Latest squabble at the capital

Gov. Jim Gibbons believes Kirk Montero, 60, a station manager for US Airways at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, should be the next executive director of the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

Under law, the governor must appoint a new director from three finalists recommended by the tourism commission, chaired by Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki.

So the governor let the commission know he expected Mr. Montero’s name to be on the list of finalists to replace Tim Maland, who resigned in September.

But Mr. Krolicki says Mr. Montero’s name will not be there, because his application was not received by the deadline.

Gov. Gibbons, in a press release issued on New Year’s Eve, disputed that, saying his deputy chief of staff “personally hand-delivered Montero’s application” to the lieutenant governor’s office “long before the application deadline.”

An exasperated Gov. Gibbons simply appointed Mr. Montero to the $117,000 position on Christmas eve. But the tourism commission promptly rejected Mr. Montero’s appointment on Dec. 29.

A perturbed Gov. Gibbons took the opportunity of his New Year’s Eve press release to broaden his criticism of the state’s current tourism operation, saying the commission is wasting money by targeting Asia “and other parts of the world” that he said are outside Nevada’s primary tourist markets.

But “The Chinese economy remains one of the more vibrant in the world,” Mr. Krolicki replied. “The more Asian tourists we can bring to fill our rooms, fill our dinner tables, see our shows … the quicker we will recover from our slowdown.”

Mr. Krolicki also questioned the governor’s push to fill the post quickly, given that the budget office informed staff Wednesday the tourism director’s job is targeted for elimination under a Gibbons proposal to merge the tourism commission and the Commission on Economic Development.

The reason this little dust-up is somewhat alarming hinges not so much on whether Mr. Montero would be the perfect tourism chief, as on conduct by the state’s highest elected officials that strays into the unseemly.

An open public debate about how much emphasis to place on attracting Asian tourists may be useful. But the economic crises at hand are serious. Should the governor leave the state or become incapacitated, Nevadans might hope for continuity based on some assurance that he and his lieutenant governor are on the same page of the playbook.

Instead, our highest elected officials — of the same party, no less — are acting like kids scrapping over who gets to wear the biggest hat in the tree fort.

As the Dalai Lama reminds us, “Hostile attitudes only serve to heat up the situation, whereas a true sense of respect gradually cools down what otherwise could become explosive.”

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