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Pahrump, Nevada
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February 13, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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February 13, 1997
 

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10 Thursday, February 13, 1997 Pahrump Valley Gazette Editorial "The Best Politicians Money Can Buy" By Robert Lowes The late Jess Unruh, the longtime speaker of the California Assembly was the first to put political contributions into their proper perspective with his quote that "money is the mother's milk of politics." While those words were first said back in the early 70s, the statement is just as accurate today as it was 30 years ago. Funny how much some things change; the more they seem to remain the same. The relationship between money and politics is as irrefutable as the law of gravity. However, considering some recent revelations from both political parties on campaign contributions, perhaps the time has come for us to rethink the role of money in politics. That old line about being the best politician money can buy,just isn't so funny anymore. How could anyone possibly think any of our current crop of politicos would be influenced by a mere $500, non-reportable campaign contribution. Maybe I've become a cynic in my advancing years, but I have seen too many votes influenced for far less. Influence is peddled over expense-account lunches, jobs for favored friends and relatives, Taxpayer-supported junkets. So what's the harm in accepting a limo ride from the airport and having a few lunches with lobbyists? After all, the only thing you really sell, at the least, is your ear. Besides, when you are a country bumpkin, it's nice being treated like a king by those with access to the hill. I know, I used to get paid big bucks to do it, and the abuses of power work from the very top on down. President Clinton, for example, comes off slightly less than credible when he attempts to explain his private meet- ings and White House hospitality with fat-cat contributors are not for pure political money-grubbing purposes, and unless you have just fallen off the proverbial turnip truck and landed on your head, it might be difficult to accept the fact that his vice-presidential bag man went to the Buddhist Temple in L.A. with the only the purest of motives. No waY. It's difficult to separate money from politics. It has become the name of today's political game. But it really is nothing new, it's gone on unchecked at various levels of government for years. Campaign-finance is shaping up to be a dominant item on the political agenda for 1997. As a senate committee prepares to launch an extensive and costly inves- tigation into possible campaign-finance tactics abuses in the recent 1996 election, many of our elected and appointed officials are beginning to feel the pressure of their recent fundraising activities. This is not the first time in our history that there has been widespread frustration over questionable campaign-finance tactics and a desire for large-scale re- form has taken hold throughout this country, from the nation's capitol to Carson City to Tonopah. A little more than a century ago, Theodore Roosevelt - a figure much admired by our current president - evaluated the progress of the recently formed Civil Service Commission in exposing and outlawing unethical campaign-fundraising methods of that era. The fundraising abuses that were being criticized back then took a different form from hose drawing current criti- cism. Campaigners today are commonly accused of accept- ing large donations in exchange forpolitical influence, whereas the abuses cited by Roosevelt were examples of pressuring government employees to make donations to the party that had hired them. But the public dissatisfaction with how politicians and political parties both get and use their money is common to both time periods. Like I said, the more things change; the more some things seem to stay the same. In fact some of Roosevelt's words of more than a century ago could be used as a guide for today's committees at all levels of government investigating campaign-finance abuses and reforms. In presidential (election) years the" pressure for funds is very great. The national and state campaign committees strive urgently to get every dollar possible....A certain amount of soliciting for money, usually by indirect methods, goes on ... A great deal of it was done in the last presidential campaign, in 1888. It is too much to expect the Commission will be able to put a complete stop to it now; but at least we intend to try to minimize the evils complained of, and to make them less than they have ever been before. Roosevelt's complete article on the subject of needed campaign-finance reforms written for the Atlantic Monthly in July 1882, should be required reading for everyone, candi- dates and contributors alike, involved in political fund raising in today's world. President Clinton, who professes to be one of Teddy's big fans, could profit from the wisdom of those timeless words of political wisdom, not to mention our very own county commissioners and other elected officials who will soon be seeking financial support for their 1997 cam- paigns. Our current president, obviously no stranger to the impor- tance of campaign contributions himself, has been quoted as saying, "I think it' s a good thing when contributors care about the country and have some particular area of expertise they want to contribute." "Nobody buys a guaranteed result, nor should they ever, but they should get a respectful hearing." There it is, folks, you heard it directly from the headman himself: This ear for Sale, Bring checkbook. Let's face it, everyone of us has a vested interest of some sort, and we all have our individual areas of expertise and deserve, at the very least, a respectful hearing. That and a $10,000 donation to the DNC could get you an overnight stay at the White House courtesy of Bellhop Bill. All of which may sound a bit harsh for me to be picking on the president, which I'm not, but the problem of political financing transcends partisan party lines and infiltrates all levels of government, national, state and local. It's the system itself that is corrupt and needs fixing before that corruptness seduces even the most honorable of men. And you don' t have to look very far to find some examples close to our own backyard, but that's another story for another time. Pahrump no longer the redheaded stepchild When the Nye County Board of Commissioners meet in Pahrump next Tuesday, it will mark the first time in five months they've seen Pahrump. At least officially. Just two short months ago, Chairman Dick Carver announced he would only be willing to meet in pahrump "if something on the agenda affected Pahrump.,' The comment was covered heavily in the local media and Pa.hrump residents responded with angry epithets directed atCarver, "Carver of the County" was my favorite. However, the winds of Nye County politics are often unpredictable. When Red Copass motioned the second meet- ing in February be held in Pahrump, Carver hardly whim- pered. True, he did ask if the agenda would contain anything of interest to Pahrump. Both Cameron McRae and Copass assured the Round Mountain rancher that would be the case. During the same meeting in December, Carver implied we Pahrump residents don't care what the county commis- sioners do with our town, our youth, our senior citizens, our emergency services, our police protection, our water or our roads. In short, our tax dollars. Carver, by alleging more "residents from Amargosa were in attendance in Pahrump than Pahrumpians," at the last meeting held in Pahrump September 17, essentially stated Pahrump is apathetic and doesn't care about Nye County Government or what they do with our tax dollars. No, Carver did not actually say this; but any student of Nye County Commission meetings knows exactly what Carver meant. With the above-referenced facts, coupled with a new commission, it is probably critical for the future of Pahrump to turn out in droves and attend this meeting. At least three of the commissioners would benefit from such an event. Pahrump has by far the largest population. Around 70 . percent. Most importantly, Pahrump carries 66 percent of the votes. Think about it. NoW, it is not suggested any commissioner is not aware of this fact. What one or more may not be aware of is this: Pahrump, the red-headed step-child of Nye County since time began, doomed to neglect and county hand-me-downs decade after decade, is all grown up. Pahrump has developed into a bright little town with tremendous potential. The town board, despite having their hands figuratively tied in respect to who has local control (the county in most cases) is looking forward with cautious optimism. There does exist a certain animosity between Bob Little and a few of the other members, but time will temper any discontent. There are numerous task forces and committees in session advising the board with issues as important as the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission or the Business License, to the Legis- lative or Economic Development task forces, to the arena and fair boards. The discussions, workshops and actions are fiscally sound and in this writer's opinion, in the best interest of the community. The county commission needs to see this. They need to be made aware of what goes on when a town is growing out of itsel flike a weed. Pahrump is no longer a town covered with alfalfa and cotton fields where the Cotton Know What I Mean? by Doug McMurdo Pickin' Saloon is the town center. Voters should be congratulated for their votes last November. The growth is obviously out of control. The commissioners should take a tour of Paul Tarantino's castle and look what the lack of a building inspector can do for gravity. When the building tumbled to the ground, no less than four state agencies got involved. With Chairman Carver's self acknowledged loathing of all things government, insofar as intervention goes, he should be the pilot to help Nye County clean up their act and establish a reasonable, non-burdensome building permit process that will not only provide protection but will keep the state out of our backyard. What else does the town need to show the commission- ers? For starters, let's give them a tour of our local schools. Granted, they don't oversee the school district. But they do set aside PETT funding for them. The four million dollars pledged in 1996 needs to be left alone. The money has been assigned, don't touch it. Perhaps the overcrowded schools will help them see the light. The roads. Frankly, this writer laughs at people who complain about dust in the desert. But Pahrump's infrastructure has to be upgraded. The town will never attract big employers without a reasonable road system. Water. If recent reports are even 50 percent accurate, some- thing drastic needs to be done now. To procrastinate over something as precious as water would be criminal. Planning. Fund Ron Williams and give his department the tools neces- sary to put some teeth in the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission. Senior Citizens. There is a large but silent segment of Pahrump residents who allege abuse at the Senior Citizens Center. While some reports prove to be without merit, others are surfacing which are grievous and substan- tial. It is unfair for our seniors to be living "a winter of discontent" because the folks in charge are out of touch. Visit the Senior Center and talk with some of our older but wiser citizens. Youth Center. Several months ago, the county offered $100,000 for a multi-purpose/youth/con- vention center. Take a look at what our youth don't have. There will be no tour of the facility because we don't yet have plans. To be completely fair, the town recently com- missioned an $8,000 survey that indicates only six Pahrump residents give a damn about a youth center for our kids. Emergency Services and Police. The commissioners cut one million dollars from Sheriff Wade Lieseke's budget. Field personnel will have to work overtime because the sheriff cannot and will not cut services. This will place overworked, overstressed cops on the street. Officer and civilian safety will be compromised. The ambulance bay is overwo, rked and understaffed. Some people are going to die if funds don't get to emergency services. I would suggest the town ask the county how to hire a good lawyer, but they don't seem to be any better at it than the town board is. The strict definition of government is simply the exer- cise of authority over a state or organization. Government is political administration and those who govern direct the affairs of the state or organization. The government, at any. level, takes our dollars and in turn manages our services. Theoretically, anyhow. It is time Pahrump stand and be recognized. Carver wasn't all wrong with his implications. Pahrump residents need to quit bitching and start acting. Make plans to take an hour or two and attend part of the meeting. Observe your tax dollars at work. See how the business of governing Nye County works. You're the boss. Go see if your employees are earning the salaries, some very high, that you pay them. The Nye County Board of Commissioners meet-in Pahrump February 18 beginning at 9:30 a. m. The meetings are held at the.Bob Ruud Community Center at Basin and Highway 160. For a modest donation, the Seniors will provide hot coffee and pastries. The meetings are usually recessed from noon to 1:30 p. m. Here's a hint: The commission has an annoying habit of waiting until the end of the meeting to discuss anything even remotely controversial. It is rumored they do this to cut down on the number of witnesses. Schedule accordingly. (k