Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 | 2:54 p.m.
Updated Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 | 4 p.m.
At the front of the committee room on Friday, laughing with colleagues, Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick had a moment of gallows humor.
“I’m going to take off my shirt and do a pose,” she said.
The North Las Vegas Democrat then thrust out her arms in an imitation of a photograph of a shirtless Steven Brooks, the Assembly Democrat arrested last weekend for making threats against her.
Afterward, she called his interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, including his allegation that she might try to kill him, “ridiculous.”
“We have to move on,” she said. “This has taken up way too much time.”
On the record and in public, Democratic leaders call the Brooks saga a “minor distraction.”
They say Legislative Police have security under control. They want to focus on the state’s business.
However, on Wednesday, the first day of budget hearings, Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, had a gun holstered to his hip under his suit jacket.
It’s a sign that Democrats don’t have a clear plan for what to do about Brooks.
The bizarre drama surrounding Brooks has become a major distraction that threatens to overwhelm the start of the 120-day legislative session, which will be gaveled to order Feb. 4. And the Democratic leadership has yet to come out with a plan for how to deal with it.
“They’re definitely letting it fester,” said one state worker in the building Wednesday, when Brooks came and went from the Legislature with a hood pulled high over his head and wearing sunglasses, flanked by relatives and Legislative Police.
“This is not leadership,” said the source, speaking anonymously to preserve relationships. “Regardless of the charges, this is not the environment that we do the public’s business in.”
Without a doubt, the Brooks situation is a difficult one.
The case, which is being investigated by the North Las Vegas Police Department, will be forwarded to the Nevada Attorney General but likely won’t be resolved by the time lawmakers officially convene.
Legislators still hope that Brooks will quietly resign. On Friday, Kirkpatrick said Brooks told newspapers he wasn’t feeling well.
“I hope he gets help,” she said.
"I am very concerned about Mr. Brooks' health and welfare," she added. "Until we can get an assessment we can't make any plans. But we will be ready to work on the first day."
But given his dramatic entrance and exit from the building, and interview with the R-J, it’s clear at this point that Brooks is not avoiding a spectacle.
Brooks maintains he plans to serve when the Legislature starts.
"We're just moving forward with what we need to do,” Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, said during a taping of the public affairs program "To the Point." “Staff is taking care of whatever they need to, and we're just moving forward. We have a lot of important business to do."
Still, some lawmakers admit they are looking at whether to expel him, something that’s allowed under state’s constitution but has never been attempted.
Lawmakers have promised to start serious discussions about the state’s tax structure on the second day of the Legislature.
The first day is usually reserved for ceremonial honors, in which lawmakers bring their families and kids for photographs to see where mommy or daddy will spend early mornings and long nights passing bills and holding hearings.
If the situation with Brooks isn’t resolved before that, as one lawmaker said, “The first day of session, it’s going to be much less crowded on the floor than usual.”