June 6, 2014 - 4:51 pm
North Las Vegas becomes a celebrity endorser, a judicial candidate injudiciously plays the race card, and Constable John Bonaventura has a really bad week — on tape! It’s all right here in the SlashPolitics Week in Review!
In addition to going on a massive building spree during a recession, letting an overzealous ex-city manager cancel legally binding contracts under an interpretation of state law culled from the thinnest of air, and flushing treated sewer water into a county flood channel without permission, North Las Vegas also does some questionable things. One of them: celebrity endorsements!
The city has not only authorized Service Line Warranties of America to pitch North Las Vegas residents on its insurance package, it’s written a letter on city letterhead and signed by outgoing interim City Manager Jeff Buchanan, recommending North Las Vegans take advantage of the service. (I’ve heard that reluctant homeowners get follow-up letters, too.)
The city defends the indefensible by saying the company is endorsed by the National League of Cities and accredited by the Better Business Bureau. “This is a real program, an optional program, offered with the city’s help,” said Randy DuVaul, the city’s deputy utilities director. (In exchange for the endorsement, the city gets a 10 percent cut from the profits, which has earned depleted city coffers $30,000!)
But why stop at insurance, North Las Vegas? As long as we’re cool with a government agency endorsing a private company’s products, and harassing residents with official correspondence, why not get behind products North Las Vegans actually need?
For example, payday loans to meet underwater mortgage payments! There’s no end the payday loan companies that would love an official city letterhead endorsement of their products, and at 899.99% interest, they can really afford to kick back some dollars to City Hall!
Since there’s not a lot of cash to, you know, hire police officers, why not endorse guns? It’s not just a Smith & Wesson M&P45 — it’s the North Las Vegas Smith & Wesson M&P45, combining the best in stopping power with a high-capacity 10-round magazine and a laser-etched city logo on the slide!
How about Febreze? North Las Vegas residents have got to be in the market for chemically altered air, what with all the chemically altered air they already face. Now, the city will be your guide to all-new, North Las Vegas-themed fragrances, including One-Vote Victory, Official Mendacity and That New City Hall Smell!
If you live near that water-treatment plant, you could always use some Off! to repel the city’s newest residents, those little bugs that like to breed in the newly discharged wastewater. Now, the city will recommend the brand most effective in treating West Nile, SARS, and that new camel disease, because, you never know, you know?
Attorney Jacob Hafter was miffed this week after District Court Judge Valorie Vega refused to allow him to “go dark” for a couple days during a long-scheduled trial to observe a religious holiday. (Hafter is an Orthodox Jew, and the holiday was Shavout, which celebrates the giving of the Torah to the nation of Israel.)
Naturally, Hafter called Vega a racist anti-Semite. No, really, he did: “Thirty years of legal experience means nothing if you are anti-Semitic or racist,” Hafter wrote on Facebook. “We need to make sure that, especially in light of the concept of absolute judicial immunity, we have judges in office that [sic] will not purposefully trample on our constitutional rights just because they are intolerant of others.”
(Full disclosure: Vega is married to my Review-Journal colleague Howard Stutz, who happens to be Jewish. Oh, also it’s important to note that there is no evidence whatsoever that Vega’s decision was motivated by anti-Jewish prejudice.)
Vega asked Hafter to remove to take down the offending post, so as not to taint the jury in the case that he’s trying in her court, but he refused. “I don’t see anything offensive to this court or to the plaintiffs in it. I just see a recitation of what happened in a factual manner,” Hafter said. Indeed, it’s very similar to me saying I think Hafter is a racial charlatan who makes totally supported allegations because he’s ridiculous, which is totally a recitation of what happened in a factual manner.
And this is not the first time Hafter’s played the anti-Semitism card, either. Last year, Hafter lost a few rulings in a case in federal court before U.S. District Judge Clive Jones, and filed a motion to remove Jones that included this actual line:
“We don’t have any evidence that Judge Jones is anti-Semitic in light of the fact that both counsel for plaintiff and plaintiff are Jewish, or, in the alternative, that Judge Jones favors those of the Mormon religion. We do not have any evidence that Judge Jones doesn’t like doctors. We do not have any evidence that Judge Jones has been bought or paid for by any of the defendants. However, that doesn’t mean that such may not be true.” (emphasis in original)
Well, by that logic, we don’t have any evidence that Jacob Hafter is a whiny complainer who tosses out absurd racially based charges when he loses a motion … oh, no. Wait. We do have evidence of that, don’t we? Never mind.
And racially motivated judge-slamming isn’t Hafter’s only hobby. When he was running against Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto in 2010, he told a group of reporters that a complaint had allegedly been filed against her with the State Bar. When that allegation was reported, and the Bar began an investigation of Hafter, he denied ever having said it. The Bar issued him a letter of reprimand, which he promptly appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court, which upheld the discipline, after which he promptly appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Hafter is apparently so bad, even his mom says she will not vote for him in an upcoming race for District Court judge. Mother and son apparently had a falling out over money a few years ago, and he’s called her “a terrorist,” and “insane.”
All of which leads me to gently suggest that in addition to taking a couple days off to commemorate the giving of the Torah to Israel, Hafter ought to take some time to read it, too. Especially those parts about “honor thy father and mother,” and “thou shalt not bear false witness.”
When we last left Constable John Bonaventura, he was running in the Democratic primary against Mary Beth Scow, since the Clark County Commission had eliminated the constable’s office because of Bonaventura’s outrageous antics. This week, he was caught on tape saying he’d like to spend all the office’s remaining money before it goes away, because wouldn’t that teach those bastards on the commission a thing or two?
“You know, we’ve got $3.9 million in there,” Bonaventura said on the tape. “I wish I could just spend it all and then if they did eliminate the office say, ‘F—- you [Clark County Commission Chairman Steve] Sisolak, you got nothing. What happened to the money … you’re trying to get the money and guess what, what do you got? You get nothing.’ I wish I could do that somehow but you can’t spend that much money.”
Yeah, things are tough all over. Hey, why not hire some more lawyers outside the county’s process and without commission permission to sue some people? You could probably burn through four mil pretty quick that way!
As if being revealed — again — as the biggest joke in both elected officialdom and local law enforcement wasn’t enough, a state District Court dismissed Bonaventura’s lawsuit against the county that contested the dissolution of his office.
So, let’s do the list: This week, a judge ensures Bonaventure won’t have a job come January. Next week, primary election voters will ensure Bonaventura won’t have a new elected job come January. Tough breaks. Maybe he could say it’s because the commission is racist and anti-constable?
Some super-geniuses in the mall-development business decided to dub a new office-retail-residential mega-development “Downtown Summerlin.” You know, just like downtown Las Vegas, only without the bums, buskers, booze and bearded hipsters. Hey, Summerlin: You need years of gentrification, official neglect, battles over free speech, pretentious debates over culture and the unmistakable smell of human urine to call yourself “downtown”! Why not try something a little more befitting your upscale neighborhood, and call the place Conformatown or Suburbatory or “the mall”?
(Full disclosure: My wife works for the city of Las Vegas, which has its headquarters downtown. The real one.)
They banned smoking on the casino floor … in Macau. Not here. Macau. And it was the casinos themselves that asked for the change!
Now, there will still be “smoking rooms” with separate ventilation on the casino floor, and the VIP lounges will still let you smoke, but the place where the regular people play games such as baccarat will be smoke-free.
Here in Las Vegas, of course, you can smoke to your heart’s content. You can smoke cigarettes. You can smoke cigars. You can smoke a cigarette while also smoking a cigar. If it’s tobacco, you can burn it, inhale it and blow it into somebody’s face all you want. Clean air advocates seized on the discrepancy, saying Las Vegas customers and casino workers deserve healthier air as much as the people of Macau do. MGM Resorts spokesman Clark Dumont told the R-J’s Stutz that the company believes “smoking is a dynamic and complex issue, one that we will continue to monitor and discuss.” Of course, right now, the “discussion” when people ask for a ban on smoking always ends with, “pound sand,” or words to that effect.
Henderson officials are trying to shut down a proposed adult store like it was a senior citizen weekend lunch program! Outfits such as The Love Store are currently regulated under Henderson municipal code, which defines adult-oriented businesses as those with “a significant portion of their stock in trade” in adult-oriented material. Sheesh. And they say North Las Vegas is a boring city!
Suddenly, everybody’s complaining about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Tea Party Patriots claim he’s illegally using his office to attack the poor, innocent Koch brothers. (Well, maybe not poor exactly. In fact, they are filthy rich. So rich that they’ve helped subsidize many third-party groups, including the aforementioned Tea Party Patriots.)
The Tea Party Patriots said Reid has used his official website and Twitter account to attack the Kochs, whom Reid accuses of trying to buy American democracy. (It’s outrageous, too, because Reid and his Democratic allies already had the high bid!) Oh, also Reid screened a Koch brothers documentary in the Capitol Visitors Center, and if I know documentarians, Reid and the Koch brothers, I’m guessing this film was not exactly complementary.
“This is a blatant example of a powerful Washington figure deciding that it is his prerogative to bring the full weight of his office against private citizens or organizations with whom he disagrees,” the complaint reads. And since Reid is the first politician ever to say anything via official channels about anyone with whom he disagrees … oh, wait.
And then the Clark County Republican Party got into the act, complaining about Reid’s solicitation of funds on behalf of Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who is running for lieutenant governor. This one is actually quite surprising: The Clark County Republican Party is still operating?
Apparently, Reid failed to say he wasn’t soliciting corporate contributions, which are allowed in Nevada but forbidden to federal office holders, the complaint says.
Political powerbroker Harvey Whittemore must go to prison, a federal judge in Reno ruled. But everybody — liberals, conservatives, lobbyists, even progressive activists — seems to disagree. Even former state Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, posted a note on Facebook saying Whittemore shouldn’t go to prison, and I know she’s personally witnessed him work his dark magic in the Legislature to advance the evil agenda of tobacco companies, casino companies and mining companies.
One of the primary defenses of Whittemore is that he’s done good, charitable things in his life, and, if left at liberty, could do more of the same. But there are plenty of really evil people who do good things. The aforementioned Koch brothers, for example, are patrons of the arts and funders of hospitals. That kind of greenwashing, however, doesn’t make the more offensive things they do any less offensive, nor is it a defense if the Kochs were ever accused of committing a crime.
Look, people: Whittemore knew the law, broke the law, got caught and was convicted. He was issued a sentence (far less than the max for what he did, by the way). And now he needs to face the consequences of his crimes, the same way every other convicted corrupter of the political system does. While Whittemore still has many friends who believe he’s being mistreated, that belief and their support does not constitute grounds for reversing a judge’s ruling.