Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fiddling While Rome Burns

Suprisingly enough while Occupy has fallen into turmoil elsewhere, Occupy Las Vegas somehow manages to maintain a good relationship with Metro Police and the County Commission. And up north, Occupy Reno has managed to withstand the cold quite peacefully as they encourage folks to shop locally and get out of the big banks.

For all the insults being thrown at them, it looks like Nevada's Occupy camps have been playing by the rules as they're being maintained by good law-abiding citizens...

So it's too bad we can't say the same thing about our Legislature. What just happened in Brazil?

[Assembly Member Marcus] Conklin [D-Las Vegas] was part of a five-member delegation that just returned from the trip sponsored by CSG, the U.S. State Department and the Brazilian government as an international relationship-building exercise.

Also on the trip, however, was a small cadre of Nevada lobbyists who got to spend eight days touring the Brazilian countryside, dining and socializing with the elected officials they’re paid to influence.

Conklin, the only Nevada elected official on the trip, said he had little interaction with the lobbyists. He said he spent his time learning about the burgeoning tourism opportunities for Nevada in Brazil, how the country conducts elections, its financial markets and how it approaches everything from energy to economic development. [...]

But transparency advocates point out that lobbying isn’t simply about making appointments with lawmakers to discuss policy issues in their office. It’s about building relationships that guarantee access when it is needed.

“When you’re on a trip like this, lobbyists have essentially a captive audience,” said Bill Allison, editorial director for the Sunlight Foundation in Washington, D.C. “They’re on a trip for a long time and get incredibly more access to lawmakers than they would in the capital.

“Beyond that, since it’s not a requirement to disclose that they are lobbying them or have met with these folks, it really doesn’t give the citizens an opportunity to know how their lawmakers are being influenced.”

While Conklin, former Assembly Speaker and current mining industry lobbyist Richard Perkins, and these mining industry lobbyists were partying it up in Brazil, the above mentioned occupiers were losing their jobs, losing their homes, losing it all. Yet while the Vegas and Reno occupiers have strived to maintain peaceful communities, it seems like so many of our legislators don't know the basics on how to govern.

After all, look at Brian Sandoval. It's crystal clear as to who he really works for. (Hint: It isn't the 99%.) Maybe Conklin was just following Governor R&R's example?

Obviously, corruption knows no party line. And sadly here in Nevada, our government has pretty much been designed by corporate lobbyists for corporate lobbyists. How else can one explain why the fully loaded mining industry pays next to nothing in taxes while the poorest working class families are always hit the hardest with sales taxes and social service cuts?

And does anyone really have to ask why protests like Occupy Las Vegas and Occupy Reno rage on (nonviolently, thankfully)? This is why! Yes, we already know about all the problems at the federal level. But to make things worse, we in Nevada have to deal with crap like this all the time. And really, Nevada has set the example for the entire nation when it comes to the lethal mix of extreme "tea party" anti-public sector ideology with complete corporate corruption of government.

I'm sure some pundits will try to make this all about a small handful of politicians. But please, let's not fall into that trap. Rather, let's look at the entire picture. Let's examine the big picture of the gaming-mining-lobbying industrial complex fiddling around while Nevada burns. And let's start working on solutions to bring real justice for the 99% to Nevada.

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