For whatever reason, government has a tendency to fold in upon itself to the point that it begins to behave like it knows better than the people from which government derives its authority and which it is supposed to serve.
In the end it manifests itself in policies that hold firm to the misguided idea that government knows best and people, well, people are pests.
We see it today on a national scale with the shocking email scandal of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While occupying her post, she did an unauthorized work-around to the rules for government email. She set up her own private email system. It thwarted the Freedom of Information Act and it may have jeopardized national security.
The Associated Press is mulling a lawsuit against her, to which all should say: “Go, AP, go!”
And here in Nevada we have Senate Bill 28, a bill proposed to keep the unwashed public from asking too many questions about how their government works.
Consider what this bill wants to do.
— Impose “reasonable” fees on people who request public records.
— If a record takes more than 30 minutes to compile, government may charge for staff time. (Within “reason” of course.)
— If a requested document is more than 25 pages, Nevada governments may charge up to 50 cents a page.
— The 50-cent fee is imposed whether the document is printed out or delivered electronically in an email attachment.
Even if you can bring yourself to justify a 50-cent per page charge for government to print the people’s documents (and we hope you don’t) only a Hillary-esque government that has grown too big for its britches can suggest with a straight face that charging 50 cents per page for an email attachment is “reasonable.”
The bill has since been amended to reduce the per printed page fee to 25 cents and charge actual cost of storage media and personnel time needed to provide a record electronically. “The cost may include, but is not limited to, the time to format, retrieve, compile, review, redact, or otherwise process the request,” the bill now reads, leaving considerable leeway to any imaginative bureaucrat.” The amended version is at: https://leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/78th2015/ExhibitDocument/OpenExhibitDocument/10692/SB28_Amendment_NLCM.pdf
In some ways, SB 28 is a small thing because it is a stupid bill that probably won’t go anywhere. But it serves as a reminder that we must always be on guard lest government get the relationship to the people hopelessly and completely “bassackwards.” —SF
In 100 words or less
UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS who qualify for President Obama’s executive amnesty will get a little known extra benefit — a tax refund. Works like this: Qualified people will get a Social Security number, which then allows them to file amended tax returns for the prior three years — even before their status changed. Estimates are that the average undocumented worker will get a $2,300 refund. Total cost to taxpayers: $1.7 billion. Hey, don’t tell us America ain’t great.
THIS WEEK IN 1789 (March 12th to be specific) the United States Post Office was established. Worked pretty well for a while with the Pony Express and all. Then it started leaking money like a Carson City lobbyist on a government expense account. If readers know anything more about what went wrong with the postal service, please email us.
PRESIDENT OBAMA said something wise last week. In the wake of a Justice Department report critical of the Ferguson, Mo., police department, he said we’ve made great strides in civil rights but injustice toward black citizens by law enforcement still happens. It’s not “typical,” he said, but it’s also not “isolated.” We might argue about how isolated, but overall the president has this right and we commend him for it.
THE STATE DEMOGRAPHER (yes, Nevada has such a thing) says we’re going through a growth spurt. Our cousins in Las Vegas will lead the way. “There was solid job growth in Southern Nevada; it looks like more people were able to go back to work,” he said. Washoe County isn’t exactly chopped liver in the growth department. It’s also seeing an increase and it’s all expected to continue for 18 years, to which we say: “From the state demographer’s mouth to God’s ear.”
PAY-TO-PLAY politics is something we all love to hate. So, you’ll love this: A national ethics watchdog group is accusing Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, of funneling cash into a sweetheart green energy nonprofit run by Reid’s ex-staffers. The donations suggest “a vehicle to promote pay-to-play politics. It’s run by Reid insiders, funded by those who want Reid’s political favors, and there’s a track record of Reid dispensing favors to those who fund it,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center. How are those britches fitting, Sen. Reid?