Letters for June 16, 2011

English lessons

Re “Lost in translation” (Feature story, June 9):

I appreciate the challenges of learning another language as presented in Rachel Breithaupt’s article. There are a number of programs available in the area where non-native English speakers can learn the English language. The Washoe County School District, Truckee Meadows Community College, Northern Nevada Literacy Council, and ESL in Home, all have classes that are free or at a nominal cost.

Mark Glenn

We’re all illegal

Re “Boot illegals” (Letters to the editor, June 9):

According to international laws, ethical and moral principles, most of us are illegal immigrants [and that includes the letter writer] unless Roy Avery is 100 percent Native American.

When our genocidal occupation of North America began, it is estimated there were about 8 million Native Americans. Now they are about 1.37 percent of our population.

Also, it should be remembered that the Mexican wars resulted in the U.S. theft of all or part of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Kansas, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

So, bye bye, Mr. Avery.

Walden Joura

Money matters

Re “Workers deserve better” (Editorial, June 9):

Thank you for your defense of government workers, and state/local employees in general. Dare I even include fire and police unions? Yes, even though I continually fought union demands through the fact-finding and binding arbitration requirements of the state laws in Nevada Revised Statutes, chapter 288. Sometimes, what they asked for was over the top, and sometimes the fact finders and arbitrators agreed. But the process they followed was in accordance with state laws that were duly enacted by our legislators, who have been totally disinclined to address needed reforms over many legislative sessions in the past. I recall being at a hearing where the venerable former Sen. William Raggio sought to take half of the property taxes collected by city/county governments on the pretext that they had been too generous with police and fire labor agreements and therefore could do without the revenue that was afforded to them, also by state law. Such hypocrisy! Raggio was one of the most influential lawmakers who refused to address the fact that NRS Chapter 288 routinely put the police and fire unions in the driver’s seat with regard to contact negotiations. However, I can proudly report that in my 15 years as finance director, I never lost.

I also concur with your conclusions about STAR bonds. Just please make sure that the beneficiaries are properly identified. In the case of the city of Sparks, the STAR bonds issued benefited RED Development. Scheels was an anchor tenant of the development known as “Legends,” but RED pitched the whole project, which initially included either a Bass Pro Shop or Cabela’s, and even sought to garner the region’s Triple AAA baseball stadium. I think we can all figure out how that worked. Though she was was apparently too busy to reply to me, I lauded Assemblymember Debbie Smith’s AB 376 bill as being well, laudable, but too little, too late. Although it is difficult to get information on the current status of STAR bonds that have been issued for these projects, it would be a wonderful investigative report for the RN&R, and I would be happy to help.

Since I have now retired from a lengthy career in state and local government that had me working in both World Trade Center Towers (89th floor in One, and 64th floor in Two), a stint for Washoe County (Comptroller’s Office), the city of Sparks, and the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, I am now beholden to no one.

Your publication is our “Village Voice.” Thanks.

Terri Thomas
via email

Rough reviews

Re “Salty response” (Letters to the editor, June 9):

In response to the review of McHenry’s Pub and Grille, I have never eaten or drank there, but I do agree with the letter. Sometimes an establishment may mess up or a waiter has a bad day. Maybe having two or three meals at a place before reviewing is not a bad idea. It may take more money or more time, but it seems to be a fair way to treat a place where one bad review can have terribly adverse consequences.

Jamie Kingham

Smart taxes

The Republicans in Washington are disgusting. They are very happy to cut government programs that help middle class and poor people while at the same time maintaining or increasing government benefits for the rich and super rich.

It’s obvious why the Republicans are supported by the wealthy, but I can’t understand why the GOP gets any support from the middle class. Do those conservatives believe that they will soon be millionaires? Or do they believe that God has chosen some people to be filthy rich, and if you try to interfere with God’s plan, then you will never get into heaven?

I say that if the government needs more money, it should go after the millionaires and billionaires who can afford it, and not the little people who can’t. What is wrong with this kind of thinking?

Brad MacKenzie

Hammer meet nail

Recent columns and editorials in the RN&R on corruption and incompetence in government at the state and local levels raise a point that has bothered me for the 31 years I have lived in Reno.

Back in 1977, a year after the casino expansion, the Wall Street Journal had a small item on the front page. It said that the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area had the largest per capita income in the world, $12,700 per person.

Twenty years later, Scientific American ran a study on poverty in America. It showed that, in terms of cost of living versus average wage, Washoe County was one of the poorest counties in the U.S. At that same time, while I was a member of the grand jury, we did an investigation into the horrible fact that we had one of the highest child-murder rates in the nation.

What went wrong?

Here is an example: At the same time the Hilton corporation had the Reno Flamingo, they also had the Waldorf Astoria in New York. The Waldorf Astoria was about three times larger than the Flamingo. But, due to gambling, the Flamingo had three times as many employees and generated about 20 times as much revenue. Of the 2,000 Hilton properties worldwide, six of them generated over a third of the company’s total revenue—the casinos.

And yet, the Waldorf Astoria had a larger payroll than the Flamingo: $13 an hour in New York equated to $4 an hour in Reno.

Corporate carpetbaggers jumped on the Reno gold rush and bled the area nearly dry. What should have been a shining example of prosperity and economic development became another case of declining revenue and budget crisis. We were left with cheap schools and an enormous prison system—and, the best legislative bodies money could buy.

What happened in Reno, left Reno.

Mike Beesley