With a knife behind his back
Harry Reid's Bizarre Project: Replace
Fallon's Farmland with Barren Desert
by Tim Findley
|He is the wealthiest and, by far, the most powerful incumbent politician in Nevada.|
U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) seldom neglects to remind
audiences of his "log cabin" origins as the son
of a modest miner in the little south-state town of
Searchlight. He inevitably skips over the rest of his
background -- the wheeling and dealing through the sinew
of gaming influence into positions allowing him to cajole
big money, intimidate opposition, and even threaten the
futures of those who stood in his way, including rural
nobodies, military officers, senior bureaucrats, and even
Harry Reid, the poor kid from Searchlight, stands now near the ear of the President himself, and he is not about to let anybody in his home state forget it. Certainly not in 1998.
It might have been the best time of all for a kid to grow up in Nevada in the late 1940s and 1950s, poor or not. the Silver State had crossed the barrier of its image as a barren frontier, in part with the help of the late Depression surge into California and in part with the economic impact of World War II itself. The dazzle of mob-backed gaming was taking full hold in the south in a way
almost complementary to
the dude ranch and divorce reputation of Reno in the
Neither of them even mentioned the fact that Reid had specifically directed that DeBraga, personally, was
Acknowledged or not, the lynch pin of Reid's ultimate power in the state, if not in the Senate, is linked to the failure of his former nemesis, Senator Paul Laxalt (R-NV) to bring closure to the key agreement between Nevada and California, as well as other western states, over the water they theoretically share. Laxalt thought his most powerful friends, including President Ronald Reagan, could help him accomplish the history-making deal, but he fell short on appropriations, particularly after protests by tribal and environmental influences.
Water: The Path to Power
Laxalt retired from the U.S. Senate, Reid moved into his
seat in 1987, knowing that the real power in Nevada
politics would only be found in settling the century-long
"war" over western state water.
century error, there
were people now living there in the Lahontan Valley whose
entire lives, for generations, were invested in its
success. Some of the same people who Reid remembers from
the baseball fields of his youth.
A Bid for Desert & Dead Aviators
on in the process, Reid recognized an important element
in the game that Laxalt may have overlooked. Even then,
in the late 1980s, Fallon had probably the most active
Navy fighter base in the nation. It not only sprawled
across expanded acres east of the town but effectively
ranged through the airspace of federally controlled
central Nevada lands. At least one small community, Dixie
Valley, had already swallowed up in its reach.
a meeting in the Fallon fire house on Reid's proposed
bill, Captain Rackowitz made his concerns publicly known.
Next Week: Part II -- Why They Call Him 'Senator $waps'
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