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Gibbons flip-flops on lottery

Gov. Jim Gibbons might not remember it, but the record shows he has flip-flopped on the issue of a state lottery.

Gibbons told a town hall audience in Minden last week, "I have no problem with a lottery." As they have for decades, lawmakers are again considering creating a state lottery in Nevada.

Asked about his stance in an interview, Gibbons said, "I never have" opposed a lottery. "When did you hear that?"

Gibbons’ previous opposition is in a news release issued by his office on March 26, 2007. "Governor Jim Gibbons today released this statement outlining his opposition to amending the Nevada Constitution to allow for a state lottery," it begins.

The full statement attributed to the governor in the 2007 release:

"I respect recent efforts by some legislators to explore options for new revenue to the State; however, I do not believe it is a proper function of Nevada government to operate a lottery, nor do I think that the State should be in competition with its largest industry.

"Notwithstanding my philosophical concerns, the fact is that the State is not likely to generate additional revenues with a lottery. Instead, it would simply shift the tax burden from one source to another. Furthermore, as the National Gambling Impact Study Commission stated in its recommendation to state, local and tribal governments, ‘lotteries … do not create a concentration of good quality jobs and do not generate significant economic development.’

"Elsewhere, lotteries have proven to be costly and bureaucratic, something I do not believe our citizens want more of in Nevada. I will not, therefore, support any legislation that includes the establishment of a lottery in Nevada."

So it seems Gibbons’ position has changed in the last two years. But as he correctly pointed out, it doesn’t really matter.

If the Legislature passes the current lottery proposal, Gibbons wouldn’t be called upon to sign it. Instead, the next Legislature would also have to pass the measure, and then it would go to a vote of the people to amend the state constitution.

ACTING UP IN ELY

When Ely Mayor George Chachas was bounced from office during the 2007 primary, it did not end his involvement in city affairs.

That involvement got him tossed from a recent City Council meeting.

According to an account of the incident in the Ely Times, Chachas showed up at the April 23 council meeting to repeat his complaints about the conduct of certain city employees.

Current Mayor Jon Hickman quickly tired of his predecessor’s input, telling Chachas, "You’ve been beating that cow; it’s pretty dead."

"Once the information is given to me, it will go away, Mr. Mayor, I assure you," Chachas said.

The exchange escalated from there. Hickman eventually declared an emergency recess and summoned sheriff’s deputies to remove Chachas from the meeting hall.

City Councilman Jim Northness seconded the idea, according to the Ely Times.

"I think that handcuffs would fit those wrists all right," Northness said.

The newspaper account said several minutes of awkward silence and whispers ensued before Chachas asked if the sheriff’s deputies were on their way. At that point, the former mayor volunteered to wait outside, but he offered a parting shot at Hickman on his way out.

"I don’t want to disturb these people, but I think your honor should be ashamed of yourself," Chachas said. "You’d better look up the word ‘slander,’ sir."

According to the Ely imes, Chachas has regularly appeared at council meetings to speak his mind since he was voted out of office.

The weekly newspaper is owned by Stephens Media, parent company of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

TROUBLED BASE

A poll commissioned by one of his challengers does not look good for Gibbons.

Nearly half of the state’s Republican primary voters have an unfavorable view of Gibbons, according to the poll conducted for the campaign of Joe Heck, the former state senator who hopes to take on Gibbons in next year’s gubernatorial primary.

In the poll of 400 likely primary voters, conducted April 14-15, 75 percent said the state is on the wrong track. Just 12 percent said Nevada is going in the right direction.

Forty-eight percent had an unfavorable view of Gibbons, while 42 percent had a favorable view of the governor.

Respondents also were asked their impressions of Heck, North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, Rep. Dean Heller and Reno Mayor Bob Cashell. All had unfavorable ratings in single digits.

Twenty-six percent of those surveyed had a favorable view of Heck, who clearly has work to do getting to know the voters: More than three-quarters either had no opinion or had never heard of him. Nearly 90 percent hadn’t heard of, or had no view of, Montandon, the other announced challenger to Gibbons.

Just 13 percent of those polled would vote to re-elect Gibbons no matter what, while 26 percent would vote against Gibbons, no matter who his opponent was, and 59 percent would consider another candidate.

Faced with a hypothetical primary between Gibbons, Heck and Montandon, Gibbons still had a slight edge, drawing 24 percent of the vote to Heck’s 20 percent and Montandon’s 7 percent. But 48 percent of those polled were undecided.

One question in the poll shed an interesting, if not surprising, light on what motivates the Republican electorate in Nevada. For 63 percent, it was cutting taxes and shrinking government; 20 percent said "issues like education, health care and crime," while just 12 percent said their priority was "issues like stem cell research, abortion and gay marriage."

Review-Journal writer Henry Brean contributed to this report. Contact reporter Molly Ball at mball@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919.

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