When ideology trumps reality

I understand the “newspaper” has lost a lot of institutional knowledge with its gutting of its editorial work force during the last six months. But this morning's editorial either tendentiously or ignorantly erases history to make an ideological point.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal piece is about the state-county settlement on that lawsuit sparked by the Legislature’s local government money grab, which the state Supreme Court, in one of the seminal decisions in state history, called into question just before the end of the 2011 Legislature, serendipitously solving a budget deadlock.

My favorite paragraph in the editorial – and the most astonishing twisting of facts I have seen in a long time – was this:

“State lawmakers swiped money from local governments a few years ago because, especially in Southern Nevada, local governments weren't spending money responsibly. The priority was creating the best-paid municipal workforce in the country, not creating the most efficient, productive government in America.”

And anyone actually familiar with legislative history cries out: What?

Lawmakers took money from local governments then for the same reason they have for every session in memory for one reason and one reason only: They could.

It had nothing to do with local government performance (what the “newspaper” means is that unions force the munis to pay too much to employees). Yes, the Clean Water Coalition may have had little use for the money it hoarded, but where is the "newspaper's" usual reverence for the private sector and arguing for that money to be returned to those who contributed, which sparked the original lawsuit and exposed the Legislature's irresponsibility?  The county simply saw a chance to recover money wrongly taken and sued the state -- I'm surprised there haven't been more suits after that high court decision.

The money grab by the Legislature, as they all are, simply was based on the subservient position the locals have always been in to the Gang of 63, and governors and lawmakers refusing to actually do their jobs and make tough decisions, opting instead to pilfer local government money to balance their budgets. Gov. Brian Sandoval used such ridiculous gimmickry in his 2011 budget, and lawmakers were only too happy to use most of it until the high court intervened.

The only point the “newspaper” made that is accurate is that the settlement does not benefit taxpayers. But to argue that the Legislature stole money from the locals to punish them for bad behavior is not just a willful misreading of history or obvious ignorance of facts. It misleads readers as the “newspaper” appears unable to remove its ideological blinders and actually inform the public as to what happened.