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Week in Review
by Scott Dickensheets | posted March 10, 2014
Before we face-plant too deeply into this week, let's sift the week just passed for any lessons it might offer ...
Responsibility — it's about more than just owning up to your mistakes. It's also about blaming others! So it appears to be with Mark A. Johnson, a retired California real-estate guy and car-lot owner, who's filed a civil suit against the Downtown Grand after losing $500,000 over Super Bowl weekend. His suit is not about the lost money, he insists. It's about the booze. Specifically the 20 free cocktails the casino supposedly gave him during a 17-hour binge at the gaming tables, which he says left him unable to control his actions. It's the sort of hilariously grim situation best framed in the style of an elevator pitch for Hangover IV: "Just picture a drunk walking down the street," he's quoted as saying in the RJ, "and he's drunk, and someone pickpockets and takes his money from him. That's how I characterize it." (We see Johnson as the Ed Helms character.) Now, before you imagine a freakishly muscled cocktail waitress forcing comped drinks through his clenched teeth, Johnson's not saying it's entirely the casino's fault. "At some point it's my responsibility, okay," he admits. "But the unfortunate part about it for them is that they have a more, bigger responsibility than I do." Oddly enough, Nevada does have rules about plying clearly drunk patrons with alcohol, so the Gaming Control Board is looking into it. One official, perhaps bewildered by the sight of a car-dealership owner taking the high road against mildly coercive sales tactics, was reduced to saying the obvious in three different ways: "We are investigating this thoroughly. We are aware of this matter. We'll see if there are regulation violations."
Responsibility, sometimes shirked and other times embraced, was certainly a theme last week, whether it was the ongoing fiscal collapse of North Las Vegas or a local woman getting county approval to keep abandoned pot-bellied pigs on her property. It's nice to see some people stepping up. For instance, who among us hasn't waited anxiously to see this headline in the RJ: "Nevada cracks down on notaries public that go too far"? But if you're thinking, it's about time the state cracked its knuckles, said We are aware of this matter, we'll see if there are regulation violations, and clamped down on these signature-witnessing, document-stamping renegades, well, hold on. The folks they're really after are the ones who, in the guise of notaries public, or, in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods, notarios, give something akin to legal advice they're not qualified to offer. For the gullible or uninformed, this can have disastrous consequences. "People here in Nevada think they're getting advice from attorneys, but they're not," Secretary of State Ross Miller told the paper. Almost as important, Miller's crackdown has finally brought public attention to the correct plural construction of "notary public."
Nothing says more bigger responsibility like the need to adequately fund our public education system. Gov. Brian Sandoval is aware of this matter, and maybe one day he'll investigate it thoroughly. But not last week! "We're going to need everybody's help to defeat one of the worst tax proposals Nevada has seen in many, many years," Sandoval told a gathering of the Nevada Taxpayers Association, attacking the so-called Education Initiative (or 2 percent margins tax) pushed by the Nevada Education Association teachers union. Just picture a businessman walking down the street, enjoying one of the nation's best tax climates, and someone pickpockets and takes his money from him! “Spending is so much more enjoyable when you ignore where the money comes from,” Sandoval said, according to the RJ. Sure, much of the state power structure has already lined up against the initiative, but there might be one or two Nevadans who still believe we have a collective duty to properly fund schools, and that's who he's trying to reach. Alas, the governor didn't backstop his attack on the Education Initiative with an alternate school-funding plan. Someone else's responsibility?
Home tweet home
by Andrew Kiraly | posted March 7, 2014
Remember homes? Yeah, those were the boxy things we lived in before 2008, when the economicocalypse swept us all away to Sad Poverty Island on a shrieking wave of robo-signed foreclosures. Okay, the housing crisis is no joking matter, especially given that Nevada is still holding on to its dubious No. 1 trophy in the foreclosure category, and that thousands of Nevada homeowners are still struggling to hold on to their pads. The state launched a program, Home Again Nevada, to help them do just that — as well fix their credit and modify their loans. Funded by the robosigning lawsuit settlement, the free program is basically a one-stop Q&A call-in center where troubled homeowners can find out what kind of non-scammy programs are out there to help. (I just called and, yes, an actual nice human answers, just bursting with helpfulness.)
This evening, though, the Nevada attorney general’s office is trying a decidedly more contemporary way to interface with the public — a Twitter town hall that happens tonight from 6-7p. All you have to do is tweet your question with the hashtag #AskHomeAgain — and social media-savvy housing counselors and credit experts with the Home Again Nevada program will shoot you back an answer. If you’re old school and need to hear a human voice at the other end of your primal howl of frustration, you can always call Home Again Nevada directly at 1-855-457-4638. Like I said, yeah, actual nice humans.
by Scott Dickensheets | posted March 7, 2014
It looks like some ancient amphitheater — two men enter, one man leaves! — but it's just the terraced bank of a flood-control basin in Henderson.
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