Who’s doing governor’s dirty work? | NevadaAppeal.com
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Who’s doing governor’s dirty work?

Bob Thomas

While perusing the Dec. 24 edition of the Nevada Appeal, I noticed an Associated Press article titled, “State could face $1.4 billion in tax hikes.” Now, the interview wasn’t with Gov. Guinn or any elected official. It was with a guy named Peter Ernaut who claims to be an “adviser to Gov. Kenny Guinn.” Of course, this is nothing more than the old trial balloon scam being floated by an administration errand boy. A sophomoric attempt to soften us up for the kill.

Who is Peter Ernaut? Well, he was probably the most worthless assemblyman we’ve ever had in terms of accomplishing anything positive for Nevada. But he did do a great job for himself, thanks to his mother’s influence, she being a heavy-hitting Washoe County Republican. But now he’s a hired gun. When the Resorts Association, which represents gaming’s interests, wants to get its nose in everybody else’s business, such as spearheading a new gross business income tax, it does so through stooges like Ernaut. Far be it for an ex-bureaucrat like Bill Bible, who ostensibly heads the resorts group, to openly float his own propaganda. The thing that surprises me the most about Pete Ernaut’s apparent rise to front-man status as a member of the Las Vegas anointing group who selected Kenny Guinn to be our governor, and John Ensign to be our newest U.S. senator, is that this guy isn’t that bright. Maybe he’s expendable.

But somehow he was credited with being the campaign manager for both Guinn and Ensign, and he spent more than $5 million getting Guinn elected when Guinn was already the neatest and most carefully prepared political package to come along in 30 years. In my opinion, any genuine campaign manager could have gotten Guinn elected for $3 million.

According to my sources, Ernaut is politically ruthless. Maybe that’s his attraction. The word on the street is that Gov. Guinn, through Ernaut, is already making threats to newly elected legislators that he will have them labeled as “anti-education” if they don’t go along with gaming’s business income tax. Being labeled anti-education does make reelection somewhat more difficult but certainly not impossible. I managed it three times without teacher’s union money.

Anyway, it is again obvious that Gov. Guinn has no fresh ideas. This explains why he persists in playing the cat and mouse game with reporters who have tried in vain to get him to openly reveal his new tax plan. The fact is, he will have no plan until he assembles the data from his blue ribbon “task force” which includes gaming. And then Guinn will present the politically safest plan and brag about taking the heat. Nevada is indeed in trouble.

The more I see Gov. Guinn operate, the more I believe he must have been little more than the titular head of Nevada Savings (Pri-Merit Bank) and the gas company where he carried the titles of CEO or president. Prior to his joining those already established institutions, Guinn came from the public sector, having been superintendent of public schools in Clark County. That was a specialized management job and he obviously did very well.

And I suspect he is still a public sector tax taker at heart, not a tax payer. Having never made a payroll with his own money, and having never scraped together the funding to build and sustain a business from scratch, he has no concept of the distractions endured by the business community when it is constantly bombarded with new tax plans being put forth by publicly employed tax takers and other special interests representing gaming, public education and politically rewarding social programs.

Now it looks like some budgetary sacred cows are off-limits for cost cutting. Ernaut is now threatening us taxpayers with dropping music and sports programs K-12 and capping university enrollment. That is pure bull hockey. All programs can be trimmed without cutting them out. In this economic climate, there is no moral justification for the public sector’s not suffering layoffs right along with the private sector, and I don’t care what cuts are necessary to equalize the pain. And as Gov. Guinn will find out, many legislators feel the same way.

I advise Gov. Guinn and his henchmen against threatening legislators with reprisals for not supporting gaming’s business income tax. Those tactics will backfire. If additional tax dollars really prove to be needed, there is a better alternative and most knowledgeable people, except Guinn and gaming, agree. You know, now is the time when Nevada badly needs statesmen and women. This could be the legislative session where we find some.