Gov. Jim Gibbons attacks Chancellor Jim Rogers in speech
RENO ” Gov. Jim Gibbons has criticized Chancellor Jim Rogers, only days after the two declared a truce following Rogers’s harsh criticism of the governor over his proposed deep cuts in higher education.
Gibbons’ leveled the criticism at the annual Republican Lincoln Day dinner in Elko on Friday night, five days after Rogers lashed out at the governor in a commentary in the Nevada Appeal.
The op-ed piece prompted Gibbons early last week to say he won’t deal with Rogers any more and will discuss higher education budget issues with a liaison instead.
“Yes, I work with higher education,” Gibbons told the crowd in Elko. “No, I will not work with Mr. Rogers. Not even if he wears his warm fuzzy sweater and his slippers and comes to my office. I will not work with Mr. Rogers.
“First of all, I think he has done more harm to the system of higher education. And I don’t make the choices that he has blamed me for. I don’t make the choices about your community college. That’s left to your Board of Regents, that’s left to your chancellor to make the choices on where they spend that money,” the governor said.
Rogers did not immediately respond to a phone message left Sunday.
Jason Geddes, the regents’ vice chairman, declined to comment on Gibbons’ criticism of Rogers.
“I personally don’t want to get in between the two of them,” he said Sunday. “Personally, I think the chancellor and governor should work out their personal differences personally, and let’s get on with the public good.”
Geddes and Michael Wixom, the regents’ chairman, last week released a copy of a 1-page letter to Rogers that states his remarks about Gibbons “were unauthorized and inappropriate.”
The letter also says Rogers has agreed to refrain from future personal comments about Gibbons.
In the op-ed piece, Rogers said the first-term Republican governor’s repeated statements that he will support no new taxes “represent a total lack of understanding of the purpose of government” and indicate he’s more of a libertarian than a conservative Republican.
Rogers said his own view is that Gibbons is “simply a greedy, uninterested, unengaged human being whose only, and I mean only, goal is to see what Gibbons can do for himself and his greedy friends.”
“The man has absolutely no regard for the welfare of any other human being,” Rogers wrote in the commentary.
Geddes took issue with Gibbons’ remarks that regents would have discretion over higher education spending in the upcoming budget.
The governor’s proposed budget for the system calls for major spending reductions, including cuts of about 50 percent for the two state universities in Reno and Las Vegas.
“If that goes through, he has to share some of the burden,” Geddes said. “I think he put a disproportionate share on higher education and you can’t make regents responsible for that problem.”
Gibbons earlier responded to Rogers’ comments with a letter to the regents saying he was “extremely surprised and disappointed” over the “vile and insulting” comments.
The governor asked for a liaison from the higher education system who can work “in a professional and courteous manner, so that valuable time is spent solving problems instead of engaging in personal attacks.”
In his Elko speech, Gibbons also reaffirmed his opposition to tax increases.
“I think we’re lucky that we have a governor who’s not going to raise your taxes just to meet government spending,” he said.
He ended the speech by citing a quote by Dr. Adrian Rogers, a three-term president of the Southern Baptist Convention who died in 2005.
“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom,” Gibbons quoted him as saying. “You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”