Chuck Muth: Reno’s tax-happy Republican mayor
August 28, 2008
If GOP party leaders want to know why the Republican “brand” ” both nationally and right here in Nevada ” isn’t worth the proverbial warm bucket of spit these days, they have only to look at the example being set by Reno Mayor Bob Cashell.
Cashell, a converted Democrat-turned-Republican, wants taxpayers to believe that the Washoe County school district needs more money rather than more choices for parents and kids. As such, he’s now taken on the role of lead cheerleader for what is shaping up to be a very disingenuous media political campaign ” being engineered by Republican consultant Greg Ferraro ” to pass a tax-hike ballot measure to dump even more money into the Soviet-style school system.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the press conference to discuss the new media campaign this week. A poll came out showing that 79 percent of Republicans oppose the ballot measure. Go figure. And when asked about the fact that nearly 8 out of 10 Republicans oppose this new tax grab, Cashell had a veritable cow.
“I am very disappointed to see that Republicans are not supporting our educational system,” the mayor told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “I know, they feel like they’ve paid enough. But we are the second-lowest taxed state in the country. So when you get all of the people on the far-right … not wanting to do things, it’s wrong, and I hope they will straighten out.”
Let me go out on a limb here and officially nominate Bob Cashell as RINO of the Year ” RINO being “Republican In Name Only.” Cashell’s scolding is both outrageous and insulting. If anybody needs to be straightened out, it’s Bob Cashell.
First, Republican taxpayers already generously support our educational system. They pour millions of hard-earned dollars into public education in this state. But taxpayers aren’t bottomless pits of cash. And just because Republicans ” seeing how little bang for the buck they’re getting with the dough they already send to the public schools ” have decided not to support throwing more good money after bad, that doesn’t mean they don’t support education. It simply means they don’t support this tax hike.
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Secondly, Nevada is not the second-lowest taxed state in the country. Period. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Nevada is the 19th highest-taxed state per capita. The second lowest-taxed state per capita is Texas.
Thirdly, if more money is so “desperately” needed to fix Reno’s public schools, why did Mayor Cashell and the Reno City Council vote on Wednesday to spend $5.1 million to buy an old downtown post office for redevelopment rather than use that money to fix leaky school roofs and broken windows? “This has been something the city has wanted for many years,” Cashell said after the vote. Seems to me the good mayor needs to get his priorities straight.
Lastly, it’s simply asinine to suggest that 79 percent of Republicans in Washoe County are on the “far-right.” The fact is, opposing this tax hike couldn’t be more mainstream. Indeed, the same poll found that 53 percent of ALL Washoe County residents, regardless of party affiliation, oppose this tax grab. That means most Republicans are squarely in the middle of public opinion on this one.
If anyone is out on the fringe somewhere, it’s Bob Cashell ” who is firmly positioned on the extreme left of the Republican Party. And I’m not prepared to listen to any lectures from him over what makes a good Republican. In fact, it’s Republican “leaders” like Bob Cashell who caused me and many other fiscal conservatives to leave the GOP in recent years.
Nevada Republicans better beware. Bob Cashell is already rumored to be laying plans to challenge Gov. Jim Gibbons in the 2010 primary. If you think you all have problems with your “brand” now (and you do), wait’ll he becomes the titular head of your party.
– Chuck Muth, of Carson City, is president and CEO of Citizen Outreach and a political blogger. Read his views Fridays on the Appeal Opinion page or visit http://www.muthstruths.com. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org