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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We're still keeping an eye on this

Collective bargaining back in the news in Nevada (see TSF blog here):

Fight over collective bargaining looming in Legislature

But Sandoval’s newly unveiled education reform package might bring the collective bargaining fight to him.

Under the legislation, teachers unions couldn’t bargain for higher pay based on educational attainment or years of service. They would also be limited in bargaining on the processes for layoffs, other workforce reductions and termination.

The Nevada State Education Association sees Sandoval’s bill, Assembly Bill 555, as an end run around its collective bargaining rights.

“We certainly didn’t take the governor at his word that he was not going to mess with collective bargaining,” association President Lynn Warne said. “He said he wasn’t going to move to eliminate collective bargaining, but there’s lots of mischief to be made within the statute of 288. And he’s picked on two very important issues to us.”

I wonder why no mention of Legislative Republicans issuing a list of demands, including derailing collective bargaining.

Is it due to lack of resources or lack of will that no one is pointing out what Governor Sandoval and legislative Republicans are doing in Carson is happening in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin and other states?

Conservative think-tanks and news services have been slithering around Carson for almost two months as part of a string of "non profit" franchise-type operations that have popped up in states with new Republican governors.

This is not all just a coincidence.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Early voters are lazy and uninformed. They must be stopped

Last Friday someone told me the Republicans in the Nevada legislature have a bill that would end early voting. I assumed they were kidding.

Nevada covets early voting.

But go to the website, look for assembly bill 311: AN ACT relating to elections; eliminating early voting in elections; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.


My friend Andrew over at the Nevada Progressive blogged about the bill first. What blows me is the bill's sponsor, Crescent Hardy R-Mesquite, claiming an unnamed group for unknown reasons asked him for this bill.

The fuck? Is this real life?

Just more evidence of Republicans attacking the least among us.

They know they can't win elections with high turn out. All across the nation Republicans are doing what they can to knock registered voters off the official record and suppress turnout. Remember the voter suppression bill I blogged about early this session? The one where Jodi Stephens whined that the evil Liberals didn't like that she and her Republicans friends wanted to prevent the poor and people of color from voting?

None of these bills will go anywhere. Aren't the Republicans the fiscally responsible ones? This is a huge waste of tax payer money and time. So why bother?

Because they can go back to their districts and toss this red meat at the seal-clapping masses: "I tried, but it was the Liberals and ACORN and SEIU and those illegals who stopped me. I was on your side!"

That's right you lazy, ignorant, good-for-nothing teachers, grandmas, students, single parents and government workers. You've had your fun participating in Democracy, now the Republicans and their allies are going to take those privileges back!

And your little dog too!

Oh, the irony

I've long complained that I have no congressman.

I live in Clark County but have the misfortune of living in Congressional District 2, the seat currently held by Dean Heller.

A CD2 resident since 2008, I've met my congressman exactly zero times. In the past three plus years I've gone to Washington, DC at least a dozen times and each request I've sent to his office to meet with him or to receive gallery passes has been ignored. Going to his constituent office in Las Vegas renders similar results. Usually no one is there. Just a locked office, lights off. Your tax dollars hard at work.

Today I caught Jane Ann Morrison's column in the Las Vegas Review Journal where Heller defends himself against the notion that he's become more conservative and less accessible.

The timing couldn't be more perfect.

I planned on going to Heller's office this morning with some seniors to ask him to stop threatening to kill the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, medicare protections and benefits with it. His office must know this column is coming out today. They surely had a staffer there so as not to prove the columnist's point. Or so I thought.

Waiting at security of Alan Bible building, I browsed the wall of the world's most evil terrorists (why isn't Bin Laden up there anymore?) and I could hear the security guard picking up the phone, dialing, waiting, hanging up, dialing, waiting...for almost a full minute. Finally, he said no one was in the office, so no one was going upstairs.

I really wish I knew who else was in the building so I could have told a little white lie, gone up and taken a picture outside his darkened office, on a weekday, at 10am.

Granted, Ms Morrison was mostly referring to accessibility of Heller to the press (more important than constituent accessibility, right?) in her column, but as I said above, as a constituent, no matter how hard I tried, I've had absolutely no access to my congressman.

Heller says he has a lot of work to do in Clark County if he wants to win Ensign's newly vacated seat (what happens if Ensign retires early and Sandoval appoints himself to that seat? No more election or Heller?) so far, he's off to a really bad start.

Not that I'm complaining or anything.

Republicans who support education and need a push

Anyone following #Mar21 #NVed and #NVleg on twitter (or following The Sausage Factory's live blog here) knows shit is popping off in Carson City.

A dozen buses packed with students left Las Vegas last night and they were joined in Carson City this morning by 7 buses from Reno and 1 bus from the rural Nevada.

There are Republican legislators who support education and will listen to our pleas to save it.

Here are there contacts. Email, call and if you're in Carson, go to their office. Put a face behind these cuts.

Save our state!

Scott Hammond
office in the legislature: 4111

Randy Kirner
office 3130

Melissa Woodbury
office 4103

Ira Hansen
775-684-8851 (cell: 775-221-2502)
office 3156

Pat Hickey
775-684-8837 (cell: 775-762-8006)
office 4112

Ben Kieckhefer
775-684-1450 (cell: 775-223-9618)
office 2145

Mar 21: Students March on Carson City

A few months ago organizer Michael Flores told me he wanted to fill up buses with students and send them to Carson City to lobby the legislature.

Tonight I watched as hundreds of students piled into a dozen buses and headed north. And I have never been more proud.

Governor Brian Sandoval has pushed the students of Nevada too far. "Death by a thousands cuts" is what you often hear. But these kids aren't going to take it anymore.

Watch the events of the day unfold live right here:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Brian Sandoval vs. the American Dream

While our press corps is distracted and Governor Brian Sandoval manages to avoid scrutiny with his nice smile and non-threatening hair cut, activists in Nevada and across the country are organizing and working to hold Sandoval accountable for the damage he is attempting to do to our great state.

The cuts are not a shared sacrifice. Like other republican governors across the nation, Sandoval's cuts target the least among us.

This was sent by MoveOn.org today:
Dear Nevada MoveOn member,

The battle of Wisconsin has awakened a sleeping giant—millions of people standing together to save the American Dream from severe budget cuts and attacks on the rights of working people.

We need to keep that momentum going here in Nevada, where a huge fight is brewing in Carson City over the state's budget.

Governor Brian Sandoval has proposed a budget that cuts public education, Medicaid, public safety and more—all while allowing corporations and the wealthy to avoid paying their fair share.1

Wisconsin showed that the people are not going to let corporations and their allies on the right trample the American Dream without a fight. Now we have to send that same message in Nevada.

Click here to sign the petition to Gov. Brian Sandoval and your state legislators.

Here's what the petition says: "Nevada's budget has already been cut to the bone. Corporations and the wealthy must pay their fair share for quality schools, police, health care, and other vital public services."

After you sign, be sure to share this petition on Facebook and email it to your friends and neighbors in Henderson and around the state.

This is about the budget, but it's also about something bigger. We need to make this the moment when regular people stand up and say "no" to the corporations and right-wing politicians who want to strangle the public investments needed to keep the American Dream alive.

Please take a moment to add your name to the petition, and we'll deliver it to Gov. Brian Sandoval and your state legislators by the end of this week.

Click here to sign the petition to Gov. Brian Sandoval and your state legislators.

Thanks for all you do.

–Anna, Marika, Stephen, Adam Q., and the rest of the team


1. "Governors are Proposing Further Deep Cuts in Services, Likely Harming Their Economies," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 3, 2011

After signing the petition, here is the email MoveOn will send to contacts of your choosing:
Subject: Nevada Budget Cuts vs. the American Dream


Governor Brian Sandoval has proposed a budget that cuts public
education, Medicaid, public safety and more--all while allowing
corporations and the wealthy to avoid paying their fair share.

I signed a petition to the governor and my state legislators opposing
these cuts. Can you join me at the link below?



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dean Heller announces he's running for Senate; Clark County licks its chops

I have the misfortune of living in Clark County's 2nd congressional district.

I say misfortune because my congressman, Dean Heller, never comes to this part of the district. His Las Vegas district office is rarely open. Yes Nevada, your tax dollars are paying rent on a congressional office that is supposed to provide constituent services that usually sits empty, doors locked. He lost my assembly district in 2010 to challenger Nancy Price (Price had 63% of the vote in my precinct) and the Nevada Democratic Party didn't even try to win this election (no calling, no canvassing). Jill Derby beat Heller in Clark County in 2008 in an election where NV Dems actually put forth a little bit of effort.

I'm not sure this is going to be a cake walk for Heller. This will be the first time he faces the full force of NV Dems and its activists, including an assist from OFA and President Obama at the top of the ticket. And I know I'm not the only CD2-Clark resident who has been saving up Heller's racist anti-immigrant mailers, fact-less constituent letters and tax payer-funded official congressional correspondence that seem to only come out when he's running for re-election and look a lot like a campaign mailer.

But he's decided to run for US Senate anyway.

Here's the email I received today. The opening line is full of lulz.

Also included a screen print so you know the mangled first sentence was in the actual email.

Your past support has meant a lot me and for this reason I wanted you to be among the first to know that I am running for the United States Senate.

It is difficult to see so many people hurting in my home state. As many of you know, I grew up in Nevada and my wife Lynne and I have raised our family here. We see the tough choices our friends, neighbors, and family members are making every day and I see how poor decisions in Washington are impacting their lives.

This is not the first time that Nevadans have endured tough times and it won't be the last, but I know that there are better days ahead.

Our strength as a state and a nation is bigger than the troubles of today. However, it is also incumbent upon us to effect change in difficult times to create a better future.

As families across Nevada struggle to pay their bills and fight to keep their homes, Barack Obama and his beltway allies are proposing record spending that will add to America's job-killing debt from a stratospheric $14 trillion to a staggering $20 trillion.

We cannot allow this to happen.

We can change the course we are on by taking action today. The choices we make can lead to big changes in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. This is a crossroad that will not only change Nevada, but significantly change the direction of our nation for years to come.

If we are to turn our economy around, we must remove impediments that have caused economic stagnation and the inability of businesses to create new jobs. Not continue with business as usual.

We cannot ignore our nation's very serious fiscal problems and continue to allow Obama's big government job killing agenda to continue.

I have long been an opponent of reckless government spending and continue to support a balanced budget. In 2008, I stood up to former President Bush, then Senator Obama, and Washington special interests and said no to the Wall Street bailout. In fact, I was the only member of the Nevada delegation to vote against the Wall Street bailout, not once but twice. My view then, just as it is now, is that debt fueled bailouts only hurts long-term economic growth and places taxpayers on the hook for the excesses of Wall Street.

Now I want to take this fight to the United States Senate.

Congress can no longer refuse to make tough fiscal decisions and stick our children and grandchildren with the massive debt that has been allowed to accrue for far too long. We must take control of government spending to instill long-term economic growth in our country.

There are those who believe government spending is not the problem and we should simply raise taxes and treat the American public as an ATM. Let me assure you that I believe Washington has a spending problem—not a revenue problem—and that tax increases are not the answer especially in our current economic environment.

Just like many families across our state, Lynne and I sit around the table and discuss the direction of our country, the future of our children, and the needs of the people of our great state who have endured in this struggling economy for far too long.

It is time to move beyond the failed policies of the past and create real economic growth in Nevada.

I know that the tough times are not yet over. However, I also know that there are better times ahead.

Together we can move our country in a new direction, get Nevadans working again, and create a more prosperous future for us and our children.

It has been an honor to serve you and our great state in the House. I hope I can count on your continued support. With your help, we can bring a new conservative majority to the United States Senate.

Dean Heller


UPDATE: Updated to correct Price's winning percentage from 62% to 63%


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Re-Tweeting the Nevada Legislature

By far one of the most popular blogs on The Sausage Factory was 'Tweeting the Nevada Legislature'. I'm glad that my Twitter list of Nevada legislators has been useful for Nevada's tweeters who are trying to keep up with what their representatives are doing in Carson City.

I provided some gentle criticism for those whose Twitter skills are lacking and I am going to take full credit for the improvements that I've seen ;^)

Elizabeth Halseth @elizabethSD9 is no longer narrating her day with banal "I'm off to the bathroom" "Just got done washing my hands" "Heading back to my office" "Oops, toilet paper is stuck to my heel" type tweets. She is interacting more, asking questions and tweeting pictures. Twitter is not a community cork board where you just post information, to get the best experience out of Twitter that you can, you must be interactive.

I was also critical of Speaker of the House Oceguera @JohnOceguera and Senate Majority Leader Horsford @shorsford for their cold/impersonal tweets. But it has gotten MUCH better. Speaker Oceguera is sharing more articles and making comments on them. He's interacting more with his followers and people who "@" reply him. He even tweeted a video of his adorable baby boy Jackson walking; an inclusion in the #NVleg Democrat's #437Kreasons twitter campaign to bring awareness to the education budget in Nevada.

SML Horsford's account has also livened up. Tweeting questions, throwing out facts and providing #nvleg info to his followers. As Nevada's DNC committee representative, he recently traveled to DC for the DNC's winter meeting and live-tweeted a few meetings and shared pictures. Political nerds like me ate that shit up!

Lucy Flores @LucyFlores is still my favorite #nvleg tweeter. Providing information, asking questions, answering questions, talking about her personal life and refusing to take shit from anyone who tries to get crazy with her on Twitter. But I will say, I was hating on her a few days ago when she tweeted she tried Zumba, then did some yoga and finished it off with an hour of basketball! Trying to make us all look bad!

And here's an updated list of the #NVleg Twitter Follower Leader-board (for time's sake, only doing the top 10):

@JohnOceguera 550

@LucyFlores 513

@BobzienNevada 506

@ElliotAndersonv 483

@RubenKihuen 391

@MarcusConklin 372

@sleslienv 371

@Ben_Kieckhefer 356


@elizabethSD9 283


What the hell RORY?

News broke Friday that Rory Reid for Governor crew found some creative--albeit legal--ways to get some campaign cash that involved creating 91 (NINETY ONE!!? GOT DAMN RORY!) PACs:
In one of the most brazen schemes in Nevada history, gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid’s campaign formed 91 shell political action committees that were used to funnel three quarters of a million dollars into his campaign, circumventing contribution limits and violating at least the spirit – and maybe the letter – of the laws governing elections.

Reid, who was fully aware of what was done, essentially received more than $750,000 from one PAC – 75 times the legal limit -- after his team created dozens of smaller PACS that had no other purpose other than to serve as conduits from a larger entity that the candidate funded by asking large donors for money. Indeed, the shell PACs were formed in the fall and dissolved on Dec. 31, after they had served their short-term function, which was to help the candidate evade campaign contribution laws.

Tio Rory said he was playing by the rules: he sought legal council and received guidance from the Secretary of State's office.

But just because something is legal, doesn't mean you have to run out and do it (hey Rory, kinda referring to your dad's speech about hookers) especially if it feels wrong.

I was rooting for you Rory, we were all rooting for you! *rips up Rory for CD4 bumper sticker*

But I do have a question about the timing of it all.

Tio Rory claims to have gotten the okay from the Secretary of State's office beforehand.

He loses the bid for governor on November 2, 2010 (over five months ago) to Governor Brian Sandoval (which news agency will go through Sandoval's campaign finances I wonder? Don't hold your breath).

On February 28, 2011 Secretary of State Ross Miller again submits a campaign finance reform bill. Similar bills have been submitted by Secretary Miller. This bill faces some resistance from the right, especially from underfunded political parties who feel Secretary Miller is raising campaign filing costs and increasing the number of reports to shut them out.

The ACLU has claimed Secretary Miller's bill is a violation of the First Amendment.

March 4, 2011 news breaks that Rory Reid for governor formed a Megatron PAC

What better way to get bipartisan support for a campaign finance reform bill (similar ones have failed twice) than to make an example out of a Reid who took advantage of the state's weak campaign finance laws?

Interesting how things just seem to work themselves out.


Revisiting SB41

By far the most controversial blog on The Sausage Factory was this one about holes in Governor Brian Sandoval's position on collective bargaining and lack of reporting on SB41. It's always funny to hear that people are calling around just to tattle on you over a blog. Man up!

This is a brief update/basic timeline:

Feb 4: Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval's adviser Dale Erquiaga says the Gov wants nothing to do with former Governor Jim Gibbons bill that would eliminate collective bargaining.

Feb 7: SB41, a bill that would eliminate collective bargaining in Nevada, finds its way to the state senate. Other bills left over from the Gibbons administration have yet to see the light of day. Somehow, despite the Governor's supposed lack of interest, SB41 is drafted and makes it to committee.

Feb 11: Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin introduces his budget that includes eliminating collective bargaining for public employees.

Feb 14: In Wisconsin, Labor Unions and members of the public begin to protest Governor Walker's union-busting budget.

Feb 19: In Wisconsin almost 70,000 people protest Governor Walker's union-busting budget.

Feb 21: Governor Sandoval attends the Churchill County Central Republican Committee's Lincoln Day Dinner and tells attendees he has Governor Walker's back
“We are all working together,” Sandoval told Walker. “No one is going to buckle, no one is going to blink.”

Feb 22: Governor Walker falls for a prank phone call and tells "David Koch" that Governor Sandoval says there is support for what Walker is doing in WI (busting unions) in the state of NV.

Feb 23: Republican governors in Ohio and Florida back off of collective bargaining.

Feb 24: Governor Sandoval tells the Las Vegas Sun “In regard to collective bargaining, there may be a bill,” Sandoval said. “I’ve not seen that bill. I’m watching the progress of such bills and waiting to see if they arrive here at the Capitol.”

Feb 27: The Las Vegas Review Journal reports there is no push by Governor Sandoval or Nevada Republicans to bother collective bargaining.

Mar 2: Assembly Republicans issue a list of demands, including "Strengthen management’s position in public employee collective bargaining rules."

updated to add gif, fix sentence


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Governor Brian Sandoval wants to end collective bargaining

On February 24, 2011 Governor Sandoval told Anjeanette Damon of the Las Vegas Sun:
“In regard to collective bargaining, there may be a bill,” Sandoval said. “I’ve not seen that bill. I’m watching the progress of such bills and waiting to see if they arrive here at the Capitol.”

On February 27, 2011 Laura Myers of the Review Journal, in one of her infamous rambling opuses declared Governor Sandoval and the Nevada republican party are not going after public employees or unions.

And today, Jon Ralston published a missive and he too fell into line claiming Governor Sandoval had no intentions (no stomach?) to mess with collective bargaining rights.

But over in Humbolt County, our friend Desert Beacon finds this:
In case citizens of Nevada were thinking that what happens in Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin would stay in Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin -- please see SB 41 (pdf), introduced into the Nevada State Legislature by the Legislative Committee on Operations and Elections at the request of the Governor.

What does it do?
In other words, if the local government doesn't "deem" collective bargaining "desirable" then all bets are off and there will be no collective bargaining. Period.

But surely it was introduced AFTER all those media reports claiming Governor Sandoval had no interesting in collective bargaining, right?
The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Operations and Elections on February 7, 2011.

You have to wonder why our press corps intentionally led the public to believe our governor was staying away from the collective bargaining fight while at the same time that same governor had requested a bill that would essentially do away with with those bargaining rights.

Maybe if SB41 included something about prostitutes they would have noticed

Desert Beacon provides a SB41 timeline

These questions still stand: if Brian Sandoval was not interested in a collective bargaining bill and wanted it ignored, why was the bill still drafted? Why is it in a senate committee? Why waste valuable legislative time to work on a bill the governor has indicated he has no intentions of passing (and there is not enough legislative support to override a veto)? Who brought Governor Gibbons bill back to life? Sure, the bill will not go anywhere, but why did everyone just roll over and accept Governor Sandoval's word? Especially since he was caught twice praising union-busting Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker. Sandoval may think a bill would never go anywhere, but either he and/or the Nevada republican party may think they have a chance to win an ideological fight in the process.

Check our Desert Beacon (here and here) and Nevada State Employee Focus for more analysis


The Grind