Lawmaker Pierce gave voice to workers’ rights

Anyone meeting Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce for the first time would have been forgiven for underestimating her. She was petite and could be soft-spoken.

But when it came to representing constituents and standing up for workers’ rights in Nevada, she was an absolute lioness. Pierce died Thursday after a long fight with cancer. She was 59.

Tributes continue to pour in praising Pierce for her staunch advocacy on labor, environmental and women’s issues. The liberal legislator was loved by Democrats and respected by opponents.

I met her many years ago when she first arrived in Las Vegas. She wasn’t thinking about a political career then.

Peggy was a powerful singer who resembled a young Liza Minelli and briefly entertained dreams of joining a popular tribute show on the Strip.

Lucky for Nevada workers she took her talents to Carson City, where she gave a voice to the voiceless and was heard by many.

STADIUM CROWD: A near-capacity crowd turned out Monday at the Thomas &Mack Center’s Si Redd Room for the first meeting of the 11-member stadium committee.

Add all the business owners, boosters and UNLV officials, and the attendance rivaled a Rebels home football game in recent years.

Call it a wild guess, but I will lay odds the gaming industry-stacked committee won’t spend all the time and effort considering all the possibilities of a new stadium facility without concluding that it’s a fine idea.

Only County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani raised a scintilla of doubt about whether the stadium was really needed.

SANDOVAL’S FRIENDS: In tough economic times, Gov. Brian Sandoval is surely always looking for places to save taxpayer dollars.

This week he could have trimmed a few bucks by sending home his in-house news release writers. Who needs them with Democrats Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Rep. Dina Titus enthusiastically endorsing Sandoval’s comments on ending the damage being done to Nevada during the federal government shutdown?

Reid and Titus went out of their way to laud Sandoval for his position on the shutdown, which made the front page of the Review-Journal at a time Republican members of Nevada’s congressional delegation have been making themselves, well, scarce on the issue.

“I thank Gov. Sandoval for recognizing how devastating a Republican shutdown is for Nevada,” Reid gushed in a news release. “We both agree that this Republican shutdown needs to end. And the piecemeal approach preferred by Republicans would not fix the problems that Governor Sandoval outlined. This is why the Senate passed a bipartisan clean bill to fund the government. We need the House to pass this bill to reopen the government, pay our bills and then let’s negotiate.”

Titus added, “I thank Governor Sandoval for acknowledging the negative impact the federal shutdown has on our state. As he noted, this shutdown threatens critical services and undermines Nevada’s economic recovery. Now it is time for Governor Sandoval to call on the Republican members of our delegation to put aside politics, support a clean funding bill to reopen government and end this harmful brinkmanship.”

Looks like the first meeting of Democrats for Sandoval has convened.

ON THE BOULEVARD: UNLV couldn’t have hired a more loyal local for the position of athletic director than Tina Kunzer-Murphy. Her dedication to the university is undeniable. … “Acrobaddict,” by performing artist and contortionist Joe Putignano tells the troubling but intriguing true story of his battle with drug addiction and his own humanity. Las Vegan Putignano is a veteran of many Cirque du Soleil shows and Twyla Tharp’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ”.

BOULEVARD II: Among many in the gallery watching Tuesday night’s “Cleaning Up Las Vegas” program at the Mob Museum: former Gov. Bob Miller and wife Sandy, casino Black Book member Bill Land, longtime Leroy’s Horse &Sports Place boss Vic Salerno, Station Casinos executive Mike Sloan, former FBI Special Agent and organized crime expert George Togliatti, KNPR General Manager Florence Rogers, former Metro detective turned private investigator David Groover and his wife, Nevada Commission on Ethics member Magdalena Groover.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at or call (702) 383-0295.

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