Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Time to Move On

For five years, we've been here. Through thick and then. In good times and bad times. To celebrate and to mourn. To investigate and to analyse.

For five years, you've been here with us. You've seen it all. You've done it all. And all this time, you've stuck with us.

You were with us when we raged against the machine. You were with us when we took many looks under the hood of the machine. And yes, you were even with us when we drunkenly twerked our way all the way through the machine.

And now, I have to say this. And yes, I have to do this. It's time for me to move on.

Starting today, I'm becoming a contributing editor at Let's Talk Nevada. I already have my inaugural piece up as an official LTN contributor. It's an in-depth look inside the Nevada Democratic Party's 2014 campaign (or lack thereof). And trust me, there will be even more of the juicy policy realness there that you've come to enjoy here. And yes, there will be more political pieces like the one I posted this morning.

Anyone who knows my herstory knows that I have experience making waves on community sites. I'm not the type of blogger who's easily lost in the shuffle.

Rather, this is opportunity for us to be a part of something bigger. Now, more than ever before, we need to foster a better sense of community. And in this new community we're joining, we'll have an even greater platform to share the news and views you may not find anywhere else.

We've complained about the lack of independent media. Now, we're finally doing something about it. And I dearly hope you will join me at LTN.

As long as Google/Blogger allows me, I will keep the Nevada Progressive archives alive for you. Hey, I have just over five years of stories for you to re-read and enjoy! You can never say I didn't give you enough.

For five years, we've had a good run here. This blog may have been held together by duct tape, bubble gum, nail polish, and an endless supply of big dreams, but we made the most of it and fulfilled so many of our dreams here. I can't thank you enough for sticking with me for all this time.

But now, it's time to move on. The next chapter is about to begin. Would you like to turn the page with me?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Why Your Vote Matters

This has been nothing short of awkward. And now, it's starting to become quite scary. What on earth is going on here?

Most polls (particularly the credible ones) haven't shown it. The campaigns weren't behaving like this was the case... At least not until very recently. And we've heard plenty of credible reports from the field that didn't indicate this at all.

So why have so few Nevadans voted so far? That's the question on nearly everyone's mind.

Already, we've seen speculation of why turnout has been so damned low. Has the lack of a traditional "top of the ticket" been keeping voters away from the polls? Are people not voting as some sort of strange "protest (non)vote"? Is there something else that's causing this very anemic turnout?

We believe there are several factors. We know Clark County has been slow (again) to send sample ballots. We know there are no Presidential or high-profile statewide campaigns pushing hard to bank early votes. And we know the 2014 election cycle has already revealed some strange dynamics.

But ultimately, this election matters. Don't listen to media pundits trying to convince you otherwise. And don't even try to convince yourself that "voting doesn't matter".

In case you're still wondering why your vote matters, talk to people in Pennsylvania who are wondering why it's still legal in their state to shoot live pigeons, cook cats & dogs for dinner, and discriminate against LGBTQ workers. Go ahead and talk to people in Wisconsin about how hard it is to make ends meet because their state government cares more about restricting women's health care than paying ensuring those who work hard can earn a living wage. Try talking to people in North Carolina about how and why it's become so difficult to access access reproductive health care, make ends meet, or even cast a ballot (ironically enough). And please, please talk to those unfortunate souls in states where their respective governments rejected Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

Still wondering why your vote matters? Karl Rove and his "TEA Party, Inc." besties are hoping you don't vote. That's because they're hoping they can start doing here in Nevada what they've been "accomplishing" in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Arizona, and elsewhere.

Right now, they're jumping for joy over the early vote numbers. That really says a lot. And that should easily dispel any questions on whether your vote matters this year.

If you've just been taking your time to study the whole ballot, we preemptively apologize for this rant. As long as you vote, we're happy. Just remember that early voting ends this Friday.

And for everyone else, pay attention. Realize what's at stake now. And then... Well, now you know just how much your vote matters.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Farley's Closet

They can run, but they can't hide. Ever since primary season concluded, State Senate Republican Leader Michael Roberson has been trying hard to convince everyone that he and his hand-picked running mates are "not your typical Republicans"... By hiding from public view. We're trying to remember the last time Senator Roberson spent this much time away from the media spotlight.

But why are he and his hand-picked running mates staying so far away from the media spotlight? Last week, we took a closer look at Becky Harris (R). And today, we're taking a closer look at Patricia Farley (R).

At first glance, Farley actually looks like "not your typical Republican". After all, she did preside over the board of AFAN (or Aid for AIDS in Nevada). How many Republican candidates have a record like this?

But wait, what really happened during Farley's tenure at AFAN? ProgressNow Nevada and Progressive Kick are back with a very well sourced report on Patricia Farley's history at AFAN (when she was known as Patricia Saavedra), as well as her positions on other key issues.

We distinctly remember this period of turmoil at AFAN. It ultimately led to painful fissures in Southern Nevada's LGBTQ community as people began asking questions on where the money was going, who was being treated (& who wasn't), and why so many staffers were being thrown out.

Back then, Patricia Farley spoke out and defended her organization. Why won't she do the same now? She occasionally issues press releases alluding to her service at AFAN, but she hasn't answered any questions on AFAN's finances and human resources policy since she announced her campaign for State Senate. Why is that? She now wants to have authority over the State of Nevada's budget. Shouldn't voters have the opportunity to know more about Farley's oversight of AFAN's budget?

No wonder why it seems like Michael Roberson is keeping himself, along with Patricia Farley & Becky Harris, hidden in some secret closet at some undisclosed location.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Keep it Klassy, Camden.

1:00 PM UPDATE: Camden replied to us a little earlier. Here's what they tweeted:

@atdleft We apologize for the inappropriate emails & be assured that we're taking corrective actions to prevent this from happening again.

In addition, we've heard from our source that a Summerlin area Camden property is claiming it had nothing to do with the email. So far, they're claiming the national corporate office in Texas ordered this. We'll have to wait and see who's telling the truth on this.

But hey, at least they're now apologizing.

What else can we say about this? Keep it klassy, Camden.

(A great friend of Nevada Progressive tipped us off to this Thursday night. The next morning, someone else tipped off Ralston. Apparently, Camden is sending these letters all over Southern Nevada.)

October 23, 2014 5:03 PM
Subject: Vote NO on Question 3

To Our Valued Residents:

As you are probably aware, the November 4, 2014 ballot contains a question asking Nevada voters to approve a 2% margin tax on the gross revenues of businesses. This is not a proposed tax on profits; it is a tax on the total amount of revenue a business receives before paying all of its expenses – and businesses would be required to pay this tax even if they are not profitable or are struggling to keep the business running.

While this apartment community is home to you and your family, please remember that it is also a business. If the 2% margin tax passes on November 4, 2014, the owners of this apartment community will be significantly affected by this tax. If the 2% margin tax passes on November 4, 2014, the owners of this apartment community will be forced to find ways to pay this tax -- which may potentially result in the eventual raising of your rent. Please remember that the impact of this 2% margin tax will not be felt by Nevada businesses alone, it will ultimately be passed onto you as the consumer for a lot more than just rent. Accordingly, this proposed tax will affect you.

While we all care about education (and want the best for our children) this Margin Tax Initiative DOES NOT give education the true shot in the arm it needs, as only a small portion of the tax would actually benefit education. However, imposing this tax on Nevada businesses -- those that are employing our families and driving our economy – is not the answer. We strongly urge you to support this apartment community you call home and to vote NO on Question 3 when you go to the polls on November 4, 2014.

To reply to this message follow this link

Is this even legal? It certainly doesn't sound like something the Better Business Bureau recommends.

We know the No on 3 campaign has a penchant for the melodramatic. But really, this is a new low. These renters have a business agreement with Camden. They didn't sign up for Camden emails so campaign flyers can drop in their inboxes.

So is this the new LVGEA "Get Out the Vote" plan to kill The Education Initiative (TEI)? We know they can't compete on policy. So now they're having their friends at Camden send intimidating emails to renters at Camden apartment complexes?

Is this even legal? It's amazing to think this is actually for real.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quick Programming Note

It's getting to that time of the year. We're doing our best to juggle everything. But this weekend, we will likely be swamped.

We're waiting for a "special surprise" to drop. When it does, we'll blog it. And from there, we'll probably need the extended weekend off.

But don't worry, you won't be all alone. Desert Beacon, Let's Talk Nevada, & Buzz are here for your enlightenment. And if you still haven't voted yet (& so far, it looks like you probably haven't), please check our one stop voter shop and the Nevada Voter Guide for all the early voting information you need.

We hope this helps. And above all else, we hope you go out and vote soon. Why miss out on your chance to have your say?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Real Deal

Earlier this month, Las Vegas Sun publisher Brian Greenspun shocked us... Not with his expected column opposing The Education Initiative (TEI), but with his assertion that LVGEA's gawd-awful Whitney Houston lip sync is somehow praiseworthy.

Queue today's Las Vegas Sun editorial on this year's ballot questions. While The Sun makes good points on Questions 1 & 2, it again ventures off to Neverland in search of a cohesive opinion on Question 3.

The solution is one we’ve already seen developing: Business groups are banding together and finding ways to fix the situation. They plan to come to the Legislature with a plan that will better fund education in a way that won’t break the backs of small businesses.

That’s what should happen and that’s the best way to go. This is a discussion for the Legislature, and seeing businesses involved in the process is encouraging. The bottom line is Question 3 is bad policy and would be disastrous for the state, especially when businesses are ready and willing to work with the Legislature to find a better way forward.

Here we go again with "The Deal". What is "The Deal"? What's in "The Deal" for our kids? And why can't we know how "The Deal" is being made? Maybe this is because "The Deal" is like all the other past "deals" that have gone nowhere?

As we've said before, why are we now to believe the very forces who have always fought against any kind of meaningful progressive tax reform suddenly want to give us "The Deal"? What have they ever done to earn our trust?

Think about this: They're spending millions on their campaign to defeat a mere 2% tax on $1,000,000+ of corporate income. If they're spending so much to defeat this at the ballot box, what makes us think they'll agree next year to any kind of tax reform that makes them pay something closer to their fair share?

So "Deal or No Deal"? Actually, how about we settle for The Real Deal?

What a Difference #1More Can Make

Ever since we started following him, we knew he would be going places. We knew he had that "fire in the belly".

We also knew he had something we don't often see in ambitious politicians: a genuine drive to help one's constituents. Whether he's been sticking up for his law abiding constituents in Bunkerville, helping veterans access the health care they need in Las Vegas & Pahrump, or looking after military families in Hawthorne, Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) has been going the extra mile to serve all his constituents in NV-04.

He helped Alan in Centennial Hills access the veterans benefits he earned...

And he helped Dona in Pahrump clear up her tax issues.

Typically, this is the kind of constituent service that gets rave reviews. But you know who isn't a fan of this? Karl Rove. His Crossroads PAC is dumping about $1,000,000 worth of anti-Horsford ads onto Nevada airwaves.

Karl Rove is hoping this will be enough to make NV-04 voters forget all about Cresent Hardy's fondness for "segregation laws" and shady finances. He's hoping this will be enough to make voters forget about Rep. Horsford's tireless work to keep Bryan Rivera's family together.

Because early voting has been very slow so far, Republican operatives are now boasting of a "wave". And now, they're claiming this means Cresent Hardy has "momentum".

Never mind Rep. Horsford's actual record of service to constituents. Never mind the stories of Alan, Dona, & Bryan. And never mind Rep. Horsford earning the endorsements of all the major Southern Nevada newspapers. Because only a few people have voted so far, Republicans now think they can sneak Cresent Hardy into Congress.

What a difference #1more vote can make. A few more votes can make a huge difference in the coming days. A few more votes can shift "conventional wisdom". A few more votes can turn back a "wave".

And now, a few more #1more's can upend Karl Rove's political calculus? Might you be that #1more to do it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

And Now, A Word on Those Who Didn't Even Show Up

Last night, the main attraction... Wait, scratch that. The NV-03 debate was the only debate at Ner Tamid Synagogue in Henderson. For some reason, the other candidates backed out of the candidates' debate.

Hmmmm, we wonder why...

So Ralston was left having a live "Face to Face" chat with Lt. Governor candidate Lucy Flores (D). During their chat in stage, Flores had the opportunity to speak directly to voters on why she's running for this office and what's the truth to all the TV ads they've been seeing lately. And yes, she actually took it.

Flores explained to Ralston and the audience how she can use the Lt. Governor's Office as a platform to pursue progress on a host of issues. She promised to work for better support for public education if elected. And she promised to ensure that efforts to bring more business to Nevada actually employ Nevada businesses.

Ralston was probably hoping for at least some of the fireworks that exploded at Vegas PBS studios last week, but that didn't happen here. Nope, Mark Hutchison (R) was nowhere to be found.

And the same could be said about Clark County Sheriff candidate Joe Lombardo. He also backed out of the Ner Tamid debate. But why? Especially why would the "frontrunner" who likes to boast of his "superior qualifications" back out of a chance to directly show voters his "superior qualifications"?

So Ralston was left to interview Larry Burns solo. He answered a couple questions, somewhat evaded Ralston's final question, then stayed after Ralston left to speak directly with voters.

Can anyone guess the pet peeve that's irritating us today? At least Rep. Joe Heck (R) and Erin Bilbray (D) showed up to debate each other. Why couldn't Mark Hutchison and Joe Lombardo extend the same courtesy to Mr. Ralston, Ner Tamid, and local voters?

And don't get us started on the certain State Senator who was more than happy to saunter across the Ner Tamid stage in 2010, only to go into hiding now. We know exactly what he's up to. He can't stay in hiding forever.

The Tweets Tell the Story

Apparently, this is becoming a story. So it's a good thing we were actually there last night to see it unfold. Who knew a "boring" debate at a typically quiet neighborhood synagogue could become so raucous?

Last night, Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) debated his opponent, Erin Bilbray (D), at the Ner Tamid Reform Congregation in Henderson. At first, the atmosphere seemed pretty calm. Heck and Bilbray were even being polite towards each other. But then, this happened.

Heck interrupted Bilbray, which resulted in a few Bilbray supporters heckling Heck, which resulted in some Heck supporters shouting at Bilbray. And of course, this all resulted in moderator Jon Ralston popping off on everyone. He even threatened to have Ner Tamid organizers "clear the room".

Perhaps that's what was needed, as that caused everyone to quiet down so the debate could resume.

And so it did. Ralston started with foreign policy, and Heck seemed prepared for that. In fact, he stated he not only wants air strikes against ISIS in Iraq, but also more ground troops. He even went so far to say it was a "mistake" for the US to pull troops out of Iraq. Heck pretty much announced he's a "born again neo-con" last night with his desire for a renewed US occupation of Iraq.

Bilbray, on the other hand, was far more careful with her words. She said she supports President Obama's air strikes campaign, but does not want any more troops on the ground. She even called out Rep. Heck and other Members of Congress who haven't backed up their rhetoric with any floor votes.

Then, the conversation moved to #Ebola. And here's what actually happened:

Bilbray pointed out how CDC budget cuts have hurt our ability to prepare for outbreaks like this. Heck scoffed at that, but then came back down to earth when he acknowledged Ebola won't suddenly kill us all. But then, he just had to blame Texas nurses. Keep it klassy, Rep. Heck.

Once Ralston moved the debate to domestic issues, that's when Bilbray seemed to hit her stride. She struck a decidedly combative tone, yet nonetheless a tone suggesting she knows what she's talking about. And while Heck scored some points here and there, he still seemed somewhat off his game after his surprisingly weak performance at the Vegas PBS Debate.

After the gun safety question and brief closing remarks, it was over... Or at least, we thought it was over.

That was the only Ner Tamid debate, as other candidates had backed out. We'll have more on that later. Suffice to say, the audience then had the chance to watch a live version of "Ralston Reports" as he grilled Lt. Governor candidate Lucy Flores (D) and Clark County Sheriff candidate Larry Burns.

But once all the speeches were over, this happened:

We noticed something from the corners of our eyes, but couldn't hear what was being said. Apparently, it was a Heck supporter who decided to confront Erin Bilbray's daughter.

Oh, my. What a lovely way to end such a lovely debate (/snark). At least we have the tweets to tell the whole story.

"Dead" Already?

(Ever since it was first born, it's been declared "dead". Yet after every attempt to schedule a funeral and bury it, The Education Initiative [TEI] has somehow chugged on. Can it happen one more time? Will more people finally start turning out for TEI?

Here's a gem from the Nevada Progressive archives, all the way back from November 2012. Maybe TEI can come back from the "dead" one more time?

If you want to prove the pundits wrong, you need to vote. Check out our "one stop voter shop" for all the 411 you need to be a good citizen and exercise your right to govern. Early voting continues through the 31st.)

Yesterday, we discussed the continuing need for real, progressive tax reform. And thankfully, the teachers refuse to give up this fight.

[The Education Initiative] has more than 100,000 signatures of voters on its initiative petition and they will be presented Tuesday to the counties for verification of the names, says Nick Di Archangel, director of communications for the Nevada State Education Association.

Di Archangel says he thinks the petition has a good chance of gaining legislative approval.

The law requires 72,352 signatures on the initiative to be filed by the Tuesday deadline. And there must be 18,008 signatures in each of the four congressional districts.

So now, The Education Initiative has more than enough signatures to go to the Legislature next spring. And even if Nick Di Archangel is wrong and the Legislature does not want to approve it, that just means voters can approve it in 2014.

However, the path forward is not completely clear yet. The Education Initiative still has to overcome the legal challenge.

At the same time, the Nevada Supreme Court has decided to speed up an appeal by the union over a ruling by a lower court that the petition is invalid.

The Supreme Court Wednesday filed an order that it will hear oral arguments on the first available date and all seven justices will be sitting on the case. The court said it will not be necessary for the union and its opponent, Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs, to file briefs, a normal procedure.

The court, in expediting the process, will examine the record in the case before Carson City District Judge James Wilson, who ruled the petition was faulty, misleading and could not be presented to the Legislature.

The initiative would impose a 2 percent margins tax on businesses with more than an annual income of $1 million. It is expected to raise $800 million a year to go toward funding the public schools.

So "The Supremes" (of Nevada) must render their final verdict before we know for sure if The Education Initiative will go to Carson City next spring.

But at least for now, this initiative lives on. And at least for now, progressives can keep hope alive for meaningful tax reform. Already, the usual suspects in Carson City are working to silence all talk of tax reform. But as long as teachers and their fellow union activists keep turning up the heat with The Education Initiative, this issue will not go away.

And at this point, even a final ruling against the initiative may not be enough to silence activists demanding real solutions for better schools and a fairer tax code. Simply put, progressives are mad as hell and they won't take it any more. So expect more sound and fury from a typically unexpected source during next year's legislative session. And regardless of the final fate of this specific initiative, progressive tax reform is far from dead.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bloody Bundy

Back in April, one "outlaw cowboy" in Bunkerville decided to wage a "Range War" against the federal government. So he gathered an army of fellow "outlaw cowboys" to point guns at federal agents and back up traffic on The 15. And the rest is history...

Except it's also still happening. Over the weekend, the Southern Poverty Law Center checked in on "The Bundy Files" and uncovered no legal action against Cliven Bundy or any of his accomplices. Neither the feds nor local authorities have stepped up as of yet, though both claim investigations are still underway.

So now, Bundy is enjoying the celebrity life as he accepts speaking engagements, media interviews, and even invitations to appear in campaign ads. Yep, he's actually going there.

Never mind he and his cohort pointed guns at federal agents. Never mind he's still palling around with his buddies in the sovereign citizen gang and the Patriot Movement. And never mind that he still owes the feds over $1,000,000 in back owed taxes and fines while he continues to trespass on federally owned land.

For now, let's return to Bundy's "sovereign" and "patriot themed" buddies. Remember them? They just have an extensive history of resorting to whatever means necessary to overthrow our duly elected government.

Remember when #BundyRanch was not just trending on Twitter, but was also attracting "sovereign" warriors from across the nation? One of them happened to be one Jerad Miller. Remember him? He & his wife just shot two Metro Police Officers and a third victim dead before they shot themselves to "start the revolution".

Even before #BundyRanch exploded onto the national media's radar, "sovereign citizen" inspired criminal activity was on the rise. But since Cliven Bundy has taken to the national stage to legitimize this fringe "movement", we've been witnessing even more "sovereign" activity across the nation.

Last month, a sniper opened fire on a Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Pike County. Trooper Alex Douglass was critically injured in the attack. Corporal Byron Dickson was shot dead.

Investigators soon found an abandoned Jeep Cherokee nearby containing the Social Security card belonging to Eric Frein. The Jeep was then traced to Frein's parents. Eric Frein is now the sole suspect in this attack. Pennsylvania State Police is in an active manhunt for Frein, and the FBI recently added Frein to its "Ten Most Wanted" list.

Surprise, surprise, Eric Frein is a "sovereign citizen". Who could have guessed another one would attack law enforcement?

Yet even though they deny their role in promoting him, a slew of prominent Nevada Republicans refuse to actually condemn Cliven Bundy's free range lawlessness. And because calling this what it is has somehow become "controversial", the federal response has been awfully slow... Perhaps too slow.

And so for the time being, we're stuck with the Bundy Family Circus. And no, we're not laughing.

Why "No Comment"?

Today, our big "H/T of the Day Award" goes to the one & only Gleaner himself, Hugh Jackson. What else are we supposed to add to this?

Well of course, we can always add this:

And now, ProgressNow Nevada Action and Progressive Kick are adding this. Becky Harris (R) has been trying her best to hide from the voters since June, along with her running mates Patricia Farley (R) and Michael Roberson (R). They're all running for State Senate (and in Roberson's case, running for reelection), yet none of them has spoken to anyone in the press since August and all of them have have been severely limiting public exposure since June. Why?

Perhaps ProgressNow is onto something. Who is Becky Harris? While we've been doing plenty of sleuthing ourselves to uncover her radical G-O-TEA allegiances, ProgressNow has uncovered even more damning evidence. She testified not only against marriage equality, but also domestic partnerships (??!!), at the Nevada Legislature in 2001. She even endorsed "conversion therapy", the horrifically dangerous practice of attempting to "pray the gay away" from LGBTQ people. So why are we now supposed to believe Becky Harris won't (again) pursue what she's already gone to Carson City to advocate?

But wait, there's more. Last week, we told you about Becky Harris' internship at the Utah Legislature during the early 1990s. Back then, she took part in crafting anti-choice legislation. Now we know she took part in creating the infamous Utah law that would have threatened 15 year prison sentences for doctors performing abortions... If the US Supreme Court hadn't overturned that and other severe state level abortion restrictions in 1992. But now that the religious right wrong is waging another War on Women, we're again at risk of seeing women's reproductive rights taken away. How do we know Becky Harris won't join in (again)?

And of course, we all remember Becky Harris' now infamous August interview with Steve Sebelius. Funny enough, this was her very last media appearance before "The Blackout". Perhaps that's because Becky Harris let it slip that she's vehemently against even modest legislation to close Nevada's background check loopholes that allow dangerous criminals to get their hands on very dangerous weapons. According to Harris, it's more important to argue over the definition of "transfer" than to keep dangerous firearms away from the next Jerad Miller and Christopher Dorner.

All this helps explain why Becky Harris' spokespeople (and their boss, Michael Roberson) are making "No Comment". They don't want you to know her real record. They don't want you to know what she really wants to do in Carson City. So Roberson is keeping Harris in hiding in hopes they can trick the voters of Senate District 9 into electing her.

Perhaps Roberson's operatives think they can enjoy some "political trick-or-treat-ing" here, but voters deserve better. They deserve to know what Becky Harris is actually running on. And they deserve far more than "No Comment".

No "Deal", No Mirage, No Dilemma

We had a feeling this was coming. In his "Sunday Column" yesterday, Jon Ralston moaned about the difficult choice he has regarding Question 3. Dare we say the typically very opinionated pundit hasn't yet made up his mind?

We understand this is difficult for him. He wants to believe. He wants to believe the Governor & Legislature will magically reach "The Deal" that Las Vegas Sun publisher Brian Greenspun alluded to in his column announcing his opposition to The Education Initiative (TEI). If we just give the "bid'ness establishment" just a little more time to "bring everyone together", can't we all just get along and praise the glorious arrival of "The Deal"?

However, Ralston has seen this same s--tshow play out so many times that he can sense "The Deal" is just a mirage. And when we say mirage here, we're not talking about the Strip casino resort with the volcano.

There's a reason why the very "bid'ness establishment" that's promising to usher in "The Deal" is spending so much to kill TEI. Every time anyone has suggested some kind of comprehensive and progressive tax reform, it's gone in to kill reform. Not even then Governor Kenny Guinn (R) could succeed at that front in 2003.

So why are we to believe "this time will be different"? And why are we to believe this time they will actually behave differently? We don't even know what's in this "Deal". And to be completely honest, we don't know if there will ever be a real "Deal".

However, we have the real deal on our ballot now. The No on 3 campaign offers a beautiful mirage of a miraculous "deal". But as with all mirages, this one is simply an illusion. Even Ralston seems to understand this.

As we've said before, our choice on Question 3 truly comes down to this: Something or nothing. We can either agree to the real deal for Nevada schools by saying yes to Question 3, or we can just say no and eventually realize there's no deal behind "Door No on 3".

We understand this may actually be a dilemma for Ralston and some other Nevada voters. Why must we be stuck with this decision? Why must we have to decide tax policy at the ballot box?

We just don't see this as a dilemma any more. That's because we're sick and tired of being offered nothing but enticing mirages and ficitious "deals" by the Carson City "bid'ness establishment". We want the real deal, and we now know exactly how to achieve it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Nevada's Progressive Voter Guide for 2014

Obviously, the big day is almost here. Early voting starts tomorrow. And what, did we just hear you still have questions?

No worries, this is why we're here. Check here for all the information you need on early voting throughout the state (including links to location listings). Early voting will be available until Halloween (October 31).

But wait, who are we to vote for? We certainly won't tell you who to vote for (wink, wink), but we are certainly happy to direct you to the SEIU 1107, Humboldt Toiyabe Sierra Club, Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood, and Nevada Impact/Las Vegas Night Beat/GayVegas.com 2014 voter guides for more information on all the candidates on the ballot. Also make sure to check PLAN Action and ProgressNow Nevada Action for even more useful election information.

And speaking of useful election information, go ahead and check out the Vegas PBS debate archives to see the candidates make their own respective cases.

We hope this helps. And above all else, we hope you go out and vote. If you want to make your voice heard, you know what you need to do.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Message

Remember this? Let's take another trip to the Nevada progressive archives. First, let's stop at October 2010. Remember then State Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio's (R-Reno) huge announcement?

Let's now jump to January 2011 to note Senator Raggio's shocking exit from the Legislature.

When Senator Bill Raggio passed away in February 2012, we noted the legacy he left behind... And the legacy so many in his party wanted to ditch behind.

Seriously, this is what has me worried. Yes, Bill Raggio was conservative. Yes, Bill Raggio did use his budget votes as leverage to pass right-wing legislation. And yes, Bill Raggio liked to spend our tax dollars up north when they were really needed in Clark County.

However at the end of the day, Bill Raggio was always someone who was interested in making Nevada's government work. And not too long ago, there were other Republicans, like Kenny Guinn, who believed the same and demonstrated the ability to reach across aisles to keep Nevada functioning.

But last session, we were left wondering if a significant chunk of Legislature Republicans even wanted any kind of functioning government. And again, with Raggio gone, we had to wait for that Nevada Supreme Court ruling just to extend the tax deal that Raggio brokered in 2009. And with Raggio gone, what used to be a Nevada tradition of legislators constantly crossing aisles and party lines to get stuff done gave into California style "mortal combat governance".

Early this year, we were confronted by this again when another Nevada political legend, Former Lt. Governor Sue Wagner (R), decided to leave the Republican Party.

And she was soon followed by Neena Laxalt. Today, Neena Laxalt is following that up with a Las Vegas Sun op-ed that she signed onto, along with six other Laxalt family members.

During our journey, we have found a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that best captures the essence of a core value that has guided us throughout our lives — the value of speaking up for what is right. He wrote, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

In the spirit of King’s words, then, we can no longer be silent as we seek to maintain the integrity of our home state of Nevada.

Therefore, we collectively speak up to support Ross Miller as the most qualified candidate to be our state’s attorney general. [...]

Know that our message does not originate from a Republican, Democratic or even family affiliation. It has to do with the most basic question all voters must ask themselves when they step into the voting booth, “Who really is the best qualified candidate for attorney general for the state of Nevada?”

Wow. So it's happening again. And this time, it's Laxalt family members rebuking the very party they once led. And not only that, but they're even having to rebuke one of their own as both he and the party have lost their way.

Four years ago, the party lost the late Bill Raggio as he and others endorsed US Senator Harry Reid (D) for reelection. Earlier this year, the party lost Sue Wagner and Neena Laxalt. Today, several members of the Laxalt family can't even endorse their own family member who's running for Attorney General. And to our shock, the Nevada Republican Party still isn't getting the message. What else will it take for the message to resonate with them?

The Root of All Kinds of Evil

It's that time of the cycle again. We're seeing a downpour of campaign finance reports. And of course, reporters and pundits are "analyzing" "who's up & who's down" due to how much each has raised.

We're seeing tremendous fundraising hauls for candidates in hot races... And we're even seeing tremendous fundraising hauls for candidates who aren't in hot races. So what does this all mean?

Now, we're even seeing attack ads over "gifts" paid for by "gifts" from "high friends in low places". Hell, these "high friends in low places" are even paying for attack ads that indirectly attack them! What on earth are we supposed to make of this?

This is actually what US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) was talking about yesterday. This is what happens we allow so much corporate money to flood our politics.

Want to know why we're now having to decide major tax policy in the voting booth this year? Look no further than here... Or here... Or here.

Want to know why we're all too often subjected to a vapid debate over "optics" instead an actual, substantive debate on the issues we truly care about? Take a look here. Need we say more?

There's a reason why we keep harping on this. And there's a reason why religious texts, such as The Bible, have warned about the love of money.

Want to get to the root of all the evil that's seeped into our politics? Follow the money. And if you want to uproot this evil, you need to get this dirty money out of our politics.

Bernie Sanders' Big Announcement

Will he or won't he? We know that's what some are asking right now, especially since another likely 2016 Presidential Candidate flew into Southern Nevada for a UNLV Foundation fundraiser. And yes, he directly addressed that matter.

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But first, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) wanted to discuss the reason why he came to the Culinary Academy this week. First, he wanted to talk about the issues.

Senator Sanders covered everything from workers' rights to Social Security to Medicare and Obamacare. He talked about everything from the ongoing G-O-TEA campaign against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) to the corporate media's obsession with "scandals". It was the kind of very frank discussion that one typically doesn't expect to have with a Member of Congress.

And speaking of frank, Senator Sanders cut to the chase when he was asked about 2016. Will he or won't he? Well, that depends on whether he can count on the kind of campaign machine that will be necessary for a Presidential campaign.

Senator Sanders then spoke a truth that is hardly ever uttered in political pundit circles. How does change truly happen? How can one make our system work?

Short answer: One can't. Longer answer: It truly takes a village. It takes a large village. It takes a village that becomes a large and enduring grassroots movement. One person alone can't change the system, but one person can help put together a critical mass who can...

If they stick together. If anything, that's the big takeaway of Senator Sanders' visit to Southern Nevada. But shhh, don't tell the media pundits. They're still obsessing over Hillary Clinton's shoes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lunch With Bernie (Sanders, That Is)

So we attended a campaign event today. And we met someone who may run for President in 2016. And yes, he talked about that.

US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) was invited by the Culinary Union to speak at its get out the vote rally at the Culinary Academy in North Las Vegas. At today's event, Senator Sanders touched on the major issues in this election. He addressed the the one issue that's come to define political landscape in recent cycles.

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He also touched on why so many Americans are so disgusted with our government. (Hint: Follow the money.)

And yes, Senator Sanders addressed the matter of the Kochs. He explained how all the Koch money being dumped into campaigns across the nation (including here in Nevada) prevents us from having nice things. And when we say nice things, we mean policies like a livable minimum wage, extended unemployment insurance, strong action on climate change, and relief for students who are drowning in student loan debt.

Earlier this week, Nevada's top media pundits and "bid'ness establishment" elite were fluttering around a certain visit by another rumored 2016 Presidential Candidate. Yet while they were debating the "optics" of the event, they completely overlooked the policy questions that should have been examined when she arrived. Why didn't any one at Bellagio want to talk about the actual issues that the fundraiser should have been all about?

Perhaps because Senator Sanders' visit to the Culinary Academy didn't attract the kind of media attention and "controversy" that the Bellagio UNLV Foundation fundraiser did, the conversation didn't devolve into a shouting match over "optics". And perhaps that's a good thing. After all, we can now present you with this very real discussion over truly important issues.

And frankly, this is the kind of "candidate sighting" we actually enjoy.

Fringe Is Still Their "Mainstream"

(It's amazing to think that just 6 months ago, a whole bunch of Nevada Republicans, along with G-O-TEA "opinion makers" from across the nation, were actually encouraging armed insurrection against our federal government. But yes, it happened. And no matter how much Adam Laxalt, Michele Fiore, Cresent Hardy, and Nevada Republican Party media spinners want to forget their #BundyRanch debacle, we remember.

So as we commemorate the 6 month anniversary of the start of Cliven Bundy's "Range War" against the rule of law, let's dig into the Nevada Progressive archives and travel back to April 2014 so we can uncover the truth behind all the Nevada G-O-TEA denials we see today.)

Once upon a time, this was merely an oddball case out in a rural corner of Southern Nevada. Not all that long ago, hardly anyone outside the Virgin Valley knew who Cliven Bundy was. He was just the local outlaw rancher who was running his cattle onto federal property (and far beyond designated grazing territory) without paying his fees.

Once upon a time, this was merely a local embarrassment. But now, the Nevada Republican Party has taken up Cliven Bundy's (illegal) cause. And the Koch-topus has taken up this cause and broadcasted it on G-O-TEA media networks nationwide. And the entire world is looking at our state and wondering what the hell we're smoking.

Welcome to Nevada. In our state's Republican Party, fringe is the new mainstream. In this party, Sue Wagner is ostracized to the point of severing ties altogether while Cliven Bundy is celebrated to the point of being declared some sort of outlaw "folk hero".

However, it's no longer just the Nevada Republican Party. It's nationwide. #BundyRanch has been trending nationwide for nearly three weeks. And it's become the latest & greatest cause celebre for G-O-TEA politicians nationwide.

Just a decade ago, the Bush Administration would have used the "domestic terrorist" label to describe the Bundy Gang. But now that Senator Harry Reid (D) is employing the same definition of "domestic terrorism" that Former President George W. Bush used while he was in The White House, G-O-TEA media personalities are feigning "OUTRAGE!!!" while they spread more (already debunked) conspiracy theories about his alleged role in #BundyRanch.

Welcome to the Republican Party of 2014. There, fringe is the new mainstream. Since Sean Hannity has officially declared his undying love & admiration for Cliven Bundy and his merry gang of (fellow) outlaws, G-O-TEA politicians must follow his lead. And more importantly, since the Koch Empire is all in for #BundyRanch, G-O-TEA politicians from across the nation have been endorsing the Bundy Gang's calls for anarchy at gunpoint.

Once upon a time, the Republican Party was known as the "law & order party". Now, it's become the "outlaw & chaos party". Fringe is the new mainstream. And the crazier one sounds, the better chance one has of winning a G-O-TEA primary.

Why "TEA Party, Inc." Fears "T Word" Honesty

(They did it again. Of course, they did it again! They're the powers that be who happen to run the state's largest [absolute embarrassment of a] "newspaper". Today, they published another in-house anti-TEI ad. But this time, they posted it on the front page and right under a story boasting about how much money the No on 3 campaign has raised!

Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

So we figured today is the perfect day to take a trip down the Nevada Progressive archives and back to June 2012. Let's review why we now have Question 3 on our fall ballot. Let's examine the truth behind the lies being propagated by opponents of The Education Initiative. And let's remember how this whole Question 3 campaign began.)

As we noted yesterday, the corporate margin tax is finally going live. And already, it's making a big splash. And already, the radical right is making noise on how "dangerous" this is.

The usual "tea party" suspects are kicking up the scare tactics. Who knew a simple margin tax, a tax proposal that some progressives complain doesn't go far enough[, could be so damned frightening?] That's why I had a good laugh when I saw NPRI's hand wringing, and why I then rejoiced when I saw Sebring's rebuttal of NPRI's fearmongering at The Nevada View.

Anti-tax reform groups, like NPRI, feeling like they have duped and confused middle class citizens go on to state that “research shows there’s little to no correlation between $ and student achievement.” The facts are not on their side though. As the Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) project and the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) project have shown, “Research concentrating on class size is important because the findings have largely concluded that smaller class size leads to increases in student achievement, helps to close the minority-majority achievement gap, and has several other long lasting benefits.” Class size reduction though isn’t possible without an increase in the number of teachers in classrooms within a district. Logic tells us that these increases in teacher counts will cost money. Thereby showing that increased financial investments in schools most certainly does increase student achievements, as well as providing other socially relevant benefits.

For decades, the likes of NPRI have deceived Nevadans into thinking we could get something for nothing. But in the last decade, we've had to learn the hard way that we really can't get "money for nothing and chicks for free". Instead, our penchant for rewarding tax evasion has only caused us unnecessary pain and suffering as we've failed to invest in the public infrastructure (like public schools) necessary for growing a sustainable and diversified economy.

Even Ralston, who sometimes wants to like NPRI almost as much as he hates the initiative process, couldn't stay mum on NPRI's idiotic attempt to stifle reasonable discussion on badly needed tax reform. And that's what has "Tea Party, Inc." running scared. The frustration is real, the need for reform is real, and now the first step in building a lasting solution to our chronic budget AND economic development woes is real. They're trying desperately to stifle this, but their days of bullying Nevada into remaining a failed state (just so their corporate patrons can reap the rewards of our suffering) are numbered.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Back to the (DC) Beltway He Goes

Last week, they debated on Vegas PBS. They finally faced each other after weeks of attack ads and press release missives. But of course, all Adam Laxalt (R) had to offer were even more sorry "political issues".

During the Vegas PBS debate, Laxalt threw another temper tantrum over the atrocious evaluation he received from his own law firm. He even tried (again) to turn it into an attack on the character of Ross Miller (D), his opponent for Attorney General. Never mind that Laxalt himself has been loading up on Koch dark money, he's still trying to make this and "Gift-gate" trending topics.

Oh, and since he isn't satisfied by just the Koch funded ads, Laxalt's own campaign has been taking to the airwaves to lie about that "train wreck" evaluation.

He just doesn't know when to quit. Where's Kenny Rogers when we need him?

Look, we get it. Adam Laxalt doesn't want to explain why he still wants to fight against marriage equality and other LGBTQ civil rights. He doesn't want to revisit his "most flawed" take on the Affordable Care Act. He doesn't want to admit to not knowing where Yucca Mountain is. And still doesn't want to say how much (or little) he really knows about open meetings laws.

But ultimately, this is what we expect of someone aspiring to be our state's top law enforcement officer. He needs to answer critical policy questions. He needs to know the actual legal issues our state is facing. He can't just blithely dismiss everything he doesn't want to talk about as "political issues" beneath him.

Perhaps Laxalt should return to the cozy confines of Planet Neocon in the DC Beltway. He may have a "famous Nevada last name", but he clearly has no clue how to do the job for our state.

They Can Run, But They Can't Hide

We had a feeling this was coming. They could run... From the media, from the voters, and from us. However, they couldn't hide from their own record forever.

Ever since the primary election, State Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson (R-Chicken) has gone into hiding with his hand-picked running mates, Becky Harris (R) and Patricia Farley (R). He's hoping their silence will translate into Republican votes.

But why is the typically garrulous Roberson now so quiet? And why is he keeping his hand-picked running mates so quiet? Now, we have a better sense as to why. Just moments ago, State Senator Justin Jones' (D) reelection campaign dropped this very brutal ad.

And there's a reason why it's so brutal: It's the truth. Back in August, Becky Harris told Steve Sebelius she opposes SB 221, Senator Jones' background checks bill. While Senator Jones has been out front leading the way on curbing senseless gun violence...

Harris has offered nothing but occasional platitudes to the media and empty press releases. That's because she'd rather run as "Generic Republican" than run on her support for the "Ammosexual Agenda".

And speaking of agendas, let's talk about that other agenda Becky Harris has been all too willing to jump on board for. While Senator Jones has been quite vociferous in his support for marriage equality and LGBTQ civil rights in general...

Becky Harris has proudly stood behind the very same usual H8 filled suspects who have continually fought hard against any & all LGBTQ civil rights. She even took part in their campaign for the Question 2 marriage ban in 2000 & 2002!

But wait, there's more. Earlier this year, Becky Harris refused to respond to a Planned Parenthood PAC questionnaire. Is that because she didn't want to tell them about her work in the Utah Legislature? Is that because she doesn't want to admit to supporting the usual H8 filled suspects' War on Women? (FYI, Senator Jones earned a 100% score from Planned Parenthood's Nevada PAC earlier this year.)

It's easy to run around town spouting empty platitudes about being "not your typical Republican". It's much harder to have to defend that claim against an extensive track record proving otherwise. Michael Roberson & Becky Harris can run away as they want to, but they can't hide from their own G-O-TEA record forever.

Here's the Truth.

Perhaps you've been reading about the scary new attack ads bombarding our TVs, radios, and even internet enabled devices. They've all been spreading the same message: "WE'RE DOOMED!!!"

Yes, we've seen the actual ads, including the one starring the very person who started The Education Initiative (TEI) in the first place. "The Coalition to Stop Any Effort to Make Them Pay Their Fair Share" is hoping its bribes to this person will be enough to sway us to "STOP THE SCAWEEEEEE MAAAAARRRRGGINN TAX!!!"

Here's the problem: They have nothing. They literally offer nothing. And that's deliberate, as these "big bid'ness" types are the same folks who have always fought any & every effort to properly fund public education in this state. What makes anyone think they actually now "believe the children are our future"?

Here's what really scares them: More & more Nevadans are finally realizing what they're truly up to. And now that TEI is on our fall ballot, We the People finally have the opportunity to do what they've been preventing in Carson City for far too long.

Here's the truth behind their scary attack ads: They can't prove what they're claiming. If TEI is so "job killing", then why isn't Nevada doing better under the "no tax" status quo? Why are states with higher "tax burdens" seeing better job growth and balanced budgets while we lag behind?

Yesterday, new independent analysis from two UNR economists confirmed what we've been saying for some time: TEI will help Nevada's economy by restoring investment in public education. This is why a number of local business owners, such as Ron Nelsen & Cassie Rice, have come forward to explain why they're more than willing to invest more to build a better future for our kids.

Here's the truth behind all the media spin surrounding Question 3: Our schools are "grossly underfunded". And as long as they remain "grossly underfunded", our economy will suffer. But if we break this cycle of underfunding and failure, we can retool our economy so that it's no longer reliant upon "bubbles" and "winnings". TEI gives us the chance to invest in a stronger economic foundation instead of relying upon quicksand.

That's the truth that TEI's opponents don't want you to hear. So instead, they load up on scary attack ads featuring slick political insiders preaching a frightening message of "DOOM!" Don't fall for their crap. Just look behind the curtain to uncover the truth.

Why Hillary? Why Bellagio? (Follow the $.)

After so much anticipation and so much "controversy", it finally happened. And surprise, it raised money for UNLV! Who could have guessed?

Oh, yes. That's right. We've been saying all along that the Hillary Clinton UNLV fundraiser will raise money for UNLV. And whaddya know, the event itself turned in at least a $10,000 profit for the UNLV Foundation. In addition, the announcement was made of a $12 million gift to the school outside the Bellagio fundraiser.

Of course, speculation is running rampant today about why Hillary Clinton came and what she will be doing next time she returns to Nevada. Ironically, hardly anyone is talking about the reason why this event occurred in the first place.

Why, oh why, did UNLV (Foundation) have to pay Hillary Clinton to show up at some fancy Bellagio fundraiser? Look no further than Governor Brian Sandoval (R), Former Governor Jim Gibbons (R), and the severe budget cuts that UNLV endured in 2009 & 2011. And even before then, UNLV and the other public colleges in Southern Nevada were underfunded.

So what are public colleges supposed to do when confronted with severe state budget cuts? Ironically, they've been turning to private donors to try to fill as many gaps as possible. And due to rising tuitions and dwindling financial aid resources for poorer students, we're seeing a growing education gap exacerbate the already alarming inequality crisis.

Keep this in mind today as you read commentary from certain media pundits on the "optics" of last night's UNLV Foundation fundraiser. If you hear from someone who's "disturbed" by Hillary Clinton's visit, ask that someone if one truly believes public institutions of higher education should serve the public. If so, then shouldn't those institutions receive better public support? If so, shouldn't our public colleges receive better finding from our state & federal government?

If UNLV could count on better public funding, it wouldn't have to do so many of these private fundraisers.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Latest (@NVGOP) "Culture War" FAIL

Love is in the air. And cash is coming into the wallets. Now that Nevada finally has full legal marriage equality, Nevada businesses are benefiting from all that love in the air. After all, Las Vegas is "The Wedding Capital of the World"!

Of course, this is of no surprise to faithful readers here who've known for some time how lucrative marriage equality will be for The Silver State. However, it's still somehow a surprise for those who don't listen to us.

Case in point: Adam Laxalt (R). While he's still begging for "gifts", he continues to oppose civil rights for LGBTQ Nevadans. He's even tried attacking his general election opponent, Ross Miller (D), over Laxalt's own "political issues".

Another case in point: Barbara Cegavske (R). She repeatedly voted against LGBTQ civil rights (including marriage equality & domestic partnership) while serving in the Nevada Legislature. She proudly introduced a Koch backed "License to Discriminate" bill in the Legislature last year. And even now, she's still promoting a voter suppression agenda that threatens to disenfranchise thousands of transgender Nevadans if enacted.

Oh, and let's not forget these other fine cosponsors of that "License to Discriminate" bill: Cresent Hardy (R) & Mark Hutchison (R). Hardy can never have enough "segregation laws", yet Hutchison has barely uttered a peep on his "religious freedom" agenda since Thursday.

And then, we have US Senator Dean Heller (R) & Rep. Joe Heck (R). Since Thursday, they've been saying this (footage below).

Don't Republicans always say they're the "pro-business party"? So why aren't they happy about all this new business coming to Nevada?

Wait, is this more "Republican rebranding"? Might this be the new rallying cry for "libertarian populism"? Or are we just witnessing another G-O-TEA attempt to obscure another of its "Culture War" losses? (Our money is on the latter.)