Las Vegas Sun

November 18, 2017

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We won’t have to scream if the Legislature does its job

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The Sun's opinion page provides a wide range of opinion about the start of the 2013 Legislature.

From the Sun:

The Sun's editorial Break the status quo.

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Elected officials

Gov. Brian Sandoval

Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey

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Political scientist

David Damore

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Political journalists

Elizabeth Crum

Anjeanette Damon

Ray Hagar

Jon Ralston

David McGrath Schwartz

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Have your own opinion?

Write a letter to the editor.

Where are the pitchforks? Where are the torches yearning to burn? Where is the angry mob?

To some of you, the idea of a mob of frightened townspeople is an unfamiliar concept. I would suggest old Frankenstein movies, during which whatever electricity was available was concentrated in the laboratory of the monster-making mad scientist.

To others, I suggest “Network,” in which the lead character, played by Academy Award-winner Peter Finch, showed the same level of disgust with current events by screaming to anyone who would listen, “I’m mad as hell, and I am not going to take this anymore.”

The point is the same. There comes a time, or there should come a time, when the level of disgust with the way things are, or the fear that grips us about impending actions, causes us to rise up in our own way.

I am saying this because the 2013 Nevada Legislature is about to begin. And if most legislative sessions in the Silver State are any indication of how this one will start and end, now is not too early for the good voters of Nevada to take to the pitchforks, cry from the windows and do whatever they can to make their voices and wishes known.

There is a reason the Legislature meets hundreds of miles away from Clark County — that’s where the state capital is located. But that’s no reason why the legislative session, which takes place for four months every other year, is not centered where more than 70 percent of the state’s population lives and 90 percent of its challenges take place.

No, the only reason why that continues to occur is that the legislators need peace and quiet while they do the people’s work and, more importantly, they need to be far away from the maddening crowd. You see, if it is easy for people to address the Legislature for one grievance or another, history has shown that they will do that! And how would that look if everyday people concerned about the way state government works, or doesn’t work, actually showed up to tell their elected representatives what they thought?

I will tell you how that would look.

In today’s world, in which major problems continue to be swept under the rug, pushed out another two years and then another, the people coming to the legislative halls would resemble a frightened crowd carrying pitchforks or Peter Finch screaming at the top of his lungs.

There would be no room to run and hide from appropriate action. The elected officials would have to act.

I think now is a good time for the people to get in the right frame of mind when it comes to the demands they make and the expectations they have of their elected legislators.

As I am sure you understand, I am really not advocating pitchforks or torches or even screaming at the top of one’s lungs — although it’s not beyond the realm of reason to imagine a level of frustration great enough to cause such theatrical stunts.

What I am advocating, and what I believe is foreign to most Nevadans, is that we pay attention, real deep and sustained attention, to that which is taking place in Carson City. What happens could determine whether our state regains its place as an economic model for the rest of the country and a beacon of hope for the other states mired in the muddle of every quality-of-life indicator.

I am not going to pick on any particular legislator at this point, or even the governor and his State of the State address. There is plenty of time for that.

What there is not enough time for, though, is for the people who live and work in this state — the people whose futures depend on a vibrant, growing economy, whose children require a first-rate education, and whose parents need a first-class medical community to make their futures as bright and dignified as possible — to get involved.

That should be almost all of us. We need to focus and get engaged because the challenges are daunting — Nevada was devastated by the 2008 economic disaster; it has a revenue system designed for a time that has come and gone and is wholly dependent on the goodwill of others rather than ourselves; and the state consistently is at the bottom of every quality-of-life indicator in the nation — behind Mississippi, for God’s sake.

What the 2013 Legislature does — or doesn’t — do will determine what happens to Nevada for the near and long term.

Nevada was always a state with a bright future because we had people who were engaged and active and who made it their business to make sure that those in positions of power did the right and bright thing to advance this state.

I have the sense that there are too many people today who either don’t care, don’t care to know or don’t know how to send a strong message to Carson City to fix that which ails us.

And unless the legislators, tucked safely so far away from the overwhelming majority of Nevadans, hear us and act upon our wishes and our needs — as opposed to just kicking the problems down the road again — we will continue to suffer in much the same way we have since the economic meltdown first happened.

In typing class, there was a drill that began, “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party.” Even though the newer generations have learned to type only with their thumbs, the message to them — for they are whom this whole effort is about — should be loud and clear.

Now is the time to act to make sure the people’s work is done. And if there is no action, if it is just more of the same games with the same rhetoric, it may be time to consider the pitchforks.

Good luck, legislators. Do your best. No, do better than that. Do what you were elected to do!

Brian Greenspun is publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.

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