The Heart of Education Awards

Link: http://www.vegaslegalmagazine.com/heart-education-awards/

Article:

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

Teachers are our children’s most valuable resource. Dan Rather said, “The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.” Teachers teach because they care about kids and yet they never expect anything in return. They go above and beyond, they make personal sacrifices, and they put kids first. I believe that our community can make a big difference with our education system by thanking these amazing individuals. It starts with one great teacher.

The Smith Center is pleased to host the Heart of Education Awards after being inspired by a program at The Kennedy Center, which is credited with not only helping recruit great new teachers, but  also retaining the community’s best educators, as well. If there has ever been a time when the Clark County School District (CCSD), and especially our teachers, needed the support of our community, it is now. The Heart of Education Awards (now in our third year) turns our spotlights on great educators, thanks to the support of The Rogers Foundation and companies and individuals across our valley.

Do you know of a great teacher who goes above and beyond? Maybe your children’s current teachers, or one they had some years ago? If these teachers have been employed by CCSD for at least three years and are still teaching now, you can nominate them for an award. Anyone can nominate a great educator. Think about it. Have you witnessed great teaching? If so, please go to TheHeartofEducation.org and nominate someone. It is really simple to do, and your act of kindness could truly brighten someone’s life.

The top 900 teachers will be selected to attend a red-carpet evening at The Smith Center and will be treated to a special performance just for them and their guest. Every nominee in attendance will receive a swag bag full of gifts from local merchants and businesses. Plus, 20 of the top nominees will be selected to each receive a $5,000 cash gift and a commemorative Heart of Education medallion. Want to get involved? Let us know if you would like to donate cash or prizes for our best teachers.

At our second-annual event, keynote speaker Dr. Jill Biden told our packed house of teachers that her fondest memories on the road as second lady were all related to education and educators. Her comments inspired us all.

By taking the time to say thank you to our teachers, we are finding out that it can make a difference, not only with these individuals, but with their schools, as well. It is exciting to see how each school cheers on its nominees and celebrates their successes. Once nominated, teachers must complete a simple application form, whereby they tell their stories. And their stories are amazing. You wouldn’t believe how many of our nominees give up their personal time and personal money to help kids. From helping them buy much-needed eyeglasses to sending students home with groceries, this is a very caring group of people. One of the winners two years ago used a portion of her winnings to help fund a matching scholarship grant for a former student who was accepted at Yale. Yes, she helped pave the way for one of her students, and then at the end of the day used her own money to help him go to college.

We can do more as a community to support our schools. Starting with our teachers is a great place to begin our journey of making Southern Nevada a better place to live for our children and their children.

This spring, we will host another group of top educators during Teacher Appreciation Week. You can get involved. Be a sponsor, or nominate a teacher. You’ll be amazed at how much a simple thank you can mean. Maybe your nominee will take home one of the big prizes, and maybe he or she will be called onto The Smith Center stage. But one thing is for certain. Every nominee will feel appreciated!

 As president and CEO of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Myron Martin brings the world’s most revered and celebrated entertainers to Las Vegas. Martin has a rich history in the performing arts business. A proud Las Vegas resident, Martin has received many accolades, including being named among the Vegas Dozen, Las Vegas’ Man of the Year by Vegas Seven, and receiving the key to the city from Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman.  The Nevada Broadcasting Association presented him the Community Achievement Award and The Public Education Foundation called him their Champion for Children. He is an Emmy Award nominee for producing the Vegas PBS special “Frank Wildhorn & Friends” and is a voter for the Tony Awards.

 

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

 

 

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Las Vegas Icons: Richard “Tick” Segerblom

Link: http://www.vegaslegalmagazine.com/richard-segerblom/

Article:

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

Richard S. “Tick” Segerblom is a native-born Southern Nevadan whose family is well-known to longtime Las Vegans. A fourth-generation Nevada elected official, Segerblom’s family began in Nevada politics in 1906. Tick’s mother Gene Segerblom was a lifelong school teacher in Boulder City, which ensured that virtually every Boulder City child raised during that era had contact with the Segerblom family. Gene Segerblom went on to serve on the Boulder City Council as well as in the Nevada State Assembly.

Tick Segerblom began his political career as an assemblyman and is currently a state senator best known for serving as the point person for passing the recreational marijuana law in Nevada. Next, he intends to run for a vacant Clark County Commission seat.

Vegas Legal Magazine interviewed Segerblom in his Downtown Las Vegas law office.

Vegas Legal Magazine: Describe, if you would, the Las Vegas that you grew up in — it was a completely different place.

Tick Segerblom: It was a very small town, although really even today in certain circles it’s the same handful of people, so it’s still a small town in essence. We would cruise Fremont Street on Friday nights. That’s who we were. To show you how things have changed, I was on juvenile probation for stealing an empty beer keg and throwing firecrackers!

VLM: One of the reasons I moved here when I was a kid was that you could ride a motorcycle at age 14.

 TS: I had a paper route, I had a Honda motorcycle when I was 14. That was the world back then, the Eisenhower see no evil, hear no evil philosophy. But the reality is, when you look back on it, it was so isolated and insulated. We’ve come so far since then, which is fantastic.

VLM: Freedom was a big part of it back then. If you weren’t messing with anybody, you hadn’t done anything wrong. That was just part of the mindset.

TS: I remember some people thought you were a pariah if you were from Nevada. You had relatives around the country who saw you buy something with a silver dollar. You’d have a silver dollar, and they’d [ask], “What’s that?” They’d never seen a silver dollar before. We were Sin City. To them we were an evil place where we had gambling and prostitution. We took a kind of pride in being from Nevada, in being ourselves. It was just who we were. Another thing, it was a racist town at the time, the Mississippi of the West. There were segregated schools, you would never think of marrying someone or dating someone of a different race.

VLM: Tell us about your family background because a lot of people don’t know that your family background has some interesting players.

TS: Well actually on my mother’s side they’re from Northern Nevada, and on her father’s side they were from Ruby Valley, which is where the Pony Express riders and drivers were back in the 1860s. On her mother’s side they were from Winnemucca. My mother’s grandfather had a gold mine and he owned the house of prostitution — it’s not like he ran it but he owned the house where it was. He was a big deal, he was a state senator from Winnemucca and actually voted against women’s right to vote — and when it passed he couldn’t go back to Winnemeucca. He went to San Francisco instead. To show how things come full circle, his daughter, my grandmother, went to the state Legislature and then my mother of course goes to the state Legislature.

VLM: And she was a firebrand.

TS: She was a firebrand. What I learned from her is I think it’s easier just to be open, be who you are, no games. Especially from rural Nevada, it was “you are who you say you are,” the cowboy philosophy.

VLM: How long did she serve?

TS: Just eight years. She was on the City Council in Boulder City before that, she was the government teacher in Boulder City for 20 years. I had her for two classes. Everybody in Boulder City, you had to take her class to graduate. That’s the reason she was elected to the Legislature — it’s a Republican district but she taught everybody, everybody knew her. She built a tremendous amount of respect from being the government teacher.

VLM: What’s your history in politics?

TS: I was just always raised to believe politics was an honorable thing to do, but I really became revolutionized during the Vietnam War when I was in college. Everyone was being drafted and there was just lots of stuff — my sophomore year when I’m in L.A., Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. I dropped out of school and later on in my senior year is when Reagan tear gassed the Berkeley kids — just all those things where you get kind of, I wouldn’t say radicalized, but you learn how to hate “the man.” I think over time most people of my generation have kind of just given in, but I kind of like to poke a finger in the man’s eye every now and then.

But the fun part is to see what we thought in the ’60s, with marijuana for example, we thought within a few years it would be legal. We thought we were going in that direction, but then after Carter left for Reagan, it turned all the way around and then just kept getting worse and worse and worse — and then to see it finally come full circle, and now we’re back to where we were literally in the late ’60s. I mean can you believe that you can actually buy marijuana — you can’t smoke on the street, yeah, but you can carry around an ounce and the cops can’t do anything.

VLM: Did Nevada do it the right way?

TS: The way they made it legal, they started with medical. I never knew it had medical properties — to us it was just for listening to music. The medical was something that came out more is recent years.

I would prefer the federal government not make it legal, because the longer it’s illegal, the more we can create our own industry and create this vibrant economy around it, which really is exciting. I mean, I’ve been around the politics field for a few years and the most fun is the marijuana people because they’re still optimistic. You go to parties, you go to their fundraisers, and they are just a very energized group of people. (Probably because they’re all felons!)

VLM: In the old days we were always the first mover, the first mover in gaming, the first mover in hands-off prostitution …  But here we didn’t act on marijuana until after other states such as Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Was that a smart path?

TS: I think so. When we finally came around to it, we had an example to use.

I think the way it happened was, when I was growing up, you know, the Mormons were a player, but they weren’t running the show, and somehow or other they really became a power, maybe in the ’80s or ’90s. And they were kind of dictating social mores, and so marijuana was pretty much off the table, even though I think most people here, as we’ve discovered, didn’t have any problem with it.

But when you go to the Legislature trying to pass a marijuana bill, we couldn’t even get a hearing. The leadership would say, oh, no one wants that. Even though the public mood was there.

When I passed my first (marijuana) bill in 2013 my co-sponsor was Mark Hutchison, a big shot in the Mormon Church, and his whole thing was, “it’s in the Constitution and I am a constitutional lawyer, we have to give people a right to obey the Constitution.” So, he just saw it from a constitutional perspective. I think he also probably saw that there was a good business opportunity there, which there is. Since that time I think some of that group has kind of gone further to the right and said we don’t want to get involved directly, but there’s still a lot of Mormons involved in the (marijuana) business.

VLM: Was that frustrating seeing the people of Nevada putting their voices out there in support of marijuana, and at first nobody in politics did anything?

TS: I saw it from a distance because I wasn’t in politics when the first vote for medical marijuana happened. Then I got to the Legislature and started seeing people trying to bring up bills but not get a hearing — it was kind of like, what’s up with this? Because medical was put in the Constitution by 67 percent of the vote, it was a no-brainer.

But that’s been my experience all along — the politicians are so far behind the curve as far as the public goes. The voters are there. They’ve already accepted it and they’re ready to move on, tax it, test it, and if people want to use it that’s fine. People know that it’s not the devil weed, it doesn’t make you crazy. Compared to other drugs it’s much more benign.

VLM: When your bill starts to gain traction, do you have time to ask, “Are we ready for this? Is it going to really happen?”

TS: I kept thinking that it’s not going to happen. We got to the Senate fairly easily because of Hutchison but then it got to the Assembly, then the Republicans started to say, oh my God, what are we doing here? It was a two-thirds bill, you know, you never get two-thirds on anything. So, we need one Republican, and the Republican caucus made it a litmus test — if you’re Republican, you have to vote against it.

And then Michele Fiore, as crazy as she is, stepped up and voted for it. Then of course the governor had to sign it. I thought there’s no way in hell, but he did. It was one of those things where the stars were in alignment. The truth was there really was no organized opposition.

VLM: Are there are there any inside stories to tell about the governor’s handling of it?

TS: If there are I don’t know them. The truth is, there are still a lot of big-time Nevada families who saw this as a business opportunity and so they were in there pushing him to do it. The governor said, I want to come out and implement it six months early. How great is that?

VLM: Are we are ahead of California in some ways?

TS: Both of our laws passed last November, and were supposed to kick in the 1st of 2018. Ours kicked in six months early.

In California, they’re trying to take an unregulated Wild West market and put in some kind of regulation. It’s gonna be almost impossible in the short term.

VLM: Isn’t it everywhere in Southern California, which dilutes the chances for maximum tax revenues?

TS: Yeah, there’s no statewide tax even on it, there’s no testing requirements. There’s no seed-to-sale requirements. They got the people up north growing outside by the ton, and they wanted it to stay illegal. When someone applies for a license, what do you do? They show up and you say, OK give us your tax returns for the last five years. Well, these guys, these growers, have never paid taxes. You may be the best grower or the best whatever, but they have no history about working within the system. So what do you do when the guy says, well I’ve been growing for the past five or 10 years, but I don’t have any tax records? Can you say, oh well go ahead and stamp that person, that’s OK? I have talked to accountants and they’re trying to reconstruct these past several years so these growers in California can even apply.

VLM: In Nevada, the governor asked for a genuine revenue projection — when you wave $70 million around, you get people’s attention, and he said we can move forward. Thoughts?

TS: That was the price he had for the ESAs (education savings accounts), the voucher program. I think he was thinking, well, I’ll use the $70 million from the voucher program and that will be the justification for it. But the Democrats killed the voucher program.

But the $70 million, that’s just the 10 percent tax he added. And during the State of the State he said, I’m going to propose a 10 percent tax. I was like, wow, I can’t believe it. That’s $700 million in sales over two years. That’s a shitload of money, starting from scratch essentially.

But still, it was a two-thirds tax and the Republicans were going to hold it hostage until the very end. They caved because they wanted the money. Tying the ESAs to the marijuana tax was going to be their hill to die on.

VLM: So ESAs, for Democrats they were not going down that road …

TS: The reality is, for Republicans, it’s more about trying to gut the teachers’ union, because they don’t care about education. If you can give somebody $5,000 to go to Gorman who’s already going to Gorman, then what’s the point of it? So it really was a litmus test for us.

I didn’t realize this until this debate came up, but we already pay $700 million for charter schools. That’s an incredible amount of money in Nevada for these little schools which have very little regulation …

The key to a democracy is public education, and we have to be committed to that. I’m actually going to propose a 1-cent sales tax in Clark County just to go to teacher salaries, and to use it for teachers and also to enable them to pay more in the poorer schools so we don’t have what we have now, where the teachers come here, the new teachers go to the poorest schools, and if they’re any good in a couple years they go to Summerlin. We want the best teachers in the county to go to the worst schools and help those students.

VLM: Are teachers the whipping boys for the Republican party now?

TS: They certainly are, and we have saddled them so much with the testing and all these things. My mother’s a teacher, and when I grew up the best person in the world was the teacher. But they could go and teach. And they were an example. It wasn’t so much what they taught you, it was just seeing them, hearing them, experiencing them and learning from them. Now there’s so much testing and everything else that a teacher really has no time to do it, so the best and the brightest are leaving the field.

I mean the reality is my kids went to public school here, I went to public school here, we have a great public school system. It’s not perfect in every school but the fact is lots of kids get a tremendous education here in Las Vegas and lots of the teachers are fantastic.

VLM: Teachers have as much ability to change the course of Nevada’s futures as any other industry don’t they?

TS: By far — everybody keeps talking about how we need to diversify the economy. Well, we’re never going to diversify until the public school system is up to the point where a company in California says I’m gonna bring my family over to Las Vegas and let them go to the public school.

VLM: Back to the marijuana industry, are the dispensary owners finally starting to make money on this?

TS: They are on a daily basis. Of course, they have so much debt accumulated over the past couple of years, but I was told that July numbers were good, August numbers were better than July and September numbers were better than August. Right now, it’s on an upward trajectory, and there is money to be made. But they were hanging on by their fingernails. If the governor had not started this industry six months early, a lot of people would have gone out of business.

VLM: Is the inventory issue becoming strained?

TS: Looking at other states when they became legal, the product takes three months to grow. As demand increases, there’s not much grow space out there initially, but the market works itself out. We are the best free market in the country. Any grower can sell to any dispensary, anywhere in the state. There will be more grown and we will catch up.

VLM: (Segerbloom has announced he is running for the District E seat on the Clark County Commission 2018, which has heavily Democratic registration.) Is this the dream job you’re going for and a chance to shine as a Democrat?

TS: Even though I disagree with term limits, I’ve been the beneficiary of term limits. All those longtime Democrats had to leave and I was ready to step in. When you’re in the Assembly it takes 22 votes to make a decision. In the Senate it takes 11. On the County Commission you want four. So all I have to do is find three people who agree with me, and off we go.

As you know, it probably is the second most powerful job in the state, we control a lot of things. Not to denigrate anything that’s happened, but I think there’s probably lots of issues and policies that we can continue to promote, bring to the forefront and really set an agenda. That’s what I hope to do, is to start talking about where we’re going as a valley, where we’re going as a county, where we’re going as a state. Not just deal with everyday management, but trying to take a long view, how we fit in with the Southwest, global warming, all that stuff. There’s a lot we control.

VLM: Some would say the County Commission as a whole is more powerful than the governor. Do you agree?

TS: Well I wouldn’t say more powerful than the governor but I do think they play a major role. But, again it takes four to make a decision, not just one person, and there’s politics, so we have to listen to the entire County Commission. We can’t just say, oh we’re going to do this, whatever. We don’t control the taxing policy, that’s one variable where the governor has a lot more say.

We have the two-thirds requirement to pass the tax in Carson City, but the Legislature can pass by majority vote, if the governor signs authorization to raise the tax, the Commission can pass a tax by majority vote. So, the reality is that if we can convince the Democrats to give us the authority to raise the sales tax, we can raise that tax here, make sure it just goes to Clark County to whatever we want to do.

One of our biggest problems in Nevada has always been the tail wags the dog. We have all the people here in Clark County, but there’s always that little group of cow counties out there that will stop us from getting the two-thirds to do anything. So our hands have been tied and it’s crazy.

For example with marijuana, Douglas County won’t even allow marijuana sales in Douglas County, yet we are giving them part of our marijuana tax for their schools — I mean how stupid is that?

VLM: On the issue of marijuana smoking lounges, it seems like we’re leaving a lot of money on the table if we don’t solve it while there’s still novelty to it. Do you see changes coming?

TS: That’s what I’ve been trying to tell people. We are sitting on a gold mine, but we can’t sit here forever. If we have lounges today, the world would be right here — the footage, the press loves this issue, they would be here. Immediately it would go around the world — Las Vegas is the place.

But every day we wait, Denver or some other place is going to take it up. Then California goes legal in January. This is a gold mine and a golden opportunity, but it’s just so frustrating for me to see people say, well, we don’t know what to do. I mean, if you’re worried about people driving, say you have to show up in a bus. We can have a pot lounge where you have some kind of a shuttle bus from the Strip and it goes around, brings you there and takes you back. It’s just a solvable problem. Let’s move it. Let’s not sit on our butts and say we’re scared of it. We’re selling $700 million worth of pot, where do you think they’re using it?

VLM: What are your big three? What are the three big things you want to do on the County Commission?

TS: Number one, I want to start looking at quality of life and there’s a way to, maybe not control growth, but to see if we can figure out where we’re going; we only have a limited amount of water, so instead of just growing until we stop let’s just see if we can plan out how we grow and how we want to be, trying to push the growth back toward the inner city, so we don’t keep extending things out.

 

Secondly, I want to just work on the marijuana industry because I feel that’s my baby and I think it’s a great source of revenue, a great source of jobs. I think there’s lots to be gained from Nevada becoming the first state where we have little Amsterdams, we have pot lounges, we have concerts. I mean we don’t want to go crazy, but the reality is it’s out there so let’s make ourselves like we used to be with gambling — you know, everybody came to Las Vegas, we were the gold standard. Let’s do that for marijuana, too. We are so perfect for it. So I want to do that.

And third, I want to see if we can use the County Commission to help the school system. There’s no reason why I can’t use my resources to help the schools of my district do a better job, whatever that takes. And I’m not sure what that would be even, maybe help them with the grounds so we can use them as parks when the schools aren’t in session, help the teachers, whatever it’s going to be, I just don’t know. But one of my proposals is going to be to have the school districts and the County Commission districts be the same districts, because there are both seven of them. That way we could really work together, see if there’s synergy, and maybe the commission should just appoint the school board members.

Final thoughts?

As a native Nevadan I’m just excited to be here. We are a town that constantly reinvents itself. To me, marijuana is going to be part of that next invention, but whatever it is I want to be there and help push it along.

Mark Fierro began his career as a reporter/anchor at KLAS-TV, the CBS television station in Las Vegas. He worked at the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. He served as communications consultant on IPO road shows on Wall Street. He provided litigation support for the Michael Jackson death trial. He is president of Fierro Communications, Inc., and author of several books including “Road Rage: The Senseless Murder of Tammy Meyers.” He has made numerous appearances on national TV news programs.

Richard S. “Tick” Segerblom is a native-born Southern Nevadan whose family is well-known to longtime Las Vegans. A fourth-generation Nevada elected official, Segerblom’s family began in Nevada politics in 1906. Tick’s mother Gene Segerblom was a lifelong school teacher in Boulder City, which ensured that virtually every Boulder City child raised during that era had contact with the Segerblom family. Gene Segerblom went on to serve on the Boulder City Council as well as in the Nevada State Assembly.

Tick Segerblom began his political career as an assemblyman and is currently a state senator best known for serving as the point person for passing the recreational marijuana law in Nevada. Next, he intends to run for a vacant Clark County Commission seat.

Vegas Legal Magazine interviewed Segerblom in his Downtown Las Vegas law office.

Vegas Legal Magazine: Describe, if you would, the Las Vegas that you grew up in — it was a completely different place.

Tick Segerblom: It was a very small town, although really even today in certain circles it’s the same handful of people, so it’s still a small town in essence. We would cruise Fremont Street on Friday nights. That’s who we were. To show you how things have changed, I was on juvenile probation for stealing an empty beer keg and throwing firecrackers!

VLM: One of the reasons I moved here when I was a kid was that you could ride a motorcycle at age 14.

 TS: I had a paper route, I had a Honda motorcycle when I was 14. That was the world back then, the Eisenhower see no evil, hear no evil philosophy. But the reality is, when you look back on it, it was so isolated and insulated. We’ve come so far since then, which is fantastic.

VLM: Freedom was a big part of it back then. If you weren’t messing with anybody, you hadn’t done anything wrong. That was just part of the mindset.

TS: I remember some people thought you were a pariah if you were from Nevada. You had relatives around the country who saw you buy something with a silver dollar. You’d have a silver dollar, and they’d [ask], “What’s that?” They’d never seen a silver dollar before. We were Sin City. To them we were an evil place where we had gambling and prostitution. We took a kind of pride in being from Nevada, in being ourselves. It was just who we were. Another thing, it was a racist town at the time, the Mississippi of the West. There were segregated schools, you would never think of marrying someone or dating someone of a different race.

VLM: Tell us about your family background because a lot of people don’t know that your family background has some interesting players.

TS: Well actually on my mother’s side they’re from Northern Nevada, and on her father’s side they were from Ruby Valley, which is where the Pony Express riders and drivers were back in the 1860s. On her mother’s side they were from Winnemucca. My mother’s grandfather had a gold mine and he owned the house of prostitution — it’s not like he ran it but he owned the house where it was. He was a big deal, he was a state senator from Winnemucca and actually voted against women’s right to vote — and when it passed he couldn’t go back to Winnemeucca. He went to San Francisco instead. To show how things come full circle, his daughter, my grandmother, went to the state Legislature and then my mother of course goes to the state Legislature.

 VLM: And she was a firebrand.

TS: She was a firebrand. What I learned from her is I think it’s easier just to be open, be who you are, no games. Especially from rural Nevada, it was “you are who you say you are,” the cowboy philosophy.

VLM: How long did she serve?

TS: Just eight years. She was on the City Council in Boulder City before that, she was the government teacher in Boulder City for 20 years. I had her for two classes. Everybody in Boulder City, you had to take her class to graduate. That’s the reason she was elected to the Legislature — it’s a Republican district but she taught everybody, everybody knew her. She built a tremendous amount of respect from being the government teacher.

VLM: What’s your history in politics?

 TS: I was just always raised to believe politics was an honorable thing to do, but I really became revolutionized during the Vietnam War when I was in college. Everyone was being drafted and there was just lots of stuff — my sophomore year when I’m in L.A., Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. I dropped out of school and later on in my senior year is when Reagan tear gassed the Berkeley kids — just all those things where you get kind of, I wouldn’t say radicalized, but you learn how to hate “the man.” I think over time most people of my generation have kind of just given in, but I kind of like to poke a finger in the man’s eye every now and then.

But the fun part is to see what we thought in the ’60s, with marijuana for example, we thought within a few years it would be legal. We thought we were going in that direction, but then after Carter left for Reagan, it turned all the way around and then just kept getting worse and worse and worse — and then to see it finally come full circle, and now we’re back to where we were literally in the late ’60s. I mean can you believe that you can actually buy marijuana — you can’t smoke on the street, yeah, but you can carry around an ounce and the cops can’t do anything.

VLM: Did Nevada do it the right way?

TS: The way they made it legal, they started with medical. I never knew it had medical properties — to us it was just for listening to music. The medical was something that came out more is recent years.

I would prefer the federal government not make it legal, because the longer it’s illegal, the more we can create our own industry and create this vibrant economy around it, which really is exciting. I mean, I’ve been around the politics field for a few years and the most fun is the marijuana people because they’re still optimistic. You go to parties, you go to their fundraisers, and they are just a very energized group of people. (Probably because they’re all felons!)

VLM: In the old days we were always the first mover, the first mover in gaming, the first mover in hands-off prostitution …  But here we didn’t act on marijuana until after other states such as Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Was that a smart path?

TS: I think so. When we finally came around to it, we had an example to use.

I think the way it happened was, when I was growing up, you know, the Mormons were a player, but they weren’t running the show, and somehow or other they really became a power, maybe in the ’80s or ’90s. And they were kind of dictating social mores, and so marijuana was pretty much off the table, even though I think most people here, as we’ve discovered, didn’t have any problem with it.

But when you go to the Legislature trying to pass a marijuana bill, we couldn’t even get a hearing. The leadership would say, oh, no one wants that. Even though the public mood was there.

When I passed my first (marijuana) bill in 2013 my co-sponsor was Mark Hutchison, a big shot in the Mormon Church, and his whole thing was, “it’s in the Constitution and I am a constitutional lawyer, we have to give people a right to obey the Constitution.” So, he just saw it from a constitutional perspective. I think he also probably saw that there was a good business opportunity there, which there is. Since that time I think some of that group has kind of gone further to the right and said we don’t want to get involved directly, but there’s still a lot of Mormons involved in the (marijuana) business.

VLM: Was that frustrating seeing the people of Nevada putting their voices out there in support of marijuana, and at first nobody in politics did anything?

TS: I saw it from a distance because I wasn’t in politics when the first vote for medical marijuana happened. Then I got to the Legislature and started seeing people trying to bring up bills but not get a hearing — it was kind of like, what’s up with this? Because medical was put in the Constitution by 67 percent of the vote, it was a no-brainer.

But that’s been my experience all along — the politicians are so far behind the curve as far as the public goes. The voters are there. They’ve already accepted it and they’re ready to move on, tax it, test it, and if people want to use it that’s fine. People know that it’s not the devil weed, it doesn’t make you crazy. Compared to other drugs it’s much more benign.

VLM: When your bill starts to gain traction, do you have time to ask, “Are we ready for this? Is it going to really happen?”

TS: I kept thinking that it’s not going to happen. We got to the Senate fairly easily because of Hutchison but then it got to the Assembly, then the Republicans started to say, oh my God, what are we doing here? It was a two-thirds bill, you know, you never get two-thirds on anything. So, we need one Republican, and the Republican caucus made it a litmus test — if you’re Republican, you have to vote against it.

And then Michele Fiore, as crazy as she is, stepped up and voted for it. Then of course the governor had to sign it. I thought there’s no way in hell, but he did. It was one of those things where the stars were in alignment. The truth was there really was no organized opposition.

VLM: Are there are there any inside stories to tell about the governor’s handling of it?

TS: If there are I don’t know them. The truth is, there are still a lot of big-time Nevada families who saw this as a business opportunity and so they were in there pushing him to do it. The governor said, I want to come out and implement it six months early. How great is that?

VLM: Are we are ahead of California in some ways?

TS: Both of our laws passed last November, and were supposed to kick in the 1st of 2018. Ours kicked in six months early.

In California, they’re trying to take an unregulated Wild West market and put in some kind of regulation. It’s gonna be almost impossible in the short term.

VLM: Isn’t it everywhere in Southern California, which dilutes the chances for maximum tax revenues?

TS: Yeah, there’s no statewide tax even on it, there’s no testing requirements. There’s no seed-to-sale requirements. They got the people up north growing outside by the ton, and they wanted it to stay illegal. When someone applies for a license, what do you do? They show up and you say, OK give us your tax returns for the last five years. Well, these guys, these growers, have never paid taxes. You may be the best grower or the best whatever, but they have no history about working within the system. So what do you do when the guy says, well I’ve been growing for the past five or 10 years, but I don’t have any tax records? Can you say, oh well go ahead and stamp that person, that’s OK? I have talked to accountants and they’re trying to reconstruct these past several years so these growers in California can even apply.

VLM: In Nevada, the governor asked for a genuine revenue projection — when you wave $70 million around, you get people’s attention, and he said we can move forward. Thoughts?

TS: That was the price he had for the ESAs (education savings accounts), the voucher program. I think he was thinking, well, I’ll use the $70 million from the voucher program and that will be the justification for it. But the Democrats killed the voucher program.

But the $70 million, that’s just the 10 percent tax he added. And during the State of the State he said, I’m going to propose a 10 percent tax. I was like, wow, I can’t believe it. That’s $700 million in sales over two years. That’s a shitload of money, starting from scratch essentially.

But still, it was a two-thirds tax and the Republicans were going to hold it hostage until the very end. They caved because they wanted the money. Tying the ESAs to the marijuana tax was going to be their hill to die on.

VLM: So ESAs, for Democrats they were not going down that road …

 TS: The reality is, for Republicans, it’s more about trying to gut the teachers’ union, because they don’t care about education. If you can give somebody $5,000 to go to Gorman who’s already going to Gorman, then what’s the point of it? So it really was a litmus test for us.

I didn’t realize this until this debate came up, but we already pay $700 million for charter schools. That’s an incredible amount of money in Nevada for these little schools which have very little regulation …

The key to a democracy is public education, and we have to be committed to that. I’m actually going to propose a 1-cent sales tax in Clark County just to go to teacher salaries, and to use it for teachers and also to enable them to pay more in the poorer schools so we don’t have what we have now, where the teachers come here, the new teachers go to the poorest schools, and if they’re any good in a couple years they go to Summerlin. We want the best teachers in the county to go to the worst schools and help those students.

VLM: Are teachers the whipping boys for the Republican party now?

TS: They certainly are, and we have saddled them so much with the testing and all these things. My mother’s a teacher, and when I grew up the best person in the world was the teacher. But they could go and teach. And they were an example. It wasn’t so much what they taught you, it was just seeing them, hearing them, experiencing them and learning from them. Now there’s so much testing and everything else that a teacher really has no time to do it, so the best and the brightest are leaving the field.

I mean the reality is my kids went to public school here, I went to public school here, we have a great public school system. It’s not perfect in every school but the fact is lots of kids get a tremendous education here in Las Vegas and lots of the teachers are fantastic.

VLM: Teachers have as much ability to change the course of Nevada’s futures as any other industry don’t they?

TS: By far — everybody keeps talking about how we need to diversify the economy. Well, we’re never going to diversify until the public school system is up to the point where a company in California says I’m gonna bring my family over to Las Vegas and let them go to the public school.

VLM: Back to the marijuana industry, are the dispensary owners finally starting to make money on this?

TS: They are on a daily basis. Of course, they have so much debt accumulated over the past couple of years, but I was told that July numbers were good, August numbers were better than July and September numbers were better than August. Right now, it’s on an upward trajectory, and there is money to be made. But they were hanging on by their fingernails. If the governor had not started this industry six months early, a lot of people would have gone out of business.

VLM: Is the inventory issue becoming strained?

TS: Looking at other states when they became legal, the product takes three months to grow. As demand increases, there’s not much grow space out there initially, but the market works itself out. We are the best free market in the country. Any grower can sell to any dispensary, anywhere in the state. There will be more grown and we will catch up.

VLM: (Segerbloom has announced he is running for the District E seat on the Clark County Commission 2018, which has heavily Democratic registration.) Is this the dream job you’re going for and a chance to shine as a Democrat?

TS: Even though I disagree with term limits, I’ve been the beneficiary of term limits. All those longtime Democrats had to leave and I was ready to step in. When you’re in the Assembly it takes 22 votes to make a decision. In the Senate it takes 11. On the County Commission you want four. So all I have to do is find three people who agree with me, and off we go.

As you know, it probably is the second most powerful job in the state, we control a lot of things. Not to denigrate anything that’s happened, but I think there’s probably lots of issues and policies that we can continue to promote, bring to the forefront and really set an agenda. That’s what I hope to do, is to start talking about where we’re going as a valley, where we’re going as a county, where we’re going as a state. Not just deal with everyday management, but trying to take a long view, how we fit in with the Southwest, global warming, all that stuff. There’s a lot we control.

VLM: Some would say the County Commission as a whole is more powerful than the governor. Do you agree?

 

TS: Well I wouldn’t say more powerful than the governor but I do think they play a major role. But, again it takes four to make a decision, not just one person, and there’s politics, so we have to listen to the entire County Commission. We can’t just say, oh we’re going to do this, whatever. We don’t control the taxing policy, that’s one variable where the governor has a lot more say.

We have the two-thirds requirement to pass the tax in Carson City, but the Legislature can pass by majority vote, if the governor signs authorization to raise the tax, the Commission can pass a tax by majority vote. So, the reality is that if we can convince the Democrats to give us the authority to raise the sales tax, we can raise that tax here, make sure it just goes to Clark County to whatever we want to do.

One of our biggest problems in Nevada has always been the tail wags the dog. We have all the people here in Clark County, but there’s always that little group of cow counties out there that will stop us from getting the two-thirds to do anything. So our hands have been tied and it’s crazy.

For example with marijuana, Douglas County won’t even allow marijuana sales in Douglas County, yet we are giving them part of our marijuana tax for their schools — I mean how stupid is that?

VLM: On the issue of marijuana smoking lounges, it seems like we’re leaving a lot of money on the table if we don’t solve it while there’s still novelty to it. Do you see changes coming?

 

TS: That’s what I’ve been trying to tell people. We are sitting on a gold mine, but we can’t sit here forever. If we have lounges today, the world would be right here — the footage, the press loves this issue, they would be here. Immediately it would go around the world — Las Vegas is the place.

But every day we wait, Denver or some other place is going to take it up. Then California goes legal in January. This is a gold mine and a golden opportunity, but it’s just so frustrating for me to see people say, well, we don’t know what to do. I mean, if you’re worried about people driving, say you have to show up in a bus. We can have a pot lounge where you have some kind of a shuttle bus from the Strip and it goes around, brings you there and takes you back. It’s just a solvable problem. Let’s move it. Let’s not sit on our butts and say we’re scared of it. We’re selling $700 million worth of pot, where do you think they’re using it?

VLM: What are your big three? What are the three big things you want to do on the County Commission?

TS: Number one, I want to start looking at quality of life and there’s a way to, maybe not control growth, but to see if we can figure out where we’re going; we only have a limited amount of water, so instead of just growing until we stop let’s just see if we can plan out how we grow and how we want to be, trying to push the growth back toward the inner city, so we don’t keep extending things out.

Secondly, I want to just work on the marijuana industry because I feel that’s my baby and I think it’s a great source of revenue, a great source of jobs. I think there’s lots to be gained from Nevada becoming the first state where we have little Amsterdams, we have pot lounges, we have concerts. I mean we don’t want to go crazy, but the reality is it’s out there so let’s make ourselves like we used to be with gambling — you know, everybody came to Las Vegas, we were the gold standard. Let’s do that for marijuana, too. We are so perfect for it. So I want to do that.

And third, I want to see if we can use the County Commission to help the school system. There’s no reason why I can’t use my resources to help the schools of my district do a better job, whatever that takes. And I’m not sure what that would be even, maybe help them with the grounds so we can use them as parks when the schools aren’t in session, help the teachers, whatever it’s going to be, I just don’t know. But one of my proposals is going to be to have the school districts and the County Commission districts be the same districts, because there are both seven of them. That way we could really work together, see if there’s synergy, and maybe the commission should just appoint the school board members.

Final thoughts?

As a native Nevadan I’m just excited to be here. We are a town that constantly reinvents itself. To me, marijuana is going to be part of that next invention, but whatever it is I want to be there and help push it along.

Mark Fierro began his career as a reporter/anchor at KLAS-TV, the CBS television station in Las Vegas. He worked at the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. He served as communications consultant on IPO road shows on Wall Street. He provided litigation support for the Michael Jackson death trial. He is president of Fierro Communications, Inc., and author of several books including “Road Rage: The Senseless Murder of Tammy Meyers.” He has made numerous appearances on national TV news programs.

 

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

 

 

The Emperor’s New Coins: How Initial Coin Offerings Fueled A $100 Billion Crypto Bubble

Link: http://www.vegaslegalmagazine.com/emperors-new-coins/

Article:

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

On April 24, Martin Köppelmann, 31, Stefan George, 29, and Matt Liston, 25, placed their laptops on a long wooden dining table ringed by high-backed wooden chairs and three-armed candelabra at their Airbnb in Gibraltar. It was an old-fashioned setting for a 21st-century moment. The three were about to launch a Kickstarter-style crowdsale, based on a concept they’d been developing for two years: a user-driven prediction market based on a coming “Cambrian explosion of machine intelligence” called Gnosis.

Their goal: raise $12.5 million. But instead of dollars, they would accept money only in the form of a new cryptocurrency, Ether, that didn’t exist two years ago. It was a new form of crowdfunding called an “initial coin offering,” or ICO. Supporters would not receive a finished product down the road, as in a typical Kickstarter project. Instead, for every Ether (or fraction thereof) sent to Gnosis’ wallet, the “smart contract” would automatically send back a different type of money, a GNO coin, that would give people special access to the platform plus act as equity in the network.

Theoretically, as Gnosis became more popular, demand for GNO coins (also known as tokens) would rise, boosting the shares of existing GNO token holders. The founders had designed their crowdfunding as a Dutch auction, which starts with a price ceiling rather than a floor. Within 11 minutes, Gnosis had raised the $12.5 million, led mostly by programmatic pooled “bidding rings,” and sold only 4.2% of its allotted 10 million tokens. The final price, $29.85, gave their project–which had little more underlying it than a 49-page white paper and a few thousand lines of open-source computer code–a valuation of $300 million. In two months, GNO coins were trading at $335 each, and Gnosis was suddenly worth $3 billion, more than the market cap of Revlon, Box or Time Inc. Köppelmann’s stake alone is, in theory, now worth about $1 billion. “It’s problematic,” admits Köppelmann, who stammers and sighs repeatedly, in seeming embarrassment. His best defense for the valuation: There’s a lot out there that’s far worse.

That’s pretty much all you need to know about the great cryptocurrency bubble of 2017. The market capitalization for these virtual issues has surged 870% over the last 12 months, from $12 billion to over $100 billion. (This number is a moving target, though, since a 30% daily market plunge or gain isn’t out of the ordinary.)  That’s more than six times the rise in stock market capitalization during the dot-com boom from 1995 to 2000. A lot of this total gain comes from Bitcoin, the original digital asset–created out of an artful blend of cryptography, cloud computing and game theory–which is up 260% in 2017 alone. The total value of Bitcoin now exceeds $40 billion, despite years of shady characters, fraud, theft and incompetence (including the Mt. Gox meltdown, which took almost $500 million with it) and despite the fact it has no intrinsic value–not even the promise of a central government or a precious metal mined from the ground.

But the second movers are growing much faster and doing something more interesting. Rather than a mere currency–which is largely used for speculation–these so-called “crypto-assets” intertwine businesses and tokens. The fuel here is something called Ethereum (whose currency is Ether). Like Bitcoin, it’s based on blockchain technology, essentially a secure, decentralized, constantly updated ledger system. But while Bitcoin allows you to transact only in Bitcoin, the Ethereum network allows for software programs. In other words, Ethereum-based currencies can actually do things.

So suddenly anyone with a digital idea can launch a coin to go with it. There are now more than 900 different crypto-currencies and crypto-assets on the market, with another launching pretty much every day. On June 12, Bancor, which plans to create a new reserve cryptocurrency, offered 50% of its total tokens and raised $153 million in under three hours, setting the record for an initial funding amount. The very next day, an entity called IOTA listed a token designed for Internet of Things micropayments and immediately fetched a value of $1.8 billion. A week after that, a messaging platform named Status launched its coin offering, raising $102 million. (see: Not So Tiny Bubbles: The Top 25 Crypto-Assets)

In a gold rush, it’s good to be selling the pans. Ethereum’s value has skyrocketed more than 2,700% in the last 12 months, to $28 billion, or $300 per token. Of course, on the way there it has flash crashed to 10 cents and hit as high at $415. Bitcoin has been historically just as volatile, trading from $31 to $2 to $1,200 to $177 to its recent $2,500, as armies of day traders (see: Return Of The Daytraders; Forbes) try to time something that has all the predictability of a roulette wheel.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped a slew of websites and Facebook groups from popping up, full of endless bragging of crypto-conquests, including token purchases financed with credit card debt. Or hucksters from trying to get people to put their retirement money in this stuff, via Ether and Bitcoin IRAs. Every new coin offering presents another chance to translate a flaky business into an absurd valuation.

These pioneers have certainly unlocked a better way to raise money and create a network effect. Why grovel before Silicon Valley venture capitalists or deal with federal regulators in the public markets when you can attach a token to your idea and have speculators throw money at it and then bid it up? These initial coin offerings have raised more than $850 million, from Brave Software’s lofty “Basic Attention Token” (which sucked in $36 million in 24 seconds, at a $180 million valuation, on the promise of using blockchain technology to fix digital advertising’s deep problems) to the more basic Legends Room (a coin that gives users VIP privileges at a Las Vegas strip club). [see: Cryptos In Wonderland: The 12 Weirdest and Wackiest Coins]

If this all sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The same dynamics–companies with more concept than concrete, day-trader speculators, wild volatility, Dutch auctions, instant fortunes created out of thin air–were ubiquitous in the first internet bubble. As was collapse: In 2000, $1.8 trillion in internet stock market value evaporated, and unless you think a prediction-market concept is instantly worth $3 billion, history will repeat. Ether is both a building block and the future description of what’s going to happen to most of this “value.”

Still, we’re past the tulip stage. Yes, that first dot-com bubble was ridiculous, but it also gave us enduring companies like Amazon, Google and eBay. And, yes, scores of foolish day traders and IPO junkies got crushed, but lots of smart, early players got very, very rich. That history is repeating right now, too.

To best understand how cryptocurrency works, think about videogames. You have a virtual world, and within this realm, you can often earn virtual currency, which can then be redeemed for rewards within the game–extra armor, more lives, cooler clothes. It’s the same here, except that it’s rooted in blockchain technology and (theoretically) you can either convert the play money into the real thing or deploy it for actual goods and services inside the entity that spawned it.

Many ICO descriptions even read like byzantine videogame rule books. For example, owners of GNO tokens in the $3 billion prediction market Gnosis have the ability to earn a second kind of token, WIZ, valued at $1 each, to pay platform fees. Ingeniously, the coins are earned by voluntarily “locking in” tokens for periods up to a year, which conveniently props up Gnosis’ overall price.

It’s a common model. Since most of these platforms cap the number of tokens, increased usage jacks up the demand for them and should, in turn, boost the price. This network effect, in which a service becomes more valuable as more people use it, mirrors the incentives of Amway-style pyramid schemes. Imagine if Facebook had a token and by merely convincing a friend to join you would improve the network and your “token” net worth.

“We are crowdfunding a new decentralized digital economy,” says Chris Burniske, who recently left New York City’s ARK Investment Management, the first public fund manager to invest in Bitcoin. Burniske classifies the emerging assets into three categories. First, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and untraceable digital cash like Monero and Zcash. Second, crypto-commodities, the putative building blocks of a decentralized digital infrastructure. Golem Network Tokens, for example, harness a network of computers that rent or lease computing power–so while you sleep, your computer could be used by an entrepreneur who needs to train her machine-learning algorithm, earning you coins in the process. An especially hot type of crypto-commodity: decentralized data-storage tokens, such as Filecoin, Sia or Storj, which compete with Amazon Simple Storage Service. The third category (and farthest off), crypto-tokens, promises to power consumer-facing, decentralized networks. Think Uber without Uber–a peer-to-peer network of riders and drivers (or driverless cars), earning and paying one another in the crypto-tokens needed to transact on that network. [see: How Crypto-Tokens Work: A Case Study] 

The entities raising money in these coin offerings are not always startups. Sometimes they’re merely developers collaborating on a project and don’t form a legal entity. And even when the group is really a corporation, such as the messaging app Kik, which is launching the Kin token, the organizers will claim that the crowdsale is not actually offering a share in the company, conveniently sidestepping securities regulations.

Laura Shin is a senior editor covering crypto assets and hosts the crypto/blockchain podcast, Unchained(Google Play, iHeartRadio, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn)Follow her at @laurashin.

 This story appears in the July 27, 2017 issue of Forbes.

 

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

 

 

IRS Audits, Don’t Get Red Flagged

Link: http://www.vegaslegalmagazine.com/irs-audits/

Article:

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

“Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this return and accompanying schedules and statements, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, they are true, correct and accurately list all amounts and sources of income I received during the tax year. Declaration of preparer (other than taxpayer) is based on all information of which preparer has any knowledge.”

You have probably acknowledged and affirmed this statement many times over the years since it is located directly above your signature on your individual tax return. However, let’s assume for the sake of this article that you are unfamiliar with it and the statute of limitations on your income tax return. Today, we will review these topics as well as the most common areas that can attract increased IRS audit attention.

The statute of limitations on the IRS to assess taxes on a taxpayer generally expires three years from the due date of the return or the date on which it was filed, whichever is later. For this purpose, the tax return is considered filed on the due date of the return if it was filed on or before the due date. For instance, if your 2016 individual income tax return (Form 1040) was filed on March 1, 2017, it is considered to be filed on April 15, 2017; the actual due date. The statute of limitations for the 2016 return expires three years from April 15, 2017, on April 15, 2020. However, if the return omits 25% or more of income the statute of limitations gets extended from three, to six years. The statute for the collection of previously assessed taxes is generally ten years. What this means is that once the IRS assesses a taxpayer is liable for a given year’s tax, it has ten years to pursue the collection. However, the statute of limitations is unlimited if the taxpayer commits tax fraud.

There are several scenarios that could cause the IRS to flag your return. The first is failing to report all of the 1099’s and W-2s you receive. If you have multiple 1099’s and W-2s, be sure to review the statement normally accompanying your tax return to make sure none are missing. If you have so many that you have difficulty organizing and collecting them all (it does happen), you can request a Wage and Income transcript from the IRS at no charge. A paid tax preparer can also request this directly from the IRS if you’ve signed a Power of Attorney authorizing the preparer to communicate on your behalf with the IRS.

Another red flag is taking disproportionately high deductions on Schedule A. You should be able to provide evidence for every expense you deduct. For instance, some people donate more to charity than others, and it may trigger an audit. But if you’ve been contributing to a valid 501(c)(3) entity and you can provide evidence, then there is nothing to worry about.

The next red flag trigger is what is referred to as “hobby losses.” A hobby loss is when you have income and expenses from an activity that produces losses for three consecutive years, and a profit motive is difficult to prove. Sometimes what ends up being considered a hobby loss began with a profit motive, but it then later becomes increasingly clear over time that the endeavor is for some personal pleasure rather than a profit motive. Taxpayers should be careful when going down this road. For instance, let’s say you teach guitar on the side. If you generate gross income of $3,000 and have expenses of $3,200, your deductions are limited to income of $3,000. Also, you’d want to be able to prove that the expenses were for ordinary and reasonable items, such as rent, normal materials and advertising. If your expenses consist of two brand new guitars totaling $3,200, you are playing with fire.

It is common knowledge here in Las Vegas that the casino will issue a W-2G if you win $1,200 or more on a single slot machine payout. For some reason people think that winnings less than $1,200 are not taxable income. Let it be a reminder to you that all income is taxable income unless the IRS says it isn’t. You may not receive a W-2G for your winnings that are less than the $1,200 threshold, but that doesn’t mean it is not taxable.

Keep a log of your gambling losses with as much detail as possible as you can only deduct your losses to the extent of your winnings. Furthermore, you can only deduct losses if you have winnings. Losses are deducted on Schedule A as miscellaneous deductions. Deducting large losses without including your gambling winnings as other income on page 1 of your 1040 will certainly raise a big red flag. Professional gamblers typically report winnings and losses on Schedule C. They are also allowed additional gambling related expenses such as software, research materials, costs of lodging and meals, which are not allowed to be deducted by nonprofessionals. For those of you that are recreational gamblers, be mindful to report these items correctly.

Whether you prepare your own return or you have a tax professional prepare it, you should take time to review the tax return to make sure it is accurate and correct. If your preparer doesn’t offer to review the return before filing, you should ask him or her to go over it. Even honest and hardworking preparers make mistakes, and you might have legitimately forgotten to disclose an event or transaction that impacts taxes. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Donovan Thiessen, CPA has worked with Gerety & Associates, CPAs in Las Vegas, Nevada for 10 years, focusing on trust and estate, and individual and business income taxation. The firm has substantial experience in estate planning and can handle complex transactions. You may reach Donovan at dthiessen@geretycpa.com and 702.933.2213.

 

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

 

 

State Of The Market

Link: http://www.vegaslegalmagazine.com/state-market-dec-2017/

Article:

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

On October 6th, the employment statistics from the Department of Labor were announced. The US economy shed 33,000 jobs in September; the first monthly net loss in six years. Considerably an anomaly in this current cycle and it was the good news bad news scenario. First the bad news — the jobs lost were attributed to the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. The good news – wages moved higher and unemployment fell to 4.2%.

Speaking of adding insult to injury in September, on October 8th, Hurricane Nate made landfall hitting the Gulf Coast and Biloxi Mississippi. With deadly hurricanes, a major earthquake in Mexico and the latest shootings in our beloved Las Vegas, our country is experiencing human loss and suffering testing our resolve and wrangling our nerves as we race toward the end of 2017. For most, the end of the year can’t arrive fast enough.

Our country may be torn, but we’re not out for the count by any stretch of the imagination. As one of the longest Bull market cycles, now concluding its ninth year, marches on, many on Wall Street and Main street are wondering what’s going to derail or propel the economic expansion. Given the environment of low unemployment, rising wages, stubbornly low inflation and rising export trade – accompanied by a weaker dollar, many questions persist. In fact, October 9th marks exactly ten years from the stock market peak before the Financial Panic of 2008. Q/3 earnings announcements begin the same week.

Based on total return, over the last ten years since September 2007, stocks have performed the best compared with the 10-year Treasury Note, gold, oil, housing, and cash. Assuming no major shift in October, the S&P 500 has generated a total return (capital gains plus reinvested dividends) of 7.4% per year, essentially doubling in value in ten years.1 Gold did well, but lagged stocks, increasing 5.7% per year. A 10-year Treasury Note purchased that night (now coming due), would have generated a yield of 4.7%. Oil was a laggard, down 4.3% per year. Home prices increased about 1% per year, on average, and “cash” averaged 0.4%, both trailing the 1.6% average gain in the consumer price index.2

And what about our Federal Reserve? The process of unwinding Quantitative Easing (QE) is going to take time. The Fed is going to trim the balance sheet by $10 billion a month for the first three months, $20 billion per month for the next three, and on and on until it hits a pace of $50 billion per month. When the FOMC initiates the “balance sheet normalization program” in October it would take until about 2021 for the balance sheet to reach what Economists believe is a normalized level.

I think the Fed could be more aggressive about reducing their balance sheet. Moreover, I don’t think QE helped the U.S. economy in the first place; all it did was stuff the banking system full of excess reserves that the banks didn’t lend aggressively due to stress testing requirements and because of government overreach with regulations. The Fed created the sugar high the financial press critiqued and investors craved so they could run the table with overweighting investment allocation in stocks.

Many now believe there will be a rate hike in December. In fact, in the last FOMC statement from September, their language stated, “The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run. However, the actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on the economic outlook as informed by incoming data.”3

The Fed isn’t the only central bank tilting toward a less-loose monetary policy. The Bank of England (BoE) and European Central Bank (ECB) also seem determined to start trimming back on some of the aggressive measures of the past decade. The BoE looks like it will soon move rates up after having cut them to 0.25% in the aftermath of the Brexit vote in June of 2016. Meanwhile, the ECB will start tapering its asset purchases.

Regardless of what happens soon, central banks around the world remain extremely accommodative. None of them are remotely close to running a “tight” monetary policy. Yes, I’ve discussed the Fed here before, but for investors, at this point it’s best to ignore the noise.

Jeff deGraaf, chairman of Renaissance Macro Research said that Employment data and purchasing managers index readings are at levels that both “generally imply overheating and a Fed aggressively pinching off the excesses with higher rates.” RenMac’s Master Employment Index is now in the 90th to 100th percentile, which is historically negative for S&P 500 forward returns, deGraaf said, as it signals the economy is running too hot.

“PMI readings are also in the top decile, which also points to a negative impact on S&P returns three and twelve months forward,” deGraaf said. He worries that the Fed’s preferred thermostat, inflation, remains in the bottom quartile. “That’s a little like judging the heat in a microwave by touching the door,” calling it the “wrong instrument for the wrong device.”4

Stocks are still undervalued relative to bonds, the Fed is still loose, and the economy is expanding. As long as there are “excess reserves” in the system, monetary policy will not threaten the recovery. If it takes the Fed as long as I think to fully tighten, this recovery may be the longest ever and last until 2019. Whether the Trump Administration can push through tax reform is a whole story onto itself given the divide among the GOP and the Democratic challenges to defend the middle and lower income classes.

You can’t ignore the loss of life due to senseless shootings, natural disasters, terrorism or isolated police brutality. But, you can ignore the noise created by headline risk in the markets from financial journalists who suggest that the markets have come too far and are overpriced. Regardless, it’s best to pay very close attention.

Mark Martiak is a New York based Investment Advisor Representative for Premier Wealth Advisors LLC. Mark is a regular Contributor for VEGAS LEGAL MAGAZINE who has appeared on CNBC’s CLOSING BELL, YAHOO! FINANCE MIDDAY MARKET MOVERS, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK and has been quoted in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.

 Securities offered through: First Allied Securities, Inc. A Registered Broker/Dealer. Member: FINRA /SIPC. Advisory Services offered through: Premier Wealth Advisors, LLC. (PWA) & First Allied Advisory Services, Inc. (FAAS). Both Registered Investment Advisers.  PWA is not affiliated with First Allied Securities, Inc. or FAAS.

Such forward-looking statements are subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and actual results could be materially different. There are no guarantees associated with any forecast and the opinions stated here are subject to change at any time and are the opinion of the individual strategist. 

 1 The article was written in October 2017. Some statistics may have changed before the publishing of this article.

2 Data comes from the following sources: Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Federal Reserve Board, and Haver Analytics. Data is taken from sources generally believed to be reliable but no guarantee is given to its accuracy. Indexes are unmanaged and investors are not able to invest directly into any index.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The S&P 500 Dividends Reinvested Price Calculator with data taken from Robert Shiller: https://dqydj.com/sp-500-return-calculator/; http://www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data.htm.

3 Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement September 20, 2017

https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/pressreleases/monetary20170920a.htm

4 MarketWatch: Some Investors See Signs Stock Market ‘on verge’ of a melt-up: published: Oct 8th, 2017.

 

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

 

 

Farewell Marshall Bill

 

Link: http://www.vegaslegalmagazine.com/farewell-marshall-bill/

Article:

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

For those who work or practice at Family Court, everyone knew “Marshal Bill.” William Michael Datthyn was born on October 13, 1971, in New York and tragically passed on September 3, 2017, on a river in Idaho. Bill is survived by his mother, 2 brothers, 1 married sister and their children. A memorial was held at City Hall on September 15, 2017.  Stories from his life were shared by both family and friends. I was approached by Vegas Legal Magazine to do a story on Bill from my personal perspective since not only was I his boss, he was a best friend. I was awoken many times during the weeknights leading up to my talk given at his memorial and I took them as Bill giving me hints as to what he wanted me to say. In the past week, this has occurred yet again. That is when this article changed from silly stories from our “bromance” to a simple acknowledgment of Bill’s heroism.

Bill followed in his mother’s footsteps and became an NYPD officer in January 1993.  He obtained special permission to wear his mother’s retired shield #891. Bill was in New York for those tragic events of September 11, 2001. Fortunately, he was not in or around the buildings that came down on that fateful day. Bill did know some of the first responders that perished and in the long weeks afterward, he worked tirelessly in the cleanup efforts of that enormous aftermath. Bill discussed generally what he did in those cleanup efforts, but the specifics he kept mostly to himself. From what Bill said, he was involved in the discovery and cataloging of body parts as they were recovered. His sister stated at the memorial that Bill would often brag that he got to eat for free at Olive Garden after his long shifts.

In May 2006, Bill was in a motorcycle accident where he sustained injuries that would not allow him to continue his NYPD service. He later moved to Las Vegas and was hired briefly by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a subdivision of the Department of Homeland Security. This was his way of trying to continue to keep our country safe. However, as you may recall from the many news stories at the time, the TSA was in complete disarray.  Bill could not handle chaos; he needed things to be neat and organized. As a result, he resigned from the TSA and took a job as an Administrative Marshal at Family Court in January 2007.

I hired Bill as my Judicial Marshal prior to taking the bench in January 2009. We worked together from my first day on the job until his last day on the job. 9/11 was always a special day for Bill. He would always bring to work a small corner of stone every 9/11 to remind fellow employees, attorneys, litigants, etc. to “never forget.” I am certain that piece of stone from those hallowed grounds was his most cherished object in this life. At his memorial, the U.S. flag flown at half-staff at Family Court on September 11, 2017, was presented to Bill’s family as a token of his dedicated service.

Bill was a protector. As a judge, it is truly overwhelming to contemplate that a fellow human being has taken an oath to protect my life. I have no doubt that Bill would have sacrificed his life for me or my family. I would often bring Bill along to social events as he loved to socialize. If the event included other judges and had no security, he then became the security. Bill would take a strategic position in the room and constantly scan for any issues. When judges would slip out of the event, he would escort them to their car to ensure they left safely. He was not paid a dime for this service.

Bill was compassionate. Every Valentine’s Day he would buy 100 roses and hand them out to all the female employees in the building. He wanted to ensure that everyone was recognized on that day and that no one was overlooked. Except for the hot summer months, Bill held a monthly barbeque in our parking lot, sending reminders out to the whole building. Tips were accepted, which he would put toward the next month’s costs. Normally, he personally just funded the difference. It was done not only to feed those who enjoyed his cooking, but to also create a social environment. Bill had a photographic memory. Whenever we walked the halls and someone would ask him when the next barbeque was, he could later tell me their name, job title and a few things personal things about them.

A few weeks before he passed, Bill received a phone call from his doctor while we were preparing for court. He then approached me and disclosed that he had been paying out-of-pocket every year for specialized tests to ensure that his service at Ground Zero had not affected his health. Bill disclosed that whatever levels they were monitoring had just become elevated. For the first time ever, I could sense fear in my friend. I tried to console him that tests were often wrong and everything was going to be just fine. Bill then decided to take a last minute trip to go be with his family when the accident occurred.

I do not profess to know all of life’s answers. However, I do believe that all things happen for a reason. My belief of this tragic accident–it was Deity simply having compassion on this faithful servant of our community and not allowing him to suffer or endure incomprehensible pain. I miss my best friend. Just the other day an attorney gave me his condolences. He teared up, so did I and then we both became blubbering messes. What would cause 2 grown men to sob like children? It was the servicecompassion, protectionheroism, and friendship of William Michael Datthyn. GodspeedMarshal Bill!

 

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

 

Meet The Incumbent: Judge Rob Bare

Link: http://www.vegaslegalmagazine.com/judge-rob-bare/

Article:

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.

In this edition of Meet The Incumbent, VLM interviews Judge Rob Bare, a judge in Department XXXII of the Eighth Judicial District Court. Bare began his career as an attorney in the U.S. Army Jag Corps. When the opportune time presented itself, he decided to surprise his mother and run for the position of judge, the pinnacle of the legal profession. It is his love, service and respect for his family and others that drives him. Bare is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a former Bar Counsel for the State Bar of Nevada.

 

Vegas Legal Magazine: What did you do before becoming a judge?

 

Judge Bare: I was an Army Lawyer (Captain, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps), Bar Counsel for the State Bar of Nevada, and I accepted an assignment as a Municipal Court Judge in 2007.

 

VLM: What is the most memorable case you tried as an attorney before taking the bench?

 

JB: I tried a professional discipline case that I prosecuted as Bar Counsel for the State Bar of Nevada concerning allegations that an attorney had misappropriated nearly $400K from client trust accounts. It was a week-long trial where I called a number of her former clients as witnesses and I assisted them in telling their stories. Each story was incredibly compelling. Tremendous damage is done when a lawyer steals money from client(s). The lawyer was disbarred and, perhaps more importantly, the sworn testimony from clients helped to get them at least partial reimbursement for their losses.

 

VLM: What made you decide to run for judge?

 

JBThe experience I had when I was in Municipal Court made me feel that the judiciary was the right place for me. In addition, though it may sound sentimental, the truth is that I started my life in an orphanage and was adopted, and I wanted my election to happen during my mom’s lifetime (since she was in her late 70’s at that time). My investiture was essentially a tribute to my mom.

 

VLM: What does being a judge mean to you?

 

JB: I was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army after deciding to settle in Nevada and practice law in 1993. You can take yourself out of the army, but you can’t take the army out of yourself. Though I don’t think I’m a general, I do feel like at times I am a colonel. What I mean is this: I view being a judge as having a higher responsibility and is therefore the pinnacle of our profession, similar to the rank structure in the armed-forces.

 

VLM: What is your favorite and least favorite thing about being a judge?

 

 JB: My favorite thing about being a judge is presiding over a jury trial. My least favorite thing is when the trial settles. Really! I enjoy the drama and display of professional skills that good lawyers bring to the courtroom. I am also proud of the public who take time out of their busy schedules to resolve disputes as members of a jury panel. I love watching the constitutional right to a jury trial play out.

 

VLM: What is the most memorable case you have presided over as a judge?

 

JB: I was asked to determine whether the procedure that the county commission used to dissolve or abolish the position of Constable was fair. After a hearing process, I did determine that their decision to no longer have a Constable in Las Vegas was proper.

 

VLM: Describe a situation where you had to support a legal position that conflicted with your personal beliefs? Please tell us how you handled it.

 

JB: In Municipal Court, under city law, it was a misdemeanor to have more than 3 dogs. When those cases came up, it was evident to me that the offender who had 4-5 dogs took better care of their dogs than most people with 1 or 2 dogs. Within the ethical allowable boundaries at sentencing, looking back, I would normally not be very harsh in sentencing those cases. In other words, though as a court I would always enforce the law, along with both the defense and prosecution, we would often find creative ways to provide for no repeat offenses on these cases.

 

VLM: Describe a court situation that tested the limits of your patience.  How did you respond? In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently?

 

JB: I had a non-lawyer showing up to our misdemeanor appeal calendars, reaching out to pro se litigants, and essentially offering to represent them. It became apparent that this was the unauthorized practice of law. I issued a specifically tailored contempt order to stop him. Looking back, I have learned that the better practice in any contempt scenario is to make more specific findings and scrupulously follow technical trappings of contempt procedural law as this is an area wrought with pitfalls for judges. At the end of the day, my handling of this mess worked, and the unauthorized practice stopped.

 

VLM: What’s your biggest pet peeve caused by attorneys that appear in your courtroom?

 

JB: My biggest pet peeve is when attorneys, in an inappropriate manner, direct questions or arguments to each other instead of the court.

 

VLM: What is your best piece of advice for litigants and/or attorneys?

 

JB: To litigants: Though not legally necessary, in civil cases, get a lawyer. To attorneys: The most important asset as an attorney in Nevada is your reputation.

 

VLM: What is your passion outside of law?

 

JB: Jeep trips throughout Nevada. I have a 3-day jeep trip mapped out that is a result of trial and error over fifteen years that, if you go on, you’ll more than likely want to get a jeep! I also have a passion for artwork; both my own and others. I also enjoy red wine induced philosophy talk with my wife.

 

VLM: What do you love most about Vegas?

 

JB: Restaurant hours!

 

The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.