An automated call accusing state Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, of being on the side of "perverts" went out recently to Parks’ constituents.
The call distorted Parks’ role in pending legislation dealing with the rights of transgender people. It’s the work of conservative activist Tony Dane, who has been sending out anti-Parks messages for many years. Parks is the first and only openly gay Nevada state senator.
The call told listeners, "A Senate bill introduced by your state senator makes it legal for men dressed as women to use public restrooms." It went on to say that he had also endorsed Assembly Bill 184, which would allow people to choose what sex is listed on their driver’s licenses, and mandate that employers "cannot fire an employee if they come to work dressed as the opposite sex."
It concluded, "Now perverts can prey on women legally in women’s restrooms? Senator Parks says if we don’t agree, it’s us not being tolerant. Folks, we’ve tolerated enough." The automated call gave a phone number for people to call to join a recall effort.
The Assembly took up a set of bills last month that would expand rights for gay and transgender people. Senate Bill 207 would include the transgender in those protected against discrimination in public accommodations, meaning someone who is anatomically male but lives as a woman could use a women’s public restroom.
However, it was not introduced by Parks — the bill came from the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee — and the bill as originally introduced didn’t cover the transgender. That provision was introduced during the hearing at the request of people who had come to testify.
Assembly Bill 184 would prohibit employment discrimination against the transgender. It originally included a provision on driver’s licenses, but that part of the bill has been removed.
Calls to the "Recall David Parks Committee" were returned by Dane. He said 4,000 people picked up the anti-Parks call and about 1,000 said they would support a recall. Under state law, a recall petition against Parks would need more than 11,000 signatures.
Dane said he is not only targeting Parks; he has also put out calls in the state Senate districts of Bob Coffin and Allison Copening urging constituents to tell them not to support the legislation in question, but not asking for a recall.
Dane said allowing men to legally go into women’s bathrooms "in drag" would make it easier for them to attack women and evade capture. In addition, he said, their presence would make women uncomfortable.
"To satisfy a very minute part of the population (the transgender), you’re going to create a huge danger, giving the perverted an open door to prey on women easier," he said. "That’s what this law is going to do."
What about anatomical females who dress and live as men? Dane said they should use the women’s bathroom, regardless of whom it makes uncomfortable, because that’s where they’re supposed to go.
Dane said he continues to go after Parks because "he is not representing his district, he is only representing the homosexuals in his district."
Parks said he supports the bills in question, noting that nothing in them makes any kind of molestation or sexual predation legal in any way. He said he had been hearing about the robocalls from constituents who found the calls "vile" and were outraged on his behalf.
"I’m too busy doing things up here (in Carson City) to pay much attention to it," he said. "I’m working on the over 30 bills I’m pursuing. It’s a very broad agenda — I’m not up here, as some would like to think, with a single agenda."
MAD ABOUT HARRY
An article in the Ely Times last week featured a local Democrat explaining why he’s erected a sign that reads, "Elect Anyone But Harry Reid."
Jack Norcross told the Times he thinks Reid is bad for Nevada and bad for White Pine County. In particular, he thinks Reid has gone too far on environmental issues in turning against coal-fired power plants.
According to a photo caption with the story, Norcross had a local insurance business but it recently closed. The caption snarkily notes that the anti-Reid sign juxtaposed with the "for sale" sign on the office, "speak reams about Sen. Harry Reid’s contribution to the local economy."
"I strongly support President Obama, but I think Harry Reid is out of touch and I think he’s a detriment to the state of Nevada and especially to White Pine County," Norcross says in the article. "Harry Reid is a man who if he gives you a check today, don’t take it to the bank tomorrow."
One man isn’t a trend, but it makes you wonder how strong Reid’s support is in rural Nevada as he looks toward re-election in 2010.
Reid wasn’t given a chance to respond to Norcross by the Ely paper. Spokesman Jon Summers defended the senator’s stance on renewables and economic recovery:
"Sen. Reid strongly believes we can create more jobs in White Pine County and other rural communities by investing in renewable energy than we can from one single power plant," Summers wrote in an e-mail. "Sen. Reid’s commitment to developing our state’s tremendous solar, wind and geothermal resources, as well as building the necessary transmission lines from places like Ely to Reno and Las Vegas, will create tens of thousands of jobs, diversify our state’s economy, and greatly benefit these communities."
Reid, Summers said, has a record of fighting for the things that are important to his home state.
WORST IS BEST
A Web site concocted by the state Democratic Party to mock Gov. Jim Gibbons has won a national political advertising award for a local company.
Proof Interactive, the Las Vegas Web design firm that created the "America’s Worst Governor" site, won a 2009 Pollie Award: first place in the category "Website: Best Use of Negative/Contrast."
The firm is owned by local Democratic operative Dan Geary, who designed the state party’s site and those of numerous Democratic candidates.
The party came up with the site as an amusing stunt and an attempt to get the "worst" title unofficially bestowed on Gibbons. However, as of late last week, it hadn’t been updated since December. Apparently Gibbons hasn’t made any goofs in 2009. (The party says they’re in the process of uploading a bunch of updates to the site to keep the timeline current.)
The awards given by the Association of Political and Public Affairs Professionals are the highest honors for the dubious profession of spinning political reality and sliming one’s opponents. Political Notebook means that affectionately, of course.
Contact reporter Molly Ball at mball @reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919.