It Didn’t Stay Here: Flooding, casino hacks give Las Vegas a far-flung P.R. bashing

Las VegasThat catchy Las Vegas marketing mantra of recent invention, “What happens here, stays here,” was never true, of course. Readers of this blog are well aware of my view from all the examples I have cited since becoming New To Las Vegas of folks in trouble elsewhere for something that happened locally. (My running list, It Didn’t Stay Here, can be found nearby.)

But this applies institutionally as well as individually. Thanks to some recent happenings, Summer 2023, which ends tonight at 11:50 p.m. PT, likely can’t go away fast enough for Vegas image-makers. Their success over time at stirring worldwide interest in this remote desert spot full of scorpions leaves them, tracking Shakespeare’s immortal words from Hamlet referencing the results of incompetent bomb-makers: hoist by their own petards.

I just did some Google searches. The two recent instances of Las Vegas-area flooding–the first in mid-August from Hurricane Hilary and the second over Labor Day weekend from the annual monsoon–generated 5.74 million hits. This is an astounding number given that by major world flood disaster standards, the loss of life and damage here, while real in places, rounded to zero, largely thanks to decades of serious flood-control work. The rains materially damaged maybe 0.04% of the metropolitan area, most notably the tiny town of Mount Charleston, 40 miles west of and 5,000 feet above Las Vegas. The recent flooding in Libya killed thousands and wiped out whole villages–most of them little known outside the country, since they don’t have the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority working for them. A Google search produced 13.5 million hits–barely double the Vegas return despite a level of tragedy maybe a million-fold greater.

The computer hacks that hit the Caesars Entertainment and the MGM Resorts International chains, resulting at the latter in long check-in lines and winnings paid out by hand, returned 6.32 million Google hits. This, too, is an amazing number. It seems all those photos and accounts of frustrated pleasure-seekers unable to quickly gamble, drink or indulge in other vices proved irresistible for the editorial gatekeepers of the Internet determined to prove the continuing relevance of the Ten Commandments. Continue reading

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With ‘Oppenheimer’ and radiation, Las Vegas stakes its claim to nuclear tourism

nuclear tourism

Movie poster for ‘Oppenheimer’

I recently saw the movie “Oppenheimer,” about the rise, fall and rise again of J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 to end World War II. Despite its three-hour length (preceded by a half-hour of utterly mindless ads and trailers), it’s a terrific flick. The movie is sure to be up for a bunch of Oscars with a clever screenplay by director Christopher Nolan, and riveting performances by Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer and especially Robert Downey Jr. He steals every single scene he’s in as the villainous arch-nemesis Lewis Strauss.

Much of the action in the movie takes place in the classrooms (and bedrooms) of Berkeley, where Oppenheimer taught; in New Mexico where the bomb was finally developed and test-fired, and in Washington, D.C., where Oppenheimer and Strauss both experienced professional rhapsody and ruin.

Nothing in the film took place in Nevada, where I live. But in many ways, Las Vegas stands to be the biggest beneficiary of what could be called a renewed interest in nuclear tourism. In fact, Sin City has been been feasting on dangerously unleashed atoms in odd and strange ways for more than 70 years, and, unsurprisingly, not always to its advantage. Continue reading

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It Didn’t Stay Here: Prosecutors in New York–not Nevada–indict Las Vegas faux charity fundraiser

Richard Zeitlin indictment in New York

Richard Zeitlin is a Las Vegas resident who for years has been a telemarketing force behind what I call faux charities. These are political action committees soliciting nationally that sound like worthy causes but aren’t and spend almost nothing collected from clueless donors on the stated mission.

Zeitlin, 53, finally has been indicted criminally on fraud charges carrying a maximum 20-year prison sentence. But not by any prosecutor in Nevada, a state where consumer protection long has been an alien concept, regulators don’t enforcement fundraising disclosure laws and Zeitlin has operated questionable cold-call operations for decades.

Instead, Zeitlin was just charged by federal prosecutors in the far-away Southern District of New York, where these things are taken a little more seriously. The four counts include wire fraud and obstruction of justice charges, the latter for allegedly ordering cronies to delete electronic messages on the very day in May that federal authorities issued subpenas for them.

A separate federal indictment also in New York accuses one Richard Piaro, 73, of Fredonia, Wisc., with wire and mail fraud for serving as treasurer to four faux charity PACs that a different pending civil lawsuit suggests used Zeitlin’s operation for fundraising. They bear the names Americans for the Cure of Breast Cancer, Association for Emergency Responders & Firefighters, U.S. Veterans Assistance Foundation and Standing by Veterans. Piaro’s indictment says the four raised $28 million from donors over five years.

Because of his out-of-state legal difficulties, Zeitlin becomes the latest candidate for my long-running list, It Didn’t Stay Here. This is a roster of people who has been in trouble elsewhere for something that happened in Las Vegas. The list is my barbed refutation of “What Happens Here, Stays Here,” the famous marketing slogan the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority used for many years to help draw mischief-makers to Sin City. Nearby is the list, which also includes Donald J. Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr.. Continue reading

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New police-themed likely faux charity soliciting in Las Vegas is already being sued

police-themed faux charitySee same-day update at end of story.

It was a hot sweaty day at the New To Las Vegas world headquarters recently when the phone rang. Identifying himself as “Charles Anderson,” the cold-caller asked for a contribution to something called Police Officers Support Committee PAC. In response to my question, he said the political action committee was headquartered in Woodbridge, Va., a distant suburb of Washington, D.C.

I asked how old the organization was. “Anderson” replied, “That’s a really good question.” But instead of giving me a simple direct answer, I was provided with the URL of the organization’s website. Then without another word, “Anderson” hung up. Not even a good-bye. Totally non-suspicious, of course.

I’m using quotation marks around my caller’s stated name because “Anderson” is not a real person, but rather a computer operated by a human using what is known as soundboard technology. The website of Police Officers Support Committee PAC contained no information that I could see about when the group was formed. A Google Maps search suggests the stated headquarters is simply a mail drop at a Staples office supplies store just off Interstate 95.

Now, if you are a regular visitor to this blog, you probably already have a good sense of where I’m going here. But please read on. There’s actually a twist to this one. Continue reading

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How extreme heat helped make Las Vegas

See important update at end of story.

Las Vegas extreme heat

Official National Weather Service alert today for Las Vegas

We’re all waiting today, Sunday, July 16, 2023, in Las Vegas to see if the temperature will hit or exceed the all-time any-day-of-the-year official local record high of 117 degrees Fahrenheit. That mark has been touched four times in recorded history, twice since I became New To Las Vegas in 2016. We should know by 7:00 p.m. PT. Yesterday’s high was 113.

Accompanying this vigil is lots of moaning and groaning and swearing by locals about how unbearable it is to be hereabouts during the day and even at night, when the lows still hover around 90. All this is absolutely true. But there are plenty of other places around the country–like Death Valley barely two hours away by car (if it doesn’t overheat on the ride) and even the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles–and throughout the world that are frequently hotter.

However, for some reason Las Vegas during the summer seems to have become a national proxy for hot weather. Perhaps it’s the phenomenon I previously have described in which bad stuff that happens in Las Vegas gets insane publicity even though the same things happen elsewhere. In the case of hot weather maybe it has something to do with the satisfying notion to some of Sin City burning in hell. I even confess to playing that game a bit with a running box at the top of this blog listing the current temperature, automatically updated hourly. (My data comes from private and sometimes varies a bit from the National Weather Service, the official record-keeper.)

Now I don’t want to make light of genuine suffering and deaths caused by heat, which certainly happen around Las Vegas, a place that has been called the country’s fastest-warming city. But having lived in a few other toasty climates–Houston, Albuquerque, the hot Santa Clarita Valley near Los Angeles and even Cairo, Egypt–me thinks many of the locals here doth protest a little too much. As I see it, it is the extreme heat–getting all the more extreme thanks to global warming–that helped give Las Vegas a viable economy in the first place. Hear me out on this. Continue reading

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RIP for Las Vegas brain surgeon/pol who lived in his own ‘hoarders’ museum

Lonnie Hammargren

Life-size long-ago campaign poster of Lonnie Hammargren in the street gutter at his home a few days after his death

Boy was the life of Lonnie Hammargren a terrific story. Like a terrific movie.

In a medically underserved state he had been one of Nevada’s first neurosurgeons–sometimes  controversial, eventually giving up his practice citing huge insurance premiums, perhaps due to publicly noted malpractice settlements/complaints. He was elected Nevada lieutenant governor–but subsequently came in third in a Republican primary bid for governor due to little party support.

Lonnie was also a nationally known hoarder, living in three adjoining Las Vegas houses he bought to store his thousands of collected items. In later years the “Hammargren Home of Nevada History,” as a sign called it, was opened to the public a single weekend a year, to the annoyance of some neighbors in the upper-class neighborhood–until after he lost one house to the bank amid mounting debts.

Slowly, Lonnie faded from view personally. But some of his collecting–a Batmobile in the front yard, military figurines on the roof, a towering green Tyrannosaurus Rex replica in a back yard easily seen by passing motorists on a busy street–remained visible to help let the world know this was a venue of something–and someone–really weird.

So perhaps it was fitting that a few days after Lonnie–as everyone called him–died last month at age 85, life-sized poster of him in doctor’s garb from a long-ago political campaign lay in the gutter of the street in front of his compound, from where it had blown. The poster is in the nearby photo, which I took. For seven years I have walked past Lonnie’s spread nearly every day during the morning constitutional with the dog. Lonnie and his long-suffering second wife Sandy lived just a few blocks from the New To Las Vegas world headquarters.

The weathered, partly damaged poster on the ground, which was removed by day’s end, immediately triggered a thought. That was of the shattered snow globe as the troubled, financially distressed Charles Foster Kane–also an excessive collector–utters the mysterious word “Rosebud” while dying before flashbacks at the start of the celebrated 1941 Orson Wells movie “Citizen Kane.” Nearly two hours later, movie-goers learn (spoiler alert for the eight people out there who haven’t seen the film) that Rosebud was the brand name of Kane’s childhood snow sled and that he still had it at the time of his death at his jammed-with-junk estate called Xanadu.

That poster wasn’t Lonnie’s Rosebud. But as it turns out, I might have seen his Rosebud a few years ago. Stay with me on this. Continue reading

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‘The Green Felt Jungle’–scandalous exposé that utterly defined Las Vegas–turns 60

The Green Felt JungleThere never has been anything else like it in the history of Las Vegas, and it turns 60 years old this year. I’m referring to The Green Felt Jungle. That’s the 1963 book by Ed Reid and Ovid Demaris about mob control of America’s growing gambling mecca. TGFJ became a gigantic international best-seller for years, and the subject of public commentary even longer. Besides a title that quickly added a memorable phrase to the lexicon still used as a synonym for Las Vegas, TGFJ thoroughly colored America’s perception of the city as a dangerous place–but maybe an interesting one worth visiting. The book even managed to play an important role in a presidential election, as well as in civic debates around the country, while helping to change public policy in Nevada.

Although all the major characters–and since the 1980s the Mob–are now gone, the 231-page tell-all remains a rip-roaring good read, even if overwritten in places. TGFJ is the only one of a trio of book-length Las Vegas exposés published in the mid-1960s that has stood the test of time. The book even helps to explain Las Vegas’s continuing difficulty with true economic diversification away from gambling and entertainment.

Written by co-authors simultaneously similar and different, TGFJ was full of innuendo and utterly withering intimate descriptions about some of Las Vegas’s most powerful folks. The book was published at a time when defamation laws were far more favorable for plaintiffs than they are now. But TGFJ, its authors and the publisher, Trident Press of New York and later the Pocket Books unit of Simon and Schuster, never faced a single libel suit, for reasons I’ll explain below.

The book is long out of print. But so many millions of copies were published in its heyday, especially a revised paperback edition in 1964 that included 24 pages of photographs and a 27-page addendum detailing all the hell the book’s hard-cover first edition had caused, that it’s easily available today from used book sites for less than $10. Continue reading

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Nevada regulator MIA on every single illegal faux charity pitch in Las Vegas

faux charity pitches in Las VegasNevada appears to be one of the very few states with a law on the books giving regulators an extremely easy way to crack down on what I call “faux charities.’ These are political action committees that sound like charities benefiting such causes as law enforcement or veterans when they cold-call you asking you for money but aren’t. Instead, they spend almost all the money raised in fundraising and hidden fees for their operators.  Donors usually don’t even know they’ve been rooked. These callers don’t go out of their way to point out that any donations are not tax-deductible, and sometimes falsely say they are charities. I’ve been writing about these outfits for years. (In the nearby search box, just enter “faux charity”–and watch the hits explode on your screen.) Others call them “scam charities.”

In 2021 the Nevada legislature passed, and then-Gov. Steve Sisolak signed, Senate Bill 62, which prohibits just about any non-religious outfit from soliciting donations within the state for a variety of causes, specifically identifying public safety, veterans, health care and anything sounding charitable, without first making filings with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office that include financial information. The previous law required state registration only from traditional non-religious 501(c)(3) charities. As codified at Nevada Revised Statutes NRS 82A.025 et seq., the law gave the SOSO broad power to issue cease-and-desist orders, issue fines and presumably draw public attention to the issue. The law took effect October 1, 2021. No filing followed by a call asking for money? Bang, it’s a violation, leading to discipline and, perhaps, a scorching press release.

Simple, you think? Well, just 12 days after the law took effect, I wrote, “Let’s all join the watch party … We’ll see if Nevada regulators invoke their brand new law requiring registration before soliciting.”

In the intervening 20 months, I’ve been solicited scores of times by faux charities, some repeatedly. I’ve checked after each contact with the SOSO: Not a single one–not one--has been registered in compliance with NRS 82A.025 et seq. They all have dreadful financial inefficiencies, too. It’s not unreasonable for me to assume there have been hundreds of thousands of illegal pitches in Nevada, and more than a few dollars handed over to shady characters who do not spend much of the funds on the stated mission of influencing politics.

So last week, I filed a formal Nevada Public Records Act request with the SOSO. I asked for “copies of paperwork from your agency memorializing all fines and cease-and-desist orders issued against soliciting fundraisers” in violation of NRS 82A.025 et seq.

A few days ago, I received in writing my reply: “The Secretary of State’s Office has not issued any fines or cease-and-desist orders pursuant to NRS 82A.025 and therefore does not have any public records responsive” to my request. The letter was signed “The Office of the Secretary of State,” with no name attached. Continue reading

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Iffy police-themed PAC mocks regulators by soliciting illegally and lying in Las Vegas

Iffy police-themed PACOn October 1, 2021, a new law known as Senate Bill 62 took effect in Nevada. The measure, now codified as Nevada Revised Statutes NRS 82A.025 et seq, required most fundraising causes–specifically including those promoting law enforcement–to refrain from asking for money within the state until they first made filings with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office. That agency was given the initial duty to enforce the new law by issuing civil penalties and cease-and-desist letters, or by referring offenders to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office.

On October 12, 2021, 12 days after the law took effect, I was cold-called at the New To Las Vegas world headquarters by American Police Officers Alliance PAC, a law enforcement-themed outfit (based in Arlington, Va.) if I ever heard of one. The caller went by “Paul.” I am using quotes because “Paul” was not a real person, but a computer controlled by a human using what is known as soundboard technology. “Paul,” referred me to “Mary”–another soundboard voice. I asked if APOA was registered with Nevada to solicit in the state. “Yes,” Mary replied. I immediate checked with the Nevada Secretary of State’s website. APOA was not registered. So APOA’s representative was a fibber in the Great State of Nevada.

I also reviewed APOA’s filings with federal regulators. It was quickly apparent APOA was what I call a “faux charity.” That’s a political action committee that presents as a charity but isn’t, spending almost all of the money raised in raising it and very little on the stated mission, supporting candidates and causes favoring law enforcement priorities. Others call them “scam” charities.

I wrote up my interaction with APOA at the time, which you can read in the update at the end of the post. I concluded, “We’ll see if Nevada regulators invoke their brand new law requiring registration before solicitation.”

Nearly two years later, I am bringing up APOA again due to an interesting convergence of events that may help provide insight on my query. Continue reading

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Why did old story about Hawaiians moving to Las Vegas make New York Times front page?

Hawaiians moving to Las Vegas

New York Times front page,      Sunday, May 21, 2023

There it was on the front page of at least some editions of the Sunday New York Times, perhaps the world’s most prominent journalism forum. “They’re ‘Priced Out of Paradise’ But Hawaiians Thrive in Desert,” read the print headline I saw yesterday above a breathless story about how natives of Hawaii for some time have been relocating to Las Vegas for economic reasons. The article jumped to a full inside page festooned with pictures of ex-Hawaiians rowing on Lake Mead or wearing native garb, and a supermarket shelf full of cans of Spam, part of a Hawaiian delicacy.

My question: Why is this such big news now? My first answer: Stuff about Las Vegas gets written simply because it’s about Las Vegas. That is both the joy and bane of America’s gambling capital.

My second answer: It was a Beauty and the Beast tale of folks leaving an idyllic paradise for what even the Times story called “an affordable faux version of the islands” rather than “the real thing.” At another point, the story by Eliza Fawcett cited the “migration from the impossibly lush natural landscape of the islands to the brash desert of Las Vegas.” In that context, the “beast” Vegas gets the short end of the stick–also a persistent theme of national media coverage.

Continue reading

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It Didn’t Stay Here: Seattle non-profit official spent embezzled funds in Las Vegas

See update at end of story

In 2017 Susana Tantico, a nonprofit official from Seattle, spent $546.66 at the buffet in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for her family and herself. How do I even know this, and why do I care? Well, last week, Tantico admitted in Seattle federal court that she paid for the repas with funds she embezzled from a former employer.

The meals at the towering Mandalay Bay are only a tiny portion of the more than $3 million Tantico fessed up to stealing over 12 years from two Seattle nonprofits she served as finance director. That wasn’t anywhere near the total of all the ill-gotten gains Tantico acknowledged spending in Sin City, which apparently included unsuccessful gambling. But it was a specific amount of Las Vegas Strip excess that federal prosecutors in Seattle chose to include in the plea agreement she signed. There’s nothing like a specific amount of Las Vegas Strip excess to spice up any story.

Tantico, 62, becomes the newest candidate for my long-running list, It Didn’t Stay Here. The roster consists of folks who have been in trouble elsewhere for something that happened in that bug light of mischief called Las Vegas (in this instance, the spending of money stolen from someplace else). The list is a pointed refutation of “What Happens Here, Stays Here,” the famous marketing slogan the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority used for many years. Continue reading

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Does multi-billionaire deserve huge public hand-out to move the A’s to Las Vegas?

huge public hand-outAccording to Forbes, John J. Fisher, owner of the Oakland Athletics, is a billionaire. And not just one of those barely-there billionaires that dot the fruited plain of America, and for that matter much of the planet. Forbes pegs his net worth at $2.3 billion, ranking him No. 1,312 in the entire world. Fisher is from the wealthy family that founded The Gap retail chain. Were he living in Las Vegas rather than San Francisco, he would be the fifth-richest man hereabouts behind casino magnate Phil Ruffin, Panda Express co-founder Andrew Cherng, and mixed martial arts/casino owners Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta III.

Yet Fisher is asking the state of Nevada in effect to give him nearly $400 million of taxpayer money toward constructing a $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat baseball stadium to move the As–one of the worst major league baseball teams in the entire world, including Japan–from Oakland to Las Vegas. By all accounts, the deal–the fine print of which hasn’t been spelled out, at least to the public–would give him all the upside should things work out while giving Nevada taxpayers zero upside, and plenty of downside if things head south. Forbes values the struggling team now at $1.18 billion, about half of Fisher’s net worth. The team value–and Fisher’s net worth–would surely increase dramatically in Las Vegas.

Using Other People’s Money, of course, is one way mere billionaires become multi-billionaires. (See Trump, Donald J. and bondholders, Atlantic City casinos.) For me the question here is why Nevada–a small-population state with crying unmet needs in education, healthcare and a bunch of other things–should even consider coughing up this kind of public loot.

I’d say the reason is that Fisher, 61, is counting on the pathological desire that cities have to be considered Big Time when it comes to sports. The A’s even alluded to this psychological concept yesterday when touting what it said was its own poll of Clark County voters showing overwhelming support for the stadium. Team president Dave Kaval was quoted as saying in a statement, “We look forward to delivering a world-class ballpark and all the benefits Major League Baseball brings, including … civic pride.”

Fisher is hitting up the government for loot not because he has to, but because he can. As I see it, it’s not unlike a drug dealer selling meth to an addict, who has a crying need. So what if the product isn’t top-notch? The addict is hooked! Continue reading

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A dodgy police-themed PAC is back illegally soliciting in Las Vegas

dodgy police-themed PACI suppose this sounds like a broken record. Law Enforcement for a Safer America PAC is one of the dumbest police-themed advocacy organizations in the country. Maybe the world. Using the front name of Police Officers Support Association, LEFSA has regularly called the New To Las Vegas world headquarters over the years requesting donations. This even though I several times have written up the really dreadful financial efficiencies and even suggested the outreach to me violates Nevada law. I’ve actually called this operation a faux charity–a political action committee that wants you to think it is doing substantial good for society like Salvation Army, but isn’t.

This is why LEFSA and its doing-business-as name are listed nearby as candidates for my list of America’s Stupidest Charities. Calling a known critic to seek money: Really, in the world of fundraising can it get any more moronic than that?

But when you’re largely a fake, I suppose hope springs eternal. Ergo the recent call I received from “Charles Davis.” I’m using quotes because it’s a fake name. This is not surprising since “Charles Davis” is a fake persona, a voice generated by a computer oversee by a human operator using what is known as soundboard technology. But I recognized the quivering voice, which in previous outreaches identified itself to me as “Eddie,” “Andrew” and “Andy Bautista” (perhaps the last two are the same computer).

“Charles” said he was calling for Police Officers Support Association and in an emotional timbre–the computers are getting better from a theatrical standpoint!–made the usual pitch about the desperate need to help law enforcement by supporting friendly politicians. I asked where Police Officers Support Association was headquartered. “Charles” then rattled off a Washington, D.C., address for what he called “Law Enforcement for a Safer America PAC.”

OK, I said, you said you were calling on behalf of the Police Officers Support Association. What does Law Enforcement for a Safer America PAC have to do with that?

His brusque reply: I would be put on the Do Not Call list. Followed by the click of a hang-up.

Certainly sounds legit, doesn’t it? Continue reading

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Las Vegas odds: Joe Biden more likely to reach age 86 than Nikki Haley–or Donald Trump

Joe Biden life expectancy

Nikki Haley (via Wikipedia)

It was a stunning comment. Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador running to be President, actually envisioned the death of the current officeholder for personal gain. Last week, she told Fox News this:

I think that we can all be very clear and say with a matter of fact that if you vote for Joe Biden you really are counting on a President [Kamala] Harris, because the idea that he would make it until 86 years old is not something that I think is likely.

From the New to Las Vegas world headquarters, in the land of odds and bookmakers, I beg to disagree on that probability–but, unlike Haley, with no self-interest and by using hard statistical data. According to standard life expectancy tables used by actuaries, the 80-year-old Biden indeed is likely to make it to age 86. Believe it or not–and this may be the real stunner–he is more likely to do so than the 51-year-old Haley, or for that matter the soon-to-turn-77 Donald J. Trump. Continue reading

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Las Vegas killer gives Nevada Supreme Court second chance to make world history exactly a century later

Las Vegas killer

Zane Floyd (courtesy Nevada Department of Corrections)

Once again, the Nevada Supreme Court is deciding whether the State of Nevada may execute a convicted killer in a way never precisely used anywhere in the world. Exactly a century ago, the very same court decided the very same issue and held–no problem. Except that the resulting execution by the planet’s first use of lethal gas for capital punishment was botched and drew wide scorn.

Will history repeat itself?

Earlier this week the court heard oral arguments in Las Vegas on a lawsuit by Zane Floyd, 47. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection more than two decades ago for killing four persons in a Las Vegas supermarket in 1999. It took jurors barely two hours to convict him of all counts, which included a prior sexual assault. The quick decision was attributable to Floyd’s recorded confession played in open court along with store video of the killings.

In 2002 the Nevada Supreme Court upheld Floyd’s conviction and death sentence. But subsequent lawsuits and appeals on the state and federal level have blocked imposition of the sentence.

His lawyers now seek to bar the lethal injection of a precise mixture of chemicals never before used in a execution anywhere. They claim the process will create prolonged suffering that violates the U.S. Constitution’s Eight Amendment prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.” The lawyers instead have suggested a firing squad, saying death would be instantaneous.

The specific point before the court is whether the Nevada legislature properly delegated to the head of the prison system complete authority to determine the lethal injection execution protocol, including what kind of drugs to use. Prison officials have had to scramble developing their deadly brew because of difficulty in legally obtaining a supply of all the needed drugs before their expiration dates. Continue reading

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It isn’t news Las Vegas COVID-19 death rate was so high

Las Vegas COVID-19 death rate

Las Vegas Review-Journal front page, March 24, 2023

There it was, stripped yesterday across the top of the print-edition Las Vegas Review-Journal front page. “State had high virus deaths,” the headline said, citing a new study published in the esteemed British weekly medical journal The Lancet. The study reckoned that over two years Nevada had the eighth highest per-capita death rate from COVID-19 among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

At the New to Las Vegas world headquarters, I am trying to figure out why this suddenly is such big stop-the-presses news in Nevada’s leading newspaper. Maybe because it doesn’t matter as much anymore?

More than two years ago, in the throes of the pandemic, I started writing in this space about how Clark County–home to Las Vegas and more than 70% of Nevada’s population–was continually experiencing higher COVID-19 death rates than the national average. The Las Vegas media dutifully reported the official local data. But I saw little effort to put the numbers in any kind of national context or draw meaningful conclusions–or contrast and compare, as my New Jersey high school teachers used to command. (With so much of the state’s population, Clark County seems like a good representative proxy for all of Nevada, and anyway, this blog isn’t called New To Nevada.)

I’m thinking the other locals didn’t want to scare off the tourists, the only real economic engine here despite years of claimed business diversification. But visitors ended up being scared off for awhile, anyway, perhaps after being officially informed, as I wrote in late 2020, that being out-and-about along the Strip was okay for them but not for Vegans.  Continue reading

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It Didn’t Stay Here: Las Vegas angle to Trump’s New York legal woes

It Didn't Stay Here

Trump International Hotel Las Vegas

For years the New To Las Vegas world headquarters has compiled a list called It Didn’t Stay Here. The roster consists of folks big and small who found themselves in some kind of trouble elsewhere for something that happened in Las Vegas. It’s my cheeky refutation of “What Happens Here, Stays Here,” the celebrated tourist marketing slogan once promoted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The list, which now tops 40 names, can be found nearby on this page along with underlying links to the original posts.

One of those big names is Donald J. Trump. I put him on years ago after a video surfaced of him partying in Las Vegas in 2013 with–Russians! Along with their cronies like Rob Goldstone. He’s the British publicist who several years later for his clients sent the now-infamous email lauding “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” to Donald J. Trump Jr. The note became public after Trump père became president in 2017, but the issue caused the family no small amount of problems in Washington, D.C. You know that story. The video is still posted on CNN’s website.

Just because one is already on the list doesn’t preclude a repeat appearance. Ergo Trump again. This time it’s because of a 222-page civil fraud lawsuit that New York State Attorney General Letitia James brought against Trump, family members and their businesses late last year in a New York state court. Part of the lawsuit involves alleged tax and valuation machinations by the Trumpers over their sole property in Las Vegas. Trump et al deny all wrongdoing. Trump himself called the lawsuit racist because, it seems, he is white and James is black. Continue reading

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Thoughts on a proposed bill of rights for Las Vegas homeless

For years, rare has been the day I take an early morning walk with the dog from the New To Las Vegas world headquarters without encountering homeless folks.

Las Vegas homeless

Homeless encampment, East Las Vegas

Sometimes, it’s a person sleeping alone on a sidewalk, with or without a covering. Sometimes, it’s someone seeking protection under an awning of a shuttered Bank of America branch. Sometimes, as seen in the nearby photo, it’s a growing encampment in a vacant lot.

Sometimes, it’s all three.

This comes to mind as I ponder the proposed “Homeless Persons’ Bill of Rights” recently introduced in the Nevada Legislature by six Democratic senators. The bill has created quite the controversy. Continue reading

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Not first time Las Vegas casino table game allegedly played on despite stricken patron

Las Vegas casino table gameThe recently filed lawsuit by the family of a deceased Florida lawyer claiming the Wynn Las Vegas casino kept dealing cards after he collapsed from a heart attack at a blackjack table has gotten a lot of national attention. In the five days since the Las Vegas Review-Journal broke the news–in a story by David Wilson buried on an inside page of the Sunday paper–the account has been picked up widely. At the New To Las Vegas world headquarters, a Google search found more than 11,000 mentions on the Internet, in places as far-flung as the websites of The New York Post, The Washington Post and the Houston Chronicle.

The R-J story about the civil lawsuit said David Jagolinzer was “slumped over the blackjack table” in the Wynn Las Vegas casino for 15 minutes on April 6, 2022, as the dealer kept dealing before help arrived. The story said Jagolinzer died six month later as a result of the delayed treatment, at the age of 48. A quoted Wynn Las Vegas statement called the allegations in the lawsuit false. In an interesting twist, Jagolinzer, who practiced in Miami, was in town for Mass Torts Made Perfect, a periodic conference of plaintiff personal injury lawyers looking for new ideas and causes that I wrote about 15 years ago for

I’m guessing the lawsuit is getting wide notice partly because it fits into a media narrative of Las Vegas as a damn-the-customer place where almost anything goes in the name of profits for the house. You know, the underbelly of that “What happens here, stays here” aura long promoted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

But indeed, this wouldn’t be the first time something like that happened along the Las Vegas Strip, according a long-ago but well-known book about Sin City. Continue reading

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Las Vegas health care woes make it apt venue for Super Bowl LVIII

Las Vegas health careNow that Super Bowl LVII is in the books, the countdown already has begun for Super Bowl LVIII. It will held on February 11, 2024, at Allegiant Stadium, the roofed edifice just seven miles from the roofed New To Las Vegas world headquarters.

The powers-that-be in the National Football League and Las Vegas are calling this the perfect marriage: the country’s most popular sporting event and the country’s most popular entertainment town. “Las Vegas knows how to do big things,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell proclaimed a day after Super Bowl LVII in a press release sent out by the booster Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “They have done an extraordinary job at understanding how we want to present the NFL in that community, and more importantly, how to do it Las Vegas-style.”

The union of the NFL and Las Vegas is fitting, all right, but to me for a far different reason. Both offer shameful healthcare to their constituencies, and have for a long time. Continue reading

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