Unwinding mind-bending ballot questions
Expanded from the Sunday, 10-24-2004, Daily
Sparks, Nev., Tribune
and the 10-29-2004 Comstock Chronicle
Ill-advised or not, more and more people are asking me how to vote. Because you asked, here are some of my picks to click. Feel free to e-me with more questions to which I'll personally respond and post online. Some may see print.
Question 1 is a political ploy spawned of Republican Congressman Jim Gibbons' political ambitions. As Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, has stated, all it will do is get the education budget passed five minutes ahead of the rest on the last day of the legislative session. NO.
Q-2, mandating that Nevada education be funded according to some cockamamie national average, is meat-axe government at its worst. NO.
Q-6 will raise the minimum wage by a buck starting in 2006 and index it to inflation thereafter. Don't believe the corporate think-tank drivel that business will shrivel should it pass. Wal-Mart isn't going anywhere. Vote YES.
Q-7 would remove the word "idiot" from the state constitution which prevents same from voting. Of all years to propose such a thing! Troubador Tom Lehrer was right -- Satire died the day Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Seriously, vote YES because it's justifiable notwithstanding the joke potential.
Q-8 will increase Gomorrah South casino mogul Steve Wynn's tax break for his personal art collection as well as a bunch of other subsidies for corporate welfare queens. Get out from behind this 8-ball. Vote NO. (UPDATE 10-27-2004 Carol Vilardo, President of the Nevada Taxpayers Association, stated on Sam Shad's Nevada Newsmakers that the state's oldest taxpayer organization opposes Question 8. Click here for more information on the issue. UPDATE 10-31-2004: Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows.)
WC-1 advises the county commission whether or not to continue a property tax override for the health department. Vote YES, especially since we face a flu epidemic in light of the failure of free market medicine to provide vaccine. ("Free market" really means drug companies are free not to provide medicine if there's not enough profit in it. We wouldn't want big government to provide vaccine, would we?)
WC-2 is an advisory question asking whether we want the local sales tax raised for worthy things like parks, open space, historic and cultural facilities. Vote NO. It's another regressive tax in a state among the worst for burdening low-income citizens with levies taking a huge percentage of their pay. It's time for a long, hard look at recovering some of the millions in property taxes annually shunted toward Reno and Sparks downtown corporate welfare programs. We need to do the same for room taxes which subsidize casino promotion. The latter were originally sold to the public as a way to promote county fairs, parks and recreation, but have been skimmed for half a century. Reno and Sparks have lost about $300 million to downtown redevelopment over the last quarter-century.
WC-3 protests unfunded mandates imposed upon municipalities by the state, often as a result of Ronald Reagan's "New Federalism" which starved state governments with unfunded mandates. Vote YES.
Citizens of Reno should vote NO on R-1, which would approve continuing a "temporary" property tax to fix streets and roads. I'm all in favor of road construction, especially the union variety, but I can't support such a move until some of the abovenoted downtown property taxes and room taxes get redirected away from casino corporate welfare.
Also, the Reno City Council must first show me some fiscal discipline by eliminating each councilmember's $10,000 annual slush fund and the Steve Wynn subsidy noted below.
NOW THE BIGGIES, Q3-4-5. This clash of the titans features the medical association, insurance companies and HMOs against lawyers, who are tremendously outspent and outgunned.
As of about a month ago, a statewide poll showed all three passing. If that holds up, it will put Nevadans in quite a box. Q-3, pleasantly entitled "Keep Our Doctors in Nevada," won't do anything of the sort because they're not leaving in the first place. Read more about it in former Sparks Tribune columnist Dennis Myers' cover story in this week's Reno News & Review.
Should Q-3 pass, it will impose a $350,000 California-style lifetime cap on pain and suffering. It would thus unwind the law passed to "keep our doctors in Nevada" at the 2002 special legislative session. As it now stands, damages are capped unless the judge finds truly outrageous incompetence.
In their new book "Critical Condition," world-class investigative reporters Donald Barlett and James Steele tell a few such stories, like the guy who had the wrong foot amputated and thus lost both. (Read the Denver Post review in "Smoking Guns," hereinbelow. You will find dozens of others with a websearch.)
Myers notes that the Las Vegas malpractice insurance crisis of 2002 was actually doctors going on strike as part of a clever PR campaign. "Skyrocketing" rates were the reason and the ledge gave the docs, insurance companies and HMOs everything they wanted, save for the horror-story loophole which Q-3 would close. Nevada malpractice insurance rates increased despite the "reform."
Should Q-3 pass, and it probably will, injured Nevadans will have a very hard time finding attorneys to take their cases, as has happened in other states. As Myers points out, the $250,000 cap imposed by California 30 years ago is worth $71,000 in today's dollars and the Golden State continues to have some of the highest malpractice insurance and health care costs in the nation.
Questions 4 and 5 would also unwind the 2002 law and tilt the balance back toward victims. However, being constitutional amendments, they can't go into effect until 2006, by which time a lot of injured people will be out in the cold because Q-3 goes into effect upon passage next month. Worse, the corporate medicine lobby is currently circulating another petition to reduce lawyers' fees. Pretty soon, we'll resemble Texas where suing merits a horse laugh and not much else.
I recommend a YES vote on Q-4 and Q-5 as long-range insurance policies against Q-3's probable passage. We'll have another shot at Q-4 and Q-5 in November of 2006 if they pass this time. Q-3 is a one-shot deal and it looks like the medical association is standing on an ace and a 10. If the dealer has "21," buy insurance.
Vote NO on Q-3, Yes on Q-4 and Q-5. Please send me your comments and personal stories.
"Media is the plural of mediocre."
10-25-2004 I inquired about why our cable meeting does not appear on SNCAT's schedule and got this response: "I did check with (Executive Director) Vivienne French and the Citizens Cable Compliance Committee is not a meeting that has been negotiated in our new contract with the City of Reno as one that will be covered on a regular basis. In addition, at this point we have not received any request from the City of Reno for coverage."
UPDATE 10-27-2004 Councilmember Jessica Sferrazza's office called to say it was a mistake and will be rectified in the future. The meeting was postponed to November because illness of one member lost a quorum. Stay tuned.
WASHOE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD. I forced myself to watch the enforcedly dull forum recently staged by the Vestal Virgins of Vague Politics on the local FOX affiliate. While a couple of the candidates did not articulate well, I found all seven participants well-educated and capable. Not surprisingly, incumbents Dan Carne and Jonnie Pullman were the most knowledgeable. The surprise shining star: Theresa Navarro. It just might be a good political year for women named Theresa.
CABLE CAPERS. This Thursday at 6:30 p.m., the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee will meet at new city hall, the black tower downtown at First and Sierra across from the Mapes Graveyard. We will try to educate Councilman Dave Aiazzi that we have the authority to propose a long range plan should the financially troubled Charter Communications melt down, leave town or bypass the city's system. The meeting will air on SNCAT Charter Channel 13. Tune in, especially if by some miracle the World Series doesn't get to game five. Watch DecidingFactors.tv. for re-run times.
WELFARE QUEENS, PART DEUX. On Wednesday, Oct. 27, the council revisits its $50,000 subsidy of expenses to locally display Mr. Wynn's art collection, a baldfaced ploy to garner support for Q-8. Contact councilmembers to vote it down. Call (775) 334-2099 and tell them. For full contact info, click here.
Be well. Raise hell.
Propaganda for fun and profit
A Blow Against the Secrecy State: Federal government
didn't even want to produce its photo ID law
Las Vegas Review-Journal Editorial 9-17-2004
ORDER "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy"
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
The 1994 Labor Day Barbwire introduces Alex Carey
A brief history of neo-con PR and the roots of corporate propaganda
Copyright © 1982-2004 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 35-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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