Gaming and mining run the state -- and have better grammar, too!

Gaming and mining run Nevada because lawmakers are in their pockets, so the citizenry needs to have better access to the petition process to ensure democracy survives.

That’s the essence of a fairly amazing document filed this week with the Nevada Supreme Court, likely the final brief before the justices begin hearing arguments in a long-running case in which some government gadflies are taking on the state’s moneyed interests over access to the ballot.

The case actually was filed against the secretary of state, but major business and gaming interests intervened and have filed briefs.

Full disclosure: I am no fan of the initiative process, but I understand the frustration of those who have surrendered to the notion that the Gang of 63 will bend to the will of special interests or simply bend because lawmakers have no collective spine on major policy issues, especially taxation. I also realize that the so-called single-subject rule is used to serially knock off ballot questions, with the teachers’ margins tax a rare survivor.

This is a major case, with the state’s business and gaming elite coalescing to try to stop attorney Kermitt Waters and Citizen Outreach from having the requirement thrown out. The single-subject rule essentially says that lawmakers think the public is not smart enough to parse more than a one topic in a petition, so on its face the plaintiffs have a good argument.

Amid the legalese in Watters’ brief field Monday is some amazing language about how the state works -- the fulminations of a long-time Don Quixote, full of passion but vitiated by poor grammar and syntax.

Some samples:

►“If one listens to the average Nevada citizen, they (sic) believe Nevada has for over 30 years been politically run like a plantation. The oligarchy of power split between gaming and mining have (sic) held and maintained complete control of the operational majority of the Nevada Legislature.”

Someone has a lawsuit here, and I don’t mean lawmakers. What about the developers and trial lawyers, Mr. Waters? What are they, chopped liver?

► “Gaming (Nevada Resort Association) controls the political base of Nevada. There is no better example of this abuse than how gaming uses the criminal justice system to collect gaming markers using the the threat of criminal prosecution to collect a civil debt. In other states, this is a crime called compounding a felony.”

Anyone think he has a point on this one? Anyone think the Strip uses the DA’s office as its bill collector?

►"Gaming for instance herein, (sic) is not directly affected by the People’s initiative, yet they (sic) have intervened to protect their measly 6.65% gaming tax base. Intervener, the Chamber of Commerce, who (sic) also represents Gaming, Wal-Mart and multi-billion retailers, as well as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Prudential Insurance, and other financial institutions, are likewise here to protect their (sic) zero state tax base. These multi-billion dollar corporations rely on Nevada citizen (sic) to furnish them with water, police protection, fire protection, sewer, public roads and highways, yet pay no corporate or profit tax to Nevada.”

The acute grammar/syntax problems notwithstanding, that is what’s known as a fact.

-“The Nevada Legislature will never change this oligarchy of Power (sic). Ad they (sic) depend not heir contribution (sic) and are afraid to cross either gaming or mining interests is(sic)  often political suicide (sic). As the public’s representatives loyalties are compromised to the power brokers of the state. The public require (sic) direct democracy to ensure that they (sic) have at least one avenue to pursue their common interests. The initiative process is therefore vital to the public’s political and social well-being.”

Looks as if passion really overwhelmed sentence structure there.

It’s going to be fun to watch where this case goes from here. Oral arguments should be up soon and then a likely high court defeat for Waters, which he surely will see as him making his argument that gaming and mining control all branches of government.