LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Democratic gubernatorial nominee Joe Neal will host
a black-tie fundraiser at the Clark County Government Center in Las Vegas
on Friday, Oct. 18, 2002. Refreshments and hors d'oeuvres will be served
in the first-floor Pyramid Room from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. The price of admission
is $200 per person. The Clark County Government Center is located at 500
S. Grand Central Parkway in Las Vegas.
The event represents the veteran North Las Vegas Democratic state senator's
only major fundraiser for his underdog campaign. Neal is the first African-American
in Silver State history to win a major party gubernatorial nomination.
In 1972, he became the first African-American elected to the Nevada State
Senate, eventually rising to senate president pro-tem and acting governor.
For those who cannot attend, contributions may be mailed directly to Sen.
Joe Neal for Governor
304 Lance Avenue
North Las Vegas, NV 89030
First Independent Governor
It was often said of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall
that he lived to see his great dissents become great majorities.
Justice Marshall has always been a hero to Nevada State Sen. Joe Neal,
D-North Las Vegas. Over the past four decades, many of Neal's great dissents
have become great majorities.
In the mid-1990s, he saw dark clouds on the state's fiscal horizon and
identified its cause: Nevada hotel-casinos creating low-wage jobs and
urban sprawl without paying a fair share of taxes. See the Guinn-Hunt
administration which conclusively
demonstrated the tax-draining nature of low-wage job creation.
Sen. Neal has stood alone among civic and political leaders in pointing
out that the gambling industry broke its 1931 compact with Nevada -- that
in exchange for the legalization of a vice, the industry would fund needed
government services. Today, Nevada ranks low in every area in which states
want to be high and vice-versa.
The Silver State's gross gaming tax is the lowest in the world and has
not been raised since 1987.
In 1998, Sen. Neal ran for governor to take his message statewide. The
gambling industry inserted a well-monied candidate on the last day of
filing with orders to take him out in the primary and get the tax hike
off the table. He was vilified and eliminated in the Democratic primary.
The gaming tax increase was ignored in the general election as the public
was allowed to select from two casino-approved candidates. The 1998 Democratic
nominee has become a high executive with a multinational gambling corporation
investing its huge Nevada profits in states competitive with Nevada.
At the 1999 legislative session, Sen. Neal introduced a gross gaming tax
increase bill. No other lawmaker supported it.
In 2000, in the middle of a tough re-election campaign, he circulated
a statewide initiative petition to raise the gross gaming tax on the state's
largest, most profitable casinos. Those entities are largely owned by
four multinational corporations which use their high profits from low-tax
Nevada to go into business against themselves in places like California.
The casinos put out the word to their workers and suppliers: If we find
your signature on Neal's petition, you're fired. That's as illegal as
a threat can be, but this is the High Desert Plantation. The 2000 campaign
was reminiscent of 1998, where casino workers were told that should Neal
be elected governor and succeed with any tax increase, that humongous
money machine known as the Las Vegas Strip would go dark and everyone
would be fired. Preposterous, yes, but sometimes jokes run for office.
The casinos recruited a young, black attorney to run against Sen. Neal
in 2000. Sen. Neal had assisted his opponent's family in getting money
for food when they first moved to southern Nevada many years ago.
The casinos hired three major PR firms to assist the now-grown hungry
child and gave him a bottomless campaign fund. Senator Neal ran as the
"unbought and unbossed" candidate (a phrase borrowed from the
late Rep. Shirley Chisholm's book). He was re-elected outright
in the primary, stunning the gambling-industrial complex.
In the 2001 legislative session, he introduced another bill to increase
the gaming industry's taxes. This time, one of his fellow senators supported
his proposal. Several assemblymembers and media commentators got aboard.
This year, the industry and the entire political establishment admit that
such a tax increase is needed, though they never give Sen. Neal credit
for bringing the issue to the front. Public opinion now overwhelmingly
favors a gaming tax increase. A great dissent has become a great majority.
Sen. Neal's record of looking beyond the horizon is little short of remarkable.
In 1981, against major casino opposition, he forced passage of the toughest
fire sprinkler code in the world after starting with only one other senator
as a bill co-sponsor.
He warned very early of the dangers of energy deregulation as written
by Nevada lobbyists for Enron. He proved so prescient that he was invited
to lecture to the congress of Mexico because of his expertise. Mexican
lawmakers voted deregulation down.
At the prodding of Nevada's gambling and mining industries and despite
the California meltdown, the current governor last year signed a bill
deregulating large parts of the Nevada utility industry.
A decade ago, Sen. Neal fought for and won far-reaching health care cost
containment, a law which his fellow lawmakers (prodded by industry lobbyists)
allowed to expire.
Sen. Neal led an investigation into the northern California-Nevada Honey
Lake water importation project, an issue which became such a scandal that
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, personally intervened and killed
the program. Sen. Neal has survived the slings and arrows suffered by
anyone who brings light to dark places. The lantern makes one an easy
He has been shunned by the hierarchy of his own party and by his friends
in organized labor this year (despite being honored with the Nevada State
AFL-CIO's Lifetime Commitment Award in 1997). The incumbent Republican
governor has appointed a labor commissioner who has made it his business
to gut Nevada's prevailing wage law.
Democratic chairman finally admitted
to the Associated Press in September the real reason for the opposition:
Sen. Neal wants to raise the gambling industry's taxes.
Sen. Neal is quick to point out that he is not out to damage the gambling
industry, he just wants to make it a more responsible citizen for the
impacts it causes.
He has lived to see his great dissents become great majorities. He now
faces his greatest challenge as the first African-American ever to win
a major party nomination for Nevada governor.
Should he prevail against the gambling industry's anointed and well-funded
juggernaut, it will be because he has been able to shape an image of independence.
Nevadans like to say they vote for the candidate, not the party. Indeed,
historical voting patterns show Nevada to be the closest thing to a non-partisan
A coalition of progressive Republicans, old line Democrats and maverick
independents could put Sen. Neal in the statehouse.
To do so, he needs a modicum of advertising money. He need not raise enough
to match the incumbent, just enough to get out his positions. His message
is so compelling, with an electorate already on his side, that the seemingly
impossible can happen.
It already has with Jesse Ventura in Minnesota. In New York this
year, Carl McCall is positioned to become the Empire State's first
African-American governor, again against a well-funded GOP incumbent.
The elements are in place.
Will you help?
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