Posts Tagged ‘Face to Face’

Prevailing Wage, Taxes Focus Of State Senate 18 Debate

By Sean Whaley | 8:27 pm September 25th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Democratic state Senate candidate Kelli Ross said today that she is the “union” candidate in the District 18 race in Las Vegas, while Republican Scott Hammond said he will listen to but not vote in lockstep with labor in the Legislature.

The two candidates in the newly created Senate seat in northwest Las Vegas debated on Jon Ralston’s Face to Face television program. The Senate contest is one of five viewed by both parties as critical to controlling the 21-member house in the 2013 legislative session.

Democrats now have an 11-10 edge in the Senate.

Kelli Ross.

During the debate, Hammond, currently a member of the Assembly, said he would seek to reform Nevada’s prevailing wage law so that public construction projects could be built more cost effectively and generate more jobs. Paying less would stretch public construction dollars further, he said.

He pointed to the Phoenix, Ariz., area, where prevailing wage rates are $14 an hour compared to $42 an hour in Nevada.

“I think we need to reform that, look at putting it back on to something that is the standard market, and I think we’re going to see significant savings there,” Hammond said.

Ross said she would oppose any move to reduce the prevailing wage, a wage set for construction workers hired for state and local government projects. The prevailing wage guarantees a qualified workforce, she said.

“Not only would it not save money it would even hurt the middle class that much more,” Ross said. “When you’re paying a prevailing wage you’re guaranteeing that you’re going to get a job done, get a job done on time and get the job done right.”

State law requires the state Labor Commissioner to survey contractors who have performed construction work during the past year in order to determine the prevailing wage rates. Prevailing wage rates are required to be paid on all Nevada public works construction projects such as schools, libraries, roads and government buildings costing more than $100,000.

Scott Hammond.

Ross acknowledged that most of her endorsements are labor groups, and she said there is not a labor position she is aware of that she would oppose in the Legislature.

“Yeah, I am the union candidate,” she said. “But I’m also the candidate that is there for the people. I am born and raised in Nevada. These people know that I’m going to do what is right for them, and what is going to bring our middle class up to the standards that it should be.”

Hammond said he will listen and try to respond to union concerns.

“But I’m not going to be beholden to the union organizations,” he said.

The debate also delved into the issue of taxes, and Hammond’s support for extending a package of sunsetting taxes supported by GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval in the 2011 session. Hammond said he has not yet decided whether to support extending the sunsets in the next two-year budget as proposed by Sandoval to avoid further cuts to education.

Hammond said the tax extension in 2011 also resulted in the complete elimination of the state business tax for small Nevada employers.

“The reason why I haven’t made up my mind is because I still want to see what the Economic Forum is going to tell us in the next couple of months,” he said.

The forum estimates the tax revenues that will be collected by the state for the next two-year budget.

Ross said she supports the tax extension, but called it just another Band-Aid that does not solve the state’s long term revenue issues.

In a discussion of education concerns, Ross said the current public funding formula shortchanges Clark County at the expense of rural and Northern Nevada. It needs to be changed so Clark County taxpayer money stays in the south, she said.

An interim legislative committee recently endorsed revisions to the public education funding formula to compensate for such issues as poverty and non-English speaking students, factors found more often in Clark County than elsewhere in the state.

Hammond said the formula can be reviewed, but giving parents more choice in where their children attend school, including expanding charter schools, will improve student achievement.

Senate District 18 has a Republican advantage, with 39.9 percent of the voters registered GOP compared to 37.6 percent for Democrats as of the end of August.


Audio clips:

Senate 18 candidate Scott Hammond says Nevada’s prevailing wage law needs to be reformed:

092512Hammond1 :10 significant savings there.”

Senate 18 candidate Kelli Ross says the state’s prevailing wage law helps the middle class:

092512Ross1 :10 job done right.”

Ross says she is the union candidate but also the candidate of the people:

092512Ross2 :13 it should be.”

Hammond said he will listen to but not automatically support labor concerns:

092512Hammond2 :16 the union organizations.”



Debate In State Senate 9 Race Focuses On Democrat Justin Jones’ Actions In Las Vegas Sands Case

By Sean Whaley | 8:38 pm September 24th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A televised debate today between the two candidates for the state Senate seat in district 9 in Las Vegas  - viewed as critical by both major parties – got off to a rocky start for Democrat Justin Jones.

The debate between Jones and Republican candidate Mari Nakashima St. Martin on Jon Ralston’s Face to Face program started with questions posed to Jones, an attorney, in relation to his representation of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. in a wrongful termination case.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has reported that Jones did not correct another Sands attorney who said in a Clark County District Court hearing that no one could view a series of emails outside Macau that were sought in the case. This statement was determined to be inaccurate and the Sands was fined $25,000 for “intention to deceive the court.”

GOP State Senate 9 candidate Mari Nakashima St. Martin.

Asked about the matter, Jones said he could not comment specifically because of attorney-client privilege, but that he has always acted honorably as an attorney in court matters. He is no longer involved in the case.

“The order from Judge (Elizabeth) Gonzalez speaks for itself,” he said. “I hope you have had a chance to look that over. I hope my opponent has also. I’m not mentioned in the order at all. And I think that I’ve acted honorably throughout that case and all of my cases.”

St. Martin is using the issue in her race.

“I think it is absolutely an issue,” she said. “I think that, you know, Justin says that he was willing to do this for a client, but he will probably have those same clients when he goes to Carson City. You know, we’re a citizen Legislature and so, he’s willing to do that in his professional career; how do we know that; you know, if he is willing to walk into a courtroom with the intention to deceive, how do we know he’s not going door-to-door with that same intention to deceive.

“The voters need someone they can trust,” St. Martin said.

Jones said: “I’m proud of my legal career. I’ve done a lot of good work in my career over the last 10 years both as a lawyer but also in the community and I think that shows. I fulfilled my obligations, Jon, and I always have.”

He called the claims “slanderous attacks” and said St. Martin was the focus of personal attacks by her GOP primary opponent and is now using the same tactics.

Democratic State Senate 9 candidate Justin Jones.

Jones said the attacks in St. Martin’s mail pieces are untrue, but St. Martin said the information is taken directly from the judge’s order and columns in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Senate 9 seat is one of five in play in the state Senate, where Democrats now hold an 11-10 edge. Republicans are seeking to win four of the five seats to take control of the Senate for the 2013 legislative session.

The district, open because of the resignation of Sen. Elizabeth Halseth, R-Las Vegas, has a Democratic voter edge of 39.9 percent to 34.3 percent for the GOP as of the end of August. Since then Democrats have been out registering Republicans in Clark County as a whole.

Other issues raised in the debate included a statement by St. Martin that more needs to be done to eliminate waste in state government.

Asked to name instances of waste, St. Martin said she would seek to sunset state agencies every six years or so to force them to justify their existence.

“I think that is a great way to look internally at how we can root out waste, fraud, abuse,” she said. “Why shouldn’t we do an internal audit of our own state government.”

An example of waste is the current cumbersome process of finding who is receiving Medicaid but who also has private insurance, St. Martin said.

Jones said it would cost more money to sunset and eliminate organizations that have lost their purpose than to just leave them in existence and on the books.

Another issue discussed was the foreclosure crisis.

Jones said on his website he will crack down on illegal foreclosure activity.

“I think we’ve made a lot of progress but there’s a long way to go,” he said.

St. Martin said voters want someone they can trust, and that Jones has represented banks as an attorney.


Audio clips:

Senate 9 candidate Justin Jones says he acted honorably in the Sands case:

092412Jones :12 of my cases.”

Candidate Mari St. Martin says the issue raises questions about Jones’ suitability for the job:

092412Martin :23 intention to deceive.”

GOP Candidates For Senate 18 Face Off In Televised Debate Ahead Of June 12 Primary

By Sean Whaley | 7:56 pm May 17th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Two Republican members of the Assembly who both want to move into the Senate in District 18 faced off today in a televised debate that focused primarily on a controversial 2011 tax vote.

Two-term lawmaker Richard McArthur and freshman Scott Hammond emphasized their divergent positions on the tax vote during the match-up on the Face To Face television program.

McArthur emphasized his conservative credentials, noting he was one of the few Republican members of the Assembly who in 2011 voted against a measure to extend a set of expiring taxes into the current budget to balance state spending plan. He received the highest score in the Assembly from the American Conservative Union.

GOP Senate 18 candidate Richard McArthur.

Hammond, who is endorsed by the Senate Republican Caucus, said his vote to extend the sunsets still resulted in 70 percent of Nevada businesses paying less in modified business taxes. The sunset extension eliminated the tax on businesses that reported less than $250,000 annually in annual wages. A recorded statement from 2010 showed Hammond telling an audience that he would not raise taxes, however.

Asked about his vote, Hammond said: “In the 2011 session, what we voted to do was actually to decrease spending by $500 million and over 70 percent of the businesses in the state of Nevada are now paying less in taxes on their MBT (Modified Business Tax) than they were, or were going to. So basically when I took over office people now are spending less in taxes than when I took over.”

But McArthur said the decision to extend the sunsets, based on a Nevada Supreme Court ruling that some said called into question a number of elements of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget that relied on local tax revenues, was overstated. The ruling in the Clean Water Coalition case found that Sandoval could not take $62 million in local revenues to bolster the state budget.

The case created only a small $62 million hole in the budget and did not require the extension of the expiring taxes, McArthur said.

“The budget wasn’t in jeopardy,” he said. “There wasn’t any problem. That was $62 million. That was easily covered.”

Sandoval, a Republican, recently announced his intentions to extend the sunsets another two years to avoid any further cuts to education

The candidates also talked about what they would support to reform public education.

McArthur said the education reforms approved in the 2011 session were minimal.

McArthur said he wants to end social promotion, a practice of advancing students to the next grade regardless of their achievement. Sandoval has made this issue a top priority of his 2013 education reform plan. McArthur also supports vouchers, which would give parents tax revenues to pick a school, including religious-sponsored schools, for their children to attend.

Hammond said he supports more school choice, including an expansion of charter schools. There needs to be more competition, he said.

GOP Senate 18 candidate Scott Hammond.

The Senate 18 district in Clark County, newly created as a result of redistricting due to the 2010 census, has a Republican voter advantage, 40.7 percent to 37.6 percent as of the end of April. It is one Republicans are counting on in their effort to take the majority in the 2013 session. Democrats now have an 11-10 edge in the 21-member Senate.

In the GOP Caucus endorsement of Hammond, Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said: “Assemblyman Hammond is exactly the kind of candidate Nevadans are looking for. He has a thorough understanding of the issues facing our state and is not afraid to tackle the tough issues. He will be a great addition to the Senate.”

Two Democrats, Kelli Ross and Donna Schlemmer, are also running in a primary for the seat.

Hammond teaches government and Spanish for the Clark County School District and political science at UNLV. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife and their three children.

McArthur is a retired FBI agent with 25 years of service. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife of 41 years.


Audio clips:

Assemblyman Scott Hammond says his vote to extend a package of expiring taxes in 2011 did not increase taxes:

051712Hammond1 :19 I took over.”

Assemblyman Richard McArthur says the Supreme Court ruling did not create a budget hole requiring additional taxes:

051712McArthur1 :14 that $62 million.”



CD3 Candidate John Oceguera Side Steps Question Of Support For Federal Health Care Law, Offers No Plan on Key Issues

By Sean Whaley | 9:10 pm May 7th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Assembly Speaker and 3rd Congressional District candidate John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, declined today to say whether he supports the federal health care law now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oceguera, who is termed out of office in the Assembly, said it is premature to comment on the law given the fact that it is awaiting a decision on its constitutionality by the nation’s high court.

CD3 candidate John Oceguera.

“What I say is, if we can make health care more transparent, make insurance companies more transparent, and get the cost of health care down, then I’m for that.”

Oceguera, interviewed on Jon Ralston’s Face To Face television program, repeatedly declined to state a position on the law. Oceguera is challenging Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., in a race that has attracted several other candidates as well.

Heck won the seat in 2010 after defeating then-Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who voted for the health care law. Titus was one of many Democrats in Congress who was defeated after voting for the controversial health care legislation. Titus is now a candidate for congress in the 1st Congressional District.

Heck, a physician, opposes the health care law.

Asked about comments by Mike Willden, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, that Nevada will have to add 150,000 people to the Medicaid program and spend $574 million between now and 2020 if the health care law is upheld, Oceguera offered qualified support for increased access to health care.

Willden made the comments in an interview televised today on Nevada NewsMakers and reported by the Nevada News Bureau.

“I think that if we can make health care more accessible, that is a laudable goal and we ought to do that,” Oceguera said.

A now retired North Las Vegas firefighter, Oceguera said he knows firsthand that for many people, it was dialing 911 that was their option to gain access to medical care.

“I don’t think that is the way it should work,” he said.

Oceguera pushed for a bill in the 2011 legislative session that would have imposed more transparency on rate increases sought by health insurance companies. Assembly Bill 309 passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

In his veto message Sandoval said the goals of the measure were laudable, but that the bill “does more harm than good and seems to impose duplicative regulatory requirements.”

Oceguera took the opportunity during the interview to criticize Heck for what he said were comments that minimized Nevada’s foreclosure crisis in 2008 by calling it a blip on the radar and for not being proactive in dealing with the problem.

A House committee held a hearing on the crisis in Las Vegas in March at Heck’s request.

Oceguera said job creation is the key to the foreclosure crisis.

“You fix this economy, you get it back on track, you balance the budget the right way,” he said. “That helps put people back to work. If they’ve got a job they can make their house payment.”

But Oceguera offered few specifics on how to end the foreclosure crisis or protect Medicare. He also declined to take a position on the federal stimulus bill.

Oceguera also responded to questions about a column written by Las Vegas Review-Journal Glenn Cook last month calling him a “world class hypocrite” for championing the middle class after retiring at age 43 to collect a lifetime public pension.

Oceguera said he was fortunate to be a firefighter and that he “did it by the book.”

The election is about priorities and getting the economy back on track, he said.


Audio clips:

Congressional candidate John Oceguera says he is for more transparency to get the cost of health care down:

050712Oceguera1 :08 I’m for that.”

Oceguera says getting people back to work is key to solving the foreclosure crisis:

050712Oceguera3 :14 their house payment.”

Likely GOP Presidential Candidate Tim Pawlenty Talks About Gaming And Yucca Mountain In Vegas Visit

By Sean Whaley | 8:48 pm April 19th, 2011

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican who is evaluating a run for president in 2012, said today he would be willing to reconsider whether Yucca Mountain is a suitable site for the long-term disposal of nuclear waste.

Pawlenty, in Las Vegas to meet with local Republicans, also said gambling has a “corrosive” effect on some people’s lives, but that legalized gaming is a local issue that should not be under the control of the president or federal government.

Pawlenty was interviewed on Jon Ralston’s Face to Face television program.

Nevada is an early caucus state for the Republican presidential primary next year. Former GOP Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is considering a run as well, won the Nevada caucus in 2008.

Asked about Yucca Mountain, Pawlenty acknowledged a comment in 2002 that he wanted Yucca Mountain to open as a nuclear repository to handle waste from Minnesota. But circumstances have changed since then, including the question of seismic activity around the Nevada site 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. There is also a question about groundwater flows at the site, he said.

“We need to have a safe, permanent facility to house our nuclear waste in this country or somewhere else,” Pawlenty said. “It appeared in 2002 that that would probably be Yucca Mountain, but some things have changed since then. And I continue to believe we need to solve the problem and have a repository for our waste.

“I think in the wake of Japan, all I’m saying is we should step back and make sure we have this properly calibrated,” he said. “But we need to have a federal repository. Now whether that is Yucca Mountain or not I’m willing to review.”

Ralston also asked about Pawlenty’s criticism of gambling in 2003, which the former two-term governor said destroys people’s lives. Ralston noted that Pawlenty was holding events on the Las Vegas Strip during his visit.

“Clearly gambling has a corrosive effect on some people’s lives, clearly it does, you can’t deny that, I mean of course it does,” Pawlenty said. “But this isn’t a matter for the president or the federal government to decide. Each state, each locality can decide, based on its history, its economy, its people, its priorities, what’s best for them.”

Pawlenty said he has “enjoyed a game” of blackjack, three card poker and slots in his life but that for some people gambling is a serious problem.

“But this is not for the federal government to decide,” he said. “And what is right for Nevada may be different than what is right for Minnesota or what is right for Iowa.”

Pawlenty also talked about the need for “common sense, reasonable” reforms to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as a way to get a handle on the federal government’s growing deficit.

For social security, there needs to be an increase in the retirement age for new participants in the program, and cost-of-living adjustments need to be based on need and not awarded automatically to all recipients, he said.

“Those two things are examples of common sense, reasonable, constructive solutions to real problems that I think we can get the country to support if we will lead,” Pawlenty said.

Audio clips:

GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty says Yucca Mountain may not be the best choice for a nuclear waste repository:

041911Pawlenty1 :16 for our waste.”

Pawlenty says he is willing to review whether Yucca Mountain is suitable:

041911Pawlenty2 :11 willing to review.”

Pawlenty says gambling has a corrosive impact on some people’s lives but that it is a local, not federal, decision:

041911Pawlenty3 :17 best for them.”

Pawlenty says the country’s entitlement programs need common sense reforms:

041911Pawlenty4 :08 if we’ll lead.”

Sen. Harry Reid Talks Tough On Deficit

By Andrew Doughman | 7:50 pm January 18th, 2011

Driving down debt and reining in federal spending might not be two things people normally associate with Sen. Harry Reid, but that’s what he spent most of this time addressing on television tonight.

“We cannot sustain the spending of this country,” the Democrat said. “We cannot wind up being a Greece or an Ireland and default on our debt.”

Reid spoke on journalist Jon Ralston’s Face to Face television program, where he highlighted the budget surplus he helped create under the Clinton administration. He also downplayed a 2006 vote against raising the debt ceiling under the Bush administration.

Congress will first have to vote whether or not to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, a measure that used to spark no controversy. A rejection to raise the debt ceiling could endanger the country’s ability to borrow money, and could even cause it to default.

Reid said that Congress would first have to vote to lift the debt ceiling above its current $14.3 trillion limit before it embarks on any serious debt reduction.

He said, however, the he is optimistic that Republicans and Democrats can agree on how to drive down the debt.

Reid’s television appearance marked the end of a busy day in Nevada for the Senator. He used the visit to announce his priorities for the new session of Congress.

As reported in the Las Vegas Sun, Reid listed creating clean energy jobs, improving Nevada’s education system, modernizing transportation infrastructure and investing in small businesses among his priorities.

Earlier in the day, he toured a Las Vegas solar panel manufacturing plant and spoke about green jobs and renewable energy.

“We’re going to be able to be energy independent within the immediate future,” he said.

Reid noted that Nevada will be well-poised to export its renewable energy by 2020, when California has established it must supply one-third of its power from renewable energy sources.

Reid also said that he hopes Congress will tackle comprehensive immigration reform and make modifications to the health care law.

“The (health care) bill we passed is not perfect,” he said. “We have a lot of things we can do to help make it better.”

He recommended removing some of the reporting obligations the new law mandated for small businesses, which he said were too burdensome.

On the education front, Reid implored Gov. Brian Sandoval to “step back from election statements” and make tough choices and fund education properly.

Titus, Heck Spar Over Attack Ads, Stimulus Bill In Debate

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 9:12 am October 21st, 2010

(Updated at 11:45 a.m. on Oct. 21, 2010, to include Gov. Gibbons comments.)

Questionable attack ads and the role of the federal government in job creation were the top issues in an energized debate Wednesday between Rep. Dina Titus and Republican challenger Joe Heck in one of the most closely watched house races of the Nov. 2 general election.

Titus, D-Nev., was questioned about an ad criticizing Heck, a physician, for failing to support an insurance company mandate to cover a cervical cancer vaccine while serving in the Nevada state Senate. The ad says Heck is, “dangerous to women.”

Titus said she stands by the ad, which came about after Heck opposed a bill requiring insurance companies to provide the vaccine. Heck opposed the coverage as another costly insurance company mandate that would increase the cost of health care.

Heck said also there were concerns about the new vaccine and potential side effects and noted that Titus received a campaign contribution from a group supported partly by the CEO of the company that makes the vaccine after her favorable vote.

Heck was challenged about an ad suggesting that Titus, who supported the health care reform law in her freshman term in the House, voted to provide taxpayer funded Viagra to convicted sex offenders.

Heck said, under the bill, rapists can get the drug and Titus voted for the bill.

In the debate on the  Face To Face television program, host Jon Ralston said the ad is inaccurate and has been denounced as a distortion of reality. He urged both candidates to denounce the two ads.

Both candidates in the 3rd Congressional District race refused to budge from their defense of the ads, which are being run by third party groups and not the candidates themselves.

In the discussion of the ads, Titus also said the group paying for the Heck attack ad is clearly identified but the company running the ad against her on the health care bill, the American Action Network, does not have to disclose its donors.

Titus said the house has passed the Disclose Act to identify such donors and she said Heck opposes the measure.

“As his running mate likes to say, ‘man up’, sign up, put your name on something that you want to say,” she said.

Heck responded that he has had no discussions and taken no position on the Disclose Act.

“The only thing that has been true in the Congresswoman’s commercials are the phrase when she says, ‘I’m Dina Titus and I approve this message’.”

The Heck-Titus race is viewed as key as to which party will control the House of Representatives after the Nov. 2 election. Polls show the race is close.

Titus and Heck, who were colleagues in the Nevada state Senate, also sparred over the stimulus bill approved by Congress in February 2009.

Heck said the economy has gotten worse since the bill was passed, while Titus said the economy would be much worse off without the jobs provided by the $787 billion spending measure.

Titus said the bill has created jobs in Nevada, adding that a staff member with ”your own governor from Nevada,” identified 2,000 teaching jobs that have been saved in Clark County. Titus also criticized Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons and his administration for the slow pace of much of the stimulus spending.

Ralston later replied, “he’s not just my governor, either, by the way, he’s your governor too.”

Titus lost to Gibbons in her bid for governor in 2006.

Gibbons said today in response:  “Again Dina Titus does not know what she is talking about. The stimulus funds awarded to Nevada were spent and are being spent as expeditiously as possible in order to create as many new jobs as possible.

“Dina Titus should be embarrassed that her influence garnered Nevada the distinction of being the state that was awarded the lowest amount of stimulus funds per capita,” he said. “She has done nothing to help Nevada families.”

Heck said his role as a member of Congress would be to craft policy to allow the private sector to create jobs. Heck said President Obama made the same point in September.

Heck said reasonable regulations are appropriate, but some regulations, including those in the new health care law, will burden small business.

Titus said her job as a member of Congress is to create jobs given the terrible state of the economy. Tax breaks, for small businesses in the stimulus bill, for hiring returning veterans and the unemployed, are ways Congress can help create jobs, she said.

Challengers To Nevada Attorney General Claim Politics In Her Term, Incumbent Says She Makes Decisions On Legal Merits

By Sean Whaley | 9:09 pm October 19th, 2010

A debate today among the three candidates for Nevada attorney general focused on a disputed ad discussing a decades old criminal conviction of the Republican seeking the post and allegations of political favoritism by the incumbent, Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto.

An ad being run by Masto about Republican Travis Barrick citing his arrest and jail sentence for “harassing women” was the first topic of conversation for the three candidates appearing on Jon Ralston’s Face To Face television program.

Barrick said the criminal trespassing conviction, which happened two decades ago, was the result of his protesting a California clinic that was performing illegal late-term abortions.

Barrick said he would not back down from his actions, which he said came about because the “rule of law” was being ignored in California by the attorney general and other law enforcement officials.

“It’s a badge of honor for me,” he said.

Masto said Nevada voters deserve to know that Barrick, who is running for the top law enforcement position in the state, has a criminal record and served jail time.

Masto said she has principles and values she upholds every day without violating the law.

“You don’t get to make a decision on who you are going to protect and who you are not going to protect,” she said.

Joel Hansen, the Independent American Party candidate for the position, said Masto’s views on Barrick’s actions contradict her actions when she failed to follow Nevada law by filing a lawsuit against the federal health care reform law when asked to do so by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

“I think it is pretty hypocritical of General Masto to criticize Mr. Barrick when she committed a misdemeanor when she refused to sue on Obamacare after she’d been ordered to do so by the governor,” he said. “The Nevada statute says that she has to file suit if the governor tells her to and it is a misdemeanor if she doesn’t.”

Masto said that as attorney general, she has to evaluate whether to file legal actions, even if requested by the governor as her client. Masto said she evaluates whether to take action on a case based on merit, not politics.

“You have a professional responsibility based on the license as the attorney,” she said. “I’m the attorney in this particular instance. I was elected independently from the governor. You look at the legal merits, that’s what the attorney general does.”

Barrick said:  “The arrogance of her statement to say that that lawsuit has no merit is breathtaking.”

Hansen said he has filed a private class action lawsuit against the healthcare law that identifies numerous violations of the U.S. Constitution.

“It is not frivolous,” he said. “There is nothing frivolous about this. The only thing frivolous is her statement that it is frivolous.”

A federal judge in Florida ruled last week that the lawsuit against the healthcare law filed by 20 states, including Nevada, could proceed.

The debate also touched on Masto’s failed prosecution of Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki for allegedly misusing college savings funds while serving as state Treasurer.

Hansen said the prosecution had the appearance of being politically motivated.

Masto denied any political motivation for the prosecution, which was dismissed by a Clark County district judge late last year.

Audio clips:

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto says voters deserve to know about her opponent’s criminal record:

101910Masto :10 next attorney general.”

GOP Attorney General candidate Travis Barrick says he served his time for trespassing and moved on:

101910Barrick :05 with my life.”

IAP Attorney General candidate Joel Hansen says Masto’s ad against Barrick is hypocritical:

101910Hansen :24 if she doesn’t.”

Nevada State Treasurer, Opponent, Trade Jabs In Televised Debate

By Sean Whaley | 8:44 pm October 11th, 2010

Republican state treasurer candidate Steve Martin faced off against Democratic incumbent Kate Marshall in a debate Monday, with Martin continuing to criticize his opponent for failing to fully disclose details of a $50 million failed 2008 investment.

Marshall countered that she fully disclosed the loss with the September 2008 bankruptcy filing by Lehman Brothers and rejected any suggestion by Martin that she should have been aware of the impending failure of the firm that cost states and local governments $3 billion nationwide.

Martin took the opportunity during the debate on Jon Ralston’s Face To Face television program to correct the suggestion that he had lost money for his private clients with the Lehman Brothers collapse, a claim made by Marshall and her staff.

Martin said he was not providing investment advice at the time and so could not have lost his clients any money.

Marshall emphasized her leadership in her first term as treasurer and rejected Martin’s criticisms that she misled the Legislature about the financial status of the Millennium Scholarship program or mismanaged the office’s unclaimed property fund.

An audit of the unclaimed property fund did identify areas that needed to be fixed, but she said: “I think the first paragraph of the audit says it all, it says that our office has done a phenomenal job.”

Martin, a certified public accountant, also said he is better qualified to serve as treasurer given his financial background versus Marshall, who is an attorney.

Martin again emphasized the $50 million Lehman loss and the failure of Marshall to be up front about it.

“If they say they have transparency in the office, why did the report that was filed in 2009 make no mention of Lehman Brothers,” he asked. “Why in June of 2010 did the treasurer request an attorney general’s opinion that said we couldn’t talk about this at the Board of Finance meeting.”

Martin also asked why the next Board of Finance meeting was delayed until after the Nov. 2 general election.

Marshall countered by saying she disclosed the Lehman loss the day after the company filed for bankruptcy. The loss to the state may now be less than $50 million because Lehman Brothers is now profitable, she said.

“First off I think it is dishonorable to say that I should have known when my opponent admits his own clients lost money on Lehman’s, so I find that a disingenuous statement,” she said.

Martin said Marshall’s comment is in error.

“Well let’s correct the record right now,” he said. “None of my clients lost money in the stock market. Absolutely none. That is twice your office has accused me of having said that. It is absolutely incorrect.”

Audio clips:

GOP treasurer candidate Steve Martin says Marshall has not been open about the Lehman loss:

101110Martin1 :16 of Finance meeting.”

Marshall says Martin should not criticize her office on Lehman because  his clients lost money:

101110Marshall1 :10 a disingenuous statement.”

Martin says Marshall’s claim he lost his clients money is false:

101110Martin2 :17 is absolutely incorrect.”

Marshall says audit on unclaimed property says her office has done a great job:

101110Marshall2 :05 a phenomenal job.”

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio to Announce Endorsement In U.S. Senate Race This Week

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 7:56 pm October 6th, 2010

CARSON CITY – State Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio said today he will make an endorsement in the neck-and-neck U.S. Senate race within the next few days.

Raggio, R-Reno, the longest serving state lawmaker in Nevada history, told Jon Ralston on the Face To Face television program that there appears to be some interest in his endorsement in the race between Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and GOP rival Sharron Angle.

Polls show the contest as a dead heat between the two candidates.

Raggio, who served as majority leader in the state Senate from 1993 to 2007, was challenged by Angle in his 2008 re-election bid. He won the primary by just over 500 votes.

“I’m not prepared on your program tonight to tell you who I’m going to support in this race between Reid and Angle,” he said.

Raggio said this political season, “has been the most hateful in my memory.”

“But I will announce my support in the next day or so,” he said. “I still have some issues. I think both of these candidates have problems. There are issues in their campaigns that are disturbing.”

On the subject of the upcoming budget debate in the 2011 legislative session, Raggio said his task will be to first determine what essential services must be funded, then determine the gap between those services and anticipated tax revenues. Essential services include education, health and human services and public safety, he said.

Raggio said he expects the shortfall to be about $3 billion if a sunset on a package of tax increases approved by the 2009 Legislature to balance the current budget is not removed.

Both major party candidates for governor have rejected the call for tax increases to balance the state budget.

Raggio said he does not know how the budget can be balanced otherwise.

“I don’t know where they are going to get the money to fund these kind of essential services,” he said.

Audio clip:

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio declines today to endorse in Reid-Angle race:

100610Raggio :10 Reid and Angle”

Business Group Sees Tax Hike On Horizon, Opposes Idea Of Major Overhaul Of Nevada Revenue Structure

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 11:04 am September 28th, 2010

CARSON CITY – The head of Nevada’s Retail Association says a tax increase will likely be needed to balance the state budget next year, and expanding the sales tax to include at least some services is one place to look.

But Mary Lau, president and chief executive officer of the Retail Association of Nevada, said it is not the time for Nevada policymakers to look at a major revamping of the state’s tax structure.

“To try to switch an entire tax system, I will agree with the people that were polled, it is not the time to do an entire tax restructuring or anything else because guess what, the other states that have those other programs are equally in trouble,” she said.

Lau made her comments during an interview Monday with Jon Ralston on the Face To Face television program. She was interviewed following the Retail Association’s release of a poll conducted on behalf of the group looking at Nevada political races and the public’s views on issues including whether taxes should be increased.

The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies pollster Glen Bolger.

The poll shows that only 1 percent of those interviewed support a tax increase on small business, 5 percent support a tax increase on large businesses, 11 percent on casinos, 5 percent on mining companies, 12 percent on the rich and 1 percent on the middle class. Seventeen percent said taxes should be raised on everyone.

Support for raising taxes on everyone was lower than in previous polls however.

Lau said the change is a reflection of the current economy.

“A reflection of we don’t have a job, we don’t have any money therefore how are we going to pay,” she said.

Lau said a tax increase, even if it is only the continuation of a package of revenues hiked by the Legislature in 2009 and scheduled to sunset on June 30, 2011, is likely. The state budget cannot be balanced without a tax increase, she said.

There are areas the state hasn’t taxed, such as services, Lau said. An examination of tax abatements and exclusions the Legislature has put in place over the years is also needed, she said.

Both major party candidates for governor have rejected the idea of tax increases to balance the state budget, although many legislative leaders have said new revenues will likely be necessary.

Lau agreed that a discussion of taxes won’t come until after the Legislature first looks at reforms and efficiencies in state spending.

Audio clips:

Retail Association Chief Mary Lau says now is not the time to revamp Nevada’s tax structure:

092810Lau1 :12 equally in trouble.”

Lau says the economy has dampened public support for a tax increase:

092810Lau2 :11 to sound bites.”

Lau says taxing services and eliminating exemptions is one place for Legislature to look for new revenue:

092810Lau3 :05 of the services.”

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.”

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.”

My Three Cents on Sharron Angle’s Face to Face Interview

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:54 pm June 30th, 2010

If you have not yet seen last night’s must-see Sharron Angle interview with Jon Ralston, here it is.

Although she has been widely criticized for running from the media since her nomination, Angle deserves credit for sitting down with the best, toughest political interviewer in the state.  Having been in the Face to Face hot seat before, she had to know Ralston would not go easy on her (he didn’t).  Angle’s willingness to stroll over those coals ought to dispel any notions that she is afraid to show up and engage.

And kudos to Face to Face for booking her when no one else could.  And for doing such a great job with all the before/after quotes and clips with which to confront and question her.

On the issues:

Social Security — There is no doubt that Angle has morphed her rhetoric on this one.  She’s moved from talk of elimination to reform and “personalization.”  And if she had a dollar for every time she’s talked about protecting the existing funds of our nation’s seniors in a “lock box” over the past few weeks, she could personally fund the entire program.  She is now saying she is for giving people a choice, Rand Paul style, between the existing entitlement plan and some privatized/personalized version.

But her position on this really doesn’t matter because as Ralston rightly pointed out, Social Security as a program is going to be fine until roughly 2037 which means it will be eleven months into 2036 before Congress admits there is a problem and does anything about it.

I do give Angle some credit, though, for working into her remarks what I think were some fairly effective comments about Harry Reid/D.C.’s idea of fixing things, which is to raise taxes, print more money or go deeper into debt.  That kind of talk appeals not only to conservatives but to independent voters of a certain kind.

Jobs and Unemployment Benefits – Angle did a very nice little dance step when asked about prior comments that it was not her (or any Senator’s) job to create jobs.  She did so by way of saying it is the role of a Senator to “create a climate conducive to creating jobs.”  Sounds like a line straight out of the Professional D.C. Campaign Consultant’s Playbook.

But she did not move as gracefully when challenged on past remarks about the extension of unemployment benefits and a “spoiled citizenry.”  Angle tried to say she wasn’t really talking about people themselves, but about a system that does not dole out money and manage incentives the way it should.  “What has happened is the system of entitlement has caused us to have a spoilage with our ability to go out and get a job,” she said.

It sounded pretty thin, but she had to try to mitigate because it’s just not a wise to call unemployed and hurting people “spoiled,” especially when their numbers represent roughly 14% of the people who could vote for you.

I think Angle’s insistence that the state ought to stop paying unemployment benefits because “there are jobs that do exist” will not be taken well by folks (and their friends and families) who fill out umpteen applications a week and show up at every Job Fair and still can’t find work.  Not sure why you’d keep insisting there are jobs out there when comparative to the population that is out of work, there really are not.

Incentives for Small Businesses — I’m guessing Angle did not really mean to praise a bill for which Harry Reid will get credit if passed, but that is just what she did when Ralston asked her if she supported the tax incentives for small business that are moving through the Senate this week.  And you can bet it’ll show up in a Team Reid ad.

“People are really looking to those second amendment remedies” – This is another past Angle-ism that is tricky to walk back, though she gave it a try by admitting the comment was “a little strong,” explaining that what she really meant is that people are “afraid of their government” and then whipping out that trusty old stand-by, the out-of-context defense.  I thought Ralston did a great job of confronting her with her statement and trying to get a straight answer as to whether she really thinks taking up arms against Washington D.C. is a viable option.

Perhaps Angle and certain other Tea Party candidates will one day figure out that dropping broad hints about storming the halls of Congress with sawed off shotguns is not the way to win hearts and minds.  Or general elections.

Separation of Church and State – The upshot, despite some analysis that sees her position on this as fairly radical, is that Angle holds the same position as most of the Christian Right as well as many non-Christians who are not hostile to some expressions of faith and religion in the public square and the schools.

Her contention is that while the U.S. Constitution says there shall be no establishment of state religion, it does not in fact include the words “separation of church and state” and that we, at times, go too far in trying to keep the two totally separate.  Especially when talking about the rights of parents to educate their children (at no additional cost) in religious rather than secular schools if they see fit to do so.

Abortion – Angle is a purist.  No abortions for any reason, including incest and rape.  It’s actually the most consistent pro-life position one can hold, but it raises the ire of many and does not appeal to most moderates of either party.  I think it’s a problem for her, electorally, but this is one issue on which she has apparently not adjusted her views.  (I found it interesting that Ralston asked her about capital punishment as a follow-up.  She made a distinction between protecting “innocent life” and the criminal, which one takes to mean she is ok with the death penalty in some cases.)

Overall, I thought she did fairly well, although she smiled, laughed and nodded agreeably a bit too much.  As candidates not accustomed to running for the U.S. Senate may tend to do when they are nervous and being grilled under a spotlight in front of the entire state.

Hopefully we’ll see another of these interviews soon, as well as a debate between her and Reid.

U.S. Senate Debate: The Winner Will Not Win

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:13 pm May 19th, 2010

Part one of the five-candidate US Senate debate on Face to Face is here for your viewing pleasure.  Part two airs (and will be posted) tonight.

Here’s the Sun’s write-up.

And a reminder to Sue Lowden (and voters) from Steve Sebelius re: what she said about “not backing off that system,” which she yesterday denied ever saying.  Sebelius has the vid from her comments on Nevada Newsmakers just in case you have not already seen it in/on any the eight thousand ads/websites in which its been featured.

And here’s some of what Ralston said about the debate (specifically, about Chachas) in his column today:

He was clearly the most senatorial of the GOP debaters Tuesday. And he has the least chance of any of them to win. (Yes, even less than Christensen.)

The fault does not lie with voters who don’t recognize his superiority or a media that have given him short shrift. The fault lies with Chachas himself, who through a remarkable combination of arrogance and naivete has run one of the worst campaigns it has been my horror to watch. For a guy I have described as being so smart, he sure has had a dumb strategy. If, that is, you can call moving back too late, going on TV too late and spending too little and being too nice — well, there is no other way to put it — any kind of strategy at all.

Yep.  Amazing:  Both how smart and quick the never-scripted Chachas really is, and why that smartness will not translate into a win on June 8.

I said to myself, months ago, that Chachas was potentially the most dangerous (to Reid) candidate in the field.  The first few times I saw him in action, I was impressed by his grasp of the issues and ability to articulate his positions in a way that was undeniably compelling.  He was quick off-the-cuff, unflappable and had a sharp sense of humor.  He just seemed, as Ralston said last night, Senatorial.

(Yes, there was the whole been-living-in-NYC-for-two-decades thing, but I always thought that could be overcome.  Chachas was the only candidate born and raised in Nevada; all he needed to do was say so, talk about his roots and his love for the West, and then move on to issues.  I really think a sizable portion of the base would have been glad to have such a smart guy on the stump and would not have cared that he still had an address in Manhattan.)

And Chachas hired, in Ryan Erwin, one one of the best general consultants in the state.

(I still remember seeing the two of them walk into a crowded room the October night they officially teamed up.  Wow, I thought.  Game changer, I thought.  I even ended my Tweet about it with the hashtag #ruhroh.)

But ruh-roh never happened.  Even though there was money to spend.

Nevada waited for the TV ads.  Waited for the radio spots.  Waited for Chachas to say what needed to be said and start playing hardball.  Waited for him to get a clue (and get serious) after many in the grassroots declared him the clear winner of the Actions is Brewing forum on April 23.

I’d say we’re still waiting, but it’s all over now.