Regents say board should remain elected

In a discussion that ended in a rant by Howard Rosenberg, the board of Regents voted Friday to oppose a constitutional amendment to make seats on the university system board appointed instead of elected.

Rosenberg referred to a recent newspaper editorial that said making boards such as the regents appointed would get rid of the "loons and pinheads" that often win those seats.

"My fellow pinheads and loons," he said gesturing to the board.

The regents are the administrative board that creates policy and makes budget decisions for the state's system of higher education.

Rosenberg said he objects to the Legislature's move to put the issue on the ballot since voters in 2006 rejected a similar amendment.

And, he said, he resents the attempt to take the decision away from residents, adding that it's the voters' right to elect people some others might regard as "loons and pinheads."

"If we were to exclude loons and pinheads, we might not be able to get a quorum in many public bodies," he said.

In fact, he said, there is no guarantee some of those same loons and pinheads wouldn't be appointed to the board.

But Rosenberg made it clear he doesn't like members of the Legislature trying to change the board because they don't agree with all of its decisions.

"I don't always agree with the decisions made by the Legislature, but I haven't recommended they be appointed - yet," he said drawing laughter from the other members.

SJR4 by Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, would change the Nevada Constitution to give lawmakers the power to organize and set the duties of the Board of Regents and give the governor the power to appoint them.

Rosenberg was joined by a majority of the board, including Chairman Brett Whipple, who said the issue "comes down to who's our boss." He said he believes the regents' bosses are the residents of Nevada.

Regent Mike Wixom said there is no good argument to change the board because "we've been very productive for the past few years."

Rosenberg agreed saying, "The system works, don't fix it."

Wixom, however, said he would rather not etch in stone a board opinion at this point.

But Regent Ron Knecht said the proposed amendment is before lawmakers now, and that the board can't "sit back."

He said an appointed board would not be as responsive to the residents as the elected members are, a sentiment also expressed by Regent James Leavitt, "We are the appointed board, appointed by the people. We're talking about an appointed board versus an anointed board."

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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