RenoElections.com and its platform
RenoElections.org, a website that has generated a lot of comment during the general election campaign, has used a decidedly old-style method of getting its message out—a postcard measuring 6-by-11 inches mailed to local households. The postcard calls the RenoElections group “nonpartisan,” which is a little like calling the Republican National Convention nonpartisan. RenoElections has a hard right point-of-view.
The four claims the postcard makes under the heading “Reno’s Report Card” are as follows:
“Reno’s national crime rating is a ‘F.’ ”
This rating is attributed—in very small type—to a website called AreaVibes.com. That site does indeed give Reno an F, but it provides no substantiation at all. No sources are given for figures cited. AreaVibes also gives Reno a B-minus for housing at a time when housing is extremely difficult to find and rents are out of sight, and Reno employment gets a D at a time when joblessness is at only 4.5 percent and at a time when Reno is gaining jobs faster than the state as a whole. AreaVibes is not a credible source.
“Our public schools are rated the worst in the U.S.”
This is false and is not supported by the citation listed, again, in very small type—a Reno Gazette Journal news story by Sam Gross, which did not even mention Reno. His story reported on the standing of state, not city schools. Washoe County schools, which include Reno, have for many years posted better results than the rest of the state. Washoe high schools are normally listed in the U.S. News and World Report survey of the state’s top high schools, and last December the Las Vegas Review Journal reported that, as usual, “In Washoe County, for example, 42 percent of the county’s 19 middle schools will receive four- or five-star ratings, compared with only 26 percent of Clark County’s 66 middle schools.”
“Reno’s homeless problem is out of control.”
This finding by RenoElections is attributed in small type to a cozy source—an essay written by Paul White, who manages the website RenoElections.org. In other words, this website is its own source for this assertion. But let’s assume it is accurate. The homeless problem in most cities in the United States is out of control and has been since the early 1980s when President Reagan and a bipartisan group in Congress—Republicans and blue dog Democrats—removed the safety net of social services that had existed since the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, from mental health to nutrition. Until the 1980s, the U.S. did not have a large homeless class, and a small Salvation Army shelter in Reno handled the problem. The postcard does not propose any way for local municipalities to solve this national problem.
“Reno’s city debt is over 700 million.”
OK. Now what? Every city has debt, as does nearly every family. Bought a car or have a mortgage? RenoElections does not allege that there is anything wrong with this, such as the city not having the assets to meet its debt or that its pension and retiree healthcare costs are too great to cover the debt. Rather, it throws out a big figure and lets it rest there. Thanks for the info, folks.
In fact, the city has at least twice done what amounted to a refinancing of its debt from the train trench, a practice which is less than financially healthy, and RenoElections could have made an issue of that. But it did not do that kind of homework. It just grabbed alarmist figures and threw them into the public bloodstream without providing any scrutiny or context for those figures.