Posts Tagged ‘Jon Ralston’

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.”

Gov. Sandoval Defends Conservative Credentials, Says Online Sales Tax Revenue Is Matter of Fairness

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 8:31 pm April 26th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today that a recent deal announced with to collect sales taxes from on-line purchases in Nevada beginning in January 2014 is only the tip of the iceberg.

Tax revenues to Nevada could total $200 million a year if all on-line purchases were assessed the state sales tax, he said. Nevada’s sales tax rate varies by county but is between 6.85 and 8.1 percent.

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Interviewed on Jon Ralston’s Face to Face television program, Sandoval said the voluntary agreement reached with Amazon could be the first step in an effort to collect the state sales tax from all on-line purchases. He also defended the move as not being a new tax for Nevada residents, but one they are supposed to pay anyway.

Sandoval said the agreement with Amazon, which could begin sooner if Congress acts to allow states to collect the tax from on-line retailers, is worth an estimated $16 million to $20 million a year.

“The universe could be up to $200 million in uncollected sales tax,” he said.

Sandoval said he pursued the agreement to help small businesses in Nevada, many of which are at a competitive disadvantage to on-line retailers. Sandoval said he has visited more than 150 businesses in Nevada and the advantage held by internet retailers is an issue that comes up frequently.

“You can drive down almost any street in the state of Nevada and see businesses that have closed,” he said.

Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 12 percent as of March.

The issue was brought to Sandoval by the Retail Association of Nevada, which praised the deal announced earlier this week. The same deal has been established by governors in other states, including Tennessee, Virginia and South Carolina.

In the wide-ranging interview, Sandoval also defended his conservative fiscal credentials after announcing the extension of a set of taxes set to sunset on June 30, 2013, the Amazon deal that will increase costs to Nevada consumers and an economic plan that will dole out state funds for business expansion.

Sandoval said he decided to continue the sunsetting taxes to deal with an expanding Medicaid population and to avoid further cuts to education.

“I think it is important that we don’t start pitting senior citizens against kindergarteners,” he said. “I’m still a fiscal conservative and Nevadans are not going to be paying one cent more in taxes than the day I took office.”

As to his economic plan and the use of a $10 million catalyst fund to encourage business relocation and expansion, he said: “What we are doing is no different than the most conservative governors in the United States of America.”

Sandoval also  said he has received many phone calls from conservatives who are supportive of his decisions, but that not everyone will support all of his decisions as governor.

“If I am pleasing everybody, I am lying to somebody,” he said.

Sandoval also said he would “respectfully” decline any invitation from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to be his running mate. Sandoval said he intends to finish his term and run again for governor in 2014.


Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he reached a deal with Amazon to help Nevada small business:

042612Sandoval1 :22 a competitive disadvantage.”

Sandoval says he started with Amazon but the state can now move on to other on-line retailers:

042612Sandoval2 :15 uncollected sales tax.”



House Ethics Committee Extends Probe Of Rep. Shelley Berkley

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:17 pm March 23rd, 2012

CARSON CITY – The House of Representative’s Ethics Committee said today it is extending a probe of Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and will announce its course of action by July 9.

“The committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee,” a statement from the panel’s chairman and ranking member said.

News of the extension was reported by Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston, who also quotes a Berkley spokeswoman who said in part: “The Nevada Republican Party filed a complaint against Congresswoman Berkley. As the committee reviews this complaint, they will determine that Congresswoman Shelley Berkley’s only concern is for the well being of Nevada’s patients.”

The complaint, prompted by a New York Times report, involves allegations that Berkley used her position to help her husband’s medical practice.

In response to the House Ethics announcement, National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Communications Director Brian Walsh said in part: “The news that the House Ethics Committee is extending their investigation of embattled Congresswoman Shelley Berkley is not surprising given what appears to be a pattern of ethical questions that have surrounded her activities over the years.”

Berkley is a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

The allegations are also described in a report released Thursday by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), in its new report Family Affair, detailing what the group says is evidence of how members of the House of Representatives use their positions to financially benefit their families. The report identified 248 House members who used their positions to financially benefit themselves or family members.

The CREW report also briefly mentioned Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., for receiving $10,710 for travel and other expenses from his campaign committee in the 2010 election cycle.



In Redistricting Battle, Political Parties Argue Over “Who Loves Hispanics More”

By Andrew Doughman | 7:00 pm May 11th, 2011

CARSON CITY — A Republican Hispanic governor will soon decide the fate of a Democratic redistricting plan that has both political parties embroiled in a debate over fairness to Nevada’s Hispanic population.

Legislative Republicans, who voted against the plan, and Democrats are each claiming they truly have the best interests of Nevada’s largest minority population in mind as they consider the boundaries of new political districts.

As political columnist Jon Ralston asked on Twitter: “who loves Hispanics more?”

But some people in the Hispanic community object to the odes both parties are singing about fair political representation for the Latino community.

Is the Hispanic community being used?

“It’s quite obvious,” said Fernando Romero, president of the nonpartisan Nevada group Hispanics in Politics.

He said he does not like the Republican plan for Congressional districts because it lumps all Hispanics together in one big group. But he also does not like the Democratic plan, which he said fractures key Latino communities into different districts.

“We are throwing the Democratic plan out of the window,” he said.

Romero said that he and other Hispanic advocacy groups will introduce their own plan for Congressional and state Senate and Assembly districts by the end of this week.

At stake is the power of a new voter bloc comprising 26 percent of Nevada’s population and one of every seven voters in Nevada, a number that could be higher if historically low levels of voter registration in the Hispanic community improve.

The Latino factor also makes Nevada a “key state” during the 2012 presidential elections.

“When you consider we’re about to enter a presidential election year, the Hispanic community is a community everybody is eyeing,” said Javier Trujillo of the Latin Chamber of Commerce.

Political parties could spend millions in attempts to sway Hispanic voters to the left or right, but every 10 years politicians are free — in fact, mandated — to choose the voters themselves. That is their business this year as the Nevada Legislature embarks on the decadal ritual of redrawing political boundaries in accordance with U.S. Census demographic data.

So far, both parties have accused each other of violating the federal Voting Rights Act, which addresses redistricting rules for ethnic minorities, in favor of partisan gain.

“They’ve clearly put their partisan interests ahead of what is morally right for the Hispanic community, and they’ve violated federal law in the process,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas.

Democrats said nearly the same thing in a press release:

“Republicans opposed these maps on a party line vote while trying to mislead Nevadans on the purpose the Voting Right Act to mask their own partisan agenda.”

The Democratic plan passed out of the Senate and Assembly on Tuesday and now awaits Gov. Brian Sandoval’s signature or veto. It creates Congressional districts with Hispanic populations ranging between 20.5 and 33.6 percent of districts’ total populations.

A Republican proposal that did not receive a vote has Hispanics comprising between 14.4 percent and 50.7 percent of Congressional districts’ populations.

Republican Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 32.0% 45.5% 17.7% 9.9% 20.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 35.7% 16.6% 1.9% 20.4%
CD 03 675,138 0 40.8% 37.5% 12.2% 5.5% 14.4%
CD 04 675,137 -1 20.8% 57.8% 44.3% 14.2% 50.7%

Democratic Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 31.9% 47.9% na na 33.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 36.0% na na 20.5%
CD 03 675,138 0 34.4% 44.1% na na 29.2%
CD 04 675,137 -1 35.0% 43.1% na na 22.9%

Nevada’s explosive population growth between 2001 and 2010 earned Nevada one more congressional district, giving Nevada four seats.

UNR political scientist Eric Herzik said during an interview today that behind the squabbling about numbers lies the political reality of the Hispanic vote.

“The issue is not whether the districts are in compliance with federal law,” he said. “This is politics, partisan politics. …They’re both about trying to maximize party influence in districts.”

He said minority groups, including Latinos, tend to vote Democratic.

During the 2010 election, Hispanics overwhelming voted for Democratic candidate Rory Reid in the gubernatorial race and incumbent Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Senate race.

“If you diffuse the Latino vote, you can create more Democratic-leaning votes,” he said.

Likewise, he said the Republican proposal to create a district with more than 50 percent Hispanic population is a “shield” and the Republican party’s public concern is not the “root of their complaint” with the Democratic proposal.

“It works better for them if they can give up one overwhelmingly Democratic district,” Herzik said.

The historical data, however, only goes so far.

Romero contended that Latinos are independent-minded and value fair representation over agreement with Democrats.

“If we did follow party lines we would support the plan the Democrats issued,” Romero said. “We don’t.”



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.

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.