Watching Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid address the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce is always entertaining.
Not necessarily for what Nevada’s senior senator says — his delivery is the definition of deadpan, and his opinions on the issues are well-known— but because he expresses his love of big government programs and progressive reforms in front of the mostly conservative business owners who attend chamber luncheons.
Reid only facilitated the entertainment Wednesday at the Four Seasons. The real fun was watching the facial expressions of some audience members as they listened to the Democrat extol the virtues of renewable energy and comprehensive immigration reform and bash the tea party movement and the policies of former President George W. Bush. The grimaces were plentiful, the applause polite. Reid did, however, receive a standing ovation prior to his chat.
It appeared most of the audience found common ground with the senator on the debilitating effects and shortsighted politics of the ongoing federal sequestration, which has made automatic cuts to government departments, programs and services.
“The sequestration is mindless, mindless. Dumb, stupid, whatever you want to call it,” Reid said. It’s wiser, he said, to spend billions creating jobs that will help repair the care-worn American infrastructure, including highways and 70,000 bridges that are considered to be in dangerous disrepair.
MCCAIN BOUQUET: Reid went to lengths to express his respect and admiration for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., someone he has known for more than three decades. Although they often are at odds on the issues, and Reid likened McCain’s hot temper to that of his mentor, former Gov. Mike O’Callaghan, the Nevada senator credited McCain with playing a key role in securing enough votes to pass the Senate’s immigration reform bill.
“Because of him we were able to get immigration done,” said Reid, who called the measure a net job creator.
STRANGE TRIP: Local attorney and former federal prosecutor Paul Wommer’s long fall from grace continued Thursday morning in U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro’s courtroom when he was sentenced to 41 months for a conviction on tax and structuring money laundering charges.
It marked yet another conviction of a local attorney on tax and money charges by Las Vegas IRS Criminal Investigation agents.
“Those who are well-versed in the law should have a profound awareness they are not above the law,” IRS Special Agent in Charge Paul Camacho said in a statement after the sentencing.
SURREAL TV: The Las Vegas City Council narrowly voted this week to allow reality television program developers from Discovery Studios to pursue a program based on life inside City Hall.
Council members Bob Beers, Bob Coffin and Lois Tarkanian voted against the measure, but I’m sure it’s not because they’re camera-shy.
They raised reasonable concerns about access and editorial control.
Frankly, I’m just wondering whether the producers will mount a camera on juice attorney Jay Brown and follow him around, whether it’s at City Hall or, for instance, a local bagel shop for a semi-private meeting with a councilman.
That might be TV worth watching.
STREET BEAT: Given the 168-month sentence he just received in a federal cocaine trafficking case, it only makes sense that certain local associates of Las Vegas-based Gambino crime family figure Neil Lombardo might be wondering whether he’s in a talking mood these days.
The case made celebrity headlines because Lombardo’s partner, Gambino soldier Joe Boy Sclafani, is the significant wiseguy of “Mob Wives” reality TV star Ramona Rizzo. Sclafani caught a 180-month sentence.
ON THE BOULEVARD: Reid on Yucca Mountain’s future: “Yucca Mountain is dead. It’s padlocked. There’s nothing going on there.”
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.