Friday, January 23, 2009

Some reflection on Inauguration Day

Now that Nevadans are returning from four days of Inauguration festivities in Washington, D.C., I have put together some Inauguration thoughts...

First let's correct the record all over the blogosphere. President Obama didn't mess up the oath. It was Chief Justice Roberts' mistake by first pausing then misquoting the oath, causing Obama confusion. Just in case, they did a do-over in the Oval Office. I'm sure folks will spin and debate this faux pas for years to come, depending on their particular polarization.

There also seems to be a great deal of spin on the cost of Obama's inaugural festivities by comparing the expense to President George W. Bush's second inaugural. Yes, my friends his second, not his first.

Keep in mind this is a very extraordinary inauguration and, more importantly, a historic event with the election of the first African American president. Therefore, I think the pundits should compare apples to apples, not otherwise.

I recall as a young boy in 1974, my dad had been re-elected to his second term as Nevada's 23rd Governor, and he decided, in light of the economic crisis at that time, that it wouldn't be prudent to have another Inaugural Ball. His comment at the time was a breezy, "We already had one." This inauguration, on the other hand, was Obama's first, and he deserved a ball.

The most captivating moment for me was the invocation by Pastor Rick Warren, of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and the author of one of my favorites books "The Purpose Driven Life."

One of the most striking lines in his prayer was, "We celebrate a hingepoint of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the United States. We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership."

Warren followed those lines with this reference to the Bible that still echoes in my head: "And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven," to which in my mind the voice of Dr. King answered, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

At that point, I was at the proverbial mountaintop. But I did not stay there long. Soon I began asking myself, are we really free? Sure we're free in this country to move about as we please, yet I can't help think about how so many people and families are chained to this economic crisis in one form or another.

Are we really free when religious zealots want to impose their beliefs on us, against our will in some cases and with the threat of harm or death? These zealots come from every imaginable faith, not just one or two. There are extremes in every faith.

A disappointment came in the benediction by the Rev. Joseph Lowery, a personal hero of mine from the civil rights movement. Although, he may have intended to poke fun at racial stereotypes, he offended many with this line from his closing prayer: "And in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead man, and when white will embrace what is right."

This was really an unfortunate statement implying that whites haven't embraced other races and cultures. His statement reminded me of the old saying, "the pot calling the kettle black." As offensive as that might sound, Lowery clearly displayed the chip on his shoulder by implying things haven't changed or perhaps not enough. I would disagree with that line of thinking, because things have changed a lot — not perfectly, but you must admit things are getting better in this not-so-perfect multicultural country.

Rev. Lowery may have slightly bruised this historic day, which is the fruit from trees grown from the seeds planted not only by Dr. King and Rosa Parks, but also the very seeds Lowery planted himself in Mobile, Montgomery and Atlanta.

Now let's give our new president a chance to work on this country's difficult challenges.

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reality checks for a new year

This first published January 15, 2009 in the Henderson Home News, a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.

Most things in life tend to be cyclical. A good example is the price of a gallon of gas. I’ve always had my own theory about the price of gas and why it goes up and down at certain times of the year.

One theory is that gas gets cheaper in the fall, around the end of October, because this is when the holiday season begins. If gas prices are high, shoppers tend to be tighter, and if this remains true on Black Friday, then gas prices begin to fall even more.

Then miraculously, the prices begin to rise the first week of January, continuing through March. Then in June, the summer march to the top of the price tolerance begins. This past year was a perfect example of that theory, but remember it’s only a theory with no scientific basis to stand on.

The increase in news reports about the rise in gas prices prompted me to reflect on the past year, so I scoured through all my columns and blog entries for a reality check. These columns are available at

Here is what I pulled from the recent past.

April 3, 2008

I wrote:

“For the past six months, I’ve been driving a hybrid that averages 46 miles per gallon and costs about $26 to $30 to fill up. Occasionally, I drive the Big Red Truck for short trips to the hardware and lumber store or to run a quick errand.”

Reality check

I filled it up this past Monday for just over $16 and was happy as can be about it.

I wrote:

“I pulled into the gas station, stuck the nozzle in the receptacle and walked away to give a little TLC to my abused truck by cleaning the windows and wiping down the interior from an accumulation of dust and yellow pollen. After a few moments, I heard the ka-chunk of the nozzle shutting off, giving me the cue to finish up. A quick glance at the pump stopped me in my tracks. I blurted out an, ‘Oh my gosh,’ or something like that, staring at the $93.81 displayed on the pump. I was caught in a sort of ‘Pump Paralysis’ — downright denial or disbelief.”

Reality check

For the most part I have continued to drive the Prius. However, I have driven the Big Red Truck a bit more with the drop in gas prices, but I’m reminded by my bride that it is more cost effective to take the Prius.

I wrote:

“I have to wonder how long will it take before the rising cost of everyday products due to fuel costs overtakes the value of the dividend check and will finally sink in? Profiting from stock investments is not a crime — it is capitalism at its best.”

Reality check

Respectively, it didn’t take long for more folks to complain about the price of groceries. However, did you notice the price of groceries going down with the price of fuel? Uh! I didn’t either.

May 29, 2008

I wrote:

“For years, we have enjoyed less expensive gasoline in our northwest Arizona getaway, primarily because there are fewer local taxes added on than in Clark County, which has plenty.

This was true until this past Memorial Day weekend, when the gouging began. The week before, I had checked our only local gasoline retailer in Arizona, and the price was $3.67 per gallon. Imagine my shock over the weekend when I went to fill two 5-gallon gas containers and the price had jumped to $4.19 per gallon. Heck, that’s 10 cents more than the notoriously high-priced Chevron station across from the Hacienda Hotel between Boulder City and the Hoover Dam.”

Reality check

I still avoid purchasing gas at my local Arizona station, even though I think someone came to their senses and lowered the price. However, I still purchase a few staples there.

Also, the price of gas at the Chevron across from the Hacienda actually fell into line for a while, when prices bottomed out but is now moving up above pace.

Nov. 6, 2008

I wrote:

“Now that the election is over, we can turn our attention back to daily life and economics. One of the most interesting items to speak of is the price of gas. This fall marks the sharpest decrease in prices at the pump in four years.

“According to, in December 2004 the average price of regular grade gas in the Las Vegas area was $1.81 per gallon. During the next 3 1/2 years, until June of this year, prices bounced up and down to an all-time high average $4.26 per gallon.

“Since then, the price has dropped an amazing $1.71 to its lowest average since March 2007 at $2.55 and is still dropping.

“I’m no expert, but I would bet the price of gas will start an upward trend sooner rather than later, even if we continue to reduce our consumption in the U.S.”

“Personally, I will continue to reduce consumption whenever possible by planning local errands, fewer trips out of town, carpooling and driving the hybrid whenever possible.”

Reality check

The price of gas has started its trend upward, how high no one knows. Consumption increased with lower prices, but I think the overall economy is keeping us from over indulging.

On the home front, as I mentioned before, we are still keeping our household consumption down and using the savings to offset rising costs of everyday life.

Prescient posting

Coincidentally, while going through last year’s columns, I rediscovered a posting from my blog that may very well explain how Barack Obama was elected. Not exactly, of course, but it could have been a symbolic tossing of the tea leaves when it was sent me by a reader named Pete.


I read your article in today’s paper. I suffer from the same problem you have, filling up my Lincoln Navigator and my Sea Ray boat. We differ in the reason for why we are so “dumbfounded.”

I believe it is large part due to oil speculators and greed for profits. I watched yesterday’s hearings on oil and why the oil company’s profits are so high. Naturally, they insisted that they needed the huge profits and basically offered no solution for lowering gas prices. I watched, hoping a senator would ask questions about the price of gas and relate it to prices in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and three years ago. No one did, and no one asked why gas outstripped the rate of inflation.

The price of oil is high not because I drive my Lincoln Navigator 100 miles in a month or use my boat two to three times a year. It’s due to lousy speculators that the government doesn’t want to control. You can suggest that I change my habits, but the result will be immeasurable as far as lowering the cost of oil.

Find the right person or business to point the finger at, but blaming the individual misses the mark.

I joke with friends that the presidential candidate who promises $1.99-a-gallon gas will get my vote. As a staunch Republican, voting for a Democrat would be very difficult, but give me gas back at $1.99, and they have my vote.

Thanks for listening,


I don’t think we can credit lower gas prices for getting Obama elected, but doesn’t it raise an eyebrow when you consider the timing?

Conspiracy theories aside, perhaps, in reality, it’s just another cycle in the economy.

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

Friday, January 9, 2009

Clark County District Attorney commissions centennial seal

The Clark County District Attorney’s office will marks it 100th anniversary on July 3.

According to Assistant District Attorney Christopher J. Lalli, the District Attorney’s office commissioned a special centennial seal to commemorate the founding of the office in 1909.

The silver and blue seal with a banner that reads “A Century of Service” features the Roman Goddess of Justice, symbolizing the office’s primary function as a prosecution office. The will seal will begin to appear on memorandums, letterhead and used in place of the district attorney’s badge where appropriate for the year.

According to Lalli, David Roger is the 22nd district attorney to serve Clark County. In 1909, W.R. Thomas was the first appointed district attorney. O.J. Van Pell became the first elected district attorney on Jan. 1, 1910.

The longest-serving district attorney was Harley Harmon, elected to four terms in the 1920s and ’30s. It was during Harmon’s terms that the elected term of the district attorney changed from two years to four years.

Another interesting Clark County district attorney was George Holt, who after one term in the office decided to run for Clark County sheriff and lost in the primary in 1978. Holt felt the newly consolidated Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department needed change. Holt was succeeded by Bob Miller, who went on to be elected lieutenant governor in 1986 and to succeed Gov. Richard H. Bryan in 1989 when Bryan resigned to become a U.S. Senator.

The Foleys, a prominent law family of Las Vegas, produced the greatest number of district attorneys in Clark County, starting with Roger T. Foley and followed by sons Roger D. Foley and George Foley.