blank.gif (51 bytes) DDM Bad

I called and talked to a very nice lady with reference to an article in the September issue of Nevada Journal titled "The PETA Principle," by D. Dowd Muska.

The writer is obviously not very well acquainted with animal issues and displays an egoistic attitude. His name calling doesn’t bother me as I have been called names for about 40 years.

I realize many don’t think animals are worth bothering about, with the exception of "their" First Cause, which all human animals share with them.

Everyone professes to be against cruelty but are not willing to do anything about it unless it affects them personally. Doing for those that cannot repay is the purest form of charity.

Since I have spent a considerable part of my life working for animal welfare I have no choice but to take his comments personally.

After due consideration and under the circumstances, perhaps it would be better if we part company. Please take me off your mailing list.

Pete Bachstadt
Carson City

D. Dowd Muska responds:

Apparently Mr. Bachstadt missed —or chose to ignore—the reference I made in "The PETA Principle" to "very real horrors" such as "the brutality of puppy mills and the callous way many in dog racing dispose of greyhounds." So for his sake, I’ll go on record with this highly controversial position: I am opposed to animal cruelty. That animals are mistreated was not the point of my piece. Rather, I was attempting to demonstrate the dangers of PETA’s ridiculous opposition to the use of animals for clothes, food, entertainment and (most of all) medical testing. That argument was lost on Mr. Bachstadt, but it was not lost on a large number of Nevada Journal readers—I received more positive feedback to "The PETA Principle" than any other article I’ve written for the magazine.

DDM Good

I said it on the phone, but I wanted to repeat it on paper. D. Dowd Muska’s review of Slaying the NIMBY Dragon ["We’re Not Gonna Take It," Nevada Journal, October, 1998] captured its essence. I hope that the powers that be in Nevada pay some attention in the context of Yucca Mountain.

Herbert Inhaber, Ph.D.

The CED Is Not a
Miserable Failure

Las Vegas

As executive director of the Nevada Commission on Economic Development, I feel compelled to write and defend the record of this agency and the record of Governor Bob Miller against the attack leveled against us in an article published in the September, 1998 cover story of Nevada Journal entitled "Gambling on Gambling: Lethargy in the Miller Administration Leaves Nevada’s Economy at Risk."

The article makes several critical points regarding Gov. Miller’s support on economic diversification efforts during his time in office. The truth of the matter is contrary to the writings of the article’s author, Steven Miller.

For the record:

The article accuses Gov. Miller of trying to undermine the effectiveness of the Commission on Economic Development by merging it with the Commission on Tourism in 1995. This proposal came after the successful efforts two years earlier to consolidate and streamline state government from the existing 47 state agencies into 13 distinct departments. By doing so, nearly 1,500 state positions were either eliminated or left vacant. These successful actions led to the savings of 173 million taxpayer dollars. No mention of this larger picture or the fiscal environment was included in the article. Intentionally or unintentionally, the result was a misleading impression of the true situation. Nor was it mentioned that the governor’s actions in downsizing state government were in compliance with NPRI’s stated ideas of reducing the size of government.

The article takes inexplicably strong issue, almost to the point of obsession, with the selection of a single speaker for the Governor’s Appreciation Luncheon in 1996. Scheduling such prestigious speakers is often difficult requiring arrangements to be made at least a year in advance to accommodate their busy schedules. Sometimes situations arise which force people of this caliber to unexpectedly change their plans. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown was originally the scheduled speaker at the luncheon. With his untimely death, we continued to work with the Clinton administration to obtain a new speaker but were unable to obtain one who didn’t have a scheduling conflict. Fortunately for us, Mirage Chairman Steve Wynn agreed to step in at the last minute. Attendees of the luncheon were still able to hear the views of an internationally prominent, extremely successful, far-sighted entrepreneur doing business in one of the nation’s fastest-growing industries. His message had much more to do with enlightened business management practices than it did with gaming. I do not see how anyone could have been left disappointed. However, after focusing on that one incident, the article makes no note of any of the prominent business speakers featured in other years, such as Lester Thurow, Dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management; Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines; Phillip Benton, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company; or our most recent speaker, M. Douglas Ivester, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. Contrary to what was related in your organization’s publication, Governor Miller plays an active role in securing speakers for our luncheons. It seems that upon invitation from the governor, the captains of industry have no problem justifying a trip to speak to business leaders in the state with the fastest growing economy in the nation.

The overall tone of the article is one which argues that our record of economic diversification over the past ten years has been a miserable failure. Such is not the case. The Nevada Commission on Economic Development has directly created 46,700 new jobs since 1989, and assisted in the creation of thousands more. It assists local economic development agencies in many ways and sponsors programs to assist new employers in Nevada find, the quality employees they need.….

* * *

It is not often that I feel it necessary to write such a response, however, it is also infrequent that I read an article that is so obviously indifferent to the true facts at hand. After discussing the matter with the Governor’s office and discovering that neither that office nor my office had been contacted for comment while this article was being written, I was very disappointed at the reckless digression from standard journalistic practice. Neither the citizens of the State of Nevada nor the members of your organization are served or benefited when essays such as this are published under the false banner of true journalism.

Bob Shriver
CED Executive Director
Carson City

Steven Miller responds:

CED Director Shriver begins his letter by saying he felt compelled "to write and defend the record of this agency.…" However, the article that is his subject not only did not attack his agency, it went so far as to point out that, "given the relatively small state budget devoted to it, the Commission on Economic Development and its 12 regional development authorities spread throughout the state have performed well." Further, the article also included, in a separate, first-page box, a series of laudatory statistical self-appraisals the agency made of itself before the state legislature. And throughout the remainder of the story, the CED itself was everywhere given the benefit of the doubt.

So what is really going on here? If the performance of the CED—given the budgetary and other constraints set on it by the legislature and the governor—was treated favorably by the article, why does the letter Mr. Shriver has signed seek so energetically to draw a different picture—and then reply at length (some 522 words, represented by the ellipsis) to an "attack" on the agency’s record which was never made?

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this is political indirection—prompted by the article’s reporting of slovenly indifferent management of the economic diversification problem by the governor’s office. Thus, high-volume theatrics about "reckless digression from standard journalistic practice" have been launched, in an effort to obscure the actual content and focus of the article.

The article’s focus, however, was very clear: it was the critically important question of why, given 1) the obvious risk to the state of its heavy dependence on gaming, and 2) the lip service given economic diversification by every governor since 1958, has the state’s proportion of gaming to non-gaming in the economy remained essentially static for the last two decades?

One can only surmise that those questions were not anything that the governor’s office wants to talk about. Rather, it would prefer to conflate the governor’s record with that of the CED, righteously defend that peculiar amalgam, and thus obscure the issues.

The letter signed by Director Shriver also asserts that "[t]he article accuses governor Miller of trying to undermine the effectiveness of the Commission on Economic Devel-opment by merging it with the Commission on Tourism in 1995." Wrong. What the article did was quote several observers, each of whom had different theories regarding the governor’s intentions in that episode. Actually, an attentive reader of the article would have noted that the governor’s position on the merger, as articulated by then-CED-director Tim Carlson and former Lieutenant governor Bob Cashell, was ultimately accepted into the emerging thesis of the article—as the most likely route to achieve the additional resources for the CED that it clearly needs.

The letter signed by Mr Shriver also objects that Nevada Journal did not contact for comment either Mr. Shriver’s office or that of the governor. Regarding Mr. Shriver’s office, there was no contact because, as explained earlier, the activities and performance of his office were irrelevant to the focus of the article. Regarding the governor’s office, while we knew that various views reported in the story would have some sting to them, our judgment was that the most informed and credible case for the Miller administration’s point of view on the merger bill and other issues would be made by the man who had been CED executive director at the time and had also testified longer than anyone else for the merger proposal before the legislature—Mr. Tim Carlson. The resulting interview was lengthy, and during its course virtually all of the charges that had been aired against the governor were run by Mr. Carlson. His candid responses lent substantial credibility to his defense of the governor’s good faith, and that defense was included in the article.


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