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<p>Culinary union members protest in front of the Cosmopolitan hotel and casino in Las Vegas on Friday</p>

Culinary union members protest in front of the Cosmopolitan hotel and casino in Las Vegas on Friday

Culinary Union members protest in front of the Cosmopolitan hotel and casino in Las Vegas Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. (John Locher/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Culinary Union members protest in front of the Cosmopolitan hotel and casino in Las Vegas Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. (John Locher/Las Vegas Review-Journal)


California state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon seems to have set up a satellite office here in Las Vegas to host staff retreats, relax in luxury hotels and raise money during title fights, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was caught in a sting operation in October 2012 when he emailed an FBI agent posing as an owner of a movie studio. The agent then paid $4,000 to reserve the good senator a table at the Bellagio nightclub, the Bank, for Halloween night. Calderon then emailed the agent several photos, “including a photograph taken with two individuals who appear to be rappers Nelly and T.I.” This type of activity harks back to so many incidents here we’re not going to even bother to name them.


When former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden dropped a large amount of documents detailing the United States spying activities here and overseas, many reactionaries called him a traitor. However, the revelations that continue to roll out at a dizzying pace - including monitoring communications between allies, corporations and even the Vatican- has been disheartening, to say the least, and scary. While the administration of Bush/Cheney got the ball rolling, Obama has done nothing to stop the NSA from doing whatever it wants. Even the politically conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan of the blog The Dish, who vilified Snowden in the beginning, admitted last week, “As more and more details emerge, the Snowden leaks look more and more justifiable in retrospect.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last week some of the NSA’s spying went too far and will be stopped. Yeah, sure it will.


The city of North Las Vegas declared Nov. 1 “Aliante One-Year Independence Day” to mark the anniversary of Aliante Casino & Hotel’s becoming an independent property from Station Casinos, which lost the property in bankruptcy. Mayor Pro Tem Anita Wood presented the proclamation, which officially opened the 200-room resort’s new 24-hour cafe’. Not sure why the city would want to possibly alienate Station’s, who often opens its Texas Station ballroom for the “State of the City” address.


U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, recently insisted “you can’t have your privacy violated if you don’t know your privacy is violated, right?” The comment from the Michigan Republican came during Oct. 29 hearings on the NSA’s surveillance. American University law professor Stephen Vladeck immediately disagreed with that point stating that “if a tree falls in the forest it makes a noise whether you’re there to see it or not.” So, Mr. Rogers, is someone being stalked if they don’t know they’re being stalked? This seems too close to the old “ain’t-a-crime-until-your-caught” mantra.


Instead of giving casino supervisors raises, casino mogul Steve Wynn decided to give some of the dealers’ tips to their supervisors (effectively cutting the dealers’ pay). The dealers qucikly filed a lawsuit, joined a union, lost a decision by the labor commissioner, which was overturned by a Clark County District Court judge in 2011. Last week, the state Supreme Court said they are down with Wynn, and that tip sharing by casino dealers with employees of higher rank is permitted. The higher court said the lower court must review the labor commissioner’s finding, while dealers everywhere realize things ain’t going to be the same.


Turning its seemingly decades long gaze from Station Casinos, the Culinary union brass have moved their attention to the -yet-to-turn-a-profit and bank-owned The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The resort, which is owned Deutsche Bank, hasn’t turned a profit since opening 35 months ago. The common understanding is the Deutsche is try to sell the property - because banks aren’t in the business of owning casinos unless a previous owner defaults which is what happened here - and Culinary Local 226 is seeking guarantees that any contract would carry over to new owners. Good luck with that.


The ordinance that had Las Vegas giving control of bar placement to the company that operates the Fremont Street Experience passed the first round in court last week. The haves, the hotels that own that company, can approve outside bars that encroach on city right-of-ways, while the have-nots, the hotels who have no ownership stake, can be told they can’t open outside bars that encroach. The owner of the Mermaid and La Bayou (part of the have-nots) contended the city had errored in surrendering oversite what is still city-owned property to the private company. More to come, I’m sure.


That we even have to write this is dumb. Southern Nevada officials have long contended, with ample evidence, that the region has not received its fair share of road funding. As an example, Southern Nevada got 52 percent of the funding this year, despite containing 73 percent of the state’s population. In 2004 Clark County will get 66 percent of the federal, state and local funding. We contend, by sheer numbers, it’s still not enough.


Groundbreaking in April or May! Project opening in spring 2016! We have a rendering! Not to be too cynical, but we here at CityLife will wait until the proposed $350 million, 20-seat venue opens before we get excited. We have been promised this before. Not that we don’t think it’s a good idea and needed, because we do. But the area has been listening to new arena talk for far too long to believe before we see.