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John L. Smith: Convention Mayhem Helped Lange, Hurt Sanders

On Billy Walters

High-rolling sports bettor and golf course developer Billy Walters’ long run of good fortune in Las Vegas may have come to an end with his indictment this week on 10 federal charges alleging insider trading and wire fraud.

Longtime Las Vegas reporter and KNPR contributor John L. Smith joined KNPR to discuss Walters, a major player in Nevada politics who has spent a decade on the government’s radar.

"I think he's facing the greatest challenge of his life in legal terms," Smith said. "Insider trading is something that can be difficult to prove but the difference in this case is that there are cooperators."

On Public Education 

Smith said he recently crashed a meeting at Bonanza High School of Nevada Succeeds, a nonprofit group of business leaders with a mission to improve the state's public education system. 

With dismal statistics on graduation and retention rates, teacher shortages and per-pupil funding, optimism on the public education system is hard to come by.

"It's hard to say 'I'm optimistic about public education in Nevada,'" Smith said. "That's like saying I want a ride on the next Hindenburg at some point. 

"But the bottom line was you see a lot of people working very hard and very sincerely to get the boat focused in the right direction." 

Support comes from

The group has sights set on the 2017 Legislature to improve some of the laws for public education. 

On Nevada Democratic Convention

Smith, also a columnist for the Daily Beast, gives us his take on how the hubbub at the Nevada Democratic Convention may have boosted the image of Roberta Lange, party chairman, while hurting the image of Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Party presidential candidate.

"I think the longer this goes on, the worse the Sanders crowd looks," Smith said. 

Lange went public with threatening emails, voice mails and texts she had received ever since her information was made public at the convention. The incident has attracted national media attention, and the specifics continue to be debated among the two camps. 

"For Clinton to prevail, eventually, they're going to have to work together," Smith said. "Because of all the steam that's been created, a lot of it's been really positive for the democratic progressive wing of the party and if they stay on the counch, Clinton's in trouble." 

On Retiring UNLV Journalism Professor Mary Hausch

With four decades of journalism experience under her belt, Mary Hausch is retiring from UNLV. Smith emceed her going-away party, where former students showed up to honor Hausch.

"She rose right up to the glass ceiling at the RJ and had a very public fralling out with the newspaper," Smith said. "She left and spent the next 25 years at UNLV and became a mentor and the person providing journalism education to a whole generation of reporters." 

To contact John L. Smith, send email to:


John L. Smith, KNPR contributor, Daily Beast columnist

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