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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nevada politicians vie for reapportioned, redistricted Congressional seats

Nevada State Senator John J. Lee, D., District 1 and State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, District 4, will go head-to-head during the Democratic primary race for the 4th Congressional District, members of the Mesquite Democrat Club were told Tuesday, Oct. 18.

Currently, District 4 is held by Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, who has announced that she is running for the U.S. Senate. This district covers much of North Las Vegas and the northern urbanized Clark County. It also covers half of the rural counties in the state.

However, every ten years, following the Federal Census, the Nevada State Legislature is responsible for reapportioning and redistricting Congressional districts in addition to other local, state, federal, and educational districts.

While it is certain that Nevada will gain a fourth seat in Congress, plans developed by the State legislature were rejected by the Governor during the last legislative session. The issue now awaits further action by the state or federal courts. Nonetheless, individuals are placing themselves in contention for the four congressional districts.

Lee told the members that he grew up in a working-class environment, and learned early about the value of education and hard-work. Lee said he worked in the potato fields and felt a kinship with the rural residents in Nevada.

Lee, 56, a Las Vegas businessman, has lived in North Las Vegas since he was 5. He served four years in the Assembly before winning his first of two terms in the state Senate in 2004.

Lee, who has served in the state legislature for 14-years, also said that, if elected to the Congressional seat, he would work to diversify the economy, create jobs, and work to resolve the foreclosure problems that have plagued Nevadans.

Lee joined other Democrats in backing Gov. Brian Sandoval's proposal to extend more than $600 million in taxes that were scheduled to expire.

Horsford, the current Senate Majority Leader, is a life-long resident of Las Vegas. In 2001, he went to work at the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas, a labor/management partnership between major Nevada employer and the unions that represent their workers. He was elected to the Nevada State Senate in 2004 and wrote and passed the "Clean Energy Jobs Initiative." He is an advocate of renewable energy technology, and authored legislation providing tax incentives to businesses that create higher paying jobs in Nevada.

Horsford, joined with Republican state senator Joe Hardy in passing SB-278 which streamlines contracting and rationalizes reporting between insurers and providers of health care.

Both Horsford and Lee, joined with other legislators to pass SB 440 which establishes a health insurance exchange. Both bills are necessary in order to enact the provisions of the nation's Affordable Care Act (ACA,) which will be phased in over time.

Horsford, told the group that although certain provisions of the ACA do not become effective immediately, some 26 provisions of the act are already law including the establishment of a high-risk insurance pool for people with pre-existing medical conditions. These pools end on January 1, 2014, when government-regulated insurance exchanges start operating. By then insurance companies will be unable to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Both Lee and Horsford, during the last session, voted to amend the states Clean Air Act to allow smoking in certain restaurants. Lee pointed out that he voted for the amendment out of concern for potential business loss if the ban was enforced.

In other legislative action, Lee opposed a tax increase proposal developed by Horsford and other Democrats. No vote was taken on that plan.

Democrats Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, and Sen. Ruben Kihuen have also announced their candidacies for a congressional seat. In addition, former Democratic Rep. Dina Titus is also vying for a seat. Among the Republicans, Reps. Joe Heck and Mark Amodei will likely seek re-election for their seats.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Obamacare

State Senator Joe Hardy (R), who represents Mesquite in the State Legislature, was factually incorrect when he recently told a group of local citizens that The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was interfering with job creation.
Hardy and other Republicans demagogue PPACA as Obamacare but, in fact, it was legislation passed by a 60 to 39 vote in the U.S. Senate and a 219 to 212 vote in the House of Representatives. If they wish to engage in polarizing propaganda then they should call the expansion of Medicare and Social Security in 1969 as Nixoncare.
According to press reports Hardy told local residents, during a September town hall meeting, that: "small businesses are waiting to hire people because they don’t know what’s happening to healthcare. Other businesses are letting their insurance programs go because they felt health care was being taken over by the federal government.” In fact, non-partisan experts have constantly predicted that the law will have little effect on employment.
Republicans constantly repeat the job reduction claim by pointing to a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report which they say analysts projected job losses for the U.S. economy. In fact, CBO analysts did not predict a job loss. CBO authors actually said that the economy will use less labor primarily because many people will choose to work less, or retire early, as a result of the new law. What CBO projects is mostly a reduction in the supply of labor, which is not the same as a reduction in the supply of jobs.
CBO said one reason fewer people will choose to work is that many low-income people will have more money in their pockets as a result of the law expanding Medicaid and providing federal subsidies for many who buy insurance privately. "The expansion of Medicaid and the availability of subsidies through the exchanges will effectively increase beneficiaries’ financial resources," CBO said. "Those additional resources will encourage some people to work fewer hours or to withdraw from the labor market."
Another reason that people might work less is that the new law requires insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions, and also limits their ability to charge higher rates for older persons who buy policies for themselves.
Further, small businesses, those with 50 or fewer employees, are likely to benefit under the law. According to the Lewin Group, a subsidiary of United Health Group, small business activities actually could come out ahead since they don’t face the employee mandate and they get a tax credit for their health benefit programs. This gives them an advantage in the marketplace especially if they’re competing against larger firms.
According to the Web site FactCheck.org, the GOP also misrepresents a report by the National Federation of Independent Business, projecting a 1.6 million job loss from the Act. But the NFIB did not study the new law. Its report was based on a hypothetical employer mandate that bears little resemblance to what was actually passed — and it also projects a gain of hundreds of thousands of health care and insurance industry jobs.
FactCheck points out that the GOP report refers to the NFIB’s analysis as "independent," but it’s hardly a neutral source. The federation is currently backing repeal of the new law, and has historically been opposed to any requirement that businesses provide coverage for their workers. NFIB also co-sponsored with the Chamber of Commerce an ad criticizing health care legislation.
House Republicans also claim that the Act is a "budget-busting" piece of legislation. The CBO officially scored the new law as self-financing, projecting that it would actually reduce the deficit over the first 10 years — and beyond. Repealing the new law, as Republicans propose, would increase the deficit. CBO’s latest figures project that repealing the new law will increase the deficit by a total of $230 billion over the next 10 years (through fiscal year 2021). So keeping it in place would help the budget, not bust it.
Michael M. McGreer writes on public policy. His books: No Harm, No Foul, Bioterrorism in the 21st century, and All Rivers Flow West, are both available in the MesquiteCitizen Journal book store. Click here to see his blog

Market Oriented Mesquite, Nevada

Mesquite Citizen Journal:
The interim City Manager, the Recreation and Parks Director and the Economic Development Director want to sink an estimated $3.7 million into an indoor sports complex and cover it with a used 215' by 400' fabric covered, metal structure and potentially pump 150 tons of air conditioning into the unit to support uncertain sports events in the desert.
To pay for the complex, city administrators propose spending approximately $1 million generated from a land deal with Nevada Community Solutions (NCS).The additional money is projected to come from more land sales or by using Rural Development Authority (RDA) funds. At some future date, NCS would further develop 500 acres near the sports complex.
This issue goes back to 2004 when then-city officials entered into an agreement with NCS whereby NCS would develop land west of Mesquite. NCS gave the City a $6 million down payment. In March 2010, NCS offered to terminate the agreement if the $6 million was returned. City officials opted to look at new ways to spend the money.
The policy issue before the Mayor and city council remains essentially the same. Return the money to NCS or do something. It's the "do something" problem that eventually generated the desire to build the indoor sporting complex.
This project highlights the major problem with city economic planning and development. They approach these deals with a “build it and they will come,” philosophy. This philosophy is an economic fallacy. They also approach projects with a “sunk cost,” mentality. That is, we have invested time and money into this project and can't stand to see it go to waste. That is another economic fallacy.
Mayor Mark Weir and some members of the city council appear uncomfortable with the situation, as well they should. Weir and councilman Kraig Hafen come from the private sector and probably, and instinctively, feel uncomfortable with spending based upon economic fallacies. Councilman Allan Litman, comes from a government background, but is well aware of the need to conserve taxpayer money and avoid questionable spending.
Clearly, appointed city administrators have forgotten, if they ever knew, that markets exist in both the private and public sectors and even government economic planning must be built upon classic market strategies. The same laws of supply and demand that govern business success also work in the delivery of government services and projects. It's up to the elected Mayor and the city council to steer these appointed administrators in more thoughtful economic direction.
In this deal with NCS, if it should continue, the two parties should quantify the exact nature of the market for increasing recreational opportunities in a desert setting this close to the well-established opportunities in both St. George and Las Vegas. If none exists, engage in some “out-of-the-box,” thinking as alternatives. If nothing fits into a marketable strategy, return the funds and move on. Consider, for example, the market that exists for smoke free gaming as an alternative to the current gambling environments. Instead of indoor recreation, the city-NCS and gaming investors could potentially re-open the convention center or the Oasis and offer quality dining in addition to smoke-free gaming.
Elected officials, among other things, could offer substantial tax credits for the business venture and possibly set-aside a portion of the complex for artists, writers, and a history museum with artifacts that exemplify the western life.
In the future, elected officials should consider a smoke-free city ordinance, based upon the economic success of this investment, and existing research by Richard Roesler (2006) and Eriksenand F. Chaloupka (2007)which shows that the fear of losing business if smoking is banned in casinos, bars and restaurants, is unfounded.
In marketable terms, Mesquite's true assets are not its smoke-filled casinos, seasonal golf courses and sports fields. Its true value is it's atmosphere of individual freedom, opportunity and a sense of well-being that comes from healthy, peaceful, desert living.
Michael M. McGreer writes on public policy. His books: No Harm, No Foul, Bioterrorism in the 21st century, and All Rivers Flow West, are both available on Amazon. Click here to see his blog
 
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Friday, September 9, 2011

9-11 then and now

Mesquite Citizen Journal:

At 8:19 A.M. On September 11, 2001, Bonnie LaJeunese McGreer was settling in to work at the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, on the east side of the Pentagon. At the same time, Betty Ong, a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11 called the Airlines office from an air-phone.

“The cockpit is not answering,” Ong said continuing with, “somebody’s stabbed in business class and I think there’s Mace. We can’t breathe. I don’t know, I think we’re getting hijacked.” She then tells American Airlines of the stabbings of two flight attendants.

A few minutes later, at 8:20 A.M., American Airlines Flight 77, with 58 passengers and six crew members, departed from Washington Dulles International Airport for Los Angeles. Five hijackers were aboard. Ultimately, Flight 77 would crash into the West side of the Pentagon. Separating the five sides of the Pentagon is a five-acre central plaza known as "ground zero."

The nickname originated during the Cold War and based on the presumption that the Soviet Union would target one or more nuclear missiles at this central location in the outbreak of a nuclear war. It was this separation that would spare the life of my wife and hundreds more.

Twenty-six minutes later, at 8:46 A.M., Flight 11 carrying Ms. Ong, and 96 others along with the hijackers crashed into the north face of the North Tower (1WTC) of the World Trade Center between floors 93 and 99.

Six minutes later, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 175 called his father and told him, I think they've taken over the cockpit. An attendant has been stabbed. And someone else up front may have been killed. The plane is making strange moves.” It was 8:52 A.M.

Just before 9 A.M., my colleague, Paul C., stood in the doorway of my office.

“A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center”, he said.

As Paul and I discussed airplane crashes in New York, Bonnie called, our morning ritual.

“A plane has crashed into the Trade Center”, I told her.

I was only moderately concerned about the crash. There was nothing new about airplane crashes in the New York area. Planes have crashed into the Empire State Building, the Hudson river, a Riker's Island monument, a Brooklyn apartment, onto Rockaway Blvd, into Cove Neck, Long Island, a home in Shinnecock, Long Island, the East river and helicopters have crashed into the Hudson bay and onto 60th street.

As we were discussing the various plane crashes, Mike K., another colleague, entered the office.

“A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center”, he announced.

“We know”, I said.

“No a second plane”, he answered.

After Bonnie hung up the phone, she went into a kitchen area to watch CNN just as Flight 175 crashed into the south face of the South Tower (2 WTC) of the World Trade Center, between floors 77 and 85. It was 9:02:59 A.M.

About the same time, Flight 77 had altered its course and headed directly towards the Pentagon.

I picked up the phone to call my wife to see if she knew anything about the second plane crashing into the Trade Center. No answer. I called again. No answer. I was now extremely concerned.

“I'm going to the Command Center,” I told Paul and Mike.

When I entered the Command Center, CNN was broadcasting the crashes of Flight 11 and Flight 175 into the towers.

Between 9:39 and 9:40 all the television stations in the Command Center, CNN, Fox News Channel, NBC and MSNBC, came alive with breaking news bulletins reporting fires and explosions at the Pentagon. At 9:53: CNN confirmed that a plane (later identified as Flight 77) had crashed into the western side of the Pentagon and started a violent fire. All 64 people on board are killed, as were 125 Pentagon personnel.

To me, there was nothing unusual about the idea that terrorists might use a fully fueled airliner as a target against high valued targets. Before moving to the U.S. Geological Survey, I had worked in the Department of Defense on a variety of intelligence and counter-intelligence activities where such an idea had been tossed around on a routine basis.

I had just returned to the Survey from a year long tour establishing the Chief Information Office (CIO) for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). As the CIO, I was the highest ranking technology executive responsible for the Agency global information technology and computer systems that support DTRA in its mission of reducing the global threat from weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

During that tour, the bombing of the USS Cole occurred while it was harbored and refueled in the port of Aden. Seventeen American sailors were killed, and 39 were injured. None of us were surprised when Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the attack.

I had been in the Pentagon numerous times while working in Defense and in addition to my wife, I had friends and former colleagues who worked in that building. The Pentagon is a complex building of five sides, several floors and a tangle of basement offices. But as hard as I tried to picture the location of my wife’s office and those of friends and colleagues, I could not get the layout straight in my mind.

As I stood in the Command Center, I heard someone in the background saying, "No, No, No." Then I realized that the someone was me. I went back to my office and tried to again call my wife. No answer on the land-line. No answer on the cell phone. I told Paul that I was going home but before I was able to leave, both my daughter and son called asking about their mother. They were both clearly upset and I could not give them a satisfactory answer. I asked each to come to our townhouse when they could.

It was only a few miles from my Reston office to our townhouse in Centreville but, no matter the time of day or night, traffic is always heavy.The car radio was alive with news of the crashes and breaking news that another airliner, United Airlines Flight 93, had also been hijacked and crashed into a field 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

My son arrived at the townhouse shortly after me. My daughter, who worked in a law office a few blocks from the White House, was essentially trapped in the city because of traffic jams and emergency procedures. It was now impossible to make phone calls. All lines, including cell phones were busy.

It was about 2:30 P.M. When the phone finally rang. It was my wife. A wave of relief caused me to shutter as I heard her voice.

She had been watching the planes crash into the Trade Center, when she heard or felt something.

The Pentagon, is the size of a small city with approximately 23,000 military and civilian employees and about 3,000 non-defense support personnel. It's busy 24-hours a day, with people rushing from one place to another as the echoes of footsteps and a multitude of voices bounce off the walls and through the hallways. But at that moment, on that day, “it suddenly became silent,” Bonnie said. Then screams. Panic and more screams.

She was out of the building and engulfed into an unorganized, chaotic crowd. Then another explosion. They thought it was bombs.

As she was leaving the Pentagon, employees were told to take off their badges to avoid being targeted if it were a terrorist attack. Bonnie and her colleagues walked to the Ritz hotel in Pentagon City. The phone lines were all busy and she could not call out.

“We went directly to the bar,” she said.

Eventually, she was able to get through to me on a pay phone. Then she was picked up by the Credit Union and taken to an office in Alexandria where employees were asked to speak with clinical personnel and later taken home. It was about 6:30 P.M. when she arrived home.

Aftermath:

Nineteen Islamic militants, with box cutters, took the lives of 2,877 individuals from 70 countries on September 11, 2001.

In the aftermath of the attack, two wars have been declared, which, to date, have required the deployment of some 2 million soldiers, sailors, airman and an equal number of civilians to the Middle east. Six thousand, five hundred military personnel have been killed. Ten times the number killed have been wounded. An unknown number of military personnel currently, or in the future, will suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome (PTS).

An estimated 655,000 Iraqi civilian and combatants have died. Between 10,960 and 49,600 Afghans have been killed during the Wars, and in Pakistan between 1,467 and 2, 334 were killed in U.S. drone attacks as of May 6, 2011.

Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) have spent $1.3 trillion dollars and currently continue to spend about $120 billion each year on the wars.

For the first time in history, while at war, Congress passed the tax cuts, cutting revenue by an additional $1.7 trillion dollars.

In the final analysis, 9-11 was a terrible, frightening, and bloody day in American history, but political reaction over the past ten years has been even more frightening.

Additional notes:

1. "Complete 911 Time-line", minute by minute, provided by the Center for Cooperative Research.

2. “Final Report of the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers”, published by the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology in September 2005, pp. 83-84

3. “The 9-11 Commission Report.” U.S. Government Printing Office. July 22, 2004. p.45. Retrieved 2010-08-15.

4. Iraq death toll: Iraqi civilian and combatant, according to the second Lancet survey of mortality.

5. Afghanistan death toll, numerous sources.

6. Pakistan deaths: Central Intelligence Agency's Special Activities Division.


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Monday, September 5, 2011

Mesquite Citizen Journal

Mesquite Citizen Journal:
The Marshall Plan
Posting Date: 09/05/2011

Michael McGreer

The race between Democrat Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall and Republican Mark Amodei for Nevada 2nd Congressional District seat means more to Mesquite voters than typical Democrat vs. Republican ideology position taking.

Those voting for Amodei are endorsing a Tea Party aligned candidate. It is the current batch of elected Tea Partiers who pose a huge threat to traditional Republicans by slowing any chance for collaborative solutions to existing economic and international problems.

When the Tea Party Republicans held out for the balanced-budget amendment during the recent deficit debacle an editorial in the conservative Wall Street Journal mocked them as hobbits battling Mordor.“This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell into GOP Senate nominees,” the Journal wrote. John McCain, R., Ariz., frivolously quoted the editorial on the Senate floor.

Amodei's has expressed his allegiance to the Tea Party by supporting the “Ryan Budget Plan.” For those unfamiliar with this plan, it was proposed by Tea-Party Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, who argued, incorrectly, that his plan would reduce the national debt.

As Jonathan Chait writes, Ryan's plan includes "a huge tax cut for people who don't really need it." Those supporting Ryan argue that giving more money to rich will trickle down. This, Reagan era trickle-down economics underlies the Ryan plan and has been discredited by virtually every economist over the past 30-years.

Nevada Senator Republican Dean Heller, Amodei's mentor, has voted twice in support of the plan. He supported it as the Congressman for District 2, and again as Senator. Heller was appointed by Governor Brian Sandoval to the Senate seat vacated by John Ensign. It is Heller's congressional seat that is contested in the Sept. 13th special election.

Amodei and Heller are both out of the Republican mainstream. Conservative Republicans Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Scott Brown (R-MA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), actually joined Democrats in opposing the Ryan Plan, when it came to the Senate. Said Snowe: "I am going to vote no on the budget because I have deep and abiding concerns about the approach on Medicare, which is essentially to privatize it."

Amodei's opponent for the 2nd Congressional seat is Democrat Kate Marshall. Marshall is endorsed by several groups including the national Alliance for Retired Americans. They endorsed Marshall for her "leadership on issues such as fighting Social Security and Medicare privatization."

Seniors attending the endorsement event dubbed Amodei "Calamity Amodei" as they expressed their outrage for Amodei's plan to end Medicare while rallying in support of Marshall's pledge to protect Nevada seniors.

In accepting the endorsement, Marshall pledged to “work together to combat Mr. Amodei's reckless plan to turn over our Medicare to private insurance companies, give seniors vouchers and double their out of pocket costs." In discussing both Medicare and Social Security, she said that: “You have paid into it all your lives and you have earned it, plain and simple."

Mesquite veterans stand to benefit from Marshall. As Treasurer, she was successful in safeguarding military artifacts that come into Nevada's Unclaimed Property division until the rightful owners or surviving family members are able to claim them. She also created a college savings matching funds program with USAA to help make obtaining a college degree for returning veterans easier and more affordable.

Marshall is progressive, but not fiscally irresponsible. As Treasurer, she registered a large net gain for Nevada and says she would argue, if elected to Congress, for pay as you go rules, and demand benchmarks and milestones to lower our federal deficit. She is against pay raises until the federal budget is balanced, and argues for cuts in subsidies to the big oil companies and banking conglomerates which she hopes would force Congress to focus on Main Street, not Wall Street.

In contrast, Amodei, as a state legislator, in a moment of anti Tea-Party action, supported a billion dollar tax increase package that taxed everything from car repairs to movie tickets. The bill also taxed job creation initiatives. In addition, he voted for a pay raise for himself and other state legislators.

Marshall approaches legislation in a collaborative manner. In doing so, she was able to gain bi-partisan support in the last session of the Nevada legislature for SB75. This bill creates a private equity investment fund for Nevada. The bill was signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval to take effect on October 1, 2011. The fund, a first for Nevada, provides that non-tax dollars from the Permanent School Fund may be invested in new businesses in Nevada, including a possible alternative energy non-profit incubation site for Mesquite.

Environmentalists, such as The Toiyabe chapter of the Sierra Club have endorsed Marshall for her advocacy of the use of Nevada's natural resources (wind, solar, and geothermal) to improve the states economic position.

Amodei, The Sierra Club noted, served in the Nevada Legislature while working as head of the Nevada Mining Association.

Those wishing to vote for American Party candidate Tim Fasano or independent Helmuth Lehmann would be throwing a vote away since neither, if elected, would have the political clout to get anything done. Doing nothing is no way to improve the economic condition of the state and its citizens.

Both progressive Democrats and traditional conservative Republicans will gain if Marshall is elected to Congress. Unlike Amodei, she has a fiscally conservative history, and has outlined a plan to potentially create jobs in Mesquite. She also would protect social security and fight against increasing the costs of health-care, through privatization.

Michael M. McGreer writes on public policy. His books: No Harm, No Foul, Bioterrorism in the 21st Century, and All Rivers Flow West, are both available on Amazon. Click here to see his blog


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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mesquite Citizen Journal

Mesquite Citizen Journal:

Mayor Hits Bulls-eye with Performance Suggestions
Posting Date: 08/30/2011

Michael McGreer

Mayor Mark Wier's suggestion that the city adopt a performance-based budget approach is right on target.

There is nothing new about performance based budgeting, nor about linking the budget to the planning and programming processes. Wier is correct in arguing that line-item budgets create organizations that have little reason to strive for better performance. And, he is correct in asserting that the use of performance-based approaches is not the same as micro-management.

There are numerous examples of government experiences with performance-based budgeting. Everything from Management by Objectives, Planning, Programming and Budgeting, Zero Based Budgeting and the contemporary mix of all these in the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) which has been in use for years in the Federal government.

Indeed, it's the executives' job to ensure that taxpayer funds are spend efficiently and effectively and ensuring so is not simply done through legislation as Councilman Karl Gustaveson suggested. It's the job of an executive (elected or otherwise) to see that governance is done correctly. If they can't do it, they hire or contract with someone who can guide them through the process and help city administrators and elected officials freeze the performance process into everyday operations..

The terms, efficiently and effectively, form the measurement framework around which a performance-based management approach rallies.

There are four key elements of a performance-based approach and each element is measured qualitatively or quantitatively with concentration of the efficiency and effectiveness of the service or program under study.

Here, in simple terms, are the four key elements of any good performance-based program:

1. Resource inputs, i.e. dollars and man-hours are committed to…

2. a set of processes that are measured in terms of their efficiency which results in…

3. a set of outputs which taken together meet the…

4. goals (outcomes) which are measured in terms of effectiveness.

One notices that this is an approach that does not simply concentrate on the inputs and the outcomes. All the elements must be considered in a systematic fashion if resources are to be spent in an efficient and effective way.

Further, it's important to realize that all the functions of an executive; planning, organizing, staffing, directing, co-coordinating, reporting andbudgeting, are exercised in a performance-based approach.

If all the functions of an executive fail to be unified, then the exercise becomes nothing more than a disjointed plan with little actual impact.

Normally, a person, trained, educated and experienced in governance would lead elected officials and department heads through the process, but the city lacks that type of expertise.

Space does not permit specific examples on how this approach works in practice but it is practical, sensible, and well understood by those who have worked within such a system.

Further performance-based management is not as time consuming as it may appear primarily since it's a matter of adding measurable elements to the existing functions which are performed routinely. In other words, its a re-education process.

A systematic approach to performance management is very much needed if the city is to survive the upcoming financial difficulties and deliver the most efficient and effective service possible. Done correctly, the approach generates measurable economic and performance rewards. Done incorrectly, it's an exercise in futility.


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Monday, August 29, 2011

Mesquite Citizen Journal

Mesquite Citizen Journal:
Congressional Candidate Would Advance Mesquite
Posting Date: 08/29/2011

Michael McGreer
Fred Toval, left, President of Mesquite Democrats, discusses election issues with Democratic Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives Dist. 2, Kate Marshall. Photo by Mike McGreer.

Fred Toval, left, President of Mesquite
Democrats, discusses election issues with
Democratic Candidate for U.S. House of
Representatives Dist. 2, Kate Marshall. Photo
by Mike McGreer.

Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall would help Mesquite entrepreneurs obtain an incubation site to advance alternative energy if elected to Congress, she told Mesquite democrats during a question and answer session held by her supporters in Las Vegas last week.

Marshall, who was first elected Nevada State Treasurer in 2006 and was reelected in 2010, was the sponsor for SB75, which created a private equity investment fund for Nevada. The bill was signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval to take effect on October 1, 2011.

The private equity investment fund, a first for Nevada, provides that non-tax dollars from the Permanent School Fund may be invested in new businesses in Nevada, in existing businesses that are expanding, or in businesses which agree to relocate to this state. The bill also establishes a partnership with the Nevada System of Higher Education to provide students internship opportunities with businesses that receive investments from this fund.

The legislation also creates a nonprofit public entity, the Nevada Capital Investment Corporation (NCIC), a board that includes appointees of the Governor and Legislative Leadership based on their investment, finance, or banking expertise. The State Treasurer, whose duties include the investment of state money, is also a member.

Marshall told the group that two incubation sites, one in Northern Nevada and the other in Las Vegas are being established to advance alternative energy opportunities. “I would certainly work with Mesquite on another incubation site to explore alternative energy if elected,” she told members of the group.

In a podcast (http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/16778797) to Mesquite voters, Marshall noted that it was time to promote alternative energy. She pointed to Germany as one country moving to solar energy to reduce its dependency on Russia for gasoline.

When asked if she would support the progressive coalition in Congress, she nodded and went on to explain that Congress should represent the people, not special interests such as giving subsidies to Exxon, and proving tax breaks for hedge fund managers.

In terms of home losses, Marshall pointed out that “banks make money on foreclosures. They need to make money on rewriting contracts.”

“Money,” she said is “motivating the wrong behavior.”

“They had a saying in the Justice Department when I worked there,” Marshall said, “get them bracelets (a reference to putting offenders in handcuffs). Some bankers need bracelets,” she said, when discussing the need to protect the consumer from fraud.

Marshall pointed out in the podcast that she is a strong supporter of education, while her opponent (Republican Mark Amodei) was the lone vote in opposition to more funding for text books, and has publicly stated that if he is elected to congress he wants to end the Department of Energy, cut 20 percent from Education, Social Security, Medicare and Defense. (Authors note: Amodei was term limited last year after twelve years in the State Senate.)

“My opponent has stated that he supports the Ryan budget plan which guts Medicare, and has publicly said that he likes what the Ryan plan has to say about Medicare in the budget,” Marshall said.

“My opponent has used falsehoods, prevarications, and misstatements so much that ads have been pulled from the air,” Marshall said, adding that the Republican party has poured “three quarters of a million dollars into his campaign.“

When asked about her chances to win in the September 13, special election, she said, “If people vote, we win, if they don't, we loose. The race is about you.”

Early voting runs from 8 to 5 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 29-31, at 150 Yucca Street, Mesquite.


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Monday, August 22, 2011

Mesquite Citizen Journal

Mesquite Citizen Journal
CNN.com News Article Discusses Fairchild Deaths
Posting Date: 08/22/2011

By Barbara Ellestad

Sometimes it's good for a small town like Mesquite to make national headline news. Other times, maybe not so much.

A lengthy news article, "Deaths reveal a small town's mean streak,"posted on CNN.com, Sunday, Aug. 21, discusses the Jan. 25 murder-suicide of former Mesquite City Councilwoman Donna and her husband, Bill Fairchild.

An Editor's note included at the beginning of the story written by Ann O'Neill, explains that it was based on "two visits to Mesquite, Nevada, interviews with two dozen people and hundreds of pages of police and city documents obtained by CNN through a public records request."

O'Neill explains the allegations of wrongdoing from former Mesquite Mayor Susan Holecheck about a $94 travel voucher that Donna Fairchild had falsely submitted for a trip to Las Vegas to attend a meeting of the Nevada Development Authority that kicked off a series of events no one could possibly have foreseen.

"While she was at lunch, Fairchild had received an e-mail from the city, and the news wasn't what she'd hoped for. They were playing hardball: If Fairchild quit the City Council, she'd avoid a criminal investigation. But she could never again seek public office in Mesquite," the article said.

The article goes on to describe a phone call Fairchild received just before she took her husband's life and then her own. "'You know, you brought this on yourself,' the caller said," is how O'Neill quoted Bob Shively, "a retired medical sales executive from Rochester, Minnesota, [who] fancies himself a behind-the-scenes player."

O'Neill then states that "Shively admits making the phone call that had Fairchild so upset the day before she died. But he denies calling to taunt her, even if that is the way she took it."

Throughout the article, O'Neill explains Mesquite's long history of political firestorms that seem to erupt every two years during what some longtime residents call "the silly season," officially known as campaigns for municipal and general elections. She discusses the particularly brutal mayoral campaign in 2007 in which Holecheck won over incumbent Mayor Bill Nicholes by 200 votes.

She goes on to describe how the 2011 mayoral race was shaping up to be more of the same. "Mesquite has never re-elected an incumbent mayor, and Susan Holecheck was determined to change that in 2011. She faced three challengers - City Councilman Dave Bennett, political newcomer Mark Wier, who works for the phone company, and Fairchild."

"There are plenty of people in Mesquite who believe Fairchild was targeted for a 'political hit.' They include Nicholes, the mayor Holecheck ousted from office. Nicholes felt bullied during the 2007 race and believes Fairchild fell victim to the same political dirty tricks," is how O'Neill described the situation.

O'Neill says Holecheck "denies playing petty politics, explaining that she did what she had to as mayor. 'This idea that we were going to pound her into the sand isn't true,' she said. 'Unfortunately, I got blamed for it all.'"

The article goes on to trace the mayoral election through to Wier's election to the seat. It also mentions that one of the first actions Wier and the City Council took after they were sworn into office July 1 was to rescind the Mesquite Code of Conduct for Elected Officials. The Code is what Holecheck, City Attorney Cheryl Hunt, and the then-City Council used to charge Fairchild with wrongdoing.

The newly elected council also began allowing citizens to attend technical reviews meetings, previously closed to the public. The meetings are used by council members and City Staff to review agenda items for upcoming Council meetings. Many citizens felt they were used to manipulate the agenda and secure agreements on pending actions between council members ahead of time. All of the sitting council members and mayor denied those allegations during the spring election campaign.

Those two actions answered the call from many voters during the campaign season to change the way Mesquite elected officials responded to their constituents.

During the course of her investigation, O'Neill conducted several interviews with the previous editor of the Mesquite Local News, Morris Workman. O'Neill described an interview Workman had with Donna Fairchild just before she shot her husband while he slept and then killed herself. He added the interview to the online arm of the newspaper the Saturday before the tragic end of the Fairchilds' lives.

Workman mentioned to O'Neill that reader comments were divided between positive messages for Donna and negative ones calling for her ouster from City Council and the mayoral race.

Some local Mesquite residents later blamed Workman's articles and associated reader comments as causing, in part, the situation between Donna, Holecheck, and the City Council to escalate.

O'Neill quoted Workman as saying, "'We get blamed for being mean. What we're guilty of is trying to get to the truth.'"

O'Neill also pointed out that Workman, who was replaced as editor of the popular news source in June, felt that "he's now more aware of the impact his stories have on people."

O'Neill also points out that City Manager Tim Hacker was fired in May, and Police Chief Douglas Law, retired in April. While she doesn't directly relate all of the subsequent personnel actions to the Fairchild murder-suicide, she does say, "With a changing of the guard, the city built on the dreams of people from somewhere else will continue to grow and change long after the players in the Donna Fairchild tragedy move on."

The complete CNN.com article, "Deaths reveal a small town's mean streak," O'Neill, Ann, August 21, 2011 11:11 a.m. EDT is available through this Web link: http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/08/21/mesquite.murder.suicide/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

Monday, August 15, 2011

Who are the Koch Brothers and why do they matter?

By
Michael M. McGreer
Mesquite Citizen Journal

Billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch are the bankers behind the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement that has divided the Republican party in their attempt to dismantle government and increase their capital investments in many environmental hazardous investments.
The brothers own Koch Industries, a Kansas-based conglomerate that operates oil refineries in several states and is the company behind brands including Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Lycra fibers and Stainmaster Carpet. Forbes ranks Koch Industries as the second-largest privately held company in the U.S. The Koch brothers themselves are worth billions.
On one side of the Republican party are the old line establishment Republicans who hold with both fiscal and social conservatism. Over the years, their policies have grown increasingly restrictive of personal liberties, and they have contributed to increasing corporate welfare and national debt.
In opposition to the old-line are the far right anti-government individuals identified chiefly with the Tea Party movement to which the Koch brothers give money ostensibly to educate, fund and organize Tea Party protesters. This has allowed the Koch brothers to turn their private agenda into a mass movement.
Since the 1980s the Koch Foundations have given more than $100 million to such organizations, among these, think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, as well as more recently Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks in order to steer the country in a more libertarian direction. The brothers also have created several neutral-sounding groups like Citizens for a Sound Economy which staged media events to oppose President Clinton's proposed BTU tax on energy and Citizens for the Environment, which called many environmental problems, including acid rain, "myths."
Rob Stein, a Democratic political strategist who has studied the conservative movements finances, said that the Kochs are the epicenter of the anti-Obama movement. But it is not just about Obama. They would have done the same to Hillary Clinton. They did the same with Bill Clinton. They are out to destroy the progressive movement.
The foundation of the Koch paranoia over government goes back to their father, Fred C. Koch who attended M.I.T., and earned a degree in chemical engineering. In 1927, he invented a more efficient process for converting oil into gasoline but, unable to succeed at home, went to work in the Soviet Union. In the 1930s, his company trained Bolshevik engineers and helped the Stalin regime set up fifteen modern oil refineries until they were purged. Koch returned to the United States where he anguished over his Soviet experience.
In 1958, Fred Koch became one of the original members of the John Birch Society, the arch-conservative group known, in part, for a highly skeptical view of governance and for spreading fears of a Communist takeover. Koch claimed that the Communists have infiltrated both the Democrat and Republican Parties. He wrote admiringly of Benito Mussolini's suppression of Communists in Italy, and disparagingly of the American civil-rights movement. He claimed that welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment a vicious race war. In a 1963 speech Koch predicted that Communists would infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the President is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.
Friends of Fred Koch report that he was a John Wayne type who emphasized rugged pursuits, taking his sons big-game hunting in Africa, and requiring them to do farm labor at the family ranch. "He was constantly speaking to us children about what was wrong with government," Charles Koch told Brian Doherty, an editor of the libertarian magazine Reason. He said that they grew up with a fundamentalist point of view that big government was bad, and "imposition of government controls on our lives and economic fortunes was not good."
David and Charles had absorbed their father's conservative politics and adopted the John Birch Society's interest in a school of Austrian economists who promoted free-market ideals. They were particularly influenced by the work of Friedrich von Hayek, the author of The Road to Serfdom (1944), which argued that centralized government planning led, inexorably, to totalitarianism.
Along with Ayn Rand's book Atlas Shrugged, the ultra-conservatives promote The Road to Serfdom, both of which have become best-sellers on Amazon. These two academically discredited books, serve as the intellectual base for the Tea Party's ultra-conservative movement.
The Koch brothers are also devotees of a more radical thinker, anarchist Robert LeFevre, who favored the abolition of the state and argued that the New Deal was a horrible mistake.
As their fortunes grew, Charles and David Koch became the primary underwriters of hard-line libertarian politics in America. Charles' goal, according to Doherty, is to tear the government apart at the root.
Tax records indicate that in 2008 the three main Koch family foundations gave money to 34 political and policy organizations, three of which they founded, and several of which they direct. The Kochs and their company have given additional millions to political campaigns, advocacy groups, and lobbyists.
Following an airplane accident that nearly cost David Koch his life, he was diagnosed with prostrate cancer. His reaction to the disease was to donate to several cancer fighting institutes. However, his gratitude poses a conflict of interest since Koch Industries has been lobbying to prevent the E.P.A. from classifying formaldehyde, which the company produces in great quantities, as a known carcinogen in humans.
The Kochs have long depended on the public not knowing all the details about them. They have been content to operate what David Koch has called the largest company that you've never heard of. But with the growing prominence of the Tea Party, and with increased awareness of the Koch's ties to the movement, the brothers may find it harder to deflect scrutiny.

Michael M. McGreer writes on public policy. His books: No Harm, No Foul, Bioterrorism in the 21st century, and All Rivers Flow West, are both available on Amazon. Click here to see his blog

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mesquite Citizen Journal

Mesquite Citizen Journal
The Consequences of Budget Control
Posting Date: 08/04/2011

Michael McGreer

The Economic Policy Institute reports that the Budget Control Act of 2011 will take 1.8 million jobs out of the economy and slow economic growth by another 3 percent.

While debate over the Act proceeded in Congress, Wall Street declined by 850 points losing 6.8 % of its value. Economists are reporting that the world's confidence in the full faith and credit of the United States has been shattered by the Tea-Party manufactured crisis over the debt ceiling. Crisis in the US market contributes to a continuing decline in the world market.

The Act gives ultra-conservatives the opportunity to cut at least $2.1 trillion dollars in spending for entitlements, subsidies, defense and infrastructure in addition to other economic investments necessary to reverse the current downturn in the economy.

The Act guarantees at least a dollar of deficit reduction for each dollar of debt limit increase but continues the George W. Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy and continues funding of the Afghanistan, Iraq wars and nation building in those areas.

While the wars in the Middle East and nation building will continue to be funded, general defense funds are in for a significant hit. These general defense cuts are an attempt by Democrats to offset their failed attempt to get tax increases by replacing that potential revenue with defense cuts. Conservatives countered by refusing to allow cuts in Afghanistan and Iraq warfare and nation building.

Many Nevadans rely on federal spending to survive. In 2008, the state received $17.3 billion in federal funding which increased the states Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from about $111.5 billion to $128.8 billion.

How many Nevadans will suffer is everybody's question with no answer in sight. But one thing is certain, if fully implemented, Nevadans will see cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Childcare Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Social Security, defense, farm subsidies, education, transportation, police and fire programs, and the management, protection and fire control on 84.5 percent of Nevada federal lands, waterways, and recreation sites.

If ultra-conservatives get their way, individuals will work until they are 70-years-of-age to receive Social Security. Medicare will be turned into a voucher, which would be used to purchase private health insurance. Medicaid will become a block grant for states to spend as they choose, including to pay for deficits in other accounts. Instead of paying their fair share, the wealthy will receive additional tax cuts. Deductions, potentially including interests on home loans, will end or be severely limited. While they are at it, expect caps on domestic spending, and repeal the Health Care legislation, along with slashes in farm subsidies.

Republicans, Democrats, and Independents need to carefully consider who they vote for, and the potential consequences of that vote.

Michael M. McGreer writes on public policy. His recent book, "No Harm,No Foul, Bioterrorism in the 21st Century" is currently available online at Amazon.com. See his blog at: http://www.generations.typepad.com/.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mesquite Citizen Journal

Mesquite Citizen Journal

Betty Freeman Haines, regular contributor to Mesquite Citizen Journal's Writers Corner,curriculum designer, author and recent widow has just had a new book published by InterWorld Publishing; the title is Grieving Sucks or Does It?

Following the death of my husband and the end of our 42 year honeymoon, I searched desperately, in books and on the internet, for anything that might help to soothe my aching heart and help me begin the impossible task of going on without him. I was amazed at the abundance of information available in cyberspace; however, upon closer examination I found that most of it to be superficial, poorly thought out, and meaningless.

In desperation, I began keeping a journal as a means of dealing with my grief. The act of pouring my hurt, confusion, and frustration onto the pages of a journal did, indeed, give me a small measure of comfort. As my grief ebbed and I reflected on some of my journal entries, I realized that grieving had taught me valuable lessons that I wouldn't have otherwise learned. Hence, I decided to combine excerpts from my journal with my thoughts regarding these lessons and share the information with other grieving souls; thus my book was born.

The grief I felt at the loss of my husband was more acute than than any grief I had previously experienced. While he was alive, we laughed at the absurdity of the phrase too much togetherness. We were soul-mates; we were in love; we were the very best of friends. We didn't need to be together to make life complete, we wanted to be together because we found life more exciting and enjoyable that way.

Grieving the loss of a loving spouse is a very painful process; but, I believe that if one elects to open their heart and mind, grief can be an effective teacher.

From grieving, I learned lessons that will serve me well for the remainder of my life. Yes, there are times when I still proclaim that GRIEVING SUCKS; but, more often than not, I now pause and ask OR DOES IT?

I write under the name Betty Freeman Haines; my new book - Grieving Sucks Or Does it - as well as, my earlier historical fiction novel - Reluctant Hero, are available from Amazon.com.

Mesquite Citizen Journal

Mesquite Citizen Journal
Bullying and suicide: A community problem
Posting Date: 07/08/2011

Michael McGreer

This is Part 2 of a 2-part Guest Editorial series on bullying and suicide. Part 1 appeared July 7.

The alleged suicide of a young girl in Mesquite recently highlights the importance of taking a strong stand against bullying.

The City's Interim Police Chief, Troy Tanner, has refused to release information about the young girl's death at the request of the family. That has led to a range of speculation from homicide to an accident about the cause of death. Nonetheless, there seems to be a consensus developing among the public that the young woman was subjected to bullying prior to her death.

Unfortunately, far too many public officials fail to take action until forced to do so by public pressure from concerned and responsible citizens.

Consider the suicide of South Hadley, Massachusetts High School student Phoebe Prince on January 14, 2010. This tragic event led to the criminal prosecution of ten teenagers on charges including statutory rape and civil rights violations, as well as to the enactment of stricter anti-bullying legislation by the Massachusetts state legislature.

Prince had moved from Ireland to South Hadley, Mass., where she was bullied for several months by at least two groups of students, reportedly because of disputes with other girls over her brief relationship with a senior high school football player and another male student.

After a day of harassment and taunting, followed by a final incident in which a student threw a can at her from a passing car as she walked home from school, Prince committed suicide by hanging herself in the stairwell leading to the second floor of the family apartment. Her body was discovered by her 12-year-old sister. After her death, many crude comments about her were posted on her Facebook memorial page, most of which were removed.

Eight teenage girls and two teenage boys from South Hadley, Mass., were eventually charged with crimes ranging from criminal harassment and civil rights violations to stalking and statutory rape for bullying Prince. Conspicuously absent were allegations that the bullying children were legally responsible for the victims death. Instead, the legal argument centered around, in addition to the criminal charges, the school's failure to properly supervise its students thus driving the victim to suicide.

On March 29, 2010, Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel announced that nine teenagers from the high school were indicted as adults on felony charges by a Hampshire County grand jury. Charges ranged from statutory rape for the two male teenagers involved (both adults under Massachusetts law) to violations of civil rights, criminal harassment, disturbance of a school assembly, and stalking. Additional delinquency complaints were also filed against the three female minors indicted by the grand jury. One was charged with assault with a deadly weapon for throwing a can at Prince. A separate delinquency complaint was filed against one of the three female minors for assault and battery against another victim.

The Prince harassment was common knowledge to most of the school's student body. The investigation has revealed that certain faculty, staff and administrators of the high school also were alerted to the harassment of Prince before her death. Prior to the Prince death, her mother spoke with at least two school staff members about the harassment Phoebe had reported to her.

Prosecutors considered whether or not the actions or omissions to act by faculty, staff and administrators of the public schools individually, or collectively, amounted to criminal behavior. In their opinion, it did not. Nevertheless, the actions or inaction of some adults at the school are troublesome.

The teenagers 17 or older pleaded not guilty through their lawyers in a Superior Court on April 6. Three female minors pleaded not guilty to delinquency charges on April 8 in a Juvenile Court where they were arraigned as youthful offenders on adult felony charges. They waived their right to appear in court and did not appear at their arraignment hearings.

In May 2011, the cases were resolved, after agreements to plead guilty to lesser charges. All of the defendants were placed on probation and a few were also sentenced to community service.

It's just a matter of time before an ambitious prosecutor decides to make the causal links between bullying, political terrorism, suicide, and murder-suicide. In the meantime, government administrators, business owners, and politicians need to hold bullies responsible for any physical injuries they may cause.

It's unclear how, or why, the local teenager died since officials have failed to fully and completely disclose, or possibly even fully investigate, the incident. Nonetheless, bullying is a community problem.

Bullying in Mesquite occurs at all levels from school grounds, to the home, and business and political offices. There was a bullying nexus between some current and former politicians and the suicide of a former city councilwomen. Writers and press representatives have been subjected to bullying from individuals in the community associated with some politicians. Even parents have been subjected to bullying from seriously disturbed children and teenagers. Now it appears, not surprisingly, that bullying has come to our local schools.

Tanner and the City Attorney, Cheryl Hunt, need reminding that bullying is a serious problem with criminal and civil consequences. The problem requires immediate action for which they and incumbent politicians appear ill-suited to meet.

It remains up to the new Mayor and those newly appointed members of the city council to prevent and address bullying in the community from the school grounds, to licensed senior citizen homes, to public offices. It is also up to them to educate the community on the problem and provide resources for families terrorized by bullying in their own homes.

Michael M. McGreer writes on public policy. His books: No Harm, No Foul, Bioterrorism in the 21st century, and All Rivers Flow West, are both available on Amazon.

Mesquite Citizen Journal

Mesquite Citizen Journal
The Consequences of Bullying as Public Policy
Posting Date: 07/07/2011

Michael McGreer

This is Part 1 of a 2-part Guest Editorial series on bullying and suicide. Part 2 appears tomorrow, July 8.

Bullying is generally thought of as a childhood-teenage phenomena but, in fact, it is widespread in American schools, the workplace and drives political strategies.

Learning how to bully starts in childhood with more than 16 percent of U.S. school children being bullied. It extends into the elder population with some 10 to 20 percent of adults reporting experiencing senior-to-senior bullying.

Regardless of age, males and females generally differ in their tactics.Males engage in both physical and verbal abuse. Some 26 percent of female bullies may engage in male tactics. However, the majority of female bullying is done by creating a caste system with a clearly defined leader. Collectively, they engage in verbal aggression, rumoring, and ostracism as their primary tactic. Thus, females politicize and socialize their bullying.

Female bullies remove their opposition via preemptive strikes to ostracize. Crucially, ostracism has no relation to justice or fairness. There is no charge or defense, since the exile is not used as a penalty; it is simply a command by the leader.

Female bullies drive their opponents into depression and unhappiness which is a form of social death. This is done by combining ostracism with verbal aggression and rumors. If women commit these acts for ideological or political motives, their acts may be identified as the criminal offense of limited political terrorism, since they are utilizing distinct methods of violence to get their message across.

In recent years, bullying has been related to suicide. Yale University reports that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, and bully victims are between two to nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-bullied victims.

The possibility of suicide or murder-suicide increases when victims of bullying are, or have been, using certain legally prescribed drugs.

According to Ann Blake Tracy, PhD, Executive Director, International Coalition for Drug Awareness, the number one common denominator in these (suicide) cases is an antidepressant. The drugs cause one to act out nightmares so these cases often happen in the middle of night or early morning hours and generally happen for no apparent reason.

This condition, she reports, is called REM Sleep Behavior Disorder. Her research suggests that 86 percent of the suicide cases involved antidepressants. A person can do very detailed tasks in this sleep state, the doctor suggests.

It's a slippery slope to causally link bullying, drugs, and suicide or suicide-murder, to murder charges. However, some prosecutors are, at least, attacking the problem of bullying.

Bullying is a serious public policy issue that must be brought into the sunshine and dealt with harshly.

Michael M. McGreer writes on public policy. His books: No Harm, No Foul, Bioterrorism in the 21st century, and All Rivers Flow West, are both available on Amazon.

Mesquite Citizen Journal

Mesquite Citizen Journal
Mesquite Clean Air Advocates Rally Against Weakened Legislation
Posting Date: 08/01/2011

Michael McGreer

Assemblyman Crescent Hardy (R. Dist. 20) is one of 21 members of the Nevada State Assembly who contributed to the weakening of the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act (NCIAA) during the last legislative session according to an American Lung Association Tobacco Policy Update of the 2011 Nevada Legislative session. The report was provided to participants of the 2011 Smoke-Free Celebration held Friday, July 29, at the Mesa View Regional Hospital in Mesquite.

State Senator Dr. Joe Hardy (R. Dist, 12) was one of eight state senators recognized for his continued, but unsuccessful, support of the NCIAA. Both Assembly District 20 and Senate District 12 cover Mesquite. The two Hardy's are unrelated and clearly hold separate views on smoking issues.

Allison Newlon Moser, Executive Director, American Lung Association in Nevada, reported at Friday's meeting that every state except Nevada has improved their policies toward improving the air in their communities. Nevada is the only state to roll back its clean air laws.

Moser told the group that some Nevada legislators acted against the will of the people of Nevada by working against legislation that would improve air quality and, in fact, passed legislation that weakened the 2006 NCIAA law.

Among the bills weakening the NCIAA was a provision to allow bars, taverns and saloons to serve food in smoking areas, which Assemblyman Hardy supported, and legislation prohibiting the use of tobacco suit funds in anti-smoking campaigns.

City Councilmen Allan Litman and Kraig Hafen also attended the celebration. Litman told the group that the new Mayor and all the city councilmen are non-smokers. He talked about his father, a smoker, who had his first heart attack at 39 and died at 50. He also noted that during his military career, the tobacco companies donated cases of cigarettes to soldiers which helped the industry build clientele.

Litman reminded the group that during his election bid he proposed a Mesquite sin tax on tobacco which was widely criticized, Yet, Litman pointed out that several years ago cigarettes in Canada were $9.00 a pack which served as a significant economic incentive to stop smoking.

The Canadian Non-Smokers' Rights Association currently calculates the average price of a carton of cigarettes at $91.62.

Moser agreed with the use of economics to hinder smokers. She told the group that every 10 percent increase in the price of tobacco reduces smoking by 3 to 5 percent.

The Smoke-Free event was coordinated by Fred Toval, Community Outreach Coordinator. Toval, President of the Mesquite Democrats, shared with the group how his father, a smoker, died in 1975 from heart thrombosis brought on by smoking. “In spite of my attempts to resuscitate him, his lungs were simply gone,” Toval told the group.

Both Toval and Litman pointed out that Mesquite is a draw for those wishing to live in a clean air community. Both also mentioned that a smoke-filled atmosphere keeps them from spending much time in the casinos.

“Everyone has the right to breath clean air,” Sarah Davis, Regional Program Coordinator for the American Lung Association in Nevada, told the group. Davis mentioned the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, especially to hospitality workers, adding that none of the circulation systems on the market today can remove the cancer-causing materials in cigarette smoke.

Additional information about the grassroots effort to make Mesquite smoke-free can be found at http://www.smokefreemesquite.org/ or by contacting Fred Toval, Community Outreach Coordinator atftoval@lungnevada.org (801)574-5336.