Jim Clark: Brexit vote, and the Incline Village parallel (opinion)
June 30, 2016
Political commentators point to three factors that convinced Brits to vote to leave the European Union: 1. equity, 2. self-governance and 3. economics.
Equity because three nations, Britain, France and Germany, have funded all of the EU's costs including bailing out Greece, Italy and Portugal.
Self-governance because the EU governing body in Brussels has made a series of major mistakes creating a massive, corrupt bureaucracy that has spewed an avalanche of petty regulations (example: what the shape of a banana should be) and mandated that member nations accept unlimited numbers of refugees.
Economics because EU free trade policies have benefitted a tiny percent of owners, investors and an "establishment" of pampered politicians while leaving the average working stiff to stagnate in an economy that has seen no increase in family incomes.
Incline/Crystal Bay voters can empathize with the Brits. By 1992, the year I moved here, there had been three efforts to get the Nevada Legislature to designate our township as an independent county.
These were headed by notable locals including Geno Menchetti and IVGID Trustee Joe Marson. Thirteen percent of Washoe County's assessed valuation lies within the Tahoe Basin, and it was generally believed that our tax dollars were paying for a chunk of Truckee Meadows entities' budgets.
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Moreover. the old Incline Elementary School was full of asbestos and the school district didn't seem to care.
In 1994, I joined a "New County" committee dedicated to still another effort at persuading the legislature to grant us independence.
The effort came to naught in the 1995 legislative session, but our then-Assemblyman Pete Ernaut told us he would see that we got our own independent school district.
Sure enough in the 1997 session he got both the Assembly and the Senate to pass the Incline School District bill only to have it vetoed by Democratic Gov. Bill Miller.
Subsequently, Incline/Crystal Bay had to go on the defensive because Reno city council members sought to annex the Tahoe Basin area of Washoe County. The committee joined with IVGID to successfully resist Reno's "Anschluss."
In 2004, Washoe County commissioned Walker & Associates to perform a "fiscal equity" study that broke Reno, Sparks, Incline/Crystal Bay and the rest of Washoe County into separate columns.
The study showed that Reno and Sparks combined cost Washoe County $12 million per year which, in fiscal year 2002-03, was exactly offset by ad valorem taxes collected from Incline/Crystal Bay property owners and not spent in the Tahoe Basin.
That did not include school district taxes or room taxes collected in the Basin and spent in the Truckee Meadows.
The study has not been updated, but Basin-assessed valuation has grown, making the inequity even worse. So we, like the Brits, are forced to subsidize a remote county commission, school board and two cities in the valley below. Meanwhile, a spirit of independence continues to burn in Incline/Crystal Bay so stay tuned.
What "Brexit" showed in Britain, and Trump's support in the Primaries showed in the United States, was that free trade and loose immigration policies really benefit a tiny, elite cadre of business owners, investors and political insiders, but can devastate the working class. Those who still have jobs have experienced economic stagnation and are pressured daily by the specter of employers' offshoring jobs and hiring immigrants, both legal and illegal.
During a recent PBS News Hour segment dealing with Brexit, voter disenchantment with globalization, and unrestricted free trade policies, syndicated columnist Mark Shields said: "A rising tide floats all yachts but apparently not the working man's fishing skiff or row boat."
Interestingly since Brexit, Scotland now wants independence, Ireland wants Northern Ireland, and several others are considering chucking the EU, spawning new terms such as: "Finn-ished," "Czech-out" and "Austria-la-vista."
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.