How bad is it for the Democrats in Nevada? Well, the latest tally shows more than 22,000 Republicans than Democrats have turned out to vote this far. Numbers in those key state Senate districts are looking pretty ugly for the Democrats, too. Labor unions are putting out emergency calls for volunteers to try to save Rep. Steven Horsford, who was not thought to be vulnerable until very recently.
Not only that, but Democrats are bring out the national big guns: Former President Bill Clinton showed up at a rally at the Springs Preserve this week and Vice President Joe Biden (with special guest Eva Longoria) will be in town this weekend for a last-minute push.
But numbers are numbers, and turnout is turnout. It’s looking increasingly bad for the Democrats. Why? Well, here’s a few reasons.
Program note, peeps: I will be appearing live on election night on 8NewsNow, Las Vegas’s No. 1 station, along with my colleague George Knapp. (In addition to politics, he and I can also chat — at length — about theoretical faster-than-light propulsion systems that may someday whisk us through the galaxy … or is that whisk the galaxy to us?)
On Wednesday, I will be on KNPR-FM 89.5 with my colleague Jon Ralston, talking election results on “State of Nevada.” And then, on Friday, I will be a guest on “Nevada Week in Review,” hosted by Elizabeth Thompson, with a crew of political experts to wrap it all up.
It will be a busy week, so stay tuned. And now, on with the Slashback!
• If you haven’t read the emails uncovered by KSNV Channel 3 producer Dana Gentry about the fallout over that UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research study of the Education Initiative, you really should.
I honesty can’t decide if my favorite part is where Gary Loveman, CEO of the company with the biggest debt load in the entire gambling industry, lectures UNLV President Don Snyder about taxes and economic growth, or where Keith Smith, CEO of Boyd Gaming, basically threatens to pull philanthropic funding of the university because of the study. No, no, I know: It’s where the chancellor of the university system says he’s all for academic freedom, but also a little common sense. I put that in Google translate (Bureaucratese to English!) and this is what came out: “Don’t you dare offend the robber barons of Las Vegas!”
And those business leaders sure are sensitive, aren’t they? I really blame Nevada. By giving the business sector pretty much everything it has wanted since pretty much statehood, we’ve bred a coddled, weak class of CEO no longer able to survive in the wild. And now, it’s probably going to take a few decades at least to breed that particular trait out of them.
BTW, we can start that tough love by passing the Education Initiative on Tuesday. (And helping schools get the resources they need to improve Nevada’s poor educational performance? Well, consider that gravy.) Another reason to pass it might just be so that all the world-is-ending types could see how wrong their dire pronouncements really were.
• “When labor walks, labor wins.” So says a last-minute plea to help suddenly embattled state Sen. Justin Jones, D-Las Vegas and Horsford. It’s a shame labor didn’t get behind a turnout driver such as, say, the Education Initiative, that might have excited the Democratic base. (Or, in the case of at least one labor leader, stayed behind his earlier full-throated support of the Education Initiative.) That might have helped.
• If those whiny emails from gambling industry robber barons weren’t enough to convince you Darwin was right, here’s more proof.
• Wait, so let me see if I have this right: Democrats, including President Barack Obama, propose comprehensive immigration reform. They vote in the Senate overwhelmingly for it. Republicans in the House block it, refusing to even bring immigration-related bills by their own members to the floor. And in response, Latino voters decide to punish … Democrats? I’m totally sure once the GOP is in control of the U.S. Senate and the House that comprehensive immigration reform will pass. Sure, look for that vote on the 12th of Neverember.
• But if we move the trial to a place without devious, self-interested evildoers how are these guys going to get a jury of their peers? (Oh, sorry, I meant alleged devious, self-interested evildoers. Alleged.)
• Can you imagine how ridiculously awkward it would be if this guy ended up being elected district attorney on Tuesday? It’s not every day a prosecutor goes after his would-be boss for, at a minimum, trying to run away from police officers after a traffic stop, and, at worst, reaching for a pistol to start a gun battle with a cop.
First staff meeting: “Yeah, I think we need to shift our focus from marijuana-toking, knife-wielding, gun-toting, belligerent Libertarian traffic offenders to, you know, other stuff.” Staff: “Um … yeah.”
Good thing it looks like incumbent District Attorney Steve Wolfson is going to get re-elected — even without his magic beard! And he’s negotiating a reality show! First episode: “How I Beat an Accused Criminal To Become D.A.: A True Only-in-Vegas Story.”
• Seriously, people, what is the deal with Henderson municipal employees and drunken driving? Is working for the city really that bad?
• I’ve often said that the only arena that will probably ever be built in Las Vegas is the one currently under construction by MGM Resorts International on land along Frank Sinatra Drive. And now, they’re even bidding to land a National Hockey League team for their arena! Best of all, they are doing it without burdening the taxpayer or getting involved in nasty legal standoffs with obvious grifters. Nice work, MGM.
Meanwhile, a longer-shot proposal for the Strip is shooting for an NBA team.
• Why is it so hard for Democrats to live in their districts for the required 30 days? Or why can’t Democrats recruit good candidates who’ve lived in those districts for a long time? Are things that bad out there? And no matter what else happens with the two Democrats declared ineligible by a judge — but who still may be elected by the people — the laws are going to need to be fixed by the 2015 Legislature. A 2013 effort was a disastrous word pie; let’s try to get it right next time.
• Gold! There’s gold in them thar hills! That’s not quite what North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee said about developing industrial land at Apex in his city, but pretty darn close. And he wants to use the same legal tools that Northern Nevada’s Reno-Tahoe Industrial Center used when the state landed that megadeal with Tesla Motors recently.
And this sounds like a pretty awesome plan: First, you spend about $150 million to put infrastructure in, because nobody will look at you twice without infrastructure. Second, you find companies willing to invest $3.5 billion (either individually or collectively) who want to move to Apex. (How hard can that be, really?) Third, you sign a deal that will bring all sorts of new jobs to town, including people who will need homes, roads, schools, police and fire protection, health care and entertainment. Fourth, you give massive tax breaks to the aforementioned company or collection of companies in exchange for moving to Apex. Fifth, you figure out how the city’s taxpayers are going to underwrite all of those services without any of the tax money you’d usually get from a big giant business development.
What could possibly go wrong, North Las Vegas? This is even better than that time you built the sewage treatment plant without any pipes to carry the treated effluent! Oh, hey, that is a great name for this venture! Operation TREATED EFFLUENT.
• See, I’ve always thought this, too. Glad to see the pope and I are on the same page!
• And finally this week, the battle against Uber is shaping up to be a classic Nevada confrontation. The Transportation Establishment — made up of the cab and limo companies and the regulators that oversee them — are demanding that Uber be shut down immediately. (For those who don’t know, Uber is a smartphone app that pairs people in need of a ride with pre-approved drivers, and facilitates payment.)
Uber is showing it’s ready for a fight, hiring top-notch attorney Don Campbell. (Full disclosure: Campbell has represented the Review-Journal, which owns the website upon which you are reading this blog.) It’s also using all the tools at its disposal, including social media in the form of an online petition. And the tech-savvy folks of CES are all for Uber, not surprising since the lack of available cabs is most noticeable during that huge convention every year.
The Transportation Establishment warns Uber could threaten public safety with under-regulated cars and drivers, and that state law clearly prohibits unregulated rides-for-hire. But a judge denied the state’s request for a preliminary injunction against Uber before a full hearing is held, although he said drivers may still be cited (and their cars impounded) in the meantime. That could mean hefty fines, which Uber has reportedly promised to pay.
Uber has said it will start service in underserved areas, where it’s hard to get a cab. That’s good news for locals. And friends of mine who’ve used Uber praise the service as swift, efficient and cost-effective. Those are powerful arguments to go up against a regulated cab-and-limo monopoly cartel that gets a legal say on whether anybody new can enter the market, and which seems to be arguing that only they have the right to make customers wait for a ride. Whether in court or in the Legislature, that’s going to be a hard sell. Consumers, it seems, have already made up their minds.
That’s it for this week: Don’t forget to vote, if you haven’t already! See you next week!