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Monday, February 28, 2011

Halseth seeks to deny voters access to elected officials by banning them from public hearings

Over 1,000 parents, students, administrators, staff and teachers made their way to Green Valley High School in Henderson to testify in front of their elected officials about Nevada's education budget. This did not please freshman senator Elizabeth Halseth: she has called for all Nevadans without student identification to be banned from future public hearings.


In Halseth's defense, she might not have actually authored that tweet herself. As seen in her Face to Face interview, she is usually not that coherent, and its widely known that the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity chapter of Nevada assists with her blog and sends her questions to ask and comments to make during her committee hearings in Carson City.

Despite who was behind the tweet, Halseth or AFP Nevada, you have to wonder why they were so upset by the testimony they heard that they feel government must step in and prevent voters from speaking and having access to their elected officials.

Was it the 3rd grader with type 1 diabetes who didn't want his school nurse to be fired because he'd have no one to give him his insulin shot? The bus driver who faithfully performed her duties for Clark County School District for 30 years? The young man from Nevada Policy Research Institute who said Nevada's education system didn't need more money, the money we have needs to be spent wisely? Or the mother of three who wanted her kids education to mean something when they graduate and go out into the world?

And to further darken an otherwise uplifting evening of civic engagement and parental involvement, Halseth and freshman assemblyman Scott Hammond lied via their twitter accounts by claiming parents were shut out of the public hearing because the auditorium was full of union members.



Anyone who actually attended the open hearing knows there was not one person wearing union paraphernalia in attendance. This may be news to Halseth and Hammond: members of Nevada's labor unions have children who attend public schools, and they care about the budget too.

Halseth and Hammond are the types to be first in line to lie about and demonize members of Nevada's labor unions then whine and cry that those same union members they want to ban from public hearings overwhelmingly support Democrats.

I doubt little Christopher Hughes, the 3rd grader with diabetes, is a union member, but Halseth and Hammond have dismissed his testimony just the same. They have to look past their conservative talking points and push politics to the side to help children in CCSD like Christopher.

All people who provided testimony had great ideas. Lets hope their words didn't fall or deaf, or even worse, partisan ears.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Governor Sandoval supports his Koch-head friend in Wisconsin

Oliver Willis has the audio and transcript up on his blog as the original source, Buffalo Beast, appears to be down. Hopefully due to traffic.

Here is what Buffalo Beast had on their website to describe the call, before the site went down:
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker answers his master’s call

“David Koch”: We’ll back you any way we can. What we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: You know, well, the only problem with that—because we thought about that…




“He’s just hard-lined—will not talk, will not communicate, will not return phone calls.”
-Wisconsin state Sen. Tim Carpenter (D) on Gov. Walker (source)

Carpenter’s quote made me wonder: who could get through to Gov. Walker? Well, what do we know about Walker and his proposed union-busting, no-bid budget? The obvious candidate was David Koch.

I first called at 11:30 am CST, and eventually got through to a young, male receptionist who, upon hearing the magic name Koch, immediately transferred me to Executive Assistant Governor Dorothy Moore.

“We’ve met before, Dorothy,” I nudged. “I really need to talk to Scott—Governor Walker.” She said that, yes, she thought she had met Koch, and that the name was “familiar.” But she insisted that Walker was detained in a meeting and couldn’t get away. She asked about the nature of my call. I balked, “I just needed to speak with the Governor. He knows what this is about,” I said. She told me to call back at noon, and she’d have a better idea of when he would be free.

I called at noon and was quickly transferred to Moore, who then transferred me to Walker’s Chief of Staff Keith Gilkes. He was “expecting my call.”

“David!” he said with an audible smile.

I politely said hello, not knowing how friendly Gilkes and Koch may be. He was eager to help. “I was really hoping to talk directly to Scott,” I said. He said that could be arranged and that I should just leave my number. I explained to Gilkes, “My goddamn maid, Maria, put my phone in the washer. I’d have her deported, but she works for next to nothing.” Gilkes found this amusing. “I’m calling from the VOID—with the VOID, or whatever it’s called. You know, the Snype!”

“Gotcha,” Gilkes said. “Let me check the schedule here…OK, there’s an opening at 2 o’clock Central Standard Time. Just call this same number and we’ll put you through.”

Could it really be that easy? Yes. What follows is a rushed, abridged transcript of my—I mean, David Koch’s conversation with Gov. Walker.

Here is the portion about Nevada's governor Brian Sandoval:
Walker: [blah about his press conferences, attacking Obama, and all the great press he's getting.] Brian [Sadoval], the new Governor of Nevada, called me the last night he said—he was out in the Lincoln Day Circuit in the last two weekends and he was kidding me, he said, “Scott, don’t come to Nevada because I’d be afraid you beat me running for governor.” That’s all they want to talk about is what are you doing to help the governor of Wisconsin. I talk to Kasich every day—John’s gotta stand firm in Ohio. I think we could do the same thing with Vic Scott in Florida. I think, uh, Snyder—if he got a little more support—probably could do that in Michigan. You start going down the list there’s a lot of us new governors that got elected to do something big.

Koch: You’re the first domino.

Walker: Yep. This is our moment.

Koch: Now what else could we do for you down there?

Walker: Well the biggest thing would be—and your guy on the ground [Americans For Prosperity president Tim Phillips] is probably seeing this [stuff about all the people protesting, and some of them flip him off].

Audio starts at 1:15

Governor Walker's office confirms, that's him on this call talking about union-busting to a fake David Koch

Friday, February 18, 2011

Jodi Stephens takes a break from disenfranchising voters and attacks unions

Having not been satisfied with going after the poor and people of color with voter suppression tactics, executive director of the republican senate caucus went after working Nevadans.

In a RT of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce, Jodi Stephens belittles Nevada's Labor Unions by suggesting (re: lying) they do not organize for education.

Jodi Stephens attacking unions

Thanks to republicans like Stephens, Labor Unions in Nevada *have* organized on behalf of education. If she took a break from supporting voter suppression (re: not creating jobs for Nevadans) she could Google and see many examples of unions having to lobby, march, rally, phone bank, canvass and organize because of her party.

Here are just two examples of union organizing I was apart of as a member of AFCSME Local 4041

UNLV students walk out

Let the protests begin: College students and teachers rally against budget cuts

And there are more to come. Former governor Jim Gibbons nearly choked the life our of our education system with drastic cuts. Current governor Brian Sandoval seems intent on finishing the job.

I am no longer a member, but I know AFSCME and other Labor Unions in Nevada will continue to organize, assist students and parents in organizing and partnering with the teacher's union and others to fight back against Jodi Stephens and the Senate Republican's attempt to gut our education system.


Someone sent this tip to me. They said she was Governor Gibbons Secretary, which is what I tweeted. Actually, she was his "executive assistant" then was promoted to "legislative director".

The story is on the Las Vegas Review Journal's website; I can't link/quote for obvious reasons. But, do a search for "jodi stephens" + "gibbons" + "salary" and its the first result (I could not find a Sun article).

Apparently, within the same year Ms. Stephens was feverishly working to take funding from education and cut the salaries of working Nevadans by 6%, she managed to DOUBLE her own salary to $103,382.

No wonder she was rejected by the voters of assembly district 32.


Nevada republicans introduce bill designed to intimidate voters

Nevada's financial situation is so dire, UNLV is considering bankruptcy and a judge fears Governor Brian Sandoval's budget would be a threat to public safety.

Good thing we have republicans to tell us what's really important: intimidating voters of color and the poor.

Senate Bill 178: "a country clerk, field registrar, employee of a voter registration agency or person assisting a voter...shall not register a person to vote unless the person submits proof of citizenship to the county clerk."

State after state, republicans do what they can to disenfranchise people.

Last year Talking Points Memo took a look at the issue:
Just in time for the new year and new legislative sessions, the voter identification and proof-of-citizenship trains have restarted their engines and are chugging down the state tracks once again.

It being an election year wouldn't have anything to do with it, would it?

For as we know the voters who are far and away more likely to be disenfranchised by these nonsensical, ineffective measures are lower income, young people, minorities, the elderly, new Americans and voters with disabilities. The research that it is these categories of citizens that are blocked from voting because of these rules at this point in the debate is voluminous, and the evidence of fraud at the polling place of the type an ID would prevent or catch continues to be nonexistent. This includes the lack of any known charges involving anyone impersonating another voter at the polls in the huge turnout 2008 election. Proof-of-citizenship bills may be even more pernicious, as we witnessed thousands of eligible citizens have their registration applications rejected when Arizona passed such a measure a few years back.

This is key:
It has been evident for many years now that the claims about fraud are a fraud themselves and the motives behind passage of ID and proof-of-citizenship bills are usually not one of true concern for the integrity of the voting system. If the sponsors and supporters of these bills were concerned about electoral integrity, they would be concerned about the millions of people who are prevented from voting because of our badly flawed voter registration system.

I wonder how many jobs this bill will create. How much money it will save.

Share your opinion of SB178 here

Find your state senator's contact information here

And your assemblyperson

Contact the bill sponsors:

Don Gustavson

Joe Hardy

Mike McGinness

Michael Roberson

James Settelmeyer

Ira Hansen

John Ellison

Ed Goedhart

Pete Goicoechea

John Hambrick

Randy Kirner

Richard McArthur


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What I Had Meant To Say Was...

Nevada's mining industry had a bad day in the Nevada legislature Tuesday. State Senator Sheila Leslie's eminent domain bill is picking up some unlikely supporters. Freshman Republican senator Michael Roberson of Las Vegas made news when questioning Nevada Mining Association President Tim Crowley, but it was a blog on another freshman's website that caught my attention.

Elizabeth Halseth, a Sharron Angle/Sarah Palin Republican hybrid from Las Vegas, has a blog on her website that she claims she write, but I'm not convinced she does. Anyone who saw her on Face to Face (Part 1, Part 2) agrees with me. And word up north in Carson City, the questions she asks in committee are given to her by a conservative organization.

Halseth's website has scrubbed the original language after she was accused of hinting at a pay-to-play relationship with mining. The blog stated the mining industry will come to "regret" ignoring her. Fighting words!

Halseth attempted to clarify today by saying “They [the mining industry] didn’t take the time to talk and … meet with me. If I’m not informed about their side, how can I make a decision?”

In other words: "If you had just fed me your talking points and rhetoric, I would've repeated them ad nauseam. Didn't you see me on Face to Face?"

Halseth's tweet to hersef

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tweeting the Nevada Legislature

When I was first introduced to Twitter, I thought it was stupid. I assumed the micro-blogging/social-networking website was just another way for Obama for America to intrude on my life during the 2008 general election. But over 1600 followers later, I’ve become a Twitter addict and earned the nickname “Ms. Twitter". As the 2011 legislative session gets rolling, I’ve seen bevy of politicians catch the bug.

What is Twitter you ask? According to the folks in charge:
Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting. Simply find the public streams you find most compelling and follow the conversations.

At the heart of Twitter are small bursts of information called Tweets. Each Tweet is 140 characters in length, but don’t let the small size fool you—you can share a lot with a little space. Connected to each Tweet is a rich details pane that provides additional information, deeper context and embedded media. You can tell your story within your Tweet, or you can think of a Tweet as the headline, and use the details pane to tell the rest with photos, videos and other media content.

I am hundreds of miles away from our state’s capital in Carson City, but Twitter puts me in the middle of all the action. Yes, that sounds hella corny, but it’s true. I don’t have to wait for a nightly news cast, morning paper or weekly column. I don’t have to wait for constituent outreach every weekend or whenever my representative is able to come home. I can just go to their Twitter page and see what they’re doing. I can also tweet them and tell them what I want them to be doing. Writing a letter, making a phone call or scheduling an office visit is so 2008. Plus, Twitter harnesses the most effective tool in political activism: public humiliation.

There are some politicians who get it, and some who don’t. I’m going to take this opportunity to call a few of them out.

First up, America’s hottest Secretary of State, Ross Miller @rossjmiller. Secretary Miller is the best Nevada political tweeter who is an elected official (who actually tweets their own material). He tweets helpful links and information as they pertain to his duties as secretary of state. He shares pictures of himself on the campaign trail, with his UFC buddies, with his favorite candy and the occasional weird costume party picture. The key to his Twitter success: he doesn’t just cast out information, he engages. He has over 3,000 followers and follows almost 1,000 people back. He cracks jokes and plays the occasional trivia game. And he is reading our tweets. At the last Aid for AIDS Las Vegas walk, I tweeted “our secretary of state is here with his hot wife” and he tweeted me back agreeing that his wife is indeed, hot. When President Obama was at Orr Middle School in Las Vegas stumping for Harry Reid, as the event was clearing out, he called me over and asked why I hadn’t live-tweeted the event.

Assemblyman Bobzien @BobzienNevada and Senator Leslie @sleslienv are from “the north” and provide much appreciated information and play-by-play tweets of all that goes on in Carson City and in their home districts. Both have live-tweeted official and ceremonial functions. Without Twitter, us poor unfortunate souls down south would probably never get the chance to “get to know” these two fine Democrats.

Lucy Flores @LucyFlores is a freshman assemblywoman representing east Las Vegas with an amazing personal story (google her). Although I do wish she’d tweet more (she is hilarious and wicked smart) I understand that as a freshman she is quite busy. But what she does tweet is good stuff. Lucy uses her twitter to let her constituents, supporters and friends know what she’s doing, where she’s at and how she is. She also links to articles about Latino culture and politics, women’s issues, and of course Nevada. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to her superior foursquare skills.

I’m including Ben Kieckhefer (how the hell do you say that?) @Ben_Kieckhefer for the sake of bipartisanship. He does seem to be the only Republican in the legislature who can coherently tweet. I’m sure his days as an AP reporter and flak for governor Jim Gibbons has helped hone his twitter communication skills. But I will remember this tweet if (when?) he votes to take vital funding from the most helpless constituents in his district.

Elizabeth Halseth @elizabethSD9 is the worst legislative tweeter. I’m not sure she’s aware that other people are reading what she writes. A look at her timeline and you’ll see she is just narrating her day, or giving herself props. The best way to get the hang of Twitter is not by jumping in head first and just tweeting whatever comes to mind. Start following people, look at what they tweet. See how they tweet. If you don’t understand something (hashtags, url shortening, RT/MT, tweeting pictures, etc...) just ask! I’ve answered a lot of Twitter questions via direct message or email. I’ve even given one-on-one Twitter lessons (for free!). But I guess there is something to be said about her substance-free Tweets--tweeting just to tweet but adding no value--and how the Republican Party as a whole functions.

Speaker of the House Oceguera @JohnOceguera and Senate Majority Leader Horsford @shorsford. I love these guys, but I don’t think they manage their own accounts, and that is a pet peeve of mine. Sending a tweet is easy as sending a text message. Sure, you can have staff link to press clips, but why not take the time to interact with constituents on Twitter for a few minutes a couple times a week? They’re new to Twitter, so safe to say they (re: their staff) haven’t quite gotten a hold of what it’s all about, and their accounts seem very mechanical and too polished/impersonal. They are probably two of the busiest and most stressed out people in Carson City not named Brian Sandoval, but if you’re going to have Twitter, do it right.

Is Twitter important? That’s for you to decide. For politicians, I think it is. It’s a way to side step the media filter and connect directly with constituents.

Feel free to judge my own Twitter skills @LauraKMM

And if you care, the Twitter follower leader board among Nevada legislators (follow #NVleg or my Twitter list of legislators)
John Oceguera 423
Lucy Flores 420
Elliot Anderson 412
David Bobzien 396
Marcus Conklin 298
Ruben Kihuen 298
Ben Kieckhefer 286
William Horne 259
Sheila Leslie 243
Elizabeth Halseth 180
Jason Frierson 167
Steven Horsford 84
Debbie Smith 70
Paul Aizley 61
Steven Brooks 45
Allison Copening 41
Michael Roberson 28
John Hambrick 23
Ira Hansen 23
Mo Denis 10

Ben Spillman of the Review Journal recently did a story on the emergence of Twitter and Tweeting among members of the Nevada legislature. I would link, but it’s the RJ and I don’t feel like getting sued. I did want to give Spillman some props because his article (and Halseth’s horrible tweeting) prompted me to blog this. I suggest finding his article on the RJ’s site; it’s worth a read.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A busy 24 hours in Nevada politics

Let's see: Republicans in the legislature are whining, Sen Rhoades is going rogue, Chris G is running for mayor and apparently so is our current mayor Oscar Goodman's wife, Carolyn.

Steve Sebelius' has two blog entries over at Slash Politics on the Las Vegas mayoral race. This kind of stuff only happens in Vegas:
“The more I thought about it, the more there really was no question in my mind,” Carolyn Goodman said in a brief interview this morning.

“We woke up this morning, and Oscar said, ‘Don’t do it.’ And I said, ‘Interesting,’” Carolyn Goodman said. “And I said, ‘I’m doing it,’ so he said, ‘Go for it, girl.’”

She joins Clark County Commissioners Larry Brown and Chris Giunchigliani as well as Las Vegas Councilman Steve Ross as the front runners in the race.

HPIC Jon Ralston posts a letter from the Republican leadership in the Nevada legislature. Seems like after nearly a full week of Nevadans sharing their budget cut horror stories, our friends on the right are crying uncle, and looking to make someone else the bad guy. Misery loves company.

And speaking of Ralston and #LVMayor, in a tweet he tags Chris G as a favorite, based on what, I have no idea. But it is peculiar considering three months ago he was calling out Chris G for mayor supporters as "suckers".

Andrew Davey, the Nevada Progressive, sees a possible breakthrough on the GOP side of the Nevada Legislature as Sen Rhoades shakes off the zombie Republican "noooo neeeww taxessss" trance:
Dean Rhoads, the state’s senior senator, became the first Republican lawmaker to publicly break with Gov. Brian Sandoval, saying he thinks the state will need to raise taxes to balance the budget.

Rhoads, who is serving his final year in the Legislature because of term limits, told the Sun that cuts in education and social services in Sandoval’s budget are too deep.

“There will have to be deep cuts like Sandoval proposed, and tax and fee increases,” Rhoads said Tuesday. “We’re going to have to do a combination.” [...]

If you care about Nevada politics, Desert Beacon is a daily must-read. This entry breaks down the logical fallacies in a letter penned by Republican leaders in the legislature:
In short, it is the Nevada Republican Party that is calling for the maintenance of the status quo. After all they have a budget proposal that "that forces government to get more out of less rather than one that increases spending, cripples our economy, kills job growth." This is little more than a succinct restatement of the mantras associated with the "Supply Side Hoax," or as George H.W. Bush liked to call it -- Voodoo Economics.

Justin McAffee of The Nevada View calls Nevada Republicans out for claiming (*cough*LYING*cough*) Nevadans pay high taxes:
As the 2011 Nevada Legislative Session begins next week, interest groups and politicians will be arguing over whether Nevada’s taxes are too low or too high. There is a strong segment of local conservatives and Republicans who think that Nevada’s taxes are too high. The evidence and consensus among academics and think tanks (liberal and conservative) say that Nevada’s taxes are among the lowest in the nation.

And, a blog post isn't complete without Nevada Scandalmongers's wonderful photoshops:


The Grind