Politics as usual: clowns in Sparks City Hall?

By David Farside

Website: http://www.thefarsidechronicles.com

If last week is any indication, it’s still politics as usual and Sparks is still trying to re-invent itself as a destination resort for tourists.

On the national scene, Mitt Romney is starting his move to the top of the Republican party. Romney is giving some of his political action committee (PAC) money to Republican legislators who vote against President Barack Obama’s stimulus package. He formed his own PAC committee when he ran for the Republican nomination, donated more than $40 million of his own money to the campaign and still couldn’t defeat Sen. John McCain. What a waste of money. Alaska’s Republican Gov. Sarah Palin also has formed her own PAC using funds to support her future run for the national spotlight. Don’t be surprised if the next Republican presidential ticket is punched by Romney and Palin.

Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder visited the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. The prison, regarded by most of the world as a symbol of the Bush administration’s torture chamber, holds 246 supposed terrorists. Obama’s pre-election promise was to close the facility and it looks like he will keep his promise.

But Obama also promised transparency in his “new” America. When reporters tried to enter Guantanamo with Holder, they were restrained and prohibited from entering the prison. It reminds me of Obama’s primetime news conference a few weeks ago. When asked if he knew of any country in the Middle East that had nuclear weapons, he wouldn’t answer the question. He said he believed in nuclear stability in the area. What is that supposed to mean? So much for transparency.

Last Thursday, the Obama budget of $3.6 trillion was released, raising concerns from fiscal conservatives – mostly Republicans. They argue that the new deficit will soar to $1.75 trillion, but not to worry. Obama says he will cut that deficit in half by the end of his “first” term. Similar to Bush’s promise to end the war in Iraq by the end of his second term, Obama is already campaigning to eliminate the deficit completely in his second term.

Some of the borrowed money will help finance the Pell program for student loans. That is a two-edged sword. The more money government provides for student loans, the higher tuition fees rise. Universities always take advantage of higher Pell grants to pay for so-called increased administration costs.

The “green” initiatives will receive billions of dollars. The utility companies will receive matching funds from the government to develop new sources of energy and grids to deliver the power to your home. That’s also a two-edged sword. If the utilities have to match government funds, our utility rates will increase. Talk about a hidden tax.

Speaking of budgets, Gov. Jim Gibbons is cutting funding for almost everything in the state, including education, health services and road construction.

Statewide, non-essential government employees are finally being laid off. If they are non-essential, what are they doing with a job in the first place?

But Gibbons isn’t cutting everything in his budget. He is proposing a 3 percent increase for the athletic departments of our state universities. Since football and basketball coaches of both the University of Nevada, Reno and University of Nevada, Las Vegas campuses are probably the highest paid employees in the state, they will want an increase in salary for teaching student athletes much needed life skills such as throwing and catching a ball, running up and down a flat surface and sometimes actually speaking English during interviews with the press. So much for politics as usual.

On a personal note, my article last week on the Sparks tourmark committee had some inaccuracies. I said Councilman Ron Schmitt was one of the original members of the committee formed in 2001; I was incorrect. Either way, he and Councilman Ron Smith have been on the committee too long. The Sparks council voted to have the chairman and vice chairman of the downtown Sparks Redevelopment Agency represent them on the tourmark committee on May 22, 2000. Sorry about that. As far as an audit is concerned, that remains to be seen.

Finally, instead of using “Nevada’s Festival City” as a new brand for Sparks, why don‘t we consider Sparks as “Nevada’s Circus City?” We could buy the Circus World Museum, currently located in Baraboo, Wis. for the same $114,000 we gave away to a consultant. Or, we could talk the Barnum and Bailey Circus into moving their summer headquarters from Balmy Sarasota, Fla. to the beautiful climate of the Sparks winter season. That would attract tourists from all over the northern Nevada area.

John Ascuaga’s Nugget could be renamed the big top. After all, they had Bertha and Tina perform their elephant act on stage for years. Rod’s shy clown in Sparks evolved into Baldini’s and we already have Circus Circus in Reno. The tag line could read “Send in the clowns.” But we really don’t need any more clowns in Sparks. There’s probably enough of them already here in Sparks City Hall.

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