Monday, February 4, 2013

Gone... But Not Forgotten?

So it's finally coming to an end... Well, at least the part directly involving Legislature security will be.

Embattled Assemblyman Steven Brooks will be sworn in today in Carson City and then take a leave of absence, potentially diffusing a distracting spectacle on the Legislature’s opening day.

“He asked for a leave of absence for medical reasons,” Assembly Speaker-elect Marilyn Kirkpatrick said Monday morning. [...]

Brooks, a fellow Democrat from North Las Vegas, was arrested last month on a count of threatening a public official, Kirkpatrick. More recently, he was taken by Las Vegas police for a psychiatric evaluation. His last appearance at the Legislature, late last month, featured him in a hoodie, offering a "no comment" and the peace sign to reporters after arranging housing in Carson City.

His leave of absence would diffuse a potentially tense opening of the first day of the Legislative Session, where lawmakers bring their families for a ceremonial day filled with promises of bipartisan cooperation.

So Steven Brooks is gone. But will he be forgotten? And should he be?

At first, this affair was downright frightening as news broke of death threats. Then, it took a turn for the bizarre as Brooks made head-scratching media appearances that invited ridicule. And now, his saga is just seen as the pathetic fall of someone who wanted to be a shining star on top.

But really, there's more to this than just the tabloid worthy drama. There's the reminder of what can happen when people can't access the (mental) health care they need. There's also the reminder of what happens when guns and ammunition are more easily accessible than mental health care. It's all out in the open for us to see.

But will legislators keep seeing this? Or will this whole ordeal be quietly swept under the rug so Carson City can return to the "normal business" of debating how much to underfund schools and how much more corporate welfare is needed to steal corporate offices and warehouses from other states? It remains to be seen what kind of mark Brooks leaves on Carson City.

And, for that matter, it remains to be seen whether Brooks himself will return to Carson City at all this year.

I'm told Brooks emphasized he has a passel of medical problems -- as opposed to psychological --that he needs some time to heal, using that as the reason for his leave. But the key here is that the select committee, to be appointed this week, will still go on with its business to investigate Brooks.

So Democratic leaders breathe a sigh of relief as they solve a short-term problem -- getting Brooks the help he needs and NOT in Carson City -- and move forward to address the long-term issue of whether he should be allowed to serve later.

So he will likely be gone. And he may even be gone for good. But will legislators forget the lessons that should have been learned from this rather strange ordeal?

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