New job, old job and settling old scores

A plentiful bounty of stories in the news today:

• Clark County District Attorney David Roger will leave his elected job in order to join the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, the police union, to defend cops accused of wrongdoing. Am I the only one wondering whether that’s the job Roger has now?

Roger joined with the police union during the 2011 Legislature to kill the revamped coroner’s inquest system before it could go into effect. The changes included the creation of an ombudsman, the first real step toward reform of the much-criticized process of examining officer-caused deaths of civilians.

(The police union has sued over the revised inquest process, and no inquests have been held for months as a result.)

And did I somehow miss the criminal charges filed against Metro Detective Bryan Yant, who shot and killed Trevon Cole in June 2010? Yant testified that he feared for his life in the raid on the low-level marijuana dealer’s home, but physical evidence and the testimony of other officers contradicted his account.

Roger’s own obviously skeptical prosecutors cross-examined Yant about the shooting, but no charges were filed after a coroner’s inquest jury found the shooting justified.

Roger has an obligation to bring charges only in cases where he has a good-faith belief he can win a guilty verdict beyond a reasonable doubt, and perhaps he lacked that in the Yant case. But that — and his efforts to stymie the hard work of those who labored to reform the coroner’s inquest system — make a person wonder whether he’s already begun his new job.

• The Nevada Conservation League is out with its post-Legislature scorecard, and the results are not too surprising. State Sen. Sheila Leslie and Assemblywoman Debbie Smith were named lawmakers of the year for their votes on a series of environmental bills.

All told, only four members of the Assembly (David Bobzien, Skip Daly, Olivia Diaz and Peggy Pierce) and one senator (Leslie) earned a perfect 100 percent. And, as you might expect, all are Democrats.

Meanwhile, the low-scorers were all Republicans. State Sens. Don Gustavson and Elizabeth Halseth drew only 47 percent each, and Assemblyman Ira Hansen pulled just 21 percent. (Cresent Hardy and Richard McArthur didn’t do much better at 29 percent.)

By the way, Smith earned a 93 percent, down from 100 percent in the 2009 Legislature and a lifetime score of 95 percent. She got top marks because of her efforts as chairwoman of the Ways & Means Committee to keep state parks open and fund conservation districts.

• Former Rep. Dina Titus has set an announcement for Thursday. Spoiler alert: She’s going to announce she’s running for Congress, and running in the 1st District in a primary against state Sen. Ruben Kihuen.

Her campaign is officially mum about the contents of her remarks, but all the signs are there. For one, Titus has said she’d run in the district with the most Democrats, and that’s the 1st District. For another, Titus has said she doesn’t want a rematch against Rep. Joe Heck, who barely defeated her in 2010 in the 3rd District. For a third, Titus lives in and has represented chunks of the 1st District for years.

The primary matchup against Kihuen will be a source of anguish for Democrats next year. Democrats need Hispanics to turn out, and if Titus defeats Kihuen, some may be discouraged.

But since she has nothing to lose, dissuading Titus from a bid is a mission impossible. This is happening.

 

Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist and author of the blog SlashPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/SteveSebelius or reach him at (702) 387-5278 or at ssebelius@ reviewjournal.com.

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