LYON COUNTY COMMISSIONER DISTRICT 2 – DON ALT
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There are two candidates in this race, both Republicans. There is no primary and both candidates will advance to the General Election. Incumbent candidate Vida Keller did not respond to this interview.
District 2 encompasses the Silver Springs area, north to the southern edges of Fernley. A commissioner candidate must live within the boundaries of their district, but are voted upon countywide.
1. Give a brief summation of your professional and political background.
I am new to the political arena. I am married to Maryanna, my wife of 44 years, and for 29 of those years we have lived in Lyon County. We are active members of our church. Maryanna volunteers as an aide at the Faith Baptist Church Academy.
I am presently Chairman of the Nevada Live Stock Assn and past President of the Lyon County Farm Bureau. I am a Lyon County rancher, and an experienced international contractor and manager who knows how to deal effectively with a wide variety of people and issues. My skills and years of experience will give me an edge when dealing with the issues facing Lyon County now and in the future. As Chairman of the Nevada Live Stock Assn, past President of the Lyon County Farm Bureau, and an experienced international contractor, I have participated in projects in the U.S., Canada, Panama, Asia, and Africa. I developed, constructed and worked with heavy industrial machinery. My skills and experience ideally position me to understand what will attract business to our area, residents’ concerns about employment, laws and government red tape, and the important issues affecting agriculture in Lyon County.
2. Why are you running for this position?
For many years, I have been sitting at county commission meetings as they either prepared to, or actually took away our private and pre-existing property rights (e.g.: the Comprehensive County Master Plan, the Public Land Use Policy, the draft Land Use and Development Ordinance, etc.). Nobody likes or respects a heel biting side liner. Therefore, I concluded that it was time to “put up or shut up.” Increasingly, our society is polarizing into urban and rural interests to the point where our society’s push is towards urbanizing the county at the expense of the rural. Over the years, I have listened and commented extensively on discussions of land use reform. As District 2 Commissioner, I can shed new light on the statutory impact that private and pre-existing property rights have on county legislative actions. Lyon County, the Commission and the Sheriff, urgently need my knowledge and expertise to ensure that a “Cliven Bundy” situation does not happen here.
3. What makes you more qualified to serve in this position than your opponents?
As Chairman of the Nevada Live Stock Assn I have participatory involvement in the recent Federal Court “Hage vs U.S.” decision reaffirming ranchers’ private and pre-existing property rights. Today, one needs to ask, “Does the county or do I own my property?” The answer involves knowing the difference between statutes and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs) which, in review, does not seem to follow common sense. When dealing with the Federal Government and/or the State of Nevada, Lyon County needs to have the knowledge of when either the Fed or the state are attempting to enforce CFRs and ignore the governing statutes such as occurred at the Bundy Ranch in Southern Nevada in early April. I have intimate knowledge of the water situation in Lyon County; and I have studied and spoken extensively on private and pre-existing property rights. I further am dedicated to challenging taxes and fees to ensure that the property owner, not the county, is the master of his/her domain. Furthermore, it is common sense that paying the county for the privilege of disposing of or improving one’s property is inherently wrong.
4. What do you expect to spend on this campaign? Do you intend to spend your own money? To what degree?
I will personally match donations on a limited budget. As of now, donations are substantially lagging. Bottom Line: Spend as little as possible and win the Lyon County District 2 Commissioner seat.
5. What do you see as the three most important issues of concern in Lyon County (A)? Please explain your proposals to resolve these concerns (B).
A. 1. Water and the associated rights for:
2. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. Specifically, private and pre-existing property rights shall not be infringed regardless of whether they reside on privately, federally, state or county owned land.
3. Lands commonly referred to as public or federal are for the most part neither public nor federal. There are at least six levels (grazing rights, pre-existing rights, water rights, mineral rights, etc.) of ownership associated with most land in Lyon County. Not all levels of ownership are necessarily owned by the same entity. In accordance with the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution, neither the public, the Fed, the state, nor the county has the authority to interfere with an entity’s exercise of its private and/or pre-existing property rights with respect to the land with which they are associated
B. I shall review all documentation and ordinances presented to the commission for impact on:
• Water rights.
• US Constitution guaranteed rights of property ownership.
• The many levels of property ownership associated any a given parcel of so-called public land.
As a steward of the people of Lyon County, in my opinion if Lyon County areas will be adversely impacted, I will either disapprove of the action or have the proposal modified. I will document and abide by the governing statutes and, if applicable, the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and/or the applicable Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS). It should be noted that CFRs that do not have their foundation in statute are suspect.
I do not feel the need to have a political legacy. Therefore, I see no pressing need to author and/or champion new legislation. New legislation should only come about when liberty, health, and/or property rights are at risk. Additionally, I would consider it my duty to initiate a review of the Lyon County Code to weed out frivolous chapters that infringe the Lyon County Tax Payers’ liberties.
6. Lyon County’s tentative budget was recently approved. As the county’s revenue projections slowly improve, what will be your spending priorities in the coming years?
When I pay out money, I expect to receive goods or services in return. The county exists as a political convenience for the state legislature. Consequently, there are county provided goods and services, that are essential to the urban enclaves, and there are state and federally mandated goods and services. However, in the latter case, those who are paying for those goods and services are only marginally reaping the benefits of their sweat and toil, if at all. The Lyon County budget process needs to be established on a priority basis. If legislatively mandated goods and services are not a priority for the people of Lyon County, then they receive funding only if money is available when their priority comes up; otherwise they become unfunded mandates.
The county line item budget items need to be prioritized as to whether they provide goods and services for those paying the taxes. Those goods and services need to be prioritized according to their essentiality to Lyon County tax payers; the top priorities being goods and services, without which, an unacceptable threat to the taxpayers’ health, safety and/or property occurs. Examples would be urban water and sewer, sheriff, judiciary, fire, roads, etc.
7. Define your position in regards to following the guidelines as stated within the land use master plan.
The Lyon County Comprehensive Master Plan is seriously flawed. In its present condition, ordinances that are presented for its implementation are therefore also seriously flawed. Ordinances that are being prepared to implement the Master Plan pose a serious threat to private and pre-existing property rights to such an extent that Lyon County residents who think they own property will be little more than tenants of the county. If the present course continues, those tenants will not only pay for the right to live on what they have heretofore considered their property, but will also pay for the privilege to ask for permission, and maybe subsequently, improve their tenancy.
As presently written, the Lyon County Comprehensive Master Plan is a threat to the county’s property owners’ US Constitution 5th Amendment rights.
8. Do you have any opinions in regards to the privatization of particular aspects of County operations?
An excellent description of how I stand with respect to privatization of portions of county operations can be found in the Hillsdale College’s Imprimis of April 2004. This Imprimis is no longer available on the Hillsdale College archive. However, it is reprinted by permission on the Freedom Foundation web site:
(http://myfreedomfoundation.com/causes/publication/detail/determining-governments-priorities-lessons-from-new-zealand). I fully agree with the approach presented therein.
“When we in New Zealand looked at our revenue gathering process, we found the system extremely complicated in a way that distorted business as well as private decisions. So we asked ourselves some questions: Was our tax system concerned with collecting revenue? Was it concerned with collecting revenue and also delivering social services? Or was it concerned with collecting revenue, delivering social services and changing behavior, all three? We decided that the social services and behavioral components didn’t have any place in a rational system of taxation. So we resolved that we would have only two mechanisms for gathering revenue – a tax on income and a tax on consumption – and that we would simplify those mechanisms and lower the rates as much as we possibly could. We lowered the high income tax rate from 66 to 33 percent, and set that flat rate for high-income earners. In addition, we brought the low end down from 38 to 19 percent, which became the flat rate for low-income earners. We then set a consumption tax rate of 10 percent and eliminated all other taxes – capital gains taxes, property taxes, etc. We carefully designed this system to produce exactly the same revenue as we were getting before and presented it to the public as a zero sum game. But what actually happened was that we received 20 percent more revenue than before. Why? We hadn’t allowed for the increase in voluntary compliance. If tax rates are low, taxpayers won’t employ high priced lawyers and accountants to find loopholes. Indeed, every country that I’ve looked at in the world that has dramatically simplified and lowered its tax rates has ended up with more revenue, not less.
“What about regulations? The regulatory power is customarily delegated to non-elected officials who then constrain the people’s liberties with little or no accountability. These regulations are extremely difficult to eliminate once they are in place. But we found a way: We simply rewrote the statutes on which they were based. For instance, we rewrote the environmental laws, transforming them into the Resource Management Act – reducing a law that was 25 inches thick to 348 pages. We rewrote the tax code, all of the farm acts, and the occupational safety and health acts. To do this, we brought our brightest brains together and told them to pretend that there was no pre-existing law and that they should create for us the best possible environment for industry to thrive. We then marketed it in terms of what it would save in taxes. These new laws, in effect, repealed the old, which meant that all existing regulations died – the whole lot, every single one.”
9. The maintenance of Lyon County roads is a perpetual source of concern. What ideas could you offer to help resolve/improve these issues?
The roads of Lyon County need to be categorized as to whether the county or NDOT is responsible for their maintenance/production. Lyon County does not expect any other entity to be responsible for the state of its roads. Once this has been determined, then those roads are triaged as to their surfacing requirements; not all roads in Lyon County that are presently paved need to be. Once this is determined, the budgeting priority for roads is raised until it is paid for. Roads are an essential good paid for by the tax payer from which said tax payer will directly benefit.
10. The State Legislature has found innovative ways to circumvent the state law banning the passing down of unfunded mandates to local governing entities. What is your position in regards to using such actions to fund state needs?
Unfunded mandates from the state cannot force counties to pay for something if there is no money. Legislation is needed to enforce the existing prohibitions against unfunded mandates and legislation is needed to make sure that counties receive the revenues from such things as oil, gas, geothermal, mining, and grazing. It is time to look more closely at Home Rule for Nevada counties or at least limit Dillon’s Rule so the counties can collect revenues that the state would otherwise take.
11. What, if anything, do you think could be done to offer greater transparency within Lyon County government?
Lyon County presently has sufficiently transparent government. However, transparency is of no value if there is almost no one to look at it. I have been to many Commission meetings. Typically, from a county of 52000 souls, I have rarely seen more than ten citizens (non-bureaucrats) at any given meeting. Until the Lyon County tax payers rise up and assume ownership in their county’s legislative and bureaucratic processes, transparency is of little value.
12. With annual approval by Congress required, the Federal government pays state and local governments for the public lands (exempt from local taxation) within their jurisdiction (P.I.L.T.). Approximately 87-percent of Nevada is owned by Federal entities. Define your position in regards to states & local entities taking control of (Federal government relinquishing ownership to) all or a portion of these lands.
State and local government should be in control of all lands presently mismanaged by BLM, Forest Service, Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Reclamation. Nevada Revised Statute 321 already specifies how those lands would be managed and regulated under state control and initiating those policies are long overdue.
Restoring the numbers of livestock grazing these areas to the numbers present in about 1960 would generate far more cash within the Lyon County economy than the pittance known as PILT will ever provide.
13. It appears that millions of acres of Nevada lands are destined to have the sage grouse (among other species) listed as a protected species. What is your position in regards to this issue? Explain.
I am opposed to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing of any species and sage grouse in particular. There is no indication that the ESA has ever saved a single species but it has cost the economy of our state untold millions of dollars. Listing the sage grouse will not result in more sage grouse but it will give job security to a large number of government employees and government contractors and it will destroy the economic sector of most counties in Nevada when livestock producers are put out of business and mining companies must pay huge amounts of money to pave the way for federal regulations to allow mining.
As for sage grouse we already know that there are two main problems. First is the greatly increased numbers of predators, especially the common raven. Second is the loss of sage grouse brood rearing habitats (mostly meadows) that is the result of federal regulations that reduced or prohibited livestock grazing. Nevada had its greatest numbers of sage grouse from 1950 to about 1980 which means that sage grouse numbers grew after the arrival of settlers and establishment of ranches, especially sheep ranchers. There were very few sage grouse present prior to 1850 and the birds along with mule deer and many song birds became abundant by 1950 in the presence of ten times more sheep and half again as many cattle.
If the goal is to have more sage grouse we need to re-establish the benefits of private enterprise in the form of livestock ranches within the sage grouse habitat range. If the goal is to have more government officials, then listing the sage grouse or any other species will accomplish that as evidenced by the listing of the Mojave Desert Tortoise, Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, and others.
14. Define your position on fracking and possible use of this technology in Lyon County.
Development of oil and natural gas production would be a boon to the economy of Lyon County including the use of fracking. There are rumors of problems from the natural gas fields in the Great Plains, but industry reports say those rumors are not a true description of fracking. So at this time I would not oppose fracking.
Lyon County needs to take steps right now to make sure that revenues from oil or gas production are paid to the county and not to the state.
15. If there is any issue that you are concerned about that has not been addressed in this interview, this is your opportunity to address it:
Thank you for the opportunity to present my views.