The NEWS with Tim O'Callaghan

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Like a book, our lives have multiple chapters

One Man’s View:

By Tim O'Callaghan (contact)
Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009 5 p.m.

In the book of life, some people open and close chapters in their lives on a regular basis. However, I'm the type who doesn't do extreme change well — which probably explains my 28 years with the Henderson Home News and Boulder City News and a 30-year relationship with the Las Vegas Sun.

It was in July 1979 that I first walked into the Sun mailroom to help insert the paper. That is the process of placing advertising circulars into each newspaper. It was a hot, sweaty job, not to mention dirty. But it supplemented my other part-time job making ice cream for Swenson's, which was, in contrast, a much cleaner environment.

In late 1980, Hank Greenspun and my dad, Mike O'Callaghan, struck a handshake deal to buy the Henderson Home News and Boulder City News from Morry Zenoff. It was an interesting proposition for my mom and dad for many reasons. I think for him, the best reason was that he wrote sports stories for the Home News while he was a teacher at Basic High School.

By July 1981, my career as a Swenson's Kreme Meister ended and my immersion into newspapering began as a runner, carrier, route manager, distributor, graphic artist, photographer, proofreader, copywriter, copy editor, circulation manager, general manager, columnist, publisher and finally owner. My career has been influenced by many who helped me grow in ways they may have not known, such as Lorna Kesterson, John Dailey, Paul Szydelko, Jess Dixon, Burt Buy, Teddy Fenton, Bill Harbour, Sandy Thompson, Goldie Begley, Ruthe Deskin, Don Ploke, Tony Blei, Bob Morgan, Sylvia Field, Ray Brewer, D.J. Allen, Marilyn Pearson, Keith Foutz, John Peterson, Sherm Frederick, Doreen Reynolds, June Andrews, Jack McCloskey, Tony Hughes, Jim Sanford and every associate who trusted in me.

There are the more obvious influences, such as my loving bride, whom I would have never met had I not worked at the paper; my mom and dad; my brothers and sisters, especially Colleen who co-published the newspapers with me; and any number of the Greenspuns. I would be remiss if I failed to mention my column editor, Jean Reid Norman, who helped me become an award-winning columnist, as well as my most staunch critics. By the way, Jean's mother was my English professor at the College of Southern Nevada.

You must be wondering where this is leading, and if you've hung in reading thus far it is very simple. I'm closing a chapter in my life. On July 4, 2009, I sold my remaining shares of the newspapers to the Greenspun family.

This was not an easy decision for me or my family. Our family counted success through the lives of our employees — how many children and grandchildren were born, how many kids graduated, how many entered college — and we celebrated the lives of those who have gone before us. So many have touched our lives coming through our doors and then leaving to become bigger and better people.

However, when our parents passed in 2004, something changed in me. It had been brewing for a couple of years. My parents had planted a seed in me by example and, unbeknownst to me, my dad was watering, fertilizing and nurturing it.

On the night of Wednesday, March 3, 2004, I had gone to my parents' home to discuss the possibility of them watching our children while Donna and I went to Phoenix to explore entering a Diaconate formation program. It would require many weekends over years for me to reach ordination as a deacon.

My dad looked at me in his most serious demeanor, then smiled and said, "Your mom and I would be happy to watch the kids." He paused and then said, "You know, you really need to talk to the Bishop about bringing a deacon program here."

As I got up to leave, he gave me one last, deeply personal instruction that remains in my heart and I shall not share here.

On Friday, March 5, 2004, God called him home while he was attending daily Mass. The seed dad had nurtured so carefully sprouted on that day, too.

Before the Funeral Mass began, I told Bishop Joseph Pepe about my last conversation with Dad and how we needed a formation program in Las Vegas. The bishop looked at me for a moment and then said, "God works in mysterious ways. We are forming a Diaconate formation program with the Jesuits right now."

Five years have passed, and this weekend Donna and I will attend a retreat with several other brother candidates and their wives, marking the beginning of our fourth year of formation studies.

That little seed my father planted has grown into a tree, though a small tree. In the last three years, I have worked part-time for Bishop Pepe coordinating the Social Action Ministry and editing the diocesan newspaper, the Desert Clarion. I have also worked with U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, advocating for social justice on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised in our society and around the world. Last year, I was appointed as a consultant to the U.S. Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice, Peace and Human Development, which made me a member with voting rights along with the bishops.

Two years ago, I traveled to Africa with Catholic Relief Services to observe food security operations, HIV-AIDS programs and how U.S. policies affect them. These experiences have made it clear where I am headed next.

Newspapering has been a wonderful chapter in my life, and many of you have contributed to it. However, the time has come to close this chapter and pick up writing the new chapter in my life.

This week is my final submission to the Henderson Home News and Boulder City News in the form of One Man's View. Next week, I will continue working for the Diocese of Las Vegas and begin working in a local parish, where it is my prayer that the seed (the light of Jesus) planted by mom and dad will bear fruit.

Tim O’Callaghan writes a regular blog at tocomv.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Las Vegas doesn’t need an apology — it needs stimulus

One Man’s View:

By Tim O'Callaghan (contact)
Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009 2:43 p.m.

It appears President Obama’s off-the-cuff remarks have been taken out of context by Nevada’s economically strained hoteliers and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, who has demanded an apology from the president.

During a town hall meeting Obama held to promote the economic stimulus package, he said, “You can’t get corporate jets, you can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer’s dime” — referring to corporate CEOs.

Unfortunately, Las Vegas was probably at the top of his mind for a couple of reasons. The first was Wells Fargo Bank’s plans to hold a corporate event to recognize employees, as reported by the Associated Press last week. To the credit of Wells Fargo, the company quickly reversed its plans canceling the event. This was unfortunate for Las Vegas' economic woes, though.

The second reason is the Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs’ run for cover after the fallout from Wells Fargo. Those Wall Street types are a slick bunch, because they still plan on having their conference — only in San Francisco, not Las Vegas. Here’s the kicker: The Four Seasons San Francisco is advertising on Orbitz.com rates of $395 a night, while THEHotel at Mandalay Bay is advertising $243 for the same nights and same suite.

With that said, perhaps Goodman and company may have a hair to stand on for their hypersensitivity. However, what if the president instead mentioned Chicago, Atlanta or San Francisco? Well, I am not convinced it would have the same chilling effect on any city. I don’t think there will be a chilling effect at all.

The president was correct to say, “You can’t get corporate jets, you can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer’s dime,” using federal bailout money.

This blowup begs the question of how many bailed-out companies are throwing conferences or parties anywhere using federal money. My guess is not many.

The bottom line is the president’s remarks will have very little effect on the convention business in Las Vegas. As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “The President knows that Las Vegas is America’s premiere destination to do business. The city has more than 140,000 hotel rooms and tens of thousands of feet of meeting space.”

Perhaps, Oscar Goodman should retract his request for a presidential apology. We don’t need an apology — we need some economic stimulus.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or tim.oc@vegas.com. He writes a regular blog at tocomv.blogspot.com.

Current path won’t fix health care

One Man’s View:

By Tim O'Callaghan (contact)
Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009 4:53 p.m.

Most everyone in the United States knows health-care reform is needed. However, each may have his own idea of what reform should be. To me, it's quite obvious there are at least two points to consider.

The first is the cost of actual medical care and the second is medical coverage, or the mechanism to pay for the rising cost of medical care.

My personal experience from this past week has made this even clearer than ever before.

It started with a weekend at Lake Mohave two weeks ago, where we met up with some of our Orange County clan. While frolicking and jumping off rocks into the lake, our youngest must have picked up some bacteria in her ear. She returned to OC with the clan, where her ear exploded with ooze and became so inflamed it closed up.

Donna and I had gone up to Pioche in Lincoln County for a couple of days when the drama began to unfold, leaving any urgent care decision to our relative, Sharon. After they made a trip to the urgent care facility, then a second one and finally a trip to the ER without any results, we made a quick change of plans and immediately headed to Southern California. When we arrived, we made a call to Dr. Dushman, the family pediatrician, and explained everything that had occurred. To us, it seemed desperate after four doctors and eight different prescriptions with no improvement. He said she needed an ear wick to get the antibiotics into the ear. We had an appointment with a ear specialist, who confirmed what our pediatrician had told us over the phone.

All turned out well, although it leaves me wondering why it took so many doctors and prescriptions. We had to pay the deductibles, and the insurance company must cover the rest.

Even though the first four doctors didn't get it right, we don't recover our deductibles, and the insurance company still has to pay.

We can't return the unused meds to the pharmacy and, again, the insurance company still has to pay.

So what kind of health-care reform are we looking for?

The issue has become quite convoluted. But one thing is for sure: The bill proposed by the House of Representatives is flawed in many ways. It has the backs of the insurance industry, the medical community and average Americans up against the wall.

The Senate needs to listen to the American people and come up with reform that makes sense and is written in concise language that can be understood.

We need reform that is fair and provides coverage for every citizen that doesn't impede upon ability of Americans to have a choice in coverage.

The rhetoric is running deep and fast in the public debate, making it hard to decipher what is true and what is not.

The stakes are high with all sides skewing the truth.

The rhetoric needs to stop, solutions need to be created and reform needs to begin.

In my opinion, it should start with legislation that is less complicated than what is proposed by Congress.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or tim.oc@vegas.com. He writes a regular blog at tocomv.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sotomayor proof of evolving melting pot

One Man’s View:

By Tim O'Callaghan (contact)
Tuesday, July 14, 2009 6:29 p.m.

The hot days of summer are finally upon us in the relentless Mojave Desert. Even for a native desert rat like myself the 110 degree temperatures can be tough. It seems just a bit hotter since my return from the Pacific Northwest where temperatures are either pleasantly warm or down right cold.

Things are apparently heating up in Washington DC as well with the opening of the Senate confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor and her honor in the hot seat.

It never fails to amaze me how the parties line up for or against the president’s nominee, to the point where their political colors are unmistakable no matter how qualified a nominee may be.

Seriously, don’t you think the small number of Americans that actually follow the confirmation hearings don’t see through the veil of political partisanship? Or are they also stuck on their own political agendas?

The most honest statement made during the opening day of the hearing was from Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, saying to Sotomayor, “Unless you have a complete meltdown, you are going to be confirmed.”

Then Graham followed up with a jab at her “Wise Latina” comment she had used in several speeches. She would say, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion.” And in one speech she added, “than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Not the wisest choice of words, however, it does ring with truth, and I hardly find it to be racist or sexist. I do find it ironic because, until my generation, white males pretty much controlled this country in every sense of the word. And by the way, if you haven’t noticed, the country is still dominated by white men.

However, things are changing in America, the “Melting Pot” of the world. If America is to continue the path set forth in the Declaration of Independence, we must accept it wouldn’t always be “all men are created equal” but it would evolve to be all people are created equal.

Yes, America is evolving in many ways as people pursue their happiness, struggle to keep their unalienable rights and for many to simply grasp those rights.

From the time I type this column to when you read it and to the end of the Senate Confirmation Hearing for Sonia Sotomayor, plenty can happen. However, I’m betting with Sen. Lindsey Graham to say Judge Sotomayor will be confirmed, because a meltdown is not likely to happen with one as strong, confident and qualified as she is.

Judge Sotomayor and I may not share all the same philosophies or the same life experiences, but I’m confident she will be a needed balance in the pursuit of blind justice for all.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the News, can be reached at 990-2656 or tim.oc@vegas.com. He writes a regular blog at tocomv.blogspot.com.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

After 25 years, she still leaves me in the dust

One Man’s View:

By Tim O'Callaghan (contact)

Wed, Jul 1, 2009 (5:48 p.m.)

Newport, ORE. — It was 27 years ago I first laid eyes upon Donna, affectionately know to readers as my bride, at the Las Vegas Sun, where she worked in the dispatch department. I was an ad runner while cutting my teeth in circulation at the Henderson Home News and Boulder City News.

I remember as though it were only yesterday when I walked passed the department with its fish-bowl appearance — in the old Sun building, almost all departments had glass upper walls so most everything was transparent, as it should be.

Anyway, there she stood with a stack of ads to be shuffled between production, the art department and sales. She was wearing a yellow T-shirt and overalls. Her long blonde hair framed her face with her blue eyes, and a devilish smirk stopped me dead in my tracks. However, her feelings were not exactly mutual, and it took a little time to sway her my way.

We had some common interests in motorcycles and dirt bikes, which led to our first date, which was to repair the flat tire on her Yamaha IT 175.

I was not the greatest mechanic but capable enough to fix a flat tire. Yep, it took three of us and only two hours get it done.

In contrast, today I can do it in 20 minutes.

With the tire fixed, we pursued our goal of going out to Boulder City to ride. It had been a while since I had last ridden a bike, but it’s like riding a bicycle — you never really forget, right?

Well, not exactly!

She had located a nice sized jump where she effortlessly launched into the air and landed with ease. After several jumps, she pulled up to me and said, “Here, you try.” I said, “No problem!” Boy was that an overstatement.

I launched, I flew and I landed on the ground, shredding my new 501s and my knees.

To this day, I’m still picking pebbles out of them — my knees that is.

Fortunately, I had a job so I could pay for any need repairs, like the handlebars, clutch handle and rear fender.

Oh, she has a wicked sense of humor. The only way she could get more laughs out of the situation was to continue dating me and ribbing me for the next 27 years.

Within two years, we would be walking down the aisle, but not without a few bumps in the road.

The first was our drive down to Brea, Calif., where we would let her grandma know we were getting married.

It went something like this: “Grandma, Tim and I are going to get married.”

She said, “Oh! You are? What church are you going to get married in?”

I said, “St. Anne’s in Las Vegas.”

She said, “Isn’t that a Catholic church?”

The soon-to-be bride chimed in, “Well, he is Catholic,” and Grandma said, “Oh no! You’re Catholic!!!”

I was stunned and I said to myself, “Yeah and your granddaughter is converting, to boot.”

As I mentioned to myself, my soon-to-be bride would begin the process of her conversion to Catholicism, which would take about a year.

No worries, except that her family was moving away from Las Vegas and she would have to move in with my mom and dad until the completion of her formation and our wedding day.

Talk about complicating matters. We worked in close proximity. Donna worked at the Sun with my dad. I worked at the Henderson and Boulder City papers with my mom. Donna now lived with them, and my dad had a curfew in his house, no matter how old you were.

By the way, we continued to work together most of the last 27 years.

During those years, we have laughed, played, struggled and cried together.

We have raised three beautiful children, each unique in their own way. I suspect you never really stop raising them.

We have celebrated the lives of three grandparents. We mourned the loss of my mom and dad, but together we also celebrated the accomplishments of their wonderful lives together.

To this day, we share the same interests we had when we first met, but it has come with some compromises, such as trading in her beloved motocross bike, respectfully named E.R., due to the stitches my bride received from their first encounter on Christmas Day.

The Bride cared for her bike as though it were a child, cleaning and primping it all the time. However, we agreed after we reached 45 years of age we would shift from two wheels to four on the dirt.

So as promised, she put E.R. out to pasture and converted to riding a quad.

So today, June 30, we celebrated by going salmon fishing off the coast of Oregon to spend treasured time together outdoors, where we have made so many memories.

For the record, we each caught one fish. Mine was the larger by a scale.

I can’t wait to see what the next 25 years will bring us.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or tim.oc@vegas.com. He writes a regular blog at tocomv.blogspot.com.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer a good time for teens to volunteer

One Man’s View:

By Tim O'Callaghan

Wed, Jun 10, 2009 (2:52 p.m.)

lassvegassun.com

Graduation week signals the hot days of summer are on the horizon in Southern Nevada. This is the time of year when the excitement and glitter of the Las Vegas Strip lures many local teens with nothing better to do than hang out with friends in the tourist corridor.

The hot topic among local parents is the lack of available jobs for high school teens this year. Kids are finding themselves competing for jobs at most fast food and retail businesses with older job seekers. I've noticed the increase of retired folks now back in the job market to supplement sagging or diminished retirement income.

As a parent, I'm concerned about the amount of free time teens have on their hands this summer, leaving them vulnerable to so many negative influences. Many will infiltrate the adult pool party circuit, keeping resort security teams on their toes. This summer we will see an increase of kids going to the Lake Mead Recreational Area to hang out with friends keeping cool in the lake. A number of young people will head to the cool air of Mount Charleston for hiking, picnics and games of Frisbee on the high meadows.

Except for the resort pool parties, the activities are good clean fun until mixed with drugs or alcohol. This is the time of year we tend to see an increase in alcohol-related accidents involving teens.

There are plenty of things for kids to do in Las Vegas, but most of them are on the Strip. There is the Adventure Dome at Circus Circus, rides at the Stratosphere, the roller coaster at New York New York and other spots on the Strip. All of them require money, which for many is lacking due to the economic crisis and not having a summer job.

Again, all of these places are on the Strip, where there are loads of other temptations and trouble to be found by teens.

Even the price of a movie in the theater is getting out of reach for many. Last week, I took my daughter to a movie and was surprised the price had reached $10.50 per ticket. No surprise the movie industry is booming, but what bugs me is the news reports stating many people are heading to the theaters to escape their troubles for a couple of hours. I may have mentioned that in a previous column.

The rub is with so many folks heading to the theaters, why are the prices so high? Sure, it's good ole American capitalism, but it seems to be leaning toward gouging.

After mentioning this to a few acquaintances, I'm finding many are waiting for major hits to come out on video.

Anyway, what I'm alluding to is the fact that many of our teens will have plenty of time to get into mischief of every degree, magnified by the lack of cash flow.

What I'm suggesting is turning some of that time into something useful, such as volunteering at a local nonprofit, animal shelter, hospice, hospital or church organization.

Volunteering has many benefits, such as building confidence and self-worth. Many young people need to develop interpersonal and communication skills needed in today's world. This can happen by volunteering. Keeping a regular schedule will help your teen establish the practice of discipline.

No, it's not going to put any cash in their pocket today, but it will pay off over time with experience gained.

Interested in getting your teen involved or perhaps yourself? A few places to start looking are:

Opportunity Village
839-4756
6300 W. Oakey Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89146
www.opportunityvillage.org

The Volunteer Center of Southern Nevada
1660 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89119
Phone: (702) 892-2321
www.volunteercentersn.org

Las Vegas Catholic Worker
500 W. Van Buren Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89106
(702) 647-0728
www.lvcw.org

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or tim.oc@vegas.com. He writes a regular blog at tocomv.blogspot.com.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Reid getting ready for next big fight of his life

One Man’s View:

Wed, May 27, 2009 (4:15 p.m.)

lassvegassun.com

Like any seasoned fighter, Harry Reid is in for the fight of his life. That's the way it is in square ring of boxing, and it is no different in the political ring. The next fight is always the biggest fight.

Today, Harry is the champion the crowd loves to hate. Like any good fighter, the Senate Majority Leader has a few scars — I'm sure one or two going back to when he first trained as a boxer under the tutelage of my father, former Nevada Gov. Mike O'Callaghan.

Big Mike, the most popular governor to serve the state of Nevada, saw something in the kid from Searchlight that perhaps others didn't see.

He had plenty of opportunity to get to know Harry well as a youth, both at the Henderson Boys Club, where Mike taught Harry boxing, and in the classroom at Basic High School, where he taught U.S. history and civics.

He saw enough in Harry to ask him to run as his lieutenant governor in 1970. He kept up with the incredible demands of Gov. O'Callaghan, who worked all hours of the day and night, especially during legislative sessions.

Harry Reid is training for the next big fight of his life. He may not be running in front of my dad's car on the dusty road between Henderson and Railroad Pass, as he used to as a boxer, but he is running the tough and demanding campaign trail in Nevada.

This campaign trail will be different from any other he has run before. Today he doesn't have a definitive opponent to speak of; yet, he has more challengers from beyond the state lines of Nevada than any candidate here has ever faced.

A likely challenger will emerge from outside the state of Nevada in the form of a carpetbagger. Don't discount any challengers from within the state of Nevada either, because there are plenty of sacrificial lambs roaming the open ranges of the state who would gladly get slaughtered for a chance at the U.S. Senate or 15 minutes of fame to use as a stepping stone in political gain.

The challengers, carpetbaggers and little lambs are busy building rhetorical land mines to scatter along the trail to VOTE 2010, such as convincing voters Harry is unpatriotic, out of touch or bad for Nevada.

The job of majority leader of the Senate is a thankless job for any member of the Senate no matter what party they are from. The leadership has to pull the entire party agenda no matter how liberal or conservative, leading the electorate at home to believe that is what the leader has become. The national spin begins to weigh heavier than 16-ounce gloves in the 12th round of a prize fight.

The reality is the numbers look bad, and the special interest groups are foaming at the mouth, thinking they have Harry up against the ropes before the first bell has rung. They don't give a hoot about Nevada or the people who live, work, are raising a family or have retired here. Their only concerns are their own agendas and how Harry Reid stands in their way.

Nevada is one of the least influential states in the union without seniority in the Congress of the United States. Without Harry Reid, Sen. John Ensign and Rep. Shelley Berkley, we would have little clout on a federal level. Nevada has a growing influence with Rep. Dean Heller, who would be wise to remain focused on his House seat to continue cultivating his growing leadership in Congress. Rep. Dina Titus is perfectly positioned to accelerate in a Democrat-led house.

Party politics has little influence on me, and it shouldn't on you. Rather, the politics on Nevada should be a main concern.

Although I have known Harry my entire life, I'm no Reid apologist. We have not always agreed on every issue, but when it comes to issues concerning Nevada, Harry is a world-class fighter.

When I said this would be a fight like no other, I meant it. Harry is no longer fighting in the square ring but rather the caged octagon with no rules and multiple challengers in all eight corners.

I can't predict the outcome, but I do know for sure Harry Reid will put up "The Good Fight."

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or tim.oc@vegas.com. He writes a regular blog at tocomv.blogspot.com.