Would that be a case of irony, or poetic justice?

The Nevada Democratic Party and its affiliated unions did a great job turning out voters for the Nov. 4 general election, and placing in the hands of many of those voters endorsement sheets “recommending” how they might vote — all the way down the ballot to the supposedly “non-partisan” elections for judgeships, school board, etc.

Some went further. These days, our county registrars will send out an “absentee ballot” to anyone who requests one, facilitating the completion of such ballots under the supervision of anyone (bosses, union stewards) willing to pressure voters into showing up with their ballots at some appointed time and place, far from the privacy curtains of their neighborhood polling station.

The Democratic Party also had huge success with its related million-dollar direct-mail campaign against Nevada state Sens. Joe Heck and Bob Beers, who they targeted based on growing Democratic registrations in Senate Districts 5 and 6 — the overall goal being to seat enough Democrats in the state Senate to push through new tax hikes and big pay and benefit increases for state bureaucrats.

The mail (and TV) campaign was pretty sleazy, branding Sen. Beers as “in bed with the porno industry” because his campaign treasurer accepted a perfectly legal $5,000 campaign contribution from a legal downtown businessman who runs a legal girlie bar (if Democrats accept union contributions, are they “in bed with the Mob”?) The campaign attacked Sen. Beers for his proposal that specially trained teachers be “allowed” to carry handguns on school grounds to protect their students from violent attack. (It’s already legal — the Beers proposal would have required more training.) Democrats even charging Sen. Beers was under investigation by the state Ethics Commission, which turned out to be a lie.

Those sleaze campaigns succeeded. Sens. Beers and Heck have now been replaced by Senators-elect Allison Copening and Shirley Breeden, who will now presumably vote for the huge tax hikes and state employee wage and benefit hikes for which Democrats yearn.

Such campaigns cost millions. Where did that money come from?

A visit to the Web site of the Nevada Secretary of State allows one to bring up (under “groups”) PDF files of the campaign donation reports filed by the Nevada Democratic Party in June and especially on Oct. 28.

Ten grand came from the so-called Nevada State Education Association — the teachers union, whose contributions to “education” include the high levels of literacy, numeracy, and historical knowledge currently on view among most of our recent local high-school graduates.

Three hundred dollars came from the Lakes Lutheran Church. Turns out that was just a refund for a caucus gym rental that never happened, since the church fathers didn’t want to appear partisan. No scandal there.

A whopping quarter of a million dollars came from the “Searchlight Leadership Fund,” which I suspect has something to do with U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.

$50,000 came from Newmont USA and $25,000 from Barrick Goldstrike Mines — allocations of which I suspect a lot of gold-mining stockholders are unaware, though such moneys are often viewed as “protection payments” against jacked-up mining taxes, and cheap at the price.

Nevada Power contributed $30,000 toward the Beers-Heck sleazeball mailer campaign. Glad my power bills are paying for something so directly related to generating and transmitting electricity.

And $50,000 in Democratic campaign contributions came from five TV stations — KCWY in Wyoming, KRNV in Reno, KTVH in Helena, KVBC in Las Vegas, and KYMA Yuma — all of which are owned and controlled by Nevada University System Chancellor (and TV millionaire) Jim Rogers.

Rogers is in favor of higher taxes. Mr. Rogers spent his money, and he got results.

Imagine his chagrin, then, when Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons — a Republican — noted Bob Beers, a Certified Public Accountant by trade, is now available for other duties, and proposed last week that he might appoint Mr. Beers to the state Board of Regents, filling the seat vacated when Regent Steve Sisolak was elected to the Clark County Commission, also on Nov. 4.

Mr. Rogers works for the state Board of Regents, you understand. They are his bosses. They could presumably, um … fire him.

The governor is also rumored to be considering the appointment of Bret Whipple — a local attorney who just lost his Board of Regents re-election bid to political neophyte Robert Blakely — to fill another seat on the board, being vacated by Thalia Dondero, who has fallen victim to voter-imposed term limits.

Mr. Rogers is not fond of Mr. Whipple — who has sometimes criticized the chancellor — either.

Mr. Blakely, who expressed considerable surprise at his own election over Mr. Whipple after Mr. Blakely racked up total campaign costs of $120, said Monday he would support Mr. Whipple’s appointment to the vacant seat.

Since Mr. Whipple was just rejected by the voters, his appointment would be “a really bad idea,” Mr. Rogers said Monday. “It tells the voting public they can go to hell.”

Although Mr. Whipple is competent and knowledgeable, in this case, Mr. Rogers has a point.

It was less immediately clear why Mr. Rogers would tell a Review-Journal reporter “I think Bob Beers is a menace” — as he did, on Monday Nov. 10.

I presumed he was referring to Mr. Beers’ modest fiscal conservatism. (Beers rarely proposes closing down entire state programs — mores’ the pity — generally limiting himself to calls for restraint in their rates of growth.) “I’d like to get in there and help find administrative costs we could save,” Mr. Beers said Monday, when news of the governor’s intentions surfaced. “Get the money back in the classroom where it belongs.”

Was that it? I called Chancellor Rogers on Wednesday to ask.

“Do you work for a salary?” he asked me, right off.

When I’m at the Review-Journal, yes I do.

“I’ve been an entrepreneur for 40 years,” Chancellor Rogers explained. “I’ve never been employed by anybody,” said the man who most Nevada taxpayers probably believed they “employ” to do their bidding as their university chancellor.

“I know how to cut costs and save money, I know how to borrow money and I know how to make money. So when someone starts talking to me about fiscal conservatism it’s got to be related to the final product you want,” the chancellor said. “I’ve never found anything yet, Vin, that I thought was successful unless you invested money in it. There has to be a balance between expenses and revenue.

“The problem I have with Bob Beers is not that he looks at the expense line; it’s that he’s not qualified to look at the investment line because he’s never done that. … I don’t know that Bob Beers has been financially successful in his entire life. Someone who has never run an operation, I don’t think he’s qualified. Hell, we can cut the expenses to zero if we just shut the whole thing down.”

Goodness. I’m not privy to (outgoing) state Sen. Beers’ tax returns or family budget, but his career in the financial services industry seems to have allowed him to keep up the payments on a nice two-story home in Summerlin, where he and his wife have kept busy raising two children for some years now.

Mr. Beers doesn’t exactly live in a trailer home. Though — now that I think of it — I’m not sure how living in a trailer home would disqualify one from any public office, including the one in question.

Meantime, how many of the current board of regents would meet Mr. Rogers’ standard — how many are self-made millionaire entrepreneurs who accept no paychecks but have experience running “big operations”?

Chairman Michael Wixom is a lawyer. He does help run his law firm. Maybe he’s OK.

Vice Chairman Howard Rosenberg is an art professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, which (since Mr. Rogers oversees the president of UNR) makes Regent Rosenberg the boss of his boss’s boss.

Presumably no experience running a million-dollar business operation, there.

Regent Mark Alden is another CPA. Regent Stavros Anthony is a police captain. Retiring Regent Thalia Dondero is a former Clark County Commissioner who serves on the board of the Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary. Ron Knecht is an economist.

Does Mr. Rogers think ANY of his bosses are qualified for their posts? How about newly elected Regent Robert Blakely? Since being laid off at Yucca Mountain, this graduate in mining engineering from Montana Tech has had a number of jobs, and is now a salesman. A nice guy, but not a millionaire entrepreneur who’s run any big “operations,” from all appearances.

Mr. Rogers does have his own nominees for the two vacant posts, one a local opthalomologist. The fact that this state employee is recommending who two of his bosses should be captures pretty well the current “tail wagging the dog” set-up at the Board of Regents.

As for that “balance between expenses and revenue,” that would pretty well describe a private university — a model that turns out some pretty well-educated graduates, in my experience. But the university system that Chancellor Rogers runs for us is a tax-subsidized state system. It hemorrhages cash — requiring those aforementioned tax subsidies — every year. There is no “balance between expenses and revenue.” Ever.

Which is why — when we enter a recession and state tax revenues fall — taxpayers expect the state university system to pare back.

Chancellor Rogers spent $50,000 to help evict Bob Beers from his state Senate seat, I mentioned.

“Yes I did.”

Is that why he’s upset, I asked — because he spent $50,000 to get rid of this guy, and now Beers could be appointed as Mr. Roger’s new boss?

“Well that’s very logical, isn’t it?” Chancellor Rogers replied. “Does that shock you? … This guy has never had a creative thought, has never been successful in anything. He’s just In there voting against everything.”

Things don’t seem to be working out precisely as Mr. Rogers planned, in this case.

Would that be a case of irony, or poetic justice? I often get the two confused … having gone to a government high school and all.

Comments are closed.