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John L. Smith On Sheriff Arpaio And That Darned Stadium

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AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

In this Jan. 26, 2016, file photo, then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is joined by Joe Arpaio, the then sheriff of metro Phoenix, during a news conference in Marshalltown, Iowa.

Controversial former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio was in Las Vegas over the weekend to accept an award from a conservative political organization and kick off a series of speaking engagements with a common theme of supporting President Donald Trump’s agenda.

Arpaio has been in the news a lot lately after he was pardoned by President Trump following a conviction for refusing to follow a judge’s order to stop profiling Hispanics.

The former sheriff is most noted for his stance against illegal immigration, a position that made him popular with some constituents around Phoenix -- and in Las Vegas, presumably.

State of Nevada contributor John L. Smith didn’t make the scene at the Las Vegas Country Club, where the Nevada’s Citizen Outreach Foundation held its fundraising event. But he’s interviewed Arpaio before and knows a little about his, shall we say, colorful past.

“This is one of the fascinating things about Sheriff Joe," Smith said, "Sheriff Joe has this national reputation. He’s America’s toughest sheriff. He’s always in trouble for being accused of profiling… but what he really is top notch at, much like his friend the president, he’s really great a dealing with the press, with working the media.”

Smith said that while the former sheriff's relationship with the press was antagonistic it was something he thrived on. And while some people might have scoffed at Arpaio, he knew who voted in Maricopa County.

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“The fact is with a certain segment of the American voting population he is someone who is heard. When he gives a speech and he talks tough that aren’t backed up necessarily in fact, he is effective at communicating with a segment of the voting populace,” he said.

And John L's Nevada Independent column this week focused on the stadium deal - and one Las Vegas influencer who thinks the money just doesn't add up.

Smith talked with Don Murphy who is a strategist and consultant for a real estate developer who wants the stadium on land he owns on Blue Diamond.

Murphy pointed out to Smith several questions about the stadium that have not been answered yet, including the funding package the Raiders are supposed to provide and whether the economy around the stadium will improve. 

While the parking problem has received most of the attention, the transportation infrastructure for the stadium also hasn't be worked out. 

Smith believes since $750 million in tax money is going to the project the very least Las Vegas should get is "first-class infrastructure."

And while supporters of the stadium say the tax burden is not being put onto the locals and they consider it a "free roll for locals," Smith says the stadium deal still has a large, unanswered question:

“If you have issues in your community, if you’ve got traffic problems, if you’ve got water, sewer, you’ve got infrastructure questions, you have public school system that needs repair, you’ve got a social service network and county hospitals and all kinds of things to fund and improve, especially improve in areas of public education, at some point someone is going to say, ‘Where are your priorities?’” he said.

Smith pointed out that priorities usually follow the money and the power and the power and money in Las Vegas are often concentrated on the Strip.

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John L. Smith, contributor

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