Not fit for the big screen

Who knew there was a Western among this summer’s blockbuster sequels?

Here I was thinking the 2007 Legislature lacked the pizzazz of the 2003 tax debacle, the 2005 spendfest or even the political intrigue of 2001’s prequel.

Then last Friday, while checking the legislative Web site to see when the governor’s transportation bill would be introduced, my eyes got stuck on some white hats.

There on the Web site — despite the fact that lawmakers haven’t reached resolutions on education, the budget, the green tax boondoggle, transportation or public employee benefits — was Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley beaming from under a cowboy hat.

Looked more like a two-quart stylish model than a 10-gallon Stetson, but there she was. Now if only she could Git-R-Done. On time.

The focus on a hat-wearin’ urban lawyer was the result of a silly Carson City tradition started by Assemblyman John Carpenter of Elko. It’s called the Cowboy Hall of Fame, but there’s no Bill Munny in site.

And these 63 lawmakers should continue to be unforgiven. In a summer during which Spiderman, Capt. Jack Sparrow and an ogre are hoping the third time’s the charm on the big screen, lawmakers will likely have their fourth-straight overtime.

Few franchises can really survive past one or two efforts. The Godfather easily topped out at II, and Senator Palpatine notwithstanding, 4, 5 and 6 were all the Star Wars I really needed.

And so with summer unofficially here and no clear endgame in sight, this legislative sequel is typical of what we’re seeing on the big screen. But this session isn’t even worth a bargain matinee.

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The city of Las Vegas is back with more constitutional gore.

City Attorney Brad Jerbic is every bit as much Freddie Krueger, Leatherface and Jason Vorhees with all of his office’s efforts to slash personal freedoms and carve up due process.

The latest affront is a proposed ordinance that would make it a crime for a 13-year-old to come within 100 feet of a playground.

Once again the city tries to fend off criticism by arguing that city marshals will have the discretion to issue warnings or citations. But that’s classic selective enforcement.

Why can’t the city be honest? If it’s going to butcher constitutional rights, why not at least target the rights of those you’re trying to crack down on?

That, of course, would be offensive to anyone who flew the flag this weekend in honor of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our liberty. But the way this council operates, it’s easier to go after those with the least political power.

Just as Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees largely targeted clueless teens, the city goes after those who lack the clout or resources to fight back.

That’s why it’s important everyone steps up to challenge the city on these ridiculous ordinances. City officials have recently pushed measures that limit who can use public parks, who can assemble and what you do with your own home.

And each successive ordinance gets a little worse. It would be the funniest show of the summer if it weren’t so serious.

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If you want to see something really scary, take a look at voter turnout in the city of Las Vegas municipal election.

The previous sentence has three more words than total voters who showed up at the city clerk’s office May 21.

If you live outside Ward 5 — which features a City Council race — you’ve got one Municipal Court race on the ballot. Who can really blame voters for a lack of excitement?

No offense to judicial candidates Lynn Avants or Marty Hastings, but it’s hard to care about traffic court when we can’t even seem to figure out transportation funding. And it’s tough to get excited about petty crime when we’re No. 1 in the nation for auto theft and our accident rate turns a short commute into a test of fate.

The Review-Journal editorial board interviewed both gentlemen in the race. Both are earnest and qualified.

Hastings was slightly more forthcoming with ideas to improve the court while Avants opted not to answer a question about whether judges should be appointed. He said he was afraid he was violating judicial canons by answering a policy question that may end up in court. Certainly not in muni court, though.

Meanwhile, Hastings said that he still favored electing judges despite the perceptions that campaign money influences justice.

That’s about as exciting as it got.

There is absolutely no reason to waste taxpayer money printing sample ballots and manning polls in an odd year.

If city contenders worry they won’t get noticed at the bottom of a really long even-year ballot, they’ll just have to campaign more aggressively.

There’s no way turnout could get any worse.

Erin Neff’s column runs Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached at (702) 387-2906, or by e-mail at

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