Monday, May 12, 2008

Our refuse is no one else's business

This first published May 8, 2008 in the Henderson Home News, a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.

Setting the record straight.
A very astute reader sent me an e-mail pointing out an error in my column last week that needs to be corrected. The reader requested to be kept anonymous and I’ve agreed to his request.
He wrote, “I read your ‘One Man’s View’ in the Viewpoint section, May 1-7, 2008, Home News. Unfortunately, the information you gave concerning ‘interference with recycling containers’ was incorrect and a perpetuation of an urban myth. I would not normally be so familiar with this topic, but I witnessed a similar incident as your wife did, only it was 3 a.m. … I was cited the same incorrect information you printed. … However, in my case, they were not taking aluminum cans, but instead rifling through recycling and refuse looking for identity documents, as you foretold in your opinion piece.
“I phoned the Henderson Police the next day and was given the correct information and reference to City of Henderson, Ordinance 2545. … Apparently, many municipalities changed their city codes, pertaining to ‘refuse and recycling’ after Sept. 11 to heighten safety and security procedures. A Lexis/Nexis search will reveal thousands of such ordinances throughout the nation. A side note: Even the designated refuse collectors may not interfere with your trash. They are only authorized to transport it. Both my refuse and recycling handlers were aware of the law.”
So here is how the Henderson Municipal Code reads:
“5.17.080 Interference with containers prohibited.
“A. It is unlawful for any person other than the owner, the city or its franchisee, or their duly appointed agents, to interfere in any manner with any containers containing solid waste or recyclables or to remove any such container from the location where placed for pickup by the owner, the city or its franchisee.
“B. It is unlawful for any person, other than the operator of a drop-off center or his duly appointed agent, to interfere with or remove any recyclables from a drop-off center. (Ord. 2545 § 1 (part), 2006)”
There you have it. The recycle bins are off-limits in Henderson and probably in all of Clark County.
So what can you do if you see someone interfering with the trash? First, don’t call Republic Services, because they don’t care who gets the recyclables. Second, report it to the Police Department, especially if the interlopers are going through your trash.
Information is collected about you and sold to people who have less-than-honorable intentions.

Gibbons, do over

Reflecting back to last week’s column (if you missed it I posted it on my blog at
My good intentions of trying to keep the state’s first family in check blew up in my face. No sooner had my column published, the governor slapped the first lady with divorce papers, ending any chance of reconciliation by way of a warm fireplace and a blanket.
The governor also wants the first lady tossed out of the mansion and, to no one’s surprise, she isn’t going quietly.
The governor isn’t going to dance around this as easily as he did the Chrissy Mazzeo fiasco. In case you need a Gibbons/Mazzeo primer, it goes like this. The governor, then a candidate, was out having drinks with several campaign cronies at a popular Las Vegas drinking and dining establishment. After a few one-armed curls, he headed back to his hotel unattended. At the establishment’s exit, he happened across one of the damsels he had been working out at the table with.
The gentleman that he is, he offered to walk the woman to her car in the parking garage, where she slipped and he broke her fall by grabbing her arm, allegedly forcing her against the wall.
Her version of the story was completely different than the one I’ve strung together from news accounts. You get the idea, though.
The governor better pray he has better lawyers then he has advisers, because the first lady is a polished contender. His knee-jerk reactionary style often leaves him rethinking his decisions.
Just like the crazy idea of billing the widow of Steve Fossett, the millionaire pilot who vanished into thin air after taking off from the Hilton’s Flying M Ranch in Northern Nevada. That idea earned him a few dunce points for sure. He later restated his position to say he was asking her for a donation to defray the cost of the monthlong search.
That would be because he totally blew the state’s revenue projections. He promised no new taxes, and he is sticking by his word.
The beauty of all this is we only have 2 1/2 years before we can kick him out of the mansion. That is, if the first lady doesn’t do it first.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or He writes a regular blog at

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mansion living could help governor

This first published May 1, 2008 in the Henderson Home News, a a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.

Gov. Jim Gibbons not living in the Governor’s Mansion appears to be big news these days — but maybe it isn’t.
Having the experience of growing up in the Mansion as one of Gov. Mike O’Callaghan’s five children, I tend to look at the private lives of Nevada’s first families with a little more sensitivity and an appreciation for privacy.
I mentioned a month or so ago that the marital unrest of Nevada’s first couple is their business and not the public’s unless it affects the governor’s ability to govern. I still hold that position, except there seems to be a new twist to the situation.
As reported in both the Review-Journal and the Las Vegas Sun on Sunday, the governor is living in one of the couple’s two houses in Reno while first lady Dawn Gibbons is residing at the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City.
Separation is not new to the Gibbonses, because while Jim Gibbons served in Congress for 10 years, he lived in Washington and Dawn Gibbons lived in Reno raising their son. As mentioned in a previous column, while Jim Gibbons was preparing his run for the state’s top post, she was busy campaigning for his abandoned House seat. Had she been successful, that would have led them to opposite ends of the country once again.
The situation is what it is, so let’s examine it for a moment.
Some folks are up in arms about the governor not residing in Carson City, much less the Mansion. There’s even a state law requiring the governor to live in Carson City, not necessarily the Mansion though. I think this law makes sense if this were 1867 and we didn’t have trains, planes and automobiles.
With the situation as it is with the Gibbonses, it actually makes more sense for the first lady to reside in the Mansion because of the number of events held there hosted by none other than the lady of the house.
If there is anything that bothers me about the governor living in Reno, it is the amount of wasted gasoline to commute back and forth from Reno to the Capitol at the expense of the taxpayers.
Now if the governor really wanted to cut the budget, he ought to suck it up and sleep in one of the three or so suites in the mansion. Having lived in the Mansion for eight years, I can assure you there is plenty of room for even the most cantankerous of foes to not get in each other’s way.
Speaking of sucking up, during the energy crisis in the ’70s we sucked it up to do our part as the first family by living with very little heat in the winter and lights out early every night. I remember our dad telling us he couldn’t ask casino operators on the Las Vegas Strip to shut off their marquees (which they had) if we continued to burn oil and electricity carelessly. Blankets and a warm fireplace were a way of life.
Perhaps this is good advice for the Gibbonses to rekindle what has been extinguished by years of separation. Blankets and a warm fireplace can be effective.
Recycle bins
Since we’re on the subjects of relationships and economic hardships, here is a situation of my own.
Last week, my bride gave me a jingle at the office to query me about the legality of removing aluminum cans from neighbors’ recycle bins. Before hearing her out completely, I wanted to convince her that, though the economy is bad, it’s really not so bad that she needs to pilfer the cans from our neighbors.
She assured me she had no intentions of doing such a thing, but there were a couple of guys sneaking around the neighborhood removing the aluminum cans from the recycle bins.
She asked, “Is there a number you can call to report it?”
“I don’t know let me check” I replied.
In a quick call to Republic Services of Southern Nevada, I was told there is no law against removing aluminum cans from the bins. The woman on the phone said, “Once you place recycle bins and garbage cans on the street, it’s fair game.”
“Really, are you sure?” I asked.
She assured me it was and said someone must have figured out the pickup schedule and was taking advantage of it.
Still not convinced, I walked over to my editor and gave her the “Did you know” line. With no surprise in her voice, she reassured me it was true. At the same time, she struck a little fear in me when she said that’s why people are allowed to go through trash. Some do that to find information about people and steal their identity. I’m not sure if that’s exactly what she said but it’s darn close and is still unsettling.
If you don’t have a shredder in your household, you should consider getting one. If the economy goes completely into the drink, please ignore the guy in the Big Red Truck pilfering the cans from your recycle bin. Worry about the guy going through your trash.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or