Archive for August, 2010

Henderson Chamber of Commerce, Saint Mary’s Team Up To Offer Affordable Health Plans To Members

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 10:35 am August 31st, 2010

Henderson-area small businesses struggling to stay afloat in Nevada’s ongoing recession can look to their neighborhood chamber of commerce for assistance in these tough economic times.

Saint Mary’s Health Plans, in cooperation with the Henderson Chamber of Commerce, is offering two health plans exclusively for chamber members.

The partnership provides a money-saving opportunity for chamber members who are trying to retain their quality employees with benefits and a healthy work environment.

Kirk Clausen, chairman of the board of the chamber, said offering health plan options for small businesses is one way the organization can provide tangible benefits to its members. The chamber, with just over 1,200 members, is also suffering in the economic slowdown as some member businesses are forced to close, he said.

“A hugely important benefit in the way of retaining employees for small business is to be able to offer a benefits package, and so we went after what we felt was one of the very best programs out there,” he said.

A preferred provider organization (PPO) plan has been offered by the chamber for some time. The new offering as of June 1 is a health maintenance organization (HMO) plan. The group plans have very favorable terms saving individual businesses from having to negotiate plans and rates on their own, he said.

Clausen said the offerings have been well received by chamber members.

“So the chamber isn’t much different than businesses out there,” he said. “We have to have a value proposition, we have to have something we are offering our members to grow and keep our membership and I think this is a critically important (benefit).”

Saint Mary’s Health Plans, owned by Catholic Healthcare West, owner of three local St. Rose hospitals, came to the Las Vegas Valley more than two years ago after experiencing nearly 20 years of success in Northern Nevada. Its main focus is to provide small group health insurance, and although there are 25 plans available, the company offers two plans exclusively for members of the Henderson Chamber, which also utilizes Saint Mary’s for its insurance coverage.

Small groups are defined as having between two and 50 employees.

“More than 90 percent of employer groups in Nevada have fewer than 20 employees,” said Dan Evans, market director for Saint Mary’s Health Plans. “The economy has been a real disaster, especially in Las Vegas. One of the things a few business owners had to let go was their health insurance coverage. Our partnership with the chamber gives them the opportunity to have it back.”

Saint Mary’s Health Plans has been expanding its provider network in Southern Nevada and has more than 1,800-plus local physicians and ancillary providers in its network in Clark County. Thirteen local hospitals are also in their network. Saint Mary’s Health Plan members have access to 34 hospitals and over 3,500-plus providers in Nevada, as well as access to other provider networks when outside of the state.

Saint Mary’s Health Plans provide members with access to all St. Rose hospitals – important for the chamber’s Henderson-based membership.

Other chambers offer health plan options to members as well, including the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, the North Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the Reno-Sparks chamber.

The Henderson Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit voluntary organization committed to promoting and supporting member businesses.

Audio clips:

Henderson Chamber Board President Kirk Clausen says a benefits package is important for a small business to retain employees:

083010Clausen1 :12 plans out there.”

Clausen says chamber has to offer tangible benefits to members:

083010Clausen2 :11 critically important bene.”

Former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller Says Taxes Will Be Part Of State Budget Solution In 2011

By Sean Whaley | 6:51 am August 31st, 2010

Former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller said Monday it is unrealistic for both major party candidates for governor to say they won’t raise taxes in the upcoming 2011 session.

Miller, a Democrat who served 10 years as the chief executive, said he, along with former Democrat Gov. Richard Bryan and the late Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn, told a group of Reno business leaders earlier this year that new tax revenues will be an inevitable part of any budget balancing plan next year.

“It’s not possible in the next biennium to balance a budget without some additional revenues, that’s just going to happen,” he said.

Miller made his comments in an interview on Face To Face with Jon Ralston, who also had as a guest former GOP Gov. Robert List.

The state faces an estimated $3 billion shortfall in the amount of revenue expected to be required to fund government services and public education in the next two years, equal to 45 percent of the total general fund budget.

But both Democrat Rory Reid and Republican Brian Sandoval have said they won’t raise taxes to balance the budget if elected governor.

Reid last week presented a plan showing how he would find $2.5 billion in cuts and savings, although some of his numbers have been questioned. Sandoval has not yet presented a plan on how to balance the state budget without a tax increase.

Miller noted that current Senate leadership of both parties has said tax increases are likely next session.

He called it “wishful thinking” on the part of the candidates to say taxes won’t have to be a part of the budget solution.

Miller said there is also some political posturing because in an election campaign, “you don’t want to be the person out there indicating the bad news.”

“But the reality is it is not going to work to do it any other way,” he said.

Both Miller and List, commenting on the first debate between Sandoval and Reid on Sunday in Las Vegas on education issues, said they saw no surprises in the hour-long discussion.

Reid, trailing significantly in the polls, went on the attack, and Sandoval stayed on message trying not to lose any ground with voters.

List said since both candidates are talking about reform and accountability for public education, there may be an opportunity next session to see some meaningful changes.

The wildcard has always been the public employee unions, with Democrats generally supporting their position, he said.

Reid has broken with that long-time support to a small degree, suggesting there may be an opportunity for some change in 2011, List said.

But List said he believes it will be very difficult for Reid to come out on top on election day Nov. 2.


Audio clips:

Former Gov. Bob Miller said tax increases in 2011 are inevitable:

083010Miller1 :10 going to happen.”

Miller says not raising issue of taxes partly wishful thinking on part of Reid and Sandoval:

083010Miller2 :15 any other way.”

Reid, Sandoval Debate Education in First Big Head-To-Head

By Sean Whaley | 6:48 am August 30th, 2010

Underdog Democratic candidate for governor Rory Reid took the opportunity at a first debate today with leading GOP candidate Brian Sandoval to challenge his opponent’s commitment to spending on public education.

In his opening remarks, Reid said he has a plan to erase a $2.5 billion shortfall it the state budget without cutting education. Sandoval would cut education and lay off teachers, he said.

Sandoval, leading by double-digits in the polls, parried Reid’s attacks, saying his proposals, including given parents the choice to send their children to private schools with public funding, would not result in teacher layoffs.

Sandoval said Reid’s budget plan would cut education despite his comments to the contrary.

The one-hour debate in Las Vegas, held at the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy and broadcast statewide, did not appear to produce any serious political gain for either of the two major party candidates.

Reid emphasized his experience as chairman of the Clark County Commission, saying he has balanced budgets as big as Nevada’s for eight years without raising taxes.

“Strength and consistency is what Nevada needs in its next governor,” he said.

Sandoval said his credentials as a lawmaker, gaming regulator, attorney general and federal judge, and said Nevada’s public education needs a shakeup.

“We need to do something tough, we need to challenge the system, we need to shake up the status quo,” he said.

Both candidates talked up their ideas of giving principals, teachers and parents more power over how to spend tax dollars in the classroom as ways to improve student performance and get more mileage out of the state’s public education investment.

Sandoval said he would achieve local control by using block grants to schools to let them decide how best to spend their limited dollars.

Reid said his proposal would be to let parents take their kids out of failing schools and enrollment them in successful public schools. He called his plan true choice.

“I provide real choice, not the false choice Brian’s plan calls for,” he said.

Reid attacked Sandoval on his support of private school vouchers saying it would take $100 million from public schools to fund the private education of those who could afford it.

In response, Sandoval said choice would create competition and improve education.

Not surprisingly, both camps claimed victory immediately after the debate.

The Reid camp said in part: “If elected in November, Brian Sandoval will continue Jim Gibbons’ shameful legacy of taking money from our children’s classrooms to supplement the state budget. Brian Sandoval does not consider education a priority. Brian Sandoval does not understand the simple fact that we will never get out of this economic slump and draw new industry until we have good schools.”

Sandoval’s commented: “My education plan is a bold approach to challenging the status quo. We must end the social promotion of our children, end teacher tenure and give parents choices to seek the best possible education for their children. It’s time to get serious about reform. Our children deserve nothing less.”


Audio clips:

Rory Reid says Brian Sandoval budget plan would cut public education:

082910Reid1 :38 in your classrooms.”

Brian Sandoval says he has plan to shake up public education system:

082910Sandoval 1 :46 will do that.”

Reid says Sandoval voucher plan bad for Nevada children:

082910Reid2 :08 a bad choice.”

Sandoval says Reid plan would cut education:

082910Sandoval2 :10 cut to education.”

Las Vegas Artist Working On Gov. Gibbons Painting Despite Not Being Selected For Official Portrait

By Sean Whaley | 3:11 pm August 27th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Budding Las Vegas artist Alex Krasky was not selected to paint the official portrait of out-going Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons for display in the state capitol, but he is going ahead with his canvas anyway with the hopes of personally presenting his work to the governor.

When he first learned of the competition to paint the governor’s portrait and submitted his proposal, Krasky decided to go forward with a painting without knowing if he would be selected. When he was not named as the finalist, Krasky said he was already well in progress on the portrait and decided to finish the work.

“I already spent a couple of weeks drawing it so I decided just to keep drawing because, what do I have to lose,” he said. “It’s a good image.

“I want to hand it to him personally, that is what my dream is,” Krasky said.

The as yet unfinished painting shows Gibbons with the Nevada state flag as a backdrop.

Alex Krasky's work-in-progress portrait of Gov. Jim Gibbons

Krasky, 40, was laid off from his job as a federal agency security officer in late 2008 and only took up a paintbrush a little over a year ago after spending years doing sketches. Since that time, he has produced about 50 works, including sketches, and has received some favorable attention for his efforts.

He has painted film director James Cameron and the late performer Michael Jackson in combination with the Cirque Du Soleil cast, among others.

The former Russian left his native country in 1997, traveling through several Latin American countries, sometimes illegally, before finally arriving in the U.S. and becoming a legal resident.

His 36-inch by 48-inch portrait of Gibbons is not in the traditional style but more of a commercial approach, Krasky said. He expects to finish it in a few more weeks.

Gibbons earlier this month picked a Washington state artist to paint his official portrait for the $20,000 commission. Forty-four applications were received.

Jill Lufrano, a spokeswoman for Gibbons, called Krasky’s art “amazing” after seeing it on YouTube.

“Unfortunately only one artist was able to be selected for the official portrait,” she said. “But I’m sure Gov. Gibbons would be delighted to have Alex give him the portrait. It would be an honor for the governor to have it in his collection.”

Krasky said his wife suggested he try painting in oils after seeing his sketches. An art teacher he went to for lessons said his technique was fine and there was nothing she could show him. After being less than impressed by a second teacher, Krasky went forward on his own.

Krasky said he has not tried to sell his work but he has received media interest, including a report last year about his Michael Jackson work by ABC Channel 13 Action News.

“It is my passion,” he said. “The problem is I’m not noticed. I’m just working at home without showing it to anybody.”

Krasky’s works, including the Gibbons work-in-progress, can be viewed on a YouTube video.


Audio clips:

Alex Krasky says he will finish his Gibbons portrait even those he was not selected as the finalist:

082610Krasky1 :31 to lose . . right.”

Krasky says he decided to start painting about a year ago and is self-taught:

082610Krasky2 :27 have anything to learn.”

Krasky says he paints for pleasure:

082610Krasky3 :17 it to anybody.”

Rory Reid Plan To Balance State Budget Without Raising Taxes Gets Favorable Response For Theory, But Details Lacking

By Sean Whaley | 8:50 am August 27th, 2010

CARSON CITY – A plan released today by Democrat governor candidate Rory Reid on how to balance the Nevada state budget without raising taxes received some praise from a free market think tank even though many questions remain, including whether the proposal includes an overly optimistic prediction of future tax revenue growth.

Reid discussed his plan Thursday on the statewide television show Face To Face with Jon Ralston, saying the target he used for a balanced budget was $2.5 billion. If the shortfall is higher, Reid said he has other ideas to close the gap.

Reid said he has balanced budgets as Clark County Commission chairman that are as big as the state government budget for eight years, in good times and bad, without raising taxes. He said every number in his plan can be justified.

He acknowledged signing off on generous employment contracts for local government employees, but said he is now working to reduce those costs.

Layoffs will likely be part of the budget plan, but Reid would not specify numbers.

“There will be jobs lost,” he said.

But Reid defended his plan, saying he is the only major party candidate to present a budget balancing plan.

“Brian Sandoval has no experience with a large budget, and he doesn’t have a plan for action,” Reid said.

Geoffrey Lawrence, a fiscal policy analyst at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, said a review of Reid’s plan shows several good points, but it includes some questionable assumptions as well.

“Overall I’m very supportive of most of the ideas that are in the plan,” he said. “There are also some major assumptions that are made that may or may not bear out.”

Lawrence said one example is Reid’s belief that state tax revenues will come in $615 million higher in the second year of the budget than most people are anticipating. Whoever is governor will have to abide by the forecasts made by the Economic Forum, not rely on a personal assessment of what the level of tax revenues will be, he said.

The next two-year state budget has an anticipated shortfall of at $3 billion compared to what is viewed as needed to provide basic government services and fund education. Expiring tax increases and the loss of federal stimulus funds, along with much lower tax revenues, are the biggest contributors to the funding gap.

Both Reid and Brian Sandoval, the Republican candidate and frontrunner in the race, say they can balance the budget without raising taxes.

Reid’s plan, called “Moving Nevada Forward,” would cut the number of state agencies from 26 to 16, which he claims would save nearly $50 million, and cut funding to state constitutional officers, such as the attorney general and treasurer, by 50 percent, saving $26 million.

Reid would also seek a greater share of federal tax dollars to support state programs, bringing in an estimated $186 million, and cut down on tax deadbeats for $9.2 million in additional revenue.

Reid criticizes outgoing incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons for the state’s fiscal condition, saying: “It is the legacy of Jim Gibbons, George W. Bush-style mismanagement, and years of postponing tough choices.”

Sandoval’s response to the Reid plan was brief: “Since Rory’s plan relies on $615 million in revenues which don’t exist and over half a billion in cuts which are based on faulty assumptions, it’s impossible to take this plan seriously.”

Sandoval issued a budget plan earlier this year to solve the $800 million shortfall in the current budget, but has not presented his ideas on how he would balance the upcoming budget without new taxes.

The two candidates are scheduled to debate for the first time on Sunday.

Another example of an assumption that needs further explanation is the proposal to cut Medicaid fraud in half to save $41 million, Lawrence said.

“Which is a great idea but if it was easy to do, it would have already been done,” he said.

On the plus side, Reid proposes to extend the employee furlough program and delay pay raises, saving $480 million, Lawrence said.

The plan could move the state in a positive direction if some of the smaller issues can be worked out, he said.

“It would be a boon for the state to have a leaner, more efficient government that still offers quality services,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said he noticed that Reid frequently criticizes Gibbons for the state’s fiscal condition, but then relies on Gibbons’ SAGE Commission for many of his money saving ideas. The Spending and Government Efficiency Commission created by Gibbons made a number of recommendations on how to improve state government.

Reid did compliment Gibbons on the creation of the SAGE Commission in his Face To Face interview.


Audio clips:

Rory Reid says he has experience to balance state budget:

082610Reid1 :19 that I could.”

Reid says Sandoval’s only budget plan was balanced on the backs of kids:

082610Reid2 :17 backs of kids.”

NPRI analyst Geoffrey Lawrence says the Reid plan has some good ideas but also some questionable assumptions:

082610Lawrence1 :17 not bear out.”

Lawrence says the idea of streamlining government is a good one:

082610Lawrence2 :15 offers quality services.”

Lawrence says Reid criticizes Gibbons even though many of his proposals come from SAGE Commission:

082610Lawrence3 :14 the governor, so.”

Nevada Group Alleges Pro-Union Bias by Members of State Apprenticeship Council

By Sean Whaley | 6:18 am August 26th, 2010

CARSON CITY – A Nevada group that offers training to non-union construction workers has sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford alleging an improper pro-union bias by some members of the State Apprenticeship Council.

The allegation comes following the failure of the Nevada Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC) to win approval of an apprentice weatherization program for its non-union construction workers. The same council approved a union-backed program in December 2009.

The ABC initially sought approval of the program in May under Senate Bill 152 sponsored by Horsford, D-Las Vegas, in the 2009 session. The program was tabled until August after the ABC had provided all the information sought by the apprenticeship council.

In the letter, ABC President Clara Andriola said the program was virtually identical to the program approved by the council for the Laborers Union with the only changes being those sought by the council itself.

Despite this, the council voted 3-1 on Aug. 13 to reject the program citing a “lack of need.”

Voting to reject the program were employee representatives Daniel Rose and Greg Smith and employer representative Dana Wiggins.

Horsford and others were clear in testimony on SB152 that the programs were to be available to all.

Former state Sen. Warren Hardy, the lobbyist for the ABC, said the organization has not received any response yet on the concerns.

But when members of the Legislature ask why the weatherization program isn’t moving along as rapidly as they would like, the ABC will mention the action of the council, he said.

Hardy called the ability to get an apprentice program “absolutely critical.”

By rejecting the ABC’s program, 85 percent of the construction industry that is not unionized cannot participate, he said. The agency can and will continue to provide weatherization training through its nonprofit collaborative, but there is a belief that the Legislature will require an apprenticeship program in 2011.

“In the short term it’s not the end of the world,” Hardy said. “(But) if you pull the rug out from 85 percent of the industry, you can’t successfully put the construction industry back to work.”

Andriola said in the letter the reason the union training programs have not met with much demand is because weatherization of residential properties is a task that “has traditionally been performed by the non-union sector of the industry.”

The federal government has also said that councils may not apply a “needs based” test when deciding whether to approve a program, she said.

The letter, which was also sent to the members of the Legislative Commission and the Interim Finance Committee, also suggests that SB152 be amended, “in an effort to eliminate the potential for the political gamesmanship that has been so obviously displayed by certain members of the State Apprentice Council in seeking to ‘pull up the ladder’ and insure that such ‘green training’ programs are only available through union programs.”

Horsford was not available Wednesday to comment on the letter.

A representative of the Nevada State Apprenticeship Council could not comment because the decision is being appealed to the Nevada Labor Commissioner. Las Vegas Laborers Union Local 872 could not be reached for comment either.

Andriola said the ABC will appeal the decision to the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship as well.

She noted that the ABC supported the Laborers Union program in December, but that union officials testified against its program at the May 13 meeting.

Andriola called the testimony inflammatory and inaccurate “by an organization that is openly hostile to our intentions . . .”

SB152 provided for the use of incentives contained in the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to provide job training, the promotion of energy efficiency and the promotion of the use of renewable energy in Nevada.

It received unanimous support in the Senate but 10 no votes from Assembly Republicans. Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, one of the no votes, said there were two concerns: whether the training would be available to non-union workers and if enough of the money would go to actual weatherization and not just training.

In testimony on the bill in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee in 2009, Andriola expressed concern the weatherization program might allow for only union-affiliated groups to participate.

In response, Horsford said his experience suggested there was no way the U.S. Department of Labor could pass programs that only allowed participation from labor entities. Horsford said it was the intent, based on the wording of the bill, that all apprenticeship organizations, labor or non-labor, were included, according to minutes from the hearing.

The weatherization program in Nevada has been hugely successful, according to Gov. Jim Gibbons, who recently announced the U.S. Department of Energy has selected Nevada to receive nearly $7 million ARRA funds to continue the Nevada Housing Division’s Weatherization Assistance Program.

Nevada has been one of the country’s weatherization leaders under ARRA and is continuing to weatherize thousands of homes for Nevada’s low-income families, he said. Through July, Nevada had weatherized a total of 5,351 homes.

Horsford has been critical of the state Housing Division’s ability to move forward more quickly with the weatherization program, which also involved grants from the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation to non-profit entities to train workers in how to perform the weatherization work.

In turn Gibbons has criticized Horsford in July, saying the majority leader has a conflict on the implementation of SB152 because he is chief executive officer of the Culinary Training Academy, an organization with a vested interest in ensuring the funds identified in Senate Bill 152 go only to union-based collaboratives.

“Despite this conflict, Sen. Horsford continues to regularly participate in hearings and meetings regarding the implementation of S.B. 152,” Gibbons said.

Horsford said in response in July that Gibbons’ claim that he has a conflict regarding the Housing Division and the weatherization program is wrong.

Horsford said the Culinary Training Academy is an agency that helps prepare people to acquire the skills needed for employment in the hospitality industry, and has never had a role in the weatherization program. Horsford is also a volunteer member of the board of Nevada Partners, but said the organization has no direct role regarding the weatherization program either.

“The governor is wrong, and his allegation is unfounded,” he said.


View the letter from ABC here:

ABC Letter 8.16.10


Audio clips:

ABC lobbyist Warren Hardy says Apprenticeship Council has removed access to 85 percent of the construction industry.

082510Hardy1 :20 who wants it.”

Hardy says denying training to 85 percent of construction industry will ensure economic slump continues:

082510Hardy2 :36 back to work.”

Nevada Budget Expert Says Sales Tax On Services One Way To Solve Budget Shortfall

By Sean Whaley | 7:58 pm August 25th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada budget guru Guy Hobbs said Wednesday expanding the sales tax to encompass services is “not a bad place to start” in the effort to broaden the state’s tax base.

“Sixty percent of our economy is services, not a bad place to start,” he said. “A lot of those services are discretionary services, certainly not a bad place to start.”

Hobbs, a former director of finance for Clark County, and now an expert consultant on Nevada’s tax structure as part of Hobbs, Ong and Associates, said an idea floated earlier this week to impose a 2 percent tax on food appears to be more of a short term fix to the budget hole rather than a long-term plan to broaden the state’s tax base.

The idea was suggested by Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, as a way to bring in revenue and allow the state to reduce or eliminate other taxes, particularly the modified business tax.

Hobbs made his comments on the Face to Face television program hosted by political observer Jon Ralston and broadcast live statewide.

Hobbs said Nevada’s sales tax base is too narrow, and expanding it to cover everything from legal and accounting services to massages would be a way to bring in more revenue based on a sound policy going forward.

Recently the Nevada Policy Research Institute suggested broadening the state sales tax to include services and food as a way of growing the state out of its budget problems. The idea has drawn a lot of attention from lawmakers.

But the two major party candidates for governor have both rejected the idea of a tax increase to balance the state budget next year. The state is facing as much as a $3 billion shortfall, or about 45 percent of what is expected to be necessary to fund education and basic government services.

Hobbs said he does not believe the Legislature next year can cut its way out of the budget hole.

“There is no question we need to broaden our sales tax base, absolutely none,” Hobbs said.


Audio clips:

Guy Hobbs says expanding the sales tax to services a good way to broaden state tax base:

082510Hobbs1 :26 kinds of things.”

Hobbs says there is no question state sales tax should be broadened:

082510Hobbs2 :22 good policy decision.”

Rep. Dean Heller Says Reid-Angle Race Likely To Be Determined By 5,000 Votes

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:09 pm August 25th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said today he believes the race between U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and GOP challenger Sharron Angle will come down to 5,000 votes.

Heller said he believes most voters have already made up their minds about which candidate they will support in November, “I just don’t know which way it’s going to end up.”

But Heller, in an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said also that both Reid and Angle have time to “change their message” or “invent themselves” if necessary.

Heller said Angle can win but she has an uphill climb against Reid, who has a well run campaign machine that is in full gear.

“Sharron has her work cut out for her but I think there is plenty of time for her to be successful,” he said.

Heller also sidestepped a question about his political ambitions in 2012, saying he is focused on getting re-elected to another term in Congressional District 2. Heller said he does not know if embattled incumbent Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., intends to seek re-election.

Both Heller and Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., are considered potential candidates for the seat.

“This is not a safe time to take your election for granted,” Heller said. “So we’re going to work on this election and worry about some senate race down the road at a future time.”


Audio clips:

Heller says Sharron Angle can beat Reid but she has work cut out for her:

082510Heller1 :15 to be successful.”

Heller says Reid-Angle will come down to 5,000 votes:

082510Heller2 :11 to 5,000 votes.

GOP Caucus Discusses Expansion of State Sales Tax, Reduction of Business Taxes

By Sean Whaley | 4:55 am August 24th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea said today Nevada voters should be asked to expand the state sales tax to include food purchases as a way to raise revenue and broaden the tax base.

But any such revenue hike should be accompanied by a reduction in the state’s regressive business taxes, he said.

Asking voters to apply the two percent state share of the sales tax to food could bring in half a billion dollars over the two-year budget, he said.

Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said he believes new tax revenues will be needed to get a balanced budget in the 2011 session, but that any revenue increase should come in tandem with reductions in the modified business tax.

Goicoechea, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said he believes the state will be able to get by with less than $1 billion in tax increases.

“But I do believe we’re going to have to have some revenue increases, and I would hope they come in the way of reforms,” he said.

Goicoechea said it is unfortunate the sales tax expansion idea was not put before the voters in the upcoming November election.

Goicoechea said he is willing to look to expanding the sales taxes to services as well, but that any such expansion would have to cover all services uniformly. In the initial discussions on a services tax there are already groups clamoring to be exempted from such a levy, he said.

“If you’re going to put a sales tax on services, then no exemptions, everyone gets to pay,” Goicoechea said. “But let’s balance it with reducing some of these other very regressive taxes on business.”

Drastic budget cuts will also have to be a part of any balanced budget, he said.

The expansion of the sales tax while reducing the overall rate was proposed earlier this year by the Nevada Policy Research Institute.

Several members of the GOP caucus running for re-election this year had mixed reactions to Goicoechea’s suggestions.

Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, said tax reform is fine as long as it is revenue neutral. Goedhart said the NPRI proposal to broaden the sales tax to include food and services is a good starting point.

The overall 6.85 percent sales tax rate could then be reduced to about 3.5 percent, and the state could also do away with the modified business tax, reduce or eliminate the insurance premium tax and significantly lower vehicle registration fees, he said.

The expanded sales tax would then allow the state to begin growing its way out of its fiscal problems, Goedhart said.

As chairman of the Nevada chapter of Americans for Tax Reform, Goedhart said total government spending on services in Nevada is about $40 billion, which puts the state in the middle of the states in spending per capita. The Legislature should have no trouble finding $3 billion in savings out of $40 billion in total spending to balance the budget, he said.

Goedhart pointed to excessively high public salaries such as those earned by firefighters as one example of where spending reductions can be made.

Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington, said any specific tax proposals are premature, and that the idea of going to the voters for an expansion of the state share of the sales tax to include food would not help in the upcoming biennium.

Since the proposal is not on the ballot for November, it would not be able to go to the voters until 2012, he said.

But Grady said with a shortfall that could be as high as $3.5 billion, “everything is on the table.”

“I agree with Mr. Goicoechea we’re going to have to look closely at zero-based budgeting,” he said.

But if the Legislature gets to the point where it can’t fund education or prisons, then it will have to find money elsewhere, Grady said.

The Legislature needs to wait to see what proposals the new governor will have, and it needs to know how short the budget is before there is a discussion of taxes, he said.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, said Goicoechea’s proposals are not new but come from the NPRI study on expanding the sales tax released earlier this year.

“We need to look at the NPRI study at least as a starting point,” he said.

But the Legislature also has to keep in mind that the Nevada economy is suffering and businesses are not in a position right now to create new jobs, Hambrick said.

“We need to provide some relief,” he said.

Goicoechea has joined Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, in saying taxes will very likely have to be part of any plan to erase a $3 billion shortfall in what is expected to be required to provide government services and education for the next two years.

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, has not weighed in publicly on the tax discussion. Oceguera is expected to become speaker in the 2011 session.

The two leading candidates for governor, Republican Brian Sandoval and Democrat Rory Reid, have rejected the idea of balancing the state budget with tax increases.

Goicoechea said the critical issue for the 14 Assembly Republicans in the November election is picking up at least one or two more seats to take away the two-thirds majority now held by Assembly Democrats. A two-thirds vote is required to raise taxes, and without at least 15 members the Assembly Republicans will wield little power in those discussions.

Budget discussions and the all-important debate over redrawing state political boundaries make it critical for Republicans to have enough members to have a place at the negotiating table, he said.

“You don’t want to be on your back when you’re waging a fight which you are if you are irrelevant and under 15 (members),” he said.

Seats Republicans see as potential take-aways include the open District 40 seat in Carson City and the District 13 seat in Henderson now held by freshman Democrat Ellen Spiegel, Goicoechea said. Republicans also want to hold on to the District 13 seat in Las Vegas that is now open with the departure of Republican Chad Christensen, he said.

Goicoechea said he is encouraged by some of the voter registration trends and the large number of nonpartisan and minor party voters who may support Republicans in November.

Hambrick said he believes Republicans have a few other opportunities to pick up Assembly seats in November. They include the open Assembly 31 seat in Sparks, the Las Vegas 5 seat held by Democrat Marilyn Dondero Loop, and the Henderson 29 seat held by Democrat April Mastroluca, he said.


Audio clips:

Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea says taxes will be part of budget debate next year:

082310Goicoechea1 :15 that we have.”

Goicoechea says a tax on services has to be across the board with no exemptions:

082310Goicoechea2 :10 taxes on business.”

Goicoechea says key for Assembly GOP is to pick up seats in November election:

082310Goicoechea3 :30 go to session.”

Angle Criticizes Reid For Making Her Religion An Issue, Says Mosque Supporters Have a ‘Right to Build’ But Need to be ‘Sensitive’

By Sean Whaley | 4:35 am August 24th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle said in an interview last week that her opponent is trying to make her Christian religion an issue to divert voters from the real problems facing the U.S. and Nevada, including the economy and jobs.

Angle, appearing on the Nevada NewsMakers television program on Wednesday, said U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is distorting her Southern Baptist religious views and trying to make a campaign issue out of her faith.

“This has never been an issue in any other campaign until now,” she said.

Her comments came in response to a question from NewsMakers host Sam Shad, who read an email from a Republican voter and self-described atheist who said he is inclined to vote for Angle if she can clarify that she respects secular opinion and the secular nature of the Republic.

Angle said she would welcome such support.

“I’m very Reaganist in all of this,” she said. “If we agree 80 percent of the time we are friends. My message has always been the same: our economy, our jobs and our homes.”

The Reid campaign is attempting to paint Angle as having extreme views on a number of issues, including refusing to accept the separation of church and state.

Angle was also asked in the interview to respond to a comment by former Republican Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian in a New York Times story saying Reid had no chance to win before but is now favored to win.

Angle said Tarkanian is supporting her campaign and questioned whether he was quoted accurately.

Asked about the debate about whether a mosque should be built near Ground Zero in New York City, Angle said those supporting the project have a right to build where they own property, but that they should be take the concerns of many Americans into account.

“They need to be sensitive to the culture, they need to be sensitive to what happened on 9-11 and understand that this is one of those moments in American history that is very, very heartfelt,” she said.

Angle said her plan to get the $13.3 trillion federal deficit under control is to cut back spending by 5 percent per year for the next five years, prioritizing spending first for those programs and services the federal government should and must provide. Other programs are better performed by the states, and others should be done away with completely because they aren’t within the government’s purview, she said.

The services provided by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Education would be better provided by the states, Angle said.

Border security is an example of where the federal government should be prioritizing spending, she said.

“We need to keep our priorities straight which is first of all the common defense,” Angle said.


Audio clips:

Senate candidate Sharron Angle says Reid has made religion an issue in campaign:

081810Angle1 :12 talk about this.”

Angle says NYC mosque supporters should be sensitive to the 9-11 tragedy:

081810Angle2 :21 very, very heartfelt.”

Angle says cutting federal deficit would boost economy:

081810Angle3 :12 the rules are.”

Nevada Jobless Rate Actually Above 20 Percent Based On U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics Data

By Sean Whaley | 11:33 am August 21st, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s worst in the nation 14.3 percent unemployment rate for July does not even begin to tell the real story of the state’s dismal job situation, a state agency reported today.

The actual unemployment rate in Nevada through the second quarter of 2010 is 21.5 percent, according to data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The announced jobless rate reported over the same time frame was 13.1 percent, an 8.4 percentage point difference.

“The actual unemployment rate presents a more complete picture of what is currently occurring in the economy,” says the news release from the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR).

The agency said the difference in the two numbers is due to the fact that the monthly jobless report underestimates the number of unemployed. The monthly report only estimates unemployed workers who are actively seeking employment. It does not include workers who are too discouraged to seek employment and have given up searching, or workers employed part time for economic reasons.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures the actual unemployment rate by state as a four quarter moving average. That average through June 30 is 21.5 percent.

“Use of the alternative measure of unemployment for research purposes is limited since the information is only available for the past five years, so comparisons to past recessions is not possible,” DETR reported. “But, from a policy perspective, the actual unemployment rate presents a more complete picture of what is currently occurring in the economy.

“Despite the historic run up in the unemployment rate, the reality of the recession’s impacts on Nevada’s workforce is much worse than presented,” the report said.

The July monthly report released today shows a one-tenth of a percentage point increase in the jobless rate to 14.3 percent, a new state record and the 16th consecutive new high for the state. Nearly 200,000 people are looking for work.

The report shows that Nevada saw the loss of 9,600 jobs in July, with 5,600 of those coming from the public sector. But for the first time since March, private employers reported fewer jobs as well, according to the report.

The report also notes that in June the Las Vegas metropolitan area had the highest jobless rate of all metro areas with one million or more population, surpassing even Detroit, Mich.

With an increase of an additional two-tenths to 14.8 percent in July, Las Vegas will likely maintain the highest rate for yet another month, the agency reported.

The state’s record high unemployment rate, combined with Congressional approval last year of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is aimed at reducing the national jobless rate, have become major campaign issues in the Nevada Senate race between Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and GOP challenger Sharron Angle.

Many Republicans are calling the stimulus act a failure at creating jobs and full of wasteful spending.

Reid has defended the program, which a spokesman said today will bring over $3 billion in federal funding to create jobs and spur economic growth in Nevada.

Nevada State Controller Kim Wallin has added a weekly stimulus funds report to her website detailing the most current ARRA activity in Nevada.

The summary is intended to compliment the quarterly ARRA reports also provided by the controller’s office summarizing the financial activity as of the end of the quarter and specific information about on-going stimulus projects.

As of June 30, the state had been awarded just under $2.5 billion in stimulus funds, with nearly $2 billion actually received by the state and just under that amount spent, according to the quarterly report.

The report says that during the period from April 1 through June 30, 6,597 jobs were funded by the recovery act. State stabilization funding account­ed for 5,050 jobs within the Nevada System of Higher Education. In addition K-12 Education accounted for 521, transportation accounted for 296, and health and human services accounted for 265 added jobs.

The National Senatorial Republican Committee (NRSC) weighed in today on Nevada’s unemployment rate, saying it is proof that the stimulus program signed into law in February 2009 has failed.

The funding bill has been criticized as well for including spending on questionable projects, such as a tree planting program in Clark County, among others.

“If you’re a monkey with a cocaine addiction or a smoker who needs a cell phone, this stimulus boondoggle has been a great success,” said NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh. “Unfortunately, if you’re a Nevada family struggling to make a mortgage payment, a worker trying to find a job or a young person who will ultimately be responsible for paying back the billions that Harry Reid has borrowed on the government credit card, the stimulus has been a stunning failure.”

Reid spokesman Kelly Steele said the stimulus dollars have prevented “Great Depression” levels of unemployment.

“Our economic times are still extremely tough and recovery certainly won’t happen overnight, but the very last thing Nevadans need is someone like Sharron Angle, who believes it’s not her job to get Nevadans back to work, would shred the safety net that puts food on their tables, and opposes Sen. Reid’s Wall Street reform that would ensure our current housing and foreclosure crisis will never happen again,” Steele said.

ACLU of Nevada Opposed to State Lawmaker Proposal To Make English Official Language

By Sean Whaley | 9:37 am August 21st, 2010

CARSON CITY – A state lawmaker is having a bill drafted for the 2011 legislative session to make English the official language of Nevada, saying his intent is to unify rather than divide the state’s diverse residents.

Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, said he is still researching the issue, but that his bill will be symbolic rather than seek to have any practical effect on the delivery of government services. It is not an English-only bill, but instead a recognition that English is the common language of the state and country, he said.

Stewart introduced a similar bill in the 2009 session but it did not receive a hearing.

“We have many different cultures and many people from different lands but I think that the English language is one thing that should be common to all of us and bring us all together,” he said. “Some people have criticized it as being divisive but that is certainly not my intent. It is to be a unifying thing.”

Many other states across the country have already adopted similar measures so it is not unique to Nevada, Stewart said.

The U.S. English website lists 30 states with “official English” laws.

Oklahoma voters will weigh in on the issue on the November ballot. The measure would go further than what Stewart is proposing in Nevada. It would require all official actions of the state to be in English except as required by federal law.

Despite Stewart’s intent, the ACLU of Nevada opposes such legislation and will oppose Stewart’s measure even if it is symbolic only.

“We think they are generally inconsistent with the free speech protections of the First Amendment,” said Lee Rowland, northern coordinator for the organization. “And perhaps more importantly they may impact or conflict with civil rights laws that require equal access to critical government services regardless of national origin.”

Rowland said such laws can intimidate non-English speakers from seeking government assistance, including police and fire, even if they are symbolic only, she said. These concerns were reflected in comments during a debate about an English-only ordinance in Pahrump, Rowland said.

“Often these laws simply have a kind of scare tactic effect,” she said.

The Pahrump Town Board passed the ordinance in November 2006 but repealed it early the following year.


Audio files:

Assemblyman Lynn Stewart says his official English bill is meant to unite Nevadans:

081710Stewart1 :19 us as one.”

Stewart says the proposal is not intended to be divisive:

081710Stewart2 :08 a unifying thing.”

Stewart says many other states have adopted such laws:

081710Stewart3 :10 Nevada or anything.”

Lee Rowland of ACLU says English-only bills can conflict with federal civil rights laws:

081710Rowland1 :20 of national origin.”

Rowland says such measures cause problems even if they are only symbolic:

081710Rowland2 :21 result for anyone.”

Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley Supports Ground Zero Mosque Construction, Says May Run for Senate In 2012

By Sean Whaley | 10:05 am August 20th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley Thursday defended the right of mosque supporters to build their facility near Ground Zero in New York City, saying she supports religious freedom for all.

“I am supporting the Constitution when it comes to this issue,” Berkley, D-Nev., said. “As long as the zoning is appropriate and as long as the funding mechanism is appropriate; this mosque is being built on private property two blocks away from Ground Zero and I do not think the government ought to be involved in this decision-making process.”

Berkley said she respects the views and concerns of those who were victimized by the 9-11 attacks and who believe the mosque location is inappropriate.

“But what we’re talking about here is Constitutional protections afforded all Americans,” she said.

Berkley, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, also said she is “thinking about” running for U.S. Sen. John Ensign’s seat in 2012 but is focused now on her re-election to District 1 in Southern Nevada. Once the current campaign is over, Berkley said she will give the race more thought.

Asked if she would run if Rep. Dean Heller, R-NV, was the GOP opponent, Berkley said her decision would not be based on who was in the race from the opposition party. The race is likely to draw a number of candidates from both parties, she said.

“Senate seats don’t come up very often, and I suspect there will be a very robust campaign and primary on the Republican side and possibly on the Democratic side as well,” Berkley said.

Ensign is exploring the possibility of running for another term even though he has suffered significant political fallout after admitting in 2009 to an affair with a former staff member. An ethics investigation into how he handled the situation is under way.

Asked about the likelihood of Congress taking up immigration reform, Berkley said the issue needs to be addressed now.

“We should have addressed the immigration issue in this country 20 years ago,” she said. “It is getting worse by the day and if we continue to kick this can down the road it is not getting any better. Congress has got to step up to the plate and do our job.”

Berkley said comprehensive reforms should not include amnesty, but should find a way to address how to deal with the 12 million people residing illegally in the U.S.

In Congress fails to act, the country will see 50 different laws dealing with illegal immigration as states respond to the vacuum created without national reforms, she said. But Berkley said there are adequate laws on the books to deal with border security and illegal immigration. They just need to be enforced, she said.


Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says she supports mosque construction on religious freedom grounds:

081910Berkley1 :23 this decision-making process.”

Berkley says she is thinking about a run for Senate in 2012:

081910Berkley2 :24 side as well.”

Berkley says Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform:

081910Berkley3 :30 are here illegally.”

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Picks Census Bureau Liaison To Serve In Top Administrative Post

By Sean Whaley | 8:12 pm August 18th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford announced today he has selected David Byerman to serve as the secretary of the Senate beginning Aug. 30.

Byerman will replace former secretary Claire Clift, who Horsford asked to step down earlier this year. Horsford said at the time he wanted a change but offered no further explanation for his decision.

The search for a new Senate secretary took two months and considered 200 applicants. The salary was advertised as between $100,000 and $110,000 a year, which is unchanged from the previous secretary.

The secretary of the Senate is elected by the membership of the Senate and serves as the Senate’s chief administrative officer and parliamentarian. Byerman will serve in the position pending formal approval by the Senate in February of 2011.

“I am very confident that David will bring fresh ideas and vision to the office of secretary of the Senate,” said Horsford, D-Las Vegas. “His varied background and wide-ranging experience will serve him well in this challenging position.”

Byerman, 38, currently serves as the chief government liaison for Nevada for the U.S. Census Bureau. In that capacity, he has traveled extensively throughout the state establishing partnerships and promoting participation in the just-concluded 2010 census.

Byerman served as the primary media spokesman for the Census Bureau in Nevada and is widely credited with the success of the statewide campaign.

Byerman earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Redlands, with a double major in political science and history. He earned a master’s of governmental administration degree from the Fels Center of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.

He served as a policy advisor to former Gov. Bob Miller on environmental, transportation and technology issues. He also formerly served as chief of the Program Development Division for the Nevada Department of Transportation, where he managed intergovernmental relations.

Immediately prior to his two-year stint with the Census Bureau, Byerman served as director of communications for MGM MIRAGE, the state’s largest private sector employer.

Byerman is a former president of the Sparks Chamber of Commerce, a former three-term chairman of the State of Nevada’s Advisory Committee on Participatory Democracy, and was appointed by the late Gov. Kenny Guinn to the state of Nevada’s Advisory Committee on Natural Resources.

“I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the people of Nevada as secretary of the Senate,” Byerman said. “As I leave federal employment, I would also like to thank the 6,200 members of our Census 2010 team throughout the state. As Nevadans, we will all be realizing the benefits of a successful census for the next ten years to come.”

Byerman is married to Caroline and they have two children, Amanda, 10, and Will, 8.

Former Employees Still Owed Pay From Well-Connected Las Vegas Gaming Company

By Sean Whaley | 6:41 pm August 18th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Half a dozen former employees of a Las Vegas-based gaming company laid off last year say they are still owed about $500,000 in severance pay and other compensation even as the firm continues to receive financial support from high profile investors, including the brother of President Obama’s chief of staff.

One of the former TableMAX Gaming employees, Tyson Wrensch, said efforts to contact current company officials to resolve the compensation issue have not produced any results so far.

Wrensch said he personally is owed about $65,000 for salary and commissions prior to being let go by the firm in August of 2009. Collectively the group is owed an estimated $500,000.

“I keep getting the runaround and that’s not right,” Wrensch said. “A gaming company in Nevada should not be allowed to operate that way.”

TableMAX President and CEO Ron Altbach said today that the company is in the process of offering settlements to the group of former employees.

“We drew up some ideas yesterday,” he said. “We will be contacting each of the employees to come to a resolution. Nobody will be thrilled but I think they will all be satisfied. That’s where we are right now.”

Altbach would not disclose details of the offers, and several former employees say they will reserve judgment. But the former employees also say that the company and its investors have been nonresponsive for months.

“The company has ignored hard working middle class people who worked to make the company a success,” said former employee Sheri Hanks, who is working a temp job in Texas. “That severance pay would have really helped.”

Hanks said that if the offer involves stock in the company it won’t be satisfactory.

“I don’t want stock in a questionable company,” she said.

In response to Altbach’s comments, Wrensch said: “No one at the company has bothered to reach out to me once since I was laid off but it’s just the same story I’ve been hearing about having something soon. TableMAX owes us all our paychecks and we are through being patient.”

TableMAX makes an electronic table game that offers Progressive Blackjack or Caribbean Stud on a large video screen that up to five people can play at one time. Wrensch said the games he placed in several tribal casinos are still in use.

“TableMAX is continuing to make money and earn money off of machines I placed,” Wrensch said. “So there is some frustration in that I’ve been a nice guy but nothing seems to get done.”

One of the major investors in the company is Hollywood powerbroker Ari Emanuel, brother of Rahm Emanuel, who serves as chief of staff to President Barack Obama. An October 2008 Securities Exchange Commission filing identifies Ari Emanuel, who is the model for the fictional Ari Gold on the HBO series “Entourage” as one of the major stockholders in the company.

The filing also shows that TableMAX has a consulting agreement with Ari Emanuel in exchange for common stock.

The TableMAX games are not offered in Nevada casinos and the company does not have a Nevada gaming license. The company let the former employees go at different times during the second half of 2009 and now maintains only minimal staff.

Wrensch’s comments were supported by other former employees, including former Chief Financial Officer Paul Kimmel, who said he is owed about $89,000 for severance pay, accrued vacation and unreimbursed medical costs.

“The company has pretty much stiffed all of us,” he said.

Wrensch said he spoke with Ari Emanuel regarding his situation in July and was referred to the new management that had taken over the day-to-day operations of the firm in late 2009. Wrensch said his calls were never returned.

Ari Emanuel could not be reached for comment.

Altbach said a former company chief executive officer entered into agreements with the former employees that were overly generous by industry standards. The agreements have caused a lot of confusion for the new management. Investors and company officials are trying to get TableMAX back on track, he said.

“We don’t want to be dishonorable,” Altbach said.

Altbach has his own high profile connections as a songwriter and performing member of the Beach Boys dating back to the late 1970s.

The former employees say they are contemplating a lawsuit to recover what they are owed, although that decision will now await a review of the settlement offers. Nevada labor laws cover only unpaid salary and commissions, not severance or other details of individual employee contracts.

One former employee is already involved individually in litigation over his pay.

Wrensch said he has also filed paperwork with the state Labor Commissioner about his back pay and commissions and is awaiting a response.

The company, which is publicly listed, saw its shares worth about $1 in October 2009, but now the company is valued as a penny stock. The stock is not actively traded and was valued at six cents a share as of June 30.

Even so, Wrensch said the company has significant value in its patented intellectual property. Based on those patents, the company is involved in a patent infringement lawsuit with Shuffle Master, another electronic gaming manufacturing company. Filed in April 2009, the lawsuit alleges infringement of patents protecting proprietary electronic devices and system architecture used in TableMAX multiplayer games.

Wrensch and several other employees have found other jobs, although two of the former employees had to relocate out of state to do so. Others have not been as fortunate.

Kimmel said there have been some recent rumors that TableMAX might try to resolve the compensation issue only by offering former employees equity in the company.

But Kimmel, who is still in Las Vegas, though not employed, said that he needs the money owed to him, not equity of questionable value.

“I’m certainly disappointed,” he said. “I think they should make a reasonable attempt to settle with the former employees, with at least a healthy percentage being cash.”

Wrensch said: “It is disappointing that companies like this exist.”


Audio clips:

Former TableMAX employee Tyson Wrensch says the company is making money but has not responded to former employees regarding their unpaid compensation:

081710Wrensch1 :20 commission on those.”

Wrensch says company executives won’t even return calls:

081710Wrensch2 :24 working on something.”