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Mini-Muth’s Truths: December 23, 2010

Pop quiz, kids! Read the following news blurb and choose whether it refers to incoming Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s transition team or incoming Republican Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s transition team. Ready? Begin…

“Governor-elect (name deleted) should arrive in the state capital with a wrecking ball to tear down a dozen state agencies and merge them together to save money and streamline services, advisors to the new governor say in a series of transition reports delivered to him this week.

“(Name deleted), who has promised to cut 6,000 state jobs on his way to creating 700,000 private-sector positions, could be the consolidation king if he adopts the proposals offered to him by his transition committees.

“Over at the Department of Education, his transition team suggests no mergers, just a massive restructuring of education that would provide vouchers for all, eliminate teacher job protection and tie school salaries to student performance.”

Yeah, I’m pretty bummed at the obvious answer, too.

For those of you who still don’t think the government is way too involved in our personal, daily lives, consider last weekend’s announcement by the U.S. Forest Service that sledding up on Mt. Charleston had been banned because of a lack of snow. Our government nannies determined that sledding was too dangerous because “there are a lot of stumps and rocks that normally would be covered.”

I guess the average citizen is just too stupid to see various stumps and rocks that aren’t covered by snow. Good grief.

OK, so a guy gets tired while driving at 3:30 in the morning, so he pulls off the road and into an empty parking lot near the maintenance facility of the Southeast Career Technical Academy in Las Vegas to sleep. A cop comes by, looks into the car and sees “a handgun near the front seat.”

Mind you, all the guy is doing is sleeping. He posed absolutely no threat to anyone in any way, shape, form or fashion. Nevertheless, the cop busted the guy for “possession of a dangerous weapon on school property.”

As opposed to falling asleep behind the wheel of a car. Good grief.

Apples and oranges, love. If you’re talking about the Nevada’s general-fund budget, all figures point to a $1.1 billion overspending deficit in a $6.4 billion budget. But if you look at the state’s ENTIRE budget – let’s call it the super-fund budget – the projected overspending deficit is projected to be closer to $2.7 billion.

However, if you’re going to use that figure, then you have to look at TOTAL super-fund spending, not just general fund spending – which, I’m told, depending on how you fudge…er, I mean manipulate the figures, is in the neighborhood $17 billion.

Either way we’re looking at around a 15-16% overspending deficit. But what some among us are doing is using the $2.7 billion super-fund overspending deficit figure with the $6.4 general fund budget figure to claim, falsely and dishonestly, that there is a 42% overspending deficit problem – meaning we’d have to cut nearly half our budget in order to balance it without raising taxes.

Figures don’t lie, but liars figure. Now you know the rest of the story.

During the campaign season, Democrat Assembly Speaker-in-Waiting John Oceguera remained mum on tax hikes. But now that the elections are behind him, he’s suddenly found his tax-hiking voice. “I think everything should be on the table, even a broad-based business tax,” Johnny O told the RJ’s Ed Vogel last week.

Lube up, small businessmen and women.

According to the RJ, Oceguera told the Clark County Commission on Tuesday that spending reductions would include “cutting basic support for public schools and full-day kindergarten programs, ending a senior citizen property tax rebate program, reducing funding for mental health services and no longer providing dentures for people receiving Medicaid, the free health care for the poor, blind and disabled.”

“There are horrible things on that list,” Oceguera told the RJ in a phone interview. “The cuts are $819 million, and they don’t even get us there. I don’t believe the public realizes the extent of the problem and what the cuts will mean to the state. That is what I am trying to do.”

Really? Sounds more like he’s trying out for the lead role in “Chicken Little.”

Why are the Democrats and government bureaucrats talking about eliminating the Mammovan (a traveling mammogram service for rural Nevada) instead of eliminating the Nevada Arts Council in budget cutting discussions?

Because threats to get rid of the Mammovan will produce an emotional outcry from the populace, thereby greasing the skids for some level of tax increase, while practically no one but the “starving artists” themselves will care if the NAC is shuttered. That’s why.

According to Dale Erquiaga, senior adviser to Gov.-elect Sandoval, the voucher plan the administration intends to pursue will be constitutional in nature, not legislative. That probably means a five-year effort (constitutional amendments in Nevada require two successive votes of the people) to repeal the state’s “Blaine Amendment” – an anti-Catholic provision in the constitutions of some two dozen states which ban government funding of religious schools.

Now, I’m all for repealing the Nevada’s Blaine Amendment; however, courts have already ruled that as long as the vouchers go directly to PARENTS who use them to pay for tuition at a religious school rather than directly to the school itself, there’s no problem.

Which means there’s no reason whatsoever not to pursue a legislative voucher proposal immediately while simultaneously working to repeal the Blaine Amendment – the success of which, by the way, is no certainty.

And while we’re on the subject of public schools, the “Westside” schools in Las Vegas really, really, really suck. They suffer from what is being referred to as “triple segregation” – race, poverty and language barriers. It’s a crock.

First, let’s talk about money. To hear the public school apologists bleat, our government owned and operated schools are underfunded and that’s why education in Nevada stinks. Mo’ money is all that’s needed to give us world-class schools of excellence!

Not.

As a recent RJ story notes, the “Westside” schools receive a boatload more money than other schools in the valley, “thanks to extra federal money for high-poverty schools, and for district spending on desegregation efforts.” How much more? A lot. The average Clark County school receives $8,246 per pupil per year. But Matt Kelly Elementary on the “Westside,” for example, hauls in $13,576 per pupil.

If mo’ money was the answer, Matt Kelly’s kids would be Harvard-bound. They ain’t.

And let’s do the math: $13,576 per pupil times, let’s say, 25 pupils in a classroom. That’s over $339,000 a year per classroom. And these schools can’t get the job done with THAT kind of money?!! Again, obviously mo’ money ain’t the answer.

Now, if anyone really, really, really gave a gosh darn and wanted to do something to actually help these “Westside” kids, they’d read “Crazy Like a Fox: One Principal’s Triumph in the Inner City” and implement Dr. Ben Chavis’ prescription for educating poor and minority children. Let me share with you the Reader’s Digest version:

Dr. Chavis was principal of a middle school in Oakland, CA. Before he took over in 2001, the school scored a bottom-of-the-barrel 436 (out of 1,000) on the state’s Academic Performance Index. In 2009, the school chalked up a stunning 977, the highest API score of any school in Oakland and “the fifth-highest-scoring middle school in California out of about thirteen hundred middle schools in the state.”

Pretty impressive, huh? Well, wait’ll you get a load of the demographics of the students who attained such excellence in education results: “100% inner-city population, 99 percent minority, 78% non-native English speakers, and 88% who qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program.” Oh, and the students “also have a 99% attendance rate.”

If you really want to fix the Westside schools, call Superman, a.k.a. Dr. Ben Chavis.

The RJ reported last week that the current Nevada Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) has taxpayers some $10 BILLION in the hole, meaning some serious reform is called for and pronto. Yet Craig Stevens, the government affairs director for the state’s teachers union, asks, “Why change a system that works.”

This guy has to be using public school math if he thinks a system facing a $10 BILLION unfunded liability is “working.”

And finally and on a national note, it was clear though unspoken that many Republicans supported Michael Steele for chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) two years ago because he, like Barack Obama, was black. And some are again trying to play the race card in Steele’s re-election effort.

That’s wrong.

Steele should be retained or kicked to the curb solely on an objective assessment of his performance over the last two years, not because of his skin pigmentation. If Republicans can’t make color-blind decisions at the highest level of party leadership, they have no business lecturing others on race issues.