By Rolando Larraz
Las Vegas Tribune
Fifteen months ago, the Las Vegas Tribune published an article putting the city of Las Vegas on notice that the newspaper would no longer be paying for its business license.
Later, after a telephone conversation with former Deputy Director Mary McElhone, now retired after two decades with the City, we agreed to some terms and the publication renewed its license. The article published in the newspaper seventheen months ago read as
follows: “The owners of the Las Vegas Tribune newspaper are meeting with some legal advisers to discuss the format of a letter that will be sent to the city business license, code enforcement department, and the entire city council, alerting all of them of the newspaper’s intention of no longer paying for its business license.”
“The owners of the twenty-one-year-old weekly newspaper believe that if residents in the area of Ward One can open, run, and operate their businesses without applying for and paying for their business licenses, it is not fair that others have to pay for their own business licenses.”
Today, three years later, the same issues are being dealt with but the gang of the Code enforcement has declared war on the newspaper’s
general manager, threatening the owner of the newspaper with fines and jail time for articles written exposing the corruption that is going
on in part of Ward One.
During a telephone conversation with one Code Enforcement agent, Lori Hageman, the “cop wannabe” admitted that she has not been in that area in the last two years, but out of the blue she reappeared and in a threatening letter she advised the resident that a fine and jail time will be issued if the property is not brought up to code.
After seventeen months, we used this newspaper to put the city on notice that as long as there is a car wash, mechanics shop, and car sales in the residential area, the property will not be brought to code.
“If those people want to live in the ghetto, a ghetto they will have,” the newspaper stated in a letter to Vicky Ozuna, a Supervisor with the code enforcement unit of the City of Las Vegas.
The man operating the car wash told the newspaper that the city had told him that the newspaper had filed the reports and a very upset man yelled at the newspaper representative: “You called the city on us and now you are as good as dead for being a snitch.” That is definitely a death threat for which the code enforcement clan could be responsible if the man, in fact, makes his threat factual.
We, as a newspaper, are entitled to go after news and corruption; in fact, that was the reason that the Las Vegas Tribune was founded twenty-two years ago—to fight the political corruption and police abuse and brutality, and if operating businesses without licensing with the blessing of the code enforcement gestapo is not within the corruption status, we don’t know what is.
This situation has been going on for the last three years and no one is moving a finger to fix or correct the wrong.
The Las Vegas Tribune business part has been closed for the last four months, but our business license is up to date for all the businesses owned by the newspaper and the city business license can attest to that. If we are closed and still keep our business license paid up, why do those Mickey Mouse, fly-by-night businesses not apply for and pay for
their own business licenses, we ask.
Any given time there are from eleven to fifteen cars at the car sales residence, assuming there is a $100.00 profit on each car, that would be an eleven to fifteen hundred dollar profit, but the city does not get a cent of that money.
On a normal day the mechanic has eight to ten cars scattered around the neighborhood. Assuming he clears one hundred dollars per car (no license, no insurance, no payroll) there is a profit of eight hundred to one thousand dollars profit, but the city of Las Vegas gets nothing.
Cutting the profit in half, assuming that there are only two car customers a day, six days a week total, only twelve cars a week is one thousand dollars a week sales, but the city still gets nothing. We don’t know if code enforcement gets something for looking the other way; we are looking at fifty-five grand working from home, with no rent, no payroll, no power or insurance—all profit.
The Car wash is a minimum of $40.00 per car in downtown Las Vegas; most places are $60.00 to $75.00 dollars per car; they block the street and sometimes there are six or seven cars waiting to be detailed—you do the math.
The newspaper takes its cars to a downtown location to detail its cars, the man charges $40.00 per car and we don’t know how much he has to pay for the rent of the space, but he may pay something while the other fellows in the residential area are paying nothing. Is it fair?
Last, but not least, in a certified letter that the resident never got, the code enforcement gestapo threatened to tow a Toyota that is parked in the driveway of the property, but the mechanic has had an SUV parked in his driveway for the last three years and no one has ever said a word about it.
Do Vicky Ozuna and the Code Enforcers Gestapo really want to go to war to protect law-breakers just to prove a point? We have no idea how many attorneys are in the city attorney’s office and how good they really are without intimidating the taxpayers, but the newspaper only has two attorneys that are the best in the West; the newspaper has never lost one case yet.