Thursday, September 25, 2014

(We Must Return) Back to Basics.

(In light of recent events, we felt it necessary to revisit this. We dug through the cavernous Nevada Progressive archives to find this gem from May 2013. How is it we can afford corporate welfare for Tesla, but not taking care of our own people? And now, we risk losing federal SNAP funds because we can't get our act together.

Maybe we should consider taking care of our own people's needs before we cater to every whim & fancy of any multinational corporation that whispers sweet nothings into our politicians' ears?)

So Former Assembly Member Steven Brooks is back in the news today. Brooks was supposed to be at a court hearing in Las Vegas today. He couldn't make it... Because he was at a court hearing in San Bernardino County, California.

Here's what's happened so far.

The lawyer for a former Nevada lawmaker charged in a car chase and a police confrontation is asking that his client go through a mental health court program.

Ex-Assemblyman Steven Brooks appeared in a San Bernardino County, Calif., court Tuesday after pleading not guilty to charges stemming from his arrest March 28. Prosecutors say there could be a decision Friday on whether he's eligible for mental health court.

Mental health courts divert people into treatment programs and hold them accountable along the way.

Late in March, Steven Brooks was arrested in Victorville following a dispute with a tow truck driver in Barstow and a dramatic car chase with police. His attorney is now requesting for the California case to be transferred to mental health court. This way, he can finally obtain the treatment he needs.

At least there's a chance of Brooks obtaining the treatment he needs in California. Just before his latest arrest, Brooks sounded eerily prophetic in his final interview with Jon Ralston.

In four brief, surreal conversations, alternately heart-wrenching and frightening, shortly after he was expelled from the Assembly, Steven Brooks said he is "the assemblyman of sorrow," wondered why his colleagues "hate me so much" and declared he was going to "break the state" with a lawsuit worth at least $10 million.

Brooks was alternately angry, with expletive-filled rants directed at Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Majority Leader William Horne, despondent, weeping and saying he was checking himself into Seven Hills, a Southern Nevada treatment facility, and suicidal, saying he had no other recourse. [...]

"I'm the assemblyman of sorrow," he declared. "Why do they hate me so much? Fill in the blank: I'm so angry I could (blank) myself."

Brooks told me he was "on my way to Seven Hills to check myself into the hospital. He began weeping when I asked why, adding, "I have no other resort. I'm going to kill myself if they keep this up. I have nowhere to go. I'm the assemblyman of sorrow." [...]

"You know why they hate me? You know why want to kill me because I know all of their secrets."

No one expected what was coming next, probably not even Steven Brooks himself. Yet in an incredibly bizarre way, he warned us. Just days after Brooks was sent to jail in San Bernardino County, another former Nevadan emerged in California.

After The Sacramento Bee began investigating the mysterious Greyhound bus trip that landed James Flavy Coy Brown in Sacramento, the Nevada patient dumping scandal steadily grew. Now, there's a strong chance of Nevada facing law suits soon over improper discharge of mental health patients and transport of them out of state.

And now, outrage is spreading to a new state. Last weekend, ABC 15 Phoenix looked into the 100 cases of Rawson-Neal mental health patients bussed into Arizona. And while investigating, they may have uncovered yet another horrifying scandal in the making.

Mark Holleran, CEO of Central Arizona Shelter Services, says it's hard to track those patients down. He says "patient dumping" happens more than you might think. "It just shows you how it's very easy to do this, and it's sort of under the radar. It's hard to detect," he said. Holleran says a few years ago, former prisoners from Nevada got dumped at the shelter. "They had been provided a bus ticket, a small amount of cash, a print out of a Mapquest that showed them how to get to CASS. And written on it was, 'ask for Howie,'" he said. Holleran says these cases often end in chronic homelessness. He says that stretches resources in other states, like Arizona. And it passes along the problem, instead of fixing it. "That might be something we might want to take a look at. Because if we can solve it for one place, I think we solve it for all the places," Holleran said.
So now, Arizona officials are reporting cases of Nevada patient dumping. And not only that, but we may have also dumped former prisoners on them as well! How about that for being a "good neighbor"? One would think this would light a fire under the behinds of the Governor and legislators to fix this glaring crisis. Come on, we're now facing law suits and loss of federal funding! But no, they were too busy kissing the behind of Nicholas Cage. No, I'm not even making this up. And Ralston was downright revolted by today's lurid display of misplaced priorities.
James Flavy Brown can be shipped out of Las Vegas, leaving with barely his wits about him, some meds and peanut butter crackers. But the star of “Leaving Las Vegas” can be treated like royalty, with the mayor of Las Vegas as his sidekick, and an offer pending of enough taxpayer money to buy a peanut butter cracker factory. These are the Legislature’s priorities – cut mental health funding, ignore English Language Learner money but give tax breaks to those who need them least. Brown gets a bus ticket to anywhere while Cage gets a national treasure trove worth of goodies and Apple gets a 90 percent tax break negotiated by the governor. That is tax policy in Nevada. This is the state we are in. I wonder if anyone stops to think: We may get Cage ghost-riding on the Strip, with his production company soaring and a Vegas backdrop for movies. But what does it say if that fake scene is juxtaposed a few miles off-camera in either direction with real tableaus of packed emergency rooms, overcrowded classrooms and jammed thoroughfares. If this is part of a master plan, I’d like to see the drawing because it seems like a blueprint for disaster to me. What exactly is the policy articulated by this approach that allows $80 million to be cut from mental health services in five years but in one bill lawmakers are willing to give half of that amount [$35 million] to prospective Nevada-based filmmakers? Lest you think my heart’s bleeding cuts off circulation to my brain, I get the job-creating argument, the economic diversification argument, the image-changing argument. But why is it a good idea for government to give incentives to anyone – movie producers, renewable energy companies – if offcials don’t provide incentives for people to really want to live here by supporting the quality of life, a culture that values higher and lower education, a political class that leads rather than follows?
He's right about this. It simply doesn't make sense. Honestly, there may be some merit to encouraging more film production here in Nevada. But when we can't even take care of our own, who wants to risk shooting a movie here? Think about it. Why is it that we always hear that "we can't afford" proper mental health care, decent schools, and repaired roads, yet our Governor and Legislature always seem to be able to afford corporate welfare to shower upon multinational corporations like Apple that neither need the help nor deserve it? Think about that as well. How on earth does this lead to a stable economy for our state? And how on earth does neglecting the most vulnerable in our society lead to a healthy economy? It doesn't. That's precisely the problem. Our "leaders" in Carson City keep chasing after mythical economic unicorns while failing to provide the most fundamental building blocks of a sound economy. Sure, luring Hollywood to Las Vegas sounds sexy. But ultimately, that won't mean shit for economic development if our schools keep bursting at the seams, our hospitals keep stuffing patients onto Greyhound buses heading out of state, and our roads are clogged with commuters while paved with just as many potholes. We seriously need to pay attention to the rude awakening we're now receiving. We must get back to basics, and we must do so before it's too late.

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