Posts Tagged ‘Reno’

Reno Selected For IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 10:33 am November 29th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The city of Reno has been selected as one of only 100 recipients of IBM’s prestigious Smarter Cities Challenge grant for 2013.

Partners in the project include the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, University of Nevada, Reno, EDAWN, Desert Research Institute and the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization.

“Being chosen as one of IBM’s Smart Cities signals to the rest of the country, and internationally, that Reno is a community ready for knowledge-based economic expansion,” said Heidi Gansert, special assistant to the president for external affairs at UNR.

“The university is pleased to be part of the Smart Cities Team and will work with the city of Reno and other partners to help drive the local and statewide economy through workforce development, innovation and research,” she said in a statement earlier this month.

The $400,000 grant provides professional consulting and services and will allow Reno to create sophisticated analytics software which will provide citizens and developers complete access to information on properties within the city.

Brian Bonnenfant, program manager for the University’s Center for Regional Studies in the College of Business, said the spatial fiscal-impact model will allow for quicker turnaround on economic development projects and more informed decisions by city leaders.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to build a system that’s important to economic development in the region,” Bonnenfant said. “We’re thrilled to be involved with this important work. We’ve worked on projects like this in the past in other communities – and specific projects in Reno – and see the possibilities this grant opens up.

“I see a variety of entities at the university becoming involved, such as the College of Engineering and the College of Science,” he said. “We’ve all worked with the city on a number of projects and have a number of resources this project can draw from.”

The Reno City Council approved a resolution in August to apply for the IBM grant to “develop a plan for the city, University of Nevada, Reno, and the Desert Research Institute to effectively coordinate economic development opportunities, especially through the implementation of technology commercialization, and thereby stimulate job creation in the city of Reno and the surrounding region.”

Romney Rallies Reno Voters In Effort To Win Nevada

By Sean Whaley | 2:41 pm October 24th, 2012

RENO – Gov. Mitt Romney fired up a crowd of about 2,000 enthusiastic Northern Nevada  voters today, urging them to get to the polls and help him take the battleground state that is Nevada 13 days from now.

Romney told the crowd that President Obama is out of ideas, out of excuses and will be out of office come Nov. 6.

The president, “doesn’t understand what it takes to get this economy going, he doesn’t have a plan to get jobs for Americans, I do and that’s why I’m going to win,” he said.

Gov. Mitt Romney fired up a Reno crowd today. / Nevada News Bureau.

He promised to repeal and replace the federal Affordable Care Act, which he referred to as Obamacare, and stop the raid of Medicare funds to pay for it.

Romney said that if Obama is reelected, the national debt will grow from $16 trillion to $20 trillion by the end of his second term.

“I will get America to finally be on track to a balanced budget,” he said.

In his second Nevada visit in as many days, Romney held the rally at the Reno Events Center downtown in a county viewed by many political observers as holding the key to a GOP victory on Nov. 6. He spoke for about 20 minutes.

In a display of just how critical both parties view the state with its six electoral votes, Obama is scheduled to make yet another Nevada appearance later today in Las Vegas.

Nevada voter registration leans Democratic, with 41.9 percent active registered voters to 34.7 percent for Republicans, with another 17.4 percent nonpartisans. Early voting, which began Saturday and runs through Nov. 2, has also favored Democrats so far, with 81,694 votes cast by Democrats through Oct. 23 compared to 62,031 cast by Republicans and 28,981 cast by nonpartisans.

In his remarks, Romney said the election isn’t just about big national issues, but about America’s families and whether they will be able to find jobs and have the ability to choose the school their children attend.

“And I understand what it’s going to take to get this country strong again and provide the answers that your families need,” he said. “Because this is an election about two very different pathways for America. The one represented by the president is in fact one with $20 trillion in debt. He started with $10 trillion, he’s up to $16 (trillion) on his way to $20 (trillion). I’ll balance the budget instead.”

Romney said his five step plan to get the country’s economy working again includes more development of oil, coal, gas and renewable energy, expanding foreign trade, providing training for job seekers, working toward a balanced federal budget and championing small business.

“I want to get small business going again and that means I want to keep taxes down on small business; I want to get regulators to see their job is encouraging small business, not crushing it,” he said. “I’ll make small business the centerpiece of our economic recovery.”

Romney asked the crowd to each find a voter who supported Obama in 2008 and get them to vote for his campaign in 2012 and help “take America in a new direction.”


Audio clips:

Gov. Romney says voters have two clear paths on election day:

102412Romney1 :19 the budget instead.”

Romney says he will make small business the centerpiece of an economic recovery:

102412Romney2 :14 our economic recovery.”


First Lady Presents Her Case For Another Term For President At Rally In Reno

By Sean Whaley | 12:54 pm October 3rd, 2012

RENO – First Lady Michelle Obama sought to make the case for another term for her husband at a rally at the University of Nevada, Reno today, ahead of a much anticipated first debate in Denver tonight between President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney.

With the Nov. 6 general election just 34 days away, a crowd estimated at about 3,800 by the fire marshal cheered the First Lady as she talked about her husband’s character and accomplishments in his first term, including ending the war in Iraq and eliminating the threat of Osama bin Laden.

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks today at a rally at the University of Nevada, Reno. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Her remarks came on the couple’s 20th anniversary. After the rally, the First Lady was set to fly to Denver for the debate and to see her husband for the first time today.

In personal remarks that resembled those she gave at the Democratic National Convention, the First Lady said she and her husband were raised to believe that hard work matters more than how much money you make.

“We learned that the truth matters so you don’t take shortcuts; you don’t game the system; you don’t play by your own set of rules,” Obama said. “We learned that none of us gets where we are on our own. None of us. That each of us has a community of people lifting us up.

“See, these are the values that make Barack such an extraordinary husband to me, and such a phenomenal father to our girls,” she said. “And I have seen how those values are so critical for leading this country.”

The First Lady also talked about what he faced upon taking office in January 2009.

The economy was losing an average of 800,000 jobs a month, she said.

“This is what welcomed him into the office,” Obama said. “And today, while we still have a long way to go to rebuild our economy, understand that we have had 30 straight months of private sector job growth under this president, a total of 5.1 million new jobs. Good jobs right here in the United States of America. That’s where we are today.”

Obama asked the crowd if they want to return to the policies that got the country into its economic troubles to begin with.

“It’s all on the line,” she said. “It’s all at stake this November.”

It will come down to a few key states like Nevada, Obama said.

Obama asked the crowd to make sure their friends are registered to vote and actually vote in Nevada to swing the battleground state that is Nevada to the president for a second time.

“If you want to give me a nice anniversary present, here is something you can do,” she said. “From now until November, we’re going to need every single one of you to work like you’ve never worked before.

“So see, what I tell myself is we cannot turn back now,” she said. “Not now. We have come so far, but we have so much more work to do.”


Audio clips:

First Lady Michelle Obama says she and her husband were raised with the right values:

100312Obama1 :23 lifting us up.”

Obama says the country has created 5.1 million private sector jobs since her husband became president:

100312Obama2 :20 we are today.”


State Board Settles Tax Dispute With Washoe County For $7.25 Million

By Sean Whaley | 5:16 pm September 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The state Board of Examiners today voted to settle a legal dispute with Washoe County over local tax revenue taken by the 2009 Legislature to balance the state budget.

The settlement provides an immediate payment of $1.25 million to the county, with another $6 million being allocated later for major road maintenance projects. As part of the agreement, the road projects will be moved up in the state’s funding priorities.

The original legal claim submitted in 2011 was for $21.4 million, but the county later revised its demand downward to about $17.9 million.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, a member of the board, called it a good deal for the state since the projects to be paid for with state highway funds have already been approved for funding by the state Transportation Department. The agreement also makes it clear there is no admission by either side that there is fault or a legal liability for the settlement, he said.

The cash portion of the settlement equates to about seven cents on the dollar, Sandoval noted.

If the highway piece of the settlement is included, the deal provides about 40 percent of what the county had sought in its revised request, said state Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp.

“It’s a good settlement and I think it’s important to recognize, as I said, that there was no admission of liability by either party,” Sandoval said after the meeting. “I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to be having litigation or disputes between governmental entities.”

Washoe County submitted the claim last year, citing a Nevada Supreme Court ruling in May 2011 that said the Nevada Legislature improperly took $62 million in 2010 from the Clark County Clean Water Coalition fund to balance the state budget. The county said the ruling applied to actions taken by lawmakers in 2009 as well.

Clark County has also submitted a claim based on the same legal decision, and is seeking $102.5 million in local taxes also taken by the 2009 Legislature. But the county in June opted to sue rather than continue with negotiations.

Even so, Sandoval said today that negotiations continue with the county to resolve the dispute, which occurred prior to his term as governor.

But the state has just recently received a new claim, from the city of Reno, based on the same Supreme Court ruling.

Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger appeared before the board to briefly discuss the claim filed for $2 million. The settlement with Washoe County approved today did not provide any direct benefit to the city, he said.

Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger.

Sandoval said the claim will be reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office as has been done with the other requests.


Audio clips:

Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger says the city has also submitted a claim:

091112Clinger :24 aware of that.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval says the settlement is a good deal for the state:

091112Sandoval :28 between governmental entities.”

Romney Calls To Keep American Military Strong In 9-11 Anniversary Remarks In Reno

By Sean Whaley | 12:45 pm September 11th, 2012

RENO – GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney told about 3,700 members of the National Guard Association of the United States here today that now is not the time to weaken the nation’s military.

On the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Romney said the return of the country’s troops from Iraq and the impending return of troops from Afghanistan in 2014 cannot be used as an excuse to impose devastating cuts on the Defense Department.

“It is true that our Armed Forces have been stretched to the brink, and that’s all the more reason to repair and rebuild,” Romney said. “We can always find places to end waste but we cannot cancel program after program. We cannot jeopardize critical missions. And we cannot cut corners in the quality of the equipment and training we provide to our men and women in uniform.”

Mitt Romney speaks to the National Guard Association in Reno today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Romney was referring to impending military cuts that could come due as a result of a stop-gap deal reached in Congress earlier this year. The agreement will require significant cuts in both military and domestic spending if a budget reduction deal cannot be reached.

The military starting next year would see funding cuts of $492 billion over 10 years, with an equal size cut coming to domestic programs. Romney criticized President Obama for these cuts, called sequestration, in remarks to attendees of the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention here in Reno in July but did not levy a similar attack today.

He also defended the benefits received by veterans, especially given the high rate of suicide among the military.

“The unconscionable waits for mental health treatment need to be dramatically shortened, and the suicide rate among active duty soldiers and veterans must be treated like the emergency it is,” Romney said. “Veterans benefits are not a gift that is given, but a debt that is due.”

Romney, who spoke for about 16 minutes, also recalled where he was when the terrorist attacks occurred at the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon 11 years ago. Romney said he had planned to be at Battery Park in New York, but found himself instead in Washington, DC, to discuss security for the upcoming Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Romney said he left Washington and was driving toward Alexandria when he passed close by the Pentagon.

“I could smell burning fuel and concrete and steel,” he said. “It was a smell of war. Something I never imagined I would smell in America.”

Romney said the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks show why a strong military must be maintained.

“As you know too well, our world is a dangerous place, and the attack on our homeland and citizens on Sept. 11, 2001, reminds us that the mission of the guard is ever more critical, and ever more deserving of our support and honor,” he said.

Both Romney and President Obama addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars at the Reno-Sparks Convention Authority in July.

Obama has another political event set for tomorrow at the Cashman Center in Las Vegas, having visited both Reno and Las Vegas at campaign events in August.

The visits, including a political rally held this past Friday in Sparks with GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, point out how important both parties view Nevada in the upcoming Nov. 6 general election.

The four-day association conference has brought Army and Air Guard officers, their spouses, defense officials and industry representatives to Reno from all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.


Audio clips:

GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney says the country cannot afford to weaken its defense:

091112Romney1 :22 women in uniform.”

Romney says veterans benefits are not a gift but a debt that is due:

091112Romney2 :18 that is due.”



Obama Talks About Commitment To Education, Keeping America Competitive, In Reno Campaign Stop

By Sean Whaley | 7:26 pm August 21st, 2012

RENOPresident Obama talked about his ongoing commitment to education in a visit to this battleground state today, his first official campaign event of the year in Northern Nevada but his third visit to the area in just the past few months.

Obama’s campaign stop, to be followed by another event tomorrow in Las Vegas, comes to the state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 12 percent.

President Obama speaks in Reno today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

“You’re education is not just important to you, it’s important to America’s success,” he told a cheering crowd of 1,000 supporters in the student union at the Truckee Meadows Community College. “When we invest in your future we’re investing in America’s future. The fact is that, countries that out-educate us today they’ll out-compete us tomorrow. We cannot afford to lose that race to make sure we’ve got the most highly educated, most skilled workforce in the world.

“When companies and businesses are looking to locate, that’s what they’re looking for,” Obama said. “And I don’t want them looking any farther than Reno, Nevada, the state of Nevada, the United States of America; we’ve got the best workers in the world and I want to keep it that way.”

A college official estimated total attendance at the rally, including those outside, at 2,100.

Obama also pushed his plan to maintain the Bush tax cuts for most Americans, but not for individuals making $200,000 or more and couples making $250,000 or more, and criticized presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney for seeking tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest citizens.

Obama said that since he took office, his administration has helped over three million more students afford a college education.

“Now, unfortunately, the economic plan of Gov. Romney could cut our investments in education by about 20 percent,” he said.

The cuts are proposed not to balance the budget but to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, Obama said.

“Does that sound like a plan for a better future for you?” he asked. “It’s a plan that says we can’t afford to help the next generation, but we can afford massive new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”

In response to Obama’s remarks here and in Ohio, the Republican National Committee said research shows that during his administration, the cost of college “is skyrocketing to an all time high.”

Since Obama took office, the unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds has increased from 12.4 percent to 13.5 percent, the RNC said.

“Despite President Obama’s speech tonight in Reno, it’s more clear than ever that his failed policies have seen college costs soar and job opportunities dwindle for young graduates,” the RNC said.

Obama handily won Nevada in the 2008 presidential race, but saw Democrats lose ground in Nevada and nationally in the 2010 mid-term elections. Polls put the state as a tossup between the two candidates, and Washoe County is viewed by many local political observers as the region where the race will be played out in November.

In his concluding remarks, Obama said he is counting on students like those at Truckee Meadows to not get discouraged and to work to help Democrats win Nevada in November.

“First of all, you’ve got no excuses not to register to vote,” he said.

If volunteers knock on doors and make phone calls just like in 2008, Democrats will win Washoe County, Nevada and another four years, Obama said.


Audio clips:

President Obama says education is not just important to students, but to America’s success as well:

082112Obama1 :26 in the world.”

Obama says America has the best workers in the world and he wants to keep it that way:

082112Obama2 :16 it that way.”

Obama says Mitt Romney wants to cut college spending to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy:

082112Obama3 :12 your tax loophole.”


Gaming Win Down Six Percent In Nevada In June, Difficult Comparisons Cited As Primary Cause

By Sean Whaley | 4:47 pm August 9th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada casinos took in $832.5 million in gaming revenue in June, a decline of 6 percent compared to the same month a year ago, the Gaming Control Board reported today.

The win was about $53 million less than June 2011 as casinos tried to build on the win in June 2011, which was up 16 percent over June 2010.

Special events around the state and increased visitor volume could not offset the difficult comp against the June 2011 gains, said Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the control board.

It is the second consecutive month of revenue declines. Gaming revenues fell 10.1 percent in May.

The Las Vegas Strip was off 4.5 percent in June, bringing in $483.7 million compared to $506.7 million in June 2011. The comp for the Strip was even tougher, with June 2011 up 32.3 percent over June 2010, Lawton said.

Electric Daisy Carnival 2011. / Photo: Roman Fuchs via Wikimedia Commons.

The Las Vegas locals markets were hit in June as well, with North Las Vegas down 26.2 percent, Laughlin down 20.3 percent and downtown Las Vegas off 12.8 percent. One factor in these numbers was that June ended on a Saturday, meaning that slot revenue from the final weekend  of the month will be reported in July, he said.

A bright spot in the report was Washoe County, which saw gaming revenues increase by 7.3 percent in June to $66.8 million. Reno was up 9.4 percent to $50 million.

Nevada had a number of events and developments that brought in tourists around the state, Lawton said.

There was a Manny Pacquiao fight against Timothy Bradley on June 9 at the MGM Grand, a baccarat tournament at the Bellagio on June 16 and 17, the Electric Daisy Carnival musical festival at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway from June 8 to 10 and the new terminal at McCarran International Airport opened on June 27. In Northern Nevada, a Don Henley concert June 28 and a U.S. Women’s Open bowling event from June 21 to June 27 took place.

“You’ll see that Reno’s visitation was up 3.4 percent for the month of June,” Lawton said. “That’s the first increase they’ve had in a few months so those were definitely good events.”

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported today that tourism was up in Las Vegas in June as well, with 3.39 million visitors for a 2.1 percent increase over June 2011.

Another tough comp in June was the game and table win statewide, which totaled $325.3 million. It was almost flat, down $3 million over June 2011. Game and table win in June 2011 was up 55.2 percent over June 2010.

The baccarat win totaled $103.1 million, down 3.8 percent over June 2011. The volume wagered on the game was up significantly over June 2011, but the casinos did not win as much from gamblers, Lawton said. The “hold” by casinos in June was 12.4 percent compared to a 15.6 percent in June 2011.

“The good sign there is that the play was definitely there,” he said. “We just didn’t hold as well as we did last June.”

The final six months of the calendar year show easier comps and so could produce better results in monthly revenues, Lawton said.


Audio clips:

Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the control board, says the story of the June report was the difficult comps from June 2011:

080912Lawton1 :12 so basically flat.”

Lawton says Reno visitor volume was up in June in part because of strong events:

080912Lawton2 :11 definitely good events.”

Lawton says baccarat volume was up but the casinos did not win as much from gamblers in June:

080912Lawton3 :10 we normally see.”


Nevada Attorney General Announces Sentencing Of Medical Equipment Provider For Medicaid Fraud

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:26 pm July 5th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Marcia Giller, 76, of Reno, has been sentenced to prison for two felony offenses of submitting false Medicaid claims, the Attorney General’s office announced this week.

Washoe County District Judge Steven Kosach sentenced Giller on Tuesday to 18 to 48 months imprisonment for each count, to be served consecutively, and additionally ordered Giller to pay $226,000 in restitution, penalties and costs.

“In addition to jeopardizing the provision of health care to people in need, medical providers who submit fraudulent claims victimize every taxpayer who funds this beneficial and necessary program,” said Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. “The Medicaid system must be protected, and those who commit Medicaid fraud will be punished.”

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

In December 2009, Nevada Medicaid provided information to the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) that AME Home Health Care (AME), a medical equipment company owned and operated by Giller, had submitted and been paid for Medicaid claims that were not supported by required documentation. Medicaid provides payment to medical equipment suppliers who furnish medical supplies that allow people to maintain hygiene, gain mobility and care for their own medical conditions.

Further investigation by the MFCU revealed that, in addition to the lack of supporting documentation, Giller repeatedly submitted claims for persons who did not actually receive supplies from AME. Giller nonetheless continued to submit fraudulent claims and receive payment over the course of several years. Although Giller submitted claims under supposed client names and numbers, those persons were unaware that their Medicaid information was being used in such a way.

The fraud occurred from January 2007 through May 2010.

Persons convicted of Medicaid fraud may also be administratively excluded from future Medicaid participation.

The case was investigated and prosecuted by the MFCU, which investigates and prosecutes financial fraud by those providing healthcare services or goods to Medicaid patients. The MFCU also investigates and prosecutes instances of elder abuse or neglect.

Obama Visits Reno, Urges Congress To Expand Mortgage Refinancing Program

By Sean Whaley | 3:36 pm May 11th, 2012

RENO – President Barack Obama made a brief stopover here today, visiting with a couple who refinanced their home through a White House initiative helping underwater homeowners who have government-backed loans.

After meeting with Paul and Valerie Keller, Obama urged Congress to expand the Home Affordable Refinancing Program (HARP) to other mortgages as well.

President Obama greets the crowd in Reno today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

The Kellers were able to save $240 a month by refinancing using the program, he said.

“Now, Val says that they’ve been talking to some of their neighbors  – maybe some of you are here today – and you’re saying, well, that sounds like a pretty good idea. And a lot of folks across the country recognize this is a smart thing to do not only for homeowners but for our economy, because if Paul and Val have an extra $240, $250 a month, then they might spend it on the local business.

“And that means more money in the economy, and businesses do better, and slowly home prices start rising again,” Obama said. “So it makes sense for all of us.

“There’s absolutely no reason why they can’t make this happen right now,” Obama said to a small crowd gathered on Ridgecrest Drive in north Reno. “If they started now, in a couple of weeks, in a month, they could make every homeowner in America who is underwater right now eligible to be able to refinance their homes – if they’re making their payments, if they’re responsible, if they’re doing the right thing.  And think about all those families saving $3,000 on average a year – that’s a huge boost to our economy.”

Obama said that since the announcement, refinancing applications have gone up by 50 percent nationwide and 230 percent in Nevada.

“That’s the good news,” he said. “People are taking advantage of this.”

Obama’s Nevada visit comes as he campaigns for a second term in the White House. He won Nevada in 2008, but with the highest unemployment rate and one of the highest home foreclosure rates in the nation, the state is considered to be a toss up.

His visit prompted a response from the Mitt Romney campaign by Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki.

In a conference call, Amodei and Krolicki said they do not want the president’s focus on the success of the Kellers to overshadow what they called his overall failing policies.

“How many people fit that profile?” Amodei asked about the Kellers. “When you look at the success of those policies, we are still in critical condition in relation to housing in Nevada.”

“I appreciate the fact that the president is coming to town and sitting in the living room with the Kellers, but it is not going to solve our problems,” Krolicki said. “We need a president that is encouraging job growth. The easiest cure for a foreclosure is a job.”

Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange released a statement praising Obama’s proposal: “The president’s mortgage refinancing plan would make a real difference to families nationwide and here in Nevada. This key piece of the president’s ‘To-Do List’ could help families save up to $3,000 a year, reducing foreclosures, boosting the economy, and speeding the recovery of the housing market.

“In contrast, Mitt Romney told Nevada families facing foreclosure they need to ‘hit the bottom’ and called for rolling back laws to protect families against the mortgage abuses that helped create the financial crisis,” she said.

But at least one news report has questioned whether the Kellers are the responsible homeowners as described by Obama. CNBC reported that the Kellers did a “cash out” refinancing in 2007 that helped put them in their current predicament.

It was Obama’s first visit to Reno since April 2011, but he has also visited Southern Nevada twice this year and First Lady Michelle Obama was in Las Vegas at a fundraiser last week.

He arrived in Reno after attending a fundraiser in California.

President Obama with Paul and Valerie Keller in Reno today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Obama hinted at the difficulties facing many Nevadans as he began his remarks, noting that “it is going to take a long time for the economy to fully recover. More time than any of us would like. But there are plenty of steps we can take to speed up the recovery right now.”

In addition to the refinancing program, he identified four other “common-sense policies” on Congress’s “To-Do” list that can help now in the economic recovery: end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, give small business owners tax breaks for hiring more workers and paying higher wages, extend tax credits for clean energy companies and create a Veterans Jobs Corps so that veterans can get work as police and firefighters.

Americans for Prosperity – Nevada (AFP-NV) today questioned Obama’s call that Congress extend certain clean energy tax credits, arguing they have a bad track record of creating jobs or promoting green energy technology.

“Hard working Nevada taxpayers want to know why the president continues to ignore the facts and waste their money on expensive, unproven ‘green energy’ boondoggles like Solyndra,” said Adam Stryker, state director of AFP-NV. “It’s time for the president to stop bowing to blind ideology and support real job creation.”

In his concluding remarks, Obama said: “I need all of you, and everybody who is watching, to push Congress on their “To-Do” list,” he said. “Nag them until they actually get it done. We need to keep moving this country forward. Send them an email. Tweet them. Write them a letter if you’re old-fashioned like me. But communicate to them that this will make a difference. It’s one small step that will help us create the kind of economy that all Americans deserve.”


Audio clips:

President Obama says the refinancing program is good for the economy:

051112Obama1 :33 all of us.”

Obama says people are taking advantage of the program:

051112Obama2 :13 the good news.”

Obama says people need to tell Congress to get moving on the “To-Do” list;

051112Obama3 :35 all Americans deserve.”




First CD-2 Debate This Week in Reno

By Elizabeth Crum | 10:28 am August 15th, 2011

Three candidates competing for Nevada’s 2nd U.S. House Congressional District seat will debate in Reno this week.

The debate, sponsored by the Truckee Meadows Post 3819 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, will be moderated by KRNV news anchor Joe Hart.

Candidates included will be Democrat Kate Marshall, Republican Mark Amodei and Independent American Party candidate Tim Fasano.

The debate will be held at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 17 at the city’s California Building and will be broadcast by KRNV News 4 and News Talk KKFT 99.1 FM Fox News Radio.

The event is free for attendees.

Update: Independent candidate Helmuth Lehmann has been invited and is expected to participate in the debate.

UPDATED: Top GOP Candidates for CD-2 Will Debate This Week in Reno

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:57 pm June 13th, 2011

As promoted by organizers, the “top three Republican candidates for the 2nd U.S. House District Congressional seat” will debate one another for the first time at a special event to be held at 6 p.m., June 15 at the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows at 2680 E. 9th Street in Reno.

(Update: As of 12:30 p.m. on June 15, Ray Hagar at the RGJ is reporting on Twitter that there is a $10 charge to attend the debate.)

The invited candidates are retired Navy commander Kirk Lippold, former state Senator and recently resigned state GOP Chairman Mark Amodei and state Senator Greg Brower.

The debate will be broadcast live by KNPB Channel 5 and News Talk KKFT 99.1 FM (FOX News Radio). You can listen to the livestream online here.

(Update: I have been informed as of 4:11 p.m., Monday, June 13 that KNPB will not be televising after all.)

Radio listeners will be given the opportunity to offer questions to via the station, some of which may be asked of the candidates in the second half of the debate.

Northern Nevada television personality John Tyson will moderate the debate, which is expected to last 90 minutes. A panel will present questions to the candidates.

The event is sponsored by the Nevada Republican Assembly.

Bloggers and podcasters are being encouraged to ask for press credentials by contacting Paul Jackson at

In addition, Nevada News Bureau has been authorized to collect and pass along questions from bloggers for possible use during the event. If you are a blogger, you can drop your question below as a comment (along with your name and blog URL) or email them to me at:







Nevadans Outline Stakes As Legislature Plans New Political Districts

By Andrew Doughman | 4:00 am April 3rd, 2011

CARSON CITY – The budget is not the only thing legislators are cutting this session.

Far from the budget tug-o-war that snags newspaper headlines, legislators this session must kingmaker carve the boundaries of congressional, senate and assembly districts that will remain for the next ten years, or the next five budget cycles.

Along the way, legislators have culled public opinion through several hours of hearings throughout the state. The overarching message from the people of Fallon, Reno, Carson City and Las Vegas is this: align communities with political districts.

In Las Vegas, representatives from several community groups stressed the need to keep the city’s various minority groups together.

The mayor of Mesquite submitted a letter asking legislators to unite Mesquite in one district. The city is currently split into different districts.

Several residents of Fallon asked legislators to preserve the rural flavor of their current districts. They asked legislators not to draw districts that would leave rural counties subsumed beneath larger voter majorities in Clark and Washoe counties.

“Where do we end up as far as the rural counties are concerned? Is most of our representation going to Washoe County?” asked Bob Johnston of Fallon.

One Person, One Vote

Johnston’s concerns arise from a shrinking rural population.

Nevada was the fastest-growing state in the nation during the past 10 years. The population hit 2.7 million, enough to give Nevada another Congressional seat.

Since much of the growth occurred in Clark County – almost three of every four Nevadans now live in Clark County – Northern Nevada stands to lose one state Senate seat to the south, as well as one or two Assembly seats.

Clark County already boasts 14 of the 21 total Senate seats and 29 of 42 total Assembly seats.

These calculations set the size for a district.

Rules For Redistricting

After that, a variety of U.S. Supreme Court decisions and federal laws also govern how the Legislature must draw its districts.

For instance, legislators must make districts as contiguous and compact as possible while also preserving “communities of interest.

These are communities that would benefit from having a reasonable chance to elect a representative who understands their issues.

This could be a rural community whose legislator may know about water rights and ranching.

Or a community of interest could be a Hispanic neighborhood in Las Vegas that would benefit from having a legislator who understands challenges specific to Hispanics.

Generally, legislators want to avoid “cracking” these communities in two, or “packing” them into one small district.

There are, of course, also political factors like protecting incumbents and drawing districts with certain candidates in mind. Testifying in Las Vegas, Ellen Spiegel, a former legislator, asked for the preservation of districts that have elected female legislators. Andrew Murphy, representing the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, noted that no district currently elects an Asian.

This combination of mathematics, geography, law and politics is enough to make anybody’s head spin.

“We hear words like ‘cracking, stacking and packing’ and understand that redistricting is a complicated process,” said Teresa Navarro, chairwoman of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, at a redistricting hearing in Reno.

Legislators have finished gathering public opinion about the districts. Now they will retreat to the Legislature, where they will draw maps at least partially based on the opinions they gathered in the field.

That is the idea, anyway.

Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said that the Legislature will hold some type of hearing after they release their maps.

In the cynic’s corner, others are unsure.

“Does it really matter?” asked Charlene Bybee at the Reno hearing. “Or is it something that you do because you have to and it is more of a show that you’re not going to consider sincerely when you’re making your decision?”









Angle Holds Hour Long Press Conference in Reno

By Elizabeth Crum | 5:06 pm March 21st, 2011

Nearly 600 days before the general election and wearing a bright purple suit while proving she is no shrinking violet, Sharron Angle today cheerfully fielded tough questions from nine journalists for nearly an hour.

The sole (so far) candidate for Nevada’s second congressional district held the first press conference of her campaign in a small conference room at the Best Western hotel across from the Reno, NV airport.

In a stated attempt to get off on the right foot with a press corps unhappy with (what they claim are) past instances of inaccessibility, Angle said today’s press conference was purposefully scheduled so many days after her announcement last Tuesday in order to give the media time to arrange travel and get their questions ready.

During the press conference, each time she was asked whether she really believes she can win the CD-2 primary race and then win a general election after being so badly damaged in last year’s electoral loss, Angle referred to a large sign reading “19,677″ and which represents her margin over Reid in CD-2 last year:

Angle said she believes that large margin means she has strong enough support in the district to win both the primary and general election. Recounting her history as a politician, she also pointed out, “I have won ten elections. I have lost four.”

In defense of her loss to Reid, which came up numerous times in a variety of ways, Angle pointed out that only one Senate Majority Leader has ever been defeated once entrenched.

Some Republican leaders are not thrilled with Angle’s decision to run, fearing she may win the primary but lose in the general election, effectively handing a congressional seat to the Democrats.

Angle dismissed those concerns, saying it was her “right” to run and adding, “I can win.” She insisted she is well-liked in the district, saying her supporters may not agree with her on every issue but they “know how I will vote” and “can sleep at night knowing I won’t change” position on issues.

When asked what mistakes, if any, she thinks she made in her U.S. Senate campaign and whether that will change her approach this time around, Angle answered, “We have some regrets, but too few to mention.”

Angle added that the initial days of last year’s campaign were “like drinking water from a fire house” and went on to talk about how the Harry Reid campaign engaged in “character assassination.” Later in the press conference, she said she needed “a commercial up the day after the primary.”

When asked about her position on Social Security, Angle resurrected a phrase from her sole debate with Reid and said Congress needs to “man up” and stop using the “trust fund” as their “personal piggy bank.”

Questions about the tea party effect and whether it may help her again were met with measured comments about how such labels can be misleading or “box people in.” Angle said she is appealing to voters to whom “constitutional issues” are important, whether they are members of the “tea party” or not.

As the press conference wrapped up, Angle named upcoming events on her calendar and said her new book, an autobiography that will share personal, formative things, will be out on April. The book is entitled “Right Angle” and will be self-published under Author House.

Angle stayed after the press conference to shake hands and answer individual questions, also introducing her press secretary, Will Rasavage, who she said journalists should “feel free” to contact for “exclusive” time with her.

As Angle gears up to hire her campaign team – she said she is conducting interviews now – some Republican leaders are pressing Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki to run, while also asking state party chair Mark Amodei to consider not running in order to avoid a scenario that might pull votes from Krolicki and hand Angle the primary win.

Also considering a run are state Sen. Greg Brower and Kirk Lippold, former U.S.S. Cole commander.


Thousands Expected Today For Huge Rally For Revenue At Legislature

By Andrew Doughman | 12:01 am March 21st, 2011

CARSON CITY – In what could be the largest rally ever held at the Legislature, more than 1,000 students, parents, teachers and activists are expected today to protest education budget cuts.

Hundreds from Las Vegas have hopped aboard a convoy of buses to join their northern counterparts in making a call for more revenue – read: tax increases – to bridge Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed $160 million cuts to the higher education budget.

Organizers say they hope their rally will spark a shift in the debate at the Legislature, where lawmakers have yet to advance any public plans for new revenue.

“I hope these politicians will change their tone,” said Michael Flores, an organizer for Progress Now Nevada. “In Carson, there’s a different atmosphere. They beat around the bush a lot …people feel that, you know what, we have got to get on the ball with this.”

Casey Stiteler, who coordinates the UNR student body’s governmental affairs said the key message is mitigating both cuts and tuition increases.

“We understand very much that a number of important, vital services are being cut as well, but we want to make sure our concerns are being taken in account as these decisions are being made,” Stiteler said.

University presidents have already drafted tentative plans for tuition increases between 10 and 15 percent. They may use a combination of tuition increases, faculty and staff pay cuts, program cuts and reduced course offerings to balance their budgets.

Students have said before that this plan is unacceptable. If their numbers alone do not send that message, then at the very least the UNR pep band playing outside the Legislature should grab some ears.

And it is not just students from universities who are showing up.

Leo Murrieta of the Nevada Youth Coalition has recruited about 150 high school students. He has talked to hundreds of parents and obtained excused absences from school so that students can get a real-life civics lesson.

“The overall response was this is more important, this is something my kid should partake in,” said Murrieta, who has spent most of his recent evenings organizing the trip.

Rally Has Been Months In The Making

Sara Sinnett, a 19-year-old UNR student, texts students Sunday afternoon to remind them about the March 21 rally at the Legislature, which is expected to draw thousands.

All of these groups – K-12, higher education and progressive organizations – have not exactly had problems recruiting for the rally.

People are fed up.

Previous legislative town hall events have been packed with Nevadans upset about the governor’s proposed cuts.

So how, exactly, does that anger translate into action?

Student and community leaders have been planning the rally since January. They have made phone calls, spoke in classrooms and held events to spread the word. They even allotted student fees to rent buses; UNLV used $15,000 to rent buses for the overnight haul from Las Vegas to Carson City, an expense the UNLV College Republicans have called unnecessary and “wasteful.”

Sara Sinnett, a 19-year-old psychology major at the University of Nevada, Reno, spent hours Sunday afternoon sending reminders to students to get on the Carson City-bound buses come Monday morning.

While she has spent countless hours phone banking and speaking in front of her classes about the March 21 event, she said the old shoe-and-leather approach has not been the most effective.

“The best way we’ve found out to do this is Facebook,” she said. “We’ve also done things like text message campaigns.”

In Las Vegas, Flores has prepped for the rally for weeks. Much of his work has been through text messages and Facebook.

“A lot of people don’t pick up the newspaper anymore, so you put that [news story] on Facebook and that’s how people get fired up about this,” he said.

Whatever the medium, the message got out. But it did not happen overnight.

How much time does it take to coordinate hundreds of people statewide?

“Well, I don’t sleep anymore,” Flores said.








Recession Leading To Exodus Of University Faculty

By Andrew Doughman | 10:14 am February 23rd, 2011

Professor Michael Young began to think last year that he should look for a job outside of Nevada.

It was not the craziest thought; the recession was in full swing and legislators were slashing the higher education budget.

Young was a departmental director at the Desert Research Institute. Now he’s an associate director at the University of Texas, Austin.

During the recession, Nevada has had a difficult time keeping research professors like Young.

The best students already seem to be leaving for out-of-state colleges. The same thing seems to be happening with faculty.

“It turns out, ironically, that the state of Texas has big economic problems as well,” Young said in a phone interview. “But there’s a very fundamentally different level of understanding in terms of what the university does for the economy and for the future of the state [in Texas]. You don’t really hear that a lot in Nevada.”

What you do hear is the president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas telling faculty that the university may go bankrupt. You hear Gov. Brian Sandoval proposing a $163 million cut to the state’s universities and colleges.

At the same time, Nevada’s public figures have championed economic diversification through hiring innovative faculty, providing start-up funds and building a research engine. These professors will presumably leverage millions in federal grants and build Reno or Las Vegas into high-tech research hubs where start-ups will provide manufacturing jobs.

It sounds great. One day we will talk of Silicon Valley, Seattle and Reno as the tech hubs of the West.

But then reality sets in.

“It’s hard to imagine a young faculty member … why would that person go to a university where 30 percent of its budget is being cut?” Young asked. “It’s not an incentive that a lot of young people would take.”

Young said he left Nevada for various reasons, among them the state’s fiscal woes.

Steven Wells, president of the DRI, said that the institution has lost 21 faculty since 2008.

“We’ve had people who have been here five to ten years suddenly leaving and our investment in them goes with them,” he said. “Michael Young is a prime example. I tried to do whatever I could to keep him.”

Wells said that researchers like Young aren’t tenured. They support themselves through grants they receive largely from the federal government.

But the DRI’s administrative costs do come from the state. The state must also attract graduate students to work under researchers like Young.

“These researchers within these institutes have to believe that there’s a future here and that the state is interested in bolstering the fledgling research infrastructure that we have,” said Jim Croce, director at the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization.

Data provided by the Nevada System of Higher Education showed that Young had brought about $3 million into Nevada via grants during the past two years. He’s just one of many professors at the DRI, UNLV and the University of Nevada, Reno who collectively brought in millions of dollars to the state and have since left.

Where’s the money?

The recession has left the state’s coffers running dry, the federal stimulus is running out and “new spending” are dirty words at the Legislature.

A Senate committee on economic development heard testimony this week from Croce, who talked about expanding his organization’s link between university research and the renewable energy sector.

Senators immediately wanted to know the cost.

“Does that mean investing general funds into the system so that they have the capacity in their budget to go out and recruit their researchers?” asked Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno.

Croce replied that yes, Nevada would be “literally buying” faculty to come to Nevada.

Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, followed by asking what the state would need to do.

“At a minimum we have to stop the bleeding and make sure we have a healthy NSHE base,” he said.

Higher ed needs “drastic reform”

Others argue that the higher education system already has enough money.

“You’re really good at coming and asking for money,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, to Dan Klaich, NSHE chancellor, at a higher education hearing this week. “But what we need now is help and places where we can make reform. Drastic reform.”

Her comments echo those of the governor’s senior adviser, Dale Erquiaga.

“You’ve got to have money to spend money,” he said during a January press conference.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki said that the universities can help with economic development, even as their budgets shrink.

“It can be done today,” he said. “It’s about directing resources.”

He said that universities can help faculty gear their research toward commercialization.

Nonetheless, those same faculty have been and still are leaving.

“It’s not like you flip a light switch and you get your research back,” Young said. “To me that’s probably one of the saddest parts of the story. …When the economy is doing well, the state is going to continue to suffer through this because the research infrastructure is gone.”