Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year, New Start, New Governor... Really?

So Brian Sandoval has taken his oath. A new day has come?

"I think there is a lot of hope with Brian Sandoval," said Fred Lokken, a political science professor at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno. "Stylistically, we have already seen dramatic differences from the Gibbons administration. I feel Sandoval has put together a good Cabinet and has done it quickly. And unlike Gibbons, they will work and stay with him for a period of time and not create the instability that Gibbons had in his administration."

Or has it really? If we're to believe the donor list for Sandoval's inauguration celebrations, perhaps not.

He was recruited to run for governor by two of the state’s leading business lobbyists and was employed by one of Nevada’s largest lobbying firms.

A glance at the list of corporate sponsors of Sandoval’s inaugural celebration reflects those ties and includes companies and interests with some of the thorniest issues before the Legislature next year. They have spent a considerable amount of money on gaining access to political decision-makers.

Barrick Gold, for example, is at the top of the list of $25,000 Platinum sponsors on the inauguration announcements. The mining industry is a top target for those who are fighting for more taxes to better fund state services. [...]

In addition to Barrick, MGM Resorts International, Wynn Las Vegas and the Retailers Association have contributed $25,000.

Donors at the $10,000 and $5,000 level include his employer, the Jones Vargas law firm, Pfizer, United Health and CVS.

So meet the new boss, same as the old boss? See, I wasn't really far off after all. We are continually confronted with the brutal reality of the changes we must make to survive the future.

In November, the Brookings Institution and London School of Economics released a report saying that Las Vegas’ economic performance ranked fifth-worst among 150 metropolitan areas around the world, and prospects for a rapid recovery are dim with its dependence on domestic tourism and construction.

In December, the Lied Institute for Real Estate Studies published a white paper that said what Nevada needs to be successful at diversification is to place greater priority on public schools, colleges and universities. [...]

The latest report on the Las Vegas economy shows the need for diversification.

In its Mountain Monitor that measures the region’s economic performance, Brookings said Las Vegas ranked second to last among the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas through the third quarter. The index measures changes in employment, unemployment, gross metro product and house prices from before the recession to the present. Only gross metro product, up by 0.1 percent, increased, the report said.

Economic data from the third quarter show Las Vegas is losing ground, but at a slackening pace on almost every indicator, the report said.

“The fact that other metros with different economic bases and stronger, more resilient economic engines have been able to pull themselves out of recession and into recovery underscores the need for a fundamental reflection on the nature and prospects of Southern Nevada’s current economic base,” the report said. “Again, reaching, let alone surpassing its pre-recession size will require Las Vegas’ economy to first end its slide and second post exceptional growth rates in the years ahead. But where will the growth come from? This growth can likely only be powered by a substantially retooled economic engine, one fueled much more than the last economy ever was, by human capital, innovation and exports.”

Cheese louise, when did my name become Cassandra? (Oh please, oh please, I do NOT want to see the destruction of Las Vegas Troy!)

And just what will it take to get folks in Carson City to realize we really will be heading towards doom and destruction if we allow our infrastructure, everything from our schools to our transportation to our parks, to continue to be cannabalized, just so a few craven politicians can fulfill their "no new taxes" lies "promises" and jump to higher office? When will the madness stop?

Even Sandoval's staunchest allies, such as longtime state Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, are wary of Sandoval's no-new-taxes stance. It was the same stance Gibbons of Reno took.

Gibbons was forced to break it on occasion, including the time when he put revenue from a proposed hotel-room tax hike into Nevada's biennium budget.

Raggio said Sandoval has the potential to become a great governor, adding: "I have heard what he said. I have heard what a lot of candidates have said, and my point is that it is easy to say 'no taxes, no taxes, no taxes.' But on the other hand, you have got an obligation to provide for essential services, and it is not the answer to push them over to local government and let them do it because that money will also come from taxes. So all you are doing is shifting the liability over."

When even Bill Raggio states the obvious, it's well past time to pay attention! But will Sandoval? Or will he try some "third way" out like "Home Rule" (aka passing the buck for government from the state onto the counties, primarily Clark and Washoe)? Or will he just let The Legislature do all the "dirty work" for him in piecing together yet another back room deal "compromise" that depends on "quick fixes" not slash essential services as much as originally threatened?

Whatever the case, Scott Dickensheets was certainly onto something this morning when he asked just how "new" our new Governor's "ideas" really are.

And no, I don't enjoy "bashing Brian". I'm not out to "settle scores", pass along gossip, or be bitchy. I keep coming back to this because I don't see how the failed "quick fixes" of the past can work for us again. We have to change course, and frankly the sooner we do the better we'll fare.

I don't want to give up on Nevada. In fact, I refuse to give up on Nevada. The ball is now in Brian Sandoval's court. Is he too afraid to make the slam dunk we all need? And if he is, will someone(s) else step up in his absence?

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