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If goal is recovery, why stop drug testing at welfare recipients? – Las Vegas Sun News

I found this article refreshing as I have listened to many claims blaming our nations poorest for being drug users and moochers. It seems to me that most of the nations poor are only trying to survive in a society that decides what type of person you are by the size of your bank account. The numbers are in and Florida’s drug testing welfare law is a failure. It seems as though there is not as many drug users on welfare as people thought. Could people actually be using the system for what it is there for? Who do you think are the real moochers, drug users and creators of financial crisis in our country? What do you think about Nevada taking on the same regulations as Florida? 

Here is what happened when Florida started drug testing its welfare applicants:

Of 4,086 applicants between July and October 2011, 108 tested positive, or 2.6 percent, with another 40 canceling the test. That rate is less than one-third the estimated drug use among Floridians overall.

Got that? Welfare applicants were far less likely to use drugs than the rest of the population.

And despite the few that canceled their test, overall, the threat of a drug test had no appreciable effect on the number of applicants, according to an internal state government document obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union when it sued the state, challenging the constitutionality of the law.

Because the tests cost $30 each, and because Florida reimbursed applicants who tested negative, the law wound up actually costing the state money. Plus, a federal judge temporarily halted the law because it was in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures.

So, all in all, an embarrassing failure.

But ideas can be zombies, especially in Nevada. So here’s Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, offering up our own welfare drug test bill, Senate Bill 89, which would deny welfare benefits as well as food stamps and Medicaid.

Settelmeyer told my colleague Cy Ryan that his intention is to help people get straight, which is why he included a provision that would allow an applicant who failed the test to enter drug rehab and receive public assistance while there, with another test scheduled 30 days later.

Good plan, if rather patronizing. Except there’s a severe and chronic shortage of treatment beds. A shortage that would have been worsened if Settlemeyer had his way last session — he voted against renewing more than $600 million in taxes that were set to expire. Where do you suppose they would have found the money? I’m guessing drug treatment beds would have been on the chopping block.

There’s a false idea I sometimes hear from readers and the occasional politician that some significant portion of the population is welfare-dependent. (Some seem to think it might even be as high as 47 percent!)

In fact, since President Bill Clinton signed the big welfare reform bill in 1996 that placed limits on how long you could remain on welfare, the national caseload dropped 50 percent from 3.94 million families in an average month to 1.95 million by 2011, according to Pamela J. Loprest of the Urban Institute.

With 310 million people living in America, you can see the percentage of people on welfare is quite small. In Nevada, fewer than 30,000 adults and children get welfare, or what’s officially called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. That’s 1 percent of us.

There’s also a belief the numbers have surged since we elected a foreign-born Muslim socialist president whose goal is to make everyone dependent on government because he’s a secret anti-colonial Maoist, or something.

Welfare rolls have gone up since the recession but still remain below 2005 levels, before the recession.

It’s true that food stamp enrollment and Medicaid and unemployment recipients have increased significantly in Nevada, but that’s because in 2007 we entered the worst recession since the Great Depression. Food stamp enrollment increased 128 percent in Nevada between 2007 and 2010, but that’s largely due to the fact that the unemployment rate tripled. Historically, food stamp and other anti-poverty enrollments increase during recessions and decrease during expansions. Go figure.

If Settelmeyer’s real goal is to help people get straight, why stop at welfare recipients? What about farm subsidy recipients, sometimes known as “welfare cowboys”? Why not test Medicare and Social Security moochers? Or state employees?

Or legislators?

via If goal is recovery, why stop drug testing at welfare recipients? – Las Vegas Sun News.

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Pokers Tattoo

pokersThis article is dedicated to a working class tattoo artist, Chris Unger founder of Pokers Tattoo Shop in Las Vegas.

One thing we have in our beautiful city is a large population of tattoo artists.  There are shops all throughout the city and let’s face it everybody knows someone who knows someone right?

For some reason finding the right tattoo artist still can be a challenge though. Then deciding what to get becomes an over whelming  task. Of course, having fears about putting something so permanent on your skin is normal and wise. Not to mention the pain involved which almost isn’t worth it, until you see how great it looks.

It can be devastating to become a victim of a tattoo gone wrong. Trust me I know. Not only is it painful and expensive but that awesome feeling of seeing your great new art is deflated into, “Oh My Gosh what am I going to do”. What can you do but wipe your tears, go home tail tucked and swear you’ll get it fixed, eventually.

For me, the new addition of my permanent mistake was on my obviously visible forearm which forced me to be stuck showing off the pathetic attempt of art or be forced to wear long sleeves most of the time. I even hated talking about it and of course everyone has questions no matter how it comes out.  Honestly though, long sleeves and living in the desert, lets just say for years I was answering a lot of unwanted questions.

Fast forward 9 years and I no longer have to wear my sleeves of shame. By chance a couple of summers ago I happened to meet the skilled and experienced, Chris Unger, a true tattoo artist. As I was waiting in line for a beer, I happened to over hear a conversation from a man standing behind me. He was speaking to Chris about covering up a horrific tattoo. My ears involuntarily perked immediately, I tried terribly hard not to eavesdrop. Lucky for me, Chris must’ve seen questions written all over my little face. He caught my eye and  busted out, “you interested in a tattoo?’ Before I knew it I went from wanting to fix a half dollar size tattoo on my inner forearm to creating ideas to do a full sleeve on my left arm which would cover my tattoo blemish as well. After that it was only a couple of weeks before I took my first climb up the long stairway above Dead Man’s Tattoo Supply Shop to Chris’s tattoo shop, Pokers. Bottled up with nerves and anxiety (this was my first tattoo in years), I was instantly relieved to walk in and see a clean organized and professional shop.

Then my fears quickly slipped away as he took a great deal of time to talk with me about my ideas and how he could incorporate them appropriately onto my skin. The experience became even more authentic when he didn’t even bother to use tracing paper for the outline of my tattoo. Chris took a sharpy to sketch some basic lines on my arm (that looked ridiculous to me, artists always amaze me) and worked free hand from there. It is such a great feeling to know your tattoo cannot be replicated. Mine is designed specifically for the curves and crevices of my skin and mine only. Talk about making a girl feel special.

I was so proud after my first session and other people where impressed as well, even my doctors. Just my outline was getting plenty of attention and questions worth answering. Plus, there was no embarrassment or shame to hide under, a weight had been lifted. Also I couldn’t help but notice that with the several tattoos I had gotten before none of them ever healed so flawless. The next day it was barely tender to touch, Chris had promised me (since I am a big baby), “It’s all in the technique”. This was definitely the best tattoo experience I’d ever had. I would like to give a big shout out to Chris Unger for creating something phenomenal with his talent.

So for any of you ink freaks or ink virgins out there looking for a great tattoo and don’t know where to go, Pokers is where it’s at. His shop features several tattoo artists that will help you put those crazy ink ideas onto your skin. The shop is located on Russell and Valley View Blvd, which means it is only a quick trip from the strip, for all you tourists. Also conveniently located just beyond the strip for all you locals.  Set your fears aside as you are guaranteed quality ink at Pokers so don’t hesitate to call. You won’t be disappointed.

Phone 702-736-6667

Address 5720 S. Valley View Blvd Las Vegas, NV 89118

Click here to like them on Facebook

Fremont East Cleaned Up and Becoming More

If you haven’t noticed please come up from under the rock and get out more, downtown Las Vegas is beginning to become a hot spot for locals and tourists alike. Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, plans to redesign and draw more people into the area is working. He has invested a lot of his own money for the project and has focused on downtown. Although, he is not the only contributor he seems to be the most passionate one. He has been able to draw in business owners with original ideas to make Fremont East a new experience for all involved.

Lately, there is more then just the Fremont Street Experience to enjoy on Fremont street, it has become okay to spill out onto the East District nowadays as well. Several new bars have opened up and it is starting to resemble a downtown college town where you have weekend bar crawls which includes hopping to and from an array of bars with different vibes. Except this is Las Vegas, the great city of entertainment and with that comes the responsibility of having the most unique ideas.

What’s down there you ask? Well for starters, Insert Coins is a bar for gamers to get their drink on and still enjoy their video games, Griffin has a unique experience as if you are being lured into a lair of Dracula’s chambers and one of my personal favorites, Don’t tell Mama, a piano bar that employs talented singing bartenders and waitresses which also offers open mic night for patrons 6 days a week.

It doesn’t end there either, Commonwealth has just opened up and allows bar goers to access a fabulous patio up top to enjoy drinks, music and downtown scenery. They are so new that they haven’t even had their grand opening yet which actually happens to take place this Wednesday on the infamous date of 12/12/12. I’ve heard it will be a red carpet event that starts at 6pm, so if you are going to make an appearance be sure to be wearing your finest.

Most recently Backstage Bar and Billiards aka Triple B has become the perfect addition to the city.  Not only is it conveniently located downtown, it gives players a breath of fresh air from the local run down pool halls around the Valley. It is only equipped with 7 Diamond tables that are rented by the hour but pool isn’t the only entertainment in there. At the back end of the room a brand new stage equipped with a brand new system that awaits to rock your night away in the spacious environment.  Also, there are whispers they will be expanding for an even greater experience.

Last but not least rumor has it that right next door to the Triple B another place will be opening up within the next month. Who knew that 6th and Fremont would be so exciting?  One thing is for sure though, the constant change of scenery has given locals and tourists a chance to intermingle, see something new and enjoy this great city together. That my friends it what it is all about.

What are your thoughts about the new downtown scenery leave your comments below.

Our Downtown columnist offers friendly advice for the area as he prepares to move on – Las Vegas Weekly

This is one of my favorite writers, Mr. Coolican. If I ever met him I bet we’d get along really well. Here is another great article from him about Downtown Vegas this was taken from the Weekly. I am a huge fan of Downtown and excited to see more and more improvements coming in due time. What are your ideas about what Downtown needs? Please leave your comments below.

About six months ago we devoted this column to all things Downtown and its resurgence. I’ve been dividing my time between that assignment and the rest of my job as Las Vegas Sun columnist. Splitting my time this way has been less than ideal, so I’m relinquishing this spot to a colleague. I’ll still keep my eye on Downtown and write about it when the spirit moves me. It’s been fun and educational, and hopefully I got the ball rolling.

The rest of the Las Vegas Valley, from the Strip to the suburbs, was built by rich individuals and corporations and their handmaidens in government. A top-down, oligarchic approach. As a result, despite our reputation for libertarianism and libertinism, the Valley can feel pretty constricting. Try to paint your house a weird color or play your trumpet on the Strip, and the authorities—the homeowners association, Metro police, respectively—will come knocking.

It’s their city; we just live here.

Downtown is different. Of course, we’d be naive to pretend some Downtown landowners and rich interests—certain technologically advanced shoe salespeople, for instance—don’t have more power and influence than others. Still, watching Downtown develop is fun because for Las Vegas, it’s very small “d” democratic. Downtown’s transformation is turning on the actions of thousands of businesses, residents and voters, rather than a mere few. It’s participatory and passionate. In short, a real city.

In that spirit, here are some issues I’ve raised and some opinions about what’s next for Downtown:

People, not cars. Urbanism, that great serendipitous relationship of people and commerce and culture, requires walkability, which in turn requires density and the subordination of cars to other needs, such as pedestrian safety. So, we need narrower streets and wider sidewalks. We should become a city known more for shade structures than insufferable summers.

Here’s an idea in that vein: Extend the pedestrian walkway of Fremont for a few blocks. (Though not the canopy, or at least not that canopy!)

And the city should make the walk between the Smith Center and other Downtown attractions and neighborhoods—currently a cheap horror flick nightmare of underpasses—a priority.

Downtown has too much parking—a 38 percent surplus over demand, according to the city—aside from the occasional special event, which can be solved by using shuttles and spacious vacant lots. Yes, it’s important that suburbanites be able to get to Downtown stores and restaurants, but you don’t see New York City ruining its urban streetscape just so the bridge-and-tunnel crowd can park.

Which brings me to another point: It’s all about residents. We need people who will live, work and play Downtown. All policy decisions should be made with them in mind, and, indeed, should include their input.

Downtown residents I talk to, and I’ve talked to a lot of them, are quite clear: They need basic things that have unfortunately come to be called “amenities,” but are actually necessities.

Typical economic development that gives away tax goodies are often wasteful boondoggles—Neonopolis, anyone?—but I could be persuaded that the city should subsidize a grocery store, because it’s so central to everything and no one will build it until we have more residents, but we can’t get more residents without a grocery store.

Other necessities: Either a significant park or series of smaller parks. A coffee shop that cleans its equipment. (There, I said it.)

When we talk about residents, we should be open to diversity—Downtown lifers, young professionals, but also families with kids.

UNLV could be a catalyst. The university should move one of its schools Downtown, something with a real architectural and intellectual footprint. Arizona State has done this to great effect in downtown Phoenix.

Remember, we know what works—we can copy good ideas from other cities while preserving what’s uniquely Vegas.

Most important, Downtown isn’t theirs. It’s ours. Let’s keep it that way.

via Our Downtown columnist offers friendly advice for the area as he prepares to move on – Las Vegas Weekly.

Mulligans Landing A Vegas Karaoke Hot Spot

Karaoke fans please stand up, I need you. Is there a lack of decent karaoke places in this city or is it just me. In a city full of such stupendous local alent I am surprised to find that many bars who host karaoke either lack in KJ’s or their system? Maybe it’s both. Yes, yes, I know their are many places that host but the worst thing in the world is standing up to belt out your best version of Bon Jovi’s, Living On A Prayer and you can’t catch your melody because the system is echoing back at you. How about finally working up the nerve to try that ballad, only to be drowned out by the music with your voice not even able to be heard. I’m not sure if these issues are caused by the KJ not knowing what they are doing when balancing voice and music or maybe the equipment is not sufficient to handle the karaoke task. Either way problems like these tend to make the good karaoke singers go elsewhere leaving only the party goers singing silly songs and screaming into the mic leaving your ears with a hangover by the end of the night. So where are the good singers going?

After trying many places from Dino’s to PT’s Pub even taking a chance on the Brass Lounge in Hennesseys on Fremont street I always walked away disappointed. There is one bar I did find that is successful at reeling in the local Karaoke talent though and that is why Beyond the Strip has voted Mulligans Landing a karaoke hot spot. Tucked neatly off of  Rancho and Decatur the bar could easily be an unconscious vision in your periphery, don’t be fooled though. Pritchard Productions is responsible for running weekend karaoke there that brings an array of personalities and singers that helps the evening become a fabulous one. The KJ, Teresa Pritchard usually gets started around 10pm and keeps the party going until 2am, she really is one the best. What makes her so great? Well the simple fact that you don’t sound like a hound dog or music from a horror movie after working up the nerve to show your best. What can I say the girl knows what she is doing and will create a superb stage experience for you . Other good news for you is the karaoke party is branching out from Mulligans but they will continue to host karaoke party nights on Saturday from 10pm till 2 am and Sunday from 9pm till 1 am starting December 1st. The newest place to jump on the Pritchard Productions bandwagon is Foothills Tavern Vegas, who will be hosting Karaoke with our fab KJ on Friday nights from 10pm till 2am at 2343 W Gowan Rd.

If you are not a karaoke fan maybe you would be interested in checking out Mondays at Mulligans for Mark and Mike’s comedy night starting at 10pm every week. Don’t miss out on a good time and a chance to support our local bars/taverns by making them your spot for a night out. Mulligans also offers great food, stiff drinks and awesome staff. For questions about karaoke nights contact Mulligans Landing at 702-395-2470 and/or if you are interested in having Pritchard Productions host for you, you can contact them at 702-426-0189. Remember to like Mulligans Landing Facebook page here.

If you have any karaoke hot spots outside the Strip please let us know we would love to check them out.

A Chance To Meet People, Experience Downtown And Get Your Drink On

Las Vegas Mob Bar

If you haven’t tried the Thirsty 3rd Thursday Pub Crawl it is a must. This my friends is an opportunity to try new bars and meet new people. It starts at Hennesseys Tavern Located on the Fremont Street Experience, you know the giant Pint of Beer sitting off of Las Vegas Boulevard, you can’t miss it. Here’s the deal you pay 20 bucks and receive 7 drink tickets, a coupon for 1/2 off an entree at Hennesseys, and 1/2 off an appetizer at Mickie Finnz which just happens to be the second to the last stop. I’m sure this was done on purpose as you will probably have worked up an appetite by the time you get there.  So that gives you a chance to munch, chill and listen to some live tunes. There are two appointed captains that are suppose to get the party started and help lead the way. Although, it just so happens our woman captain seemed disinterested and was not friendly. Maybe she was having a bad day but that didn’t stop our independent group from getting the party started on our own. Even more good news was the bars that we visited were more then welcoming and provided outstanding service.

The crawl itinerary has you spend about 25 minutes in each bar which gives you enough time to order your drink and finish it before moving on to the next stop. There are 7 bar stops and each is very different from the next so be ready to open your mind to new places. For instance, Hogs and Heifers has always been a spot that I would not normally check out on my own. So since it was a stop on the crawl, mind as well check it out and see if my avoidance was warranted. It has a vibe of a raunchy Coyote Ugly, the dancers on the bar definitely kept their attendees entertained and truly filled the part of country girls having some down home fun. Actually, if you have been to the Coyote Ugly on the Strip and liked it, Hogs and Heifers is right up your alley, even better the downtown hot spot seems a bit more authentic. So If you love to be rowdy and party this is the place for you. Maybe you’re looking for a more laid back night, I found a great place for that too. The Gold Spike can offer you some serenity on your night out or even better seems like a perfect place for them lazy Football Sundays. Of course, it might be a bit busier on those days as it could draw a crowd with its
sports bar vibe it has. These are places that I would not tried without the pub crawl.

Thirsty 3rd Thursday was absolutely a phenomenal time. You too can experience the fun as it happens every 3rd Thursday of the month. So take a chance and try something new. Bring your friends because the more people that come makes the party even better. Make a plan to meet at Hennesseys Tavern at 7 pm and ask about the Pub Crawl. Don’t be concerned about running a little late either as the party didn’t leave Hennesseys until after 8. For more information contact Hennesseys Tavern at 702-382-4421

Where Are the Local Bands At?

Where have all the musicians gone? I see plenty of performing and visual arts here in Vegas but I’ve been living in Las Vegas for almost 3 years and do not know where to go to hear some local bands. All I’ve ever heard about is Yellow Brick Road which I admit they are cool and the not so clever Steel Panther. Isn’t there more? I am searching for is local bands playing in the Las Vegas area. Ones that play in the bars and taverns throughout the city. Are kids putting down instruments, picking up computers and calling this music? I see a lot of advertising for DJ’s and electronic music mini raves from local talent that display hard hitting beats and some cool dance music. Although, that type of rave prompting music has its own scene, I miss music where I don’t have to endure the bass and treble repetitive sounds all night. Something with some substance musically.  I’m talking about musicians trying to make a living with their music or love to rock out so much they play after work. I know there has got to be something in this beautiful city please tell me I’m missing it. I’m talking about the warmth of an electric guitar that captures emotion and fits perfectly together with the lyrics and drum beats. It makes me wonder is this just in Vegas that this is happening? Please write us and let us know your favorite local band. I’m not concerned with the genre and cover bands are included in this search. I’m looking for local talent in the areas of rock, alternative, reggae etc.  I know there has got to be some local musicians somewhere in this city trying to get discovered. Leave comments and feedback below.

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