BACK TO THE FUTURE DEPT. The Washoe County Commission this week is considering a raft of voting “reforms” (aka voter suppression). The Nye County Commission recently passed similar requirements, several of likewise questionable legality. Both would require a return to old-fashioned handwritten ballots.
Washoe Commissioner Jeanne Herman and her extended family, the five Donald-goats gruff from Tonopah, apparently skipped history class for cheerleader practice, if they ever went to school at all.
Nye County has long been infamous regarding paper ballot boxing and the stuffing thereof.
Back in 1974, brothel owner and madame Beverly Harrell ran as a Republican for the State Assembly.
“She’s going to win,” a high level Democrat told me, adding “my family says everybody down there hates the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and they are going to send her to Carson City hating the BLM.”
Rumbles in the jungle said that the Nye County good old boys either didn’t like her calling attention to their little kingdom. Or maybe she wasn’t paying them enough.
The big news out of Nevada that year should have been Paul Laxalt upsetting Harry Reid for U.S. Senate, right? Wrong. The big news was the flamboyant madame in her class-A motorhome packing up her entourage to head to the state capital. She promised that if she won she would declare open bar and, err…open house…freebies to all media types who came to rural Nevada to cover election night.
State Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Las Vegas, lost to incumbent Republican Attorney General Robert List. Republican Laxalt defeated Democrat Reid. Nevada was just about the only GOP success story in the year of Watergate.
“How much did Beverly Harrell win by?” asked a top LV Democrat who called me the day after.
“She lost to that unknown garage owner from Hawthorne,” I replied.
“They stole it from her,” said the heavyweight, naming names.
Turned out a ballot box from somewhere in the outback never made it to Tonopah until the next morning. Car trouble? Aliens from Area 51?
Therein were plenty of votes to defeat Harrell and perhaps enough to beat both Reid and Bryan. I called Mr. Bryan about it but never heard back.
Nye County recalled crusading Sheriff Joni Wines a few years later.
“Nye County Brothel Wars” corruption became a New West Magazine feature and a book of the same name. It was sanitized as “Incident at Crestridge” Wyoming in a 1981 TV movie starring Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Eileen Brennan (“Private Benjamin”, “The Sting”) and Pernell Roberts (“Bonanza,” “Trapper John, MD”) as a corrupt official. The sheriff played by Brennan was recalled in a fixed election with paper ballots. Fiction, of course.
Reality is that Nye was so corrupt that the Nevada Supreme Court conducted an investigation which has never been made public.
Apparently Nevada’s record with paper ballots matters little to Republican defenders of the franchise. Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.
HOW TO CHEAT IN A PAPER RECOUNT. Challenge any ballot not favoring your guy. Send women with long nails to represent your party. Place pencil leads under their nails. When they inspect a ballot for the other guy, deface it and get it thrown out. Bring rubber cement to stick two paper ballots together so that they may be challenged. If all else fails, spill coffee.
FIXED FIGHTS. Earlier this month, Carson District Judge Jim Wilson overruled Republican Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and struck two initiative petitions from this November’s ballot.
Nevada’s “extractive industries” got what they wanted in nuking teachers union tax proposals. The unions agreed, asserting that their initiatives were mere bargaining chips for last year’s legislative session.
Rubbing salt in the wound, those same teachers unions are already planning to go the 2023 ledge for more money notwithstanding the $85 million or so with which the mining charlatans paid them go away.
At issue is whether the legislature could go further than the state constitution allows. (The decision will be linked to this column at NevadaLabor.com/)
Wilson recognized something I was taught as inviolate — that a law means what it says and if it doesn’t state it, you can’t assume you can go beyond it.
At the bottom of page 3, Hizzoner wrote “In Nevada, the language of a statute should not go beyond its plain meaning.”
That’s one of the bedrocks of law and order, dammit!
Then in the middle of page 6, he flips a 180 and sez the ledge can go beyond the constitution’s Article 19 by allowing withdrawal of initiatives. (“Nothing in Article 19 appears to contravene the Legislature’s ability to enact a [withdrawal] provision…”) Yeah, and nothing prohibits Lizzie Borden from committing murder because the law does not specifically prohibit chopping up your parents with an ax.
So am I too stupid to understand plain English? I contacted some top gun lawyers. Wilson is just flat wrong.
“Anything facilitating withdrawal is the opposite of fulfilling the constitutional provisions about initiatives,” said one, adding that the legislative provision allowing petition interruptus is “bogus and outrageous.”
If so, “black is really white.”
Alas and alack, as always, Nevada’s two largest industries define the color of law.
The gross gaming tax hike was favored by 59 to 25 percent in a poll earlier this year. ‘Twas ever thus.
When the late great Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, and I were campaigning to raise the world’s lowest taxes on the state’s largest casinos, we quoted two decades of polling by UNR and UNLV which consistently showed overwhelming public support to raise gambling taxes.
So the gambling industry ordered its lawmakers to defund the poll.
Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. (Don’t forget to check your local voter registration.)
SUICIDE WATCH: Our national death wish continues to hurtle toward fulfillment as more than a thousand Americans die of COVID-19 every day (kinda like Ukraine, eh wot?) while the maskless party on. Whadya expect in a country that cares more about butt control than gun control and will soon outlaw birth control?
DELIVERANCE FROM THE HAND OF GOD? Perhaps the only thing that can finally stop the Russian slaughter of innocent Ukrainians is a major Coronavirus variant outbreak among the invaders.
SPARKS BUS OPERATOR MIKE LANSBOROUGH was just delivered from major heart surgery. Help him and his family out at the GoFundMe page set up by his Teamsters Union brothers and sisters More at NevadaLabor. com/
Take care of each other and be careful out there.
Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Quarantino Barbano is a 53-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com, BallotBoxing.US and DoctorLawyerWatch. com/ Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.