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Don’t blame Reid for high unemployment

To the editor:

Republican TV ads ominously state the Democratic stimulus package has been a failure and Sen. Harry Reid is to blame for our high unemployment. These statements are ludicrous and Republican bigwigs know it.

The current recession is a worldwide phenomenon, and Europe, which did not have a stimulus package, is in worse shape than the United States. The unemployment rate in Spain is 20.5 percent. Is Harry Reid responsible for that?

Overall, in Europe, the unemployment rate is higher than in the United States. Can we pin the blame on Sen. Reid for the high number of idled workers all over Europe?

Already, in only 21 months, the Obama administration, with the help of Sen. Reid, has created far more jobs than the Bush administration created in eight years. All this goes to show the stimulus package has worked, and Sen. Reid is not the person responsible for our unemployment situation.

To find the culprit, just look to the previous administration, which was shedding jobs at a rate of 800,000 per month at the time President Obama was sworn in. All those millions of lost jobs cannot be replaced in a mere 21 months.

Rick Tope

Las Vegas

Judging judges

To the editor:

After reading the Sept. 27 letter about Bar polls used to evaluate judges in Arizona in the 1970s and 1980s, I feel compelled to share additional information.

Bar polls haven’t been used in Arizona for 18 years and are very different from the judicial performance evaluation program proposed by Question 1 on November’s Nevada ballot. In 1992, Arizona voters approved a constitutional amendment to establish an official judicial performance evaluation program for state judges, thus eliminating the need for Bar polls thereafter.

In recent years the Review-Journal has published an annual Bar poll called “Judging the Judges” to rate judges in Clark County and Nevada Supreme Court justices. There are problems with Bar polls.

First, the only people surveyed in these polls are attorneys, which leaves out many groups of people who regularly interact with judges in the courtroom, such as litigants, jurors and witnesses.

Second, the attorneys who are surveyed in these polls may not have appeared before the judge in court recently, so their responses may not be accurate or up to date.

Finally, there is generally a low response rate for these polls. For example, the response rate from the most recent Clark County Bar poll was 19 percent.

Question 1 proposes a judicial performance evaluation program that addresses these problems. Many different groups of people, not just attorneys, will be surveyed about a judge’s legal knowledge, communication skills and administrative performance in the courtroom. Only individuals who appear before or interact with a judge in court will be allowed to evaluate that judge’s performance.

Judges should be accountable to the people they serve. Every judge who wishes to remain in office should be required to run for retention and undergo a judicial performance evaluation. Question 1 provides that at least six weeks before an election, every Nevada voter will have available detailed information about judges and their performance, based on surveys of courtroom users. All District Court judges and Supreme Court justices will stand before voters no more than two years after their initial appointment and then every six years after that.

Nevadans will decide whether to keep or remove judges, and Question 1 gives them the judicial performance information they need to make informed decisions.

CHRISTINE SMITH

LAS VEGAS

The writer is an associate dean for administration and student affairs of the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV. She was previously the assistant dean of student services at Arizona State’s law school.

Reid condo

To the editor:

Regarding the value of Sen. Harry Reid’s condo in D.C., I think letter writer Jennifer Shaw (Tuesday) is confused.

Ms. Shaw states, “If Sharron Angle is going to exaggerate — to the tune of at least 30 percent — about the value of Harry Reid’s condo, I wonder what other untruths she will tell as a senator.”

Did Ms. Shaw stop to consider that Ms. Angle may have been referring to the value of the condo prior to the enactment of Sen. Reid’s economic agenda?

Richard Vertrees

Las Vegas

No surprise

To the editor:

The Associated Press, which should surely know better, indulges in a little revisionist history (“Companies examine options,” Monday) regarding health insurance. According to The AP, companies have been offering health benefits since World War II, when they were “encouraged” to offer health insurance instead of pay raises.

Well … no. In the fall of 1942, a bureaucratic monstrosity called the War Labor Board dictated that all wages nationwide were to be frozen at 1941 levels, plus a percentage, and that wages across a given industry were to be equalized. Thus companies that would have otherwise competed for the best employees by offering better wages, began offering better benefits — primarily health insurance and vacations.

And now some express surprise that those companies that offer the best benefits, and are going to be penalized for the level of those perks, will respond by scaling back on health insurance and start raising wages instead. Surprise? Really?

In physics, it’s Newton’s Third Law of Motion; in economics, it’s Adam Smith’s Law of Unintended Consequences. And despite the wishful thinking of social engineers, both have proved immutable.

Bob Ashman

Las Vegas

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