After Campaign Fraud, Barlow Returns To Council Chambers

Former Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Barlow has returned to the city just one year after he resigned from the council amid being charged with campaign finance fraud.

Barlow served one month in jail for the crime.  But now he's back to serve as a lobbyist. 

“It is awfully strange, of course, and those who take their local government very seriously will find it more than odd," Nevada Public Radio contributor John L. Smith said, "They’ll question the ethics of someone coming back so quickly after admitting to a felony.”

While how it looks might be in question, it is legal for the former city councilman to start lobbying. In addition, Smith believes he could be successful.

“This is the other side of the coin although this is an interesting news story the fact is Barlow has been around local governments for many years," Smith said, "He understands planning issues. He understands the regulations that take place and the process.”

Smith points out that Barlow's crimes were serious but he's not so sure anyone is taking local politics very seriously.

“I have to be honest I’m not so sure who takes it seriously anymore," he said, "When you look at voter turnout and you look at some of the other issues going on at city hall, it’s a circus half the time. So, I’m not so sure how much Ricki Barlow’s presence will even be noticed in a week or two.”

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Smith said that if voters aren't happy with Barlow being part of the political scene then they should voice that displeasure, “if you don’t participate, then someone else drives the bus.”


In state news, marijuana businesses have another week until a judge considers their case against the state for what they consider to be an unfair licensing process.

Governor Steve Sisolak signed a bill into law trying to create more transparency in the Department of Taxation. So how will that affect the pending lawsuits?

“I think what it does going forward is it ends the controversy," Smith said, "It makes the applicants for marijuana licenses and the scoring of the applications public records where they’ve been confidential prior to this. That’s a big improvement.”

He said the law allows attorneys involved in the litigation to check public records and see what happened during the licensing process.

“With an industry such as the marijuana industry, which is so lucrative but also controversial, you really need that transparency in order to maintain the public confidence,” he said.

One of the big issues could be diversity. Diversity of licensing is a part of the law, but if diversity wasn't used as a criteria for the licenses that could impact the court cases.


Also, Las Vegas' Black Mountain Institute was featured in Sunday's New York Times for its recent Believer Festival. It could mean Las Vegas is finally receiving the literary attention it deserves. 

“It’s hard to imagine a bigger score for the Carol Harter, Beverly Rogers Black Mountain Institute for Joshua Shenk. It’s a very big story and it’s extremely positive. It’s focused on the new literary scene in Las Vegas and I have to believe a lot of people who helped build it, including Harter and of course Richard Wiley, Doug Unger, Lee Barnes and so many others I couldn’t list them all who devoted their working lives to basically building that literary community they have to be pretty pleased with it,” Smith said.

Of course, writers have been working in Las Vegas, mining its particular excentricities for their own literary purposes, for a long time, "nothing gets discovered until the New York Times discovers it," Smith quipped.

Smith said the article is a reminder of all the people who have been working on the scene for a long time. 


John L Smith, KNPR Contributor 

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