Tuesday, March 16, 2010

NV-Sen: Suzy Lowdown, Putting Her Business Interests Above Nevada's (Even When Serving in the People's House!)

Apparently, Suzy Lowdown's record at Archon continues to give her headaches. And this time, it's becoming clear she hasn't just run into troubles with the law. She also took advantage of being a lawmaker to give Archon the "competitive advantage".

Yesterday's Reno G-J examined Suzy's record at Archon, and her record in the State Senate from 1993 to 1996, and found some interesting tidbits. Let's start with something she's been saying lately about supposedly "single-handedly defending Nevada against the unions". Not only does she reveal her contempt for working Nevadans, but apparently she's been lying about what she actually did in the Legislature.

To hear former state Sen. Sue Lowden tell it, she was the lone vote that stood in the way of the state's powerful labor unions' attempt to overturn Nevada's voter-approved right-to-work status in a tense legislative battle in 1995.

The bill, as Lowden recounts, would have started the reversal process of the law that prohibits union membership from being a condition of employment.

"I was a state senator in this very difficult time of right to work," Lowden said in an interview. "You know, was it going one way or another? And it went right through the Assembly. It passed that the state would not be a right-to-work state. And I stopped it in the Senate."

The only problem?

There never was such a bill, and there never was such a vote, which Lowden acknowledged later when pressed for specifics.

OK, so it looks like she really didn't do anything on "right to work" laws. So what did Suzy Lowdown do in the Legislature? Apparently, she was too busy enriching herself. She was instrumental in passing SB 268 in 1993, which amended Nevada gaming laws to allow limited liability companies (LLCs) to obtain gaming licenses.

So guess who quickly took advantage of SB 268 when it became law? Hint: Santa Fe Mining Company, LLC, was established... To run the Santa Fe casino. Yes, Suzy Lowdown (ab)used her position in the Nevada State Senate to rewrite the laws in her company's favor!

And wait, it gets worse. When Santa Fe employee Robert Miller went to Carson City to testify before the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee about the unsafe working conditions there, not only did Ms. Suzy not recuse herself from the committee hearings due to the obvious conflict of interest (he was there to tesify about the frightening work conditions at her casino!), but she actually called the meeting to order and remained on the committee as Vice-Chair the whole time! And worse yet, just three days after he told that Senate Committee about just how dangerous a workplace the Santa Fe was, Suzy Lowdown fired Robert Miller for telling the truth.

Oh, but wait... It gets even worse. Suzy Lowdown suggested in that same Commerce & Labor Committee on March 10 that disabled workers' compensation should be reduced. Yep, once again she was using her position in the Legislature to try to reduce or eliminate business expenses for her casino! (And by the way, she did it again in 1995.)

Oh yes, Suzy Lowdown has a long history of (ab)using state office to benefit her business interests. She voted to increase slot fees in 1993 for non-casino venues, effectively handicapping neighborhood competition to Santa Fe (and violating "The Great Grover Norquist-Jim Gibbons No New Taxes Rule!"). She also voted in 1993 to allow casinos to advertise room rates on billboards, giving Santa Fe new marketing opportunities. And really, I'm just scratching the surface. There's even more dirt in those committee minutes, and I only have so much time today to review them.

Now while some of these votes may seem benign on the surface, the motivation should scare all of us. Suzy Lowdown obviously never sees the conflict of interest in voting for and even co-sponsoring (!!) legislation that directly benefits her company. Her record in Carson City even shows that when it comes to the well-being of Nevada's workers, she'll put her personal business interests over the safety of our workers every time!

Let's also remember that during her time in the Nevada Legislature, Ms. Suzy couldn't even be bothered to abide by the very laws she swore to uphold! The Santa Fe was fined by OSHA in 1993 for failing to maintain a clean workplace. The Sahara was fined by OSHA in 1994 for failing to provide medical follow-up to exposure to dangerous bloodborne pathogens. The Hacienda was fined by OSHA in 1995 for failing to maintain its floors and keep the floors free of nails, splinters, holes, and loose boards. And remember, all of these casinos were owned by Suzy Lowdown's Archon while she was serving in the State Senate debating state level workers' rights legislation!

Archon obviously has quite the troubled history here in Nevada. And obviously, Suzy Lowdown can't even think for one moment about the public's best interest without first protecting her corporate profits. Is this someone we really want in the US Senate representing us?

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