Friday, November 21, 2003

Radio silence after all

Turns out I won't be on KNPR Monday, as the program was "overscheduled," from the voicemail message host Gwen Castaldi left at work for me early today. At the time, I was a bit suspicious. After all, the show's producer seemed somewhat frantic to make sure all four panelists were booked on Thursday afternoon.

Let's recap: The topic is the federal Hatch Act (which bans people who work for agencies that use federal funds from engaging in partisan politics) and local politicians who may be affected by it. The panelists were: Assembly Speaker and Henderson Deputy Police Chief Richard Perkins, who's been told by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel he's violating the Hatch Act and must either resign his job with the police or not file for re-election next year (he's now appealing that decision); Knight Allen, a local government watchdog who's a trenchant critic of profligate spending, abuse of public power and all things righteous about fiscal policy; the North Las Vegas city attorney who crafted a "Hatch Act compliance program" so that NLV firefighter John Oceguera could serve in the Legislature; and me.

After hearing I'd been bumped, I suspected Perkins or the NLV attorney had objected to my presence on the panel, since I'd written critically of Perkins and Oceguera. My colleagues said this was nonsense. Perkins offers an eloquent defense of his position, even if he's wrong. And besides, Knight Allen would be there.

Then I got a call from Knight this afternoon. He's been disinvited as well. For the same reason: "overbooking." So unless a defender of the Hatch Act who was unknown to me as of Thursday afternoon was added to the program, the panel consists of: a person who's in violation of the law yet believes the law doesn't apply to him; and a lawyer who expended taxpayer resources to help a fellow public employee evade the law. Now that's fair and balanced.

Perhaps I protest too much. And Castaldi said in the voicemail that she wants to do a show on public employees in the Legislature next month and book me (and Knight, as it turns out) on that program. (If she gets wind of the blog posting, I can kiss that booking goodbye.) But I'll believe her offer was serious when I'm actually on the air. And I'll be listening to the show this Monday to see who did make the cut.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Radio silence

Not really, folks. I'll be on KNPR, 88.9 FM, Monday the 24th from 9 -10 a.m. Pacific time discussing the federal Hatch Act, separation of powers and other line-blurring issues in Nevada's civil service with host Gwen Castaldi. The program is called KNPR's State of Nevada, and one of the other guests will be Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, who's the subject of a Hatch Act inquiry related to his regular job as a deputy police chief in Henderson. If you live outside Southern Nevada, streaming audio is available on KNPR's Web site here. Tune in.

It keeps growing, and growing ...

The House of Representatives votes 264-163 to expand the ability of the feds to snoop into your personal finances without judicial oversight ... all as a part of the war on terror. Las Vegas will become a key player in this matter (as it has been in an earlier financial privacy brouhaha), because, as the AP reports,

The bill's provisions affecting financial records will expand the number of businesses from which the FBI and other agencies could demand information without needing a subpoena. That power is now limited to traditional financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions. It broadens the definition of financial institutions to include businesses that deal with large amounts of cash, such as casinos and pawn shops (emphasis mine).

Sad to say, according to this Las Vegas Sun story, Nevada Rep. Jim "Gibbons was one of the negotiators on the final version of the bill, and his spokeswoman, Amy Spanbuaer, said this morning that Gibbons believes a private individual does not have an expectation of privacy with regard to a third party."

If there's any good news here, some senators, including Nevada's Harry Reid and John Ensign (whose father is a mucky-muck with Mandalay Resorts), are balking at the implications this has for patrons of casinos, who have every interest in maintaining at least the appearance of discretion. That said, AFAIK, John Ashcroft isn't any fan of legalized gaming, so he and his may give a rat's ass. By the time you read this, the full Senate may have sent this steamy pile to the White House for W.'s signature anyway.

BTW, John Berlau's cover story for Reason about financial secrecy laws is online here.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Separation issues

My most recent feature story on how the Nevada constitution clearly bans public employees from sitting in the Legislature (notwithstanding the fact that 14 of the 63 members served two masters this year) is here. Warning: It's long, and includes abstract principles and dead white guys.