in 2005. "Kenny Guinn was correct to be proactive. I want to be proactive on this. I want to sit down with the unions and listen to their ideas to keep it (the system) viable."
TITUS: "All state employees should have the right to collective bargaining." The retirement system is sound, but the health care system is a liability. "I don't believe you should cut off the subsidy (for retirement health care), because then you'll never hire anybody decent." Would consider phasing in health savings accounts or changing the technical provisions that prevent state employees being eligible for Social Security and Medicare.
BARBWIRE: Alas and alack, Sen. Titus has been misinformed about "health savings accounts," formerly known as "medical savings accounts." She would be further revolted if she knew the facts about the greedy, racist, union-busting Republican lowlife who originally pimped this turkey. See the Barbwire of May 3, 1998, for all the sordid details and updates.
MORE SORROW: GOV DUDLEY DO-RIGHT wants to burn newly hired state workers in the hope that Medicare will take care of their needs in the far-off future, long after he's left office: "Most future employees would likely be protected by Medicare; could still take advantage of the state's deferred-compensation plan to create their own retirement savings account; and would be able to participate in the state's group health insurance plan, only at its actual cost, rather than through state subsidization."(Carson City Nevada Appeal guest editorial, 10-10-2006)
As Garry Trudeau so succinctly put it in Doonesbury, Dudley is practicing Dubya's brand of compassionate conservatism "Compassionate" means "I care," while "conservatism" means "you're on your own."
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE Health Savings Accounts are designed to put Medicare into a death spiral so that by the time today's new-hires retire, it won't be around. Again, please refer to the Barbwire of May 3, 1998 and its ever-expanding related links, including the latest depredations of the racist Mr. J. Patrick Rooney, the father of the Health Savings Account.
NEWSFLASH 10-24-2006 Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., was named "worst person in the world" on MSNBC's The Countdown with Keith Olbermann, beating out perennial daily winner Bill O'Reilly of FAUX News. Olbermann, the best commentator on television, awarded the dubious distinction to GOP gubernatorial nominee Gibbons for stating that his alleged attempt to save an inebriated woman from tripping and falling taught him a lesson and that would be the last time he will ever try to help anyone again. What a guy.
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Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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