By Chuck Muth
The #SisolakShutdown continues uninterrupted with no end in sight. But what is clearly in sight is the economic devastation the governor is leaving in the wake of his executive order over-reaction in Nevada.
No businesses, no jobs. No jobs, no tax revenue. No tax revenue, no money for government. No government…
Hmm, maybe there IS a silver lining to this situation! Kidding aside… we’re broke.
As such, some government entities are already implementing cost-cutting measures. For example, the Metro Police Department in Clark County laid off 112 non-essential part-time workers on Friday.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal is also reporting that the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) is preparing for cuts of 4 percent for the current fiscal year and threatening a “temporary student surcharge” of $3 to $8 per credit rather than implement further budget cuts.
First, they shouldn’t be “preparing” for cuts. They should be making them right now. This lack-of-revenue situation is only going to get worse, not better.
Secondly, anyone who believes those “temporary” tuition hikes won’t become permanent should hop on their unicorn, don their rose-colored glasses and pay the Tooth Fairy a visit.
Meanwhile, the taxpayer-funded Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) “is slashing its budget and has already begun pay cuts, furloughs and canceling capital projects.”
Why aren’t Gov. Sisolak and other local government entities doing the same? Instead, just this week the city of Henderson “awarded a contract worth more than $12 million to improve the events plaza outside City Hall.”
Seriously? Talk about having a tin ear!
On another front, James Bandler of ProPublica notes that 98 percent of Unite Here’s union members — representing the hospitality industry, including Culinary 226 in Nevada — are out of work. As such, the union has already starting laying off union officials. No jobs, no workers. No workers, no dues.
No dues, no money for salaries. So to lessen the pain and keep people working, the union is reportedly asking staff members to take 5-10 percent pay cuts.
Sounds reasonable. So, um, why isn’t Gov. Sisolak taking similar immediate steps and reducing the salaries of government workers 5-10 percent? The longer he waits, the worse the problem is going to be.
Nevada is broke thanks to the governor. As the state burns, he’s sitting in Carson City fiddling. And Nevadans are just sitting at home and taking it. “Thank you, sir. May I have another?” Sad.
About Construction of the Raiders’ Stadium
Remember Gov. Sisolak’s words in justifying the statewide #SisolakShutdown… “Every social contact increases your risk of exposure.” He added this week…
“Science tells us that putting larger numbers of people together for any reason…is an invitation for disease to do its work.”
And yet… he’s allowed construction projects to continue uninterrupted. And as was bound to happen, COVID-19 cases have shown up at the Raiders’ stadium site, as well as other construction sites. Go figure.
Don’t get me wrong. I SUPPORT the continued construction of the Raiders stadium and other construction projects during the #SisolakShutdown.
My problem is with Gov. Sisolak declaring such projects to be “essential” when they clearly are not. Certainly not any more essential than other businesses which have arbitrarily been ordered closed.
Now consider this… Grocery stores have been declared “essential.”
And unlike restaurants, which have only been allowed to offer takeout and curbside service, grocery stores have been allowed to let customers file inside – often ignoring social distancing guidelines and touching carts, shelves, pin pads and products.
Well, lo and behold, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported this week that all those social contacts have — ta da! — resulted in COVID-19 cases now showing up at Smiths, Vons, Walmart and Costco. Go figure.
The reality is, unless you shut EVERYTHING down – instead of making irrational exceptions and picking winners and losers — the virus is gonna spread.
So the smart thing to do, to flatten the spread without flattening the economy — is to now allow more businesses to reopen as long as they follow certain safety precautions. Like limiting the number of people allowed in the store at one time and making masks and gloves mandatory. Even for things like movies, concerts, sporting events and shows.
Look, every venue has assigned seating. So it wouldn’t be hard to sell seats in such a way that every other row is empty and people are assigned to every third seat to assure social distancing.
You know, just like at a Sisolak press conference. Maybe even require everyone to wear a mask and gloves. We could live
with that for a period of time, right?
Sure, you won’t be able to sell as many tickets. But something is better than nothing, right?
Ditto restaurants. Put tables together — i.e., seating four people at an 8-top – to allow for greater social distancing. And spread the tables out further. And put a bottle of hand sanitizer next to the salt-and-pepper shakers.
Sure, you won’t be able to serve as many customers. But something is better than nothing, right?
I’m not saying we immediately go back to exactly how things were before the #SisolakShutdown was imposed. For the foreseeable future, we’ll all have to keep doing fist-bumps instead of handshakes and generally stay six feet away from each other.
But it’s time to start the rebuilding process in a phased, logical, common sense way; balancing the health risks with the threat of destroying our economy and lives irreparably (if it’s not too late already).
As Dr. Fauci said during Friday’s White House press briefing, restarting our economy isn’t going to be like turning a light switch off and on; “it’s a gradual pulling back on certain restrictions and try and get society a bit back to normal.”
Indeed, that’s exactly what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is preparing to do.
Here’s what he said during his press conference on Friday… “Next week I will be providing an executive order talking about what will be done in Texas about reopening Texas businesses … in a way that will be safe for that economic revitalization. … We will focus on protecting lives while restoring livelihoods. We can and we must do this.”
And President Trump announced on Friday he was creating a new “‘Opening of the Country Council” to prepare for the re-start. Gov. Sisolak should follow their leads and do the same. So let it be written; so let it be done.
Sisolak ban on Hydroxychloroquine challenged… by doctors!
From Bill Dentzer of the Las Vegas Review-Journal… “Nevada’s osteopaths want Gov. Steve Sisolak to reverse his emergency regulation limiting the routine prescribing of two existing anti-malarial drugs to treat COVID-19, saying it interferes with their rights as doctors. …
“The governor’s regulation prohibits prescribing the drugs for a COVID-19 diagnosis outside of a hospital setting. Doctors may continue to prescribe them to hospitalized COVID-19 patients at their discretion.
“(I)n a March 28 letter to members of the Nevada Osteopathic Medical Association, President Bruce Fong said that the potential benefits outweigh the risks and that the governor’s regulation ‘clearly interferes with a physician’s decision on how to treat their patients.’ …
“The osteopath group has hired Reno attorney Joey Gilbert, who wrote to the governor and Board of Pharmacy on Thursday asking that the regulation be amended ‘so that anyone suffering from this disease can receive treatment if prescribed by a licensed health practitioner, regardless of hospitalization.’
“Gilbert threatened legal action Monday to have the regulation invalidated, contending it was enacted without proper justification, was pre-empted by federal law and amounts to the Pharmacy Board acting in the place of doctors.”
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Chuck Muth is president of CitizenOutreach.org and publisher of NevadaNewsandViews.com. He blogs at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.