From Open Murder To Gross Misdemeanor

Link: http://www.vegaslegalmagazine.com/from-open-murder-to-gross-misdemeanor/

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 the pantheon of courthouse stories that will live on forever, there is a new entry: the case of the “Smoke Shop Shooter,” 24-year-old Raad Sunna, who was originally charged with open murder before he ultimately pleaded down to a gross misdemeanor in return for no time served. No trial. No felony record. No time. Zero. Nada.

One reason the case will live long beyond a mortal expiration date is the reaction of Dominic Gentile, the lead defense attorney in the case. Gentile has said that upon reflection, he is disappointed in the outcome.

“I know there are a lot of people applauding the result here, but I’m not one of them,” Gentile said. “It is a criminal defense lawyer’s horror to represent a person who is truly, factually innocent of what he is charged with, because it brings far more pressure. This was a classic example of how frustrating our criminal justice system is, because it is geared toward the negotiated settlement, the disposition, of cases.”

“Here you have a situation where a person should not have to carry on his record that he has been charged with a crime, and certainly should not have to carry that he has been convicted of a crime, because he did nothing illegal. He did nothing wrong. So, when you have somebody like that you are representing, it keeps you up at night — if you’re conscientious.”

Initially, Gentile’s contention of Sunna’s innocence seems to fly in the face of the fact pattern. The deceased person was 13 years old, unarmed, and had been shot in the side once and in the back six times.

The shooting generated sensational headlines from the evening of the incident. It began as a robbery attempt at a smoke shop in a southwest Las Vegas Valley strip mall, with three teenagers putting on layer upon layer of clothing to make themselves appear larger and more menacing. They donned shemagh-style masks, which many people associate with tactical military forces or terrorism.

All of the perpetrators’ preparation for the robbery was caught on surveillance video from a camera at a nearby store.

They burst in the door and rushed toward Sunna, the lone clerk in the family-owned smoke shop at the time. Video from the shop shows two of the attackers leaping behind the store’s counters and Sunna responding by drawing his pistol. Seconds later, one of the masked robbers, Fabriccio Patti, would be dead on the floor.

Thanks in part to the surveillance video footage, Gentile liked his position from the moment he took the case. “When I first saw the video, I never believed the police or the district attorney would file any charges,” Gentile said. “Raad’s background was pristine. I don’t think I could possibly create a fictional client who had more to offer to society than this kid. He was just the poster boy for good behavior.”

Sunna is literally an altar boy. When he sat down with police to answer their questions on the night of the shooting, he asked that his priest accompany him. That priest, Father John Nicholas, would have been a stellar witness had the state decided to proceed to trial. Even though he had an altar boy client with a background that would be any defense attorney’s dream, Gentile was not fully confident in his chances until he saw the results of a pair of focus groups he ordered. (Full disclosure: Fierro Communications, Inc., provided support for Gentile’s firm in preparation for the case, particularly in the area of conducting and analyzing focus groups and mock juries. As a direct result of their work on this case Fierro Communications and Gentile have partnered to launch a business based on focus groups.)

“You always have to stress test your own beliefs and your own point of view and your own evaluation of the evidence against what others may think of it,” Gentile said. “Lawyers are often far removed from the mindset of those who have nothing to do with the law. Sometimes their judgment is too constricted by the rules of law. I know what the jury instructions are, I know what the elements are of murder and all the other included offenses of murder. I know where the burden of proof rests on self-defense. I saw it as self-defense. But there were a couple of powerful factors that were not necessarily working in Raad’s favor. One was the person he shot was 13 years of age. Of course, Raad could not have known that. But at the end of the day you do not know how much sympathy the jury will have for the parents of a dead 13-year-old. Another factor was the dead man was not armed. Again, there was no way for Raad to know that, particularly with the way he ran at him. It turns out one of his cronies was armed with a butterfly knife that could cut your throat in no time. But the dead man was not armed.

“When those factors are in the mix, you have to worry about it. How is that going to impact emotionally the members of the jury? Regardless of what anyone says, the jury decides the case viscerally and then thinks of a rationale. That’s the nature of a group decision-making process. And that’s absolutely what juries do. Any trial lawyer or judge will tell you that.”

In studying the mock juries that made up the focus groups, Gentile’s resolve was strengthened when he observed that both groups independently decided that Sunna should be acquitted. “Both focus groups started out exactly the way I was afraid of,” Gentile said. “They started out by looking at a 13-year-old, unarmed, and looking for a reason to convict Raad Sunna. As they worked through it and started putting themselves in the place of Raad, the focus groups, without knowing what the other one was doing, both unanimously came to the conclusion that it was self-defense. The irony was the paths each one took to that conclusion were different from the other. When you see them reaching the same result from two different paths, it puts steel in your spine.”

On Feb. 1, 2018, a year and two months after the shooting, Sunna was sentenced to probation and community service after pleading guilty to a gross misdemeanor. He originally faced a charge of open murder that carried the possibility of a life sentence without parole.
The outcome followed tense negotiations between Gentile’s firm and the district attorney’s office that lasted until the final possible moments. The focus group research bolstered Gentile’s confidence during the negotiations.

“I strongly believe in focus groups. I’ve been doing them since the early ’80s,” Gentile said. “Focus groups don’t have to cost a lot of money. You can do a focus group without a lot of bells and whistles and benefit from it. What I really want to do is take the experience I’ve had with focus groups as well as juries, and we want to make it affordably available to more lawyers who handle jury-eligible litigation. I stopped counting, but I definitely have had more than 150 jury trials, every one of them as a private practice effort.

“I want to take that experience and share it with other lawyers. In the plaintiff personal injury arena, I think that cases are settled for too little because lawyers don’t want to spend the money for a focus group.

“And I’m absolutely certain that more cases should go to trial in the criminal arena. Too many cases are settled for way too great a penalty. This case proves that. It wasn’t finalized until the last minute. The next work day, we were supposed to start picking a jury at 9 a.m. And it was 4:59 p.m. the day before that the case was negotiated for what we had demanded. The district attorney’s office didn’t give in for less than a felony until that moment.”

Even though Sunna and his family were satisfied with the decision, Gentile still does not consider it a just result.

“A just result would have been the district attorney dismissing the charges outright,” Gentile said. “What the district attorney did was play the game to the hilt by giving us the Hobson’s choice of running the risk of a renegade jury, who would not see it as the focus groups did, as opposed to something that was not a felony and would most likely not result in him being incarcerated.

“What was I going to tell the client and his family, ‘Trust me, we can win this case?’ I told them what I would tell my own son: You can’t always get what you want, but you can get what you need. What Raad needed, more than anything else, was not to run the risk of life in prison.

“It was three masked robbers running through the front door of a store, totally surprising him. Anybody with a gun would have done what Raad did. Anyone who would dispute that, I would tell them to go click on the video and watch it. And watch the video from the vestibule next door where they were preparing for the robbery.” Gentile ranks the case among the most memorable in his long and illustrious career. “It is absolutely, without a doubt, in my top five cases,” Gentile said. “Although I don’t feel happy about the result, in some respects it may be the best work I’ve ever done.”

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.

 

 

Highs & No’s: The Do’s & Don’ts of Cannabis Investing

Link: http://www.vegaslegalmagazine.com/highs-nos-the-dos-donts-of-cannabis-investing/

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.

Investors – especially those unfamiliar with the cannabis market – have traditionally been hesitant to invest in an industry the federal government views as illegal. While this still holds true for most institutional investors, smaller firms and groups of wealthy individuals are becoming increasingly interested in cannabis.1 However, the majority of information surrounding these investments still lies somewhere between rumor and nuance, and the dizzying array of so-called cannabis “experts” can lead one to the conclusion that there is no such thing (there is, but they’re hard to spot).

The Cannabis industry has a lot in common with business in general. The industry includes agricultural, commercial processing, retail and laboratory businesses – each of which has a broad market of comparable enterprises for comparison. The maturity of these sectors also means that traditional accounting and financial reporting is more than adequate for business analysis purposes.

So, you’re looking to invest in marijuana. You’re not alone. Billions of dollars of private equity are flowing into the cannabis business – with billions more flowing into the rapidly growing public market for marijuana securities. However, if you have even a remote connection to this sector – you’ve likely been solicited (or know someone who has) with a private equity opportunity. Despite the federal illegality of the cannabis industry, in general (owing to the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, as governed by the federal Controlled Substances Act), federal securities laws still apply to investment in marijuana businesses. Here’s a quick guide to what to do next.

Securities

The Supreme Court has adopted a flexible and liberal approach in determining what constitutes a security. In its famous decision of SEC v. W.J. Howey Co., 328 U.S. 293, 90 L.Ed. 1244, 66 S.Ct. 1100 (1946), the Court held that land sales contracts for citrus groves in Florida, coupled with warranty deeds for the land, and a contract to service the land, were “investment contracts” and thus securities. The Court stated that

[a]n investment contract for purposes of the Securities Act means a contract, transaction or scheme whereby a person invests his money in a common enterprise and is led to expect profits solely from the efforts of the promoter or a third party. 66 S.Ct. at 1103.

In general, all securities offered in the U.S. must be registered with the SEC or must qualify for an exemption from the registration requirements. Registering securities (as publicly traded companies do) is an exceptionally expensive undertaking, and requires the full-time support of an experienced securities law firm. It is critical for the success of the issuance of private securities that they avoid registration by qualifying for a Regulation D exemption and properly documenting that exemption.

No matter what you are told by a cannabis company seeking investment, if you give them money, with an expectation of return on your investment without any material effort on your part: you are being issued a security. As a result, you should be provided with a private placement memorandum (“PPM”; a prospectus and required legal disclosure statement) and a Subscription Agreement (providing the terms of your investment – and your qualification as an accredited and/or sophisticated investor). The PPM must include information regarding its qualification for a Regulation D exemption.

Valuation

One of the greatest challenges facing investors in new markets is proper valuation of marijuana enterprises. Speculation and short supply can drive equity valuations into inflated multiples based on rapid growth expectations. Conversely, perceived risk can be overestimated and drive equity valuations into substandard positions. No matter what, the one valuation you should be skeptical of is the one provided by the issuing company. The offer, itself, represents a valuation (e.g. if you get offered 10% of a company for $100,000 investment – that’s a $1,000,000 valuation), but may also include detailed analysis to highlight the valuation discount or premium.

Nevertheless, you should have the pro forma financials reviewed by an independent financial professional – including an independent valuation, for perspective. The resulting quantitative analysis will provide important information on the nature of the offer you’ve been provided.

Compliance

For the amateur investor, legal compliance is likely your biggest concern. For professional money, the regulatory environment is just another variable in the valuation. While compliance risk has always been a material element of cannabis investing (and will be until marijuana is legalized at the federal level), it has become particularly sensitive in light of Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinding the 2013 Cole Memo, which had directed US attorneys not to pursue properly-licensed marijuana businesses in marijuana-legal states.

If this repeal had gone unmentioned or unopposed, the increased risk would materially depress valuations and chill investment. However, opposition to the repeal was swift and widespread, including (at the federal level) U.S. Congressmen Polis of Colorado, Rohrabacher of California, and Blumenauer of Oregon sponsoring an amendment to the House’s next budget bill prohibiting the Justice department from spending money on the prosecution of legally-compliant cannabis businesses.

Additionally, Cannabis-legal states have indicated they will aggressively fight back any federal action taken to shut down state-legal Cannabis businesses. Many industry analysts cite the expected tax revenues that have already been budgeted, and the increase in local economies via job creation and the deep political unpopularity involved in eliminating or even reducing those revenues.

The bottom line is that cannabis investment remains at record levels with stable valuations and public sentiment strongly in favor of legalization (across both parties). Eventual legalization is all but inevitable.

Conclusion

It’s a great time to invest in cannabis, despite what you may have heard in the news. When it comes to investment, follow the money – and with little or no money exiting cannabis companies, it remains a bull market. However, once you’re ready to invest:

Make sure private securities offers are properly documented; and
Secure your own independent valuation.

Because a good investment can still be a bad (or illegal) deal.

Glenn H. Truitt, Esq. is a managing partner at Ideal Business Partners (www.idealbusinesspartners.com), a multidisciplinary professional services firm serving healthcare professionals with state-of-the-art legal, financial compliance and strategic advice, working together to lift up their practices. IBP consults with ComplyPro (www.mycomplypro.com), a HIPAA compliance services company, serving Nevada and southern California, and employing both traditional and digital compliance tools to develop comprehensive, customized compliance solutions for any size practice.

Malvika Rawal, Ph.D., J.D., is a law clerk at Ideal Business Partners. She received her Master of Science at the University of Delhi in Biomedical Sciences and her doctorate degree in Free Radical and Radiation Biology at the University of Iowa. She then received her Juris Doctor at the University of Iowa College of Law in May 2016. Rawal is deeply involved with ComplyPro, a HIPAA compliances services company.

1 Marijuana Business Daily. Marijuana Business Factbook 2017. p.6. https://mjbizdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Factbook2017ExecutiveSummary.pdf

 

 

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.

 

 

Saving Sandoval: Las Vegas Attorney & Iraq Veteran Releases New Book

Link: http://www.vegaslegalmagazine.com/saving-sandoval-las-vegas-attorney-iraq-veteran-releases-new-book/

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.

While deployed to the most dangerous area in Iraq in 2007 known as the “Triangle of Death,” U.S. Army Specialist Jorge Sandoval, an airborne infantryman and elite sniper, was instructed to “take the shot” and kill an enemy insurgent wearing civilian clothes. Two weeks later, Army investigators descended upon Sandoval’s unit and began interrogating the soldiers and trying to link Sandoval and others to war crimes. Sandoval was ultimately charged with six felony level offenses, to include two counts of murder. The case made international headlines with leading stories in the New York Times and Washington Post.

Then, Captain Craig W. Drummond was the Army JAG military defense attorney assigned to Sandoval’s case. The new book covers the events from the moment the trigger is pulled on the battlefield through the trial that took place in a U.S. military compound on the outskirts of Baghdad during the height of the enemy uprisings in Iraq. The book brings the reader into the reality of modern warfare in a post September 11th environment where the enemy does not always wear a uniform. The detailed account of the investigation and trial testimony from elite Army snipers brings the reader into the courtroom and onto the battlefield of Iraq.

The book is receiving rave reviews and high praise from the legal and military community.

“A revealing, real-life courtroom drama, reminiscent of A Few Good Men.”–Hunter R. Clark, Director, International Law and Human Rights Program, Drake University Law School.

“Armed forces continue to operate in uncertain and complex environments and this story is an insightful and powerful look into the challenges and judgments faced by a young sniper deployed to the battlefield of Iraq.”–Brigadier General Jeffery L. Underhill, U.S. Army Retired, (Iraq Veteran).

SAVING SANDOVAL was published by Wild Blue Press which is owned by New York Times Bestselling Author Steve Jackson. The book is available now on Amazon.com. Craig W. Drummond is a Las Vegas attorney at the Drummond Law Firm practicing in Personal Injury and Criminal Defense. He received the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq. More information about Craig and the book can be found at DrummondFirm.com

 

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.

 

 

Golden Knights Hockey Scores Big In Las Vegas

Link: http://www.vegaslegalmagazine.com/golden-knights-hockey-scores-big-in-las-vegas/

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.

Screaming chants of “Fleury! Fleury!” for Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-André Fleury, echo throughout the T-Mobile Area during a recent Golden Knights hockey game. A man in a full-armor knight outfit visits the capacity crowd, looking like a knight who just escaped a dinner show at the nearby Excalibur hotel-casino. Fans, dressed up for different eras of music, compete for prizes during timeouts. The crowd then goes crazy when the Golden Knights score during a faceoff with the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames.

Yes, big-time hockey has come to Las Vegas, and it has found success in spades. The Vegas Golden Knights, a dream of owner Bill Foley, have the best record of any expansion team in the history of major league sports (not just hockey). At one point in February, Las Vegas odds makers even put the Golden Knights as a favorite to win the NHL Stanley Cup championship.

The success is more than most Las Vegans hoped for. Heck, local sports fans were just thrilled to have any big league team to call their own. Most expansion teams downright stink in their first few seasons, and fans accept their teams’ woes as growing pains. But the Golden Knights were born ready to win, including an emotional home opener on Oct. 10, after the 1 October mass shooting on the Strip.

Few fans – or those in the sports world – predicted the unheralded success on the ice of the Golden Knights. A mix of tourists and locals fill up the 17,500 -seat T-Mobile Area, even on most weeknights. (The venue has different seating capacities for various events but can hold 17,500 for hockey games).

The Making of a Hockey Dream Team in the Desert

Steve Sisolak, chairman of the Clark County Commission and now a candidate for Nevada governor, was instrumental in bringing both an NHL team to Las Vegas (in the Golden Knights) and an NFL franchise (with the Oakland Raiders’ planned 2020 motive to the valley).

“I got involved with the ticket drive (for a proposed NHL team in Las Vegas),” Sisolak recalls. “The NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, didn’t believe we could sell all those tickets.

“I remember writing the first check for season tickets,” the county commission chairman continues.

That ticket drive resulted in the sale of 16,000 season tickets before a Las Vegas team ever took the ice. That helped persuade the NHL that Vegas would support a professional hockey team.

“This is a truly historic event for the Las Vegas community, the NHL and all of our fans,” Golden Knights Owner Bill Foley was quoted by NBCSports.com as saying in the fall of 2016, after Las Vegas was awarded an NHL franchise.

The national sports world raised a few eyebrows at the reality of the NHL team in Sin City: “Jackpot: Vegas expansion team sells out season tickets,” was the headline run by NBCSports.com on Sept. 19, 2016.

In the same article, James O’Brien wrote: “It still feels a little surreal that there’s really going to be an NHL team in Las Vegas, but Bill Foley & Co. continue to hit some significant milestones.”
Sisolak recalls the grassroots effort by hockey backers to get the tickets sold, even before an NHL franchise was awarded to Foley – and Las Vegas.

“They went to bars, and everyplace people gathered, to explain what hockey was and sell tickets,” he says. “They were all over the place, at all the events.”

Despite his enthusiasm and support for bringing an NHL team to Las Vegas, the county commission chairman didn’t anticipate the huge fan support the Golden Knights have since received in Southern Nevada.
“It’s filled to capacity. It is standing-room only,” Sisolak says. “I try to go to as many games as possible.”

Vegas has tried its Luck with the Puck Before

Longtime local sports reporter Steve Carp, who covers the Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper, is impressed with the new hockey team, and not surprised by its popularity.

Carp, who has been covering sports in Las Vegas for 30 years, points to the earlier successes of two (now-defunct) local professional hockey teams – the Las Vegas Thunder and the Las Vegas Wranglers. The Thunder and the Wranglers, while pro teams, were not at the highest level in the sport — the National Hockey League.

Las Vegas Thunder played in the International Hockey League from 1993 to 1999, with the Thomas & Mack Center serving as its home ice. Longtime residents still wear ’90s’ era Thunder jerseys, and talk fondly of the Thunder’s polar bear mascot.

Later, the Las Vegas Wranglers filled the hockey void left by the Thunder’s demise. The Wranglers were part of what was formerly the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) and, like the Golden Knights, were a Vegas expansion franchise.

The Wranglers played at the Orleans Arena from their debut in 2003 through the end of the 2013-2014 season, when their lease expired. In 2008, the Wranglers played in the Kelly Cup finals (the ECHL version of the Stanley Cup), but lost to the Cincinnati Cyclones. When the Wranglers was unable to come to terms with the Orleans in 2014, the team suspended operations. Unable to find a new home, the Wranglers later withdrew from the ECHL.

“When you had the Thunder and the Wranglers, there wasn’t a lack of fan support that caused the teams to fold. They both had problems with their landlords,” Carp recalls. “The Thunder couldn’t work out a deal with the Thomas & Mack, and the Wranglers had problems with the Orleans.”

The popularity of hockey in Las Vegas was also evident in the demand for Los Angeles Kings tickets, whenever the Kings played NHL games in Vegas, Carp adds

“But this is different (than the Kings),” he notes. “If your dad takes you, as a 7- or 8-year-old kid, to a fast-paced (Golden Knights) game, it is easy to fall in love with it. It’s your city’s team.”

Of course, there’s that one important ingredient to any sports’ team’s success:

“The winning has a lot to do with it,” Carp says. “Let’s not kid ourselves.”

Vegas Golden Knights Strong

Las Vegas’ NHL franchise’s October 10th home debut should have been full of all the glitz and spectacle fitting the Entertainment Capital of the World. Those plans changed, however, when the unthinkable happened on Oct. 1, 2017. Stephen Paddock, a Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino guest, opened fire on more than 20,000 concert goers on the Las Vegas Strip, killing 58 and injuring more than 500.

Bill Foley, and the Vegas Golden Knights, stepped up to show the mourning community how much they cared. A moving tribute to first responders, and victims, replaced a spectacular opening night celebration.

“The community fell in love with the tribute to the first responders,” Sisolak says. “They had the names of all the victims on the ice.”

The Golden Knights’ home opener tribute to the first responders, and shooting victims, moved the city. The gesture transcended hockey fandom, and wins or losses.

Fields – and Stadiums – of Dreams

Big league sports, and the venues that are built around them, can re-invent a city, as the Brooklyn Dodgers did when they moved to Los Angeles in 1958. The team first played in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Later, the construction of Dodger Stadium at Chavez Ravine is credited for transforming modern Los Angeles into what it is today.

KXNT Las Vegas radio show host Alan Stock grew up in Southern California and remembers the changes brought about by the Dodgers’ move to the City of Angels.

But when looking at the Raiders’ planned 65,000-seat domed stadium, with construction costs estimated at $1.9 billion, he is not so thrilled. Lack of adequate stadium parking — along with the hefty public tab of $750 million from the hotel and motel room tax — are Stock’s main concerns.

“I don’t think the Raiders are paying enough,” the talk show host says.

But Stock can’t say enough good things about the Golden Knights.

“They have excited the whole valley, and become part of the community,” Stock praises.
Likewise, as the Golden Knights’ beat reporter, Carp has seen firsthand how important the hockey team has become both on — and off – the ice.

“The guys were giving blood after the (1 October) shooting,” Carp remembers. “They let the community know, ‘Hey, we won’t just forget about this in a week. We are with you.’”

Team owner Bill Foley, a West Point military academy graduate and longtime local, “gave $1 million to the (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s) foundation,” Carp points out. “The Golden Knights have not taken anything from the community. They have only given to the community. That is going to be a tough act for the Raiders to follow.”

Professional baseball, in the form of the Triple A Las Vegas 51s, was among the first professional sports franchises to take a gamble on the city. Debuting as the Las Vegas Stars in 1983, the now-51s will get a massive upgrade in 2019.

The baseball club has always played at the now-aging Cashman Field, in downtown Las Vegas. Now, finally, the team will get new digs. The 51s will be moving to a new, $150 million open-air stadium in Summerlin. The club will play there, beginning in the 2019 season.

Alan Snel, the founder of the sports business news site, LVSportsBiz.com, points to the economic impact of the new 51s’ stadium.

“They are going from an old, decrepit ballpark to what will be one of the most beautiful ballparks in the county,” he says.

Cashman has also become the home to the professional soccer team, the Las Vegas Lights. Soon, the WNBA Aces will make Mandalay Bay their home and begin play in Las Vegas.

As the teams serve diverse market segments, Snel predicts enough room for all the sports franchises to succeed, for now.
“They all have carved out their own niches. We have moved from a one-off sports-event town to a sports-team town,” he said.

As a reporter who covered the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Runnin’ Rebels basketball team in their heyday, when the team won an NCAA championship in 1990, Carp also sees a transformation.

“We went from a college-sports town to a professional-sports town,” Carp sums up.

Sisolak views the growth of professional sports in the city as a step forward, with every addition of a team, event, or venue, being progress. The Golden Knights debut, along with the Raiders’ planned move to Las Vegas, are among the biggest building blocks in transforming the city.
“We have NASCAR, we have the Aces, the Lights, a new 51s stadium in Summerlin, along with the T-Mobile Arena and the Golden Knights,” the county commission chairman lists. “The Raiders’ stadium will reinforce that Las Vegas is the entertainment – and sports – capital of the world.”
Economically, Sisolak says the city will also benefit from increased tourism dollars.

“People might come for one or two nights, but stay that extra third or fourth night, he predicts. “They will fill those hotel beds, and keep people coming to the casinos.”

But for the close to 17,000 (mostly-screaming) fans at each Golden Knights game at the T-Mobile Arena, economic data is the last thing on their minds.

A high-scoring game, the excitement of “a fight!” and plenty of jersey-buying afterward, were all part of the recent Vegas Golden Knights’ experience.

When learning that a local fan was attending their first game, a visiting tourist from Calgary was quick to praise the home-town Knights.

“You picked a great game,” she said, “and you have quite a team!”

-By Valerie Miller

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.

 

 

Though Now Marred In Controversy, Steve Wynn Spent Decades Creating The Modern-Day Las Vegas

Link: http://www.vegaslegalmagazine.com/steve-wynn-modern-day-las-vegas/

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.

The Bellagio. The Mirage. Treasure Island. Wynn Las Vegas. Encore. These are all are staples of the Las Vegas Strip. They are also all creations of Steve Wynn. The Las Vegas visionary stepped down in February as the chairman and CEO of his namesake, Wynn Resorts, amid sexual misconduct allegations by some who worked for him. But few can deny the indelible mark Steve Wynn has left on Las Vegas.

First coming to Las Vegas in 1967, Steve Wynn bought the controlling interest in the New Frontier Hotel and Casino. In the early 1960s, Wynn has bought a smaller stake in the property, then called the Frontier Hotel and Casino. He would later purchase the Golden Nugget hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas, and transform it into a luxury resort for high rollers.

That early 1970s purchase of the controlling interest in Las Vegas’ Golden Nugget would pay off big time for Wynn. After he renovated the resort into a four-diamond property and later sold it for $440 million, according to Business Insider.

In 1983, Wynn opened the Golden Nugget Atlantic City to build on the brand’s success.

When Wynn sold The Golden Nugget in the late 1980s for $440 million, he used that money to build the type of property the likes of which Las Vegas had never seen before: The Mirage.

The Mirage Resort was complete with a spectacular manmade volcano, which erupted at certain times along the Strip. Steve Wynn hah ushered in the era of “themed resorts,” which would be followed up by his Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in 1993. The latter would be later sold and renamed the “TI” or the “Treasure Island TI Hotel and Casino.”
Visitors to the Las Vegas Strip can still be treated to pirate fights and volcanos as they walk down the most-famous boulevard in the world.

The Paris Las Vegas, though not a Steve Wynn creation, owes its inspiration to the branding-themed trend started by the Las Vegas visionary.

Other themed hotel-casinos properties in Las Vegas include the Excalibur, the Luxor, Mandalay Bay and the (formerly named) Monte Carlo.

The Hits just kept on Coming

Steve Wynn just kept improving on his own personal best, when it came to new resort development in Las Vegas.

The 1998 opening of the $1.6 billion Bellagio included an artificial lake and a gallery that housed fine works of art. The Bellagio spearheaded the resurgence of Las Vegas as a luxury destination for wealthy travelers in the late 1990s and into the 2000s.

“Estimated to have cost around $1.6 billion, the resort is undoubtedly one of the world’s most spectacular hotels,” according to the site, Biogrpahy.com.

Wynn sold his Mirage Resorts to Kirk Kerkorian for $6.4 billion in 2000, but by then his company had become the target of a takeover.

Nevertheless, Wynn didn’t stay out of the casino game for long. He soon became plans for his most expensive property yet, the $2.7 billion Wynn Las Vegas, on the spot of what was the famed Desert Inn. To some criticism, Wynn had bought, and later imploded, the beloved and iconic Las Vegas resort.

But as with much of Las Vegas history, well, the city just don’t have much interest in history. It’s out with the old buildings, and in with the new buildings. As a result, the Wynn Las Vegas opened in 2005. The glitziest of the glitzy hotels in Las Vegas, the Wynn appealed to high rollers from around the world.

Steve Wynn was far from done, as was noted in an article on the mogul in biography.com:  “A year later (in 2006), he opened Wynn Macau in the largest gaming jurisdiction in Asia. He went on to add the Encore Las Vegas and Encore Macau to his collection of resorts.”

A 2005 Vanity Fair magazine article, by Nina Munk, talked about what Steve Wynn meant to the development of modern Las Vegas.

“He wasn’t the first to transform casinos into family-friendly spectacles—Jay Sarno’s Caesars Palace and Circus Circus did that in the 1960s—but Wynn took the concept to a whole new level,” Munk wrote.

In that same Vanity Fair piece, Steve Wynn himself tried to single out what made his creations so memorable. “A lot of places in Las Vegas are big boxes of stuff,” Wynn said in 2005. “The hotels I’ve built have had, for lack of a better term, a soul.”

“The skyline of Las Vegas is Steve Wynn,” said William Thompson, a professor emeritus of public administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas toBloomberg News upon hearing that Steve Wynn stepped down as chairman and CEO on Feb. 9th.

The Face of Las Vegas Casino Gaming

National media always wanted to talk to Steve Wynn. He became the face of Las Vegas gaming – the city’s own sort of royalty. In a 2001 Time Magazine article, writer Priscilla Painton wrote that Wynn was “gentrifying” gambling.

Wynn appeared to be quite different from what the rest of the country had come to expect from Las Vegas casino operators. They had been “characters.” There was the gangster Bugsy Siegel and his Flamingo Hotel-Casino. And then there was Benny Binion, who threated to kill those who crossed him, she wrote in her article, “The Great Casino Salesman.”

Steve Wynn appeared to have a clean reputation back then. That was something that helped to make his case for making Las Vegas a “family friendly” destination. (Yes, that was again a popular idea for rebranding Las Vegas in the 1990s and early 2000s).

But Steve Wynn also was intriguing. He is battling a degenerative eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa, which he was diagnosed with in 1971. The disease will cause him to progressively lose more of his sight. However, Wynn never let his condition get in the way of his plans.

In 2001, the Time reporter summed up Steve Wynn this way:

“What Las Vegas has instead (of past ‘characters’) is Steve Wynn, a casino king who is the son of a compulsive gambler and has an eye disease that could make him blind; who in his late 30s took up steer roping, wind surfing, rock climbing, motocrossing, jet skiing and body building; who once called Donald Trump ‘twinkle toes’; who let Frank Sinatra pinch his cheek in a commercial for his casinos; who divorced his wife (Elaine Wynn), never moved out and remarried herfive years later; and who shot off his index finger two years ago (in 1999) while handling a pistol in his office,” Painton wrote.

Of course, a few updates are needed to that take: Steve Wynn would go on to divorce Elaine again in 2010, following their remarriage in 1991. In 2011, he would marry Andrea Hisson.

Twist and Turns Resulted in a Las Vegas Legend

Steve Wynn, who was born Stephen Alan Weinberg on Jan. 27, 1942, in New Haven, Connecticut. As a boy, Steve’s father, Michael, changed the family’s last name to “Wynn.” Michael Wienberg (later named “Michael Wynn”) operated a string of bingo parlors in the eastern United States, including Maryland.

Steve was afforded a very comfortable childhood due to his father’s bingo parlor business. Steve attended a private boys’ school, and later the University of Pennsylvania, according to the site Biogrpahy.com.

But Steve’s father Michael died while only in his 40s of heart problems, in 1963. Michael’s early death left the Wynn family with $350,000 in debts. Michael had also developed a gambling addiction. Steve’s younger brother, Ken, was only 10 years old at the time of his father’s passing.

Steve Wynn, who went on the graduate the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in literature, took over the family’s gambling business at age 21. Steve Wynn made good on his father’s outstanding debts, according to biography.com.

Steve Wynn passed up on a spot at Yale Law School to take over his father’s bingo parlors, according to his biography on The Famous People’s website. Michael never wanted his son Steve to follow his footsteps into the gaming business. Under Steve Wynn’s control, the family business was again profitable.

Wife Elaine was instrumental in helping Steve build his empire. The two were first married in 1963, and have two grown daughters – Kevyn and Gillian. Elaine, who was a beauty queen, split with Steve in 1986. The two stayed close and remarried.

Elaine has built a reputation in Las Vegas not only as a businesswoman, but also as a philanthropist and art collector.

The couple did remarry in 1991, only to divorce again in 2010. The divorce was amicable, but the battle after the divorce was brutal. The couple became caught up in a bitter legal battle over Elaine’s earlier agreement to let Steve control her Wynn Resorts Ltd. stock.

The “War of the Wynn,” as Bloomberg News called it, only had some sort of an armistice in mid-March of this year, as Steve and Elaine seemed to finally end their six-year-old fight over $4 billion in Wynn Resorts stock.
In a filing on March 15th, Wynn Resorts Ltd. said that the Wynns — who together control 21 percent of the company — told a Las Vegas court (Clark County District Court) that they no longer consider a 2010 (stock) agreement between them valid, Bloomberg News reported.

That agreement frees both of the ex-spouses to sell their shares of the company. But Elaine Wynn still has other claims pending in a Las Vegas court against Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts, in connection to her lost board of directors’ seat in 2015.

A Close Call with Tragedy Strikes Steve Wynn

The Wynns have weathered a few storms together. A crisis struck Steve Wynn and his family on July 26, 1993, when the Wynns’ daughter Kevyn Wynn was kidnapped. Kevyn, then 26, was taken at gunpoint from her home and held for ransom. Steve Wynn paid $1.45 million in ransom money the same day, and later found his daughter safe in her own car at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

The two kidnappers were soon apprehended after one of them tried to use $70,000 the cash he got from Wynn as down payment on $183,000 Ferrari at a California dealership. That was only a week after the kidnapping, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Wynn paid the $1.45 million ransom with cash from the casino cage at The Mirage, then his flagship resort, according to Las Vegas Review-Journal and othernews accounts at that time. Steve Wynn dropped the money off in the parking lot of Sonny’s Saloon, which was a block from the Mirage. Steve Wynn did not notify the authorities to the kidnapping until after he had paid the ransom.

In May 1994, a federal jury convicted Ray Mario Cuddy and an accomplice, Jacob Sherwood, of extortion, money laundering and other charges stemming from the kidnapping. Cuddy was released in 2015, and Sherwood was set free in 2010, according to the R-J.

The Allegations, and the Aftermath

On Jan. 26, of this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that a $7.5 million payment was involved in allegations that Steve Wynn had pressured a Wynn Resorts’ manicurist into having sex with him. A subsequent story, by Bloomberg News, reported that the payout had involved a paternity claim against Wynn, although no child was said to have been born out of the alleged relationship.

While Wynn has denied any wrongdoing, but he resigned the following day from his post as finance chair of the Republican National Committee.
“Effective today I’m resigning as finance chairman of the RNC,” Wynn said at the time. “The unbelievable success we have achieved must continue. The work we are doing to make America a better place is too important to be impaired by this distraction.”

Meanwhile, regulators in Nevada, Massachusetts and Macau had already began probing the allegations, Bloomberg News reported.

The continual drip of bad publicity involving Steve Wynn seemed to make his resignation from Wynn Resorts inevitable. The day before Wynn’s resignation from his company, another damaging story was published. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported details of a 1998 lawsuit by cocktail waitresses at Wynn’s previous company, Mirage Resorts.

The R-J story involved one former server who said she also felt Steve Wynn forced her to have sex with her to keep her employment. Wynn declined to comment on that report, but the mounting allegations proved too much. He resigned the next day.

Since the February resignation of Steve Wynn, more women have come forward with claims of sexual misconduct against the former casino executive. And this presents both a moral and economic quandary for the city Steve Wynn did so much to shape.

The Steve Wynn name has become synonymous with modern Las Vegas. That fact seems unlikely to change in the near future, as evidenced by his name continuing to adorn the Strip skyline he helped design.

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 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.

 

 

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.