Listen

News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV
'Jazz'

member station

KNPR

John L. Smith On Flores' Accusations, Lucky Dragon Lawsuit And Marijuana Taxes

ap_19091835958813.jpg

AP Photo/Michelle Rindels, File

In this June 3, 2016, file photo, Lucy Flores poses for a photo at her North Las Vegas campaign headquarters. Flores, the former Nevada politician who accused Joe Biden of inappropriately kissing her on the back of the head in 2014, rose from a tough childhood through top Nevada political circles before becoming an outspoken critic about sexism and harassing behavior in politics.

Lucy Flores returns to the public sphere with a revelation about former vice president Joe Biden. 

Flores, a former assemblywoman and candidate for Congress, said Biden kissed her on the back of her head during a campaign event in 2014. 

Biden has said he offered "expressions of affection" but has denied inappropriate behavior.

Despite the controversy, State of Nevada contributor John L. Smith said he's not sure if it will derail any plans for a presidential run that Biden might have.

"I think there is a lot of factors that might make him think twice. I’m not so sure this will be one of them unless, of course, it sets off a larger firestorm of complaints from people from his past.”

Another woman has come forward alleging that Biden acted inappropriately. Amy Lappos, former aide to Democratic Rep. Jim Hines of Connecticut, said Biden touched her face with both hands and rubbed their noses together in 2009.

Smith said Biden has been known for being "pretty touchy-feely."

As for Flores, “taking it at face value, it was something that was bothering her – clearly," Smith said. “We’re in a time in which these kinds of things are vetted in public. They might have been buried in private in years past, but they’re vetted in public now and I think overall that’s a good thing.”

Support comes from

Biden released a statement which read in part:

“I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear. But we have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention. And I will.” 

“I think this is pretty much an admission that he may not remember it the same way but if people are uncomfortable he is sensitive to that and he certainly would be more sensitive to it now," Smith said.

Cannabis Industry Transparency:

The state Department of Taxation is still ironing out kinks in the way the state regulates recreational marijuana. 

“We’ve got – let’s use the cliché – The Acapulco Gold Rush – legalization of marijuana, I guess I’ll still call it marijuana, lead to a real rush to put together policy. A rush to make sure that people were watching the industry. Clearly, there were big holes in our game," Smith said.

A recent audit showed about $500,000 in under-reported or under collected tax revenue from the cannabis industry. Smith notes that Taxation Department has been trying to catch up to the industry from the beginning.

He is actually surprised that an industry that is trying to shake off decades-long stigma didn't overpay taxes just to be safe.

There is also the issue of transparency when it comes to licensing. One cannabis company is suing over the licensing process because it feels it got cheated out of a license. 

The names of cannabis licensees and those who apply and are rejected are not public record in Nevada.

Smith notes that a lack of transparency leads to the rise of conspiracy theories.

He said the current state of affairs in the growing industry reminds him of the early days of the gaming industry.

“We went through a long evolution painful mob oriented to get to a corporate level of publicly traded companies that do it in a clean way,” he said.

The Lucky Dragon Lawsuit

Forty people who invested in the Lucky Dragon are suing the developers of the failed hotel-casino, feeling they were defrauded out of millions of dollars and a chance to live in the U.S. 

The investors were part of the EB5 visa program, which allows people legal immigration status if they invest a certain amount of money in U.S. projects.

“So, they had a lot riding on this in addition to a half a million dollar investment,” Smith noted.

But the project started failing almost immediately after it opened and now those investors feel "jilted" by it, Smith said.

While the project had experienced people heading it up, it suffered a lot of problems from the beginning, he said, including that it was undersized and catered to a niche market that simply preferred to be treated like VIPs on the Strip.

Guests

John L. Smith, contributor

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for.  If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.