Archive for April, 2009

Old politicians may never die and they won’t just fade away

April 16, 2009

By David Farside

On April 19, 1951, Gen. Douglas MacArthur defended his actions during the Korean War in a speech before a joint session of Congress. In defiance of President Harry Truman, MacArthur wanted to push further north across the Yalu River and cut off supplies to Korea from red China. Truman wanted the war over and settled diplomatically. He certainly didn’t want an all-out war with China and quickly relieved MacArthur of his command.

At the end of his speech, MacArthur told Congress, “I still remember the refrain of the most popular barracks ballads of the day (World War I) proclaiming proudly that old soldiers never die; they just fade away. And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away.” Too bad some local politicians can’t close their career and just fade away.

Almost halfway into our legislative session, state Sen. Maurice Washington is still trying to overturn term limit legislation approved in two sessions of the Nevada Legislature and by the voters in 1994 and 1996. Upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court, it took effect in 1998.

Washington argues that current office holders will not be affected by any repeal of term limits because the process will take six years, and by that time there will be enough elected officials that have been “termed out.” His proposed amendment has to be approved during this session, the 2011 session and then by the voters. But he is wrong. Current office holders could be affected and protected by his proposed legislation – especially Washington.

Washington said he might run for the Nevada Assembly or another public office after his last session. So, if he’s elected to the Assembly and there are no term limits, he could run as an incumbent indefinitely – that is, if he could get elected.

He said passing the bill will “allow voters a second look at whether they truly wanted to lose experienced representatives.” If, by “experienced,” he means a veteran head-nodder like himself collared at the end of Sen. Bill Raggio’s political leash and puppet for the Republican party, most of us will be glad to see him go.

Washington declared, “Term limits should be imposed by voters at the ballot box.” Poor Maurice. He must have left half his wit on the University of Nevada, Reno’s football field at Mackay Stadium years ago. If you can find the other half, let me know.

Washington, the voters did have a second look in 1996 when they confirmed their vote in 1994, thus imposing term limits at the ballot box.

But Washington isn’t the only politician looking for a way to stay involved in the affairs of state. Assemblyman Bernie Anderson is thinking of running for mayor of Sparks and he hasn’t ruled out seeking a seat on the Washoe County Board of Commissioners or crossing the isle in his quest for a state Senate seat. Anderson says he is concerned about the direction of the city and the use of Sales Tax Anticipated Revenue (STAR) bonds under current Mayor Geno Martini, a longtime friend of his.

Martini had a great one-liner in response. He said Anderson should solve some of “the problems he helped create for the state.” he reminded Anderson the state “has the worst problems it has ever had.” It’s shaping up to be a good race between “old friends.” I wonder how long that friendship will last?

Moving across town to Reno, Mayor Bob Cashell is thinking about a candidacy for governor. He was lieutenant governor for Nevada from 1982 to 1986, giving him some experience as the state’s second highest administrator. He was elected mayor in 2002 and also served on the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents from 1979 to 1982.

Cashell has been in gaming since 1967, when he and a few partners purchased Bill and Effie’s Truck Stop on Interstate 80. He changed the name to Boomtown and sold it in 1988.

I remember the first time I met him. He and two security guards escorted me out of Boomtown, claiming they didn’t want a professional blackjack player in their casino. I was only counting cards and helping someone else win at the table!

With term limits firmly in place, politicians will continually seek other elected positions. In Anderson’s case, he would probably be a good representative of the people in any office he holds. The same can be said for Cashell. But as they get older, it might be time for both of them to give up the political ghost.

Term limits have proven one thing: Unlike old soldiers, old politicians may never die and they won’t just fade away.