Nugget Project: Two question confusion
Submitted by admin on Wed, 07/18/2012 - 1:23pm
A reader yesterday submitted the following letter dealing with the Carson City Center Project, aka Nugget Project, and the citizen's petition to put the issue on the ballot:
Carson Supervisors Poised to Lose Credibility. . .Again
This Thursday Carson's supervisors are poised to undermine the community's clear desire for finite boundaries on the downtown library complex project.
Our supervisors believe the voting public lacks the mental capacity to simultaneously consider two separate measures: the city's 30-year sales tax increase for this project and a grassroots initiative to place ongoing restrictions upon the supervisors (a majority vote by Carson City residents) before they spend taxpayer money for this same project.
What to do in such a situation? Well the Carson supervisors have it all figured out for we poor, unenlightened peasants. They will just deny us a vote altogether on the grassroots initiative by adopting it as a city ordinance, which state law allows them to do. Then, there is nothing to prevent the supervisors from changing the ordinance to suit themselves, leaving the community with no voice on how a big hunk of our money will be spent. Tricks like this are reminiscent of poll taxes subversively designed to deny people their voting rights.
One way or another, Carson supervisors want to impose this foolish project onto our community and they don't care how they accomplish that end or who they hurt in the process. Our supervisors' inept handling of this library complex project smells mighty fetid and demonstrates an outsized imperiousness rare even by Carson City's less-than-golden standards of cronyism and old boy/old girl linkages.
It seems our legislature needs to make reforms in the sometimes omnipotent and irrational powers reserved by politicians for their own aggrandizement.
I think I have written enough critical pieces on this issue that people know I am not a cheerleader for this project. Given that, let me say that what this letter says here is seriously misguided.
First, the letter writer seems to not understand the word "redundant." His wish is to have both questions on the ballot in November. So, one question will be asking voters if they want the Nugget Project question on the ballot, and the other question will be, well, the Nugget Project. I can imagine voters who haven't kept up with all the details of this issue standing in front of their voting machines wondering, "Why am I being asked if I want the Nugget Project on the ballot when it's already right here?"
Also, if the supervisors do adopt the petition language as an ordinance tomorrow, it will have the very same effect as it would if approved by voters. The letter writer worries that the supervisors could change that ordinance some time in the future. Yes, but voting on it doesn't change that.
In fact, because of some less-than-ideal wording on that petition, there is a huge, gaping hole that would allow supervisors to easily bypass its restrictions by simply renaming the project. They could also challenge it in court, and if the district attorney's office is correct, there is precedent for overturning it.
Actually, having the supervisors adopt the petition as an ordinance probably gives it more power to restrict future boards. Adoption would likely negate any legal challenge to the petition itself, and make it politically more difficult for supervisors to get around those restrictions.
The Nugget Project petition, despite its flaws, has achieved its basic objective, which was to put the project up for a vote. Partially due to the existence of the petition, the previous plans for raising private funding for half of this project didn't pan out. The only option left for funding the project is a voter-approved sales tax increase, which is the question the supervisors have put on the ballot.
Unless the supervisors suddenly discover some other funding source (highly unlikely in the short term considering the ongoing recession and the pressure on the city's budget), November's vote will most likely settle this issue once and for all.
I've talked to a lot of people on this question, including a number of candidates who are out knocking on doors and shaking hands with voters. If I had to guess the outcome of this vote, I would say the Nugget Project will be defeated by at least 10 points. With recent hikes in property taxes and water rates, and with the ongoing economic problems, and the blizzard of "no new taxes" ads that will be running nonstop for the next few months, the chances of passage seem extremely slim.
Of course, the campaign by project supporters hasn't seemed to get started yet, other than some polling that was done by Nugget President Steve Neighbors. But it seems pretty late in the game to be changing minds on this issue. Miracles do happen, and this project would need a big one.
I suspect that this letter writer's motive here is to simply make the issue more confusing so that voters will hate it even more than they do now. If this was a football game, he would get a 15-yard penalty for piling on. Enough already.
For those who are worried there isn't an iron-clad guarantee that the board could, someday, ignore the will of the people, then you should be looking at electing members to that board who stand on your side on this issue, or at least commit to deferring to the outcome of the vote.
Or better yet, pick the candidates who espouse a real plan for helping Carson City's economy. Just saying no to everything isn't going to cut it. We will need some leadership, and a board that is willing to take action to improve our economic outlook. The current board can certainly be criticized for this project, but at least they are trying to do something instead of waiting for the magic fairy to appear and make the economy better.
The opponents of the Nugget Project are likely to get their wish this November. But as the saying goes, they should watch out what they wish for.