By LVBear | October 3, 2011
Many people have asked when another growl will be published. The answer is, I don’t know. For the past few months, I have been preoccupied with other endeavors. It is likely to stay that way into the foreseeable future. Though there is plenty to growl about, I am not on a time schedule. As I wrote when I started this blog in 2007:
I growl whenever something annoys me enough to comment about it. There is no schedule or timeline as to when I choose to growl.
There simply are not enough hours in the day to do everything I’d like to do.
I’m glad that you read my growls. There will be more eventually. Thanks for reading.
The Bear Growls: Man near death in New York New York hallway for hours; people just stepped around the body. What happened to “security?” Man subsequently died.
By LVBear | August 2, 2011
For six hours, Terrell lay on the hallway floor near the elevator as hotel customers stepped around his body entering and exiting the elevator, according to what (Clark County Commissioner Steve) Sisolak said he was told by Metro (Police).
Finally about 11 a.m., resort security got involved. Terrell was still unconscious but alive, Sisolak said he was told.
It is disgusting that no customer tried to do anything to help; not even make a simple phone call or tell a hotel employee. I guess surveillance was preoccupied for hours watching out for brain-using patrons, and the security guards were asleep in the break room or in otherwise unused hotel rooms.
Metro was involved in the case several hours after security found Terrell …
After eventually being awakened from their slumber, it took security several hours to notify Metro Police. Incredible. The incompetence and stupidity regularly exhibited by some of the pinheads in casino security borders on criminality. Our District Attorney needs to file charges against more than just the guy who killed Terrell.
By LVBear | April 20, 2011
Politicians thinking out loud: Gee, let’s boost tourism. Why don’t we build a high speed train? Let’s run it between Las Vegas and Victorville, California! No, this is not a joke.
Victorville is a gang-infested, lower-middle class California high-desert community about 35 miles from Barstow, and 110 miles from Los Angeles. It is literally “in the middle of nowhere.” But the promoters of a train from Las Vegas that dead-ends in Victorville somehow have gotten the support of Senator Harry Reid and other politicians to spend billions of dollars on this boondoggle. Ah, yes, someday there is supposed to be another pie-in-the-sky rail line built between Victorville and Palmdale, California, that’ll connect to Los Angeles. From Los Angeles, a Las Vegas-bound visitor would first have to go to Palmdale (many miles out of the way), then to Victorville, then on to Las Vegas. Would this be three separate trains? Who knows. The plan is so absurd it’s amazing that it’s gotten anything but laughter.
If this ridiculous project ever actually happens, I predict another bankruptcy in short order, just like the poorly thought out, ill-fated Las Vegas Monorail. Of course, the promoters of the Monorail siphoned off millions for themselves. The Desert XPress is next. How can this stupidity be explained other than that there are forces at work that act out of the public eye?
All aboard the Bankruptcy Xpress!
By LVBear | March 13, 2011
The Legislative Building
Some clear thinking (at least on this issue) Nevada politicians have introduced Assembly Bill 258, which provides for Nevada regulating online poker to the degree reasonably possible. Unlike some other bills designed to be punitive to the existing online gaming companies, this bill states:
The Board shall not recommend denial of, and the Commission shall not deny, a license to an operator of Internet poker or to a manufacturer of interactive gaming systems, a manufacturer of equipment associated with interactive gaming systems or an interactive gaming service provider solely because the operator, manufacturer or interactive gaming service provider, before the effective date of this act, operates, operated or was associated with, in interstate or foreign commerce and while licensed by another jurisdiction, one or more Internet poker operations which were unlicensed in the United States or the State of Nevada and in which bets or wagers were initiated, received or otherwise made by persons located in the United States.
These politicians, or whoever drafted this bill for them, understand that getting the online industry off the ground in Nevada will necessitate the involvement of the large companies already experienced in other jurisdictions. Rather than to try to “punish” those pioneering companies for legally operating outside of the U.S., this bill encourages them. This is clearly the correct approach.
AB258 is nowhere near its completed form. Let’s hope as the bill winds it way through the legislative process, the common sense approach now embodied in it remains. This legislation is a breath of fresh air for Nevada. This is something that could result in Nevada becoming the U.S. center of online gaming, as Nevada once was the undisputed leader of the brick-and-mortar casino industry, before mismanagement and corporate greed severely harmed it.
Let’s hope for the best with this; Nevada needs the revenue and new jobs that could be created. Though it’s a long shot, I hope that this will kick open the door for all online gaming, particularly sports betting. The Nevada sportsbooks need some “legal” competition to force them to offer their patrons a better deal; maybe breaking up their existing cartels, which unfortunately our regulators failed to do when they had the chance.
Congratulations to all involved with Assembly Bill 258, and good luck with it.
By LVBear | February 3, 2011
The officers allegedly involved in the crimes discussed below enjoy the presumption of innocence, just like anyone else. But if they are guilty, will they be fired, as they should be? We’ll have to wait and see; based on previous incidents, I doubt it.
Thomas Mendiola is one of the three officers who killed Erik Scott outside a Costco store last year. At the Coroner’s Inquest, it was revealed that Mendiola struggled through his written exam, failing at least once before he finally was able to pass it and become a Metro officer. I wonder how many tries candidates get before being turned down as too stupid?
Now, if true, in an incredible display of stupidity, this young officer is involved with associating with a known felon, not reporting a serious crime (felon in possession of a gun), and stupidest of all, GIVING THE CRIMINAL A GUN! This is simply unbelievable. If any of this is proven, Mendiola deserves to be fired, and spend some time in prison. At least he is on unpaid leave this time, not sitting around sucking up free taxpayer money for doing nothing, as he was able to do for months in the aftermath of the Costco killing.
A case of bizarre behavior and alleged lying by Officers Brad Gallup and Jake Grunwald.
The officers face discipline for several policy violations, including neglect of duty and abandonment of their post.
That’s all? What about theft of pay, theft and/or misuse of public resources (police car, fuel, etc.) and a host of other crimes? To call these crimes mere “policy violations” trivializes them. If true, these officers are liars, at the very least. How can they ever be trusted to honestly write a report or honestly testify in court? Embarrassingly, they are on paid administrative leave. Suck up the freebies while you can still get ‘em, guys. If the Sheriff finally grows a spine, you will both deservedly be in the unemployment line soon enough. Let’s hope so. But again, I doubt if our gutless Sheriff will do anything. Even if he wanted these scoundrels to face criminal charges, I think the equally cowardly District Attorney, David Roger, would find an excuse not to prosecute.
Metro is desperately in need of a major housecleaning. It should start at the top, with the resignation of Sheriff Gillespie.
What do these cases have to do with advantage play or casinos?
Most of us who have played for a while have had hassles with casino security. We know casino security guards are usually not the brightest bulbs on the tree. Many are among society’s misfits, and have a propensity for gratuitous violence. If casino guards choose to involve the police in whatever dispute they have with a patron, the patron is at the mercy of whatever tales the security people tell the police. Thus, having stupid, dishonest police officers is dangerous to us. When police officers are stupid and/or dishonest, all citizens are put at risk.
By LVBear | December 14, 2010
Reno is getting worse in that even in good weather such as the last few days, bums are coming in off the streets to suck up free drinks in the sportsbooks that do not closely police their “drink tickets.” Recently, in a large sportsbook, I watched as two drunken bums argued and almost fought over a disputed call in a football game being shown on the big screen. It was hilarious, because obviously they had more important things to worry about in life than a football game.
I think the casinos do not really know how to handle the bums. Security is often too stupid to tell the difference between a street person and a legitimate patron who dresses like a bum, but really is a customer who likes to sit in the sportsbook all day and yell at football games. Resources have to be devoted to ferret out one from the other. Having many street people present, especially bad-smelling ones, annoys patrons. But throwing out large numbers of people may result in a few patrons being thrown out for no reason other than dressing badly. That could happen to me. :>)
I don’t know the solution, but I know the problem is getting worse. Harrah’s is probably the worst right now, with bums coming in off the Second Street entrance just east of the book. Harrah’s is challenging perennial leader Cal-Neva. Sands Regency always has bums hanging around; Peppermill is right up there as well, with Eldorado, Atlantis, and Grand Sierra in the running. Grand Sierra is a surprise, because it is quite a walk from anywhere bums usually congregate; maybe they take a shuttle from downtown? But Grand Sierra is so large they can seemingly become invisible inside the cavernous facility, and avoid scrutiny by security. Or a few bums can pool their money together and buy a $30,000 condo at The Summit, that was attempted to be sold for $400,000 a few years ago.
JA Nugget has few, almost no bums hanging out, nor does Boomtown. Of course, Boomtown, with its latest downgrade of table games, could use some bums — the bums might play at higher stakes than the few remaining patrons, and make the place look less deserted.
Just like dealing with casino employees, it is important not to antagonize these folks. Some may not be playing with a full deck, so to speak. Some may be drunk, others just plain mean and dangerous. I was accosted by one outside Sands Regency a couple of trips ago. My yelling at him and brandishing a can of pepper spray resulted in his quick retreat. Be careful out there.
By LVBear | December 8, 2010
Virginia Valentine, our well-respected, hardworking county manager has sold out. I am shocked and saddened — no sarcasm here, I really thought Ms. Valentine was an honest, hardworking public servant, one of few in our county.
My real disappointment is with the loss of a competent and honest public employee. We certainly need more of those in Clark County. From my observations, she helped reduce the power of the many crooks entrenched in county government. Her departure surprised me, as I didn’t think she was as susceptible to the cushy offerings of the casino industry as are many. I thought her integrity level was higher. I was wrong. She went the way of her predecessor, who took a plush, do-nothing job at Harrah’s (director of philanthropy), as did our former mayor (director of government relations). For what past favors were these bloated jobs created?
Some “career changes” from government to the casino industry are obvious and accepted in Nevada. Gaming Control Board members and “retired” police officials routinely receive their payoffs from the casino industry in the form of cushy jobs.
I understand that Ms. Valentines’ pay will probably double or triple. But it’s unfortunate that ethics and commitment to responsibilities go into the dumpster when offered a better deal by dubious suitors, just as Sarah Palin morphed from an obscure governor of an obscure state into a millionaire by happenstance, starting by quitting her government job mid-term. The fact that Ms. Palin is incompetent and Ms. Valentine is competent is beside the point; the similarities exist, on a smaller scale for our departing County Manager.
I am sure Ms. Valentine will do a good job and will be a benefit to her new casino bosses. But I am disappointed in her apparent lack of character. For the county and state as a whole, I think Ms. Valentine is more valuable and effective as a fighter against crookedness in county government than she will be as an advocate for an industry that already controls all levels of government in Nevada, and gets whatever it wants. There’s not much she can add to what the casino industry already gets.
Shame on Virginia Valentine.
By LVBear | October 6, 2010
The Metro shooting problem is a serious matter for all of us who live in or visit Las Vegas. Metro is largely an out-of-control gang of thugs. Officer William Mosher, who has killed twice in just five years on the department, may be the worst of the worst. In his testimony in the recent Coroner’s Inquest regarding the shooting of Costco customer/prescription drug user Erik Scott, Mosher came across as an uneducated buffoon, not even using the term “quote, unquote” correctly. He would say “quote, unquote” then what he was quoting, rather than saying “quote,” then what he was quoting, and then “unquote.” He sounded like a seventh-grade dropout.
Mosher appears to be a robot-like individual who lacks common sense, lacks the ability to make rational decisions rather than just bully people, and someone apparently so insecure with himself that he has to evoke the “tough cop” bully-boy act. Mosher is a frightening individual who should have been taken off the streets by his supervisors long ago. I would hate to have him in my neighborhood. It would be terrible to call 911 and have Mosher show up. How Mosher was allowed to be out there endangering the public day after day is a scary mystery. I think Las Vegas would be a safer place if Officer Mosher was in prison. He is still on “paid administrative leave.” I predict that if he is allowed to return to active duty, he will kill again.
As expected, the coroner’s inquest was a dog and pony show. One of the doctors who treated the decedent during his lifetime behaved as if she thought she was the star of a reality show, or an aging actress auditioning for a potential comeback part, with perfect hair and several big, bright smiles showing off her perfect white teeth. She described her medical practice as a “concierge” practice. It’s as if the solemnity of this hearing was completely lost on her. To her credit, she appeared to be a caring physician, though her demeanor made her appear to be a bimbo.
The Costco security guy (“loss prevention supervisor”), Shai Lierley, who called 911, is even stupider than a typical casino security guard. He repeatedly used security jargon in his testimony, possibly thinking it made him appear important. In reality, he was pathetic. He misused the term “customer service” two or three times in his testimony. Finally, one of the attorneys, or perhaps it was the judge, asked him to clarify what he meant. The Costco bean counters should start saving money for the eventual civil verdict. Having Lierley in charge of anything will not be helpful to Costco — “Negligent hiring, training, and supervision” will undoubtedly be included in the lawsuit against Costco. Lierley is the true catalyst of the tragic events that transpired.
Various “experts” who testified about the efforts to “recover” the missing video did not seem to know much about their supposed areas of expertise, including a woman from the Secret Service. One fool’s “credentials” essentially were having worked on a “help desk” of a computer company. If not so tragic, the whole thing would be laughable. The only competent-appearing person who testified that day was Detective Pete Calos, a Metro homicide investigator.
The computer that controlled the video camera that was positioned to perfectly record the incident supposedly stopped working on July 8, two days before the killing. But it was not promptly repaired or replaced, supposedly because the service tech “most familiar with Costco” was “on vacation.” It was to be repaired the Monday after the killing. However, a civilian Metro employee testified that all he had to do to get it to work was reboot the computer. In fact, they showed video from that camera (one of numerous cameras) recorded about four hours after the killing. The guy in charge of the cameras was the idiotic Lierley.
Metro supposedly made no effort to seize the allegedly faulty computer, instead letting a little mom-and-pop computer shop in Las Vegas (the one with the tech on vacation) try to “repair” it first. The chain of custody was destroyed. There was no accountability as to who had custody of the computer when. Total incompetence by Metro.
There was absolutely no need to escalate the situation as the responding officers did. The decedent hadn’t really done much except allegedly act weird in the store. There was conflicting testimony about whether or not he was even asked to leave the store. From the medical examiner’s testimony and the Costco security idiot’s testimony, the decedent may have been “high” on drugs at the time of his death. But the decedent was accustomed to heavy doses of prescription drugs, so may not have been high at all. If he was in fact high, he should not have been carrying weapons in his alleged condition, concealed permit or not. But he did not pose a realistic threat to anyone until the police made horrible tactical errors, confronting Scott in a crowd with guns drawn when all Scott was doing was peacefully, though reportedly unsteadily, walking out the front door of Costco along with the hundreds of other people being evacuated. The evacuation was another stupid move by Metro; there was no need for it.
Metro really blew this one. I wish the coroner’s jury had understood how stupidly Metro handled the situation. Metro’s tragic mishandling of the entire situation was glossed over by District Attorney David Roger’s staff members who presented the case. Sadly, once Metro created the situation, the result was inevitable. A bit of common sense used by three directly-involved officers could have avoided the confrontation and subsequent killing. Mosher, the senior officer among the three, knew better than to do what he did. He testified that he has had crisis intervention training. Why he chose to ignore this training and risk the lives of innocent bystanders in the stupid way he confronted Scott is beyond my comprehension. Mosher could easily have defused the situation by calming down Lierley and momentarily ignoring Scott; instead, he chose to escalate the situation. Why Mosher behaved this way will forever be between him and his conscience, assuming he has a conscience.
Sadly, it took the jurors only about an hour to arrive at the “Justifiable” verdict. It is an interesting footnote that the two seemingly best jurors, who indicated an understanding of the evidence by their questions of various witnesses, were among three that were “randomly” dismissed from the panel after testimony ended. Though the dismissal (before deliberations begin) of all remaining jurors in excess of seven is the standard procedure in coroner’s inquests, I am curious as to how the “random” selections are made, and will attempt to find out. This seems like an easy way to stack the jury after seeing which ones appear to be skeptical of the police case, and dismissing them.
I doubt if the jurors understood the concept of gross negligence being criminal. It was not in the jury instructions. The brief county code section that deals with coroner’s inquests provides little guidance. Most is probably “tribal knowledge” among the DA’s office and police.
My verdict would have been criminal against Mosher, excusable against the other two officers, assuming a split verdict is even possible. This, too, is not addressed in the code or DA-prepared jury instructions.
I think the Sheriff would probably like to fire Mosher, but is in a bad spot. If Mosher is fired, or even disciplined, it looks bad in the soon-to-be-filed civil case. If Mosher is left on the streets, he will likely kill again. Time will tell. At the very least, I hope the Sheriff puts Mosher on permanent desk duty.
Costco would probably like to fire the loss prevention clown Lierley. But the same problem the Sheriff has applies to Costco. It’ll be tough to fire Lierley now. More than any other person, Lierley has the blood on his hands for this tragedy, through his overzealousness and abject stupidity. Bully Boy Mosher (“let’s pick a fight instead of using my training to defuse this situation”) is a close second to Lierley.
… when the three officers took the stand to testify at the inquest, they said they were never drug- or alcohol-tested after the shooting.
Steve Sisolak, who appears to be a corruption-free County Commissioner, as well as the most level-headed and responsible person currently sitting on the Commission (and is the Commissioner for my District) has proposed drug-testing for officers who shoot people. This would be at least a tiny start towards cleaning up the horrible mess at Metro. Predictably, Chris Collins, the police apologist who heads their union, has publicly stated the police union is against drug testing of officers who shoot people. Disturbing and frightening.
What does this case have to do with advantage play or casinos?
Most of us who have played for a while have had hassles with casino security. We know casino security guards are usually not the brightest bulbs on the tree. Many are among society’s misfits, and have a propensity for gratuitous violence. If casino guards choose to involve the police in whatever dispute they have with a patron, the patron is at the mercy of whatever tales the security people tell the police. Thus, having police routinely believe any story of the guards instead of assessing a situation for themselves is dangerous. When police fail to assess for themselves, as in the case of Officer Mosher’s failure to use good judgment and instead just take the word of a security person, the result can be tragic. This terrible case hits closer to home than many of us might realize at first glance.
By LVBear | August 12, 2010
We all know lying to the public is part of a normal day for many front-line casino employees. Dealers lie about 6 to 5 blackjack not being as bad as it is, reservations agents lie about the hotel being sold out, pit supervisors lie about not being able to issue certain comps. All of that is expected, and is an unfortunate part of a business whose main function is to extract money from its customers while offering nothing in return.
However, when employees are specifically told by their supervisors to lie about government regulations, the lying has gone too far. See the complaint below, recently filed with the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and originally published on BJ21.com’s Green Chip. For those unfamiliar with the Reno area, JA Nugget is a large, successful casino in Sparks. I like the Nugget, and am dismayed to learn about this despicable practice. If the facts are as stated, let’s hope Gaming agrees that the lying has gone too far, and takes appropriate action to punish the Nugget and the dishonest employees involved:
Complaint for violation of Regulation 5.010 by John Ascuaga’s Nugget
On August 6, 2010, player’s club employee (name deleted here, but is in the complaint) stated that “Gaming regulations” require John Ascuaga’s Nugget to scan a patron’s identification into its computer system before a player’s card can be issued. Obviously, there is no such regulation. When questioned further about it, (the employee) said, “That’s what our supervisors told us to say when someone asks.”
If this employee was being truthful, the supervisors essentially instructed their employees to lie to the public. It is bad enough that the odious practice of copying identification by scanning has become so prevalent, to the detriment of the gaming public. Certainly it is within a licensee’s rights to set such a requirement as a policy or condition of receiving a player’s card. But a licensee instructing frontline employees to outright lie about non-existent government regulations to try to convince patrons to permit such scanning appears to be an unsuitable method of operation, in violation of Regulation 5.010.
Thank you for looking into this matter. Please advise me of the result, to the degree that you are able.
An Agent interviewed the player’s club representative and her supervisors. The boothling admitted to telling the lie about the Gaming regulation to the patron, but denied that she said she was instructed to do so by her supervisors. The supervisors denied ever telling anyone to quote a non-existent Gaming regulation. The Gaming agent issued an informal warning to the boothling. The casino will not be penalized.
I think the situation was handled fairly and reasonably. Though there is a good chance that the supervisors did in fact tell the boothling to lie to patrons, it cannot be proven without an inordinate amount of investigative time for the issue involved. I think word will quickly spread around the Nugget that lying about Gaming is taken seriously, and the misconduct will stop.
If anyone else is told this story at the Nugget, please email me with details including the name of the employee, date, time, and circumstances.
By LVBear | July 23, 2010
As regular readers know, I am a frequent critic of the Nevada Gaming Control Board for failing to use its considerable enforcement power to punish wrongdoing by casinos and their employees. I dislike the Board’s ability to legally operate in secret in most cases. I think transparency would be best for Nevada and best for the industry, because the fear of bad publicity might provide more incentive for top management to curb wrongdoing by casino employees. If errant employees were publicly named, the scorn and shame might make some think twice before engaging in wrongful or criminal behavior.
As it stands now, most investigations never get public scrutiny. Punishment by Gaming, when agreed to by the offending casino, is done in secret, private deals that never see the sunshine. This is not healthy for the industry, and is not healthy for the reputation of the Gaming Control Board. It would be appropriate for the Board and Nevada Gaming Commission to request that the legislature change the statutes permitting the Board to operate in secret, and instead impose the same openness that is required of most government agencies.
Be that as it may, I commend the Board for recently taking action against Treasure Island in Las Vegas. According to the details of the complaint, a patron arguably pulled a cheating move by removing a $500 bet after the cards were dealt in a mini-baccarat game. In the absence of more complete information, we cannot be sure it was a cheating move, but it is reasonable for the casino to believe it was cheating. Casino guards seized the patron and forcibly backroomed him, probably within their rights.
But what happened next is bizarre, and makes one wonder if this particular casino shift manager has a functioning brain. Instead of immediately notifying the Gaming Control Board and/or Metro police, as is legally required when casino security “detains” a person, the casino shift manager essentially committed a robbery of the patron. While the patron was handcuffed, casino employees rummaged through his pockets. The shift boss found five black Treasure Island chips and stole them from the patron. Then, the guards trespassed the patron and walked him out the door. No law enforcement involvement whatsoever. Instead, because of their “self-help,” it can be reasonably argued that the casino employees committed several felonies, including kidnapping and robbery. The possible cheater became a crime victim. No allegation of cheating was made with the authorities. The “detention,” use of force, kidnapping, and robbery of the patron became the crimes because of the abject stupidity of these casino employees.
Though the Board did not specifically address the felonies committed by the casino employees, it filed a complaint against Treasure Island for unsuitable method of operation. It would be in the best interest of the public to have casino employees individually prosecuted for crimes they commit, just as any other individual. But that is not likely to happen in the near future, absent a vicious beating administered by guards resulting in serious injury or death to a patron, or some similar circumstance that is too egregious for the usual cover-up.
Treasure Island quickly settled the complaint for a paltry $10,000 fine and agreeing to train its employees properly, which it should have done all along. Because this complaint became public, rather than the usual secret settlement, we can only assume TI refused to cooperate or admit its wrongdoing until the glare of bad publicity hit it right in its corporate nose. Suddenly it wanted to settle, and have the problem go away.
Posted on BJ21.com Green Chip:
… a fine of about $250,000 would have been more appropriate, but it’s interesting how quickly Treasure Island settled, and good to see Mr. Ruffin himself have to sign on its behalf. Ruffin cannot later claim he didn’t know how his employees behaved, though this settlement was carefully crafted to try to avoid any personal liability for Ruffin.
I wonder if the District Attorney will file robbery charges against the shift manager who stole the $500 from the illegally detained patron. It appears that the circumstances are strikingly similar to the robbery charge against O.J. Simpson that was prosecuted with such vigor. “Trying to recover his own allegedly stolen property,” use of force, illegal detention, etc. I see no real distinction between this and the Simpson robbery case.
The good news from this is that the Gaming Control Board took this seriously, even if the specific charges and the settlement were weak, and there apparently will not be any punishment for the shift manager. I think illegal detentions of advantage players might get some action from the Gaming Control Board in the future, if promptly called to the Board’s attention.
Though the penalty was too small, I think this is an important case for patron rights vs. casino abuse. I congratulate the Gaming Control Board for getting involved in a case that in the past it would ignore. Let’s hope for more Gaming involvement in false imprisonment cases.