Week in Review
If you’ve been keeping up with NPRI’s E-Bulletins, you know that we’ve been very active during the current legislative session. In particular, Geoff Lawrence, the Institute’s deputy policy director, has been in Carson City full-time since February, sharing ideas with lawmakers, testifying on numerous bills and keeping an eye on legislative developments.
Geoff wrote a very informative piece that we published yesterday, titled “The good, the bad and the ugly: Part I.” (I haven’t confirmed this, but I’d like to think the title was inspired by my reference to Clint Eastwood in last Friday’s Week in Review).
In any event, Geoff’s commentary takes a look at some of the bills that failed to survive the deadline for receiving committee approval and have thus been relegated to the ash heap of history, unless resurrected by legislative leadership.
One of the most consistent complaints I hear from conservatives and libertarians is that nearly everything associated with popular culture comes with a leftist bent. Whether we’re listening to music, taking our kids to the movies or simply trying to enjoy a weeknight sitcom, it seems we’re constantly bombarded with liberal talking points and other assaults on our ideological sensibilities. Most annoyingly, this happens quite often even when the song/movie/show has nothing whatsoever to do with politics.
One of my favorite things about being the president of NPRI is that I’m often invited to speak to different organizations around the state and share the Institute’s perspective on the current debates over public policy.
My speeches cover various topics, depending on the host organization, but there’s one subject in particular that has become a staple of just about all of my presentations. That subject is the many myths about Nevada governance that have been allowed to persist for far too long — and the way those myths distort the policy discussion.
Political power often translates into taxpayer-funded handouts to special-interest groups, but rarely is that dynamic seen so clearly as at the Legislature this last Wednesday, when Nevada’s labor unions held a small rally protesting a bill proposal by Assemblyman Cresent Hardy
Any time you shine a light on the practices of government, you’re bound to hit a nerve. That was certainly the case with my recent commentary in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which highlighted 2012 employee-compensation data for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, posted recently at TransparentNevada.com.
The commentary drew the ire of liberal RJ columnist Steve Sebelius, who accuses NPRI of, among other wrongs, distorting the data.
Earlier this week, we at NPRI updated our government-transparency website, TransparentNevada.com, with 2012 salary data for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
The release of this data has generated a lot of media coverage, helping to bring increased public attention to the handsome compensation levels that many Metro employees enjoy. The data shows, for example, that 149 employees took home more than $200,000 in total compensation last year, and that 888 of them brought in more than $150,000.
So Dwight Jones is out as Clark County School District superintendent, the news breaking this week that he is resigning effective March 22 so that he can care for his ailing mother in Dallas.
I’ve already been asked more times than I can count for my reaction to the news, with most questions focusing on 1) Jones’ performance in his two years on the job, and 2) what his departure will mean for education in Clark County.
It’s difficult to assess where Jones’ performance would rate on the traditional A through F scale. Given the brevity of his tenure, he probably warrants an “Incomplete.”
Earlier this week, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delivered an address before the Nevada Legislature. As I was reading through the transcript — it’s better for my blood pressure to read than to watch — I was struck by how much of what Sen. Reid said was either a distortion, based in ignorance or simply not true.
That’s a link to a news video that Kyle Gillis, a reporter for NPRI’s Nevada Journal, produced one year ago today. The story covered the grand opening of the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, popularly known as the Mob Museum, and spotlighted criticism from NPRI and the Taxpayer Protection Alliance over the use of public funds for the project — as well as some colorful reaction from former Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, the museum’s primary champion.
In the video, Goodman boldly predicts that the museum will draw 800,000 visitors in its first year of operation, while acknowledging that he’s been cautioned to put the actual number at a more realistic 400,000 or 500,000. Oh yeah, he also refers to critics of the project — which was subsidized with $42 million in taxpayer money — as “idiots,” “morons” and “monkeys.”
President Ronald Reagan would have turned 102 years old this week. The Great Communicator was full of wonderful stories and anecdotes. One of my favorites was his quip that “I’ve always felt that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”
I was reminded of that statement this week as I visited with lawmakers and walked the halls of the Legislative Building in Carson City. There are a lot of energetic and intelligent politicians in that building, but how many of them understand what Reagan put so simply? Once government goes beyond performing its core functions in the most efficient way possible, it doesn’t solve problems — it makes them worse.