Remember this formula: 4-3. You may see that material again.
That’s the vote by which the Clark County Commission this afternoon adopted a draft law to change the way University Medical Center is governed.
And on Monday, there were a couple of 4-2 votes, to select the new chairman (Steve Sisolak) and vice chairman (Larry Brown) of the commission. The only reason those votes didn’t go 4-3 was that Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani was delayed in returning to Nevada from a vacation.
According to information Collins requested from the county, the last divided vote to select a chairman for the commission came in 1976, when then-Commissioner Tom Weisner was elevated to the job in a 4-3 vote. (Records for some years between 1976 and the present weren’t entirely clear, but all votes since 1995 have definitely been unanimous.)
That was followed by yet another 4-2 vote to adopt an entirely new coroner’s inquest procedure instead of making minor changes to one favored by Giunchigliani, Collins and Weekly.
The ironic thing? Every single member of the commission is a Democrat. So, with no Republicans around with whom to fight, the battle of course turns to infighting.
Ideology certainly plays a factor: Collins, Giunchigliani and Lawrence Weekly are more liberal than their colleagues, Sisolak, Brown, Susan Brager and Mary Beth Scow. They’re more pro-union and they’re more willing to consider tax increases than the less-liberal bloc. (Actual Collins quote: “Raise the damn property tax!”)
And personality also is at play: After the 4-2 votes for chairman and vice chairman, Brown moved his seat in the commission chambers to the position next to Sisolak, giving up what was surely the most interesting spot in the room: right between Giunchigliani and Collins. Oh, what that must have been like!
And politics still comes into play: After Collins and Giunchigliani today specifically called for considering a property tax increase to fund UMC, Sisolak spoke up to denounce the idea, saying it would be too much. Not coincidentally, Sisolak is considering running for governor in 2014 against Republican incumbent Gov. Brian Sandoval.
(Side note: After the vote, the Service Employees International Union Local 1107′s Erin Neff Tweeted thus: “vote goes 4-3 against us with Sisolak making the motion. Good luck with that Governor’s race, Steve.” Somebody tell Sandoval that he’s got the SEIU endorsement!)
Collins, too, has political ambitions. He said Monday he’s considering a run for lieutenant governor in 2014. Ironically, because of the fact that Collins is a real, live Nevada cowboy who will sweep up the labor and the rural vote, he’s got better odds of winning the open lieutenant governor’s seat than Sisolak has of beating the super-popular Sandoval.
It’s not entirely clear the 4-3 votes will continue. Many municipal governments operate with unanimous or near-unanimous votes most of the time. But it’s also not entirely clear that dissention on the county commission is necessarily a bad thing. People have different points of view, and lively debate is always good. And it makes for much more interesting local government TV viewing, that’s for sure.