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Water czar’s impact will live on for generations

It is the year 2113 and the robotic head of Pat Mulroy has just finished presiding over a meeting in which the Southern Nevada Water Authority board meekly approved an expenditure of $3 trillion to buy all of the groundwater in the Canadian province of Alberta.

“Wow, the robotic Pat sure was forceful today,” whispered SNWA director John Entsminger IV. “She was so feisty up there on the dais. Spunky too. Not to mention plucky, even though she’s just a disembodied head.”

“No kidding” a staffer replied. “It was pretty clear she wasn’t going to take any guff from the men on the Water Authority board, and I don’t even know what guff is.”

“I can only imagine how feisty and spunky Mulroy must have been before her head was cryogenically preserved so that she could preside over SNWA for all eternity,” Entsminger IV said. “Back when I was a boy, my great grandfather told me that when she still had legs and arms and a torso, Pat Mulroy scared the crap out of people, which is how she convinced local officials to extend the groundwater grab up into Idaho.”

“Well, without that Idaho groundwater, Las Vegas would have had to stop building casinos,” the aide said. “It would put the lives of 14 million Las Vegans in jeopardy, not to mention wiping out the 200 construction jobs that still remain. Who cares if the cost is more than the GNP? We won’t have pay it back for generations. By then, your grandson will have inherited the SNWA job and it will be his turn to take orders from Pat’s robotic head.”

“You don’t suppose some ambitious board member will try to launch a national search for someone other than my unborn grandson to get the SNWA job, do you?” Entsminger IV asked.

“Not a chance, John. If robot-head Pat didn’t already know that the general manager job would always be passed on to someone who would remain under her thumb, she would never have retired 100 years ago, and certainly wouldn’t have allowed her brain to be frozen in nitrogen for 35 years while SNWA scientists worked feverishly to bring her back.”

“Thanks for the encouraging words. Now I can concentrate on how to break the news to the ratepayers that our purchase of Alberta will mean their average monthly water bill will go to $45,000,” Entsminger IV replied.

“Don’t give it a second thought. The headline in the local paper tomorrow will be about how Pat’s head is dating Ted Williams.”

Quote of the week: new water boss John Entsminger told the RJ prior to his juiced-in selection to replace the “retiring” Pat Mulroy that his style is “philosophically aligned” with that of Mulroy in that “neither of us are dogmatic.”

It makes me wonder if Entsminger has ever met Pat Mulroy.

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In a terrific profile piece in Vegas Seven, Heidi Kyser recently wrote about Mulroy’s “drive to win (which) increases proportionally to the challenge she faces”….about how her approach to critics “has bordered on condescension,” about how she “won’t take no for an answer”, and—according to critics—how she is best characterized by “her big presence and strong ego”, how she is often “single-minded and insular in her thinking.” Yeah, THAT Pat Mulroy, the one who would never in a million years walk away from her job if she didn’t know that water policies, programs, and runaway spending would continue along the same lines she has carved into stone during the 25 years in which she has ruled over water policy (and most elected officials) with an iron fist.

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Names and faces: Positive vibes going out to my friend and longtime TV colleague Gary Waddell who is on the mend these days…Veteran newsman Dick Tuininga who worked as a news executive at two Las Vegas TV stations, as well as in major markets L.A. San Diego, and Cleveland, recently died of a heart attack. Tuininga, a working-class guy known for his love of boats, planned to have his ashes scattered over the Pacific ocean. He was 70…Two names appeared on the obit page a few days ago. If these two had died 20 years ago, their stories would have appeared on the front page as well. Longtime attorney Ed Coleman’s name was often in the news back in the 1970s and 1980s in connection with his work representing certain casino interests. And oil man Clair Haycock was not only a titan of the local business community, but served seven years on the Nevada Gaming Commission during one of the most tumultuous periods in state history. Remember the old news clips of mobster Lefty Rosenthal going berserk in front of Commission Chairman Harry Reid? If you look closely, you can see Haycock in the same video…Longtime mob figure turned government witness Frank Cullotta has opened a new business in town. Frank Cullotta’s “casino” tour will feature the former wise guy taking visitors to see some of the local sites that made the Hole in the Wall Gang a household name back in the 1970s and 1980s, including the site of a murder Cullotta committed and the botched Bertha’s burglary that led to the downfall of Tony Spilotro’s gang. The tours end with a pizza party featuring Frank and his crew.

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Newspaper News: It is sad to see what’s become of the Las Vegas Sun. For the first several days of the New Year, there were no (zero) local stories, not even local photographs in the Sun. The content came entirely from wire service reports…Knappster recently re-upped his subscription to the RJ and Sun, so tell me, if the Sun goes away, will the RJ send me a rebate? I’ll hold my breath…The sweeping changes at the top of the RJ food chain came as a surprise in media circles. The positive news is that Stephens Media had the good sense to retain General Counsel Mark Hinueber, who is one of the best friends the First Amendment has in Nevada. Hinueber has been on the front lines of several high-stakes legal battles involving media freedoms and reporter protection (including one case involving yours truly). Glad to know he is sticking around.

GEORGE KNAPP is a Peabody Award-winning investigative reporter for KLAS Channel 8.