Before we face-plant too deeply into this week, let's sift the week just passed for any lessons it might offer ...
Responsibility — it's about more than just owning up to your mistakes. It's also about blaming others! So it appears to be with Mark A. Johnson, a retired California real-estate guy and car-lot owner, who's filed a civil suit against the Downtown Grand after losing $500,000 over Super Bowl weekend. His suit is not about the lost money, he insists. It's about the booze. Specifically the 20 free cocktails the casino supposedly gave him during a 17-hour binge at the gaming tables, which he says left him unable to control his actions. It's the sort of hilariously grim situation best framed in the style of an elevator pitch for Hangover IV: "Just picture a drunk walking down the street," he's quoted as saying in the RJ, "and he's drunk, and someone pickpockets and takes his money from him. That's how I characterize it." (We see Johnson as the Ed Helms character.) Now, before you imagine a freakishly muscled cocktail waitress forcing comped drinks through his clenched teeth, Johnson's not saying it's entirely the casino's fault. "At some point it's my responsibility, okay," he admits. "But the unfortunate part about it for them is that they have a more, bigger responsibility than I do." Oddly enough, Nevada does have rules about plying clearly drunk patrons with alcohol, so the Gaming Control Board is looking into it. One official, perhaps bewildered by the sight of a car-dealership owner taking the high road against mildly coercive sales tactics, was reduced to saying the obvious in three different ways: "We are investigating this thoroughly. We are aware of this matter. We'll see if there are regulation violations."
Responsibility, sometimes shirked and other times embraced, was certainly a theme last week, whether it was the ongoing fiscal collapse of North Las Vegas or a local woman getting county approval to keep abandoned pot-bellied pigs on her property. It's nice to see some people stepping up. For instance, who among us hasn't waited anxiously to see this headline in the RJ: "Nevada cracks down on notaries public that go too far"? But if you're thinking, it's about time the state cracked its knuckles, said We are aware of this matter, we'll see if there are regulation violations, and clamped down on these signature-witnessing, document-stamping renegades, well, hold on. The folks they're really after are the ones who, in the guise of notaries public, or, in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods, notarios, give something akin to legal advice they're not qualified to offer. For the gullible or uninformed, this can have disastrous consequences. "People here in Nevada think they're getting advice from attorneys, but they're not," Secretary of State Ross Miller told the paper. Almost as important, Miller's crackdown has finally brought public attention to the correct plural construction of "notary public."
Nothing says more bigger responsibility like the need to adequately fund our public education system. Gov. Brian Sandoval is aware of this matter, and maybe one day he'll investigate it thoroughly. But not last week! "We're going to need everybody's help to defeat one of the worst tax proposals Nevada has seen in many, many years," Sandoval told a gathering of the Nevada Taxpayers Association, attacking the so-called Education Initiative (or 2 percent margins tax) pushed by the Nevada Education Association teachers union. Just picture a businessman walking down the street, enjoying one of the nation's best tax climates, and someone pickpockets and takes his money from him! “Spending is so much more enjoyable when you ignore where the money comes from,” Sandoval said, according to the RJ. Sure, much of the state power structure has already lined up against the initiative, but there might be one or two Nevadans who still believe we have a collective duty to properly fund schools, and that's who he's trying to reach. Alas, the governor didn't backstop his attack on the Education Initiative with an alternate school-funding plan. Someone else's responsibility?