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Senator Nicole Cannizzaro listens to State of the State (Photo: Megan Barth for The Nevada Globe).

OPINION: The Lost Art of Negotiation In Carson City

NV Dems to Governor Lombardo: ‘Your priorities aren’t our priorities, but here are ours, sign them’

By Megan Barth, May 26, 2023 8:13 pm

The Globe has been covering Carson City and all things Nevada politics since late September 2021. The publication is young, but the editor is not.

Since we launched, as editor, I have written only one op-ed out of 704 articles. This is my second.

Stemming from a successful sales and marketing background, and the training to go with it, I learned early on in life, that life is a series of communications, sales and negotiations. Whether someone is standing behind a counter, running their own business, or running for office, they are selling their personality, talents, a product, or an idea to a potential customer.

I was taught that “people buy from who they like,” and that “relationships are the key to success.” Forging any relationship requires compromise for the better of the relationship or for the goal as a whole. As an inquisitive, only child (and an early Rolling Stones fan), I understood and finally accepted that “you can’t always get what you want.”

That tune by The Stones seems to be on a constant, cerebral loop as I watch the Democratic leadership stand firm and in direct opposition to a Republican governor and his main legislative priorities as outlined by him on the campaign trail and during his State of the State: a fiscally responsible budget, school safety, school choice and accountability, government efficiency, and crime reduction.

Last November, Governor Lombardo was hired by Nevadans to steer a diverse ship filled with ~3.2 million people, about 1.8 million of which are voters. Only one-third of those voters are registered Democrats, and some are even Democrats who voted for a Republican governor. The Governor campaigned on the issues and sold his solutions to enough customers to win an election against an incumbent Democratic governor. Those solutions are now in the form of legislative bills that have been simply ignored or summarily dismissed by the Democratic majority in the Legislature.

Once every two years, elected Democrats and Republicans, from all parts of this state, convene in Carson City to help steer the ship on a route, that, although bumpy, will withstand the ebbs and flows of a wavy, uncertain economy. The anchors provided to all 3.3 million Nevadans are the State laws and the State Budget that lawmakers draft, amend and pass.

Over this four-month legislative journey, Lombardo has faced strong, Democratic headwinds designed to blow his bills off-course or blow them off, completely. Some of the Democrat-sponsored bills that have arrived and died on his desk are seemingly 2024 campaign talking points dressed in legislative language.

The Governor’s Safer and Supportive Schools Act, AB330, is a great example of bipartisan legislation that has been blown off course. The bill passed the Assembly with only four Democrats voting ‘no.’ In response to the bills passage, the Democrats had a hearing on their school safety bill, gutted the bill, and passed the bill out of committee because “something was better than nothing.” In salesmen speak, this is referred to as “wasting everyone’s time.”

After this Carson City charade, the Governor issued his first veto warning.

As a side note, if you elected and expected the former Sheriff of Clark County, Governor Lombardo, to reduce crime and tackle the Fentanyl crisis, tough bounce. In another last-minute side show, Nevada Democrats gutted their own crime bill and simply ignored the Governor’s bill which makes any possession of fentanyl a felony.

Governor Lombardo’s bills have not been adopted into Democratic legislation, including his budget which, in part, provided $2 BILLION for K-12 education and state employee raises and bonuses. Outside of AB330, legislative hearings to question and review his proposals have not been scheduled by the Democratic majority.

Hearings allow Nevadans’ a porthole view into the details, debate and process of legislation–legislation that Nevadan’s will have to adhere to. Nevadans are even invited “on deck” to provide lobbying, media coverage, expert testimony, and public comment. Although Democrat leadership announced that the Governor “has a duty” to sign their “balanced” budget, the Governor rightfully reminded them that his duty is to protect all Nevadans’ interests and responded with another veto-special-session-inducing threat.

Senate Majority Nicole Cannizzaro. (Photo from headline by KLAS)

Adding to what can only be described as political, partisan theater, the Democratic majority has now sent the Governor their Senate and Assembly budgets for signature. The End. Case Closed. Sine Die.

“Your priorities aren’t our priorities. Here are ours. Sign them.” is certainly not a compromise or the way to negotiate a good deal. I could never imagine walking into a C-Suite, in my suit days, with such hutzpah.

One of the best and largest deals in my career came after I walked into my first meeting with a Fortune 500 company. The existing contract was on the rocks. The buyer opened our meeting telling me he wanted a divorce. I simply replied, “Absolutely not. I’m here to work this out.” Six months later, after numerous, long and tough negotiations peppered with fair compromises, we were signing a multi-year contract and having some laughs over a celebratory dinner.

I don’t expect much laughing or celebration during this theatrical, Carson City production, but as politics is a business, I expect some compromise and negotiation–especially on critical issues like education, crime, and State finances. I think most voters do.

Yes, there is some feel-good bipartisanship on graduation garb, yet there is also strong bipartisanship on school safety that is drowning in a blue partisan pool of politics.

Today, the Senate, on an expected party-line vote, sent their two budgets to the Governor for signature and are preparing to hear and vote on a bill which includes a last-minute (notice the theme?) transgender amendment that would impact biological female sports and locker rooms, and control elected school boards. Constituents in Democratic districts may not get school safety, because ”trans groups are anxious as they wait and see if Lombardo signs bills protecting their rights.”

Is it any wonder that the executive in the Carson City C-Suite is threatening to veto budgets and call a special session?

Instead of calling a special session, I would be asking for a divorce.


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3 thoughts on “OPINION: The Lost Art of Negotiation In Carson City

  1. Since animals, cows, goats, sheep, etc. are contributing to climate change, school lunch programs should feature insects on the menu. Healthy and less dangerous to the environment. This will save money so we can balance the budget.

  2. Understand it now or understand it later. Leftism and freedom are not reconcilable differences.

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