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By LVBear

Long-time Las Vegas-based advantage player, casino critic, and frequent contributor LVBear offers his opinions on things that sometimes go wrong in the world of casinos. Current and past growls can be read, and comments posted, at LVBear's website, (The following opinions are those of LVBear and do not represent the opinions of the management and staff at Blackjack Insider.)

Note From LVBear:

What does the following case about Las Vegas police officers have to do with advantage play or casinos? Most of us who have played for a while have had hassles with casino security. We know casino security guards are usually not the brightest bulbs on the tree. Many are among society’s misfits, and have a propensity for gratuitous violence. If casino guards choose to involve the police in whatever dispute they have with a patron, the patron is at the mercy of whatever tales the security people tell the police. Thus, having stupid, dishonest police officers is dangerous to us. When police officers are stupid and/or dishonest, all citizens are put at risk.

Three More (LV) Metro Officers Disgraced:

Will Sheriff Gillespie Do Anything About It?

The officers allegedly involved in the crimes discussed below enjoy the presumption of innocence, just like anyone else. However, if they are guilty, will they be fired, as they should be? We’ll have to wait and see; based on previous incidents, I doubt it.

Metro officer tied to Costco shooting faces felony weapons charge

Thomas Mendiola is one of the three officers who killed Erik Scott outside a Costco store last year. At the Coroner’s Inquest, it was revealed that Mendiola struggled through his written exam, failing at least once before he finally was able to pass it and become a Metro officer. I wonder how many tries candidates get before being turned down as too stupid?

Now, if true, in an incredible display of stupidity, this young officer is involved with associating with a known felon, not reporting a serious crime (felon in possession of a gun), and stupidest of all, GIVING THE CRIMINAL A GUN! This is simply unbelievable. If any of this is proven, Mendiola deserves to be fired, and spend some time in prison. At least he is on unpaid leave this time, not sitting around sucking up free taxpayer money for doing nothing, as he was able to do for months in the aftermath of the Costco killing.

Two police officers checked out for court, but went to Arizona instead

A case of bizarre behavior and alleged lying by Officers Brad Gallup and Jake Grunwald.

The officers face discipline for several policy violations, including neglect of duty and abandonment of their post.

That’s all? What about theft of pay, theft and/or misuse of public resources (police car, fuel, etc.) and a host of other crimes? To call these crimes mere "policy violations" trivializes them. If true, these officers are liars, at the very least. How can they ever be trusted to honestly write a report or honestly testify in court? Embarrassingly, they are on paid administrative leave. Suck up the freebies while you can still get ‘em, guys. If the Sheriff finally grows a spine, you will both deservedly be in the unemployment line soon enough. Let’s hope so. But again, I doubt if our gutless Sheriff will do anything. Even if he wanted these scoundrels to face criminal charges, I think the equally cowardly District Attorney, David Roger, would find an excuse not to prosecute.

Metro is desperately in need of a major housecleaning. It should start at the top, with the resignation of Sheriff Gillespie.

Reno Bums and Street People

Reno is getting worse in that even in good weather such as the last few days, bums are coming in off the streets to suck up free drinks in the sports books that do not closely police their "drink tickets." Recently, in a large sports book, I watched as two drunken bums argued and almost fought over a disputed call in a football game being shown on the big screen. It was hilarious, because obviously they had more important things to worry about in life than a football game.

I think the casinos do not really know how to handle the bums. Security is often too stupid to tell the difference between a street person and a legitimate patron who dresses like a bum, but really is a customer who likes to sit in the sports book all day and yell at football games. Resources have to be devoted to ferret out one from the other. Having many street people present, especially bad-smelling ones, annoys patrons. But throwing out large numbers of people may result in a few patrons being thrown out for no reason other than dressing badly. That could happen to me.

I don’t know the solution, but I know the problem is getting worse. Harrah’s is probably the worst right now, with bums coming in off the Second Street entrance just east of the book. Harrah’s is challenging perennial leader Cal-Neva. Sands Regency always has bums hanging around; Peppermill is right up there as well, with Eldorado, Atlantis, and Grand Sierra in the running. Grand Sierra is a surprise, because it is quite a walk from anywhere bums usually congregate; maybe they take a shuttle from downtown? But Grand Sierra is so large they can seemingly become invisible inside the cavernous facility, and avoid scrutiny by security. Or a few bums can pool their money together and buy a $30,000 condo at The Summit that was attempted to be sold for $400,000 a few years ago.

JA Nugget has few, almost no bums hanging out, nor does Boomtown. Of course, Boomtown, with its latest downgrade of table games, could use some bums — the bums might play at higher stakes than the few remaining patrons, and make the place look less deserted.

Just like dealing with casino employees, it is important not to antagonize these folks. Some may not be playing with a full deck, so to speak. Some may be drunk, others just plain mean and dangerous. I was accosted by one outside Sands Regency a couple of trips ago. My yelling at him and brandishing a can of pepper spray resulted in his quick retreat. Be careful out there.


Casino Industry Swallows Up Clark County Manager

County manager stepping down to lead Resort Association

Virginia Valentine, our well-respected, hardworking county manager has sold out. I am shocked and saddened — no sarcasm here, I really thought Ms. Valentine was an honest, hardworking public servant, one of few in our county.

My real disappointment is with the loss of a competent and honest public employee. We certainly need more of those in Clark County. From my observations, she helped reduce the power of the many crooks entrenched in county government. Her departure surprised me, as I didn’t think she was as susceptible to the cushy offerings of the casino industry as are many. I thought her integrity level was higher. I was wrong. She went the way of her predecessor, who took a plush, do-nothing job at Harrah’s (director of philanthropy), as did our former mayor (director of government relations). For what past favors were these bloated jobs created?

Some "career changes" from government to the casino industry are obvious and accepted in Nevada. Gaming Control Board members and "retired" police officials routinely receive their payoffs from the casino industry in the form of cushy jobs.

I understand that Ms. Valentines’ pay will probably double or triple. But it’s unfortunate that ethics and commitment to responsibilities go into the dumpster when offered a better deal by dubious suitors, just as Sarah Palin morphed from an obscure governor of an obscure state into a millionaire by happenstance, starting by quitting her government job mid-term. The fact that Ms. Palin is incompetent and Ms. Valentine is competent is beside the point; the similarities exist, on a smaller scale for our departing County Manager.

I am sure Ms. Valentine will do a good job and will be a benefit to her new casino bosses. But I am disappointed in her apparent lack of character. For the county and state as a whole, I think Ms. Valentine is more valuable and effective as a fighter against crookedness in county government than she will be as an advocate for an industry that already controls all levels of government in Nevada, and gets whatever it wants. There’s not much she can add to what the casino industry already gets.

Shame on Virginia Valentine.

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