Letters for April 22, 2004

A long, painful choice
Re “My favorite Republican,” (RN&R, View from the Fray, April 15):

Assemblyman and University of Nevada employee Jason Geddes expresses puzzlement as to why Attorney General Sandoval concluded that state employees, as part of the executive branch of government, were prohibited by the state constitution from simultaneously serving as legislators. Geddes claims, first, that because Sandoval also held that Washoe County School District employees could simultaneously serve in the legislature, he is “confused” and can’t understand why the university and not the school district is in the executive branch of government.

The answer to this question is in a plain reading of the state constitution. It provides that “[t]he powers of the Government of the State of Nevada shall be divided into three separate departments…” The university is a state agency—after all, it is called the state university—whereas, the school district is a local government. A local government is not part of the state government—that’s why it’s called a local government, and that’s why other states with constitutions identical to Nevada’s have also ruled that the separation of powers provision does not apply to local governments, such as school districts.

Geddes next says that he reports to a board of elected officials—the Board of Regents—who do not report to the governor. Well, the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer and controller don’t report to the governor either, but can anyone seriously claim that they and the employees who report to them don’t belong to the executive branch of state government? The state university does have the exclusive power to administer its own internal affairs, but that does not make it a fourth branch of government. The Nevada Constitution expressly divides the state government into only three branches. Since the state university is not a legislature and not a court, by law and logic, it falls into the only governmental branch left—the executive branch.

Finally, Geddes states he is careful to avoid conflicts of interest. That’s commendable, but it ignores the fact that the state constitution makes simultaneous service in the executive branch and the legislative branch an inherent conflict of interest.

What Geddes and the rest of the state employee-legislators in the legislature need to do is to choose which is more important—their personal political careers or the people’s law as expressed in the constitution. Every legislator, after all, has taken an oath to support the state constitution.

Donald Klasic

The train trench sucks
Re “Riding the rails,” (RN&R, Editorial, April 15):

One should never “assume.” We all know what can come of this. Also, let’s elaborate on “awakening to the dawn of a new day.” Each new day is inevitable, but the constant reminder of the recurring nightmare that was the stench of Mayor Griffin will take many “new days” to wear off. I agree that “it wouldn’t hurt anyone to support those businesses (casinos) impacted by road closures, detours and delays.” Yet, recently I’ve been more inclined to spend any extra cash on my child’s education in our free public school system. Meanwhile, as the circus remains, I think that any remote possibility of a “gambling renaissance” has left town. In fact, it now resides in California.

“Curiosity seekers"? Indeed. “Residents and tourists"? How many of us have ever considered packing up the kids and a picnic basket on a sunny afternoon to go “see the construction.” Or taken a vacation to any other place to “see the construction.” Anyway, thanks so much for such an optimistic editorial. In an ideal world it would be “like living in a different city,” but it’s more like living in the Reno that our leaders have created.


Support our troops
By submitting to the Patriot Act, we are being asked to allow greater scrutiny of our privacy to fight an enemy that the administration itself says can’t win. I feel that even if this increased scrutiny makes us safer (I have my doubts it does), it is not worth it or in line with the principles that founded this country. Why should we ask our soldiers to risk their lives in Iraq, yet we are so afraid of the minute chance of being the victim of a terrorist act that we stand by while innocent citizens’ rights are abused, and our everyday actions are monitored, all to defeat an enemy that cannot win?

Am I to accept the certainty that my constitutional rights are being taken away, all for the uncertain likelihood of a possible terrorist act? Furthermore, the act is being used for general information gathering, not just terrorism. It was presented as for terrorism only. If you agree that the act is too invasive, then please go to www.ncdpa.org and sign the petition against the misnamed Patriot Act. We as civilians should have the courage we ask of our soldiers.

Jeff Quinn