Firefighters charity cleared to solicit in Las Vegas is more smoke than fire

From the website of Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, you can determine if a specific charity is registered to solicit for donations in the Silver State. But that website won’t tell you at all if that charity has spent almost none of the money raised on good works and/or is poorly rated by charity watchdogs.

Indeed, the bland, bare-bones summary financial listing available–revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities–might even provide false comfort to an unwary donor. The display seems to be in keeping with Nevada’s failing grade regarding public access to information.

For such important charity data, you have to go to sources outside Nevada. Having written for decades about nonprofits big and small before becoming New To Las Vegas, I know a little bit about how to find, interpret and explain this material. So from time to time in this space, I’ll offer an overview of specific charities allowed to ask for money in Nevada, along with my opinion. Since most of them operate nationally, my musings might be of interest to viewers elsewhere.

Today’s subject is the Firefighters Charitable Foundation, of far-away Farmingdale, N.Y. It filed its current registration to solicit in Nevada less than a month ago on July 7.

According to its latest public IRS Form 990 tax filing (which I found outside Nevada), the FFCF spent less than 4% of the money raised on what I would call good works. Equally outrageously, nearly 90% of the donations went to paid fundraisers. And from the filing, it’s appears there was no iron-clad requirement that the few dollars remaining for good works all went to firefighters or even victims of fires. Reputable charity monitors have nothing good to say about the FFCF.

Want to know some more? Read on. Continue reading

Las Vegas weddings are still a big industry

Las Vegas weddings

Britney Spears (via Wikipedia)

Remember that Britney Spears marriage to a childhood friend in 2004 that lasted only 55 hours? The wedding took place in Las Vegas, where nuptials remain almost as big a deal as gambling and entertainment.

Last year, 81,325 marriage licenses were issued in Clark County, home of Las Vegas. That’s one out of every 25 marriages in the entire country. County officials estimate 80% of the licenses go to tourists, or folks who don’t live here.

While way down from the 126,000 licenses generated in 2004, all this love still generates a lot of local loot. By one estimate, Las Vegas weddings create $2 billion a year in local revenue. Experts think 4% of the 40 million annual visitors to Las Vegas come to attend a wedding.

Las Vegas calls itself the Wedding Capital of the World, and there’s actually a Las Vegas Wedding Chamber of Commerce to promote the industry. Local poobahs bragged when the 10,000th same-sex marriage license was issued earlier this year.

Nevada has what are just about the most liberal marriage laws around. Don’t have to be a resident. No blood test required. No waiting period. Just be single, stay away from first or second cousins, be 18 years old, and bring ID. The state will allow an officiant to preside at a wedding with an “ordination” obtained over the Internet from an outfit like the Universal Life Church. This is a common way for a friend or family member, even from out of state, to preside at a Nevada wedding. Continue reading

It Didn’t Stay Here: Trump partied in Las Vegas with Russians and infamous email writer

It Didn't Stay Here

Donald J. Trump (via Wikipedia)

For my list It Didn’t Stay Here, I have even a bigger name to nominate than French President Emmanuel Macron: Donald J. Trump.

CNN just posted video of a June 2013 schmoozy meeting in Las Vegas involving Trump, assorted rich or prominent Russians, and Rob Goldstone, the British publicist who wrote the now-infamous “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” email to Donald J. Trump Jr., who released it yesterday to the public just ahead of The New York Times.

Trump Jr.–who answered that email, “I love it”–wasn’t at the session, which occurred long before I became New To Las Vegas. But Trump Sr. certainly looks pretty chummy with all the Russians, some of whom are at the center of this email brouhaha. Trump ties with Russians are causing him all kinds of political problems in far-away Washington, D.C. He has denied much in the way of connections, but this isn’t going to help him.

My It Didn’t Stay Here list notes people in trouble elsewhere for something that happened in Las Vegas. It’s a takeoff on “What Happens Here, Stays Here,” the famous marketing slogan of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. You can see previous nominees elsewhere on this page.

I think Trump may have some ‘splainin’ to do.

Follow William P. Barrett’s work on Twitter by clicking here.

It Didn’t Stay Here: 2016 Las Vegas trip by Emmanuel Macron under scrutiny

It Didn't Stay Here

Emmanuel Macron at the 2016 CES in Las Vegas (via Business France)

I finally have a big name to nominate for my list It Didn’t Stay Here, folks getting heat elsewhere for something that happened in Las Vegas: Emmanuel Macron. He’s only the newly elected president of France. Is that big enough for you?

According to the Associated Press, the Paris prosecutor’s office today–yes, today!–opened an investigation into “suspected irregularities in the organization of a costly, high-profile event at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show [in Las Vegas] that Macron headlined when he was a French government minister.”

My list, of course, pokes fun at “What Happens Here, Stays Here,” that great marketing slogan of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. It’s not always true, as you can ascertain quickly by clicking on the names of previous nominees found nearby on this page. Continue reading

It Didn’t Stay Here: Miss. jailbreak leads to Las Vegas bust

It Didn't Stay Here

Issac Bennett (photos courtesy Tishomingo County Sheriff’s Office)

It Didn't Stay Here

Jonathan Hamm

Las Vegas is famous as a town of second chances, a place where someone can get a fresh start. It’s almost part of the culture and a reason, I suspect, why a lot of people gravitate here.

Well, that and maybe they also like to gamble.

With these possible motivations, Jonathan Hamm and Issac Bennett showed up last week in Sin City. They most recently were residents of Iuka, Miss., in the state’s hard-scrabble northeastern corner not far from Elvis Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo.

However, Hamm and Bennett carried some baggage. They were riding in a locally stolen car Bennett was driving when Las Vegas Metro police pulled them over late one night. Nor, as it turned out, was that the pair’s first stolen vehicle of the month. They had escaped together a week earlier from the Tishomingo County Jail in Iuka (pronounced eye-YOU-ka) and had swiped a vehicle to hot-foot it out of town. This buddy act was still on the lam.

Hamm, 26, and Bennett, 23, were arrested and put in a Clark County jail pending their eventual return to Mississippi. They will face escape, vehicle theft and damage-to-public-property charges on top of whatever they were in jail for in the first place.

Accordingly, I’m nominating Hamm and Bennett for my list, It Didn’t Stay Here. It’s a roster of of folks in trouble elsewhere for something that happened in Vegas. This is a twist on the famous marketing slogan of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, “What Happens Here, Stays Here.” You can find the entire list elsewhere on this page.

In this case, the Vegas happening is the continuing escape that ended here and will be prosecuted in Mississippi. It’s not clear if Bennett (whose first name is spelled variously in different official records as Issac or Isaac) as the driver will first face Nevada charges for stealing the car in which they were riding. Continue reading

Las Vegas Strip isn’t in Las Vegas, and other oddities

Las Vegas Strip

Ex-Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman somewhere near Las Vegas and the Strip (via Zimbio)

Everyone around the world knows about the Las Vegas Strip. But does everyone know it isn’t in Las Vegas?

Nor is the main campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Or the Las Vegas Convention Center. Or even the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, a photo of which graces the top of this blog. The about-to-be-built stadium for the NFL’s transplanted Las Vegas Raiders? Fuggedaboutit.

You may have seen over the years any number of photos, like the one gracing this post, of mob-lawyer-turned-Las-Vegas-mayor-turned-retiree Oscar Goodman sipping a cocktail in the presence of Strip showgirls. You might think he had some official jurisdiction and authority over the Strip. You would be wrong. There’s even a pretty good chance such photos weren’t taken in Las Vegas or the Strip (this one from 2014 certainly wasn’t).

The post office aids this charade. It allows many addresses in unincorporated Clark County, a land mass bigger than Delaware and Connecticut combined, to say they are in world-famous Las Vegas rather than, say, the unincorporated townships of Paradise (the area to which I moved after becoming New To Las Vegas that also includes most of the Strip, UNLV and the proposed stadium) or Winchester (another area that contains part of the Strip).

All the locals know this, of course, but, I suspect, few of the visitors. There’s some interesting history here. Continue reading

It Didn’t Stay Here: Deported from Virginia for a Las Vegas-based Ponzi

It Didn't Stay Here

Angelina Lazar in 2006 during her Las Vegas days

More than a decade ago, Angelina Lazar spent time in Las Vegas running a business called Charismatic Exchange. It purported to be a dealer in foreign currency. She told would-be investors to expect a risk-free return of 20%–every month.

During 2005 and 2006, Lazar tried to cut a wide swath around Sin City. The Internet has glamorous photos of her from that time, like the one adorning this post. In one press release she called herself the “esteemed community mayor of Las Vegas.” Lazar curried favor with local and national Republican politicians.

She’s long gone from her apartment on W. Sahara Ave. and her offices on W. Lake Mead Boulevard and Howard Hughes Parkway. Nor is she likely to return in a physical sense. Last month, Lazar, 54, pleaded guilty in federal court in Alexandria Va., to running a Ponzi scheme out of Las Vegas. She was ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution and immediately deported to Canada, where she is a citizen.

Lazar thus becomes the latest candidate for my list, It Didn’t Stay Here. The roster consists of individuals who get into trouble someplace else for something that happened in Las Vegas. It is a play on “What Happens Here, Stays Here,” the famous promotional slogan of the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority. The full list can be found elsewhere on this page. Continue reading

Las Vegas and environs profit from UFO aura

Las Vegas UFO

Alien Cathouse Vegas Brothel, Amargosa Valley, Nev.

By itself, the Las Vegas Strip is almost other-worldly, brimming as it does with neon lights, volcanoes, pyramids, towers and other strange shapes all jumbled together. So maybe it’s not all that surprising that Las Vegas and its environs revel in–or at least profit from–that enduring category of human curiosity called unidentified flying objects.

Strip souvenir stores have lots of UFO knickknacks–T-shirts sporting triangular heads of supposed extraterrestrial aliens and coffee mugs referencing Area 51. That’s the top-secret U.S. military base 90 miles north of town said to be involved, if you believe the gossip, in UFO body-storage (but far more likely, development of military aircraft like the U-2 spy plane and testing of captured foreign war planes). The minor league baseball team, the Triple A affiliate of the New York Mets, is called the Las Vegas 51s. Cashman Field, the team’s home stadium, is festooned with images of ETs.

At about $200 a pop, tour operators run all-day trips from Las Vegas to the very edge of Area 51, where the tiny town of Rachel, Nev. (population 54) sits on State Route 375. The utterly desolate road is officially named (I kid you not) the Extraterrestrial Highway, due to both the proximity of Area 51 and the number of UFO sightings reported thereabouts over the years. In Rachel, an “alien burger” is on the menu at the Little A’Le’Inn.

For a different kind of trip, one can visit the Alien Cathouse Vegas Brothel in Amargosa Valley, Nev., 60 miles northwest of Las Vegas, along U.S. 95 on the south side of the vast Nevada Test and Training Range off which Area 51 sits on the northeast side. That’s a house of legal prostitution and, I suppose, a destination if a UFO lands nearby and the pilot says, “Take me to your breeder.” Continue reading

It Didn’t Stay Here: Unlicensed pilot flew jet to Las Vegas

It Didn't Stay Here

Falcon 10 turbojet (via Wikipedia)

When Orville and Wilbur Wright made their famous first powered flights at Kitty Hawk, N.C. on December 17, 1903, they didn’t have pilot licenses. No such things existed. But since 1927, every civilian pilot in the U.S. has had one. For nearly a century it’s been a federal criminal act to operate aircraft without proper permissions.

Which brings me to one Arnold Gerald Leto III. He was just sentenced in Los Angeles federal court to hard time after pleading guilty to piloting aircraft without the correct license. Since I am New To Las Vegas, you probably know where I’m going with this. One of those flights, in a Falcon 10 turbojet like the one pictured nearby, was to the bright lights of Sin City.

So Leto gets a nomination to my list, It Didn’t Stay Here. It’s devoted to examples of people getting in trouble elsewhere for something that happened in Las Vegas. It’s a counter-argument, of course, to that catchy pleasure-seeking marketing slogan of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, “What Happens Here, Stays Here.” Continue reading

It Didn’t Stay Here: Prison for NY pet pound staff who spent stolen funds in Las Vegas

It Didn't Stay HereLike pet shelter organizations everywhere, the Central New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seeks homes for unwanted four-legged creatures and raises public awareness about abuse and neglect.

But the CNYSPCA in Syracuse is unusual in one big respect. Paul Morgan, its former executive director, and Taylor Gilkey, an ex-staffer identified as his on-and-off girl friend, recently were sent to prison for embezzling more than $800,000 to pay for, among other things, gambling junkets to Las Vegas. That’s money that could have helped a lot of dogs and cats.

Morgan and Gilkey are hereby nominated to my new list, It Didn’t Stay Here. These are people who get into trouble elsewhere for something that happened in that bug light called Las Vegas. My list is a tongue-in-cheek rebuttal of that famous Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority slogan, “What Happens Here, Stays Here.” The names of all nominees can be found elsewhere on this page along with, by clicking on their names, their sad stories. Continue reading

I had to file a public record request for my Las Vegas water usage

Las Vegas water recordsAs a journalist for nearly a half-century, I literally have filed hundreds of freedom of information act/public records requests to get documents from government agencies. In cases decades apart and quite separate, I got the secret testimonies to the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission of Apple CEO Steve Jobs and later-to-be-fugitive-financier Robert Vesco.

I obtained proof of Federal Bureau of Investigation director J. Edgar Hoover’s jealousy about all the attention the 1960s TV show “The Untouchables” gave to rival lawman Eliot Ness, and how the agency monitored the personal life of secretly gay actor Rock Hudson. I showed the odd FBI surveillance of the artist Georgia O’Keeffe (whose name was misspelled in agency reports every single time), the poet John Ciardi and sports editor Lester Rodney of the Communist Party daily newspaper the Daily Worker. I even used disclosure laws to get dog-attack records from the U.S. Postal Service (along with an apology for illegally not providing them faster).

But no request I ever filed was quite as strange as the one I made recently after becoming New To Las Vegas. I was forced to draft and send a formal plea under the Nevada Public Records Act to get my own water records.

I am not making this up. Read on. Continue reading

It Didn’t Stay Here: Pa. official hit for okaying trip to Las Vegas Mirage

It Didn't Stay Here

Mirage Resort (via MGM Resorts International)

I guess when you live in  hardscrabble northeastern Pennsylvania–especially the area around Easton–any trip to Las Vegas by government workers on the public dime can look suspect. Amy Trapp, the HR director of Northampton County, Pa., of which Easton is the county seat, is on the hot seat for $2,343 spent by two of her workers to fly to Las Vegas, stay at the fancy Mirage Resort on the Las Vegas Strip and attend a training seminar.

Although it doesn’t seem that any rules were broken, the trip has caused a political brouhaha far from Las Vegas. So I’m nominating Trapp for my new list, It Didn’t Stay Here. The list–a play on that great Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority marketing slogan, “What Happens Here, Stays Here“–consists of folks having problems somewhere else for things that happened in Vegas. Earlier nominations can be found elsewhere on this page. Continue reading

Shadowy outfit rating medical pros operates in Las Vegas

Shadowy outfit raring medical pros

Material from Consumers’ Research Council of America hanging in the waiting room of a Las Vegas dental practice

As someone New To Las Vegas, I’ve had to get a new set of medical professionals to help keep me alive and functioning: doctors, specialists, dentists and the like. So it pains me to report this. On the walls of offices and waiting rooms I keep seeing laudatory plaques and literature issued by a shadowy ratings group with a misleading name and banal standards set up by a California trophy maker for, it seems, the purpose of selling overpriced plaques.

The group calls itself Consumers’ Research Council of America. Now, if you get that confused with Consumers Union, the publisher of the highly respected magazine Consumer Reports, it’s probably no surprise. And if you think the address Consumers’ Research Council of America lists on its website of Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington just four blocks from the White House is a prestige location, think again: It’s simply a mail drop at a UPS store. And don’t bother calling the phone number on the home page either. It is answered by a tape that won’t take a message.

The image elsewhere on this page is that of a hanging on the waiting room wall of a Las Vegas dentist I mercifully will not name. It’s far from the first Consumers’ Research Council of America “endorsement” I have seen around Sin City.

Don’t believe me? Just Google “Las Vegas” and “Consumers’ Research Council of America” (make sure to include the apostrophe), or click on this link. You will get scores of hits of medical and other professionals touting this big honor. Hanging out in the suburbs? Google “Henderson” and “Consumers’ Research Council of America” and you’ll get dozens. Hell, even Googling “Summerlin” (a well-to-do section of the Las Vegas area) and “Consumers’ Research Council of America” pulls up a bunch.

Consumers’ Research Council of America operates nationally. For proof, try my little Google search trick inserting any city in the country you want.

The reason I know something about this is that I wrote up Consumers’ Research Council of America and its m.o. in 2009 for Forbes.com. You can read that story by clicking here. From my further research, it doesn’t seem that things have changed too much.

Continue reading

It Didn’t Stay Here: Las Vegas meeting leads to New York convictions

It Didn't Stay Here

William T. “Billy” Walters (via cardplayer.com)

Even before becoming New To Las Vegas, I had heard of Billy Walters. He was a big-time Vegas-based gambler–profiled in 2011 on 60 Minutes as “the most dangerous sports bettor in Nevada.”

Turns out Walters, whose full name is William T. Walters, also was a big-time stock investor. A little too big time, I might suggest. Last month, he was convicted in federal court in New York City on all 10 criminal counts he faced involving insider trading in publicly traded dairy company Dean Foods.

According to the indictment and rather abundant trial testimony, Walters used confidential information over six years to profit to the tune of $43 million, either by buying shares ahead of the release of good news or selling them just before bad stuff became known publicly. Walters used tips fed him by Thomas C. Davis, Dean Foods board member and sometimes chairman who was heavily indebted to Walters and who went state’s evidence as part of his own guilty plea to a dozen charges.

Walters, 70, who professed innocence, will appeal after he’s sentenced in July. (UPDATE: He was sentenced on July 27 to five years in prison and a $10 million fine.) He also earns a nomination to my new list, It Didn’t Stay Here. This is a roster of people who got into trouble elsewhere for something that happened in Las Vegas. The still-embryonic list–a riff on the celebrated Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority marketing slogan, “What Happens Here, Stays Here“–can be found elsewhere on this page.

How much of what Walters was convicted of actually took place in Las Vegas isn’t completely clear to me. I didn’t attend the four-week trial in Manhattan, and daily news accounts of the proceedings were intermittent. But according to the indictment–remember, Walters was convicted on all counts, so the jury found the totality of the charges convincing–Sin City was definitely a venue for some of his purported dirty dealings.

Continue reading

It Didn’t Stay Here: Illinois politician sentenced to jail for Las Vegas junkets

jail for Las Vegas junkets

Oliver Hamilton (courtesy East St. Louis Township, Ill.)

For years, I have been writing up dodgy charities I have encountered, often after getting a telephone cold call asking for money and then doing a little research. Las Vegas and other parts of Nevada are home to paid telemarketers operating nationally who often receive as much as 90% of the money donated in the name of the charity. (This scurrilous fact is rarely volunteered to the person being called.)

This blog and my previous one, NewToSeattle.com, get a fair amount of traffic from other persons solicited who Google the name of the charity and come upon my musings. Believe it or not, some of these charities have kept calling me asking for money even after I have roasted them online. This is why I have nominated them for a list I started called America’s Stupidest Charities. This is only opinion, of course, but what can be dumber than that? You can see the list of nominations elsewhere on this site.

But New To Las Vegas, I see the need for a second list. The title: “It Didn’t Stay Here,” inspired by the famously cheeky marketing slogan of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, “What Happens Here, Stays Here.” This list will consist of folks and firms getting into trouble elsewhere for something that happened in Las Vegas.

My first nominee: Oliver Hamilton of East St. Louis, Ill.

A now ex-elected township supervisor, Hamilton. 63, was sentenced earlier this month in his local federal court to five years in prison for spending taxpayer money on, among other things, trips to Las Vegas. The guilty plea to federal wire fraud for embezzling public money covered improper spending of at least $40,000. But the Belleville News-Democrat, the Illinois newspaper that uncovered the scandal by diligently making public-record requests, said Hamilton charged at least $230,000 in personal purchases over a four-year period. Continue reading

One topic Las Vegas image-makers ignore: Las Vegas scorpions

Las Vegas scorpions

Arizona bark scorpion (via Progressive Pest Control)

The image-makers of Las Vegas, especially the folks who coined the now-famous “What Happens Here, Stays Here” slogan, are terrific at selling this town. That’s one reason the local airport serves nearly 1 million passengers every single week in an area that has only two million residents.

But here’s one thing the Las Vegas publicists don’t talk about: Las Vegas scorpions. Search the official websites of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which owns the aforementioned slogan, for the word “scorpion” in a pest context, and you’ll come up with zip.

For me, this really hit home in home a couple weeks ago when a scorpion crawling across the ceiling actually fell into my own bed! Fortunately, I’m a light sleeper and was able to make short work of it with a pillow case organized-crime-style (hey, this is Vegas, baby, where the Mob Museum is a popular tourist attraction). I was careful to avoid the tail, tipped with a stinger that can swoop over and deliver a hefty load of potent venom. Continue reading

On Las Vegas ethical standards

Las Vegas ethical standards

Rossi Ralenkotter (via LinkedIn)

There’s an interesting story in today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Rossi Ralenkotter, the CEO and president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, is upset an RJ reporter knocked on the front door of the gated-community home of one of Ralenkotter’s executives. I’m sure his outrage has nothing to do with some recent investigative reporting about his governmental agency by the paper, which happens to be owned by the family of a rival convention center operator.

But here’s the passage in today’s story that really caught my eye. The reporter “violated ethical standards that we in the business community of Las Vegas respect and uphold,” Ralenkotter is quoted as saying.

I have three observations here:

1/ Although I am still New To Las Vegas, it is far from clear to me that the city’s business community has much in the way of ethical standards (i.e. see the Las Vegas connection to the recent Panama Papers scandal). After all, a fair amount of the economy is grounded on vice and bribery.

2/ I immediately thought of the book-turned-movie “All the President’s Men,” which recounted considerable efforts by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward knocking on residential doors and meeting people after business hours. Their activities helped lead to the resignation of a U.S. president.

3/ What Ralenkotter really ought to be most upset about is the possibility that RJ reporters approached at their homes other LVCVA employees, who did not report those visits to him.

The LVCVA is the proud owner of the famous slogan, “What Happens Here, Stays Here,” which cheekily encourages behavior in Vegas that many might find offensive or unethical. Ralenkotter is already discovering that what’s reported here, doesn’t stay here.

Follow William P. Barrett’s work on Twitter by clicking here.

Far from Las Vegas, Donald Trump taxes and me

Donald Trump taxes

Donald J. Trump (via Wikipedia)

You might have heard about the big reveal on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show last night that Donald J. Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes in 2005. It certainly was interesting.

But it was not exactly a scoop.

For here is what I wrote for the Informer gossip column of Forbes, which I also edited, published on February 9, 2007:


Just a Bunch of Zeros

A snappy moment enlivened a Camden, N.J. hearing on Donald J. Trump’s libel suit over author Timothy L. O’Brien’s TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald. The book says Trump is worth less than $250 million. “I think I’m going to hire his accountant,” Superior Court Judge Irvin J. Snyder exclaimed on the bench after eyeing Trump’s still-secret-to-the-public tax returns. “He only paid $38,000 in tax.” Huge evidence for the defense? “Actually,” O’Brien lawyer Andrew J. Ceresney stammered, “it’s 38–well, 38 million, Your Honor.” Snyder replied, “Oh, thanks. I missed that.” Trump lawyer William M. Tambussi didn’t skip a beat: “So did Mr. O’Brien, Judge.” Trump says he’s worth $6 billion; FORBES figures $2.9 billion. –William P. Barrett Continue reading

The caring folks of Las Vegas

caring folks of Las VegasTwo elderly men were in a Las Vegas supermarket shopping together. One was helping the other, taking items off the shelves and later taking those items from the shopping cart onto the belt at the check-out.

It was clear from their dialog–I was right behind them several times–that they didn’t live together or were in a romantic or even paid caretaker relationship. It was simply a stronger friend helping a frailer friend on what I gathered was a more-or-less regular basis.

This scenario–friends helping weaker friends in everyday shopping situations–is one I’ve encountered over and over in the half-year since becoming New To Las Vegas. Besides assorted supermarkets, I’ve seen it at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes’s and Costco.

I know this flies in the face of Las Vegas’s reputation as a “tough” town. And it might even be hard to square with a crime rate that is several times the national average. But it’s happening here, and it warms the heart. Continue reading

If Trump wants more coverage of crime, come to Las Vegas

coverage of crime

Donald J. Trump (via Wikipedia)

Donald J. Trump is breaking the mold as President of the United States in so many ways. Among the latest: He thinks there isn’t enough reporting of crime, specifically terror attacks. That makes him the first elected official I can remember who says the news media is downplaying–deliberately, he suggests conspiratorially–violence in society.

The usual claim–and one I heard for years as a newspaper police and court reporter–is that the press gives far too much attention to such unpleasantries, especially since criminal acts, including those classified as terror, statistically remain the exception rather than the norm. The traditional complaint has been that the media are undermining civilization by playing up such bad stuff to get eyeballs.

Trump’s stated notion that terror news is under-reported has been widely debunked. I personally think his position is silly. But if Trump really wants more coverage of bad acts, he ought to spend more time around Las Vegas, where the tallest non-casino hotel, befitting his half-ownership, bears his name.

The local media here can’t serve up enough crime news. Continue reading