Gib-gate free zone, almost

Like you, I was deeply saddened over the news that our fair straight-laced congressman and Nevada gubernatorial candidate Jim Gibbons cut loose at a flirty, dirty-joke-telling drunkfest with a cocktail waitress half his age. I doubt he tried to rape the inebriated 32-year-old in a Las Vegas parking garage. I fully buy Gibbons’ story.

Like any knight in unsullied armor, he merely tried to help drunk Chrissy Mazzeo to her vehicle so she could drive home. When she stumbled, he kindly caught her.

“Gosh, I learned an important lesson,” the self-proclaimed “officer and gentleman” told police when questioned. “Never to offer a helping hand to anybody ever again.”

It’s been suggested that Gibbons use this as a new campaign slogan.

Here’s a theory: The set-up is a Democratic plot to make Gibbons look bad. Like the Mark Foley thing. Sure, Foley sent inappropriate text messages to teenage boys in which he quizzed them about masturbation habits and penis size. But do the Democrats have to make such a big deal about it? Jeez.

But today, instead of lingering on the Gibbons’ nastiness, as fun as that might be, I’d like to offer substantive analysis of a few proposals on our upcoming ballot. It’s mere coincidence that the first happens to be Gibbons’ supposed nod to public schools, Question 1, Education First.

It sounds great—Education First! Wah-hoo. We Nevadans love our teachers, love our schools. We acknowledge the strong link between our public schools and our state’s economic future and social health. Too bad Gibbons’ proposal does nothing productive for any of the above. The duplicitously named proposal offers no new funding or resources. It merely requires the legislature to fund schools first in the budget before taking other state needs into consideration. Creating another unnecessary hoop for legislators to jump through could extend the already frantic legislative session and cost taxpayers a bundle. (See Questions 10 and 11.)

What does the Ed First proposal actually accomplish? I like to think of it as a condom for Gibbons’ own teeth-grindingly ill-advised tax legislation—a rule that requires a 2/3 majority of the legislature to raise taxes. That’s the law that landed our legislature in a deadlock in 2003 and sent school districts into panic mode with no money to hire new teachers, buy books or pay the electric bills. Education First, indeed.

Another tricky ballot bit involves Questions 4 and 5. Could anything be more cryptic that their respective arguments pro and con? Both limit smoking in public places. Neither would ban smoking in casinos or brothels. All you need to know: Entertainment and tobacco industry lobbyists like Question 4. The American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society support Question 5. Gosh, I wonder which rule best benefits the health of Nevadans. Yes on 5—or yes on both, if you like.

As much as I think the government can and should regulate where people smoke tobacco, I also think our state can and should regulate marijuana use. That’s why I’m voting yes on Question 7. The proposal is endorsed by local clergy, by Jim Clark, president of Republican Advocates and vice chair of the Washoe County GOP and by most college students.

Regulating marijuana will save us the energy and cost of pursuing criminal allegations against adults who smoke. By establishing stiff penalties for sales to minors, the law would protect kids from pot. As a side benefit, the initiative creates new tax revenue for our state—perhaps more money for schools.

As a side side benefit, should he not be elected as our next governor—bummer, man—the high-strung tail-chasing Gibbons, his political career in tie-dyed shreds, might enjoy a little weed in his hookah.