Yesterday the family and I drove up to Carson City to be here for the big 150th Anniversary celebration of Nevada’s statehood. On the way we stopped and walked around the Rhyolite Ghost Town before taking a tour of Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley. Dinner last night, of course, was at Red’s 395 Grill.
Breakfast this morning at The Crackerbox, where I ran into my longtime friend Rick Arnold. Later today we’ll hit Virginia City for lunch, including a Bloody Mary at the Bucket of Blood Saloon.
Trick-or-treating tonight in the neighborhood surrounding the Governor’s Mansion tonight (I’m going as myself; about the scariest thing imaginable for Gov. Brian Sandoval!).
The annual GOP Pancake Breakfast at the Guv’s Mansion tomorrow morning, then the big Nevada Day Parade, followed by Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki’s Annual Chili Feed at the Nugget and topped off with the Nevada Day Fair at Mills Park.
On Sunday we’ll head down to Lake Tahoe for a hike around Taylor Creek – or as my kids affectionately call it, “Dead Fish Stream.” This is the time of year the Coho Salmon swim upstream out of the lake, spawn and then croak. The stream is littered with dead fish…and one year we saw a bear on the hike. Mother Nature at its finest. Real cool.
And then on Monday…
Four years ago, my organization, Citizen Outreach, sent out a pair of issue advocacy mailers alerting voters to the voting record of then-Assembly Speaker John Oceguera. Secretary of State Ross Miller, in typical partisan fashion, sued us in an effort to try to get us to disclose the identities of our donors even though we are not required to do so according to IRS rules.
Miller has been on a jihad against so-called “dark money” – which is really nothing more than protected anonymous free speech – and has been selectively prosecuting only conservative organizations over his liberal (what else?) interpretation of the law.
And just why would some people wish to remain anonymous in donating to a conservative (or liberal) causes? Here are 8 darned good reasons, courtesy of Donor’s Trust…
- To avoid becoming a chronic target for other causes
- Religious donors may view anonymous giving as the highest form of charity
- New donors may give anonymously until they have a better feel for the organization
- Professional discretion
- Desire to be seen as a regular community member
- Allows a donor to be flexible and creative in his or her giving
- Avoids personal problems, such as relatives seeking inheritance
- Fear of retribution (personal, political, professional)
That last one, by the way, is deadly serious and the reason why four of our Founding Fathers inked the Federalist Papers anonymously.
In any event, four years later and we finally get to make our case in court. Oral arguments will be presented before the Nevada Supreme Court in Carson City Monday morning.
Keep your fingers crossed that free speech ultimately wins the day!
At the risk of being accused of “voter suppression,” allow me to suggest that if you don’t know the issues and don’t know the candidates that it would be better for your community and our republic if you just stayed home on Election Day.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you “can’t” vote. Just that maybe you “shouldn’t.”
Indeed, if you haven’t taken the time to research both the candidates and the issues on the ballot this year sufficiently enough to cast an informed and educated vote, then please do the rest of us who are exercising our right responsibly a favor by sitting this one out.
There is simply no excuse for not being an informed and educated voter in this day and age. The Internet is an absolutely fantastic tool for researching candidates and issues. Local newspapers continue to provide invaluable information and often endorsements. And plenty of organizations of like-minded individuals also provide voter guides and candidate recommendations.
For example, if gun rights are an important issue to you, then check out the endorsements of groups such as the Nevada Firearms Coalition. If social issues are important to you, check out the voter guide published by Nevada Families.
If being a Republican or a Democrat is important to you, find out which party the candidates running in so-called “non-partisan” races belong to. If you’re libertarian-leaning in your philosophy, the Libertarian Party did a great job researching candidates this year on their website. Ditto the Independent American Party if you take your politics more on the social side of issues.
The point is there’s just no excuse for casting a ballot in ignorance. And yes, I’m saying that if you go into the voting booth and make your decisions by flipping a coin or going “eeny-meeny-miny-moe” that instead maybe you should spend the day getting your car washed or your nails polished.
An instructive case in point illustrating the danger of casting an ill-informed vote was the campaign of Dave Wilson last year.
Wilson was a white candidate running in a predominantly black district for a board of trustees seat in Houston who didn’t include a single photograph of himself on his website or in mailers but strongly and disingenuously suggested he was black. And to the shock of many black voters who ignorantly voted for him without really knowing who they voted for – he won!
Is there a “Dave Wilson” on your ballot this year? If you don’t know, don’t vote. Or at least only vote in races in which you clearly know who the candidates are. You get no extra credit for casting a vote in every single race.
Yes, voting is your right. But if you exercise that right, please do so responsibly.
In the movie The Dark Knight, there’s a scene where Alfred Pennyworth is talking about the nature of The Joker with Bruce Wayne/Batman. Wayne says, “Criminals aren’t complicated, Alfred. You just have to figure out what he’s after.”
To which Alfred responds that “some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
That scene came to my mind last night as I listened to a woman named Tiecha Ashcroft kvetching about recess at a meeting of the Pinecrest Academy Charter School board in Henderson.
Of all those who spoke before Ms. Ashcroft took the floor – teachers at the school and parents of children who attend the school – every single one voiced support for the school’s new principal, Dr. Carrie Buck.
And by the time Ms. Ashcroft got halfway through her lone diatribe of discouraging words, it became abundantly clear…
She’s one of those people who just wants to complain. You can’t reason with her. You can’t negotiate with her. Some people just want to b- – – -.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Why would I be sitting in a board meeting for over 90 minutes listening to parents and teachers (and one outstandingly articulate young lady who is a 5th-grader there) talking about a petty school brouhaha over recess when I homeschool my own kids and have no involvement with the school in question whatsoever?
Because like the Caped Crusader I can’t just stand idly by and watch good people doing great things for kids suffer the injustice of being unfairly and unethically attacked. Especially when it comes from a conservative who’s supposed to be a professional and certainly should know better.
But before we get to the molehill incident itself, let me first put this in some proper perspective by telling you a little about the person who was attacked.
Principal Carrie Buck is everything you and I would want in a public school administrator. She insists on school discipline, sets high but achievable goals for both students and teachers, has an open-door policy for parents, and doesn’t whine about not having enough money from taxpayers to get the job done.
She got her start 23 years ago in an elementary school classroom. She is an ELL (English Language Learner) specialist, as well as a Teacher Mentor and Instructional Coach.
In 2006, Buck was appointed principal at C.T. Sewall Elementary School in Henderson. Sewall, at the time, was described as being “in transition.”
That’s PC-speak for “in the crapper.”
The building itself is the oldest in southern Nevada still in use. The student body is primarily low-income and minority – many for whom English is their second language. The staff entrance figuratively consisted of a revolving door. Morale stunk, as did the students’ test scores.
What Buck’s leadership was able to achieve over the next seven years was nothing short of miraculous.
Test scores soared. Math proficiency shot up from 36% to 89%, while English proficiency increased from 35% to 83%.
Sewall went from one of the worst schools in the state to one of the absolute best.
Indeed, the school’s reputation for academic excellence became so well know in the community that a number of parents unlawfully established false residences with friends and family in the neighborhood just so their kids could be zoned to attend Sewell.
As such, the student body swelled, straining the school’s limited resources
But rather than kvetch about “under-funding” education, Buck went out into the community and, in her time at Sewell, raised “over four million dollars in grants, private funds and donations that provided basic needs for students and their families, as well as instructional supplies, facility improvements, academic enrichment, and technology for the school.”
While not quite qualifying for sainthood (yet), Buck has received considerable recognition for her talents and achievements…
* In 1999, she received the “Most Outstanding Educator” commendation from the City of Henderson.
* In 2008, she won the prestigious Milken Award.
* That same year, she was one of seven chosen for the national ASCD Outstanding Youth Educators Cadre.
* Buck received Faculty of the Month awards from the University of Phoenix in 2002, 2003 and 2006.
* In 2011, she received the Shining Star Award from the Mind Research Institute for tremendous student growth in math.
* In 2013, Buck was inducted into the Clark County School District’s “Excellence in Education Hall of Fame.”
* And earlier this year Dr. Buck was nominated for the Life Changer Award from the National Life Group.
A bona fide expert in her field, Buck is a highly-sought after public speaker on education reform and excellence. She and her success at Sewell were featured in a March 2013 article for the National After-School All-Stars Program. And in 2013, Sewell was chosen as a Model Highlight School.
In January of this year, C.T. Sewell was designated as a State of Nevada Model School, as well as a National Title I Distinguished School.
One month later The Miracle Worker left Sewell and accepted the Principal position at Pinecrest Academy after the school’s founding principal abruptly and unexpectedly left the position under a cloud of circumstances not relevant to this discussion.
Suffice it to say, Buck took over Pinecrest under less than ideal circumstances eight months ago.
And just to prove the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished, Buck inherited Tiecha Ashcroft.
More on that in Part II of “The Buck Stops Here: Anatomy of a Smear.” Stay tuned Batfans…
Well, that didn’t take long.
No sooner did free-market, ridesharing Uber drivers hit the streets in Las Vegas yesterday than the Taxi Cartel’s bought-and-paid-for police force began cracking down on them. Get this story from this morning’s Las Vegas Review-Journal…
“Uniformed officers were at the Fashion Show mall on the Strip late Friday to meet Uber driver Michael Elsner with a ticket. Five unmarked white Nevada Taxicab Authority vehicles surrounded his blue Ford Focus as he was driving east on Fashion Show Drive about 3:30 p.m. He was pulled over while trying to drop off two passengers. Two undercover officers wore black ski masks.”
“Wore black ski masks”? Are you f-ing kidding me!
Elsner described what happened…
“It’s like a sting. It was crazy, man. They had one cop on the front telling me to get out of the car, if I had any drugs. It was wild.”
His car was confiscated and towed to an impound lot, and the poor guy now faces a $10,000 fine.
For giving somebody a ride to the mall!
Fortunately, Uber will pay the fine and fees to get Elsner’s car back.
Now I know many of you aren’t yet familiar with Uber and this whole ridesharing business, so let me explain it in pretty basic, simple terms…
If you own a clean, safe, late-model car and want to pick up folks and drive them somewhere, either part-time or full-time, working on your own schedule as an independent contractor, you apply with Uber. Uber then does a background check and verifies that you have the necessary auto insurance.
Uber also provides additional insurance to cover you while you’re providing the ridesharing service.
Now if you’re an Uber customer, you set up an account online and give Uber a credit card number. If and when you need a ride somewhere – and choose, of your own free will, not to call a taxi and wait forever, let alone pay the sky-high taxi fares – you can request that a Uber driver come pick you up and give you a lift.
The driver is usually to your location within minutes. And the Uber smartphone app allows you to actually watch an icon of the car is as it makes its way to you. You can also call or text the driver to tell him where exactly you are, what you’re wearing so he knows who you are, etc.
The fare is calculated using the driver’s smartphone and is automatically billed to your credit card…including tip. So you conveniently need no cash whatsoever to use the service. It’s fast, efficient and comparatively less expensive. I’ve now used the service in Los Angeles, Burbank, Phoenix and Denver and it is absolutely fabulous.
And one of the reasons is that you, as a customer, get to “rate” your driver after the trip. A driver who consistently gets low ratings will be dropped from the service, so it’s imperative that they go out of their way to provide you the best, most pleasant experience possible.
In fact, in Denver my Uber driver came INTO the terminal to meet me so I wouldn’t have to try to find him among all the other vehicles coming and going out on the busy street.
Try getting personal service like that from a traditional taxi driver!
No wonder Uber is so uber-popular.
Which is also why the Taxi Cartel here in Nevada is scared s***less.
As such, they were able to get Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto to seek an order from Carson City District Judge James Russell yesterday which now prohibits Uber’s drivers from operating anywhere in the state until a hearing is conducted on November 6.
It’s long past time to bust up the Taxi Cartel in this state.
If I, as an adult citizen in the United States of America, freely choose to pay someone a fee to take me to the grocery store or to my hotel from an airport, and that driver, also an adult citizen of the United States of America, freely chooses to provide that service for an agreed-upon fee, what the hell business is it of the government to tell us WE CAN’T DO SO?
Free-market conservatives of the world, unite! We want Uber! We want Uber!
I don’t like it when bad things are done to good conservatives…especially when done by other good conservatives.
On Wednesday, a true education reform champion was attacked by a conservative education blogger in a post that, unbelievably, failed to disclose that the source of much of the negative criticism was the daughter of the author!
That’s bad enough. But much of the criticism was nothing more than unsubstantiated he-said/she-said innuendo in which the target was never given an opportunity to respond to or refute the attacks.
I’m hoping – PRAYING – that the very reputable conservative organization that published this highly inflammatory hit piece will do the right thing and simply take it down over the weekend so we can all go back to frying bigger liberal government fish on Monday.
Otherwise, the defense will have no choice but to present its case next week in the court of public opinion. And rest assured, the defense is loaded for bear.
Oh, and yours truly will be serving as the defense attorney.
In 2012, Democrat assembly candidate Andrew Martin was ruled by a judge ineligible to run for his assembly district because he didn’t live in his assembly district. Go figure.
The Democrat majority in the Assembly seated him anyway, without a peep of protest from GOP Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey.
A week ago, Democrat assembly candidate Meghan Smith was similarly declared ineligible to run in AD-34 this year. When asked about whether or not she would rule out the possibility of seating Smith anyway next session, Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick replied, “Why would we do that?”
Indeed, since the court ruling came too late to have Smith’s name removed from the ballot, there is certainly a possibility that Smith could still “win” the election on November 4th even though a judge ruled her as ineligible to run. And if she does, Kirkpatrick and the Democrats are likely to seat her.
Having been burned once before and rolling over as a patsy in the Martin brouhaha, surely Hickey won’t stand for it again, right?
Asked by the Las Vegas Review-Journal “what he would do in Kirkpatrick’s place,” Hickey replied cutely, “I’m not in Marilyn’s shoes.”
What a weenie.
That was the perfect opportunity to draw a line in the sand. Something a true opposition leader would do, especially when holding the moral high ground.
“We stood by and allowed such an injustice in 2013 because it was the first time something like this had happened and, frankly, I’m a wimp,” Hickey could have said, but didn’t. “But Republicans will not allow such a thing to happen again in 2015 without serious consequences, which will poison the entire legislative session. If Democrats unwisely choose this path, it’ll be on their heads.”
Instead, Hickey said, “We want to see what happens in that race before we have discussions about the outcome.”
What a weenie.
Free-market ride-sharing company Uber – despite threats from the taxi cartel and the bureaucrats they own – opened for business today in Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City.
Folks, this is gonna be a political battle royale like you haven’t seen in Nevada in a LONG, LONG time.
Bruce Breslow, professional bureaucrat and Gov. Brian Sandoval’s hand-picked apparatchik of the state’s Department of Business and Industry, threatened Uber drivers in a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “We’re going to enforce the law. We’re not going to get into an argument over philosophies.”
Added one of Breslow’s *real* bosses, Brent Bell, president of Whittlesea Bell Transportation, “Just because they have slick new technology doesn’t give them the right to completely and arrogantly ignore the law.”
The law Bell is talking about? Probably the one where any new competitor to the taxi cartel in this state has to get permission from the Taxicab Authority, which the cartel all but owns, and PROVE there’s a “need” for their service.
In what other industry does a competitor have to “prove” market need to the government before entering? That’s insane.
Welcome Uber! Let the games begin.
On Monday, UNLV announced that it had narrowed its selections for a new president down to three.
One of them is Ricardo Azziz, president of Georgia Regents University – which makes me wonder if the search committee, headed by a consultant who was paid $150,000, has ever heard of Google. Because a quick Google search turned up a story out of Georgia headlined, “Dr. Azziz dodges questions about recent controversy.”
You’d think a story headline such as that might have raised a few red flags, no?
In my Google search, I also found these headlines…
- Azziz Says GRU “Messed Up” In Altered Photos Controversy
- Gov. Deal addresses Azziz controversy
- Azziz is tone-deaf in naming controversy
- Former Augusta State president tells Azziz: ‘It’s not about you’
- Azziz weekend wedding raises eyebrows
- Garage addition at home of Azziz planned without state approval
- Azziz under fire over plan to expand garage with GRU money
- Dr. Azziz’s new garage might not happen this fiscal year
- Azziz to reimburse GRU for resources used at private wedding
- Azziz Issues Statement On Use Of University Resources Controversy
- Emails reveal new “tricked out” car for Dr. Azziz
- University patrol car picked up Azziz’s children from school
- GRU security officer brought Azziz’s children home from school
First, let me acknowledge that there are, indeed, two sides to every story. And it’s only fair to hear Dr. Azziz’s side of these controversies. But that’s part of the problem. When questioned by the media after a speech in April 2013, he stonewalled.
Azziz was asked about the wedding controversy. “We’re actually not going to answer that,” Azziz replied. “Those questions I’m not going to answer today.”
The media wanted answers about “plans (that) were made but not approved for a $75,000 update to the president’s garage.” Azziz replied, “We’re talking about today’s talk. Any other discussion?”
What about “why school resources were used to pick up your children”?
Azziz again ducked. “Anything else?”
Yes, “whose idea was it to erase ASU’s logo from the pamphlet (school brochure)?”
“Any other questions about today’s talk?” Azziz said, refusing to answer.
Great. Just what UNLV needs. A new president with a controversial past who feels he’s above question and owes explanations to no one for his actions.
How’d this guy ever make it to the Final Three?
Under cross-examination in an opening scene of the movie classic True Grit, John Wayne’s character, U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn, was being grilled over a confrontation with some suspected outlaws he was trying to arrest who ended up dead.
Prosecutor: “Was your revolver loaded and cocked?”
Cogburn: “Well, a gun that’s unloaded and cocked ain’t good for nothin’.”
I couldn’t help but think of that exchange when I first heard that Nathan Cirillo – the uniformed guard at the Canadian National War Memorial who was murdered in cold blood by a radicalized Muslim terrorist on Wednesday – was unarmed.
A gun that’s unloaded ain’t good for nothin’.
I also thought about the Duke’s response when on November 9, 2009, Maj. Nidal Hassan opened fire at Fort Hood in Texas, killing 13 and wounding 32 unarmed soldiers and other military personnel. The victims weren’t even allowed to carry an unloaded weapon for show.
Ditto the 2011 Carson City IHOP shooting, where a gunman opened fire on a group of uniformed, unarmed National Guardsmen, killing four people.
Indeed, the only thing more useless than an unloaded gun is no gun at all.
And bear in mind, we’re not talking about civilians here. We’re talking about professionally-trained military personnel who are thoroughly proficient in the use of firearms. And I’m talking about military personnel in uniform, which makes them an easily identified target in this day and age.
Now, I’m not suggesting that simply being armed with a loaded gun would stop every violent act. But at least these folks would have a fighting chance. At least they’d have the ability to shoot back; maybe saving the lives of innocent civilians, as well as their own.
It is absolutely insane to trust trained, uniformed soldiers and guardsmen with guns in Iraq and Afghanistan but not trust them to carry their side-arms on American soil.
And while I’m on the subject of terrorists, guns and movies, do you remember Tombstone, starring Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp?
After a band of bad guys – known as the Cowboys and identified by a sash of red cloth tied around their gun belts – killed his brother, Earp laid down the law with this thundering declaration: “The Cowboys are finished, you understand? I see a red sash, I kill the man wearin’ it!”
If only we had a Wyatt Earp-type commander-in-chief in the White House today to deal with the ISIS barbarians!
One of these days our politically-correct civilian leaders in Washington will finally come to understand that you can’t reason with a rabid dog. When confronted, you cannot negotiate with it. You cannot exchange diplomatic niceties. You can only kill it on sight so it can’t hurt you or anyone else.
ISIS fighters are rabid dogs. They need to be treated as such.
The incumbent in State Senate District 20, Michael Roberson, ran in 2010 as a fire-breathing conservative. In fact, he signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge on Tax Day at a tea party rally!
He then sold out conservatives in the 2013 legislative session by breaking his Pledge and supporting the extension of the “sunsets” and proposing a massive $600 million-plus tax on our state’s mining industry.
Worse, Roberson went on to actively discourage, and outright oppose, conservative Republican candidates in primaries this year, as well as forbidding any of his hand-picked recruits from signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
Now I know a lot of you believe in your soul of souls that any Republican is better than any Democrat. But in the immortal words of John Wayne to Bruce Dern in The Cowboys, “I can’t stand a liar.”
In the RJ’s Voter Guide on Sunday, Roberson started off by saying, “Excessive taxation is bad for our economy.” Yet he voted to extend the sunsets, tax the Internet, and continues to beat the drums for a mining tax hike.
Robo-Taxer went on to state that “As Senate Minority Leader, I have worked…to hold the line on tax increases.” But that’s patently untrue, as he voted to extend the sunsets, tax the Internet, and proposed that massive tax hike on mining.
Roberson then bragged that he “sponsored legislation to cut Nevada’s car registration fees,” which he described as “sky-high” on “working people.” But the truth is he voted to extend the “sunsets,” which includes a hike in those “sky-high” vehicle registration fees.
Roberson went on to claim that he “led the fight to pass legislation that cut payroll taxes for all Nevada businesses and eliminated the payroll tax for 75 percent of Nevada businesses.” But that’s not true either. Those changes were made within the governor’s budget. Roberson had nothing to do with it.
In other words, the guy is, and there’s just no polite way to put it in this case, a serial liar. And that includes the lies he told about his conservative GOP primary opponent back in the spring.
So if the Democrats had run a moderate candidate against him, I’d have been comfortable endorsing an honest “Blue Dog” Democrat over a lying sack of…er, suds any day of the week. But they didn’t. Instead they put up a woman, Teresa Lowry, who says “it’s time corporations in Nevada, who receive billions of dollars in earnings, begin to pay their share so our kids and families get the funding they deserve.”
Pure, unadulterated liberal pap.
So while there’s no way I can support the dishonesty represented by Roberson, there’s also no way I can support yet another ill-informed Democrat Bolshevik with no understanding of, let alone appreciation for, the revenue-producing, job-creating contributions businesses and entrepreneurs make in Nevada.
So my recommendation to conservatives in SD-20: Vote for None of the Above by refusing to vote for either Roberson or Lowry. This is still Roberson’s race to lose, but why participate in encouraging even more dishonesty in politics? Plus, you’ll sleep better at night!