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John L. Smith: Drinking, Driving And Death All Too Common In Las Vegas

Alejandro Rivera/Getty Images

A man died waiting for the bus Sunday morning after a car plowed into him.

Police suspect the driver was under the influence. 

And it wasn't the first time it's happened in Las Vegas.

John L. Smith, who had his own brush with police for driving under the influence, said the case this past weekend reminded him of one 20 years ago when a cocktail waitress, who had been drinking, fell asleep while driving home from work. She ended up crashing into a bus stop, killing two people.

Her blood alcohol level wasn't the biggest problem it was that she fell asleep.

“It brought the public’s focused attention to one of drunk driving, which is, of course, something that is part of the community and every community, but also whether we were doing enough to protect folks who were on sidewalks,” he said.

Since that incident and several others, local governments have worked to improve the safety of bus stops but Smith says the bus stops can't be bunkers. 

He also talked about his own mistake in driving under the influence.

“I once had a DUI and I know what you go through when you get a DUI. It is one of the life lessons that some people, unfortunately, end up learning. It was painful for me to go through the process,” he said.

Smith also had some thoughts on politics and the race for Congressional District 3 between Danny Tarkanian and Susie Lee.

“Well, generally speaking, the GOP sugar daddy of all sugar daddies is the Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson and he’s vowed to spend I think at last count some $30 million to support these races to keep Congress in Republican control,” he said.

Smith said that Tarkanian will benefit from the money but Lee will benefit from the information that Tarkanian is getting money from Adelson and outside groups.

And Tarkanian, who has supported President Donald Trump from the beginning, could benefit or be hurt by his loyalty to the president. Smith said. Smith said Tarkanian has "essentially lashed himself to the white whale" and if it goes down - he'll go down with him. But if it's a success, he's a success.

That congressional race is just one of dozens around the West that big money is going into, Smith said. 

Democrats want to take back at least one of the houses of Congress.

“The Republicans, of course, know that there is no successful President Donald Trump without control of that Congress because the Democrats have made it pretty clear they’re going to make it rough on him if they get back in power,” he said.

In local politics, Smith also said there's a way former Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Barlow can regain his good name. It's been done before in Las Vegas with politicians nabbed by law enforcement.

Smith pointed to the case of Woodrow Wilson, the second black man to serve as a Clark County Commissioner and the first African American to serve in the Legislature. He was caught up in an FBI undercover sting in 1984. 

Wilson came back from that to become a prominent member of the community and worked to improve his community. 

“This is where Barlow, if he’s being sincere, can really do a lot of things," Smith said.

Smith said Barlow's character will be proved out in the future if he decides to be a leader in his community in or out of office.


John L. Smith, longtime Nevada reporter/regular contributor to State of Nevada

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.