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Political events now gravitate to Las Vegas


Las Vegas has long been a national convention capital, but it’s now obvious it also has emerged as a great place to stage events with political punch.

The arrival of the NAACP’s 105th annual convention at the Mandalay Bay is an excellent example. It starts today and features a series of speakers on Sunday that includes NAACP Chairman Rosalyn Brock, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Rep. Dina Titus and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele among many.

Talk about a lot of change. Las Vegas was once a place that certain religious and political groups shied away from. And Las Vegas was once known as “the Mississippi of the West.”

We might have missed a bid for the 2016 Republican National Convention, but last week Las Vegas was home to the headline-grabbing Freedom Fest, touted as “the world’s largest gathering of free minds.” It recently played host to the conservative International Conference on Climate Change sponsored by The Heritage Foundation.

On Sept. 4, Mandalay Bay will stage Clean Energy Summit 7.0, which will gather renewables experts and national press in an event that’s sure to fire up progressives and environmentalists.

No matter how you slice it, that’s a broad range of acceptance. And as long as they keep coming, we’ll don just about any political hat required.

BOXING HOF: Credit the folks who continue to grow the Boxing Hall of Fame. It gets better each year, and this year’s second annual dinner Aug. 9 has received the seal of approval from the Nevada Sesquicentennial Commission as an “official event” of the state’s yearlong anniversary celebration.

Boxing and Nevada should remain synonymous.

WALL RETIRING: Respected former county prosecutor and District Judge David Wall has announced he’s retiring from the law firm of Eglet Wall Christiansen after 28 years in public and private practice.

In terms of profile, Wall will probably always be best known for co-prosecuting the first trial associated with the death of former casino boss Ted Binion.

As a judge, Wall received consistently high marks and reviews from the lawyers who practiced before his bench.

According to a law firm news release, Wall wants to spend more time with his family, teach law and practice mediation.

CHARITABLE CURRAN: National law firm Ballard Spahr just presented its Alan J. Davis award to managing partner Bill Curran in Las Vegas. The award is given to firm lawyers who work “on behalf of families in crisis,” and includes a $25,000 check that longtime local attorney Curran gets to distribute to charities of his choosing. Among them: the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, the Southern Nevada Senior Law Program and Nevada Legal Services. Law firm Chair Mark Stewart and Nevada Supreme Court Justice Michael Douglas this week helped make the presentation.

BOXING DEALER: Former heavyweight fighter and longtime casino dealer Gary Bates, who died last week after a long battle with cancer, is remembered fondly by Mandalay Bay Senior Vice President of Casino Operations Rick Fields.

“Gary worked for me for the past nine years and was a remarkable man,” Fields says. “He became more of a friend than an employee of mine and he will be missed by all at Mandalay Bay.”

ON THE BOULEVARD: Detroit mob figure Jack Tocco, whose pals once controlled a piece of the Edgewater casino in Laughlin, has died. I imagine he cursed the name of Bill Pompili until the day he died. ... NV Energy contributed $15,000 to the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada’s “Garden of Hope” located at Mundo restaurant in the World Market Center. ... Talk about a timely score: Caesars Palace employees are being partially credited with tipping authorities to suspicious activities that led to the arrest of alleged members of a high-rolling betting ring specializing in action on the World Cup.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? Email comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. Follow him on Twitter @jlnevadasmith.