Fish don’t exercise elaborate decision making processes, the ‘item’ before them is either food or it isn’t. If ‘food’ it will be eaten (lures obviously included), if not it will be rejected. Governor Jim Gibbons appears to have been operating on this basis in at least two of his vetoes. SB 319, the “sentinel events” reporting bill had the support of both health care workers and the health care industry; the Governor vetoed it evidently without noticing that his concern about potential litigation had already been addressed. [LV Sun] The Governor vetoed the bill regulating the use of consultants ostensibly because the University System wasn’t included. The notion that the control of consulting contracts might start somewhere seems not to have entered his mind – the bill wasn’t just exactly absolutely certainly totally what the Governor wanted, so it wasn’t ‘food’ and he vetoed it. [LV Sun]
This “whole loaf or nothing” argument, and the misreading of SB 319, give lie to the Mountain Street Mansion’s claim that the Governor wouldn’t veto so many measures if the Legislature didn’t send him so many bad bills. [LV Sun] So does his distance from the process: “This governor has made few calls to the Legislature and is rarely, if ever, in the building. His relationship with the Legislature, including veteran Republicans, is distant at best.” [LV Sun] Contrast this behavior with that of former Republican governor Kenny Guinn, who frequently contacted legislators with suggestions concerning how vetoes could be avoided, and the difference between a one term governor and a two term governor becomes obvious.
Another difference between big fish, who nearly always get two terms, and little ones, who get netted or eaten by larger ones quickly, comes with the big fish’s understanding that condescension (no matter how well intended) is never a good survival strategy. The little fish don’t appreciate it and the bigger ones go into attack mode. The over-ride of Gibbons’ veto of SB 201 to implement the voter approved fuel tax to support road construction in Washoe County demonstrates how quickly and completely a big fish (State Senator Bill Raggio) can turn a minnow into Brunch. [RGJ]
Big fish also have a finely tuned sense of their own enviroment. While fish aren’t known for their intellectual capacity, they do have excellent instincts, and, for example, can discern the approaching fisherman by the vibrations from the bank. Governor Gibbons displayed no such capacity with his veto of SB 283, the domestic partnership bill. The Governor’s narrow perspective, aligned with the radical right Christianist wing of the GOP, didn’t allow him to perceive that (1) the environment around this question has changed; (2) that the bill before him applied to heterosexual couples who would benefit from not having to create elaborate contractual agreements of questionable enforceability to make their living arrangements practical and sustainable. So, he vetoed it – and the State Senate over-rode his veto. [RenoGJ] The Assembly is expected to follow suit.
The Governor, profoundly silent on major issues of governance during his campaign, apparently wanted very much to “BE” Governor, but didn’t want to actually Govern. Perhaps some among his friends should have reminded him that the Jeffersonian phrase, “a government that governs least, governs best,” doesn’t mean that the chief executive really doesn’t have to do anything. Ignoring the bigger fish in the reservoir doesn’t mean that they aren’t paying attention to you; ignoring the status of the reservoir does mean you won’t notice that you’re running out of water until it’s too late.
Our hands-down winner for the Desert Beacon Sunday Deck Bass is Governor Jim Gibbons, and this is his 11th Sunday Deck Bass Award. As always, please check for McCain Memorial Crappie at Random Musings, or simply for timely updates on the state of the ponds in Arizona politics.