Live blogging the IFC stakeholder selection meeting

Victor Joecks

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Today a working group of the Interim Finance Committee (IFC) tax study subcommittee is meeting to determine the 19 members (subject to change) of the Vision Stakeholder Group. And we’re live blogging it. Go here to watch live (second item) and here’s the agenda.

For anyone who hasn’t been following this charade, here’s the quick recap. The IFC is conducting a tax study, which will be used to try and justify raising your taxes. As part of the tax study, the IFC is selecting a group of vision stakeholders who will set 5-, 10- and 20-year goals for Nevada. Never mind the myriad of problems with thinking that 19 people can set the goals for an entire state of unique individuals, the point of the stakeholders is to provide more political cover for proposing tax increases (ie the goals can only be obtained if the state spends more money). And when most of the stakeholder nominees represent the powerful special interests in Nevada, you know they are going to want more of your money. All this is summed up nicely in Geoff’s article, A vision of extortion and control.

9:19 Although it was suppose to begin at 9, the meeting hasn’t started yet. Probably a lot of deal cutting about which special interests are going to be represented on the stakeholder group. So there’s time for you to read Jon Ralston’s and Chuck Muth’s thoughts on the whole process.

9:41 Still haven’t started yet. The lobbying must be intense. If the legislators didn’t try and pick the winners and losers and just focused on fulfilling its core functions we could avoid all this. Nevada’s legislators don’t have a good track record of anticipating the effects of their interference in the economy anyway. Via the

9:46 It begins.

9:48 Assemblyman Conklin, the working group chair, asks “How do you capture all of the diverse interests in Nevada?” He concludes that a group of 19 will “not capture everyone.” Exactly! That’s why government should fulfill its core functions and not try and pick the winners and losers. The government can’t capture the uniqueness of 3 millions individuals, so it’s guaranteed to be somewhat arbitrary.

9:52 Conklin says no elected officials or lobbyists. Too bad they only took nominees from the five main categories of Nevada’s budget — Commerce and Industry, Education, Public Safety, Health and Human Services, and Infrastruture. Almost every nominee is a defacto lobbyist for their own organization. If the IFC had really wanted non-lobbyists they would have created a category for taxpayers.

9:59 Now the category’s Commerce and LABOR!!! Was that just an accidental slip or an intentional change to get more union representation?

10:00 Sen. Townsend’s suspenders appear to be black this morning. He says Commerce and Industry. Maybe it was just a mistake.

10:01 Sen. Rhoads wants Doug Busselman to represent the rurals.

10:03 Conklin suggests Busselman be a (non-voting) alternate. First loser: everyone in agriculture. When the government picks winners they always pick losers.

10:06 Motion passes. I couldn’t catch all the names, but there’s no one from agriculture. Motion to make Busselman an alternate. Passes.

10:08 Education is up next. Unfortunately I (Victor) have an appointment, but Geoffrey Lawrence is going to take over the live blog.

10:11 Pleased to be here, the meeting is moving quickly as it is obvious that legislators have already prioritized who they would like to see represented on the stakeholder group. There is minimal debate over the four being recommended to represent education. Conklin has mentioned that charter schools and other alternative forms of public education should get a voice on the NVSG. Encouraging sign. The four appointed for education are: Paul Dugan (Washoe County School District), Rene Cantu (Latin Chamber), Marsha Irvin (Andre Agassi Academy) and Brian Rippet (NSEA) with John Packman (UNR School of Medicine) as an alternate.

10:21 Health and Human Services: Four representatives are Peter Bernhard (Cleveland Clinic), Sylvia Young (Sunrise Health), Susan Rhoads (Nevada Assoc. of Social Workers) and Denise Tanada Ashby (UNLV) with Dan Goulet (United Way) as an alternate.

10:25 Public Safety is moved ahead of Infrastructure because there is perceived to be less controversy over picks. Nominations are Katy Simon (Washoe County) and Cedric Williams (NLV Fire Dept.) with Janelle Kraft Pearce (LV Metro Police) as an alternate.

10:29 Senator Townsend nominates Robert Lang (Brookings Mountain West/UNLV), Thomas Perrigo (City of Las Vegas) and Terry Reynolds (Reynolds Company) to be NVSG representatives for Infrastructure

Senator Weiner wants to nominate one person at a time. Senator Townsend objects that they haven’t done that for any of the other areas. He says all the other nominations would have to be redone and that would take “40 days and 40 nights” spending lots of taxpayer money in the process. Chairman Conklin agrees with Townsend that they should all be nominated as a single motion.

10:34 After debate, Conklin suggests that Senator Townsend amend his motion to include four candidates that the full committee would later pare down to three. He recommends that Robert Lee Potter (AFSCME) be included in that group. Senator Townsend appears irritated and says that he is open to amending the motion but would withdraw his motion if Potter is included because he would instead choose Christopher Stevens (Urban Land Institute).

10:38 Senator Matthews says that she does not like the idea of having a package of four to be vetted out later in a closed room. She wants to make these decisions in the open. She also does not want to torpedo the entire process because of a single name.

Conklin suggests that all five candidates be included in the motion. Townsend refutes that they should stay there and do their job of selecting candidates.

Conklin finally agrees to go with Townsend’s original motion. Motion fails.

10:41 Senator Weiner now makes motion for Lang, Perrigo and Potter to be included. Motion fails. The focal points of the debate appear to be between Senators Weiner and Townsend. There appears to be some personal animosity between the two senators.

10:44 Conklin suggests that the motion either be for the two candidates that everyone agrees on (Land and Perrigo) and allow the full committee to decide the third or to include four or five candidates and allow the full committee to whittle the recommendation down. He again says he prefers the latter. He seems to be ignoring Senator Matthew’s valid complaint that this idea would lead to backroom deal-making.

Conklin declares a five-minute recess. It looks like there will be some horse-trading going on and then they will return.

10:56 They’re back. Conklin wishes to first go back to Commerce and Industry (which he again refers to as Commerce and Labor) and add in a second alternate. He suggests it be Devin Reiss (NV Assoc. of Realtors). I wonder what kind of horse-trading led to this suggestion.

10:57 Conklin is fishing for someone to make his motion for Reiss. Goicechea declines. Townsend takes it up. Motion carries. Reiss is second alternate behind Doug Busselman.

11:00 Conklin wants to get Infrastructure solved quickly. He says if they can’t settle on something in the next few minutes then they will (again) just have to send in a list of four or five nominations and have the full committee whittle it down. Some members will have to move onto another meeting soon. Goicechea jokes that if the right members move on, they will achieve a consensus. Conklin is not amused.

Senator Matthews is suggesting that a motion be made for three nominations with an alternate all at once. Conklin is getting irritated (Sen. Matthews says she can see the frustration on his face). He says the alternate must be a separate motion. Sen. Matthews says that just because “some of you have heartburns about some of these names” there is no reason not to make a decision today.

11:06 Conklin: “Somebody needs to make a motion that will get five votes. That’s the bottom line.”

11:09 Committee is standing in temporary recess while they try to figure out a compromise.

11:11 Some members have to leave so Conklin goes to Townsend for a motion for Perrigo, Potter and Reynolds. Motion carries unanimously. Second motion for Lang to be alternate. Motion carries unanimously. Obviously some significant compromise was reached during the second recess.

11:15 Meeting is adjourned. There will be no more meetings of this subcommittee.

Let me back up since Victor missed the names for Commerce and Industry earlier. I didn’t get all six of them, but it included: Joe Dini (NV Mining Assoc.), Alan Feldman (MGM Mirage), Douglas Dirks (Employers Holdings) and Keith Smith (Boyd Gaming).

In sum, and as anticipated, the nominees for the Nevada Vision Stakeholders’ Group represent a collage of special interest groups including: gaming, mining, public employee unions and local government representatives.

Gee, I wonder what their recommendations will be.

As this is a live blog, I may make the occasional spelling or grammatical error. If I find any, I will correct those errors.