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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
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March 20, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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March 20, 1997
 

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Jr jr tnton Pahrump Valley Gazette, Thursday, March 20, 1997 U J Nye Commission has no00fear, no shame On Marc, 4. 1997 the Gazette received a copy of the agenda for the March 18, 1997 meeting of the Nye County Commission. Item 17-A, an action item up for consideration by the commis- sion, stuck out like a sore thumb and reads as follows: Action - presentation by Pre-Paid Legal Services for no-cost services to Nye County employees - Shannon Himes. The backup material in the agenda packet included a letter dated March 11, 1997 to the special assistant to the Nye County Man- ager, Rachel Nicholson, and states, "Pre-Paid Legal Services is to attorney fees what major medical is to doctor and hospital bills. By offering our services to the employees of Nye County, every covered individual will have access to convenient, affordable le- gal help and advise." Services in the proposed include: phone calls and letters, document re- i view, will preparation, traffic de- fense, tragic accident and dam- This Man's Opinion age recovery, trial defense and by Brent Mathewson IRS autservices. I Information regarding the fis- cal impact to Nye County if the proposal is approved by commis- sion - supposedly a prerequisite for any newly agendized item - was not made available in the agenda packet. It would appear that the proposal, if aptxoved, would be quite a, benefit to Nye County employees and constitute an additional unfunded expense to all Nye County taxpayers. And who would benefit the most? Could the answer to that pregnant question pos- sible by, three of the sitting Nye County Commissioners plus the county manager and his special assistant? Through actions alleg- edly taken and not taken by Ny'e County hierarchy these people have manned, or mismanaged if you prefer, to embroil them- selves in lawsuits of some magnitude and are being sued sepa- rately as individuals along with Nye County for alleged impropri- eties that have the full potential to bring Nye County fiscally to its knees. Although not an attorney, it is believed that the impropri- eties addressed in these matters place these individuals outside the legal umbrella and protection offered by the district attorney's office if their activities had been valid and not improper. In addition to the numerous lawsuits that I am referring to are the legal difficulties that at least sole of the Nye County Commis- sioners will be faced with if the Nevada State Commission on , Ethics takes jurisdiction on a re-  quest for a opinion against the Nye County Commission filed re- cently by the Amargosa Town Advisory Board. The advisory board's complaint is 5 pages long, backed by 22 pages of documen- tation and states in pertinent part. "Reasonable people in Nye County are coming to helieve and understand that Nye County is run by a government that could accurately he described as lawless in some sense of the word." The advisory board's request for an opinion cites as an ex- ample that on December 2, 1997 the Nye County District Attor- ney issued a formal written opinion to the Nye County Commis- sion that multiple class C felony violations were taking place by action of the cormnission and county staff. The Nye County Cormnission's response to these charges was the same as if"a fly might have landed somewhere" according to the Amargosa Town Advisory Board's letter to the Nevada Ethics Commission which was also sent tot he governor's office, the Nevada Department of Taxation and the NevadaAttomey General. The Ethics Commission will decide on March 21, 1997, whether or not it will take jurisdiction on the issues involved. In an attempt to determine if the Pre-Paid Legal Services pro- posal would cover legal expenses incurred by the Nye County Commission and staff that fall outside the purview available to them by the district attorneys office telephone contact was made to their law office in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Gazette was told that an attorney would call back and address whatever questions we might have. The call back has never been received as of 3 days later. If the concerns addressed in this article are valid and personal legal expenses incurred by the Nye County hierarchy through improper government action would be covered should this pro- posal be approved it perhaps answers the question as to how the commission and staff can act as they do without fear of reprisal. As for whatever shame is involved that's another matter en- tirely. That is this man's opinion. A Needed Addition to Campaign Finance Reform By Erica Olsen Campaign finance reform has been needed in Nevada for a long time. Instead of waiting to see if legislators would kill reform measures again this session, voters mandated, for the second time, that current campaign finance laws be changed by passing ballot question Number 10. This amends the Ne- vada Constitution and requires legislators to change current statutes. The reporting threshold will be lowered. (How low remains to be seen). Party caucuses and political action com- mittees (PACs) will be limited in the amounts they can con- tribute and also will have to disclose who donated money and how much. Reporting dates will be moved closer to Election Day and contributions made in the name of another person will be made illegal. Varitms bills have been introduced, named and renamed, in hopes of putting an end to this longstanding debate. The proposed reform is fairly comprehensive, cover- ing the areas where abuses run rampant. However, some loop- holes will still exist, especially in labor union political activ- ity. Some unions spend over 90 percent of total dues on po- litical activities and union members should have the right to know which candidates they are supporting. What Nevada's Right to Work Status Really Means that oanized labor's unreported expenditures totaled between $300 million and $500 million, which includes "volunteer" time, mailings, phone banks and get-out-the-vote drivers. The following are two examples of the biggest labor orga- nization in the nation and where their money goes. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney publicly announced "the newly militant labor movement will pour $35 million into political campaigning this year (1996). We're going to mount a political action effort of unprecedented scale with every union doing its share by contributing ideas, money, staff, media and materials." To finance this effort, the union bosses de- cided to raise union dues 36 percent. This unusual move re- quired a superficial convention to pass the assessment. It is no secret that the majority of the political action taken was to endorse Democratic candidates and Clinton's last cmnpaign. even though 40 percent of union members voted Republican in the last election. The National Education Association (NEA) political ac- tion committee reported spending about $2.25 million in 1994. Of that, $2.23 million went to Democrats. According to its 1996-97 operating budget, the NEA earmarked $20.7 nfillion to "build a broad-based support for a quality public education system." Specifically to "build bipartisan constituencies among those to support education." The NEA's supposed bi- partisan support is non-existent when it comes to money and volunteer hours. One in 10 delegate to the 1996 National Democratic Convention were members of the NEA. In Ne- vada, over 80 percent of the state NEA reported PAC money went to Democrats, according to NPRI research. Making Unions Accountable Under current campaign finance laws, PAC's do not have to report how much money is used for campaigning and given to candidates. If the proposed reform package passes. PAC's will have to disclose to the Secretary of State how much was spent each election. With this law in place Nevada's will fi- nally know how much money unions are funneling into poli- Because Nevada is a Right to Work state, workers cannot be forced to join or pay dues to any labor union. Only 21 states have adopted Right to Work statues. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 21 Right to Work states in- creased their manufacturing payrolls by 2.68 million between 1960 and 1993. On the other hand, those states subject to federally-imposes unionism lost i.36 million manufacturing jobs. Although Nevada's workers voluntarily join unions and pay union dues, they often have no idea how much of their money is used for political activity or if they agree with the political activity their dues are financing. Last election, Rutgers University economist and union specialist Leo Troy estimated Become a volunteer EMT tics. But union members still will bot know how much they are paying out of each paycheck. Four states, including Utah, have closed this loophole. These states have passed laws re- quiting labor organizations to establish separate funds for political purposes. Under this law, referred to as the Labor Organizations De- ductions Act. unions may only expend money t'br lobbying, electoral, and political activities not beating upon the ratifi- cation of a collective bargaining agreement if the organiza- tion establishes a separate political fund. Contributions to the fund must be solicited independently from any other solicita- tions by the organization. Membership dues may not be used or intermingled with this separate fund. And the cost of ad- ministering the fund is paid from fund co,mibutions and not flom membership dues. The PAC fund must be registered with the Secretary of State. CONCLUSION The intent of the Labor Organizations Deductions Act is to prevent unions from collecting funds for political purposes unless members expressly give their employers permission to deduct such tees from their wages. Such an act is neces- sary because most union members have no idea a large per- centage of their union dues are used for political activity. Ac- cording to a 1996 Luntz Research Survey, 58 percent of AFL- CIO members did not know of the organization's political involvement in the last election. Further, 62 percent of the members surveyed opposed the use of their dues for this cam- paign. As one member, who wished to remain anonymous, bluntly said, "I want to know where the money goes and I want to know where my money is spent." This piece of legis- lation does not prohibit labor organization activity: it simply requires the oanizations to be more accountable to their members - an understandable request. For specific information about this law, please call Nevada Policy Research Institute. Erica Olsen is a research attal.vst. Sire n'ill be examining impotIant legislative issues this session in an attempt to offer a new perspective on public policy decisions By Bruce Stevenson Reading the "attacks" on volunteer EMT's in letters to the editor and the local media. I propose that the "at- tackers" take the Emergency Medical Technician-Basic Class or volunteer in the Emergency Department of a hospital. Hopefully you will gain a feel of what a volun- teer EMT gets from assisting people who ask them for help. Feel the frustrations that you cannot help a person who is dying, whether in the home, the back of an ambulance. or the Emergency Department. YES! Pat people do die in the Emergency Department with all their knowledge and fancy equipment. Or get that tingle all over from the pat on the back from a patient-victim that you brought back from the brink. Or just assured someone that ev- erything is going to be OK> Or the smile from a child as you bandage their favorite-stuffed animal while attend- ing to their injuries. Or the note from a family saying that you did all you could for a critical ill or dying loved One. Many 911 calls for Emergency Medical Service are made too late. That patient-victiln could be your spouse or friend who is already debilitated to a point they have one toot in the grave and the other on a banana peel from poor health or disease. They also might be victims of an acute sudden onset of an unknown or undiagnosed medi- cal problem or accident. Numerous times the 911 callers expect the EMT's to be a miracle worker or performer of magic, while in the hospital that same patient-victim would not survive the same incident. When an EMT arrives on a scene, they must decide the correct course of treatment or action from observa- tions, information from bystanders, signs and symptoms obtained from the patient-victim when possible. All this must be done in seconds, try it sometime with a total stranger stressed too maximally from an incident. Southern Amargosa Valley Emergency Service had to transport patients numerous times in the last months to Mercy Ambulance Service fi'om Las Vegas as Pahrump Medical Center was closed when our patients needed emergency room or urgent care assistance. Sudden ill- nesses or accidents are not scheduled to the convenience of business hours. I agree that the Pahrump EMT's. under the direction of Bill Pyzyma. acted professionally for an unfortunate incident. When a patient-victim is lost an unknown amount of stress is placed on EMT's. and this is taken home to the family. I know from experience that stress, I'm retired from twenty six years of rural resident law enforcement. I've been involved in Emergency Medical Services for over twenty years as a professional "Rural Medic" and volunteer EMT in the city and rural envi- ronlnent, Any service needs appropriate criticism to keep that business or service operating at an expected level of com- petence. The media is not that appropriate place to make inaccurate accusation or criticism, unless other avenues have not activated the desired out come for both parties. Ambulance services have laws and protocols that must be adhere to or that service and EMT will lose certifica- tion to provide service. Again I say BECOME A VOLUNTEER EMT to get the feel for their job before you criticize about some- thing you know nothing about.