Your letters

The Attorney General "Clarifies"

Dear NPRI,

For the record, the Office of the Attorney General would like to clarify and correct several misleading statements in the recent article written by D. Dowd Muska, Contributing Editor of Nevada Journal. In fact, the only germane issue in the entitled "Right To Work Under Siege" is that the Attorney General and her deputies are statutorily mandated to legally represent state agencies. The Employee Management Relations Board ("EMRB") is the agency legislatively mandated to decide issues concerning local government employees and employers in the state of Nevada.

The Employee Management Relations Board has the statutory authority to render decisions in cases before it, not the Attorney General or her deputies. Any dissenting opinion to the decision of the EMRB is just that, a dissent to the majority opinion. The deputy attorney general who represents the EMRB has the legal obligation to defend the decision of the majority should that decision be appealed to district court and then the Supreme Court unless the matter is unconstitutional.

In reality, because the decision making authority rests with the Board, the discretion vested in the Attorney General and her deputies is limited. That should have been the main point of the article, or at least referenced. Personal views are irrelevant to the Attorney General's legal obligation to defend client agencies.

Frankie Sue Del Papa

Attorney General


D. Dowd Muska replies:

The attorney general's response to my article mystifies me. She alleges the piece contained "several" errors, but then goes on to list only one objection, that she had no choice but to defend the EMRB's decision. Her "I was just following orders" explanation, to be blunt, is simply not convincing. If the state's welfare division decided it was appropriate to deny benefits to a particular racial or ethnic group, would she honor her statutory mandate to defend the agency in the lawsuits that would almost certainly result from such discrimination? I am not an attorney, but I was under the impression that officers of the court have a basic duty to uphold the law which supersedes their obligation to defend a client in obvious error.

Del Papa even admits her office had at least some degree of "discretion" in deciding how to approach the Cone case, but does not take the time to go into further detail. (Her letter does not even acknowledge that she faced a conflict between upholding Nevada law and representing a state agency, and that speaks volumes about her personal views on the SEIU's attempt to extort money from nonmember employees.)

Ultimately the Nevada Supreme Court will decide if the EMRB's decision in this matter, vigorously defended by the attorney general, violated Nevada law. It will be interesting to see if the court upholds a legally shaky union tactic designed to undercut Nevada's right-to-work law, or rules that the EMRB's decision—and Del Papa's defense of the board's majority opinion—was improper. u


To close a loophole

Dear NPRI,

Just in case you may not be tracking it, there is a very important bill in the works in the U.S. House of Representatives; HR 7 sponsored by Brian Bilbray of California seeks to close a loophole by which any child born to a parent or parents residing in the United States is automatically a U.S. citizen—regardless of whether or not the parent or parents are residing here legally. In fact, even the fetus is declared a potential U.S. citizen as long as the mother is inside our border. In Mexico, by contrast, the mother must be a Mexican citizen.

The U.S. is the only developed nation which confers citizenship by accident of birth. Our problem also relates to court interpretations of the 14th Amendment which was written to assure that citizenship was conferred upon the children of slaves following the Emancipation Proclamation.

This is both an important pocketbook item as well as a citizenship item. It is the biggest single factor contributing to the growth of AFDC payments over the last three years and, as NPRI pointed out, Nevada has the fastest growing AFDC rate in the nation.

In the simplest example, let's take the case of the wife of a day laborer. She and her husband, both of whom have entered the U.S. illegally, are now packed into some kind of shared quarters. As a day laborer, the husband is working for cash and there is no documented income. The wife becomes visibly pregnant at eight months, gets a positive pregnancy test certificate and becomes eligible for food supplements and other items under the WIC program because her unborn child is a potential U.S. citizen.

All birthing expenses are paid by Medicaid. Now the child becomes eligible for child-only AFDC. Many illegal immigrants would refer to this child as the "anchor child" because it assures—for humanitarian reasons—the mother will never be deported.

Last year, I hired a UNLV senior to run the records for Clark, Lincoln & Nye Counties for calendar 1995 and 1996 up to Dec. 1. The records show there has been a dramatic drop in General Assistance welfare payments. It looks as though the numbers will continue to decline. Convential AFDC is virtually flat. Child-only AFDC rose 32 percent in this 23-month period. This rise may or may not be directly related to illegal immigrant children. But the loophole Bilbray is trying to close would most likely lower the number of child-only AFDC payments.

Ken and Diana Record
Las Vegas


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