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Nevada's "E.T." Assemblyman [news article]

From: (Glenn Campbell, Las Vegas)
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 09:09:00 -0800
Subject: Nevada's "E.T." Assemblyman [news article]



Pushing to create embassies for space aliens is one way Bob Price
shows his independence.

Las Vegas Review-Journal, Monday, April 28, 1997

By Sean Whaley
Donrey Capital Bureau

CARSON CITY -- Assemblyman Bob Price doesn't just follow a different
path in the Legislature, he breaks his own trail.

Colleagues refer to the North Las Vegas Democrat as eccentric, quirky,
or any other number of adjectives that place him out of the staid and
static norm of the legislative hallways.

Consider some of the recent actions of the 60-year-old lawmaker:

--He has drafted but not yet introduced an Assembly resolution
recognizing Las Vegas and Carson City as embassies for the
"saucerians," a name for visitors from outer space expected to land on
earth in 1999.

--One of his acquaintances and supporters in the Legislature is Mr.
Ambassador Merlin, a somewhat odd and quirky fellow himself who claims
to be from another planet, one that orbits the star Alpha Draconis in
the Milky Way.

--At the dedication last spring of the Extraterrestrial Highway at
Rachel, Price appeared costumed as Darth Vader.

--Earlier this legislative session, Price named retired prostitute and
failed congressional candidate Jessi Winchester of Virginia City as a
volunteer research assistant.

--He had planned his second "fact-finding" tour of the Mustang Ranch
brothel east of Reno for April 22, with other lawmakers, staff and
press invited along for the ride. But the event was canceled by the
Nevada Brothel Owners Association after a negative column in a local

None of these actions raise much of an eyebrow in the Legislature,
however, where the phrase "Bob is just being Bob" is the normal
reaction to his actions and exploits.

"Bob is a fun-loving guy but he has a love and respect for this
institution," said Assembly Majority Leader Richard Perkins,
D-Henderson. "Because of that he has earned my respect."

George Flint, a lobbyist representing the Nevada Brothel Owners
Association, said Price seems to have a Teflon coating protecting him
from criticism for his eccentricities.

"Bob appears harmless in activities that might get others into
trouble," he said.

A good example might be the first brothel tour in 1995, when three
other lawmakers braved the potential critical backlash and accompanied
him on the tour, paid for by Flint's bosses. Two of the three Assembly
members were not re-elected and the third chose not to run.

But Price has paid a price for his actions, especially in his fight
with the gaming industry in 1989.

He angered the gamers by suggesting campaign contributions from the
industry be prohibited. They helped fund his opponent's campaign in
1990, although Price won re-election.

Price, who has served as chairman of the influential Taxation
Committee in six legislative sessions, was cut out of the loop this
year in the important debate over infrastructure.

Both lobbyists and legislative leaders said one reason for the
creation of the new Assembly Infrastructure Committee was to get the
important issues resulting from the growth of Southern Nevada out of
his control.

One lobbyist, who asked not to be named, said working in Price's
committee meant working around him and not with him.

And while there were other reasons for creating the Infrastructure
Committee, including giving newcomers, such as Chairman David
Goldwater, D-Las Vegas, a chance to shine, Price's behavior was also a

While he has his critics, the second-longest serving member of the
Assembly after Speaker Joe Dini, who was first elected in 1967, also
has his supporters.

A labor supporter and electrician, Price has served his mostly
blue-collar district well since 1975.

Price is also credited for his efforts to open up the legislative
process to public scrutiny, from reforming the lobbyist financial
reporting system to getting lawmakers to identify themselves on their
bill draft requests.

Ambassador Merlin said Price's ideas are progressive and his
perspective is valuable to the Legislature. Of course, Merlin also
said he believes Price gets his ideas from aliens.

Price, who said he plans to continue to run for re-election for the
foreseeable future, said it may have been his well-traveled upbringing
that has set him apart from his colleagues.

"I attended 13 different schools growing up," he said. "Possibly that
made me more aware of different ideas than if I had gown up in one

Political risk isn't something that Price said he considers too
heavily when making decisions.

"I try to do what I think is right and let the chips fall," he said.
"I try to keep an open mind and I know there are two sides to every

Price, who seems to enjoy his oddball reputation and the publicity
that sometimes accompanies it, said he is satisfied if he is known as
someone who treats others fairly.

But don't expect him to change his ways.

Every day in the Assembly can be a new adventure with Price around.

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