Broke: North Las Vegas Nevada Declares Fake “Disaster” In Order To Suspend Union Contracts And Avoid Scheduled Raises

June 22, 2012

NORTH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – There are no signs of rioters, wind-damaged homes or flooding. The brand new City Hall features gleaming marble floors and the public recreation centers offer Zumba, karate and Pilates classes.

Despite all of its suburban trimmings, North Las Vegas is officially a disaster area.

After five years of declining property taxes, massive layoffs and questionable spending, leaders of the blue-collar, family-oriented city outside Las Vegas declared a state of emergency, invoking a rarely used state law crafted for unforeseen disasters.

No matter that the statute, which allows municipalities to suspend union contracts and avoid paying scheduled salary increases, doesn’t actually include fiscal emergencies among the list of potential disasters.

“It says, in case of ’emergency such as.’ You can’t list how many different types of emergencies there are in the world,” City Council member Wade Wagner said of the move, which will save the city $9 million.
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Reno Nevada Gazette-Journal Photojournalist Attacked On The Job By Crazed Washoe County Deputy Sheriffs – Accused Him Of Impersonating A Firefighter For Wearing Protective Clothing That Fire Officials Recommend In Annual Media Training

June 20, 2012

SUN VALLEY, NEVADA – A 60-year-old Reno Gazette-Journal photojournalist was pushed to the ground, handcuffed and suffered minor injuries Monday after sheriff’s deputies alleged he obstructed and resisted them while trying to take photographs of a destructive fire in Sun Valley.

About 5:42 p.m. Monday, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office deputies cited Tim Dunn for obstruction and resisting.

Dunn, the newspaper’s photo director and a 21-year employee there, was taking photos of a fire that broke out near Flora Way and East Fourth Avenue. The fire ultimately destroyed two homes and multiple structures.

Dunn said he was told to leave the area and was directed to another location farther from the scene. He said he was then taken to the ground by two deputies – one who shoved his foot on Dunn’s back and the other who pushed his face in the gravel. Dunn’s cheek has a large scrape on it.

Dunn said the deputies accused him of trying to impersonate a firefighter because he was wearing yellow protective fire gear, a helmet and goggles. However, annual wildfire training for media conducted by fire officials recommends such fire gear.

“I kept thinking this was not really happening,” Dunn said.

Barry Smith, executive director of the Nevada Press Association, called it “absolutely preposterous” that Dunn could have been mistaken for a firefighter, and said Dunn’s gear is called for in the 20-page Sierra Front Media Fire Guide published by an interagency coalition that includes the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Nevada Division of Forestry and others.

“Please keep in mind appropriate attire when you are covering fire operations. … We cannot guarantee that the supply unit will have sizes of fire clothing that will fit you. It is always best to come to a wildfire fully equipped,” according to the guide. It also states, “Remember that the decision to assume risk remains with the journalist.”

“The whole idea of ‘move or you’re going to be arrested’ is way outside that policy,” Smith said.

Sheriff’s office spokesman Deputy Armando Avina said the deputies used their discretion and did not arrest Dunn. Avina said because reports in the case have not been completed, he could not comment on the incident.

Beryl Love, Gazette-Journal executive editor, said there have been several instances during the past year in which reporters and photographers were not given access to scenes where they had a right to be. But Love said Monday’s incident goes above and beyond press access.

“The brutal nature in which Tim, a veteran photographer with more than 20 years experience, was treated by sheriff’s deputies is beyond comprehension,” Love said in a statement. “Their use of excessive force on a fellow professional who also has an important job to do is shocking. His rights were clearly violated.”

Love said the newspaper is preparing a formal administrative complaint and is advising Dunn on possible civil actions related to his injuries.

Smith said he doesn’t remember any such incident in the past 20 years.

“There are occasionally disagreements over where people should be and how much access there is, but I’ve never heard of a deputy actually beating up a photographer,” he told the Associated Press. “I’m outraged.”

Dunn said he was asked by a man wearing a T-shirt, later identified as Capt. John Spencer, who he was with. After Dunn said he responded that he was with the Gazette-Journal, he said Spencer told him to go down the hill where other media had been directed.

Dunn said that after he complained the area was too far away for him to take photos, Spencer escorted him down the hill and said Dunn did not have any identification.

After Dunn said he told Spencer he wasn’t asked to show identification, their conversation became heated. Soon, Dunn said, the two deputies arrived and handcuffed him after taking him to the ground.

“I was proceeding out of the area and was irritated they wouldn’t let me do my job, but I was doing what they told me,” Dunn said. “… I don’t know why they felt they had to take me down. I’m a 60-year-old guy carrying camera equipment.”

Dunn said he always has respected law enforcement and the job they do. He said Monday’s incident disappointed him.

“My rights were violated, and the force they used was not necessary,” he said.

Smith said he spent much of Tuesday researching relevant state statutes, rules and regulations. He said fire officials and law officers “clearly do not have the authority to order the media around at any kind of an emergency site.” He said obvious exceptions include “if somebody is obstructing the firefighters from getting to the scene or doing their job, or there is some imminent danger the reporter or photographer is not aware of — and in that case, they should be advising them.”

“Nevada journalists are trained how to respond to wildfires,” said Smith, who intends to support the newspaper in its action. “It sounds to me like the fire officials and deputies need to be trained on how to respond to the media.”

An Aug. 1 court date is scheduled in Sparks Justice Court.

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Pedophile Veteran Las Vegas Nevada Police Officer Garrett Vandereecken Arrested And Charged With Lewdness With A Child

May 23, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – A Las Vegas Metro police officer was arrested on Tuesday afternoon and charged with lewdness with a minor under 14.

Police said Garrett Vandereecken voluntarily surrendered and was booked at the Clark County Detention Center.

The details surrounding Vandereecken’s alleged crime were not immediately released. Detectives from Metro’s Juvenile Sexual Abuse Detail made the arrest.

Vandereecken, 43, has been a patrol officer with Metro for the past four years.

“He has been relieved of duty without pay pending the outcome of both the criminal charges and the investigation, both of which remain ongoing,” a Metro spokesperson said in a release.

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General Services Employees Rewarded For Pissing Away Tax Dollars On Lavish Las Vegas Conference

April 11, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Awarding bonuses for wasting taxpayer dollars?

That appears to be incentive offered by the federal agency under fire for spending lavishly on a 2010 conference held near Las Vegas. The latest details from an inspector general report on the conference reveal 50 employees were given cash awards of $500 and $1,000 for their work arranging the now-infamous conference.

“It would also appear that a number of GSA bureaucrats who helped arrange the Las Vegas junket were handed cash bonuses for their work in wasting the better part of a million dollars,” Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said Tuesday.

Rep. Mica also revealed Tuesday that one high-ranking official spent an extra night in Vegas at taxpayer expense, even though the conference was already over.

Calling the new revelation the “icing on the cake,” Mica said the official paid only $93 for a fourth night at the Vegas suite, which costs more than $1,000 a night.

The rest of the cost of the room “was apparently charged to the taxpayer” he said in a statement.

Rep. Jeff Denham, chairman of a subcommittee on economic development, public buildings and emergency management, said adding “personal vacation stays in Vegas” to the spending by GSA on the Las Vegas conference was “outrageous.”

In light of the the scandal in the General Services Administration over the more than $800,000 spent on the 2010 event, the agency has made a shrewd decision about where to hold its next conference: not Vegas.

The GSA, the federal equivalent of the government’s landlord, had been preparing to return to the Las Vegas area, but the Washington Post reported that the upcoming conference, scheduled for April 25 at a Vegas hotel, has been cancelled.

Several agency employees, including its chief, already have lost their jobs over an inspector general’s report on the 2010 conference.

Music videos featured at that conference have more or less gone viral by this point, showing agency employees laughing it up while making light of the agency’s spending and internal investigations.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been releasing the videos as it launches an investigation into GSA spending following the inspector general’s report. The committee announced late Monday that it has scheduled a hearing for April 16, where Martha Johnson — until recently the head of GSA — has been invited to testify, along with the inspector general.

An agency spokesman told the Post that the acting administrator has promised greater scrutiny of any conferences “that involve travel or substantial expenditures of public funds.”

The conference that had been scheduled for later this month was focused on environmentally friendly products and services and was intended to bring together GSA employees and contractors.

The Obama administration has not attempted to defend the 2010 conference. Top Obama officials have condemned the expenses and pledged to implement protections to clamp down on wasteful spending.

The administration, though, has pointed to rising costs under the George W. Bush administration to suggest that the $820,000 Vegas conference could have been avoided — if the Bush-era GSA had acted.

According to figures obtained by Fox News, the budget for the so-called Western Regions Conference rose from $93,000 in 2004 to $323,855 in 2006. It then jumped to $655,025 in 2008.

But Lurita Doan, who headed the agency under Bush until her resignation in 2008, told Fox News that President Obama’s team is trying to “divert attention” from its own scandal.

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9 Month Jail Sentenced Delayed Again – Former Las Vegas Nevada Drug Prosecutor David Schubert Pled Guilty After Buying Cocaine

April 8, 2012

A nine-month jail sentence for a former drug prosecutor who pleaded guilty to buying $40 worth of cocaine again has been delayed, this time by Nevada’s high court.

The Supreme Court on Friday said that because the case is under appeal, David Schubert does not have to report to the county jail Monday to start serving his sentence, which was handed down by a district judge in February.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has asked the state attorney general’s office to respond to the sentencing appeal made by Bill Terry, Schubert’s lawyer.

Terry has said Judge Carolyn Ellsworth showed bias against his client at a Feb. 27 sentencing hearing.

At the hearing, Terry said, Ellsworth violated procedure by adjudicating Schubert guilty before arguments by the defense and the prosecution. And Ellsworth’s court marshal handcuffed him before the judge announced she was sentencing him to nine months in jail for his buying $40 of rock cocaine last year.

Last week Chief Judge Jennifer Togliatti denied Schubert’s motion to have the sentence tossed and the case moved to another judge.

The Supreme Court has asked for a response to Terry’s appeal from the state attorney general’s office, which prosecuted the case. As part of a deal with prosecutors, Schubert pleaded guilty to a felony charge of cocaine possession, which under state law results in mandatory probation.

At the sentencing hearing, Ellsworth called the deal “offensive” and sentenced Schubert to three years of probation, which included nine months in the county jail. State law allows a judge to order a defendant to serve a year of probation in jail.

In contrast, two high-profile cocaine prosecutions handled by Schubert resulted in probation and no jail time. At the time of their arrests, celebrity Paris Hilton and singer Bruno Mars both had more cocaine in their possession than the former prosecutor.

Las Vegas police arrested the 10-year veteran prosecutor in March 2011 after they watched a man get out of Schubert’s car, go into an apartment complex and return. Officers found Schubert with a minute amount of rock cocaine and confiscated a 9 mm handgun from his car.

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Retired El Dorado County Nevada Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Donald Atkinson Arrested, Charged With Grand Theft, Perjury, And Forgery After Embezzling Over $300,000 While Head Of Deputies Association

March 9, 2012

RENO, NEVADA – A retired El Dorado County Sheriff’s sergeant is behind bars today, charged with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a deputies association. Donald Atkinson was arrested Thursday on 44 felony charges.

He’s accused of embezzling more than $300,000 dollars from the El Dorado County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, of which he was president. Atkinson faces grand theft, perjury, and forgery charges.

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Henderson Nevada Police Officers Caught On Video Brutally Beating Unresisting Man In A Diabetic Shock – Attackers Names Hidden From The Public

February 8, 2012

HENDERSON, NEVADA – Adam Greene is on his stomach as a pack of police officers pile on him, driving their knees into his back and wrenching his arms and legs. One officer knees him in the ribs; another kicks him in the face.

“Stop resisting,” officers on the video yell, but Greene, his face pushed into the pavement, hasn’t resisted. He doesn’t even move — maybe can’t move — because he’s gone into diabetic shock caused by low blood sugar.

The video, recorded more than a year ago by a police car dashboard camera, was released Tuesday by Greene’s lawyers. The same night, the Henderson City Council approved a settlement of $158,500 for Greene. His wife received $99,000 from Henderson, which is just under the minimum amount that requires council approval.

Nevada Highway Patrol troopers also participated in the traffic stop but do not appear to kick or knee Greene on the video. The state has agreed to pay $35,000 to Greene for a total of $292,500 between the two agencies.

It was a Highway Patrol vehicle camera that captured the incident.

CAUGHT ON TAPE

A Highway Patrol trooper enters the scene first, gun drawn, and kicks the driver’s window of Greene’s four-door sedan. After several moments, the trooper opens the door.

The trooper, his gun still raised, then gives Greene conflicting commands. He first tells him not to move, then tells him to come forward.

A second trooper quickly cuffs Greene’s wrist and pulls him from the car, which rolls forward until an officer stops it.

Greene flops to the ground, clearly dazed as five officers rush him. A sixth officer, with Henderson police, enters the frame late and delivers five well-placed kicks to Greene’s face.

“Stop resisting mother (expletive)!” one officer yells.

Greene doesn’t scream until a second Henderson officer knees him in the midsection — and then does it three more times. Greene was later treated for fractured ribs.

Police suspected Greene was intoxicated as he weaved among lanes about 4 a.m. on Oct. 29, 2010, and finally stopped his car near Lake Mead Parkway and Boulder Highway in Henderson.

But that wasn’t the case, which they soon discovered after they searched Greene.

“Call in medical,” one officer says in the video. “We found some insulin in his pocket. … He’s semiconscious.”

“Let’s get medical out here. He’s a diabetic, he’s probably in shock,” the officer later tells dispatch.

Greene’s lawsuit said officers then forced him to stand by a patrol car in handcuffs and blow into a Breathalyzer, despite being injured. Paramedics later arrived and treated him for low blood sugar.

Greene was released without a citation, and officers apologized to him for “beating him up,” the lawsuit said.

He immediately went to a hospital, where he was treated for the broken ribs and the bruises to his hands, neck, face and scalp, the lawsuit said.

One of the harsher moments in the video comes near the end of the clip, when one officer can be heard laughing loudly.

One officer notes that Greene “was not a small guy.” An officer laughs and says, “I couldn’t take him by myself.”

OFFICERS NOT IDENTIFIED

None of the officers was named in the lawsuit, and authorities have not released their names.

Henderson police said a sergeant involved was disciplined. The sergeant remains employed with the department.

Greene’s lawyers were planning to hold a news conference today about the incident.

Greene’s case, while shocking, is not unique.

Alan Yatvin, a legal advocate for the American Diabetes Association and a Philadelphia attorney, said police across the country frequently mistake low blood sugar — called hypoglycemia when blood sugar is exceptionally low — for intoxication in people with diabetes.

A Web search on the issue returns dozens of video clips and stories similar to Greene’s.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, dizziness, hunger, pale skin, moodiness, aggressive behavior, loss of consciousness and even seizures.

“You need police to be trained in what to look for,” Yatvin said. “The problem is, there’s no authority over all police departments. Every department has its own procedures, and states have different rules and training regimens.”

Henderson police said in a statement that the department’s use-of-force methods were modified after the Greene incident. The statement noted a 30 percent reduction in use-of-force incidents from 2010 to 2011. The specific policy changes were not detailed.

William Sousa, a criminal justice professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said training for crisis issues is not consistent through departments. Some departments train every officer, and some departments train just a few.

And it is unknown how effective crisis training is, Sousa said.

“Anecdotal evidence is that even officers trained for this will come upon situations they have to diagnose quickly, and act quickly, and those result in cases where you have something (like Greene’s case),” he said.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes wear a bracelet indicating their condition, but “police still have to look,” Yatvin said.

It is unknown whether Greene was wearing a medical bracelet, but it wasn’t mentioned in the lawsuit.

Yatvin, who specializes in police misconduct cases, added that it is “very troubling” for the average citizen to think police could arrest or assault them because of a medical condition.

“I have a hard time imagining a scenario where it’s necessary to kick an unarmed man and break his ribs,” he said.

The scenario likely would not have been seen at all had the Highway Patrol camera not been rolling.

At the time of the incident, Henderson police did not have dashboard cameras. Those were added to Henderson police vehicles in June, more than eight months after the incident with Greene.

Such an event would not have been captured on video in Las Vegas because the Metropolitan Police Department doesn’t have cameras in cars.

Sousa said the trend with agencies has been moving toward dashboard cameras.

“It works both ways,” he said. “There’s usually resistance from officers at first, but as years go by it may become no big deal, because you get an objective recording that often helps the officers.”

This wasn’t the first high-profile incident involving a medical episode in Clark County. In both cases, the Highway Patrol was involved.

Las Vegas doctor Ryan Rich, 33, died in January 2008 after trooper Loren Lazoff used a Taser on him five times.

Rich’s vehicle had crashed into two vehicles and then the center median on Interstate 15.

Lazoff said Rich appeared intoxicated, dazed and was combative, but an autopsy later revealed he only had seizure medication in his system. Rich had been diagnosed with the seizure disorder shortly before he died.

The Clark County Coroner’s inquest jury ruled the death excusable.

Rich’s family sued Taser International last year. The Highway Patrol was not named in the lawsuit.

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