Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The People vs. "Sando-Gibbons"

Last night, Brian Sandoval went on "Face to Face" and told Jon Ralston he still refuses to look at anything other than "No New Taxes"...

But legislators may now be realizing that reality just hit their doorstep yesterday, and we won't be going anywhere any time soon.

“We need to provide political cover to lawmakers,” said Kyle George, chairman of the Nevada Student Alliance. “We have to tell them that we are the people who got them elected.”

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, said the sheer number of people in Carson City can’t be discounted. They and their families are voters.

“Lawmakers will ignore their constituents who say we have to preserve education at their own peril,” he said. “This budget will not pass gutting education the way it does.”

Still, it seems like the moneyed corporate interests that have dominated Carson City dealmaking for decades won't go down without a fight.

Students had entered the “Carson City bubble,” a place where a few hundred people in suits — lawmakers, lobbyists, staff and media — influence the outcome, and the final budget is crafted behind closed doors by about a dozen lawmakers and high-powered lobbyists.

Influence is measured in $10,000 campaign contribution checks, walkers you can mobilize at election time or political scalps collected of those who made you unhappy.

Lobbyists — notorious cynics, and the ones who don’t want to part with their power — say it’s naive to think citizens will affect the outcome. Young people don’t vote. The same legislative leadership and politically powerful interest groups will go behind closed doors and make the decisions based on personal values or crass political calculations.

Privately, many legislators, with political futures to worry about, roll their eyes at long lines of average citizens wanting to testify to committees.

To have a lasting effect, both cynics and optimists say, Monday’s rally has to be part of a bigger effort.

“What they’re trying to do doesn’t end with this demonstration,” said Guy Rocha, a state historian and supporter of the rally against cuts. “This doesn’t get them their outcome ... To have clout isn’t to be noisy — it’s to make people uncomfortable about their political future.” [...]

“We’ve never tried a mass mobilization of students in Nevada before,” said Erin Neff, executive director of Progress Now Nevada, a liberal group that helped organize the rally. “If they’re going to ignore them, they’re going to have to do it to their faces.”

Neff, a former journalist who covered the Legislature, knows that chanting and shouting aren’t enough. She said students will target lawmakers who are potential swing votes, such as Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas — who has expressed doubts about a tax increase — and perceived Republican moderates such as Sen. Michael Roberson of Las Vegas.

As Al Gore would say, it really is a case of the people versus the powerful.

The people spoke yesterday, but Sandoval refuses to listen. Instead, he seems to be enjoying the same "la-la land" of teabagger delusions of grandeur that Jim Gibbons often stayed in. He just doesn't get it.

However, he doesn't have to get his way. The facts simply don't support his otherworldly claims. Legislators really have to choose whether to jump off the crazy cliff with Sandoval or look at new and more stable revenue sources to make our state functional again. Legislators must listen to us... Or face the consequences of letting the failed ideology of "Sando-Gibbons" bankrupt our state.

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