Bottom 10 2013 stories shameful, not funny


When I make a promise, I keep it.

That’s why I’m once again delivering the Bottom 10 oddest and most embarrassing stories of the year. Of course, this 24th annual roundup would have been online several weeks ago, but I gave it to President Barack Obama’s computer tech experts to process.

Last year, the odyssey of troubled Family Court Judge Steven Jones edged out the circuslike antics of Las Vegas Constable John Bonaventura for most mortifying performance by a public official. This year’s best of the worst features a lot of healthy choices. They’re sure to make the 2013 edition delightful, but you can keep your old Bottom 10 plan if you want to.

No. 10 | FAMILY AFFAIR

If you think Judge Jones is a corrupt self-parody, you haven’t been watching YouTube videos of Family Court marshals and deputies in action as they make life just a little harder for lowly taxpayers. The FBI might be asking, “What have those guys been smoking?”

No. 9 | REEFER SADNESS

Some folks were left wondering what the Nevada Athletic Commission was inhaling when it saw fit to wallop boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. with a staggering $900,000 fine for testing positive for marijuana metabolites following a fight he lost.

The fine was later reduced, and the commission announced that it was revisiting its regulations on the issue, which made headlines across the country.

No. 8 | SHELDON BOMBS

Iran! Hey, just kidding. Nutty casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson only suggested the U.S. launch a pre-emptive nuclear missile strike on Iranian soil as a way of reminding the nation what might happen to them if they don’t straighten up. After someone pointed out that such wacky nonsense wasn’t suited for a serious policy discussion at Yeshiva University, Adelson’s minions announced the boss was just having a good chuckle. Funny guy!

No. 7 | SHELDON PAYS

Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. agrees to cut a check for $47.4 million to settle a federal criminal money laundering investigation in connection with the casino play of Venetian high roller and Mexican methamphetamine cartel insider Zhenli Ye Gon.

No. 6 | BAD BETS

The good news is, Nevada offers legalized sports betting. The bad news: Someone apparently forgot to inform M Resort sports book boss Mike Colbert and former Wynn Resorts executive Tim Poster.

Now they find themselves out of the money.

No. 5 | ACE BONAVENTURA

Whether he is caught feather bedding jobs for cronies with arrest records or just plain failing to disclose his expenditures, Constable Bonaventura continues to possess the luck of Tony Soprano at taxpayer expense.

Will someone please remind me why we still need a constable?

No. 4 | F STREET FOLLIES

Leave it to government to spend millions to fix a problem it spent millions to create. That’s what happened when dunderheads saw fit to close F Street during a highway-widening project.

Several years and millions later, it is set to reopen.

No. 3 | THE DROPOUTS

Clark County School District Superintendent Dwight Jones suddenly decides he needs to flee the state and dump his responsibility for the education of more than 300,000 Southern Nevada students because his mother is ill. UNLV President Neal Smatrask, meanwhile, delivers an enthusiastic stump speech to his favorite university system, then boogies back to Texas to accept a top job at a state school.

Meanwhile, the local dropout rate climbs by two.

No. 2 | CHALK POLICE

Move over, Metro SWAT team. Make way for the self-appointed chalk police, who took it upon themselves to arrest protesters who had the audacity to exercise their constitutional rights with chalk on sidewalks outside the local palaces of law enforcement and criminal justice.

The charges were later dropped.

No. 1 | GREYHOUND THERAPY

A longtime strategy of treating the mentally ill by putting them on buses and shipping them back to their state of origin fizzles when the Sacramento Bee exposes the practice. After going to great lengths to deny and then downplay the issue, Gov. Brian Sandoval finally admits he’s appalled. Then he promises to make some adjustments.

Skeptics figure the big changes will be announced shortly after Sandoval’s 2014 re-election.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Email him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith. Follow him on Twitter @jlnevadasmith.