The Democrat-controlled Legislative Interim Finance Committee (IFC) recently administered a public spanking to our one-term governor by removing from his control about $2.2 billion in federal stimulus funds. Lawmakers had no faith that such an inept administrator could handle the action. They also knew, based on experience, that he would appoint a political crony to run the program. (Is Heckuvajob Brownie available?)
Legislators put state controller Kim Wallin in charge and reduced the posh salary (what fiscal conservatism?) the governor (who, me?) wanted to pay a new “stimulus czar.”
The groping guv wanted $500,000 of Nevada taxpayer money to get the czar or czarina up and running. Lawmakers turned him down and further directed that the position be classified, which means the person winning the job would do so based on what he or she knows, not whom they know.
On Friday, Gov. Jim the Dim held a press conference to announce his signing of an executive order flouting Nevada law, which says the IFC rules when it comes to between-session fiscal decisions.
The Democrats blinked and let the sky pilot take his ball and go home. Why?
One of the dark little secrets of Nevada government involves the questionable legality of the IFC. It has never been tested in court because there’s a good chance that it’s unconstitutional. The IFC acts as a mini-legislature when the full body is out of session, which means its members are in charge for 20 months of Nevada’s 24-month budget cycle.
The Democrats should go to court because it’s a really win-win situation. If the Supremes rule for the Ledge, they will have removed the guv’s documented incompetence and cronyism from the badly needed stimulus process. Lawmakers acted in the first place when they learned that Gibbons had also violated the law by failing to implement a green energy construction program the Legislature passed earlier this year.
If the courts rule IFC illegal, it will make annual legislative sessions inevitable. Meeting for four months every two years may work for some fourth-world backwater, but not one of the fastest-growing and least responsible states of the American empire.
The Blew Brothers
Two of Gov. Gibbons’ strongest Republican supporters recently announced an alliance while distancing themselves from the guy who’s made them both tons of money.
Political manipulators Sig Rogich and Jim Denton have started a new (don’t inhale) joint consulting practice just in time for the next election cycle. Denton appeared on two segments of Sam Shad’s “Nevada Newsmakers” on KRNV TV-4 last week and is scheduled to do the show again this Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. Victims of Charter Communications can catch the rerun at 9:30 Tuesday evening on cable channel 3.
I’ve known Sig Rogich for four decades and Denton for almost three. They are long-time members of the campaign manager’s most prestigious fraternity, Sigma Ulterior Motive — SUM for short.
They are masters at brokering perceived influence over candidates they help elect, then walking away from the carcass after all juice has been drained.
Sig was in the bar in 2006 when then-Congressman Gibbons left with the ex-cocktail waitress who is now suing the governor for sexual assault. Sig and I came up in Nevada follytix at the same time and we were both taught that one of the rules you never break is letting a high-profile candidate go anywhere alone, especially close to election day. Sig let the gov-to-be escort the tipsy lady to her car, which only means two things: Jim the Dim wanted to play escort service and he doesn’t think that the votes of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers count for much. The video surveillance tapes of the incident disappeared for several weeks. Nevadans were shocked, shocked to find out they showed nothing when they finally surfaced.
Long-time Rail City residents will recall that Mr. Denton announced his retirement from political management just in time for his then-wife, Peggy O’Neil, to run for Sparks mayor against Tony Armstrong. Neither the retirement nor the marriage lasted much past the election.
Sig and Jim go whichever way the wind blows and the money flows. They are nice guys of no particular moral or political conviction, which make them perfect proselytizers for today’s GOP.
Wonder if they will be running resigning federal judge Brian Sandoval’s purported campaign against the re-election of their old pal and dry carcass Jim Gibbons?
The Nevada State AFL-CIO held its annual convention last week at the Grand Sierra Resort and one thing is very clear: The Democrats have a very deep bench and don’t need federal judges to leave that bench to fill out the ticket. A who’s whom of political power addressed the gathering. The standout speakers were state treasurer Kate Marshall and Assemblyman Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, who will be seeking the seat being vacated by term-limited Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas. The Double K’s could end up serving in the U.S. Senate together one day, just as the Gold Dust Twins (Harry Reid and Richard Bryan) of the 1969 legislative session eventually did.
Hot August Strike
The Teamsters Union may strike Granite Construction this week. Granite execs should have taken a look at NevadaLabor.com before ticking off the Teamsters. They would have found that there’s one thing you don’t do: mess with Local 533 in hot weather. In the past decade or so, that union has gone on strike in August and always won.
I know and have worked with these folks for a long time. They are not unreasonable. Earlier this year, the national union OK’d major contract concessions to keep Yellow Freight (aka YRC Worldwide) rolling. That affected about 100 local workers. But Granite Construction’s demand that local drivers take an $8 an hour pay cut means only one thing: They want to bust the union and replace long-time skilled workers with minimum wage staff.
Time to dust off my “Jobs with Justice/Downsize This!” picket sign and report for duty.
Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 40-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. His TV program is cablecast Monday through Friday, 2 to 4 p.m. on Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter digital channels 16 and 216 and high-definition channel 80-295, available on demand at Barbwire.TV. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.