When Judge Vincent Ochoa looked me straight in the eyes and told me that he is not a client of Dave Thomas, he hurt my feelings because I had always believed that most of those individuals wearing a black robe on the bench were people of integrity that I could respect, and who ought to inspire us, yet I knew he was lying to me.
One day, when Judge Bill Gonzalez’ was leaving my office after our pleasant visit, I walked him to his car and in front of the building we talked a little bit more about things that I didn’t think were proper to talk about in front of the staff. That’s when the topic of Dave Thomas came to light.
Judge Gonzalez honestly and straightforwardly told me that he is a Dave Thomas client and I respect him for that honesty and for not hiding the truth that sooner rather than later I was to find out anyway.
I like Judge Gonzalez; we’ve always had a very good communication, and even if I may not support him in this election, I respect him for being honest and for not hiding his connection to Dave Thomas.
Judge Gonzalez, as well as many others in this community, is aware of my feelings towards Dave Thomas and what I think about those who I believe are controlled by him, but he was honest and sincere and gave me the respect of not lying to my face; I may not recommend him for reelection because of the control Dave Thomas may have over him, but my opinion of Judge Gonzalez has not changed and my respect for him has doubled.
Judge Ochoa could have done the same and I would not have lost my respect for him, but he went all out to appear he was Dave Thomas-free.
Judge Ochoa has given Dave Thomas a total of $12,500 in five payments of $2,500 each for his services (if there IS any real service to speak of) and promises of endorsements from different unions and organizations.
Judge Ochoa paid five payments of $2,500 each on January 1st, February 1st, March 1sr, April 1st, and May 1st, and I assume that there will be more payments coming for the general elections, making those endorsements the most expensive endorsements in any race.
This is not a personal vendetta against Dave Thomas. Just take a look at the endorsements obtained by his clients — they all have the same union and organizational endorsements; is that a coincidence?
That is why the Las Vegas Tribune has ended the charade of endorsements, because we have realized that such endorsements may be just another politically motivated business transaction.
What are we doing for those candidates whom we believe are the best candidates for the job instead of endorsements? We gave them the opportunity to display their messages at a very reasonable price and we promote them one-on-one with our friends, our readers and our radio audience by inviting them over and over to appear on our radio shows, allowing them a chance to be themselves and present their plan for the better of the community.
I know there’s an organization that criticizes this newspaper because we sell advertising to the candidates; but we ask ourselves, and ask them also: is that not what newspapers do? We do not sell memberships, we sell advertising — and if it is a candidate we like, I deal with that candidate personally to enable him or her to save money as we give them our support.
As I have said before, considering all the years I have resided in this beautiful city that I love, and all the people I have met during those years, both the important and the very important, if I had been willing to play their games and be their puppet I could be as wealthy and important (or even more important) as some of them are because, being part of the elite Latino community that every politician nowadays wants to pamper, my seniority in the community would give me an edge.
Unfortunately (?), I don’t know how to kiss the rear ends of those who think they are more important than me; and quite frankly, they would all be under the wrong assumption anyway if they thought that their money could buy or control me.
My commitment to the community is far more important that any money or any connections I might gain by pleasing someone who thinks he/she is very important; I always find a way to publish my message on behalf of those who may not have a voice otherwise.
When a campaign manager has a client that I think is a good asset to the community, I have no objection to working with that campaign manager — as long as the campaign manager is aware that we are both on the same level.
However, when any campaign manager makes the mistake of believing that he is doing me a favor by allowing one of “his” candidates to appear on our radio station instead of realizing that it is we, at the Las Vegas Tribune and Radio Tribune, who are doing that campaign manager the favor of giving their client one extra opportunity to voice his or her message to the voters, I cut them off and tell the candidate why.
The campaign team for congressional candidate Niger Innes emailed us requesting an invitation for their candidate to be on our radio show; after checking both their schedule and ours, we settled for May 23.
Late in the afternoon on May 22, another campaign team member, who identified himself as “scheduling director” (or some such title), called us, blaming the previous team for booking the candidate for the day he would have a debate on the Jon Ralston show and he needed to “rehearse” for that 6 p.m. show.
They wanted to know if we could instead take another guest — who never arrived at our office, showing a great deal of disrespect to us, even after I was generous enough to introduce the candidate on another radio show that is more on the democratic side, even if the candidate is a Republican running against another Republican who is already spending lots of money on that radio show trying, intelligently enough, to convey her message to a democratic audience.
Regardless of how much people may try to diminish our position in the community, we saw clearly how people responded to our invitation for last week’s meet and greet the candidates event, where several hundred people came by — some for a minute or five, some for an hour or so, and some stayed for the whole event — and the candidates and spouses of campaign managers would not let me lie, even if I wanted to.
Most of these kinds of events last no more than two hours, but thanks to the great work of the team at Las Vegas Tribune, this one lasted four hours. Why? Because we are not about getting behind just one candidate or another; we are about allowing the candidates who are best for the office for which they are running AND best for the community to find their public voice and be seen and heard.
My name is Rolando Larraz, and as always, I approved this column.
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Rolando Larraz is Editor in Chief of the Las Vegas Tribune. His column appears weekly in this newspaper. To contact Rolando Larraz, email him at: Rlarraz@lasvegastribune.com or at (702) 699-8111.