Category Archives: Nevada politics

Kids These Days: Focus on Voting

The Reno Gazette Journal ran a piece this morning on the Student Walk Out in remembrance of the Columbine massacre.

“Students from at least eight Washoe County schools are planning to walk out of their classrooms, march through the streets or call their representatives on Friday to demand action over gun violence in schools.

The walkout is expected to start at 10 a.m., the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, and in conjunction with hundreds of other planned walkouts across the country.” [RGJ]

It seems appropriate to note that while the students are good at keeping their focus on the issues at hand, the media and all too many adults are having some difficulties doing the same.   The Las Vegas Sun ran what read like a canned article, the online edition of the Review Journal didn’t mention the walk out.

What should we, as adults, do to help the kids get their message out — and keep it in the public spotlight?  Get informedThe Trace is a good place to start.  However, I’m probably typing for the choir here.  There are other sites which collect and disseminate statistics such as the Johns Hopkins University Center for Gun Policy and Research; Everytown Research; and the Gun Violence Archive.

Get Registered.  Okay, we’re already registered, but what about friends and neighbors?  The Secretary of State’s Office posts basic information.  Not in Las Vegas or Reno/Sparks areas?  County Clerk information is here DMV.org also provides basic information:

  • Be a:
    • Citizen of the United States.
    • Nevada resident for at least 30 days before the date of an election.
    • Resident of your precinct for at least 10 days before the election.
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before the date of the election.
  • Not have been declared mentally incompetent by a court of law.
  • Not claim any other place as your legal residence.

If you have been convicted of a non-violent felony your voting rights are restored after you are discharged from incarceration and/or parole. If you have been convicted of a violent felony, or a second felony, you will need to apply to have your civil rights restored.

Vote.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

News From a Fire House Sprinkles on the Republican Finance Committee

April 3, 2017:  Republican Party issues the following announcement

“I am delighted to announce the addition of these longtime friends of the Party and supporters of this administration to our Finance leadership team,” said Chairwoman McDaniel. “Elliott Broidy, Michael Cohen, and Louis DeJoy will serve as National Deputy Finance Chairmen, and Brian Ballard, Bob Grand, Gordon Sondland, Geoff Verhoff, and Ron Weiser will serve as Regional Vice-Chairmen. Together this team will employ their extraordinary talent and understanding of Americans across the country to maintain and build uponF our unprecedented fundraising success.”

January, 2018:  Former casino owner Steve Wynn, steps down from the RNC finance committee as reports of sexual harassment hit the headlines. [Politico] Wynn has since resigned as casino company CEO (March 22, 2018), has settled a six year legal battle with his ex-wife (WSJ), and has asked to be removed as a “qualifier” from the list of key employees required to undergo background checks by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. [BostonH]  However, Wynn’s donations to a Trump super-PAC aren’t going to be returned:

“Wynn gave $500,000 to America First Action Super PAC on Jan. 23, just days before the first reports of his alleged harassment of women were published, according to first-quarter financial data from the Federal Election Commission. CNBC asked the group whether it has any intention of returning the contribution following the stories of Wynn’s alleged misconduct.

“We’re not returning the donation,” a spokeswoman for America First said.” [CNBC]

Thus, the next time a member of the GOP sputters about Democrats accepting money from a potentially dubious source, the appropriate response is, “Steve Wynn.” Chicago Cubs owner, Todd Ricketts, became the new RNC Finance Chair. [CNBC]

April 13, 2018: Another shoe drops — on Elliott Broidy.

“A major donor with close ties to the White House resigned on Friday as deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee after the revelation that he had agreed to pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model who became pregnant during an affair.” [NYT]

Mr. Broidy comes with a bit of a “past,”

In 2009, Broidy pleaded guilty to committing a felony by giving nearly $1 million in illegal gifts to state officials in order to secure a lucrative deal with New York’s public pension fund for his then-firm Markstone Capital Partners.

Broidy avoided jail time by blowing the whistle on the same people who accepted his bribes. He admitted to ponying up $75,000 for an all-expanses paid luxury trip to Jerusalem, which included first-class tickets, luxury hotel suites, a helicopter tour, and a personal driver for New York State’s comptroller and his family. [TWrap] [WSJ] {Markstone Capital, NYT}

His appeals worked such that Reuters reported in 2012:

Los Angeles money manager Elliott Broidy was spared jail time and a felony conviction on Monday for his role in a “pay to play” scheme at the New York state pension fund.

Justice Lewis Bart Stone reduced Broidy’s felony to a misdemeanor and sentenced him to a conditional discharge.

Mr. Broidy had a busy social calendar entertaining those who sought access to the White House, including the following:

Mr. Broidy offered tickets to V.I.P. inauguration events, including a candlelight dinner attended by Mr. Trump, to a Congolese strongman accused of funding a lavish lifestyle with public resources. He helped arrange a meeting with Republican senators and offered a trip to Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private Florida resort, for an Angolan politician. And he arranged an invitation to a party at Mr. Trump’s Washington hotel for a Romanian parliamentarian facing corruption charges, who posted a photograph with the president on Facebook. [NYT]

The “past became prologue” when he used the services of yet another RNC Finance Committee member to clean up — dare we say “fix” — his issues with the Playmate and her pregnancy. Therefore, the correct response to any Republican who wishes to discuss “family values,” is… “Elliott Broidy.”

April 13, 2018:  Who helped arrange the $1.6 million payout to the Broidy’s ex-mistress? Another RNC Finance Committee member Michael Cohen. [CNN]  Mr. Cohen has drawn the attention of the prosecutors in the SDNY, complete with a highly publicized raid.

“The longtime attorney for President Donald Trump’s real-estate empire, Michael Cohen, went to federal court on Monday in a bid to block federal prosecutors from reading documents and other materials that were seized from Cohen’s home in a sweeping raid. The porn star Stormy Daniels, whom Cohen allegedly paid off to protect Trump, was there to watch. And the hearing was presided over by Judge Kimba Wood, who ordered Cohen to reveal the name of a client he’d tried to keep secret: the Fox News host Sean Hannity.” [Atlantic]

The paragraph above sums up the Trumpian swamp which is looking more like a sink-hole with every passing day.  Thus, the appropriate reply to Republican assertions of “transparency and accountability” is “Michael Cohen.”

Meanwhile, will the last member of the Republican National Finance Committee please turn out the lights and lock the door?

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Filed under campaign finance reform, campaign funds, corruption, Nevada politics, Politics, RNC, Steve Wynn

The Ladies of the Senate Scrape Facebook

The Zuckerberg Apology tour (Version 2018) continues today in Washington, DC. Yesterday, Nevada Senators Heller and Cortez-Masto had their opportunity to ask questons. Heller’s questions were well intentioned, but reduced in impact because his premise included the notion Facebook sells user information. It doesn’t. It sells advertising.(1)  [NVIndy] Understanding the questions from Cortez-Masto requires a bit of background.

Senator Cortez-Masto referred to the 2011 Consent Decree between the FTC and Facebook.

“I appreciate you being here, I appreciate the apology, but stop apologizing and make the change,” she said. “The skepticism that I have, and I’m hoping you can help me with this, is over the last seven years…I haven’t seen really much change in ensuring that the privacy is there and that individual users have control over their data.” [NVIndy]

She has reason for her skepticism, here’s what the FTC required as of November 29. 2011:

Specifically, under the proposed settlement, Facebook is:

  • barred from making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers’ personal information;

  • required to obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before enacting changes that override their privacy preferences;

  • required to prevent anyone from accessing a user’s material more than 30 days after the user has deleted his or her account;

  • required to establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program designed to address privacy risks associated with the development and management of new and existing products and services, and to protect the privacy and confidentiality of consumers’ information; and

  • required, within 180 days, and every two years after that for the next 20 years, to obtain independent, third-party audits certifying that it has a privacy program in place that meets or exceeds the requirements of the FTC order, and to ensure that the privacy of consumers’ information is protected.

It doesn’t require too much mental effort to comprehend that Facebook’s response to the provision that it is “required to establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program designed to address privacy risks associated with the development and management of new and existing products and services, and to protect the privacy and confidentiality of consumers’ information;” to see there’s been precious little progress made by Facebook in terms of a comprehensive privacy program. (2) Although Zuckerberg described his company’s response as “robust.” (3)  Robust is not a term I might apply to Facebook’s efforts since November 29, 2011, especially in regard to the implementation of comprehensive privacy policy development and subsequent audits.  Senator Cortez-Masto is correct in assuming we would not be discussing Cambridge Analytica had Facebook complied fully with the 2011 settlement terms.

There are deeper weeds to explore, a trail launched by Senator Maria Cantwell’s inquiry about Palantir. [BI]

“One of the oddest and most uncomfortable moments in the questioning of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg by the Senate on Tuesday was when Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) started asking about Palantir.  “Do you think Palantir ever scraped data from Facebook?” She asked. Zuckerberg, looked nonplussed and answered. “Senator, I’m not aware of that.”  She asked, “Do you know who Palantir is?” Zuckerberg admitted that he did. And he should. Palantir is a company that was founded by his early investor and long-time board member Peter Thiel. [BI]

There was nothing “odd” about the moment, if one assumes Senators had done some homework.

A connection between Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and Palantir is strongly suggested by this reporting in Business Insider:

“We learned today that an employee, in 2013-2014, engaged in an entirely personal capacity with people associated with Cambridge Analytica,” Palantir told The Times. “We are looking into this and will take the appropriate action.”

The employee was Alfredas Chmieliauskas, according to The Times. His LinkedIn shows that he is a business-development staffer at Palantir in London. He suggested that Cambridge Analytica create a personality-quiz app to harvest data from Facebook users, The Times said. Cambridge Analytica eventually used a similar method to obtain data from about 50 million Facebook users it could then sell.

Sure enough, Cambridge Analytica appropriated the idea, and the collections began.

“Cambridge ultimately took a similar approach. By early summer, the company found a university researcher to harvest data using a personality questionnaire and Facebook app. The researcher scraped private data from over 50 million Facebook users — and Cambridge Analytica went into business selling so-called psychometric profiles of American voters, setting itself on a collision course with regulators and lawmakers in the United States and Britain.”  [NYT]

That 50 million number keeps increasing. Given Facebook wants to sell advertising based on access to people, their friends, the friends of their friends, and the friends of the friends of their friends — it isn’t too difficult to assume the number of those affected will move upward.  It would have been helpful if Facebook user’s were advised before they took the little “quiz app” that the information from their account would be “scraped” for use by psychometric efforts.  Little wonder, then, that Mr. Zuckerberg was nonplussed by Senator Cantwell’s questions.

A couple of efforts seem to be in order.  The first is an investigation into Facebook’s compliance with the terms of the November 2011 settlement with the FTC; the second is a thorough investigation into the links between Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, Palantir,  CubeYou, and similar data accumulation and analysis entities. (4)

In short, it’s time to have some follow up questions from the ladies in the Senate.

(1) See Sheryl Sandberg’s explanation and comments in this INC article.  (2) The original FTC complaint [PDF] can be found here. (3) To see the precise terms of the 2011 settlement with the FTC see this PDF document. (4) For additional information on CubeYou, see CNBC.

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Filed under Heller, Nevada politics, Politics, privacy

Laxalt Wading in the Waters

Sometimes it’s  a good idea to read all the way to the end of an article.  A point illustrated in this discussion of Adam Laxalt’s latest:

He participated in a conference call with EPA administrator Scott Pruitt on July 13, as part of a briefing over the Waters of the United States rule. Laxalt in 2015 entered Nevada into a lawsuit with 12 other states challenging the Obama administration’s expansion of the rule, which covers federally protected waters under the Clean Water Act.

Previously (2015)  the states won a TRO against the EPA’s expansion of the waters subject to the Clean Water Act:

“The States here have demonstrated that they will face irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction,” he said. “Once the Rule takes effect, the States will lose their sovereignty over intrastate waters that will then be subject to the scope of the Clean Water Act.”

“The Rule allows EPA regulation of waters that do not bear any effect on the ‘chemical, physical, and biological integrity’ of any navigable-in-fact water,” Erickson said.

As of 2017, Laxalt joined litigation involving groundwater rights, and the priority of states to exercise control, in one instance at the expense of Native American water rights:

A Native American tribe sued in federal court claiming that, as part of its federal reservation of land, it has a priority right to use groundwater in the valley. Relying on Supreme Court cases involving implied reservations of surface water rights, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a priority right to use groundwater under federal reserved land is included as an implied right with the reservation, and that that right necessarily pre-empts state water law.

[…] The brief, in support of writs filed by two Southern California water agencies, asks the Supreme Court to clarify whether the federal reserved water right doctrine extends to groundwater and, if so, under what circumstances, so as to guide all states on managing groundwater resources.

And, there’s another sticky legal wicket, as illustrated by the case of property owners in Pahrump who feel they will be harmed by a State Engineer’s office decision about drilling on private property:

“It is factually impossible for petitioner to be irreparably harmed if a stay of Order #1293 is not issued as it does not own any land or otherwise have an interest that is affected by the order,” Laxalt’s opposition filing stated. “Petitioner does not have any legal interest in the basin.”

The argument of legal standing revolves around a technicality, with Laxalt noting that as a limited liability company that did not exist until after Order #1293 was issued, Pahrump Fair Water LLC is not affected by the order. The filing read, “…a limited liability company is an entity distinct from its managers and members.”

Laxalt’s opposition contains various other arguments as well, including his belief that a stay of Order #1293 would harm the public. In addition to declarations regarding potential negative impacts to water supply, Laxalt predicted a rash of drilling if a stay were granted.

Laxalt may be on more solid ground in this case, but calling the input from resident members of the plaintiffs “impertinent,’ ‘immaterial’ and ‘irrelevant’ probably isn’t the best way to make friends, influence people, and get individuals to the table to negotiate a settlement.

Granted, water rights may not be a crucial element in the outcome of Nevada’s 2018 elections, but Laxalt’s relationship with the ethically challenged EPA director could raise eyebrows and questions in this political climate.

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Filed under ecology, Native Americans, Nevada politics, Politics

Yerington HS Illustrates The Problem: Racism in Trumpland

Lyon County, Nevada (county seat Yerington) gave 67.36% of its votes to Donald Trump for the presidency in 2016– a deep red vote in an otherwise urban blue state. [SoSNV] It would be nice to speak of Nevada as a tolerant blue state, but while Nevada is about 94.2% urban [ISU.edu] there are large portions (in terms of landscape) which are deeply rural and deeply bigoted.  Witness the reports of bullying non-white students at Yerington High School, as reported in the Reno Gazette Journal.

A Bit of Background

Lyon County is located east of the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area, and the largest population in the northern end of the county is located in and in proximity to Fernley (± 20,000)  There are approximately 54,000 residents in Lyon County. [Census] Yerington is home to about 3,071 of the county’s residents, and approximately 80% are white, 18% are Hispanic, about 6% are Native American, and 8% are “other” which includes African American.  [Substat]  “Others” are among those having a hard time in Yerington.

“Photos of a Lyon County sheriff’s deputy’s son holding a gun and wearing a belt with knives were posted on social media. Superimposed over the photos were the words “The red neck god of all gods … we bout to go (racial slur) huntin,” and “Watch out (racial slur).”

It is unclear whether the deputy’s son or friends wrote the comments, but it was enough to scare Taylissa and Jayla as dozens of classmates began forwarding the girls the posts.

Taylissa and Jayla stayed home from school the next day.  They filled out police reports. They worried when they went outside.” [RGJ]

  And then — nothing happened.

The mayor dismissed the social media posts as examples of teenage immaturity.  The chief of police said they were examples of Free Speech.  The principal of the high school says the school needs to have a “unity day.” The county superintendent of schools said school authorities were having a hard time controlling the situation.  Some residents said things were cooling off until “reporters started asking questions and stirring things up.”  If you’re thinking these perspectives could just as easily be associated with the heart of Jim Crow Dixieland, you’d be right.

In beautiful downtown Yerington there seems to be a safe zone for bullies, in spite of state legislation specifically prohibiting such conduct:

     “NRS 388.135Bullying and cyber-bullying prohibited.  A member of the board of trustees of a school district, any employee of the board of trustees, including, without limitation, an administrator, principal, teacher or other staff member, a member of a club or organization which uses the facilities of any public school, regardless of whether the club or organization has any connection to the school, or any pupil shall not engage in bullying or cyber-bullying on the premises of any public school, at an activity sponsored by a public school or on any school bus.”

So, NO the incident wasn’t a matter of “free speech,” the offensive postings were a direct violation of NRS 388.135.   Nor is there much evidence in the reporting that the local police and school district authorities paid much attention to the provisions of NRS 388.1351 in which specific directives are set forth for dealing with bullying and cyber-bulling.

And when a parent did try to meet with school officials, the following is hardly exemplary of compliance with Nevada statutes:

“On one of the occasions Charles Tolliver went to the school to try to meet with administrators, a student standing with a group of girls said to him, “You don’t even know the definition of (racial slur).”

“If you ever call my daughters (racial slurs) …”  he said before stopping himself.

After repeated requests for help had been ignored, Tolliver said, he called the principal a bigot.

School officials have accused Tolliver of being hostile and aggressive. He was given a trespass warning and is only allowed on school grounds with prior permission.

“… you interacted with me as well as Yerington High School students in a hostile, aggressive and threatening manner, resulting in the contacting of law enforcement,” the trespass notice from Principal Mattice said.” [RGJ]

Thus, the step-parent who sought to meet with a principal over repeated instances of bullying is met with surly students, an unhelpful principal, and then becomes the designated villain of the story according to Lyon County school officials.  Quite evidently, Lyon County has done what it must according to State law, it has all the right words on paper (pdf) — it just chooses not to enforce its own policies.  One might want to ask if the principal “investigated” incidents of blocked doorways, jammed doors, hate speech, and racial epithets within one day of a report, as required by school district policy?

There’s no need to be tactful about this situation.  First, the youngsters spouting hateful epithets and blocking doorways didn’t come into this world as little bigots.  They learned it somewhere and that somewhere is nearly always at home.  Secondly, their peers are obviously supportive. Few adolescents will do much which doesn’t comport with peer pressure.  Schools are supposed to have a socializing effect, i.e. negative attitudes and prejudices which come from home and are supported by some peers are to be addressed and rectified if at all possible.  It is not the responsibility of a school to make bigots feel comfortable.  However, this is made more difficult when…

(i) We have a president who says there were very fine people on both sides in Charlottesville, VA when one side was composed of white nationalist supremacist bigots and thugs.

(ii) We have a situation in which the Attorney General of the US who has decimated the capacity of that agency to supervise state and local official interactions with members of minority communities — “it’s a local problem.”

(iii) We have an environment in which local officials are allowed to ignore, dismiss, or diminish incidents of racial bigotry and prejudice without serious consequences.

(iv) We have social norms and values being curtly disdained as “political correctness,” with a slurring of the “s” sound at the end.

In short what we have at Yerington High School is a classic example of what happens when an atmosphere of racial division, with whites on the top of the divide, meets two girls whose parents don’t appreciate having their daughters referred to by the N-word. However, what might we expect in Yerington, in the heart of Nevada’s Trumpland?

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Filed under education, nevada education, Nevada news, Nevada politics, Politics

The Good Old Days? White House Fights the Free Market

The current occupant of the Oval Office would have me believe he’s The Champion of Small Business In The Face Of The Evil Empire of….Amazon.  Spare me.  (And, NO, the USPS isn’t going broke because of the shipping contract the company has with Amazon. It has much more to do with the Republican supported and enacted restrictions on its pension plan, which require inordinate prepayments into the plan. [IG Report]) So, returning to the topic at hand, let’s start with the proposition that nostalgia isn’t conducive to successful retail marketing.

A Little History 

Extrapolated into the realm of the ridiculous, there was a time before Macy’s and Bloomingdales (1858, 1861) when shoppers roamed among small retailers along commercial corridors.  Add the installations of elevators and escalators and the retailers could further “departmentalize” their offerings.  Surely there were objections from smaller retailers at the time, and there were probably others who decried the Memphis Piggly-Wiggly grocery store’s 1916 decision to let customers get their own items from the shelves rather than have a clerk do the accumulation.  However, it’s unimaginable to give any credence to the notion that innovations in retailing are necessarily nefarious.

The department stores faced competition beginning in 1872 from Aaron Montgomery Ward whose catalog advertised shipping via Express rail services, and from Richard Sears. Their catalog sales were boosted by the decision in 1913 to have the Post Office deliver domestic packages. [AtlasObs]  Again,  to assert that companies like Amazon, which depend on Internet ordering systems are somehow essentially different from the innovations adopted by Ward and Sears is risible.  What we might be hearing from the White House is the lament for brick and mortar retailers who rent property?

Another Change in Retail Habits

We’ve moved from shopping along Main Street, to shopping from catalogs, to shopping from online catalogs.  And, yes, Amazon is now a big presence in the retail system:

“The simplest explanation for the demise of brick-and-mortar shops is that Amazon is eating retail. Between 2010 and last year, Amazon’s sales in North America quintupled from $16 billion to $80 billion. Sears’ revenue last year was about $22 billion, so you could say Amazon has grown by three Sears in six years. Even more remarkable, according to several reports, half of all U.S. households are now Amazon Prime subscribers.” [Atlantic]

However, this is an over-simplification which goes nowhere toward explaining how a chain store founded in 1962 in Arkansas has grown into a 2,000,000+ employer, or why Target seems to be holding its own in the Big Box Store category.  Notably, both Walmart and Target have an Internet operation.

We can lament the demise of the brick and mortar retailers, but as the Atlantic article points out, part of the hard, sad, truth is that we simply built too many of them.

“The number of malls in the U.S. grew more than twice as fast as the population between 1970 and 2015, according to Cowen and Company’s research analysts. By one measure of consumerist plentitude—shopping center “gross leasable area”—the U.S. has 40 percent more shopping space per capita than Canada, five times more the the U.K., and 10 times more than Germany. So it’s no surprise that the Great Recession provided such a devastating blow: Mall visits declined 50 percent between 2010 and 2013, according to the real-estate research firm Cushman and Wakefield, and they’ve kept falling every year since.” [Atlantic]

Toss in a measure of stagnating wages and decreased levels of discretionary spending and it’s little wonder the mall traffic is declining.

“After adjusting for inflation, wages are only 10 percent higher in 2017 than they were in 1973, with annual real wage growth just below 0.2 percent.[1] The U.S. economy has experienced long-term real wage stagnation and a persistent lack of economic progress for many workers.” [Brookings]

Those “many workers” are deciding the Big Box, and online bargain offers, are preferable to mall browsing.   We overbuilt malls, organized them around “anchors” which are looking at declining sales from Big Box, discounters, and online shopping, and thus shouldn’t be surprised when the free market works.

That the current president is upset with the reportage of the Washington Post, owned by the same man who founded Amazon, is no surprise either.  However, that doesn’t fully explain his antagonism which may also be a function of being a real estate developer, and a real estate developer who seems to be freighted with altogether too much nostalgia for those “Good Old Days” when we’d take the transit or pile into the family wagon to shop on site.   There have been major innovations in retailing since the first butcher opened his first shop and accepted payment in cowrie shells.

The Nevada Situation

Obviously, the largest factor in the Nevada is “Accommodations and Food Service,” read: Casinos and restaurants; but the second largest employment category is good old fashioned retailing.  As of the SBA’s 2017 report, there are 140,879 people employed by retailers; of this figure 39,947  are employed by small businesses, or about 28%. [SBA pdf]

There’s reason for cautious optimism in southern Nevada with regard to wages and spending, but …

“The Las Vegas MSA’s 12MMA of average weekly earnings (not inflation-adjusted) went up by another $3 in November. This was the 4th month in a row nominal average weekly earnings rose by $3, continuing a steady streak of growth started just over 3 years ago in September 2014. On a YOY basis, the 12MMA was up $37 (5.0%) from November 2016.

When considered on an inflation-adjusted, YOY basis, earnings rose by 2.8% in November 2017 compared to November 2016, reaching $669 (in 2007 dollars). This was an increase of $1 from October. Las Vegas’ average weekly real wage is now $82 (10.9%) below the most recent inflation-adjusted peak of $751 that occurred over 10 years ago in August 2007. The trough occurred in February 2012 at just over $616, so Las Vegas remains much closer to the trough than the peak.” [StatPak]

If we’re looking for significantly increased demand to boost the southern Nevada retail sector further, something is going to have to happen to those average weekly wages.  The picture for northern Nevada is slightly more optimistic:

“While Washoe County’s economy continues to benefit from rising taxable retail sales, the YOY growth rate has fallen considerably from a year ago. In November 2017, the rate of growth was 6.2% YOY, or 3.2 points lower than the year period ending in November 2016. However, when compared to the month prior, it is down 0.2 points. Taxable retail sales reached $686.8 million in November, having already surpassed, in March 2016, the previous peak on a nominal basis (not inflation-adjusted). As the chart shows, Washoe’s taxable sales growth is very near the state average at just 0.4 points below.

Success in business attraction and retention is driving the region’s economy and is the primary cause of growth in taxable retail sales, though increasing visitation has also contributed.”  [Statpak]

One other factor to be considered before pronouncing Amazon as the harbinger of demise for retail malls is good old fashioned demographics. Neighborhoods change, people move, and the “centrality” of a mall constructed in the late 1960’s or 1970’s may not reflect the residential and traffic patterns 40-50 years later.

And yes, I remember shopping for vinyl records in Park Lane Mall ages ago… when I was still playing vinyl records… before I shifted to CDs … before I downloaded … anyone who expects (or wants) retail endeavors to remain constant in the tides of time will have about as much success as King Canute attempting to command the liquid form of tides.

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Filed under Economy, Nevada economy, Nevada politics, Politics

We Are Not Being Well Served: A Lethal Pattern of Administration Obstruction

We aren’t well served when the Department of Justice declines to work WITH state officials to implement policy.  When the DoJ dithers about assisting Nevada’s attempt to improve the background check process for firearm purchases — [NV Indy] Gee, it almost seems like someone at the federal level is doing a bureaucratic dance routine to subvert the intent of those who want to expand background checks?  Someone doesn’t want to alienate the powers that be at the NRA?  Meanwhile candidate Adam Laxalt, subservient as ever to the NRA line, must be pleased with Governor Sandoval’s discomfort.

We also aren’t well served by the right wing echo chamber which has now evidently decided that if they can’t find logical arguments to deflect the demands made by the kids in March for Our Lives they will happily start tooting the Swift Boat Parade Brigade horns with personal attacks on the kids themselves.  [TampaBT] [WaPo] [KCStar] However, ad hominem is all too often the preferred argument for many on the right side of the political spectrum.  These people might be dismissed as small people with smaller, narrower, minds except that they have the ear of the current mis-administration, and those ears are receiving messages out of step with American concerns.  Listening to these radical voices obscures national issues we should be focusing upon.

Nor are we well served when the message comes from the podium at the White House briefing room that the Department of Justice will take no role in the investigation of the shooting of Sacramento citizen Stephon Clark.  There’s a pattern here.

The FBI will not facilitate the implementation of Nevada’s Question 1 decision. The Department of Justice will take its sweet time promulgating rules concerning the sale of bump stocks (see Las Vegas concert massacre). The Department of Justice will do an about-face on federal participation in the investigation of law enforcement use of lethal force on members of minority communities.  This pattern may explain why the citizens of Nevada continue to be frustrated by the lack of Question 1 implementation, the citizens of the US continue to see protests related to Black Lives Matter, and young people bemoan (and organize) against the inflexible obstruction to their demands for sensible restrictions on gun ownership and sales.

What the pattern won’t accomplish is the solution to any of the problems addressed by the Black Lives Matter organization or the young people involved in March for Our Lives.  The two issue areas are not unrelated.

Bullets fired from guns kill people.  The bullet may be a .223 round (5.56 mm) coming at a person at 3,330 feet per second (about three times the velocity of a typical Glock pistol.) [BI]  The bullets may also come from a Glock 19 or the Glock 22, or perhaps the Smith & Wesson M or P9, the most popular service handguns for law enforcement personnel. [SRI]  Instances of bullets being fired by one human being at another human being, or beings, should be investigated fully.  We have no problem with this concept when thinking about murder investigations in general.  We do have a problem with the concept when it’s in the context of a mass shooting or in a case of the use of lethal force by a police officer.

In the instances of mass shootings authorities appear to want to investigate everything except the actual cause of death — the AR 15 is often the weapon of choice for mass shooters [BI] who want to use the gun as it was designed — to cause the greatest level of lethality in the briefest possible time.  If we know the level of lethality associated with the use of assault style weapons like the AR 15 why don’t we directly address the issue of whether or not these should be in the hands of civilians?

In the instances of officer involved shootings almost the first thing reported is that the “officers feared for their lives.”

“Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be unarmed when killed during encounters with police as white people, according to a Guardian investigation which found 102 of 464 people killed so far this year in incidents with law enforcement officers were not carrying weapons.

An analysis of public records, local news reports and Guardian reporting found that 32% of black people killed by police in 2015 were unarmed, as were 25% of Hispanic and Latino people, compared with 15% of white people killed.” [Guardian 2015]

Question: Why do law enforcement personnel “fear for their lives” more often when confronting a person of color than when facing a white person?  I think we know the answer, it is just that this aspect of the problem isn’t something the present Department of Justice is particularly interested in pursuing.

We aren’t well served by an administration which will not admit the vast scope of the problems presented by mass shooters and highly questionable use of force by some members of law enforcement.  These are national problems which beg for national solutions, whether the current Department of Justice wants to step up to the plate or not.


The kids have broken the 10,000 contract plateau in their Parents Promise To Kids project.  Right now it’s at 10,127.  That’s 10,127 parents, grandparents, and other interested people who have pledged to kids they will make gun reform a major feature in their voting decisions.  Step Up. Thank You.

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