A blog on progressive news and politics on both the California and Nevada sides of Lake Tahoe which aims at helping to elect Democrats and Turn Tahoe Blue. The blog is written from Germany by a former German exchange student at George Whittell High School in Zephyr Cove, Nevada.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Suboptimal Life of Jim Gibbons

Jennifer Steinhauer wrote an article for today's New York Times on Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons' first months in office. The headline "A Rocky Start for Nevada's New Governor" is by far the most friendly part of the article. It goes steeply down-hill from there.

Just take a look at the first few paragraphs:

Life these days for Gov. Jim Gibbons of Nevada might kindly be described as suboptimal.

In the last few months, Mr. Gibbons, a Republican, announced a plan to turn coal into jet fuel to raise money (problematic, as Nevada has no coal to speak of) and proposed paying for a $3.8 billion shortfall in highway construction money by selling water rights under state highways (it turns out the state did not actually own the rights).

He told a local editorial board he could not pronounce the name of his energy adviser because she was “Indian” — she is Turkish — and vetoed a bill that would stop budget-busting tax breaks for builders of “green” buildings before issuing an executive order to end them anyway (with the exception of four companies).

The article then goes on through all the mishaps and scandals. All this is old news to most Nevadans. However, imagine the reaction at the breakfast table of the average NYT reader this morning who has never heard of Mr. Gibbons before. That person probably isn't thinking too highly about Nevada voters right about now.

Apart from the usual scandals et al, the reactions were most entertaining. First to Brent Boynton, Gibbons spokesman, who "who answered questions via e-mail" (I've never read this line in an article before, so I'm assuming that this is highly unusual for a politicians spokesperson. Seems like they really wanted to control the Q&A and make sure they didn't screw up with the answers too badly):

“Many governors have seen similarly low numbers during their first terms and then seen the ratings rise later,” Mr. Boynton said. “Governor Gibbons is confident that the numbers were a temporary dip, and we have already seen signs that they are reversing direction.”

"A temporary dip" - ah, the lunacy of it all. And now to the game of low expectations:

“I think that probably there were some people who didn’t expect him to demonstrate a lot of intelligence,” said Michael Green, a professor of history at the Community College of Southern Nevada. “And that he might not have much familiarity about state government. But the degree of controversy that has surrounded him, I think, has been a surprise to everybody.”

As to the Governor's handling of the legislature:

“How do I give you a politically correct answer?” said Assemblyman John Oceguera, the Democratic majority leader. “He has a leadership style that is different than I am familiar with.”

However, I saved the best for last:

“Every time they think they have things under control, another shoe drops,” said Chuck Muth, a Nevada political consultant and conservative activist. “But at this point I would say that as long as Governor Gibbons stays true to his pledge not to raise taxes, as far as I am concerned he is a good Republican and he did well.”

It's great to see someone sticking to his principles, even if it is the principle of one. It seems the Governor could kill someone and certain "political consultants and conservative activists" wouldn't be bothered as long as he didn't raise taxes.

The lunacy of it all...

Read the entire article here. I really wanted to quote almost every paragraph. Ms. Steinhauer really did do an outstanding job. Nevada's governor will probably ponder this morning how much Nevada Democrats payed her for her service.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Turn Tahoe Blue - 1st Anniversary!!!

I can hardly believe it but I actually started Turn Tahoe Blue with this post one year ago. And what a year it's been. Some numbers:

And of course a lot of experience!

Last but not least I want to thank everyone who's helped me along the way, everyone who's linked to me and all the readers!

I could write so much more but I'd really like to hear from you: what are your memories of the last 365 days? Comment away!


Friday, May 25, 2007

Angie Paccione to Run for Congress Again!

Angie Paccione will seek a rematch with extreme right-wing, anti-gay Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave in Colorado's 4th congressional district in 2008. Angie came within 3 points in a three-way race and brought Musgrave down to 46%, the lowest result for any current GOP member of Congress.

Since I established the Helluva Heller and Nevada Caucus 2008 blogs, the only significant local race for Turn Tahoe Blue so far is Charlie Brown's run for Congress in CA-04. Therefore, TTB will also concentrate on noteworthy non-local candidate - like Angie Paccione.

Angie was the only candidate outside Nevada and California that I've written about in 2006. Now, she has launched her new website for her 2008 run.

I will write more about Angie in the future. For now, I'd just like to urge you to watch the following exerpt from last year's debate with Marilyn Musgrave. Angie's response here is more powerful than anything I could write:

If you like what you see please consider contributing to Angie Paccione and join the Nevadans for Angie Paccione, Californians for Angie Paccione or LGBT Democrats for Angie Paccione groups at PartyBuilder, the social networking site of the Democratic Party which Angie Paccione also uses for her campaign.


Nevada's Congressional Delegation a Disgrace - Primary Challenge for Berkley?

Yesterday, Congress caved in to Bush's demands and passed a war funding bill without any timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. As a little Swiss newspaper puts it: "Capitulation of the Democrats."

In the end the House passed the bill 280-142 with 86 Democrats voting for the bill and 140 against. The Senate passed Bush's war funding by an even wider margin with 80-14. Here the majority of Democrats supported the bill, with 11 Democrats voting against (including Sen. Sanders) and 36 caving to Bush (not counting Lieberman).

Now, here comes the best: every member of Nevada's congressional delegation voted for the bill and essentially against a timetable of getting out of Iraq. You'd expect this from Sen. Ensign, Rep. Porter, and Rep. Heller as they're all Republicans. But to have two Democrats, Sen. Reid and Rep. Berkley, representing Nevada who voted against ending the war is not only a disappointment but a disgrace.

Especially, when you consider that the majority of Americans want a timetable according to the latest CBS/New York Post poll (pdf!):

Do you think the United States should or should not set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq sometime in 2008?

Should 63%
Should not 34%

And this is not just Democrats and Independents (61-34) talking here. Already, 42% of Republicans want a timetable. I'm dumbfounded to think that Reid and Berkley don't get this.

There's been talk in the blogosphere of targeting some of these Democrats, like Berkley, in primaries next time around.

That Berkley's increasingly in trouble becomes apparent in this take from MSNBC:

Will anti-war activists force Democratic incumbents to spend money to defend themselves in primaries next year — or could the party actually get stronger candidates as a result of contested primaries?


Five-term veteran Shelley Berkley, who represents Las Vegas and environs, said Thursday afternoon, “My district is pretty evenly divided. I haven’t done polling, but according to other polls it’s apparent that more than 50 percent now oppose the Iraq war in my district or in Nevada.”

So her vote for the additional finding will go against the wishes of the majority of her constituents, but she explained, “I’m on record as saying I’m not going to leave the troops stranded. As angry and dismayed as I am with the Bush administration having created a debacle, I’m not going to take it out on the troops.”

She predicted, “By September, there will be enough Republicans who will have expressed their concern to the president; it will be a bipartisan effort to moderate his position.”

She also forecast that “as we get closer to election time, more and more Republicans will see that Mr. Bush is not on the ballot, they are.”

And what about the potential threat of a Democratic primary challenger against her? “I don’t foresee that happening. I’ve been very candid about my position.”

She recalled, “I was in anti-Vietnam war protests in college.” She said the U.S. exit from Iraq, when it happens, “will be much more complex than the helicopter on the roof of the embassy” – a reference to the Saigon evacuation in 1975. “This is very complex. It is so much more complex than just ‘get out tomorrow.’”

“As we get closer to election time, more and more Republicans will see that Mr. Bush is not on the ballot, they are.” Oh, this is just hillarious! Maybe Rep. Berkley should realize she'll be on the ballot as well. I have my doubts if a primary challenge will work against the Democratic Party machinery but a serious challenger would undoubtedly have support from the netroots.

Shelley Berkley should seriously reconsider her voting pattern regarding the war (among other things).

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pictures of the "Democrats Work" Event in Reno

The Democrats Work event in Reno seemed on Saturday seems to have been a success. At least when you judge from above picture. I counted at least 13 people in that picture. There are a couple more photos here.

If any of you has taken part in this event, please leave a comment and tell us about it.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Harry Reid's "the New Sheriff in Town"

The Bush administration has proven time and again its contempt for Congress, most openly by misusing recess appointments (like in the case of U.N. Ambassador John Bolton). Senator Reid apparently wants to end this practise, which is wise considering that Bush might replace Gonzales by using another recess appointment in August. Here's the scoop:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a little trick up his sleeve that could spell an end to President Bush's devilish recess appointments of controversial figures like former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton. We hear that over the long August vacation, when those types of summer hires are made, Reid will call the Senate into session just long enough to force the prez to send his nominees who need confirmation to the chamber. The talk is he will hold a quickie "pro forma" session every 10 days, tapping a local senator to run the hall. Senate workers and Republicans are miffed, but Reid is proving that he's the new sheriff in town.

There is an interesting discussion in the comments thread over at Daily Kos whether this will actually work but you have to give Reid credit for trying by bringing some much needed Nevada values to Washington.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Gibbons the Scandal Machine

Under the headline "Gov. Gibbons, a Friend To Defense Contractors and a Gentleman" TPM Muckraker has a pretty good round-up of Gibbons' scandals, though amazingly when you read the comments you'll be reminded of even more scandals.

Yup, Gibbons sure is a "scandal machine" as Talking Point Memo's Paul Kiel notes.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rural Nevada Democratic Mixer in Winnemucca This Saturday

Democrats are organizing in the rurals. Very active in this regard is the Rural Nevada Democratic Caucus. This Saturday, May 19th, you can attend a meeting in Winnemucca:

No! You're not the only Democrat in your town! Come meet with other rural Democrats from Humboldt, Lander and Pershing Counties and learn about the upcoming Winning the West Nevada Democratic Presidential Caucus scheduled for next January.

Date and Time: Saturday, May 19, 2007 – 11A.M. to 2P.M.

Where? Las Margaritas in Winnemucca.

Keynote Speaker: Jill Derby, Nevada State Democratic Party Chair

Caucus Presentation by Carissa Snedeker, Rural Coordinator for the NSDP and Jayson Sime, NSDP Caucus Director.

Come and schmooze with Democrats from Humboldt County, Lander County and Pershing County (and beyond!)

Click on this link to RSVP online:

Contact Dee Holzel for more information or to R.S.V.P. personally.
Click to email Dee Holzel

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Why Won't Dean Heller Participate in the Food Stamp Challenge?

In February 2007, 118,613 Nevadans relied on Food Stamps to get dinner for themselves and their family on the table. Each person in Nevada received an average of $87.86 per month in 2006. That would be an average of about $2,90 a day. Have you ever tried to feed yourself or your kids on a mere $3 a day?

Well, we can be sure our Congressman has never had to deal with the Food Stamp Program. However, he doesn't seem interested in those who do. At least, Dean Heller didn't take up the challenge of his colleagues Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), co-chairs of the House Hunger Caucus, to live on $21 for an entire week. You can read their letter to their colleagues here (pdf).

Only two of their 433 colleagues took up the challenge. They are Democratic Representatives Tim Ryan of Ohio and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. All of them realize it's a real challenge to live on so little per day. Here's Rep. Schakowsky's meal plan for today:



Puffed Wheat: $0.25

Milk: $0.20

Banana: $0.19

Ramen: $0.17

Pasta a Roni Tomato: $1.00

½ Diced Tomato: $0.46

Lettuce: $0.45

Milk: $0.25


As you can clearly see, it's almost impossible to live healthy on $3 per day but the Food Stamp Nutrition Education in Nevada is still trying to show how. When you take a look at Schakowsky's plan (downloadable at her website) you'll see that it really lacks in variety.

Congressman Ryan is blogging about his experience on his website. Below is his receipt for his groceries for the entire week. Notice how he only managed to stay below $21 by buying items on sale only:

Click on the receipt to enlarge

There is also a Congressional Food Stamp Challenge blog where Congressman McGovern and his wife Lisa chronicle their experience and where you can also read press acounts on the challenge.

The aim of this challenge is to raise awareness and increase appropriation for the Food Stamp Program in this year's Farm Bill. We will keep an eye out on what's happening and how Dean Heller will eventually vote on this.

Click here to read more about the eligibility and payments of the Food Stamp Program in Nevada.

Cross posted from Helluva Heller.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Charlie Brown Thanks You

A couple of weeks ago Charlie Brown won the DFA Grassroots All-Star contest - with your help. Watch his thank you video:

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Democrats Work in Reno on May 19th

Democrats Work have started their Nevada chapter and they will have their first event in Reno this coming weekend:

Dear Nevada Democrats:

We are writing (1) to invite you to join your fellow Democrats on Saturday, May 19th from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. for a park beautification project with Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful and (2) to introduce an organization called Democrats Work.

In addition to helping our dad, Jack Carter, on his campaign for the U.S. Senate last year, we've been building Democrats Work with the goal of making community service an integral part of political action. Democrats Work connects grassroots Democrats with visible, tangible service projects in their communities - cleaning up parks, painting schools, building houses, sponsoring soccer tournaments, helping at church bake sales, etc. Through this service-based approach, we aim to promote Democratic values at the local level, showing our neighbors that Democrats work hard to improve our communities every day, not just at election time.

We have launched groundbreaking pilot projects in Arkansas, California, Colorado, and Georgia. We hope you will join this national movement to create a new brand of political action in Nevada.

Here are the details for the park beautification and flower planting event in Reno next weekend, which Democrats Work is sponsoring along with State Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie and the Young Democrats of Nevada. (Fear not, we are working with local partners to organize service events in other parts of the state, which we will announce soon!) All of the necessary equipment will be provided, so just wear clothes that can get dirty!

  • WHEN: Saturday, May 19th 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
  • WHERE: Bicentennial Park, 10 Ralston Street (on the corner of First and Ralston Streets) in Downtown Reno
  • RSVP: Please click here to see all the event details and to sign up. (You can also RSVP by sending an email to rsvp@democratswork.org.) The first 15 people to RSVP will get a free Democrats Work t-shirt!

Together, we can keep the Democratic infrastructure in Nevada strong and growing between elections. We hope you'll join us!


Sarah R Carter and Jason Carter

P.S., please forward this email to your friends and family. If we all pitch in, we can build a new "politics of service" throughout Nevada.

P.P.S., click here to learn more about Democrats Work and to sign up to continue receiving notices about service events in Nevada.

Democrats Work is a great organization. I've written about them at Turn Tahoe Blue before. You probably already/still know Sarah Carter. She did all the blogging for the Carter for Senate campaign last year. Her brother Jason is a co-founder of Democrats Work and has been in South Africa for two years with the Peace Corps. He wrote a wonderful book about his experience called "Power Lines." I've recently written a book review on it which you can read here.

Last Saturday, Jason spoke to the Gwinnett County Georgia Democrats. A blogger over at MyDD filmed it and put the video on YouTube. Watch it:

Go to the Democrats Work event in Reno this weekend if you can and make sure to register with the Democrats Work in Nevada group at the Democratic Party's PartyBuilder social networking site.

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Online Nevada Encyclopedia Launched

A couple of weeks ago, the Online Nevada Encyclopedia has been launched. It's quite an interesting site which is easy to navigate and you'll certainly learn things about Nevada you've never heard of before.

In my case it was the first time I saw pictures of George Whittell and read about his background. During my year in Nevada I went to George Whittell High School in Zephyr Cove. While there I never read or heard much about the man. Now that I have, I'm not all that surprised that the students the students at GWHS are not told much about George Whittell himself. He might not be the best example to young students. And the only reason this school seems to be named after him is because he donated the land for it.

You can read more about the creation of the Onlince Nevada Encyclopedia at Reno News and Review.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Nevada Bloggers Unite to Take on Heller

A couple of weeks ago, I created a new blog called "Helluva Heller" with the aim of covering Rep. Dean Heller (NV-02) and making sure he'll be defeated in 2008. Since then Helluva Heller has already gained a little attention, both in the Las Vegas Sun and in a radio talk show chat

In the meantime, Helluva Heller has evolved into a group effort by Nevada bloggers. There are now a total of eight contributors. The contributors are (in alphabetical order):
between conservative Bill Manders and Dean Heller himself.

cls resides in Lyon County. She regularly writes on her blog Blue Lyon.

Desert Beacon is in her 60s, retired, and lives in Humboldt County. She writes two other blogs: Desert Beacon and Blue Sage Views.

featheriver is a 73 year-old retired lawyer from Pahrump, Nye County. His main blog is Nye-Gateway to Nevada's Rurals.

Jed B. is 17 years old, a progressive activist and High School Student in Elko County.

Jesse Riehm is a 17 year old High School Student and lives in Fallon, Churchill County.

Nevada Blogger: JWH is 32 years old and works in sales. He lives in Fernley, Lyon County and mainly writes at The blog formerly known as "No Gibbons"...

Sven is a 28 year-old student at the University of Mannheim, Germany. He currently works on his Master in modern history. He was an exchange student at Battle Mountain High School, Lander County and George Whittell High School, Douglas County in the 1990s. His other blogs are Turn Tahoe Blue and Nevada Caucus 2008.

UpNorth is in his 20s, a student at UNR and resides in Reno. He also blogs at Nevada Up North.

Now, we have gone one step further by creating a group on the Democratic Party's PartyBuilder social networking site. Join the "Helluva Heller - Defeating Dean Heller in 2008" group now!

And make sure to check out Helluva Heller!

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Did Gibbons Accept Bribes in Form of Casino Chips?

America's worst governor has now been discovered by NBC News "Senior investigative correspondent" Lisa Myers. Why this late? Probably because the corruption of Republican politicians only get interesting for the media nowadays when you have something saucy, like, say, photos of a drunk politician dressing up as a pseudo pirate and allegations by an FBI witness of bribes in the form of casino chips.

Here's an exerpt of what Lisa Myers reported on the "Today Show" this morning:

The new governor of Nevada, Jim Gibbons, is being investigated by the FBI because of alleged gifts and payments from Warren Trepp, a defense contractor whose Nevada firm received tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts.

That's the main allegation in a nutshell. Now for the juicy part. According to software designer Dennis Montgomery, Trepp's former business partner and a Republican, Gibbons accepted "close to $100,000" in casino chips and cash on a cruise ship.

Montgomery and Gibbons. Photo: NBC News

Honestly, where to start? A Nevada politicians accepting bribes in form of casino chips? This wouldn't even make for a Hollywood B-movie.

Of course, this is the same Jim Gibbons who claimed that there was a conspiracy between the Wall Street Journal and Democrats to bring him down and who's scandals make up about half of his Wikipedia profile.

Anyhow, there is already talk about a recall of Gibbons. And we only have to wait about 7 more weeks because a recall can only be started six months after the governor takes office. In the meantime, you can sign an online petition here.

Hopefully, the Gibbons scandals will get enough attention for Lisa Myers and other DC journalists to learn how to correctly pronounce Nevada...

More on all things Gibbons over at the fabulous Vote Gibbons Out!

Video and photos over at MSNBC.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Future of Nevada Democrats is Female

Women are clearly on the rise in Nevada politics. Especially so on the Democratic side. Consider the following: in the 2006 elections Democrats nominated women in all three congressional districts, four out of six candidates for statewide office were women, including Governor.

While Jill Derby (NV-02) and Tessa Hafen (NV-03) didn't win their respective races, they did come pretty close and it's quite possible that Dean Heller and Jon Porter will have to run against female candidates again in 2008.

Women have captured high offices in Nevada in the past, though they were mostly Republican: former Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich (NV-02, 1983-97), former Treasurer Patty Cafferata (1983-87), former Lt. Governors Sue Wagner (1991-95) and Lorraine Hunt (1999-2007), Secretary of State Cheryl Lau (1991-95). The only Democratic women previously elected to statewide office were Superintendent of Public Instruction Mildred Bray (1937-51) and Frankie Sue Del Papa who was Secretary of State (1987-91) and Attorney General (1991-2003). There has not been a female US Senator yet, the only Democratic nominee was Mary Gojack in 1990.

Recently female Democrats were much more successful in being nominated and elected than their Republican counterparts. Currently, three out of four Democratic (six total) constitutional officers in Nevada are women: Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, State Treasurer Kate Marshall, and State Controller Kim Wallin. Las Vegas is represented in Congress by Shelley Berkley. The Nevada State Democratic Party has recently elected a woman, Jill Derby, as its chair. Among the five-person leadership are three more women: 2nd Vice Chair Teresa Benitez-Thompson, Secretary A'shanti Gholar, and Treasurer Jan Churchill.

In the State Assembly, Barbara Buckley was recently elected Speaker, the first woman in that position in Nevada's history. Majority Whip Sheila Leslie and Assistant Majority Whip Debbie Smith are among the five person Majority Leadership in the Assembly, while the Democratic leadership team in the State Senate is entirely comprised of women: Minority Floor Leader Dina Titus, Minority Whip Valerie Wiener, and Assistant Minority Floor Leader Bernice Mathews. As far as I could find out, no other legislatative body in the country has an entirely female leadership, at least on the Democratic side.

10 out 27 Democratic Assembly members are women (37%) and 5 out of 10 Democratic State Senators are women, making up 50%.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that in a recent poll at Helluva Heller, asking who should run against Heller on the Democratic side, out of the seven mentioned possibilities five were women: Kate Marshall, Debbie Smith, Jill Derby, Sheila Leslie, and Teresa Benitez Thompson and the female candidates were in the lead at last count.

When you consider all this, it is only a matter of time when Nevada will send another woman to the House, the first woman to the US Senate and elect its first Governor.

You can read more about the history of women in Nevada politics here.

Here are the women mentioned:

State Constitutional Officers:

Catherine Cortez Masto, Kate Marshall, and Kim Wallin

Elected Officers of the Nevada State Democratic Party:

Jill Derby, A'shanti Gholar, and Teresa Benitez Thompson

Member of Congress:

Shelley Berkley

Members of the State Assembly Leadership:

Barbara Buckley, Sheila Leslie, and Debbie Smith

Members of the State Senate Leadership:

Dina Titus, Valerie Wiener, and Bernice Mathews

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Who Should Run in NV-02? Take the Poll

Up North put up a poll at Helluva Heller with possible Democratic candidates to run against Rep. Dean Heller in 2008.

You can choose between NV State Treasurer Kate Marshall, Assembly members Sheila Leslie, Debbie Smith, and David Bobzien, 2006 candidate and newly elected NV Dem party chair Jill Derby, NV Dem 2nd Vice Chair and former Miss Nevada Teresa Benitez Thompson, and Washoe County Dem Chair and environmental litigation lawyer Chris Wicker.

Vote here!

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