After one whole week of tension, confrontation and threats, the Bureau of Land Management backed up from the idea of taking rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle and decided to allow Bundy’s cattle to graze on public land.
After twenty-one years of raising his cattle on what is now federal land, the Bureau of Land Management decided that it’s time for Bundy to pay — or for his cattle not to graze on federal land.
The Bundy’s ranch, located less than a hundred miles from Las Vegas, has been in Cliven Bundy’s family since 1870 and he has owned almost three hundred acres of the land adjacent to the one of which the federal government is claiming ownership.
The seized part of Bundy’s cattle by the federal government sparked protesters from different parts of the nation to come down to support Bundy’s rights to have his cattle graze on federal land as he and his family have done for over a century.
Protesters — who all believe in the U.S. Constitution — traveled from California, Idaho, Las Vegas (NV) and Montana to Bunkerville to unite with Bundy in his singular effort and offer him a show of peaceful support in his stand against injustice.
Bundy, a 67-year-old rancher whose family has operated a ranch since the 1870s, does not recognize federal ownership of the land where his cattle graze. Nevada, says Bundy, owns the property.
The federal government disagrees. In 1993, the government revoked Bundy’s grazing rights on the land after he stopped paying grazing fees. He also refused to comply with federal orders to remove his cattle from the property, which the federal government says is home to federally-protected tortoise populations.
Several websites reported that the Nevada rancher who forced the federal Bureau of Land Management to back down last week may have been targeted because a Chinese solar company with ties to Sen. Harry Reid’s son wants the land for an energy plant.
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9. March 19, 2014
End of an Era: Jackie Gaughan dead at 93
If anyone qualifies for several honorable adjectives at this time, that one is Jackie Gaughan, the gaming pioneer of Las Vegas who once owned a part or whole stake in several casinos in the downtown area, not counting his pet project — The El Cortes Hotel and Casino — on a corner that could very well be called the corner of Happy and Healthy (as the commercial for Walgreen drug store states), Fremont and 6th Street, in the heart of Las Vegas.
There has been only a handful of men in Las Vegas that deserve to be called legends, and added in between Benny Binion and Sam Boyd is Jackie Gaughan. No others can claim that title.
Jackie Gaughan partnered with many legendary figures of our time, including Ben Siegel, but Jackie always stood by his own principals and his own rules, getting the reputation of an honest and straightforward individual.
Last week, with the death of legendary casino figure Jackie Gaughan, Las Vegas saw the end of an era that, unfortunately, we never can or will see again.
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8. June 25, 2014
County reveals licensees for Marijuana: The new drug dealers do not know how to spread the wealth
Not that long ago being a marijuana-smoker was not something that one bragged about, and being a marijuana dealer carried a stigma with it, since that was not accepted in the majority of social circles or communities anywhere.
A long-time Las Vegas high-roller named Jimmy Chagra — whose name isn’t that well known today — was a legend on the famous Las Vegas Strip back in his day.
According to gaming experts, Jimmy Chagra gambled millions, handed out $10,000 tips to cocktail waitresses, and sometimes even paid off the mortgages of certain casino workers.
Chagra was active as a trafficker in marijuana and the money he had was the product of his marijuana business, an enterprise that sent him to prison despite all the charitable gestures and financial help he offered to others.
According to one observer, he was “the undisputed marijuana kingpin of the Western world,” but many of those people who benefited from Chagra’s generosity on many occasions denied knowing the person who financially helped so many of them.
The late Jasper Spaciale went to a federal prison for loaning money at
only 2 percent interest a week to those who needed a quick loan until
payday because loan-sharking was considered a mob-related business,
and it was an illegal business as well.
Today there are legit loan sharks on almost every corner in Clark County, charging as much as 39 percent interest; but because they are licensed and give a piece of the action to the city or the county, they are called payday loans.
Today, many of our community’s elite — those who walk around with their nose high in the air and are considered the “royalty” of our community and
of a caste that would not have been seen with the likes of Chagra of yesteryear — are proudly appearing before the County Commissioners asking for a license to be drug-dealers.
From a sitting Judge (Jim Bixler) to the son of the Senate Majority Leader (Rory Reid) to a narcotic detective and political pundit (David Kallas) to a powerful political consultant (Sig Rogich) to a newspaper magnate owner of several newspapers in the area and casino owner (Bryan Greenspun), as well as casino executives and real estate tycoons and almost anyone who is someone in Las Vegas, including those who still hide their names under some of their puppets to avoid the publicity: they all want a piece of the pie, a piece of the marijuana market fortune.
Only those with money and clout are allowed to be marijuana dealers in order to keep the money within the same elite group. No outsiders are allowed.
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7. November 12, 2014
Lawyer lied during Kirstin Lobato’s Nevada Supreme Court arguments
A minimum-wage convenience store clerk who lies under oath in court can be convicted of perjury and sentenced to prison. In contrast, a highly paid lawyer can fearlessly lie his or her head off when publicly appearing before the Nevada Supreme Court.
We know that because of what occurred during oral arguments before the full Nevada Supreme Court on September 9, 2014 concerning Kirstin Blaise Lobato’s habeas corpus appeal. The attorney representing the State of Nevada — Clark County Assistant District Attorney Steven S. Owens — repeatedly lied about issues related to Ms. Lobato’s case.
The Supreme Court’s response has been deafening silence. Owens’ dishonest assertions include:
2) Owens lied, “She was convicted by her own words at the trial, and her own words belie the argument that she is actually innocent.” The truth is there is nothing incriminating regarding Bailey’s homicide in her police Statement or comments attributed to her — none of which even include the date, location, or manner of Bailey’s death from a head injury. Furthermore, Ms. Lobato’s habeas petition details her conviction was due to Metro Det. Thomas Thowsen’s extensive false testimony regarding her Statement and comments, and his alleged investigations; and more than 275 unrebutted instances of prejudicial prosecutor misconduct during her trial — none of which were objected to by her lawyer.
3) Owens lied, “Shortly thereafter [Bailey’s homicide], Kirstin Lobato in Panaca, Nevada, started talking about a severed penis.” The truth is Ms. Lobato mentioned in her Statement that prior to June 20, 2001 she had a conversation with a woman about the Las Vegas rape attempt she fended off with her pocket knife. Also, her habeas petition includes unrebutted new evidence by nine alibi witnesses who were informed by her beginning in May 2001 that she used her pocket knife to fend off a would-be rapist in Las Vegas.
4) Owens lied that Ms. Lobato’s vague comment referring to a conversation with her father is evidence of a guilty mind to Bailey’s homicide. The truth is her comment refers to a conversation with her father in June 2001 — weeks prior to Bailey’s homicide.
5) Owens lied, “But nothing at the crime scene is going to help them because the jury already knew that evidence there pointed away from Kirstin.” The truth is Ms. Lobato’s unrebutted new exculpatory crime scene evidence establishes among other things that Bailey’s killer made all the shoeprints imprinted in blood and they don’t match Ms. Lobato; Bailey’s cutting and stab wounds were not inflicted by her pocket knife; and Bailey was alive when his rectum injury occurred, proving she was convicted of a non-existent violation of NRS 201.450.
Furthermore, two jurors determined after reviewing all the new evidence that “it could have possibly resulted in either a hung jury or Ms. Lobato’s acquittal.”
6) Owens lied Bailey’s time of death isn’t “critical.” The truth is the State’s theory of Ms. Lobato’s guilt depended on convincing the jury Bailey died before 7 a.m.
7) Owens lied the jury “rejected” Ms. Lobato’s alibi evidence she was in Panaca the evening of July 8. The truth is the State conceded during its closing argument it is factually true she was in Panaca from at least “11:30 a.m. through the night.”
8) Owens lied in his assertions Ms. Lobato’s unrebutted new expert forensic evidence Bailey died after 8 p.m. isn’t important. The truth is the State conceded at trial she was in Panaca 165 miles from Las Vegas at that time, so it is impossible she committed his homicide.
9) Owens lied, “We have here a couple statutory remedies that Ms. Lobato could avail herself of. … and the other is a motion for DNA testing…” The truth is Ms. Lobato’s petition for post-conviction DNA testing of crime scene evidence — including semen recovered from Bailey’s rectum — was vigorously opposed by the Clark County D.A. and denied by Judge Valorie Vega. The Nevada Supreme Court dismissed her appeal, “Because the order is not appealable.”
The foregoing is only a partial litany of Owens’ gross dishonesty throughout his argument. It was a continuation of Owens’ dishonesty related to Ms. Lobato’s case.
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6. October 8, 2014
Clark County’s child welfare system is ‘broken’
The public had its first chance Tuesday to go before a newly organized panel to speak out in support of or to recount
problems they have encountered with the child welfare system. There was a unified, undisputed message: The child welfare system is “broken.”
The Las Vegas Tribune has carried stories for many years about families and children the system has victimized, giving credence to that assertion, but sadly, it’s nothing new.
One speaker at the public hearing, Verise Campbell, a grandmother of two young children who had a hard fought battle to gain custody of them, was a key presenter whose story became somewhat central to the day. Her story brought tears and highlighted several of the problems others report experiencing with the child welfare system.
The courtroom on the 17th floor in the Nevada Supreme Court hearing room at the Regional Justice Center was filled to its 70-seat capacity for the four-hour long session, according the Public Information Officer Michael Sommermeyer of the Administrative Office of the Courts, who directed overflow visitors to an area where they could stand.
Justice Nancy Saitta presided as the chair and lead driving force behind the blue ribbon committee she convened to look into and report its findings, recommendations and directives by the end of its four-month term. The period ends early in 2015 prior to Nevada Legislature’s bi-annual session. Saitta said the committee’s report will be complete in time for “action” in the upcoming session.
What was clear from the first public hearing of the planned series is that action for change is called for loudly; but will anything ultimately be done? Some in attendance, such as panel members Mayor Carolyn Goodman, District Judge Deborah Schumacher and Saitta of the blue ribbon committee vow to bring about change.
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5. October 29, 2014
Prosecutors in Las Vegas, Clark County, lying to get convictions
probation — or, in some cases, they do not get to leave because they are confined to prison for a crime they may not have committed or participated in, or even known about at all.
Also, when a tourist gets in trouble, that tourist is under the erroneous assumption that the laws of the United States, which are supposed to apply to all, apply to Las Vegas, Nevada as well. In reality, there is a different set of rules here because this is not the United States of America — this is the “Country of Las Vegas,” under a dictatorial regime similar to a police state.
It seems that “intent sexual assault” is the charge in style nowadays for men, and “child abuse” is the charge for females who do not bow to the system; these are the charges prosecutors use to win every case, even if it requires lying.
There is the case of a young Marine who sat in jail for a month for a sexual assault charge that he did not know he committed; there was no DNA, no evidence of any kind, not even an alleged victim — and yet he was kept in jail for four months after bail had been posted.
There is also the case of a Florida engineer who refused to agree to the prosecutor’s “benevolent” offer of pleading guilty and doing “only” a few years behind bars or else be found guilty by a jury — that in most cases is manipulated by the prosecutors; he is now facing thirty-five years in the Nevada State Prison.
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4. September 24, 2014
Mother protests with hunger strike in front of the Regional Justice Center
The mother of a young man with several mental illnesses spent all last week in front of the Regional Justice Center on a hunger strike protesting against a court decision by Judge Douglas Smith after her son finalized a plea deal where he would plead guilty to lesser charges in return for a much lower sentence.
Dagmar Diaz was arrested and charged with kidnapping and intent of sexual assault; his public defender attorney negotiated a lower sentence if he admits guilt to a lesser charge.
Up to now, everything seemed routine and business as usual with the prosecutors and defense attorneys playing at law with the lives of the defendants.
However, everyone agreed to the plea bargain deal and they were ready to be in Department 8 in front of Judge Douglas Smith to seal the negotiations, but no one counted on the judge’s racial antagonism against Latino defendants; he did not approve the deal.
The Public Defender appointed to the case tried to explain to the judge that the young man had several head injuries and illnesses due to being run down under a car in front of his school, but Judge Smith did not allow her to finish the explanation and shut her down.
The Deputy District Attorney, who always hides under the name of the elected District Attorney, was shocked with the judge’s decision and tried to explain to the judge the plea agreement, but the judge told both attorneys that he didn’t care and the ultimate decision was up to him and… NEXT CASE.
Judge Smith is known for being rude and arrogant on the bench and has the tendency to be extremely rude to people who speak with an accent.
Judge Smith most recently was in the spotlight when he locked up a Hispanic man because he thought the defendant displayed an attitude while in court, and then raised the man’s bail from $3,000 to $1 million. Later the Nevada Supreme Court disagreed with Smith’s order and ordered the defendant’s bail back down to the original $3,000 and the case transferred to another courtroom.
The issue with that Hispanic defendant is not the only case on which the Supreme Court had disagreed with the decision of Judge Smith; Las Vegas Tribune found more than thirty cases in which the Nevada Supreme Court had not been in agreement with Judge Smith, reversing the rulings.
Dagmar Diaz and his mother Blanca have been in the country little more than a decade from Cuba; just a few months after Dagmar was enrolled in his school, he was run over by a car in front of that school on Twain and Spencer.
Dagmar was in a coma for fourteen days and his mother had to quit working to care for him; he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, post traumatic brain damage and attention deficit disorder (ADD) and needed continual medical attention.
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3. March 26, 2014
Do parental rights extend to medical marijuana patients?
If you appear in Clark County Family Court Department T, in front of Judge Gayle Nathan, the answer is NO. JudgeNathan is enforcing a zero tolerance policy for the Defendant, Keith Patton. Judge Nathan is on a mission to show this
medical patient “how miserable it can get” if he follows his doctor’s recommendation.
Keith Patton suffered a severe head trauma in 2003 and dealt with migraines, vomiting, and sleepless nights. All prescribed pharmaceutical medications had severe side effects. He now uses medical marijuana not only to alleviate the symptoms but also as preventive medicine. He is a fully functioning honor student at ITT Technical Institute.
Keith moved to Las Vegas in 2012 from Northern Virginia, 2,400 miles across the United States of America, to live closer to his son. Prior to his first appearance in front of Judge Nathan, he received a medical recommendation from a qualified physician, and now holds a valid Nevada State-issued medical card. Keith appeared in Clark County Family Court as the Plaintiff, Erin Bersell, and mother of his then 3-year-old child, Aiden, would not allow him visitation. Ms. Bersell’s attorneys, Andrew Kynaston and Edward Kainen, submitted an Instagram photo of a glass bong Keith had sold to a medical patient as evidence of his “emersion in the drug culture.” This “evidence” was not in the pleadings, but Judge Nathan allowed it to be entered and ordered Keith to test for drugs. Keith was not allowed to speak and had not entered his prescription into evidence prior to the hearing since listing medications currently in use is not on any court form and this allegation was not in the pleadings.
He tested positive for his prescribed medication and returned to court on December 6, 2012. Photographs of Ms. Bersell under the influence with a marijuana bud tucked neatly behind one ear were presented to the court and found to be not relevant. The request to test Ms. Bersell was denied by Judge Nathan. The court ordered that Keith was to “NEVER EVER drive the minor child anywhere until there is a further ORDER of this court.” There is no evidence that Keith cannot care for, or that he is a danger to, Aiden; he has not even had a speeding ticket, and has no DUI.
Should all medical patients be prohibited from transporting their children anywhere because something MIGHT happen, or just those who have a Nevada State-issued medical card?
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2. October 1, 2014
Child welfare system reform: Real change or more of same?
All agencies may have problems of one type or another, but the Clark County agency responsible for protecting the youngest and most vulnerable—the children—has for too long gone relatively unchecked and uncorrected, according to countless family advocates, families who have been inexplicably victimized by agency malfunctions, and media critics — the Las Vegas Tribune at the forefront.
The pages of this newspaper and programs on RadioTribune.com have been filled for years with articles covering the Division of Child and Family Services and exposing major problems and questionable rulings in several cases that came before the family courts. Accounts of families and children the system not only did not protect, but who instead became targets of abuse and torment or neglect, are proof that deeper investigation into the county’s system is warranted.
This week, the Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta and others have gone on record vowing to look into and correct the “shortcomings” and “deficiencies” in the agency and systems overseeing children’s welfare.
Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Tuesday headline showed a recent development that echoes what the Las Vegas Tribune has been calling for over the years: “Child Welfare Reform Sought.” The front page article announced that a “blue ribbon committee” has been convened to look into problems with the Clark County child welfare system and courts.
The system encompasses Child Haven, the emergency shelter for children in protective custody after they are removed from situations deemed abusive or neglectful; the foster home placement program, and the family court departments that oversee cases involving children with one or both parents in some type of dysfunctional or unhealthy living condition or embroiled in family custody battles.
An emailed statement about the committee from Public Information Officer Michael S. Sommemeyer from the Administrative Office of the Supreme Court of Nevada stated: “[Saitta] has asked a group of Nevada leaders to serve on a blue ribbon committee to look into deficiencies in the Clark County child welfare system and courts. The panel, which will meet over the next four months, will make recommendations for county action and/or legislation to be passed in the 2015 state legislative session.”
The committee was convened as a part of the Court Improvement Program for the Protection and Permanency of Dependent Children. Saitta is presiding chair.
“Action needs to be taken immediately to address these shortcomings that are jeopardizing the well-being of children in Clark County,” said Saitta.
Among those chosen for the committee are Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman; County Commissioner Susan Brager; former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, currently the executive Director of Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada; Nevada Health and Services Director Amber Howell, along with Second Judicial District Judge Deborah Schumacher.
“These children deserve better, and I get no sense of urgency on the part of the system. This committee will identify the most serious issues in the child welfare system and work with [county] officials to make sure they are corrected quickly,” Saitta further stated.
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1. June 11, 2014
Las Vegas police mourning the death of two ambushed officers
Las Vegas police and the community are mourning the death of two of their own when two officers were senselessly killed while having lunch at a local pizza restaurant.
According to reports, the tragedy started approximately 11:30 Sunday morning when two individuals, a man and a woman, approached Officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo while having lunch at CiCi’s Pizza, ambushed
them and took their service guns.
The two suspects allegedly yelled ‘This is a revolution’ as they left the restaurant and headed to the Wal-Mart store across the street.
During an emotional press conference on Sunday afternoon, Sheriff Douglas Gillespie said he could not confirm the veracity of the statement at that time.
At the Wal-Mart store, the two suspects shot a shopper at the door and made their way to the back of the store where allegedly the female suspect shot her male companion and then killed herself.
The citizen shopper who died during the shootout at that Wal-Mart in northeast Las Vegas has been identified by the Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner as Joseph Robert Wilcox, 31, of Las Vegas.
The standoff and the investigation lasted through a substantial part of the evening, while officers continued to put pieces together to make sense of what had occurred.
Las Vegas Mayor, Carolyn G. Goodman, was the first one to comment on the shooting, stating “This was a senseless and cruel act — killing three innocent people, two who dedicated their lives to protecting all of us in our community, and one who was innocently going about her daily life. At UMC Trauma and thereafter with fellow officers, I saw their pain was evident and clear. Their resolve was greater than ever to serve our community with loyalty, dedication, and to honor the
memory of their two comrades and friends. I immediately asked that flags at city facilities be lowered to half staff in remembrance of the officers and the innocent woman also tragically shot today.” (Previous media reports had incorrectly identified the civilian victim in this incident as a woman.)
Former Assistant Sheriff Ted Moody and Sheriff candidate is only candidate that responded for a comment on this article. Moody said, “The attack yesterday was another brutal and incomprehensible act of violence to be added to a long and rapidly growing list of tragic incidents gripping our nation. The loss of Officer Alyn Beck and Officer Igor Soldo is as shocking as it is heartbreaking. Our prayers are with the families of these officers, the family of Joseph Wilcox, and with the brave men and women of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.”
Las Vegas Tribune columnist and former Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lieutenant Norm Jahn emailed his comment and said: “This stunning and senseless incident will do emotional damage to everyone at Metro and anyone who has worn a badge. It is unlikely that any ‘street survival’ training would have made a difference, but Metro leadership can surge forward with support for the families of the officers and also for the larger police family.”
The two officers were assigned to the Northeast Area Command. Beck had been employed with LVMPD since Aug. 2001. He leaves behind a wife and three children. Soldo had been employed with LVMPD since April 2006.
He was also married and leaves behind both his wife and a baby.