Letters for August 4, 2011

County ignored warnings

The property tax refund disaster that Washoe County now faces is not a result of needlessly complex property tax law, as District Attorney Richard Gammick would have the public believe.

It is a direct result of an assessor’s office that ignored the law and crafted its own unauthorized appraisal system and the arrogance and incompetence of the D.A.’s office and Gammick, who attempted to bully the citizen review panel on property tax issues—the County Board of Equalization, of which I was a member from 2003 through 2007—and the courts.

All the while, county commissioners stuck their heads in the sand, ignored the escalating issue, attempted to punish Board of Equalization members, and stacked the board with puppets. Had the assessor’s office, the district attorney’s office, or the county commission just respected the decisions of the Board of Equalization in 2004, 2005 and 2006, which were affirmed by the district courts and ultimately the Nevada Supreme Court, they could have prevented all these years of needless litigation and settled the matter back in 2005 for a couple hundred thousand dollars. Now, six years later, they have found themselves in a real financial dilemma which will cost citizens millions of dollars.

I have a suggestion as to how the county ought to fund these refunds: They should be paid personally by Gammick and his minions, the county commissioners, and the employees of the assessor’s office.

Gary Schmidt

Yucca’s the best hole

Re “Screwed” (Feature story, July 21):

In the years since 1987, it has become obvious that the decision to designate Yucca as the only national repository was one of politics, not science. I agree. The decision process did have “powerful forces and figures aligned against Nevada,” chief being the new Democratic leadership in the Senate.

However, there was also immense technical merit to placing the national repository at Yucca. I believe that today Yucca still represents the best option for a national repository, at least on an interim basis.

Today, 14 years and $13 billion after the 1987 decision, two facts must be recognized. First, there has been extensive research into the technical and safety feasibility of the site, and no study has ever produced significant problems. I challenge anyone who believes otherwise to look into DOE / NRC reports on such matters.

Secondly, it is time we recognize that the government has spent $13 billion in research and development at the site, and the chances of abandoning that investment are very small. In the long run, this fact transcends any current influence Nevadan politicians have in Washington.

Nevada must realize its leverage in this issue, and press for significant economic compensation if Yucca is opened. We must utilize what potential benefits can be reaped from our current situation. These benefits are very significant especially for a state struggling with the highest unemployment in the nation. The project will unarguably bring billions into the state.

Augustus Merwin

Please quiet down

Kudos to Dan Phillips who brings such wonderful music to Reno, most notably the Gonzalo Bergara Quartet and Fishtank Ensemble. We usually see these acts and others at Studio on Fourth, an excellent music venue, but on Friday night, the elegant River Room was packed with an appreciate audience for Gonzalo Bergara. Channeling Django Reinhardt, this quartet does more than justice to his music.

Sadly, the appreciative audience contained a group of about half a dozen people who couldn’t for the life of them stay quiet. I approached them after a few songs and asked if they could keep it down. They did, for a few minutes. At intermission I approached them again. By this time half the concert had been spoiled. Yes, it was about my own enjoyment, but far more important, what kind of people could be so disrespectful to musicians they’d paid to listen to? They pointed out that we were in a bar. Yep, and if we were in Yankee Stadium, it wouldn’t have made any difference. The musicians in front of us were of world-class ability, and a conversation held at a roar was simply outrageous rudeness in this context. I asked if any of the loud group were musicians. Astonishingly, one said she was, and that she was listening “in her own way.” They told me I could go listen to the music and ignore them.

Such heaven when these people left before the end of the concert.

Please have respect for musicians. They’re actual people playing live for you, and the least you can do is accord them your attention.

Suzanne Slade
via email

Save us, Harry

Re “Career politician’s book fails to impress” (Right to Your Head, July 21):

I am a conservative, constitutionally centered Republican. In recent years however, my capital-R Republican affiliation has dwindled to only the faintest whisper of the roar that penetrated my soul a decade and a half ago. Part of that is due to the abject lack of leadership on a national level, part to the embarrassing ineptitude displayed within the state party.

Then along came Sharron Angle, quietly at first, but eventually gaining steam, carrying with her some hope that maybe—just maybe—she and her Tea Party folks could revive the base and infuse energy into the party. But … no. What followed was a political disaster of titanic proportions. Lowden’s misstep, followed by GOP infighting, created a perfect storm for the state’s so-called conservative leadership to (once again) prove that it cannot change in deference to anyone or anything for any reason.

In the past two years Nevada Republicans have done very, very little outside of their usual partisan bickering with the Democrats. Meanwhile, like a parasitic cockroach, Angle keeps resurfacing to steal headlines. Why would the media continue to pay attention to a washed-up politician who never won a real race? The answer is simple: She is the only news being made on the right-hand side of the political spectrum in this state. If Nevada’s GOP were doing anything bold, new, or anything of import at all, She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would drift into the oblivion she deserves.

She is like the Voldemort metaphor to which Sean Cary refers. Her legend strikes fear into the hearts of traditionalists, she is enraged, power hungry, keeps getting stronger through her followers, permanently harmed a good guy, and constantly draws in evil minions who only want to undo what is good. She has no real power, and is not strong enough to fight her own battles.

If the rational Nevada conservatives cannot rally instead of hiding in fear, if they cannot find a real leader who will dare great things instead of clinging blindly to mindless tradition, they will fall prey to the only slightly better organized populist rage.

Jake Wiskerchen Jr.
via email

No balanced meals

Re “Cougar chow” (Foodfinds, July 28):

You know, I really think I could go the rest of my life without reading another totally mixed review from K.J. Sullivan. With every one, I find myself having to go back and find any good that she may have written about, as most of her articles are so peppered with un-clever little side jabs I have to ask myself if she liked or disliked the place. She writes roughly three sentences about the food and spends the rest of the reviews slamming the staff, the decor or something else that, in my opinion, should come second in a food review. Sure, ambiance and service are very important when it comes to dining and reviewing a restaurant, but with Sullivans’ reviews, that’s all I ever end up taking away. Seriously, I don’t think she belongs anywhere near a food article.

C. Nelson