Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Normally, we don't do this. Normally, we don't post this kind of material here. But today, we must make an exception.

So here goes.

(Images courtesy of the Nevada State Democratic Party.)

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After he took a quick post-primary victory lap (as in not even reaching 60% against an underfunded opponent), State Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson (R-Henderson) suddenly clammed up. But why? He's become world renowned (well, among Carson City politicos) for his loquacious ways. What changed?

Now, we're hearing that he and his "hand picked candidates" are dropping out of debates. And not only that, but they're even avoiding debates hosted by Senator Roberson's favorite media pundit. What changed?

Is Senator Michael Roberson (R) too afraid to discuss his own record? Is Becky Harris (R) too afraid to explain where she stands on any issue (along with where she lives)? Is Patricia Farley too afraid to even reveal herself to local media?

What are they afraid of? Why are they now chickening away from any sort of public scrutiny? A while ago, the above mentioned media pundit claimed they were not hiding from media scrutiny, but rather taking time to be "groomed" before entering the media spotlight. So where are they now? And why are they even refusing to do his show?

"Not your typical Republican(s)"? No, this is very typical behavior. In fact, this is typical for any politician of any stripe who has something to hide.

And we know exactly why they're all in hiding. It's far easier to blanket the Las Vegas Valley with glossy mailers and glitzy A-frame signs than to meet the voters and face local media. And it's more convenient for them to continue beating their prized dead horse (via their campaign ads) than to actually explain their real policy plans.

We get what they're doing, but we won't let them get away with their ridiculous game of chicken.

Gaining Traction

Here we go again. It's time for even more "rebranding". Earlier this year, the NRA decided to make a big splash with its own online TV channel. After all, that's where all 'dem 'dar "YUNG-GUNZZZ(!!!)" iz.

Ever since then, the NRA has been doing everything possible to "rebrand" both itself and the nature of gun violence. It's claimed "your dead kids don't trump our rights". It's tried to sweep away "unfortunate accidents" while redefining the English language. It's mocked the civil rights movement. Oh, and it's even demanded more guns at school while going Godwin.

We can't help but notice the NRA's rather interesting "rebranding" strategy unfolding just as Everytown and other gun safety advocates are taking their message to the streets... And to the phones. Last night, we stopped by a local Everytown for Gun Safety volunteer phone bank in Henderson. They were busy recruiting more volunteers to get out the vote this fall for pro-gun safety candidates. And no, they didn't need an online TV channel or a redefinition of various words to make their goals for the evening.

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They just needed their cell phones, outlets, and snacks. That's all.

Perhaps that's because so many Nevadans support expanding background checks for gun purchases, keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of domestic violence perpetrators, protecting children from unnecessary harm, and other basic gun safety reforms. It's so much easier to state where one stands on securing our communities than to continually "rebrand" the source of so many senseless deaths.

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We're not quite sure what the NRA thinks it's accomplishing with killer cop competitions, old fashioned duels, vitriolic personal attacks, and all around douchebaggery. But hey, if it ain't broke... Wait. The NRA may be far from broke, but it's increasingly sounding like a broken record.

And perhaps this is why gun safety advocates (locally and nationally) are increasingly gaining traction.

Mystery at Highland Hills

How would you enjoy living on top of a landfill? Most likely, we probably wouldn't enjoy that at all. And we certainly wouldn't enjoy living in a sinking, stinky house.

We can't imagine the horror residents of Highland Hills in Mesquite encountered when they realized they were living on top or way too close to an unsealed landfill. Oh, yes. That's right. The residents of Highland Hills are literally living on top of trash.

This may sound funny, but Highland Hills residents aren't laughing. One couple already abandoned their house on doctor's orders. Methane tests have become a way of life for the neighborhood. Several homeowners have been warned about carcinogens lying just below their floors. Homeowners have also been sounding the alarms on cracks in their respective foundations, driveways tearing apart, and houses graduallly sinking into the ground.

The City of Mesquite and RFMS, the company that developed Highland Hills, have lawyered up. The City of Mesquite has also gone to great lengths to deny records to Mesquite residents pertaining to the construction of Highland Hills. So what might the Mesquite City Council and RFMS be hiding?

That's what nearly everyone in the Virgin Valley is asking. After all, Highland Hills was built by Legacy Construction & Development. And Legacy Construction & Development happens to be the company owned by then Mesquite City Council Member Cresent Hardy (R-"Segregation Laws"). (And yes, this the same company Assembly Member Crescent Hardy later led into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in January 2012.)

Is Cresent Hardy afraid of something? Are his former City Council colleagues and trusted Virgin Valley political network afraid "he knew too much" when he signed the deed (for what was to become Highland Hills) over to RFMS? And not only was Cresent Hardy on the City Council when this land sale occurred, but his company was also a partial owner of the unsealed landfill!

But wait, there's more. While Cresent Hardy has been in the Nevada Legislature, he and several of his Republican colleagues have been trying to weaken or fully repeal Chapter 40, Nevada's construction defect law that was designed during the 1990s to aid homeowners seeking justice when they're duped into buying faulty real estate. In 2011, Assembly Republican leaders tried to hold up a budget deal while demanding weakening of Chapter 40. And in 2013, none other than State Senator Michael Roberson (R-Sleaze) authored SB 161 in another attempt to undermine Chapter 40.

Already, Highland Hills homeowners are living in a world of hurt and atop a pile of trash (literally). Imagine how much more hardship they'd have to endure if they didn't have resources like Chapter 40. Yet that's exactly what Michael Roberson and other top Nevada Republicans want to take away from Highland Hills homeowners.

And then, there's the matter of NV-04 Congressional candidate Cresent Hardy (R). What did he know, when did he know it, why did he withhold this information from Mesquite residents, and why was he allowed to take part of a transaction he stood to gain from? There are still so many unanswered questions there.

Watch this space. We suspect there's more to this disturbingly pungent mystery at Highland Hills.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Waiting Game

Last week, the State of Nevada had no one present. No one even bothered to show up for court in San Francisco. Instead, the judges of the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals instead had to endure this bucket full of crazy last week.

We will likely receive a ruling from the Ninth on Sevcik v. Sandoval fairly soon. And so far, marriage equality seem to be liking their odds.

Yet now, other states may have leapfrogged ahead of Nevada on the way to the US Supreme Court. However, Nevada may yet slip onto The Supremes' docket if the Ninth issues a ruling on Sevcik this week.

As we've discussed before, the US Supreme Court set this chain of lower court marriage rulings with its US v. Windsor. Will the SCOTUS Justices who ruled so passionately in favor of LGBTQ civil rights reverse course so suddenly? We seriously doubt it, but we can't take anything for granted there.

Now here's where it becomes even more interesting. The State of Nevada dropped its legal defense of marriage discrimination in February. That's why no one from the State of Nevada even bothered to show up in San Francisco last Monday to argue for the Question 2 marriage ban. And that's why US Supreme Court Justices will have to determine standing (a la Prop 8 California) should the usual suspects decide to appeal the Ninth's ruling.

This is why we're now playing the waiting game. If the Ninth Circuit rules in favor of equality, Nevada may become State #18 for marriage equality by next month. Or we may not, should SCOTUS decide to place that ruling on hold. Perhaps our case may be one of the marriage cases that will set a national precedent next year. Or perhaps not, should SCOTUS decide not to take up Sevcik at all.

Whatever happens, this month promises to be an exciting one for civil rigts activists here in The Silver State. We're just waiting to see what comes next.

"Play Long Ball"

Did you hear? Everything is coming up roses! We will be greeted as liberators! Just take a look on the bright side of life! And no matter what, always make sure to admire the bright & sunny "optics".

Last week, the mantra was supposed to be, "Ratification is different from rubber-stamping." But now that Tesla secured the deal it always wanted from Carson City, even the media pundit who uttered those words before the 28th Special Session of the Nevada Legislature is now upset because some legislators didnt rubber-stamp the Tesla deal quickly enough.

Wait, what?! Sadly, even some highly esteemed leaders of the Fourth Estate have caught #Teslamania.

Last week, The Atlantic's CityLab Editor-at-Large, Richard Florida, tried to warn those in Carson City of the risks of placing all of Nevada taxpayers' eggs in one "economic development" basket. And now, Los Angeles Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik is essentially calling our state's leaders "suckers" for approving the Tesla deal so quickly without analyzing the true cost of all the giveaways Tesla demanded along with the possibly way-too-rosy economic forecasts from the Governor's Office. Oh, and Good Jobs First continues to question the wisdom of allowing such a profitable company to operate in Nevada completely tax free for the next decade.

A cool $195 million is already leaving the state's coffers for Tesla corporate headquarters. And that's while Northern Nevada local authorities are just starting to realize the strain on local infrastructure that they just agreed to. How will we pay for the new roads and schools in Washoe, Storey, & Lyon Counties? And how will this affect state funding for the already overcrowded Clark County School District (CCSD), the already overburdened Southern Nevada transportation system, and still-in-need-of-some-TLC Southern Nevada economy?

Yesterday, the above mentioned media pundit used his Sunday Column to chide all the "ivory tower know-nothings and southern partisans" who dared to question Governor Brian Sandoval's (R) "play long ball"/"swing for the fences" strategy. Oh, really? What in any of this deal is "long ball"? How did Sandoval's "economic development team" "swing for the fences" by agreeing to the same old corporate welfare that this state has always tried to use to "diversify our economy"? How's that working out for us? The only difference this time is that the Tesla corporate welfare package is 14 times greater than the previous record setting Nevada corporate welfare package (cough- Apple -cough).

Look, we know Tesla likely has a bright future ahead. We even realize Tesla's potential role in a climate change/clean energy/human survival breakthrough. We can't understate the promise of the ground Tesla broke in Storey County.

We're just wondering why we're once again trying to substitute short sighted corporate welfare for long sighted economic planning. If we truly care about the well being of our state and our people, we know how to secure a far better bang for our buck. Yet in order for us to score this kind of real "long ball" deal, we'll need to approve it ourselves.

Our Problem

Earlier this month, we noticed the growing social media campaign in support of War Machine. We also noticed a common theme in this social media campaign in support of him as he goes on trial for the vicious near-fatal beating of Christy Mack and Corey Thomas: "She deserved it".

Shade Tree Executive Director Marlene Richter had something to say about this latest round of victim blaming.

Bottom line: It's slut shaming. And not only is it slut shaming, but it's the kind of slut shaming that can kill.

And now, believe it or not, we're seeing all sorts of excuses made for suspended NFL runningback Ray Rice and his vicious beating of his then fiance (now wife). "Oh, but obviously Janay Rice is OK with it! Why can't the damned LIB'RUL FEMINZAIZZZZZ leave them alone?! We're ruining the game by 'feminizing' it! And come on, domestic violence isn't really a serious problem."

Far too often, we shift blame to the victim. We ask why they stayed. We ask why "they asked for it" (even though they never did). We ask what's their problem.

Perhaps we need to focus more on our problem. Perhaps we need to stop blaming the victims. And perhaps we need to realize people's lives are more important than "alpha male s--t".

Are we ready to start addressing our problem?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Last Call

Consider this your last call! You don't want to miss out on this. Seriously, you don't want to miss out on ProgressNow Nevada Action's exciting event, "Celebrate Progress".

Join Arshad Hasan, national ProgressNow Executive Director, and ProgressNow Nevada Action for a big announcement and fundraiser.

In addition to celebrating the big news, join us to celebrate and honor four amazing progressive individuals in Southern Nevada for always standing up for the issues that matter most.

Progressive Leader Award - Senator Tick Segerblom

Rising Progressive Leader Award - Rudy Zamora

Progressive Voice of Reason - Andrew Davey

Progressive Business Owner Award - Cassandra Rice, owner of GymCats

There are plenty of great reasons to "Celebrate Progress". So why not join us?

How often do you have the chance to Arshad Hasan, a premier nationwide expert on grassroots campaigning? This alone is worth the price of admission. A source close to the event actually told us, "I learned everything I know about grassroots campaigns from Arshad."

So consider this your last call. We'll be celebrating progress next Tuesday at 6:00 PM. We'll be at Artifice in Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas. And tickets start at just $50... Or $5 a month for the next year!

Please RSVP here. We hope to celebrate progress with you & all our friends at ProgressNow Nevada Action next Tuesday.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Done Deal: The #Teslamania Postscript

It's official. It's happening. And it's unanimous.

Late last night, the Nevada Legislature unanimously passed the Tesla deal. Governor Brian Sandoval (R) quickly signed it into law as US Senator Harry Reid (D) signaled his approval from DC.

Ultimately, Tesla got the $1.25 billion in tax credits it wanted. However, the final bill was slightly modified to ensure Tesla factory workers receive decent wages and health insurance benefits. The final bill also included more oversight should Tesla request a waiver for the 50% Nevada workers hiring requirement.

So it's a done deal. A bunch of legislators and media pundits are smiling as they await their return flights to Las Vegas. And of course, Tesla executives must be grinning from ear to ear this morning.

But what about all the rest of us? After the State Senate wrapped up their voting, they had just enough time for a few speeches. And yes, a handful of Senators actually addressed the 900 pound gorilla in the room.

Senator Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas) went even further in addressing the problem... And the solution. He pretty much channeled "The Original Gleaner" Hugh Jackson in pointing out the obvious. Why is it so damned easy for our state government to hand out corporate welfare like candy while failing repeatedly to properly fund public education?

It's a done deal. Tesla just got its sweetheart deal... But what about the rest of us? Where's our sweetheart deal?

Here's what isn't yet a done deal: this year's election. In particular, we have our solution: The Education Initiative (TEI). As Senator Segerblom and Hugh Jackson yesterday, we need to secure a good deal for our communities by making it happen ourselves.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Think Before You Act

Today, we're all remembering what happened 13 years ago. And we're facing tough questions that harken back to the decisions made in the aftermath of September 11.

Not even a year after 9/11 and the start of the Afghanistan War, then President George W. Bush wanted to go to war in Iraq. We were initially told Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for 9/11. Then, we were told Saddam Hussein was providing safe harbor to al-Qaeda terrorists. Then, we were told Iraq was somehow part of the "Axis of Evil". Then, we were told of "smoking guns" and "mushroom clouds".

Ultimately, then President Bush got the war he wanted. Thanks to neoconservative allies in Congress like Senator
John McCain (R-Arizona), approval for the Iraq invasion was a snap. And Bush never had to worry about obtaining more funding for what later became a war of "liberation" and "spreading democracy".

Senator John McCain, along with so many of the other regular cable "news" talking heads and Sunday show pundits, have regularly been proven wrong on their constant assertions that all we need is another war in order for Americans to "feel safe".

But what if we don't need another war in order to "feel safe"? What if we don't need to repeat the mistakes from our last war in the region? What if we actually think before we act?

We can't afford to make the same mistakes we made in Iraq last decade. While Isis indeed poses a threat to regional stability in the Middle East, it's not the some rapidly approaching apocalypse for America. Yet if we make the wrong move there, we risk further destabilization of the region (and ironically, a stronger Isis).

Contrary to what certain "TEA" flavored media pundits like to say, sports analogies won't help. Neither will bombastic rhetoric. And probably neither will yet another full scale Middle East war.

Perhaps we should think some more before we act. We have no obligation to repeat the mistakes of the previous Iraq War. And we have no obligation to commit thousands more American troops to a geopolitical Pandora's Box that only promises more brutal & bloody mayhem if opened. However, there are 535 people on Capitol Hill who do have an obligation to hold a vote. We'd like for them to think and act on it.

Not. So. Fast.

Now, it's getting really interesting. Last night, we heard some more about the big move Switch is making in Carson City during the special session of the Nevada Legislature that Tesla initially thought it had all to itself.

Whoops. Apparently, a few legislators may actually be taking Steve Sebelius' advice to heart. Might this be music to Switch's ears?

Not so fast. SB 1 finally dropped last night, and the long awaited Senate bill requires at least $3.5 billion investment in this state before the state government starts offering tax incentives. The bill also requires at least 50% of the workers hired under this program to be Nevada residents. And the bill requires a $22 average hourly wage and health insurance benefits for factory workers.

So that leaves Switch up in the air for now. However, that also leaves the Nevada AFL-CIO as a possible "fly in the ointment". Nevada AFL-CIO Executive Director Danny Thompson has already said he also wants guarantees of fair wages for construction workers alongside guarantees that Tesla will hire local construction workers. We'll have to see how the Legislature assuages AFL's concerns.

But at least for now, it looks like a number of legislators are at least taking some time to digest this. And yes, they're looking at related issues like Switch, the best interest of Nevada workers, the film industry tax credits (that Governor Brian Sandoval [R] wants slashed by over 80%), and public education funding. Isn't this what so many of us were asking them to do? Isn't this even what a certain media pundit was asking for on the eve of #Teslamania?

So why is that media pundit now attacking certain legislators over taking their time to consider this proposal? The State of Nevada may actually end up with a $120 million deficit by the end of the year... And that doesn't even count the overcrowding and under-staffing issues plaguing Clark County School District (CCSD). Can we now afford to hurry up and pass something that pokes yet another hole into the budget while making a big bet on a company that demanded all these tax breaks to build a factory in Northern Nevada?

Not. So. Fast. Those are the three words Nevada legislators need to keep in mind today. While we understand the urge to hurry up, resume fundraising, and bask in the glow of #Teslamania, there are too many important questions that shouldn't be ignored just because one company wants an enormous sweetheart deal. Is this truly a fair deal? Is this a good deal for Nevada workers? Is this a good deal for Nevada schools? And will this deal break Nevada's budget?

Not. So. Fast. As we've said before, there are plenty of merits to Tesla's big move to Nevada. But must we break our bank in order to subsidize their business expenditures?

My Own 9/11 (& Deja Vu, Fog of War)

(Especially in light of President Obama's big announcement on Isis last night, I figured now's a good time to rerun this piece from September 11, 2011. I'll have more on the President's plan to take on Isis later today.)

September 11, 2001, is a day I can't forget... Even though it was a day that seemed to start like so many others had. While I was getting ready for school, America's beating economic heart and central political nervous system were under attack. And as I was starting what I just thought would be my second day of high school, my entire outlook on life would forever change.

That morning, I woke up as just another Orange County kid attending just another conservative Christian fundamentalist private school. In the following weeks, I would be relegated as "extreme" as that crazy "anti-American" extremist, Barbara Lee. Why? Well, I agree(d) with her.

It was my first experience of expressing dissent, and of paying the price for holding an unpopular point of view. In the immediate days following 9/11, there was a sense of national unity. And while it was helpful in many ways, on the other hand it allowed for the Bush Administration to embark on policy prescriptions that we would later learn to be quite harmful to our country. It was easy to go with the masses and cheer on "retaliation" against the "evildoers". It most definitely wasn't easy to point out what would happen once Congress gave George Bush a blank check to engage in endless war.

I was just trying to make sense of everything that was happening all around me... And it just wasn't making sense. Even as everyone else around me kept beating the drums for war more loudly, I kept wondering why we were doing this. My teachers and my own mother were asking why I sympathized with "terrorists". Other students just saw me as "the liberal weirdo". Nothing seemed to make sense then...

But it all comes together now.

Fast forward ten years, and now Rep. Barbara Lee's words ring more prescient and true than ever before. We're mired in multiple wars abroad, yet we supposedly can't afford to create jobs for the unemployed here at home. Nearly ten years after the USA (Un)PATRIOT(ic) Act passed, Americans are now asking where their freedom went. And now that memories of a nation so proudly patriotic seem so distant, Congress has reached a new low in unpopularity as seemingly anything and everything is being questioned.

In many ways, it feels like the tables have turned. Back then, I felt so alone in opposing what seemed so American as apple pie. But now, I'm trying to explain how things work to the very same people who are now losing faith in the entire American experiment. It can be sad to watch, but I can't lose hope that our people will recognize what needs to be done to restore our democracy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

#Tesla Update(s)

And it's on! We knew this was eventually coming. But now, it's official. "The Tesla Session" is officially underway in Carson City.

And what have we learned since this morning? Perhaps there will be no Switch, after all?

Remember when we told you about the last minute move by the Southern Nevada data center company to land tax credits for a Nevada expansion? So far, Governor Brian Sandoval (R) is saying no. It remains to be seen how many allies Switch has in the Legislature Building.

In the mean time, Steve Sebelius notes the slippery slope this state will approach if the deal is approved. Why Tesla? Why Apple? Yet why not Switch? And why not any other company willing to tell us what we want to hear about "economic development"?

Also, PLAN made it official this morning. Folks there are concerned about the glossy numbers Governor Sandoval's office has released about the economic impact of Tesla's Gigafactory, as well as shifting the tax burden from Tesla to working families. Oh, and PLAN added this at the end: "One last question, which has been asked by others but only answered by silence: Why can’t the state of Nevada come together on a plan to raise revenues to fix our broken education system as enthusiastically as the rush to create a $1.3 billion package of corporate subsidies for a single company in one part of the state?" Ouch. (This is actually the reason why The Education Initiative [TEI] is on our fall ballot.)

At least now, we're starting to see the Tesla bills emerge. We're also continuing to see strong reviews for the very technology Tesla wants to bring to Northern Nevada. The Tesla Gigafactory may even end up producing 20% more renewable electricity than it actually needs.

The Guinn Center just endorsed the Tesla deal, provided there are benchmarks Tesla must meet in order to continue enjoying those tax credits. Reno News & Review's Dennis Myers, however, calls foul on what he sees as naked corporate welfare. And of course, NPRI is against anything that doesn't perfectly fit its ideological mold.

We probably won't have more #Tesla details until around 4:00 PM. We'll do our best to stay on top of it all. And if there's any critical breaking news tonight, we'll do our best to cover it here. So go ahead and stay tuned as #TeslaMania continues in Carson City.


The vote was 12-13. Just 1 more vote could have made the difference for many thousands of American military/veteran families. But alas, it lost 12-13.

In June, Rep. Dina Titus (D-Paradise) introduced legislation to ensure LGBTQ military families have the same access to military spousal benefits as all other military families. Today, it finally had a vote in the House Veterans' Affairs Committee as an amendment to another bill. And it lost 12-13.

In an interesting twist, outgoing Rep. Jon Runyan (R-New Jersey) voted for Rep. Titus' amendment. He also signed on as a cosponsor of ENDA earlier this year. He actually wasn't the only Republican cosponsor of ENDA on that committee...

Yet he was the only Republican vote for Rep. Titus' amendment that would have simply guaranteed equal access to military spousal benefits regardless of which state one lives in. So the amendment failed 12-13.

They've tried "softer lighting". They've tried "softer language". And they've made endless attempts at "rebranding". However, no amount of "Republican rebranding" can truly obscure what all but one of them did today. (And he just happened to be the one who's retiring from Congress this year.)

Next time anyone tries to goad you into thinking "Republican rebranding" is anything more than the vacuous shtick it truly is, remind that someone of this vote. Go ahead and remind that someone that even the allegedly "pro-equality" on this House committee voted down this critical amendment that simply would have given thousands of military families the peace of mind they deserve. Remind that someone that thanks to their craven refusal to drop the "TEA" for once and do something useful for a change, actual soldiers/veterans and their loved ones were given the shaft.

The vote was 12-13. The lower House of Congress had yet another opportunity to prove to Americans that they can actually be productive. But yet again, House Republican "leaders" fail to provide any sort of leadership.

Prelude to Tesla

Consider this a quick cheat sheet on "The Tesla Session" that will begin at high noon today in Carson City. Here's what you need to know about the 28th Special Session of the Nevada Legislature:

- The Tesla deal is now clocking in at about $1.3 billion cost to Nevada taxpayers.

- It still looks likely to be approved, but signs of discontent at the Legislature Building are starting to appear.

- Among those grumbling about Tesla are the "TEA" powered NPRI & AFP (fossil fuels forever!), progressive PLAN (worried about corporate welfare), car dealers (upset over the bill to authorize direct-to-consumer Tesla car sales), and the entertainment industry (Sorry, Nicholas Cage, but no more film tax credits for you!).

- Yet as Tesla keeps blazing trails in clean technology, Nevada now has the opportunity to lead the way in the clean energy (r)evolution.

- It's no secret that US Senator Harry Reid (D) pushed hard for this Tesla deal, as he's a big believer in the potential Tesla's gigafactory has to turbo-charge Nevada's economy.

- And he's not alone. From Northern Nevada business leaders to UNR & UNLV economists and state economic development officials, they're liking the $1.9 billion Tesla's gigafactory is expected to generate in tax revenue for the state, along with the roughly 21,000 jobs (directly and indirectly) that may result from Tesla's big move.

- But wait, there's more?! Perhaps Tesla won't have this special session all to itself. Last night, Jon Ralston reported that Enterprise (Southwest Las Vegas Valley) based Switch now wants to strike while the iron is hot. The data center company is now asking for its own tax credits for its proposed $750 million Southern Nevada facility and $250 million Northern Nevada project.

This is about to get even more interesting. Stay tuned here for more as the 28th Special Session of the Nevada Legislature commences.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Ratification Is Different from Rubber-stamping."

No, we don't always agree with him. Yes, this only touches the surface of what's increasingly looking like an incredibly thorny issue. But yes, Jon Ralston's advice to state legislators on Tesla is very sound advice that they should pay attention to.

"Ratification is different from rubber-stamping." Just since the deal was announced last Thursday, the price tag has swollen from $400 million to $1.25 billion. Why? This gigafactory isn't cheap.

Ironically, Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (& Mustang Ranch brothel) owner Lance Gilman claimed "no public money" has been used to develop Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. Even if that statement was completely true last week, it certainly will not be going forward. If the Nevada Legislature approves the deal US Senator Harry Reid (D) encouraged and Governor Brian Sandoval's (R) economic advisers negotiated, Tesla will be exempt from paying sales taxes on construction materials and factory equipment for 20 years. That alone essentially serves as an estimated $725 million state subsidy for Tesla and Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.

In addition, Tesla will receive $195 million worth of transferable tax credits along with $332 million worth of exemptions from property taxes. And on top of that, the State of Nevada will pay Lance Gilman $43 million for right-of-way so it can invest at least another $60 million to build a highway through Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in order to connect the Tesla Gigafactory to US Highway 50 and Interstate 80 Freeway.

Oh, and this may not even be the end of it. Take a look at the growing list of registered lobbyists for the 28th Special Session of the Nevada Legislature. We can only wonder what may come next.

At least some legislators are demanding certain conditions for all these giveaways, such as guarantees for prevailing wage and Nevada workers being considered first for the new Tesla jobs. And quite a few legislators are insisting the tax credits will be tied to Tesla's progress in building the gigafactory (perhaps because they want to avoid another Apple boondoggle?).

Let's be upfront here. The reward will be quite high if this Tesla project succeeds. Nevada will have cemented our reputation as the hub of the 21st century clean energy revolution. And the Reno/Sparks/Tahoe region may finally have secured economic growth and diversification...

But at what cost? The Atlantic Senior Editor Richard Florida has already decried the $56,000-$300,000+ the State of Nevada may pay for each Tesla job that may or may not last into the distant future. Already, critics are accusing the state of overpaying for a "trophy". And opposition to the Tesla deal is already creating some very strange bedfellows, from the "TEA" powered NPRI and AFP to progressive stalwart PLAN.

"Ratification is different from rubber-stamping." At least one legislator seems to fully understand this. Pretty soon, we'll find out how many more also do... And/or how many simply don't.