Saturday, September 13, 2014

Last Call

Consider this your last call! You don't want to miss out on this. Seriously, you don't want to miss out on ProgressNow Nevada Action's exciting event, "Celebrate Progress".

Join Arshad Hasan, national ProgressNow Executive Director, and ProgressNow Nevada Action for a big announcement and fundraiser.

In addition to celebrating the big news, join us to celebrate and honor four amazing progressive individuals in Southern Nevada for always standing up for the issues that matter most.

Progressive Leader Award - Senator Tick Segerblom

Rising Progressive Leader Award - Rudy Zamora

Progressive Voice of Reason - Andrew Davey

Progressive Business Owner Award - Cassandra Rice, owner of GymCats

There are plenty of great reasons to "Celebrate Progress". So why not join us?

How often do you have the chance to Arshad Hasan, a premier nationwide expert on grassroots campaigning? This alone is worth the price of admission. A source close to the event actually told us, "I learned everything I know about grassroots campaigns from Arshad."

So consider this your last call. We'll be celebrating progress next Tuesday at 6:00 PM. We'll be at Artifice in Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas. And tickets start at just $50... Or $5 a month for the next year!

Please RSVP here. We hope to celebrate progress with you & all our friends at ProgressNow Nevada Action next Tuesday.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Done Deal: The #Teslamania Postscript

It's official. It's happening. And it's unanimous.

Late last night, the Nevada Legislature unanimously passed the Tesla deal. Governor Brian Sandoval (R) quickly signed it into law as US Senator Harry Reid (D) signaled his approval from DC.

Ultimately, Tesla got the $1.25 billion in tax credits it wanted. However, the final bill was slightly modified to ensure Tesla factory workers receive decent wages and health insurance benefits. The final bill also included more oversight should Tesla request a waiver for the 50% Nevada workers hiring requirement.

So it's a done deal. A bunch of legislators and media pundits are smiling as they await their return flights to Las Vegas. And of course, Tesla executives must be grinning from ear to ear this morning.

But what about all the rest of us? After the State Senate wrapped up their voting, they had just enough time for a few speeches. And yes, a handful of Senators actually addressed the 900 pound gorilla in the room.

Senator Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas) went even further in addressing the problem... And the solution. He pretty much channeled "The Original Gleaner" Hugh Jackson in pointing out the obvious. Why is it so damned easy for our state government to hand out corporate welfare like candy while failing repeatedly to properly fund public education?

It's a done deal. Tesla just got its sweetheart deal... But what about the rest of us? Where's our sweetheart deal?

Here's what isn't yet a done deal: this year's election. In particular, we have our solution: The Education Initiative (TEI). As Senator Segerblom and Hugh Jackson yesterday, we need to secure a good deal for our communities by making it happen ourselves.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Think Before You Act

Today, we're all remembering what happened 13 years ago. And we're facing tough questions that harken back to the decisions made in the aftermath of September 11.

Not even a year after 9/11 and the start of the Afghanistan War, then President George W. Bush wanted to go to war in Iraq. We were initially told Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for 9/11. Then, we were told Saddam Hussein was providing safe harbor to al-Qaeda terrorists. Then, we were told Iraq was somehow part of the "Axis of Evil". Then, we were told of "smoking guns" and "mushroom clouds".

Ultimately, then President Bush got the war he wanted. Thanks to neoconservative allies in Congress like Senator
John McCain (R-Arizona), approval for the Iraq invasion was a snap. And Bush never had to worry about obtaining more funding for what later became a war of "liberation" and "spreading democracy".

Senator John McCain, along with so many of the other regular cable "news" talking heads and Sunday show pundits, have regularly been proven wrong on their constant assertions that all we need is another war in order for Americans to "feel safe".

But what if we don't need another war in order to "feel safe"? What if we don't need to repeat the mistakes from our last war in the region? What if we actually think before we act?

We can't afford to make the same mistakes we made in Iraq last decade. While Isis indeed poses a threat to regional stability in the Middle East, it's not the some rapidly approaching apocalypse for America. Yet if we make the wrong move there, we risk further destabilization of the region (and ironically, a stronger Isis).

Contrary to what certain "TEA" flavored media pundits like to say, sports analogies won't help. Neither will bombastic rhetoric. And probably neither will yet another full scale Middle East war.

Perhaps we should think some more before we act. We have no obligation to repeat the mistakes of the previous Iraq War. And we have no obligation to commit thousands more American troops to a geopolitical Pandora's Box that only promises more brutal & bloody mayhem if opened. However, there are 535 people on Capitol Hill who do have an obligation to hold a vote. We'd like for them to think and act on it.

Not. So. Fast.

Now, it's getting really interesting. Last night, we heard some more about the big move Switch is making in Carson City during the special session of the Nevada Legislature that Tesla initially thought it had all to itself.

Whoops. Apparently, a few legislators may actually be taking Steve Sebelius' advice to heart. Might this be music to Switch's ears?

Not so fast. SB 1 finally dropped last night, and the long awaited Senate bill requires at least $3.5 billion investment in this state before the state government starts offering tax incentives. The bill also requires at least 50% of the workers hired under this program to be Nevada residents. And the bill requires a $22 average hourly wage and health insurance benefits for factory workers.

So that leaves Switch up in the air for now. However, that also leaves the Nevada AFL-CIO as a possible "fly in the ointment". Nevada AFL-CIO Executive Director Danny Thompson has already said he also wants guarantees of fair wages for construction workers alongside guarantees that Tesla will hire local construction workers. We'll have to see how the Legislature assuages AFL's concerns.

But at least for now, it looks like a number of legislators are at least taking some time to digest this. And yes, they're looking at related issues like Switch, the best interest of Nevada workers, the film industry tax credits (that Governor Brian Sandoval [R] wants slashed by over 80%), and public education funding. Isn't this what so many of us were asking them to do? Isn't this even what a certain media pundit was asking for on the eve of #Teslamania?

So why is that media pundit now attacking certain legislators over taking their time to consider this proposal? The State of Nevada may actually end up with a $120 million deficit by the end of the year... And that doesn't even count the overcrowding and under-staffing issues plaguing Clark County School District (CCSD). Can we now afford to hurry up and pass something that pokes yet another hole into the budget while making a big bet on a company that demanded all these tax breaks to build a factory in Northern Nevada?

Not. So. Fast. Those are the three words Nevada legislators need to keep in mind today. While we understand the urge to hurry up, resume fundraising, and bask in the glow of #Teslamania, there are too many important questions that shouldn't be ignored just because one company wants an enormous sweetheart deal. Is this truly a fair deal? Is this a good deal for Nevada workers? Is this a good deal for Nevada schools? And will this deal break Nevada's budget?

Not. So. Fast. As we've said before, there are plenty of merits to Tesla's big move to Nevada. But must we break our bank in order to subsidize their business expenditures?

My Own 9/11 (& Deja Vu, Fog of War)

(Especially in light of President Obama's big announcement on Isis last night, I figured now's a good time to rerun this piece from September 11, 2011. I'll have more on the President's plan to take on Isis later today.)

September 11, 2001, is a day I can't forget... Even though it was a day that seemed to start like so many others had. While I was getting ready for school, America's beating economic heart and central political nervous system were under attack. And as I was starting what I just thought would be my second day of high school, my entire outlook on life would forever change.

That morning, I woke up as just another Orange County kid attending just another conservative Christian fundamentalist private school. In the following weeks, I would be relegated as "extreme" as that crazy "anti-American" extremist, Barbara Lee. Why? Well, I agree(d) with her.

It was my first experience of expressing dissent, and of paying the price for holding an unpopular point of view. In the immediate days following 9/11, there was a sense of national unity. And while it was helpful in many ways, on the other hand it allowed for the Bush Administration to embark on policy prescriptions that we would later learn to be quite harmful to our country. It was easy to go with the masses and cheer on "retaliation" against the "evildoers". It most definitely wasn't easy to point out what would happen once Congress gave George Bush a blank check to engage in endless war.

I was just trying to make sense of everything that was happening all around me... And it just wasn't making sense. Even as everyone else around me kept beating the drums for war more loudly, I kept wondering why we were doing this. My teachers and my own mother were asking why I sympathized with "terrorists". Other students just saw me as "the liberal weirdo". Nothing seemed to make sense then...

But it all comes together now.

Fast forward ten years, and now Rep. Barbara Lee's words ring more prescient and true than ever before. We're mired in multiple wars abroad, yet we supposedly can't afford to create jobs for the unemployed here at home. Nearly ten years after the USA (Un)PATRIOT(ic) Act passed, Americans are now asking where their freedom went. And now that memories of a nation so proudly patriotic seem so distant, Congress has reached a new low in unpopularity as seemingly anything and everything is being questioned.

In many ways, it feels like the tables have turned. Back then, I felt so alone in opposing what seemed so American as apple pie. But now, I'm trying to explain how things work to the very same people who are now losing faith in the entire American experiment. It can be sad to watch, but I can't lose hope that our people will recognize what needs to be done to restore our democracy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

#Tesla Update(s)

And it's on! We knew this was eventually coming. But now, it's official. "The Tesla Session" is officially underway in Carson City.

And what have we learned since this morning? Perhaps there will be no Switch, after all?

Remember when we told you about the last minute move by the Southern Nevada data center company to land tax credits for a Nevada expansion? So far, Governor Brian Sandoval (R) is saying no. It remains to be seen how many allies Switch has in the Legislature Building.

In the mean time, Steve Sebelius notes the slippery slope this state will approach if the deal is approved. Why Tesla? Why Apple? Yet why not Switch? And why not any other company willing to tell us what we want to hear about "economic development"?

Also, PLAN made it official this morning. Folks there are concerned about the glossy numbers Governor Sandoval's office has released about the economic impact of Tesla's Gigafactory, as well as shifting the tax burden from Tesla to working families. Oh, and PLAN added this at the end: "One last question, which has been asked by others but only answered by silence: Why can’t the state of Nevada come together on a plan to raise revenues to fix our broken education system as enthusiastically as the rush to create a $1.3 billion package of corporate subsidies for a single company in one part of the state?" Ouch. (This is actually the reason why The Education Initiative [TEI] is on our fall ballot.)

At least now, we're starting to see the Tesla bills emerge. We're also continuing to see strong reviews for the very technology Tesla wants to bring to Northern Nevada. The Tesla Gigafactory may even end up producing 20% more renewable electricity than it actually needs.

The Guinn Center just endorsed the Tesla deal, provided there are benchmarks Tesla must meet in order to continue enjoying those tax credits. Reno News & Review's Dennis Myers, however, calls foul on what he sees as naked corporate welfare. And of course, NPRI is against anything that doesn't perfectly fit its ideological mold.

We probably won't have more #Tesla details until around 4:00 PM. We'll do our best to stay on top of it all. And if there's any critical breaking news tonight, we'll do our best to cover it here. So go ahead and stay tuned as #TeslaMania continues in Carson City.


The vote was 12-13. Just 1 more vote could have made the difference for many thousands of American military/veteran families. But alas, it lost 12-13.

In June, Rep. Dina Titus (D-Paradise) introduced legislation to ensure LGBTQ military families have the same access to military spousal benefits as all other military families. Today, it finally had a vote in the House Veterans' Affairs Committee as an amendment to another bill. And it lost 12-13.

In an interesting twist, outgoing Rep. Jon Runyan (R-New Jersey) voted for Rep. Titus' amendment. He also signed on as a cosponsor of ENDA earlier this year. He actually wasn't the only Republican cosponsor of ENDA on that committee...

Yet he was the only Republican vote for Rep. Titus' amendment that would have simply guaranteed equal access to military spousal benefits regardless of which state one lives in. So the amendment failed 12-13.

They've tried "softer lighting". They've tried "softer language". And they've made endless attempts at "rebranding". However, no amount of "Republican rebranding" can truly obscure what all but one of them did today. (And he just happened to be the one who's retiring from Congress this year.)

Next time anyone tries to goad you into thinking "Republican rebranding" is anything more than the vacuous shtick it truly is, remind that someone of this vote. Go ahead and remind that someone that even the allegedly "pro-equality" on this House committee voted down this critical amendment that simply would have given thousands of military families the peace of mind they deserve. Remind that someone that thanks to their craven refusal to drop the "TEA" for once and do something useful for a change, actual soldiers/veterans and their loved ones were given the shaft.

The vote was 12-13. The lower House of Congress had yet another opportunity to prove to Americans that they can actually be productive. But yet again, House Republican "leaders" fail to provide any sort of leadership.

Prelude to Tesla

Consider this a quick cheat sheet on "The Tesla Session" that will begin at high noon today in Carson City. Here's what you need to know about the 28th Special Session of the Nevada Legislature:

- The Tesla deal is now clocking in at about $1.3 billion cost to Nevada taxpayers.

- It still looks likely to be approved, but signs of discontent at the Legislature Building are starting to appear.

- Among those grumbling about Tesla are the "TEA" powered NPRI & AFP (fossil fuels forever!), progressive PLAN (worried about corporate welfare), car dealers (upset over the bill to authorize direct-to-consumer Tesla car sales), and the entertainment industry (Sorry, Nicholas Cage, but no more film tax credits for you!).

- Yet as Tesla keeps blazing trails in clean technology, Nevada now has the opportunity to lead the way in the clean energy (r)evolution.

- It's no secret that US Senator Harry Reid (D) pushed hard for this Tesla deal, as he's a big believer in the potential Tesla's gigafactory has to turbo-charge Nevada's economy.

- And he's not alone. From Northern Nevada business leaders to UNR & UNLV economists and state economic development officials, they're liking the $1.9 billion Tesla's gigafactory is expected to generate in tax revenue for the state, along with the roughly 21,000 jobs (directly and indirectly) that may result from Tesla's big move.

- But wait, there's more?! Perhaps Tesla won't have this special session all to itself. Last night, Jon Ralston reported that Enterprise (Southwest Las Vegas Valley) based Switch now wants to strike while the iron is hot. The data center company is now asking for its own tax credits for its proposed $750 million Southern Nevada facility and $250 million Northern Nevada project.

This is about to get even more interesting. Stay tuned here for more as the 28th Special Session of the Nevada Legislature commences.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Ratification Is Different from Rubber-stamping."

No, we don't always agree with him. Yes, this only touches the surface of what's increasingly looking like an incredibly thorny issue. But yes, Jon Ralston's advice to state legislators on Tesla is very sound advice that they should pay attention to.

"Ratification is different from rubber-stamping." Just since the deal was announced last Thursday, the price tag has swollen from $400 million to $1.25 billion. Why? This gigafactory isn't cheap.

Ironically, Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (& Mustang Ranch brothel) owner Lance Gilman claimed "no public money" has been used to develop Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. Even if that statement was completely true last week, it certainly will not be going forward. If the Nevada Legislature approves the deal US Senator Harry Reid (D) encouraged and Governor Brian Sandoval's (R) economic advisers negotiated, Tesla will be exempt from paying sales taxes on construction materials and factory equipment for 20 years. That alone essentially serves as an estimated $725 million state subsidy for Tesla and Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.

In addition, Tesla will receive $195 million worth of transferable tax credits along with $332 million worth of exemptions from property taxes. And on top of that, the State of Nevada will pay Lance Gilman $43 million for right-of-way so it can invest at least another $60 million to build a highway through Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in order to connect the Tesla Gigafactory to US Highway 50 and Interstate 80 Freeway.

Oh, and this may not even be the end of it. Take a look at the growing list of registered lobbyists for the 28th Special Session of the Nevada Legislature. We can only wonder what may come next.

At least some legislators are demanding certain conditions for all these giveaways, such as guarantees for prevailing wage and Nevada workers being considered first for the new Tesla jobs. And quite a few legislators are insisting the tax credits will be tied to Tesla's progress in building the gigafactory (perhaps because they want to avoid another Apple boondoggle?).

Let's be upfront here. The reward will be quite high if this Tesla project succeeds. Nevada will have cemented our reputation as the hub of the 21st century clean energy revolution. And the Reno/Sparks/Tahoe region may finally have secured economic growth and diversification...

But at what cost? The Atlantic Senior Editor Richard Florida has already decried the $56,000-$300,000+ the State of Nevada may pay for each Tesla job that may or may not last into the distant future. Already, critics are accusing the state of overpaying for a "trophy". And opposition to the Tesla deal is already creating some very strange bedfellows, from the "TEA" powered NPRI and AFP to progressive stalwart PLAN.

"Ratification is different from rubber-stamping." At least one legislator seems to fully understand this. Pretty soon, we'll find out how many more also do... And/or how many simply don't.

Ray Rice

Last month, MMA (mixed martial arts)'s largest, most lucrative, and most powerful league ran into an all-too-familiar problem. Even though UFC has made plenty of progress recently in welcoming women MMA fighters, it's still facing tough questions over War Machine and other former UFC fighters who have run into legal trouble over domestic violence.

Now to the credit of both UFC and Bellator MMA, both MMA leagues were fast to condemn War Machine. Even as some of his fans continue to rally behind him on social media, Bellator cut War Machine from its roster weeks before he was formally indicted here in Nevada for attempted murder, first degree kidnapping, sexual assault, and a host of other charges related to the violent attack on Christy Mack and Corey Thomas.

While there are legitimate questions on whether the powers that be in MMA are taking domestic violence seriously enough, it's increasingly looking like they're at least taking steps to address this problem. It's harder to say this about the NFL.

Initially, the NFL merely gave Baltimore Ravens runningback Ray Rice a two game suspension after pleading guilty in New Jersey to assault. A leaked elevator tape shows the full account of Ray Rice punching his then fiancee (now wife), Janay Rice, and knocking her to the ground. Even as he left the elevator, Ray Rice left Janay on the floor as her feet were on the elevator door track.

When the video was finally released to the public, Fox "News" enjoyed some "elevator humor"... While the rest of America was disgusted beyond belief.

How could this happen? And why did Ray Rice (at least initially) get away with a crime just as heinous as the one War Machine is now on trial for? Oh, and if UFC & Bellator are now coming to terms with this problem within their ranks, why can't the NFL?

We are now approaching the 20th anniversary of Congress' original passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This is why we can't help but remember the "TEA" fueled Heritage Action's campaign to kill VAWA that came dangerously close to succeeding last year. This is why we continue to sound the alarms on the "mainstream-ization" of language, attitudes, and even actions that were previously thought to be relegated to the deepest and darkest corners of the "manosphere". And this is why we can't ignore this horrific failure of the NFL.

While a number of media pundits are bloviating over Ray Rice's future in professional football and speculating over why Janay Rice is still standing behind him, we'd rather focus on the more important issue behind this tragedy. Why is it still so damned difficult for so many to take domestic violence seriously? And how many more people must be hurt before we take further action?

Is "good football" truly worth more than women's lives?

Matter of Time

What happens when one walks into a law suit and can't find the defendant? In San Francisco yesterday, no one appeared at the dais where an attorney for Governor Brian Sandoval (R) was expected. But then again, many of us already expected this to happen.

Yet how many court watchers were expecting this? Perhaps they needed to pay closer attention to what Monte Stewart had to say about Brown v. Board of Education.

Yesterday, Sevcik v. Sandoval received its day in court at the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. But since the State of Nevada decided to drop its legal defense of the Question 2 marriage ban. That's why Monte Stewart and these crispy critters were left to defend their sacred cow of discrimination.

Judging from the three judges on yesterday's panel and their reactions to oral arguments, supporters of equality have plenty of reasons to feel optimistic. And perhaps this is why opponents have turned up the bombast as they continue their last ditch attempt at saving their prized "political issue" of "segregation laws".

Over the past five years, we've witnessed remarkable progress on LGBTQ civil rights. And deep down, we always knew this was coming. It was just a matter of time.

And now, the time finally seems to be coming. Think about that. And keep in mind the empty spot in that San Francisco federal courthouse where Governor Sandoval's lawyer was supposed to defend the Question 2 marriage ban. This is simply a matter of time.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Most Poignant PRIDE Yet

This was a bittersweet weekend for us. We had the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, meet some new friends, amd remember someone who's made such a huge mark in our lives.

On the eve of Sevcik v. Sandoval's day in court (at the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals) and just after a remarkable series of advances for transgender civil rights, Las Vegas PRIDE weekend came and went. It was a time for celebration of recent progress, as well as a time of reflection on the challenges that still lie ahead.

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Friday night's parade offered quite the exciting line-up. Communities of faith, Cleve Jones & Culinary 226, a host of local businesses, and even a few Las Vegas Metro Police officers (!!!) participated in the parade. Also riding in the parade were State Senators David Parks (D-Paradise), Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas), Kelvin Atkinson (D-North Las Vegas), & Justin Jones (D-Enterprise), along with Assembly Member James Healey (D-Enterprise), Lieutenant Governor candidate Lucy Flores (D), NV-03 Congressional candidate Erin Bilbray (D), and State Senate candidate Teresa Lowry (D).

Along 4th Street in Downtown Las Vegas, all these people marched in solidarity with Southern Nevada's LGBTQ community and our continuing struggle for full civil rights. They came to show their respect for our community and ask for our support. Doesn't it feel nice to receive this kind of respect?

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Then came the Saturday festival. And yes, there were festivities all throughout Clark County Government Center's amphitheater. There were also some elected officials coming back to meet voters. And there were volunteers registering voters. There were families coming in to soak in the sun, along with young LGBTQ Nevadans coming in for a safe place to express themselves.

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The whole weekend was a thing of beauty. When I first moved here to Southern Nevada five years ago, one of the first activities I did was Las Vegas PRIDE. So I always experience a rush of emotions around this time of the year every year. However, this PRIDE was the most poignant one for me yet.

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I came to know Sandy Eddy quite well over the years. We both served on the Stonewall Southern Nevada board together. And during our time on the board, she became one of my "Vegas adopted mothers". She really meant that much to me, and to all the other people who came into her life.

Last Thursday, Sandy suffered a stroke and was rushed to the hospital. She didn't make it. Yet even at life's end, she kept giving of herself. Several of her organs are about to be donated to those in need. And during this time of mourning, she's brought back together those who had recently drifted apart.

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Las Vegas PRIDE was one of the many community events Sandy made sure to do. That's why I ultimately felt compelled to go this past weekend. Even though I initially didn't even want to pull myself out of bed Friday morning, I knew Sandy would kick my ass if I didn't pull myself together and go. She always made sure to go where she was needed.

Sandy Eddy may no longer be with us physically, but I could feel her spirit with me at PRIDE. And I figured she would have been happy about everyone who turned out for the parade, all the activity at the Stonewall & PLAN booths at the festival, and all the other people at PRIDE who were there to serve the greater community.

This was a bittersweet weekend for so many of us. But with so much more to do, Sandy would want everyone to press forward. So we will. (Yet in the spirit of giving that Sandy embdodied all the way through to her very last moments, now's a great time to reach out & help her family during their time of grief.)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Our Children Are Our Future

Now we get it. Now we understand why the well heeled opponents of The Education Initiative (TEI) are screaming "DOOM!" They're actually afraid of losing!

According to their own internal poll, TEI is ahead 53%-42%. No, that's not a typo. Those are the real numbers.

So now, they're officially freaking out. They're turning up the dramatics even more on social media. They're ramping up their scare tactics. They're even leaving these door hangers on people's doors. After all, "Our children are our future."

Oh, really? Oh no, they better don't! They best not blaspheme the name of our matron saint like that!

Oh hells to the yes, our children are our future. So why do TEI's well heeled opponents want to deny our children the chance of a better future? Why do they want to continue the gross underfunding of public education in Nevada? Why don't they want to give our kids the tools they need to succeed?

Before they dare to invoke Whitney, they need to remember the greatest love of all. Yes, the children are our future. We need to teach them well and let them lead the way.

And this is exactly what Question 3 offers Nevada voters this fall. Instead of pulling up the rear, we can finally start leading the way. After all, we believe the children are our future. So why not start showing them the greatest love of all by giving them what they need to succeed?

Last Hurrah of Hate

Yep, it finally happened. It was bound to happen. Perhaps there was no way of stopping this from happening.

For the first time since the US Supreme Court's landmark US v. Windsor decision, a federal judge ruled against marriage equality. Yesterday, US District Court Judge Martin Feldman upheld Louisiana's marriage ban. Oh, and he didn't stop there.

Judge Feldman also denigrated LGBTQ families. He pulled the "incest card". And to top it all off, he essentially declared that Louisiana LGBTQ families don't deserve equal treatment under the law because they made the wrong "lifestyle choice".

Hmmm... Where have we heard this before? Oh wait, might it be the case that's about to be heard by the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals next week?

Oh, yes. That's right. Sevcik v. Sandoval will be among the three marriage cases heard by the San Francisco federal appellate court next week. (The other two are Idaho and Hawaii.)

All too often, we've heard the "family values" argument against LGBTQ civil rights. And there's a reason why so few federal courts have given this argument any merit in recent years: It's crap. There's no real Constitutional case behind it, and there's no "moral case" there either.

So what do opponents of equality have? That's a good question. We know they have "political issues". We know they have "variations". We've constantly heard their nonsensical garblety-goop. And of course, we've seen their "segregation laws".

Unfortunately for opponents of equality, that's all they seem to have (along with their increasingly sparse courtroom victories). Yet while they keep trying to "rebrand" their opposition to civil rights, they can't "rebrand" the basic dollars & sense. There's a reason why so many business leaders want marriage equality. Not only is it simply the right thing to do, but it also opens the door to $52 million worth of more business for Nevada.

So what do they have left? Fear. No really, all they have left is xenophobia. And yesterday's ruling from Louisiana (along with the 2012 Nevada federal court ruling) is their last hurrah of hate.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Welcome, Tesla (?)

So it's official. It's finally happening. And of course, it's the talk of the town all over Reno.

Just moments ago, CNBC broke the news that Tesla has chosen Northern Nevada to house its new gigafactory. And already, a special session of the Nevada Legislature is being set for next week. And of course, we're already starting to hear all sorts of political spin and economic happy talk.

So what's the deal? We know Tesla is planning to spend $5 billion to build its 10,000 square foot gigafactory. What we don't yet know is how much Tesla is expecting the State of Nevada to kick in for construction.

We strongly suspect this deal will involve some Nevada taxpayer money, as a special session looks to be necessary. It's also been no secret that Tesla has demanded public subsidies for this gigafactory.

So how much will this cost us? Most likely, a cool $400 million.

And what are we getting out of this? Potentially 6,500 new jobs for the Reno/Sparks region, along with a breakthrough that may open the door to electric cars becoming more affordable for more consumers.

Here's the good news: This has the potential to actually make a dent in the long promised drive to diversify Nevada's economy. This also has the potential to kick-start the green tech sector and take it to new levels here in Nevada and nationally. Oh, and this can help quite a bit in our efforts to take on the challenges posed by climate change.

Here's the disturbing news: We're once again relying upon corporate welfare for any sort of economic development. And that's just not a sustainable business plan going forward. After all, take a look at how far Reno and Nevada have gone with Apple. Apple continues to laugh all the way to its offshore bank accounts while we're left holding the bag (full of holes, thanks to the many budget cuts we've endured over the past half-decade).

This is why we're experiencing mixed reactions now. On one hand, it's exciting to think that Nevada may be home to the next generation of transportation & energy innovation. But on the other, this achievement seems awfully tainted due to the $400 million we're having to bribe spend to convince Tesla to build the gigafactory in Northern Nevada. Is that money truly well spent? Or is it just more money being diverted from our already "grossly underfunded" schools and other critical parts of public infrastructure?

Right now, let's just say the 63 Nevadans who may soon have to head back to Carson City are about to step into a rather sticky situation.