Sept. 24, 2020, Letters to the Editor
Cleaning up bad choices
From organizations like the Pine Nut Mountain Trail Association to individual residents and guests, I am thankful there are people that take it upon themselves to clean up after another person’s bad decision.
2020 has been a hard year on a lot of people, but our public lands have not gotten away unscathed. With more people spending time outdoors than in years past, more trash is being left behind. Disposable masks and White Claw cans have become almost as common a sight as corroded beer cans on most of the walks and bike rides I’ve taken lately and I think our public lands deserve better.
Not leaving trash behind is a great start at keeping Douglas County clean but picking up trash left behind from someone else is what really gets the job done. For every person that chooses to leave trash behind, there are many more people who do not mind taking a few seconds out of their day to clean up.
Please pack out what you pack-in and consider leaving our public lands in better shape than you found them.
Leadership Douglas County Class of 2020
Vote yes on Question 3
Douglas County adopted the first Master Plan in Nevada in 1960. In 1996 we adopted a new Master Plan that won the National Planning Association’s “Plan of the Year,” broadly incorporating numerous land conservation concepts. At that time we thought, mistakenly, that A-19, large lot zoning would retain our beloved rural character. We were simply wrong.
These properties often end up with a 5,000 square foot house, a shop, a 10,000 square foot barn, an indoor riding arena covering an acre, and commensurate roads and fences. Our much loved landscape views are disappearing. To make this land use zoning even worse none of the irrigation water, the life blood of our beautiful county, is permanently tied to the land.
Yes, the water rights in all of the A-19 zoning area could be sold downriver. Our unique emerald oasis on the edge of the Great Basin desert is in grave danger of disappearing. The prices that A-19 parcels are now selling for exceed the value of ranch land here by many tens of thousands of dollars an acre. Developers are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars per acre.
A “yes” vote on Question 3 offers an alternative. This 1/4 cent sales tax, about $30 per year per family, would forever save a family ranch a year. Further, the Natural Resources and Conservation Service in Reno gets $10-12 million annually for the acquisition of permanent conservation easements. Nearly every year that money is sent back to Washington for a lack of match money. Yes, we would often effectively be able to double the ranch land protected every year. The green meadows, spectacularly beautiful, wet and food producing, would remain so in perpetuity. The cost, $30 a year. The return on our investment, priceless.
Approve county question 3
I feel compelled to reply to a recent letter to the editor about the upcoming county initiative Question 3 asking the voters for a quarter-cent sales tax increase to fund the acquisition of permanent conservation easements on agriculture land in Carson Valley.
The author suggests that this is a bad time to increase sales tax. There is never a good time to raise taxes. However, the decision the voters have to look at is whether or not open space conservation in Carson Valley is worth a quarter of a cent increase. In simple terms the cost to purchase non-food or non-medical items would result in an increase of $2.50 per thousand dollars spent. That represents less than what a lot of people spend on their morning coffee at their favorite barista.
Further the current 7.1 percent sales tax rate in Douglas County is lower than the Carson City rate of 7.6 percent and the Washoe County rate of 8.27 percent and if approved the resulting tax rate of 7.35 percent will still be less than the sales tax in those two counties. The author also suggests that maybe unused land could be donated to the county. I don’t know what unused land they are referring to but it is never a good idea to take property off the tax rolls by donating it to the government.
In another letter on this subject the author pointed out the possibility of matching money from federal sources. We have been very fortunate in the past to have acquired conservation easements through the use of Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act money. However, for that funding to continue we need to show good faith and create a local funding source that can be matched. In closing I would encourage the voters to please approve county question 3 this November.
Support question 3
Regarding Q-3: The Agricultural lands and Open Space Conservation Measure on the Nov. 3 ballot. A “YES” vote will advise our Board of County Commissioners to raise the sales tax by ¼ of a cent (25 cents on $100) in order to purchase development rights and create conservation easements. Sales tax will not be imposed on food, prescription medicines, utilities, and services. It is important to set the record straight: services like plumbers and auto mechanic are not taxable, however the parts they use in making repairs are. Again to clarify this concern, services include not only auto mechanics, roofers and plumbers, but also accountants, attorneys and doctors. These kinds of services are not taxed.
Visitors and other non-county residents will pay their share of the sales tax raised. Based on the IRS estimator available through their web site the average cost per Douglas County family with a $60,000 to $70,000 yearly income would be around $30 per year. This is a small price to pay in order to protect and preserve the beauty, culture, lifestyle, open space, and rural character that we love. I fully support this measure and hope that you all will as well.
Juan F. Guzman
Vote no on county question 1
I am one of the team who helped put County Question 1 on the upcoming November ballot. We had hoped that our County Commission would allow Douglas County citizens a vote whether they wanted their tax dollars to finance the Stateline Redevelopment Agency. But at a Board of County Commissioners in June 2019 Commissioners Penzel, Walsh and Rice refused to put this issue to a vote of the people.
Edgewood Golf Club and the luxury Tahoe Beach Club were declared blighted in order to fence off approximately $113 million of our property taxes to fund a Lake event center, beautify streets, and build fabulously expensive bicycle paths. This comes right out of taxpayer funding for law enforcement, firefighters, infrastructure and other county services for all Douglas residents. The increased cost of the additional services which will be rendered to the casino corridor over life of RDA2 will require tax increases on all of us.
Our team spent months walking and knocking on doors to gather the thousands of signatures to qualify County Question 1 that gives you the right to vote on RDA2. We’ve studied this issue: it’s a tax grab to help Lake based casinos deal with competition from California tribal gaming. But it’s the Lake casinos’ own holding companies that are cutting deals with the California tribes to build more casinos.
We shouldn’t be expected to bail out business subsidiaries when it’s their parent corporations that are cutting into their revenue. Our team worked hard to give you the chance to stop this tax grab. Please vote no on County Question 1.
Vote no on county Question 1
Volunteer petition signature gatherers worked hard this year to put the Lake redevelopment agency, RDA2, on your November ballot, designated County Question 1.
Redevelopment agencies are created to channel tax money to correct blight, such as derelict properties. But in the case of Stateline based RDA2, Edgewood Golf Club and the luxury Tahoe Beach Club were fraudulently blighted in order to fence off approximately $1 million in property taxes per year to fund projects, like an event/convention center, that’s supposed to draw visitors to casinos and related businesses hurt by competition from California Indian gaming.
Over the life of RDA2, funding losses to Douglas County agencies include Tahoe Douglas Fire District, law enforcement, infrastructure maintenance, and other general fund budgets. It’s challenging enough for Douglas County to fund bare minimum services, especially having already lost $2 million to RDA2.
As previously pointed out, the Lake casinos and related leisure and entertainment businesses are losing money because their international gaming corporation owners are partnering with California Indian casinos, competing directly with their Tahoe based subsidiaries.
As Commissioner Engels has said, we expect our Commissioners to act in the citizens’ best interests, not special interests. They should make financial decisions using their backbones, not their wishbones.
Vote no on County Question 1.
Not-so great neighbor
We have lived in Minden in the Winhaven subdivision and have enjoyed doing so since 1994. One of the joys of living in Winhaven is we have been blessed with great neighbors all these years. Some neighbors have moved and some have passed away but we have always had great neighbors.
What happened early on Sunday morning was disheartening and certainly has eroded out trust in having great neighbors. On Saturday we put a political sign on our front lawn like many of the residents of Winhaven. On Sunday morning it was gone. We wondered if this might happen since it was a Biden-Harris sign and there is so much through traffic on Lantana Drive.
Much to our amazement one of our “great” neighbors was recorded on a security camera taking the sign off the metal stand and tossing it over our side fence. Why? If you don’t agree with our choice for president make sure you vote but don’t infringe on our First Amendment rights.
Sallie and Lowell Craig
Reflect deeply, sign thief
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees our right to free expression. We have chosen to support the Biden/Harris ticket for president of the United States. We placed a sign on our lawn expressing our choice for president that was stolen last night.
Hopefully, the thief will reflect deeply and realize that integrity, honesty and compassion are what this country needs in 2020.
Paul and Pat Andrew
Was there a meeting?
Let me be sure I understood your article correctly. “Douglas County” was contacted by the Trump campaign committee and gave permission to use the airport facility in Minden to defy the governor’s directive regarding a limit on attendance at large gatherings. Does this imply that the commissioners called an emergency meeting or did a couple of people in the manager’s office make this decision? If Douglas County is fined several thousand dollars, as was the rally in Henderson, who is going to pay?
Lots of blame to go around
There’s plenty of blame to go around, from multiple sources, proffering differing opinions on whatever may have happened, before, on, and since Aug. 8.
More questions arise than answers, and I have some I’d also like to toss out there:
How are we supposed to feel when our county is informed by fear, rather than reasoned thought? Does our county need to suffer the repercussions of encouraging the use of sledgehammers to resolve issues that could effectively be handled with fly swatters? Or, better yet, perhaps we engage in some preliminary conversations to determine a level of threat, or lack thereof, before pushing the panic button?
And who is being served? Those whose first choice of protection are guns, as opposed to individuals who would be inclined to investigate an issue before reacting in panic?
How are lines drawn between which laws will be enforced and which won’t? If political expedience is the benchmark for determining which laws to enforce (or not), when is it OK to decide not to enforce laws intended to protect the entire population?
Might what the county endured over the past month have been avoided with civilized conversations and without the panic initiated by broadcasting what should have been an internal debate, out onto a global Internet that twists, turns, editorializes, and amplifies whatever was said or intended, until the whole world decides they have the answers, and will certainly pile onto a situation that gains them attention or furthers their self-interests?
In a time of budget crises and numerous challenges, is it prudent to sink $30,000 to $40,000 to remind us of what has already been reiterated ad nauseam in social media and the press? Is that more important than providing books and Internet access to our community?
I’m sure many feel they have all the answers, which I hope time will reveal through clarifying lenses; but can we challenge ourselves to work together to seek better understanding of issues and focus on developing solutions?
Giving unlimited power will end badly
Joe Biden said recently that “the first duty of the president is to protect the people of the United States.” Steve Sisolak has made similar statements. They are wrong. The first duty of any chief executive in the U.S. is to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution … against all enemies, whether foreign or domestic” and, I might add, to avoid becoming an enemy themselves.
We have seen, however, the erosion of our freedoms during this epidemic. Religious freedom, freedom to peaceably assemble, freedom to engage in commerce and freedom to leave our homes during the day have all been curtailed or restricted. Moving targets for the easing of restrictions have not helped, and I wonder just how long a state of emergency can last.
Perhaps it is time for the Legislature and our local governments to get involved. The longer this goes on, the more distrust I see from my fellow citizens and the more we are divided over how we are going to get back to the old normal, which is essential if we are going to keep our republic.
Giving unlimited power, however well intentioned, to one leader will never come to a good end.
Republicans believe in responsibility
Donald Trump is running for president under the guise of being a Republican but he is not a Republican. The GOP has principles, values and ideals to guide them. The party of my parents, my husband and my friends stands for personal responsibility; supporting businesses; supporting veterans and national security. Republicans are clear about who our foreign enemies are. They take pride in our democracy. Those principals and values are not upheld by Trump. Sadly, much of the Republican Party has morphed into Trumpism.
The principles of Trumpism include absolute loyalty to Trump, not to our government. Its actions are marked by cruelty, lies, greed, self interest, cheating and the destruction of our democracy. Trumpism embraces conspiracy groups that have been labeled domestic terrorists. Trump wants to be president for life.
Trump and Fox continue to feed the country lies. He knew COVID-19 was a danger in early February but instead of telling the truth he used it as an opportunity to disparage Democrats calling it a Democratic hoax, lying about its seriousness, encouraging you to risk your health and lives.
Trump has destroyed the careers of those in his administration who dared to put national interests ahead of his own. So many in his administration have left. Some resigned in protest. Some were driven out because of abuse of power. Others are now in jail or being investigated for criminal behavior. He has so corrupted the DOJ, it is now undertaking the task of using the full weight of our government, funded by taxpayers, to defend him in a civil lawsuit against a private citizen. Barr is so loyal to Trump over our government, he isn’t sure if voting twice is illegal. Trump thinks our government should work for him instead of working for the American people.
Trump asked our troops to betray our allies when he opened a door for the slaughter of Kurds. He insults gold star families and thinks the military are suckers. He talks about making America great again but that’s just dazzle to deflect the damage he is doing to our democracy. Who benefits when he weakens our standing in the world? Who benefits when he teaches our allies America is not to be trusted?
Trump has long supported Putin above our state department, above our intelligence communities and above our allies. Why? So many of his decisions have enabled Putin’s agenda to weaken America, from fomenting divisiveness in our country to breaking alliances with our allies.
In my lifetime I’ve never seen so many loyal Republicans turn their backs on a false Republican president and advocate the election of a Democrat. They know our democracy is at risk. Are you paying attention or have you bought into the lie it’s about socialism?
He is not upholding Republican values. He is not making America great again. He’s making it worse. Choose a different course. Vote for democracy.
Actions just don’t smell right
Attempted murder is a crime. Attempted collusion and obstruction of justice should also be considered criminal offenses. Both the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee and Mueller reports document numerous instances of attempted collusion with the Russians by the Trump campaign, and attempted obstruction by President Trump into investigation of such. Although actual collusion and obstruction were not proven, the actions by Trump and his associates just don’t smell right.
The Russian interference in the 2016 election to promote Trump and disparage Clinton was also substantiated in both reports. However, neither summarizes the actual effect of such meddling because it would be impossible to do so accurately. It is also puzzling that Trump continues to discount the Russian meddling and has taken no discernable action against them.
Instead of relying on the immense amount of evidence, he takes the word of President Putin that there was no meddling. He is more concerned about potential (and unlikely) mail-in voter fraud than an actual and proven threat to our democratic election process. Consider that Trump secured the 46 electoral votes needed to win the 2016 election by a margin of 78,000 votes out of 13.2 million recorded in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. That means the Russians needed to convince only 1 out of every 170 voters to vote for Trump instead of Clinton.
You would have to be pretty naïve about the power of social media to rule out such a possibility. Trump likes nicknames. His should be “TrumPutin” in light of the above.
A glimmer of hope
For over three years now I have slowly watched the very fabric of democracy slowly unravel. Until now, I have viewed this as a trickle down from the top phenomena. But, a few days ago, I suddenly realized that the trickle-down effect had landed right in our own front yard.
Little did I know that part of that unravelling would occur in our own valley. I refer, of course, to the visit by the president on Saturday.
The last time I checked I believe that all elected officials are bound, as are citizens, by the rule of law. But apparently this is not the case in Douglas County. In a blatant act of partisan politics our county officials allowed a political rally to occur in direct defiance of the governor’s order that prohibits gatherings of 50 or more people due to the COVID pandemic. This occurred after both Reno and Las Vegas had denied a similar request.
For officials to suggest that somehow it was all right for this rally to occur because our county has relatively low COVID numbers is disingenuous at best. Common sense would dictate that it would only take one person, an infected outsider or local, to transmit the disease to others.
I am well aware of the political landscape in Douglas County. I doubt these words will change anyone’s viewpoint. But, by virtual of writing this letter, I am demonstrating at least a glimmer of hope for democracy.