Sorry, kids. We are rudely screwed once again. This edition of the Crudely and Rudely Scrude News comes from no less than Gomorrah South.
Bottom line: When the biggest, baddest union in the state can’t get something done by southern Nevada governments, MAYDAY!
That’s just what’s happened to mighty Culinary Union Local 226 and its 60,000+ Nevada members, some of whom even live up here in the provinces.
My union sisters and brothers will be gathering initiative petition signatures for a new ordinance mandating rent control in the City of North Las Vegas. They want a rental increase cap of five percent per year.
More than 7,300 Local 226 members and their families live in NLV, Nevada’s fourth-largest incorporated city (by all of 117 fewer people than number three Reno, according to the 2020 semi-senseless Trumpian census). LV remains number one followed by Henderson with Sparks a distant fifth.
Of that 7,300, 63 percent are Latino and 18 percent black. If the NLV campaign is successful, “we will work to get similar laws passed in the cities of Las Vegas, Henderson, Clark County and other jurisdictions,” stated union communications director Bethany Khan.
Does that include us, the uncultured great unwashed up here in the backwaters? Probably not. We just have not shown the cojones, at least not recently.
Evidence in point: I have asked for a position on this issue from EVERY Washoe County candidate or official running for anything this year, anyone who might have power to do something NOW. That includes city council and county commission candidates, city attorneys and others like Sparks Councilmember Kristopher Dahir, now seeking the Republican nomination for secretary of state.
One, count ‘em, ONE has taken a definitive position on rent control, Democrat Kyle Isacksen. He’s running for the Washoe County Commission District 3 seat (northeast Reno/western Sparks) being vacated by term-limited incumbent Kitty Jung.
I published his stance on May 4. He “told the Reno Gazette-Journal that he favors creation of a ‘rental registry’ database to ‘find out where the money’s going, who owns the houses…and then, the next step is rent stabilization.’
“Shades of the late great Reno Mayor Barbara Bennett,” I noted.
“Landlords would have to justify rent increases during tight times based on actual costs. Isacksen’s next step would be some form of rent control.”
“Are you in favor?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said.
Zounds. A leader has risen.
I got some sideways wiggly wafflings but only Mr. Isacksen showed the courage to mount his white horse and tilt against the windmills and werewolves of the corporate welfare development cult.
First and probably alone in all of Nevada history, the Reno City Council actually passed rent control in 1978. Intense political pressure forced them to quickly back away. (Barbwire July 17, 2019)
A few elected officials have recently tried to do something, including Reno Councilmember Jenny Brekhus and Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, both in 2019.
At the last minute, legislative Democrats, acting at the behest of realtors and developers, killed Ratti’s SB 398.
A bill was introduced during last year’s legislative session to reign in extortionate rental application fees. Alas and alack, Democrats killed that, too.
As I noted, the ultimate irony is that no new law needed to be passed and former Sen. Ratti agrees. The Republican-controlled 2015 Legislature passed two bills (SB 29 and AB 493) which the Legislative Counsel Bureau says gives local governments all the power they need.
To use a good ole boy term, it slud thru the ledge. How? Because it granted broad local authority without mentioning issues. One of the immutable commandments of modern hidebound conservatism is cutting back on big government. You know, “take Nevada back” snake oil. This time, the grease caught on fire. All the Donkey-kongs voted against it. Go figger.
That accidental liberal blessing hasn’t given local officials any courage. Reno City Attorney Karl Hall and his deputy, Jonathan Shipman, have advised their councillors that they don’t think the 2015 legislation does what it says it does.
That means the Reno or Sparks council or the county commission must actually pass an ordinance over which some corporate interest would sue.
That’s what sort of happened in 1978 under a since-repealed cockamamie law allowing governments to ask courts to rule on constitutionality without a formal case filing. Somebody apparently forgot Article 3 of the Constitution of the United States which mandates that courts must have actual cases before them.
As a result, Washoe District Judge James Guinan bounced Reno’s request for a judicial opinion like a hot check on a cold day. By then, business interests had mounted a vicious counter-offensive and city hall backed down. Apparently no local body today has the political will to even enact a trial balloon.
The Culinary Union says initiative petitions provide legal workarounds neutering such timid objections.
Rent control advocacy did one good thing in 1979: It elected the greatest Reno mayor in history. Alas, if Barbara Bennett wuz alive today, she’d be turnin’ over in her grave.
BARBWIRE CONFIDENTIAL: BLOODY BUS BUSTS BURGEONING. Monitor NevadaLabor.com for impending revelations about hemorrhages of taxpayer money perpetrated by macho ineptitude at the elected Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County and their overpaid, misguided, misfeasant minions.
In case you’ve forgotten, RTC’s board is comprised of Washoe County Commissioners Vaughn Hartung and Bob Lucey, Reno Councilmember/RTC Chair Neoma Jardon, Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson (all Republicans) and Reno Councilmember Oscar Delgado-D, who is reportedly stepping down. His replacement has yet to be named.
FOR ALL THE NEWS YOU NEVER KNEW YOU NEEDED TO KNOW ‘TIL NOW, subscribe to Barbwire Confidential (hush, hush!) at BallotBoxing.US/
Pray for Ukraine and 53 other currently war-torn lands.
Take care of each other and be careful out there.
Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Quarantino Barbano, a 53-year Nevadan, is editor of Rentvolution.org, MississippiWestNV.org, ConsumerCoalitionv. org and NevadaLabor.com, among others. He is a member of Sparks Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.