Category Archives: public lands

Nevada’s not-so-smart ALEC’s?

Who are the ‘smart-ALECs’ in the Nevada Legislature?  Marc Morial, head of the National Urban League sums up the problem with the ultra-conservative organization which promotes ‘model legislation’ for the consideration of state legislatures:

It is bad enough that since its founding in 1981, ALEC has been the shadow author of numerous pieces of legislation aimed at boosting corporate power and profits, reducing worker rights, weakening environmental protections, and restricting voter rights.  Now, the organization is actively supporting a law which is moving this country back to the lawless days of the Wild West when it was common practice to “Shoot First and Ask Questions Later.”  That is not the kind of America we or our children deserve in the 21st century. [NUL]

What does ALEC want, and who in the Nevada legislature might be willing to introduce and support their legislation?

What’s on the ALEC agenda?

1. Bills to privatize public lands, and promote the interests of exploiters and polluters.   In 1995 ALEC supported the Sagebrush Rebellion Act, drafting model legislation to transfer ownership of unappropriated lands from the federal government to the states.   There is serious doubt that any of the bills introduced in western states, and passed in Utah, will withstand judicial scrutiny, but that doesn’t matter to the exploiters and polluters who want to bypass federal environmental rules.  [RSN] ALEC also sponsored a 1995 resolution encouraging rolling back the Endangered Species Act.

In case the federal government doesn’t get the message by 2013, ALEC has a draft resolution ready for members of state legislatures to introduce severely limiting the designation of national monuments, unless there is unanimous agreement from all parties.

2. Promote the interests of corporations, and corporate profitability.

“ALEC works fervently to promote laws that would shield corporations from legal action and allow them to limit the rights of workers. The group’s model legislation would roll back laws regarding corporate accountability, workers compensation and on the job protections, collective bargaining and organizing rights, prevailing wage and the minimum wage. ALEC is a main proponent of bills that undermine organized labor by stripping public employees of collective bargaining rights and “right to work” laws.They also push “regulatory flexibility” laws that lead to massive deregulation. It is no surprise that the director of ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force previously worked as a Koch Associate at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.”  [PFAW]

It’s no secret from whence came all the anti-labor legislation in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana.  Nor is it any dark secret about the source of model prevailing wage, or anti-collective bargaining legislation.  “In 2011, Republican governors and GOP-dominated legislatures introduced more than 500 anti-labor bills, many carbon copies of ALEC model legislation, all of them inspired by the group’s work. These proposals restricted collective bargaining, limited project labor agreements and shredded living wage laws and other labor standards.”  [IAFF] 2013 will, no doubt, not be any different.

There was a bit of leftover legislation, S.B. 41 which would have eliminated collective bargaining for local government employees, which by April 16, 2011 was a dead letter issue.   However, this wasn’t the only anti-union bill introduced in the last legislative session.  S.B. 342 removed all supervisors from bargaining units, and removed recognition from the scope of mandatory bargaining. The bill also made dues deductions optional.  S.B. 342 was sponsored by State Senators Roberson, Cegavske, Brower, Gustavson, Halseth, Kieckhefer, and Settelmeyer.   State Senator Barbara Cegavske (R-8) proudly lists her affiliation with ALEC, since 1997, in her official bio.

There is confirmation in public sources of ALEC membership for Dean Rhoads, Greg Brower, Ben Kieckhefer, and Barbara Cegavske, current members of the Nevada Legislature.  [DB]

Senator Gustavson introduced S.B. 162, which prohibited school districts and teachers from negotiating transfers and reassignments. AB 555 was introduced on behalf of the governor on March 28, 2011, and included among other provisions a statement legislating one year contracts for all public school teachers.  ALEC has model legislation for these topics too.   Someone forgot to note that in Nevada all teachers already have one year contracts?

However, nothing says ‘promotion of corporate interests’ quite like legislation to repeal the minimum wage, and Senator Joe  Hardy (R-12) obligingly introduced S.J.R. 4 in the Nevada legislature to do precisely that.   Not surprisingly, ALEC has a model for this legislation as well.

3.  Bills to restrict voting rights and promote corporate influence.   There has been a deluge of anti-voting rights bills in recent state legislatures, and they are directly related to ALEC activity:

“ALEC is directly tied to the emerging trend among state legislatures to consider voter ID laws. Using false allegations of “voter fraud,” right-wing politicians are pursuing policies that disenfranchise students and other at-risk voters,–including the elderly and the poor–who are unlikely to have drivers’ licenses or other forms of photo ID. By suppressing the vote of such groups, ALEC’s model “Voter ID Act” grants an electoral advantage to Republicans while undermining the right to vote. In addition, ALEC wants to make it easier for corporations to participate in the political process. Their Public Safety and Elections taskforce is co-chaired by Sean Parnell of the Center for Competitive Politics, one of the most vociferous pro-corporate election groups, and promotes model legislation that would devastate campaign finance reform and allow for greater corporate influence in elections.” [PFAW]

Enacting burdensome regulations regarding voter identification and access to the polls has been a hallmark of ALEC model legislation.   Thirty three state legislatures considered such legislation in 2011 alone.  Wisconsin, Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina and Tennessee have passed such bills. [Nation]

Compare this piece of model legislation in regard to voter identification from ALEC to the inclusions of A.B. 327 in the 2011 Nevada Legislature. The legislation was introduced by Assemblyman John Hambrick (R-Dist.2). Assemblyman Hambrick does not list ALEC as one of his affiliations, but his sponsorship of A.B. 327 certainly places him firmly in the category of those doing ALEC’s bidding.  A.B. 327 wasn’t the only piece of legislation in the 76th Session which sought to suppress voting,  Assemblymen Lynn D.  Stewart (R-22) and Melissa Woodbury (R-23) sponsored A.B. 425, which would have required specific forms of voter identification.  Again, while their official bio’s do not reference membership in ALEC, they were more than willing to support ALEC’s voter suppression agenda.

The assault on voting rights didn’t stop with Hambrick, Stewart, and Woodbury, because Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R-32 ) sponsored his own vote identification legislation, A.B. 431.   Assemblyman Cresent Hardy (R-20) placed yet another voter ID bill in the hopper, A.B. 434.  For those keeping score, no less than four members of the 76th Session of the Nevada legislature were ready and more than willing to place their imprimatur on bills to suppress the vote in Nevada elections, as per the ALEC agenda.

4. Bills to restrict the application or implementation of federal statutes in the states and territories.   This is the realm of the 10th Amendment campaign, launched by ALEC in 1995. There is, once more, a handy bit of model legislation from ALEC to be used to draft a “10th Amendment” resolution by a state legislature.  We should not be surprised then that AJR 4, introduced in the 76th Nevada legislative session sounds almost exactly like the ALEC model.   The sponsors of AJR 4 were Assembly representatives Goedhart, Goicoechea, Hansen, Grady, Hambrick, Hammond, Hardy, Kirner, Kite, Livermore, Stewart, Woodbury, and Halseth.

5. Bills to promote the NRA’s campaign to remove restrictions on firearms.   Perhaps the most topical item on ALEC’s agenda is the organization’s promotion of the NRA agenda on guns.   Senator Gustavson’s S.B. 176 would have removed any restrictions on concealed firearms, and section 2 of A.B. 231 would have accomplished the same end. A.B. 231 was sponsored by  Assembly members Goedhart, Hardy, Ellison, Goicoechea, Grady, Hambrick, Hickey, Kirner, Kite, Sherwood, and Stewart, along with Senators  Gustavson, McGinness, and Rhoads.

While not the blanket permission sought in ALEC/NRA “carry on campus” [MMA] model legislation, S.B. 231 would have allowed guns on campuses with approval. At the risk of repetition, the bill was sponsored by Assembly members Goedhart, Hardy, Ellison, Goicoechea, Grady, Hambrick, Hickey, Kirner, Kite, Sherwood, and Stewart.

Even more to the contemporary point, NRS 200.120 was amended in 2011 to incorporate a “stand your ground provision” as sought by ALEC and the NRA.   Assembly Bill 231 (NRS 200.120) is summarized as follows:

“Under existing case law, there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force if the person using deadly force is not the original aggressor and reasonably believes that he or she is about to be killed or seriously injured. (Culverson v. State, 106 Nev. 484 (1990)) This bill provides that under the defense of justifiable homicide there is no duty to retreat if the person using deadly force: (1) is not the original aggressor; (2) has a right to be present at the location where deadly force is used; and (3) is not actively engaged in conduct in furtherance of criminal activity at the time deadly force is used. [NVLeg]

Now, find the names in the list of sponsors of A.B. 231 we’ve seen before: Assemblymen Oceguera, Anderson, Kirkpatrick, Atkinson, Hambrick; Aizley, Benitez-Thompson, Bobzien, Bustamante Adams, Carrillo, Conklin, Daly, Diaz, Dondero Loop, Ellison, Flores, Frierson, Goedhart, Goicoechea, Grady, Hammond, Hansen, Hardy, Hickey, Hogan, Horne, Kirner, Kite, Livermore, McArthur, Munford, Neal, Ohrenschall, Segerblom, Sherwood, Smith, Stewart and Woodbury.”

If past practice is any guide at all, the members of ALEC in the Nevada Legislature in 2013, and those who are not ALEC members but who promote ALEC’s corporate sponsored agenda, will be relying yet again on the “model legislation” offered by those corporations which feel they should be subject to less oversight and regulation, lower taxes, and more influence in our elections.

The health of a representative democracy requires citizen participation.  What ALEC and its allies are offering are auctions instead of elections, and corporatism and financialism instead of free market capitalism.  This perspective is all the more reason for citizens to be vigilant in regard to who is promoting what legislation in our state legislatures — and Nevada is no exception.

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Filed under 2012 election, conservatism, labor, Nevada economy, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, privatization, public lands, Vote Suppression

Not Very Home On The Range? Romney and Public Land

Former Governor Willard Mitt Romney doesn’t seem very ‘home on the range,’ that is, he’s not sure what the purpose of public land might be.   He told Nevadans:

“So I haven’t studied it, what the purpose is of the land, so I don’t want to say, “Oh, I’m about to hand it over.” But where government ownership of land is designed to satisfy, let’s say, the most extreme environmentalists, from keeping a population from developing their coal, their gold, their other resources for the benefit of the state, I would find that to be unacceptable.” [TP]

A brief primer:  Public land is public — many people use it.  And, many of the people who use it run cattle. As in cows. As in hamburger. As in Americans consumed about 26.4 billion pounds of beef in 2010. [ersUSDA ]  The USDA adds the following information:

“Range livestock production is predominate in Nevada with well over half of the farms raising cattle or sheep. The highest concentrations of cattle are in the northern part of the State. Cow-calf operations are most common type of operation and Elko county ranks among the leading counties in the Nation in number of beef cows. Northern Nevada is also home to the vast majority of the sheep.”

In these counties conversations are often sprinkled with terms like AUM’s, that’s the grazing fee set for western states.  Nevada ranchers pay a $12.50 AUM.  There’s a formula for that here. Once the cattle and calves are raised for sale, quite often on public lands,  they account for 39.2% of the total agricultural output in the state.  The output isn’t making anyone rich, 81.2% of Nevada’s farms and ranches are family owned, and the net farm income is $137,760 (this figure includes other, larger producers of potatoes, hay, etc.) [USDA]

Mining takes place on public lands in Nevada. The BLM has a handy guide describing the process for a mining company to get approval from the agency for mine operations in Nevada.  (link pdf) And, the agency notes that one very common reason for application approval delay is that the operators have provided insufficient baseline data on the proposed operation.  No one is keeping anyone away from the Gold.

Hunting and fishing happen on public lands. The Nevada Department of Wildlife is funded in four categories, and the department describes its income as follows:

“The license dollars that come in each year are used as match to the federal funds. For instance, most federal dollars require a 3-1 state match; for every $3 of a project we do using federal funds, we must add $1 of state dollars, or volunteer hours, or in-kind match (donations). In addition to license dollars a variety of other sources are also used as match, for instance nonprofit grants and Question 1 bond dollars can also be used for state match, as well as volunteer hours and in-kind match (donations of equipment.)”

We will gladly sell you a hunting license, a trapping license, a fishing license, and we will register your boat.  Nevada also sells duck stamps, trout stamps, deer tags, upland bird tags,  and mountain lion tags.  [See more]  Then we would be pleased if you stayed in our motels, bought gas from our service stations, ate in our restaurants, and purchased food from our local groceries.  We would politely ask that those happily hunting and fishing in our climes would listen when we tell you  “You can’t get there from here,” so we don’t have to engage in search and rescue attempts to find you.

What former Governor Romney appears to be grousing about are claims that wilderness areas prevent other commercial operations.  However, sauce for the Sage Hens  is also sauce for the Hungarian Partridges — and if a commercial operation invades a hunting area then there’s obviously a trade off in economic terms.  When the numbers are crunched, the total acreage set aside as wilderness in Nevada comes to 731,367, which sounds like a very big number until we convert the 109,806 square miles of this state into acreage and the number comes up as 70,275,840 acres. Thus the Wilderness designation applies to only 1.04% of our total land area.  Surely that isn’t too much to reserve for hunters, the hikers, and the fishing fans.

But, there’s nothing like getting a zinger into a GOP exchange about those “extreme environmentalists” to spice up a Republican plug for promoting the interests of polluters and exploiters.  Perhaps it’s too much to ask that GOP presidential candidates detach the epithets from words like environmental and ecological?

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Filed under 2012 election, Mining, Nevada economy, public lands, Romney

>Coffee and the Papers: Ensign Emails and other matters

>*** New details are emerging about Senator John Ensign’s (R-NV) attempts to find clients for former aide Doug Hampton’s lobbying efforts [TPM] “The messages are the first written records from Mr. Ensign documenting his efforts to find clients for Mr. Hampton, a top aide and close friend, after the senator had an affair with his wife, Cynthia Hampton. They appear to undercut the senator’s assertion that he did not know the work might involve Congressional lobbying, which could violate a federal ban on such activities by staff members for a year after leaving government.” [NYT] See also Las Vegas Sun.

*** The Republican strategy for defeating health care reform appears to have devolved into bombast about Democratic congressional incumbents losing seats because of supporting reform; [TPL] Senate Republicans threatening to filibuster on points of order during reconciliation votes; [TPL] and, carrying tales about Senatorial duplicity on health care reform votes. [TWM] There’s an old saw in politics: When you’ve lost the policy argument, attack the process.

*** The Senate voted to extend unemployment benefits and tax cuts for middle class Americans included in H.R. 4213 yesterday on a 62-38 vote. Senator John Ensign (R-NV) voted against the bill. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) voted in favor. And who’s supporting Medicare? “The bill also extends the current rate of Medicare payments to doctors, who are scheduled to see a 21 percent rate cut, and extends several tax breaks, including ones for homeowners who don’t itemize deductions, for states with sales taxes but no income tax and for companies’ research-and-development costs.” [The Hill]

*** Representative Dean Heller (R-NV2) on public lands: “It is no secret that the federal government has a large presence in our state,” … “At any time, any president can close access to our own backyard for any reason.” [SJMN] The Congressman opposes any additions to the list of national monuments. Opponents are fearful of the impact on recreation, commercial development, and mining. Local detractors might want to take a look at the Hardner & Gullison LLC report on the economic benefits of the national park service. The National Park System generates more than $4.00 for every tax dollar invested by the federal government, supports $13.3 billion in local private sector economic activity, and approximately 267,000 private sector jobs. Economic growth in areas near parks increases an average of 1% per year. [NPCA]

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>Bush Administration Blasting Away in Federal Protected Lands: Otay Mountain Wilderness Area Target

>The following press release from the Wilderness Society should be enough to convince any Nevadan (or other westerners concerned with public land preservation) that the Bush Administration does not intend to “go quietly into that good night” in another 10 days:

“With little advance notice, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has begun bulldozing a road inside a federally-designated wilderness area on the U.S.-Mexico border. Apparently not wishing to attract national attention to the controversial project, DHS made the construction start-up announcement through its contractor on Christmas Eve. According to DHS, the road-building project is necessary to build a border wall within and immediately to the south of the 18,500-acre Otay Mountain Wilderness Area on the U.S.-Mexico border east of San Diego .

The rugged terrain of the wilderness area will require blasting and removal of 530,000 cubic yards of rock, and extensive grading and leveling in order to build the wall and the accompanying road, says Sukut Construction, the contractor doing the work. Plans for the project note that much of the five-mile patrol road and approximately 1,300 feet of the primary pedestrian fence would extend into the Otay Mountain Wilderness.

Because motorized equipment, new roads and permanent human structures are not permitted within a federally-designated wilderness area, the Wilderness Act was among the 36 laws waived by Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff in April 2008 in order to expedite border wall construction. The controversial waiver was authorized under the Real ID Act, which allows the Secretary to exempt DHS from any and all laws that might interfere with construction of the border wall and associated access roads.

“Wilderness areas are designated by Congress specifically to protect sensitive places from projects like this road construction,” said Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “This road sets terrible precedent and clearly demonstrates the dangers of granting the Secretary of Homeland Security authority to waive any law in order to build walls along our international borders.”

The project now moves forward despite DHS documentation that “Construction of the fence, staging areas, and patrol road…will result in a barrier to movement for large non-flying animals and general loss of wildlife habitat.” According to Matt Clark, Southwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, “Such harmful impacts to wilderness characteristics and values are clearly inconsistent with the Congressional intent of the law that established the Otay Mountain Wilderness Area in 1999. The waiver and the wall are an affront to our nation’s laws and natural heritage.”

When Congress passed the Secure Fence Act (SFA) in 2006, mandating that 670 miles of border fence be constructed by the end of 2008, San Diego Sector Border Patrol spokesman, Richard Kite, said, “…at the (Otay) mountain range, you simply don’t need a fence. It’s such harsh terrain it’s difficult to walk, let alone drive. There’s no reason to disrupt the land when the land itself is a physical barrier.” Kite’s experience and reasoning, along with the language of the SFA itself, which does not require walls on slopes with more than a 10% grade (such as most of those in the project area), has apparently been ignored by DHS as it now attempts to speed up border wall construction.

“The frantic pace of wall building along the U.S.-Mexico border completely ignores the project’s serious environmental consequences to wildlife, wildlands and the general ecology of the borderlands region,” says Kim Vacariu , Western Director for the Wildlands Network, a conservation group working to protect cross-border wildlife corridors. “The waiving of the bedrock environmental laws that protect our nation’s natural resources is unconscionable. Construction in the Otay Mountain Wilderness should cease pending immediate and thorough environmental review,” he notes.

William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society, agreed. “We are very concerned about the impacts this wall will cause to wilderness values at Otay,” Meadows said. “Wilderness areas are among the last places in the United States that are untrammeled by humans, and we believe they should stay that way.”

(emphasis added)

desertbeacon.blogspot.com

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>Gettysburg Redux: The Bush Administration’s blind eye toward development in our National Parks

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The little northern Nevada beacon is back on; albeit without having completely overcome post-vacation sluggishness. However, there’s nothing like getting information from the National Parks Conservation Association about the Bush Administration putting our parks and public lands on the auction block to banish the lethargy.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established in 1964 to allocate funding to purchase lands adjacent to national parks to prevent private development like strip malls and “McMansions.” Congress allocated $147 million in 1999 to acquire private lands for our national parks, but by 2008 that figure had been slashed to only $44 million. The NPCA is currently lobbying to have Congress restore funding to 1999 levels. Why?

Re-fighting the Civil War: About 250,000 visitors come to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia annually to tour the site of John Brown’s Raid and subsequent battles between Union and Confederate forces. However, future visitors may find the landscape significantly altered by proposals for large scale developments on key parcels adjacent to and actually inside the Harpers Ferry region. The proposed developments would alter historic views across Bolivar Heights and School House Ridge, and degrade trail corridor protection and river access. [NPCA]

The next battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, may be coming – exacerbated by the fact that one out of every five acres in the park’s congressionally designated boundary is not owned by the National Park Service. There are 119 acres currently at risk for “inappropriate development” which include battle era structures, historic landscapes, and the site of a battle field hospital. [NPCA] Those who might not be swayed by historic or cultural arguments may be moved by the fact that the Gettysburg Park returns $2.20 to the state and local economies for every $1.00 in federal investment, and that the park generates approximately $15 million in annual economic benefits, $95 million in local revenue supporting 3,000 local non-park jobs. This isn’t a bad return on a $7 million annual federal investment in the park’s budget.

Meanwhile back at the ranch: In 2004 the Petrified Forest National Park Expansion Act authorized the acquisition of 125,000 acres of private and public land for the park – however, four years later “Congress has yet to allocate any of the funds to buy the land.” The owner of the Twin Buttes Ranch who quit the cattle business in 2002 would like to sell his property to the Park Service, but the longer he has to wait the more attractive offers from private developers become. We stand to lose not only the prospect of additional scenic views, but the protection of artifacts and the promise of the 2004 legislation as well. [NPCA]

The NPCA has published “America’s Heritage For Sale,” highlighting an additional seven parks with for sale signs now posted on land within their boundaries.

Perhaps nothing could illustrate the cynicism of the Bush Administration more completely while it personifies Oscar Wilde’s quip “a cynic is one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

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>Key Witness Pulled from House Natural Resources Committee Hearing on Damage to Public Lands

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The House Committee on Natural Resources, on which Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV2) sits, was supposed to take testimony today on the damage done to public lands by off road vehicles, but they won’t be hearing one witness who was refused permission to travel to describe and explain his concerns.

For the record here’s the Full Text of PEER press release on Key Witness pulled from testifying about ORV damage on Public Lands:

“In a surprise last-minute move, a key witness will not deliver his testimony at the first congressional hearing on the threats to public safety posed by burgeoning off-road vehicle (ORV) damage to public lands. A deputy sheriff from New Mexico was slated to tell Congress about extensive damage caused by a growing “outlaw” element, according to testimony released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Deputy Sheriff Alan Franzoy of Doña Ana County was not allowed to board a plane to attend today’s hearing before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands , chaired by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ). His office offered no explanation for his abrupt withdrawal but off-road lobby groups have mounted a vigorous effort aimed at the first ever congressional oversight hearing on the topic, entitled “The Impacts of Unmanaged Off-Road Vehicles on Federal Land .”

In his un-delivered testimony, Deputy Franzoy, who is himself an ORV rider and instructor and chairs New Mexico ’s Off-Highway Vehicle Safety Board, would have sounded this alarm:

“I’ve seen first hand that an outlaw contingent of ORV riders are destroying our land and endangering private property, livestock, wildlife, and other public land users.”

Doña Ana County covers an area nearly twice the size of Rhode Island and sits less than 50 miles from the Mexican border. In his testimony, Deputy Franzoy cited the use of ORVs “by illegal alien and drug smugglers to circumvent Border Patrol checkpoints…” His testimony details other dangers, including –

* “There is absolutely no protection of the remnants of our prehistoric settlers of the Rio Grande Valley ” from the ravages of irresponsible off-roading;

* Huge assemblages of off-roaders in unofficial “party areas” which fuel “a variety of criminal activity beginning with underage drinking and drug abuse all the way to violent rapes and murders”; and

* Extensive damage to landscapes. “The scars of misuse will be visible until the end of time.”

“There is no real mystery why this voice was stilled,” commented PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing to a history of intimidation and threats from the off-road community that has caused some agencies to cancel public hearings on ORV issues. “No citizen should ever be afraid to testify before the United States Congress.”

In one off-road lobby alert, the fact that “a sheriff from New Mexico ” would testify was known even before the witness list was published. The Blue Ribbon Coalition message urges off-roaders to directly reach out because while their lobbyists “talk to the media often, it’s just that most of them are biased against OHV [Off Highway Vehicles] users and rarely print what we say.”

The testimony that Deputy Franzoy was going to provide can be found here.
Original PEER press release located here.

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>Nevada Developers: Give Us Land, Lots of Land…

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The Bureau of Land Management is worried that it can’t sell off public lands in Nevada if the price equals the appraised value. [LV Sun] The developer-oriented BLM’s solution? Lower the price below the appraised value. This so-called solution makes sense only if it’s assumed that the land must be sold quickly. If there’s no urgency about selling off public property, then the BLM could wait until market forces clear up the mess created by the developers and mortgage lenders, lower the existing inventories of unsold homes and real estate; and, then sell public property at a price at least equal to its appraised value. For an administration that is fond of allowing the free market to run its course when it comes to health insurance, education, and retirement funds, this proposed policy shift represents a complete reversal. If the General Services Administration sold off public buildings to small businesses and local governments below appraised values the GOP would no doubt be emitting screeds about ‘socialism’ and ‘fraud,’ but if the BLM sells off public lands to exploiters – that’s just ‘good business?’

If a Nevada county doesn’t like development proposals that don’t fit the Master Plan it can count on a lawsuit from developers determined to have their way whether the citizens in the country agree or not. [RGJ] The developer’s argument? “We know what’s best for you – whether you like it or not.”

If there were ever living proof that Congressional Republicans and the Bush Administration don’t care about rewarding individual effort and initiative it’s illustrated by the death of the DREAM Act. [LVRJ] The message appears to be, immigrants are fine if they are willing to stay out of the education system and work for minimum or sub-minimum wages; but, for Heaven’s Sake, don’t come to the U.S., learn fluent English, work hard in school, and plan to enter the professions.

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