I don’t think John Wayne would have cared much for Gov. Jim Gibbons.
In the Western classic “The Cowboys,” the character played by Bruce Dern tries to get a job on a cattle drive from Wil Anderson, the character played by Wayne. Wayne catches Dern in a false claim about who he’d worked for in the past. At which point Dern explains that he didn’t tell the truth because he’d been in prison and a lot of people held that against him. To which the Duke famously replied:
“I don’t hold prison against you, but I hate a liar.”
Now, calling someone a liar is a pretty strong accusation. But when it comes to Jim Gibbons and this whole tax issue, I don’t know how else to put it.
When he was running for governor, Gibbons made this promise, in writing: “I, Jim Gibbons, pledge to the taxpayers of Nevada and all the people of this state, that I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.” Short. Plain. Simple.
Two months ago the governor broke his pledge by proposing in his budget the third largest tax hike in Nevada’s history. Proposing ain’t opposing. Strike one.
Then, instead of admitting he broke his campaign promise, the governor compounded the deception by claiming that a non-existent “vote of the people” loophole is found somewhere in the Taxpayer Protection Pledge he signed. Strike two.
Pouring salt into the open wound, the governor then began claiming “the people” voted for the 3 percent room tax hike last November. Not.
First, what appeared on the ballot last November was a non-specific advisory question in only three of Nevada’s seventeen counties. And the wording of that question wasn’t even close to the wording of the actual bill passed by the Legislature this week. So the actual room tax proposal the governor’s talking about never, ever appeared on any ballot anywhere in the state at any time. Strike three.
Secondly, even the advisory question wasn’t approved “by the people.” At least not if “by the people” you mean, like, you know, ALL of the people of Nevada, including those where the question never appeared on the ballot.
There were approximately 1.5 million registered voters in Nevada last November. Of those, less than 500,000 voted in favor of the room tax advisory question. Which means only one out of every three Nevada voters voted for it. Nowhere but some public school math classes is one out of three considered a majority.
The governor knows this. And yet he continues to claim his tax hike was “the will of the people.” It’s simply not true. Strike four.
On the campaign trail the governor promised to veto any and all efforts to raise taxes. Now he says he won’t veto the room tax hike. Strike five.
The governor also said he would sign the room tax bill if passed by the Legislature. Now he says he’ll let it take effect without his signature. Strike six.
Nothing this governor says can be believed by anyone any more. If the governor declares the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, you’ll be wanting a second opinion. And there’s just no way to deal in good faith with someone like that.
Some people are now saying the governor is “irrelevant” to the legislative process for the remainder of this session. I disagree. He’s toxic to it. And in the process he’s doing irreparable harm to the Office of the Governor, the state of Nevada, the conservative movement and the Republican Party.
Botched swearing-in ceremony, botched appointments, botched staffing, botched agenda, botched budget, botched media relations, scandals, a messy divorce, lawsuits and unending investigations. This administration is a Category 4 disaster.
I voted for Jim Gibbons in 2006. Seemed like the right thing to do at the time. But he’s betrayed our trust. So now it’s time for him to resign. And that’s no lie.