We have a wonderful history of integrity and good will in Carson City. Over the years, people have been able to disagree, state opinions and form diverse conclusions. It has been a free market of respectful and meaningful debate. We have had differences over facilities, zoning, city and state government, elected officials, parks, development, and priorities. No matter the differences - our citizens focused on the well-being of our community and promoted positive change or no change - and we accomplished many things such as passage of question 18 and downtown redevelopment. Even when we disagreed, we did not doubt each other's sincerity and good intentions.
Unfortunately, a new era has been thrust upon us by demagogues with a rigid political agenda, ignoring the needs and well-being of Carson City. They employ irony and sarcasm without substance, selectively giving partial information to support the conclusion they want you to draw. And often their motives are clearly to discredit local people or agencies. Chuck Muth's recent (December 28th) headline "Some end-of-the-year drive-by Muthings" sounds like an admission that he is out to hurt our citizens, agencies and community.
Take, for example, his attack on the Parks and Recreation Department for closing the pool on Sundays, he says, while the supervisors are "pushing to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to build a new one." Personally, I would like the pool to be available seven days a week. But I understand that the pool is temporarily closing on Sundays this winter because of city budget cuts, and it was determined that since Sunday is their slowest day, the city would gain the most cost savings with the least impact on citizens. Sounds like a pretty good business decision under the circumstances, doesn't it?
Insofar as his insinuation that the Board of Supervisors is planning to build a new pool, this is simply not true; at least not before the year 2030. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." Is it possible that the timing of Mr. Muth's attack is sour grapes stemming from the fact that he was turned down as an applicant for an appointment to the Parks and Recreation Board?
In the interest of full disclosure, my wife is employed by the city as a Program Manager over Special Projects for Parks and Recreation. She has nothing to do with the pool or any decisions to close the pool, build a pool or select a board member. Her position does not have any bearing on the opinions expressed in this article, which are solely mine. The information presented above comes directly from Mr. Muth's article and Web site, and the Park and Recreation Board and Board of Supervisors' meetings.
The pool was only one example of Mr. Muth's Christmas target list. Other assaults in Mr. Muth's article were directed against local citizens who have written letters to the editor, schools, public employees and elected officials, and contained the same old uninformed rhetoric for which this newcomer has come to be known. Anyone who would try to dupe us into believing that the job description for executive chef at UNLV Thomas and Mack Center is merely to cook hot dogs must think that we are pretty naive.
As I cited in my previous article, these attacks are the methods outside agitators use in an attempt to discredit boards, political representatives and organizations, and then seek to gain appointments or elect radicals who represent interests that are not about Carson City.
We are different than most communities. It just does not work to plug in a political party's national agenda and think it is best for Carson City.
Take into account, for example, the idea of reducing the number of public employees in Nevada, the fastest growing State in the nation. With a very high percentage of public employees in Carson City - state, city, school district - our local economy would suffer greatly by cuts to the workforce. If you own a business or a home, are employed by a company that depends on local sales, or appreciate the low taxes we pay, think twice before supporting cuts that would strangle our prosperity. But then again, if you happen to be a lobbyist for interests outside of Carson City, why would our local economy matter?
Maybe we can all agree to work toward cutting federal expenditures and taxes, and reducing the national debt, instead of demonizing dedicated, hard working Carson City folks and good-intentioned local and state agencies.
We all want efficient government, and if you did not live in Nevada between the terms of governors Mike O'Callaghan and Kenny Guinn, you missed seeing the effective cost-reducing measures their administrations applied and the debates and studies about taxes and tax revenue. Year after year, productivity in state government has increased and programs have been held to higher standards of efficiency and accountability. Perhaps it's time to acknowledge that our state government has done a good job over the years to cut fat and streamline services.
Nevadans know that in a tourism economy, not all taxes are created equal. For example, taxes such as gaming and room tax are primarily paid by non-residents; and a relatively high percentage of tax revenues from gasoline and sales (if groceries are excluded from taxation) are paid by tourists. Our Legislature has designed a state tax base paid primarily by non-residents. Income and inheritance taxes are prohibited by law. And even though we have comparatively low property taxes in Carson City, there is a cap on property tax increases.
Let's face it, the current "budget crisis" is part of a normal economic cycle in a government that maintains a balanced budget. It has occurred five times that I can recall in the last 35 years. Our state plans from projections of both revenue and expenditures. When tax revenues decline, there is a shortfall. Thankfully, in Nevada, we cut expenses as necessary rather than borrow funds against our future generations.
Let's count our blessings and support what has always worked well in our community. We should not tolerate the radical ideology that it is acceptable to handle differences by putting people in your crosshairs and firing-off mean spirited, less-than-accurate rhetoric. We're better than that! Nevertheless, we can expect to hear from their "hired gun letter writers" who have set up camp here.
And by the way, real Nevadans know how to pronounce "Nevada" and care!
• Saul Singer is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor, and the owner of Counseling, Consultation and Training, a technical resource agency for child welfare and family mental health. Previously, he has taught college, worked in management for private industry, and for government in Human Resources and Law Enforcement.