Posts Tagged ‘Jim Gibbons’

Rep. Berkley Announces Plan To Permanently End Federal Travel Ban To Las Vegas, Sen. Heller Joins Effort

By Sean Whaley | 3:31 pm April 25th, 2012

CARSON CITY Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., today said she will introduce legislation to permanently end a Bush era ban on cities -  including Las Vegas and Reno – from hosting federal agency and executive branch conferences and conventions.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said he will join Berkley in the effort.

A similar effort in 2009 by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., did not pass.

Heller and Berkley are both seeking the same U.S. Senate seat, filled by Heller in 2011 when he was appointed to the post by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

The announcement by the two Nevada members of Congress comes as the fallout continues from a now infamous conference held by the General Services Administration (GSA) in Henderson in 2010.

In remarks on the floor, Berkley said some GOP members of Congress are seeking to attack Nevada’s tourism industry because of the abuses reported regarding the GSA conference.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

“These Republicans are trying to bring back the last administration’s so-called ‘blacklist’ of resort cities like Las Vegas and Reno – prohibiting federal agencies from traveling to hold conferences and seminars,” she said. “This policy has damaged the reputation of my state, hurt our economy and killed jobs.”

Berkley said the blacklist has been lifted by the Obama Administration, but that it is time to make such a policy permanent.

“Las Vegas wasn’t the problem, the irresponsible behavior of the GSA was,” she said. “And that’s why I am going to introduce legislation to prohibit the blacklisting of any city in America.”

Later in the day Heller said he would join in the effort.

“Despite our differing views on the bailouts for Wall Street and Detroit, Obamacare, and stimulus spending that has left many Nevadans out of work, I am pleased to join Congresswoman Berkley in the effort to end the blacklist process by the federal government,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

“Nevada offers the best hospitality and convention services in the world, and Las Vegas, Henderson, Lake Tahoe, and Reno have long been favorite destinations for millions of visitors,” Heller said.  “I have always taken pride in the Nevada delegation working together on Nevada issues, and plan to introduce legislation in the near future.”

While Berkley praised President Obama for ending the federal travel blacklist, she did not bring up his controversial remarks made in 2009 when he told companies receiving federal bailout money that they should not “take a trip to Las Vegas” on the taxpayer’s dime.

Then-Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, among others, criticized Obama’s remarks, saying they helped stall the state’s economic recovery.

Obama later compounded the controversy when he remarked that responsible people don’t “blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.”

Nevada is one of several “battleground” states where the 2012 presidential election is expected to be played out in November.

Several congressional committees have held hearings into the GSA conference, which resulted in the resignation of GSA chief Martha Johnson after she dismissed two deputies and suspended other career employees over the incident.

The $823,000 conference was held at the M Resort and Casino, and included a clown and a mind reader. It was the subject of a critical report by the GSA Office of Inspector General.


“Legendary Conservative Leaders” Endorse Gibbons in Final Hours

By Elizabeth Crum | 5:48 am June 8th, 2010

Team Gibbons, in what will presumably be the last day of their earnest but sad little campaign, this morning listed their two recent Tea Party group endorsements – Action is Brewing and Grassroots Nevada – and announced that the governor is also now endorsed by former U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich and former state Senator Bob Beers.

The press release calls the two former elected officials “legendary Conservative leaders of Nevada.”

Both Beers and Vucanovich are well-respected in their circles, but calling them “legendary” is a bit of a stretch.

Governor Gibbons, on the other hand, is famous throughout the land and tonight – barring a miracle – will become even famouser as the first sitting governor in state history to lose a primary election.

It’s nice of these two old friends to stand by his side here at the end.  So many others, seeing the dark clouds rolling in, long since departed for other sunny, Sandy beaches of promise.

Sandoval Up Over Gibbons 47-33, Female and Non-Tea Party Voters Are Deciding Factor

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:20 am June 5th, 2010

As Flashed by Ralston early last night and posted by the RJ sometime this morning, Gibbons has gained a bit but is still 14 points behind Sandoval in the gubernatorial race.

The Mason-Dixon Polling & Research poll shows Montandon (still) at just 6%.  I guess Mayor Mike will soon have to start thinking about What’s Next.  If it helps him feel any better, I do think he is an “electable conservative.”  He might want to consider aiming a little lower than the state’s highest executive office, though.

The poll says the Undecideds are at 12%.

It’s notable that among Republican men, Gibbons and Sandoval are tied at 41%, but the GOP female voters break strongly for Sandoval:  54% prefer him while Gibbons’ is liked by just 24%.

While many women do enjoy watching a good soap opera, I guess Governor Gibbons gave them a little Too Much drama.

Also, among GOP voters who do not self-ID as Tea Party members, Gibbons is liked by only 31% while Sandoval earns 49%.

I find it interesting that only 18% of the Republicans polled ID’d themselves as “members” of the Tea Party while 82% said they are not members.  But then 64% said they “support the agenda” of the Tea Party movement.  These folks are casually rooting for the Tea Party from the comfort of their couches, I guess?

Anyhow, in a general election match-up against Rory Reid, 51% percent went with Sandoval (compared to 37% for the Senate Majority Leader’s son).

It should be noted that 14 points is not an unbridgeable gap (except, of course, if it’s the week before the election) especially when you have $2.6 million cash on hand and the state Dem Machine warming up in the engine room, as Rory does.

Having said that, it looks like Brian Sandoval will probably be our next governor.  But I’ll be interested to see how many points the Dems can shave off his lead, and how they go about it, between now and November.

Team Gibbons: Let’s Stop the Drama Now! (His, I Mean…)

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:16 am June 3rd, 2010

Too funny.  Perpetual Drama King Governor Jim Gibbons is calling for an end to the drama.  Obama’s drama, that is. (He’s a poet now, too, I guess.)

Here’s the release:

Let’s Stop the “Obama Drama” Now!

June 3, 2010

Dear Nevada Voters,

Hello, this is your Governor, Jim Gibbons.

The “Obama Drama” in Nevada has started, and we have all heard “Spend-it-all” LIE about his liberal “Tax-us-all” agenda.

“Whinin’ Brian” is saying anything, and doing everything to cover up the “Spend-it-all” Seven Year Tax Hike he rammed down our throats, just like Obama did with the Reid/Obama/Pelosi Nationalized Health Care fiasco.

“Spend-it-all” Sued Nevada Voters to Raise Our Taxes, and we are still paying his tax hikes today!

Join me, Governor Jim Gibbons, to stop “Spend-it-all”, Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and the rest of the Liberal Progressives.

Get a friend and get to the polls. Your future and the future of Nevada depend on it.

I ASK FOR YOUR VOTE. Let’s protect our way of life, protect our Constitution and stand by our true conservative values.

God bless you, and let’s get to work.

Warmest Regards,

Jim Gibbons

I love campaign season.  Really.

But I’m confused.  Is Brian Sandoval “Whinin’ Brian” (so much for being a poet) or “Spend-it-all”?

In this release, “Spend-it-all” is a modifier for “Seven Year Tax Hike” in one sentence but a nickname for Sandoval in the next.

And it’s not very clever in either case.

Is it June 8 yet?

Gibbons Round-Up

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:01 pm March 17th, 2010

A quick trifecta of items about the governor:

In which he formed an education task force headed by Elaine Wynn and Dan Klaich.

In which he explains his executive order (and veto) re: furloughs.

In which he writes a letter to Shelley Berkley saying leave health care to the state.

Nevada November Taxable Sales Down Double Digits But Improve Over Prior Months

By Sean Whaley | 12:59 pm January 26th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s taxable sales fell by 10.9 percent in November 2009 over the same month in 2008, making it the 13th month of double-digit declines in economic activity in the state. The $3 billion in goods sold in Nevada in November brought the fiscal year to date taxable sales decline to 18.1 percent.

In what might be a sign of improvement, the decline was lower than the 17.8 percent decline in October, and a 17.7 percent decline in September, according to the release by the Nevada Department of Taxation.

Gov. Jim Gibbons said: “The release of taxable sales and revenue collection data for the month of November indicates that, although revenues continue to decline in light of the sustained weakness in the housing and job markets, the pace has slowed.  The administration continues to search for ways to save money, reduce spending, and promote efficiencies in government.”

All major taxable sales categories except clothing and accessories stores, up 2.7 percent, were down in November 2009 compared to November 2008. But some of the declines were more modest than in previous months. Home furniture and furnishings were off by 1.4 percent, while general merchandise stores were off by 1.5 percent.

The largest categories continue to show a state economy that is in a protracted slowdown, however.  Motor vehicle and parts dealers were down 9.3 percent, bars and restaurants were down 10 percent, the construction industry classification was off by 44.6 percent and merchant wholesalers-durable goods were off 30.2 percent.

Thirteen of Nevada’s 17 counties recorded a decrease in taxable sales for November 2009 compared to November 2008. Only Humboldt, Lincoln, Mineral and Nye counties recorded positive taxable sales for the period.

The taxes generated by the sale of goods are a major source of revenue for the state budget. In part because of the continued slump in taxable sales, Gov. Jim Gibbons and the Nevada Legislature face a $1 billion shortfall in the current two-year budget that will require major cuts to programs and services. A special session of the Legislature to deal with the shortfall is expected in late February or early March.

The 2009-2011 budget was balanced by the Legislature using the assumption that taxable sales would decline by an average of 4.9 percent this year and grow by 2.1 percent in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

But on Friday, those estimates were revised downward to reflect an average 13.4 percent decline this year and a 4.7 percent decline next year. The difference is nearly a $183 million shortfall in this state budget revenue source alone. Assumptions for other major tax revenues were lowered as well.

Dino DiCianno, executive director of the Tax Department, said Friday during a hearing on the new revenue estimates that Nevada has a long way to go to get out of the current slump.

“I do see some glimmer of hope; there are certain sectors within the economy in this state that are starting to rebound,” he said. “But the problem is, without construction, which is a major driver, and without automobile dealerships selling cars, we’ve got a long ways to go folks, a long ways to go.”

Data from Nevada Department of Taxation

Government Efficiency Panel Calls for Reform to State Employee Pay and Benefit Package

By Sean Whaley | 7:07 pm January 7th, 2010

CARSON CITY – A final report from a panel of private citizens charged with finding efficiencies in state government says the generous salary and benefit package provided to the state workforce is “unaffordable in the short run and unsustainable in the long run.”

“The sooner Nevada addresses this, and the sooner total government employee compensation is brought into parity with the private sector, the sooner the state will achieve a balanced budget allowing it to provide needed citizen services at desired levels,” says the final report from the Nevada Spending and Government Efficiency Commission (SAGE) in a report delivered today to Gov. Jim Gibbons.

“Dealing with this issue alone will save half of all the money contained in the Sage Commission’s recommendations,” said SAGE Chairman Bruce James.

Other findings in the report include:

- The state budgeting process is archaic and in need of revision. The process itself distracts everyone from agency personnel to members of the Legislature from focusing on the big picture by being forced to deal with minutia. We saw example after example of the same basic public services being provided by multiple agencies in a duplicative fashion without any coordination.

- Operating with 200 different units and agencies is unmanageable. In the government sector it seems that once an entity or program is established it seldom goes away regardless of efficacy. The result is a waste of public resources. AS a result, the SAGE Commission has recommended establishing the Nevada Sunset Commission to ensure periodic review of every state government entity and program to make certain it is still doing what it was established to do, is still necessary, and is cost efficient.

- The state needs to address its real estate portfolio. Nevada does not have a real estate plan and it lacks a complete inventory, in one place, of its raw land, improved real estate, leased real estate, and water and mineral rights.

- Nevada state officials lose out on millions of dollars in federal grants because there is no strategic, managed focus on this opportunity as other states do. This should be a full-out, statewide effort involving all jurisdictions eligible for such grants.

James said the SAGE Commissioners spent a lot of their own time and money to provide the 44 money saving and efficiency creating recommendations.

“Just as SAGE commissioners did in their work, we hope our elected public officials can now set aside their partisan differences to put the public’s interest first,” he said.

Gibbons established the SAGE Commission in 2008 as a non-partisan group of professionals who have volunteered their time to seek ways for Nevada government to save money, work more effectively, and perform more efficiently.

“I am delighted with the work of the SAGE Commission, and I am anxious to examine their newest recommendations and work to implement them,” he said after receiving the final report.

Gibbons said he has supported the vast majority of the SAGE Commission’s recommendations over the last year-and-a-half, but that most of the ideas have not been embraced by the Legislature.

“I will continue to pursue implementation of the SAGE Commission recommendations,” Gibbons said. “This Legislature simply must realize that they cannot continue to crush working families by raising taxes and increasing spending.”

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said the Legislature has examined and given careful consideration to the SAGE Commission recommendations. The Legislature did enact some changes to the state retirement system and health benefit plans for new hires this past session, she said.

“But there was a pretty strong bipartisan feeling that it would be unfair to go back on agreements we have made in the past where state employees gave up salary increases to have better health care, for example,” Leslie said.

There seems to be a sense from the commission that the Legislature is not taking its recommendations seriously, which is not the case, she said.

The idea of reorganizing the many units of state government to improve efficiency is worth looking at, Leslie said. But some of Gibbons’ proposed reorganizations, such as combining the Commissions on Tourism and Economic Development, were not well thought out, she said.

Leslie said there are always efficiencies to be found in state government. That is why the Legislature‘s Audit Subcommittee constantly reviews state agency operations.

But absent some big reorganization or cutting a big chunk of money out of the budget, cost savings from such efficiencies are likely to be minimal, she said.

Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, said many of the SAGE recommendations have been ignored by the Legislature, just as past recommendations from previous reviews were ignored. Any changes that are adopted are usually modest, he said.

If some of the recommendations of past reviews had been accepted, Nevada might not be in such dire financial circumstances right now, he said.

But Settelmeyer said he does not believe state employees are excessively compensated. Settelmeyer said he would support a change to the state benefit program for new hires, but not current workers.

“On new hires, we have to change the system,” he said. “We need to change from a defined benefit to a defined contribution system.”

Rather than look at current state employee pay and benefits, Settelmeyer said he would like to see a comprehensive review of programs created over the past several sessions when times were good to see if some can be eliminated. Eliminating new programs the state can’t afford could help get the budget back in balance, he said.

Gibbons Says Nevada Airports Safe for Travelers, Criticizes Obama Administration for Failing to Prevent Terrorist Attack

By Sean Whaley | 1:50 pm December 30th, 2009

RENO – Gov. Jim Gibbons said air travelers should feel safe passing through Nevada’s two major airports despite last week’s attempted terrorist attack at Detroit, but he also strongly criticized the Obama Administration for failing to take proper actions to head off the failed attempt to blow up an airplane.

He also called on the administration’s Homeland Security Chief, Janet Napolitano, to resign.

Gibbons made his comments during a tour of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, where he reviewed safety and security procedures including a demonstration of the facility’s bomb sniffing dog teams.

“I want to assure the people of Nevada, and those coming to Nevada, that our airports, Reno-Tahoe as well as the Las Vegas airport, have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the traveling public is safe here,” Gibbons said.

But he also said the Obama Administration failed the traveling public by not “connecting the dots” to prevent suspected terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from boarding Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas day. Abdulmutallab is suspected of attempting to detonate an explosive device in his underwear on the approach to the Detroit airport.

“They had the information available to them,” Gibbons said. “Then they tried to comfort the public by saying the system worked. When you have a failure like that, it’s not working.

“I think it is a result of this administration going back to treating terrorism like a crime, waiting until the act has been committed,” he said. “It’s failed the public. They need to take steps to show the public that they’ve taken the action to correct that. They need to make sure this never happens again.”

On the tour, Brian Kulpin, director of marketing and public affairs for the Reno airport, said those traveling through the facility will see an increased security presence as a result of the failed bombing attempt.

The airport is one of about 80 across the U.S. that has a canine explosive detection team, he said. The dog and police officer teams spent a lot of time examining cargo, but they can detect explosives on a passenger passing by as well.

The tour did not include all security areas, such as the baggage handling system. Gibbons said he has seen those areas but would not comment on any security procedures.

Kulpin said the airport’s new $63 million baggage handling system unveiled in November is so advanced for screening that other airport officials are coming to see it in operation.

The Reno airport is the 62nd busiest airport in the U.S. with nearly four million passengers passing through each year.

Gibbons and the media in attendance did get to see the airport’s $4.6 million Emergency Operations Center, which was relocated out of the main terminal area for enhanced security in 2006. Cameras showed various areas of the terminal and airport tarmac.

After the tour, Gibbons said he does not advocate the use of profiling passengers by race or ethnicity to detect terrorists as is done in some other countries. Using a terrorist profile, which would look at an individual’s associations and other factors, is appropriate, he said.

Citizens Panel Appointees Ask for Patience as They Consider Nevada’s Vision for the Future

By Sean Whaley | 4:21 pm December 28th, 2009
CARSON CITY – As lawmakers prepare to study the state’s revenue structure and develop a long-term vision for Nevada’s future, several members of a citizens panel appointed to assist in the process agree on two points: Give us a chance before you pass judgment on our effort, and don’t put our work on a shelf.

“It’s tough to criticize something that hasn’t happened yet,” said Boyd Martin of Boyd Martin Construction, who is representing the Las Vegas Chapter of the Associated General Contractors on the 19-member panel. “I hope the panel will be effective; that the time will be well spent. I want our results to have some meaning.”

Marsha Irvin, chancellor of the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, said the task of identifying what the state’s quality of life should look like in the next 5 to 20 years is of monumental importance.

An educator for 32 years, Irvin said: “I’m going into the process with the perspective of being very open minded.”

It is premature to suggest what, if any, recommendations regarding a tax increase will come from the group, she said. The first task is to examine where Nevada is now, where it should be and then set out to bring that vision to reality, Irvin said.

The panel will work closely with Moody’s Analytics, a contractor hired by the Legislature to perform the study of the state’s revenue structure at a cost of $253,000. The contractor has until July 1 to complete its review.

The Nevada News Bureau interviewed a half dozen members of the “Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group” to get their views on the challenging job ahead. The members were appointed last month by the Legislature. The panel will meet for the first time on January 8, 2010.

While the panel has yet to meet, its makeup has been criticized by some Republican lawmakers for having too many representatives of interests that consume tax revenue as opposed to those that produce tax revenue. There is also a belief by some critics, including Gov. Jim Gibbons, that a recommendation for a tax increase from the panel is a forgone conclusion.

Panel member Alan Feldman, senior vice president of public affairs for the state’s largest private employer, MGM Mirage, said criticism of the panel’s work is welcome as long as it comes from those willing to participate in finding solutions to the state’s challenges.

“Nothing is going to easy about this,” he said. “I’m not approaching it from a certain political point of view.”

But don’t play Monday morning quarterback, Feldman said.

“As a representative of the largest employer in the state, as a parent, as a member of this commission, we cannot under any circumstances let our educational system continue on the way it is,” he said.

Which is not to say there aren’t efficiencies that can be implemented, Feldman said.

Donald Snyder, who serves as the volunteer chairman of the board of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas and who is a former president of the Boyd Gaming Corp., said he is optimistic the panel can produce a report of value for use by lawmakers and the governor.

“I think this type of process is difficult even under the best of circumstances,” he said. “But if ever there was a time we need to take a long-term look, now is the time to do it.”

Snyder said the charge to the panel can only be accomplished with the public and private sectors working together to put their best thoughts forward for consideration by the group.

“If it is just another exercise in a study that will go nowhere, I will be really disappointed,” he said.

Rene Cantú Jr., vice president of multicultural affairs for Nevada State College and representing the Latin Chamber of Commerce on the panel, said Nevada needs to get away from its boom and bust cycles. Expanding the diversity of the state’s employment base would help to accomplish that goal.

“There needs to be some sort of method of stabilizing our funding for schools and roads,” he said. “I don’t believe throwing money at public education will improve our schools. We must spend smartly. But we have to spend if we want a good quality of life.”

Denise Tanata Ashby, executive director of the Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy at UNLV, said as a panel member she will reach out to as many people and points of view as possible.

Previous studies of Nevada’s tax structure have not been very successful, but Tanata Ashby believes this time might be different.

“We’re looking at a different climate right now,’ she said. “I hope there we can put some solid recommendations together that are going to improve Nevada.”

Tanata Ashby said it is time to gain some ground in Nevada’s poor rankings on issues affecting children. This doesn’t necessarily mean a tax increase, but possibly a realignment of where tax dollars are being spent, she said.

While Nevada cannot expect to move into first place in quality of life rankings overnight, progress needs to be made, Ashby said.

“We are all taxpayers ourselves,” she said. “But at some point, everybody has to contribute if we want that vision of Nevada that we have.”

State Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, has said he believes the panel is well represented by business and other varied interests throughout the state.

But state Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, in comments made after the panel was named last month, said he believes the outcome of the review will be a call for higher taxes since only six of the 19 are in the “taxpayer” category.

A review of the voter registration of the members of the panel shows that 12 are Democrats, five are Republicans and two are nonpartisan.

To critics of the panel‘s composition, it is a further sign that the end result of the review will be a preordained call for higher taxes.

Townsend said the next Legislature already faces the challenge of how to fill a multi-billion dollar gap in the budget before considering additional spending on public education or other quality of life issues.

“Not to criticize the contractor, but the problem is no one will admit that the society we want, we can’t afford,” he said. “We want everyone to have health care, jobs and educational opportunities. That’s great. But who is going to pay for that?”

Governor Gibbons Makes Appointment to Public Utilities Commission

By Sean Whaley | 1:14 pm December 24th, 2009

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons today announced the appointment of Alaina Burtenshaw to the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada.

Burtenshaw is presently legal counsel for regulatory operations staff at the agency. She has been an employee of the PUCN since 1992. Prior to that Burtenshaw worked for the Hilbrecht and Associates law firm in Las Vegas.

Burtenshaw is a resident of Pahrump, and received her undergraduate degree in history at Idaho State University and her law degree from the Ross McCollum College of Law at the University of Nebraska.

Burtenshaw will replace Jo Anne Kelly on the PUCN.

The agency’s mission is to enable universal access to affordable, efficient, safe and reliable utility service in Nevada by ensuring that all of its decisions are based on a fair and impartial examination of the evidence, as well as exhaustive investigation.

The commission balances the interest of customers and shareholders of public utilities by providing utilities with the opportunity to earn a fair return on their investments while providing customers with just and reasonable rates.

The PUCN consists of three commissioners appointed by the governor for terms of four years. Qualified appointees must have at least two years of experience in one or more of the following fields: accounting, business administration, finance or economics, administrative law, or professional engineering.

Nevada Gubernatorial Candidate Rory Reid Challenges Candidates to Endorse or Comment on His Ethics Plan for Nevada

By Sean Whaley | 12:36 pm December 17th, 2009
CARSON CITY – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid today released an ambitious plan for ethics reform in Nevada, saying he is offering “common sense” changes to the way state government does business.

Reid is also proposing initiatives to make government more transparent and accountable to the public in his plan, “A Foundation of Trust.”

In an interview this morning, Reid said: “I think we need to build a foundation of trust in Nevada. And if we’re going to attract investment that we need to build a new economy here then people need to believe in our system of government – have faith in it. So this is a high priority, and I think what I’ve suggested is reasonable.”

Among the recommendations are a prohibition on lobbying state agency officials by lawmakers, holding officials accountable for ethical violations whether they are willful or not and imposing a two-year cooling off period before former lawmakers or state employees can represent private interests at the Legislature.

Reid said his reform plan is out there for other candidates to comment on or endorse if they so choose.

“I challenge them to tell me what’s wrong with this plan and then we can talk about it,” he said.

In his plan Reid said of Gov. Jim Gibbons: “The current administration has led Nevada down a shameful path.” Reid said he would bring his leadership on ethics reform begun in Clark County in 2003 while serving on the county commission to the governor’s office.

Reid said in his ethics plan he would require his appointees to meet proven standards of excellence.

“There should be no place in gubernatorial appointments for cronyism,” he said.

In the interview, Reid said he did not have the time to cite specifics but said he believes there have been examples of cronyism in the Gibbons administration.

“I think it is apparent that some of the governor’s appointments have been questionable,” he said. “And that people that might not have been the most able got jobs in the administration that maybe they shouldn’t have. I think that that type of behavior erodes public confidence as quick as anything and I think that I will assemble an administration based on merit.”

Asked for a response, Gibbons said: “I put people on boards and commissions who will help Nevada citizens. Given his track record and his family background, Commissioner Reid should tread carefully when talking about ‘cronyism’.”

Reid is the son of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Gibbons also said: “Commissioner Reid is merely trying to distance himself from the shattered families and disastrous problems he has created in Clark County. Commissioner Reid is ignoring the needs of working families in Clark County while he makes uninformed and false statements about state government. He should tend to his responsibilities and serve the people, not serve salacious gossip about matters he knows nothing about.”

Reid , who was accompanied by Dick Morgan, former dean of the Boyd School of Law at UNLV, said he worked to “raise the bar” for transparency in Clark County with Morgan’s assistance, focusing on disclosure and abstention when necessary.

“I think that Clark County government is more transparent than it has ever been,” Reid said.

Morgan said one clear change was to prohibit former commissioners and senior county employees from immediately going into the business of lobbying the commission.

Reid said he is not familiar with what would be involved in making state government budgets, expenditures and contracts totally transparent on a searchable database. Nor is he proposing any changes right now to the way candidate campaign contribution and expense reports are available for public review.

“We need to start with building a foundation, so this is an attempt to ensure that Nevada’s process is open and transparent and that we close the loopholes that exist so people can have trust in what we do,” he said. “So we can attract the investment that we need to build the economy. I think I’m starting in the right place.”

This is not to say there isn’t more that can and should be done, Reid said.

The recent action by the Nevada Ethics Commission to find Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Ross guilty of three ethics violations was coincidental in the timing of the release of his plan, Reid said.

The Ethics Commission on Friday found no willful violation in the Ross matter, which involved votes for a new city hall that could benefit his employer, the Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council, so no penalties were imposed.

This practice would end under Reid’s plan.

In his plan, Reid said: “There will be no further room for the ‘non-willful’ distinction. I will move to have that loophole removed from law so that all government officials and employees will be liable for all misconduct.”

Other elements of the plan include:

- Increase transparency at every level, starting with the executive branch. As governor, Reid said he would release his official schedule to the public and hold regular press conferences. He would also hold periodic town hall meetings broadcast statewide and require department heads to do the same.

- Reduce conflicts of interest by requiring all appointees to sign a code of responsibility and disclose any instance where there is a potential for even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Appointees would be required to make appropriate recusals in any questionable situation.

- Establish an open meeting law for the Legislature that allows the body to conduct its business expeditiously, given the limits of a 120-day legislative session, but places a premium on openness and transparency.

Nevada Assembly Minority Leader Supporting Sandoval in GOP Governor Primary

By Sean Whaley | 4:25 pm November 30th, 2009

CARSON CITY – Nevada Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, said today she is supporting Brian Sandoval in the 2010 GOP primary race for governor.

Gansert made her comments during an interview on Nevada NewsMakers.

Gansert said Sandoval, who stepped down as a U.S. district judge to enter the primary against Gov. Jim Gibbons and former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon, will help the Republican Party attract support from a broader base of voters.

Some members of the Republican Party will continue to support Gibbons because of his no new taxes pledge, Gansert said.

“But again, our tent needs to be bigger,” she said. “I think that Brian Sandoval really could help motivate people to come to the polls on behalf of Republicans in a future election.”

Gansert said she believes there would be an advantage for a Republican candidate in the general election who appeals to the masses, not just to far right conservatives.

“I think there are many Republicans who are looking for a new type of leadership, someone who is a consensus builder, someone who will reach out for solutions, someone who is not going to stand on just one pledge,” she said. “And I think that we have that in Brian Sandoval.”

Heck to Sign Tax Pledge

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 6:29 pm September 16th, 2009
Republican gubernatorial candidate Joe Heck will sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) at a private event on Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m. in Las Vegas.

Karri Bragg, Executive Vice President of Citizen Outreach and former ATR staffer, will serve as an official witness of the signing ceremony.

Heck will join Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons in pledging to the voters of Nevada to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

The decision to sign the Tax Pledge comes less than 48 hours after fellow Republican Brian Sandoval entered the gubernatorial race and declared that he would not sign the Pledge.

The fourth Republican in the GOP primary race, former Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon, has not signed the Tax Pledge.