Documents show gamers pressured UNLV after margin tax study

UPDATE, 12:45 PM, 10/30: While my producer, Dana Gentry, obtained quite a few documents from UNLV that revealed the university in damage-control mode and pressured by gamers, the university withheld many under the flimsy "Executive/Deliberative Process Exemption." That is just ludicrous based on what UNLV released, which also could have fallen under whatever deliberations -- the euphemism for damage control -- took place. Many emails were included between scrambling flacks bragging about "sound bites" they would use and the president. Wasn't that deliberative?

Why is UNLV keeping secret emails from its lobbying team and professors? Seems very odd, no? I have attached the redaction log here. It is very suspicious and flouts the public records law.


Three gaming executives expressed displeasure with a margin tax study that was not as hypercritical as others, the chancellor eagerly backed the president's decision to back away from the report and at least two regents objected to the university's handling of the matter, internal documents reveal.

Those documents, all posted here and obtained by my "Ralston Reports" producer Dana Gentry, show a university administration intent on damage control after the study released by the UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research. Less than one day after the study was released, the university put out a news release backing away from it. That release, the documents show, came after three gaming executives contacted President Don Snyder and expressed objections, some of them snidely and at least one of them, from Boyd's Keith Smith, threatening.

Snyder has maintained he did not buckle to pressure, but the emails show that I was not the only one who thought the university handled this abysmally, creating a chilling atmosphere. Two regents, Jason Geddes and Rick Trachok, expressed concerns.

Some of the information has been redacted by the university, claiming deliberative process privilege. But what they gave Gentry is revealing enough, including:

►An amazing exchange between Chancellor Dan Klaich and Snyder after the latter's appearance on "Ralston Reports," in which Klaich congratulated Snyder ("Nice job.") for repeatedly telling me I was wrong -- and this:

Klaich: It always amazes me that that there are units of the university (CBER) that feel they can do things like this with no notice to anyone. I fully understand academic freedom but I also like a little common sense.

Yes, academic freedom needs a common sense qualifier. You know: Be free unless it goes against the system's major donors.

Snyder responds: This clearly has me pissed!

Really? I wonder why.

Klaich: I can tell. You have a tough job that some folks have just made a lot tougher.

Oh? Which folks, chancellor?

►There's also an email in there from respected economist John Restrepo that is very telling and says in part, referring to his study with UNLV economist Alan Schlottman, who criticized the CBER work: We (the RCG/Schlottman team) avoided doing a job impact analysis since the numbers are too speculative and 4 other studies have done the billions and billions... of jobs will (be) created/lost thing. Confidentially, none of the job impact analyses would really pass any kind of scrutiny in an expert witness or peer review context.

Indeed. They would not.

Lots more to read, including UNLV PR types talking about the best sound bites to use in response to the brouhaha and talking points prepared for Snyder after his news release.

This is a story about outside pressure and academic freedom, which apparently do not mesh in a company town.