Longtime Nevada politician Dini has plan to assist legislators

YERINGTON – After a legislative career that included a record eight terms as Assembly speaker, Joe Dini says he knows a sure-fire way for legislators to avoid partisanship in the session that begins Feb. 4 and leave Carson City in June not hating each other.

"They need to have a couple of highballs together," said 83-year-old Dini as he sat in the living room in his home in the small town of Yerington, 68 miles southeast of Carson City.

"They need to put aside their differences and work for the good of the state, take care of issues for the average people," he said. "They need to come up with a plan for the future of the state."

His wife, Mournye Landing Dini, isn’t quite as earthy as her Democratic husband in discussing the key to promoting harmony at the Legislature, rocked since the 2003 session by partisan battles and bickering over taxes. She said there was a lot more togetherness in the Legislature in the 1980s and 1990s because after lawmakers finished their daily business, they went out to dinner together and became friends.

She should know. Landing Dini served 32 years as a secretary in the Assembly, the last 22 as the chief clerk. In that job, she stood directly in front of Dini in the Assembly chambers. After the deaths of their respective spouses, they married. Their marriage has lasted 17 years.

Today Dini, who has suffered numerous health problems, struggles to get around with a cane. He seldom gets out of town and wishes they could travel more. He was able on Jan. 16 to attend Gov. Brian Sandoval’s State of the State address in Carson City, where he received a standing ovation from legislators. But a trip to baseball’s spring training in Phoenix last year led to a three-week stay in an Arizona hospital. He lost 40 pounds and needed kidney dialysis treatment until July.

"I feel all right, but I cannot walk," he said.

DINI’S PERSPECTIVE

Although Dini says he doesn’t keep up with the Legislature, he has a good idea of the partisanship that has reigned since he retired in 2002 after a record 36 years as an Assembly member.

In his long career, Assembly members frequently would hold recesses and head across the street to the seedy Jack’s Bar, which is now shuttered. Over drinks and playing pool, he says they became friendly, resolved differences and passed good bills. He remembers when they worked out an agreement on a transportation bill, drew up amendments on Jack’s napkins and passed the bill later that night.

Some after-hour meetings didn’t yield legislative victories, though. As a beginning legislator in the 1967 session, Dini remembers being asked out to dinner and drinks by a group of eight rural Republican legislators. When he started talking politics, he was told to shut up because they didn’t talk politics once they left the Legislature.

He noted that in the early 1990s he and then-Assembly Minority Leader Lou Bergevin, R-Gardnerville, had agreed on a plan to tax services such as haircuts and beauty shop visits. Bergevin was supposed to deliver the support of 10 Republicans while Dini would come up with the Democrats needed to pass the bill. At the last minute, Bergevin said Republicans balked at the plan.

Approval of that bill might have made a lot of difference for today’s state government since the economy is largely service-based with only about one-third of services subject to the state sales tax. The proposal to tax services is expected to be brought up again at this year’s session.

Dini didn’t hold it against Bergevin. He even delivered the eulogy at his Republican friend’s funeral in 1998.

POWER SHARING IN 1995

The best example of the lower level of partisanship in Dini’s era was the 1995 session when Democrats and Republicans each had 21 members in the Assembly. Dini shared the speakership with then-Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville.

"Everybody said the session would be a disaster, but we worked together. That is not happening today and it is really sad," said Hettrick, now executive director of the Nevada Dairy Commission. "We sent out a letter to everyone and said we can come out looking worthless or we can accomplish something. People were more friendly with each other than now. You no longer have friends on the other side of the aisle."

Hettrick also remembers when as a freshman in 1993 he spoke with Dini about supporting one of his bills.

"Joe looked at me and said, ‘I hate it, but if you have the votes, go for it.’ He didn’t play games with it. Today they would kill it or not even hold a hearing on it. It’s my way or no way."

"That was the finest session in the history of the state," said former Assemblyman Pete Ernaut, R-Reno, then the Assembly co-majority leader and now a political consultant aligned with Sandoval. "We were forced to work together and we did."

A check back to 1995, however, shows it was a time when the state had a robust economy, no moves were made to increase taxes, and state government used surpluses to build a rainy day fund.

Dini credits "my lieutenants" – Democrats Richard Perkins and Barbara Buckley, along with Lindsey Jydstrup, the director of the Assembly Democratic Caucus – with making his career look better than it really was. Perkins and Buckley later became speakers.

Trouble appears to lie ahead at this year’s Legislature unless the parties can reach compromises.

In the 2013 session, there likely will be a Democratic move to increase business taxes along the line of the 2 percent business margins tax plan advocated by the Nevada State Education Association. But without four votes from Republicans, the plan is dead.

Dini believes there is no chance that the tax will pass. He said the recession is the longest and worst to strike Nevada in his lifetime and won’t be ending anytime soon. Many businesses in his town have shut down and more will close if the Legislature imposes more taxes on businesses.

"Everyone is afraid of a new tax," he said.

DEMOCRATIC PLAN COSTLY

But the tax battle is about to begin again. Democrats announced a plan to expand full-day kindergarten and preschool education, and reduce class sizes without offering a way to pay for the improvements. State Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, did not call for higher taxes, but emphasized he hopes Sandoval and Republican legislators will listen to why education changes are necessary and eventually look at available revenue.

In his State of the State address, the governor proposed expanding full-day kindergarten and spending more for public schools.

Denis said both Democrats and Republicans have pledged to get along, even though they differ on major issues. He noted that he and Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, along with state Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, and Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, for months have been attending business meetings and functions together to talk about the Legislature.

One example of the divisiveness that can strike the Legislature came in 2011 when Senate Democratic leaders sniped at Roberson. State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford and veteran Sen. Michael Schneider, both D-Las Vegas, tried to diminish Roberson by calling him "the rookie senator." Although a political newcomer, Roberson, a fiery speaker, did not hesitate in challenging their views during floor sessions.

Dini, who "sometimes" supports President Barack Obama, calls himself a "moderate" Democrat, a rarity in rural Nevada where Republicans hold a 2-to-1 advantage in many counties.

Gone is the time when rural Nevada had as many Democratic legislators as Republicans and most of them held leadership posts. Thirty and 40 years ago, Dini said, Democrats were more moderate and won because they were war veterans.

Even though he served a record 36 years as an Assembly member, Dini receives a legislative pension of just $700 a month. His wife gets a much higher pension because of her long career as a full-time employee.

She has two children, and Dini, four sons. His son George is Yerington mayor. Two of the sons run Dini’s Lucky Club, a small casino and restaurant that has been a family business for generations.

Joe Dini ran the business for 55 years.

Dini hopes to visit the Legislature in the spring when lawmakers hold their old-timers day.

"My legs are plugged up now, but I want to make it there," he said.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Mojave Poppy Bees
Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list. (Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology)
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive Remembrance Wall
(Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive
Vitalent hosts a blood drive at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shootings. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October sunrise remembrance ceremony in Las Vegas
Myanda Smith, sister of Las Vegas shooting victim Neysa Tonks, speaks at the sunrise remembrance ceremony at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‪Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to crowd at Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬
‪Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to the crowd at the Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father of Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim talks about college scholarship in his daughter's memory
Chris Davis, father of a Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim, Neysa Tonks, talks about a college scholarship in his daughter's memory to assist the children of those who died in the shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Oct. 1 survivor Malinda Baldridge talks about life after the shooting
Malinda Baldridge of Reno attended the Route 91 Harvest festival with her daughter, Breanna, 17, and was shot twice in the leg when the gunman fired on the crowd.
Route 91 survivor talks about lack of progress in gun legislation
Heather Gooze, a Route 91 survivor, talks about lack of progress in gun legislation since the Oct 1. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas/Review-Journal) @reviewjournal
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Museum opening "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials"
The Clark County Museum is opening an exhibit "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials" of items left to honor the victims killed in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Michelle Obama and Keegan-Michael Key urge Nevadans to vote
Former first lady Michelle Obama and comedian Keegan-Michael Key urged Nevadans to vote at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Politics
Former Vice President Joe Biden Speaks Along With Democrat Candidates Speak At #Risenvote Rally
Former Vice President Joe Biden Speaks at the #RiseNVote rally to get voters to vote early.
Heller, Rosen participate in debate
The senatorial debate between Dean Heller and Jacky Rosen highlighted differences between the candidates, who spent much of Friday night exchanging barbs on health care, immigration and gun control. (Courtesy KLAS-TV, Las Vegas)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Duncan details his Safer Nevada plan, responds to campaign commercials
Nevada needs to increase the number of psychiatric ERs and the penalty for some serious crimes, according to Republican attorney general candidate Wes. He also contends that voters should consider Democrat candidate Aaron Ford’s multiple arrests and past tax liens.
The Right Take: Kavanaugh Testifies
Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her around 1982 when both were high school students. Her testimony didn’t provide any new information to corroborate her claims, but her emotion was visible for all to see. She projected a genuine belief that Kavanaugh assaulted her.
Nevada Politics Today: Jon Wellinghoff
Nevada Politics Today host Victor Joecks interviews Jon Wellinghoff, CEO of Grid Policy.
The Right Take: Brett Kavanaugh
Two women have recently accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting them over three decades ago. Their allegations aren’t just unverified. Numerous supposed eyewitnesses have directly contradicted them.
Nevada Politics Today: Brett Kavanaugh And Trump
Nevada Politics Today host Victor Joecks and Review-Journal columnist Debra J Saunders talk about Brett Kavanaugh and Trumps visit to Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today: Brett Kavanaugh And Trump
Nevada Politics Today host Victor Joecks and Review-Journal columnist Debra J Saunders talk about Brett Kavanaugh and Trumps visit to Nevada.
Michael Ramirez Joins The Review-Journal Team
Pulitzer prize winning political cartoonist Michael Ramirez talks about joining the Review-Journal and how he started his career.
Nevada Politics Today: Danny Tarkanian
The federal government should create a high-risk pool for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Susie Lee, the Democrat running for Congressional District 3 is against ICE. She’s also ducking debates, despite once challenging her opponent to debate her. That’s according to Danny Tarkanian, the Republican nominee for CD3.
Nevada Politics Today: Danny Tarkanian
The federal government should create a high-risk pool for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Susie Lee, the Democrat running for Congressional District 3 is against ICE. She’s also ducking debates, despite once challenging her opponent to debate her. That’s according to Danny Tarkanian, the Republican nominee for CD3.
Vice President Mike Pence visits Nellis Air Force Base
During his second visit to Nevada, Vice President Mike Pence spoke to airmen inside a Nellis Air Force Base hangar and spent the afternoon campaigning for GOP Sen. Dean Heller and gubernatorial nominee Adam Laxalt.
Nevada Politics Today: Karen Wayland
Nevada Politics Today: Asm. Jim Marchant
Asm. Marchant talks about education, voter integrity and running for leadership Nevada should increase funding for Career and Technical Education, but shouldn’t automatically register voters at the DMV. Assembly Republicans will also oppose tax increases next legislative session. That’s according to Assemblyman Jim Marchant.
Nevada Politics Today: Asm. Pickard talks about taking on LVCVA, taxes and Read by 3
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority CEO Rossi Ralenkotter shouldn’t get a “golden parachute.” Tax increases aren’t necessary, but if politicians want an increase they should send it to voters. Read by Three needs a chance to work, even if it holds back thousands of third graders. That’s according to Senate district 20 candidate and Assemblyman Keith Pickard.
The Right Take: Long-time, high-ranking employee sues CCSD
Start with who filed it. Goldman has worked for the district for 38 years, including 20 years as its chief negotiator. Next, move on to who he’s suing. That list includes the district, former-superintendent Pat Skorkowsky and two board members.
Nevada Politics Today: Nevada School Choice Coalition
Minority parents in Nevada strongly support school choice, and elected officials are taking notice. School choice is also a way to help modernize education. That’s according to Valeria Gurr, director of Nevada School Choice Coalition.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like