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John L. Smith: Arrested LV Man A Sign Of National, Leaderless Movement

KTNV 13 Action News, via Associated Press

He was featured on local TV news three years ago, toting an AR-15 and walking his neighborhood with more than 100 rounds of ammunition.

He told the TV newsperson he was patrolling, doing it to keep his neighborhood safe.

Last week, the FBI arrested Conor Climo, now 23, for making threats to Jews and the LGBTQ community on an encrypted website. Court documents say bomb-making materials were found on his property.

John L. Smith, a long-time Las Vegas journalist and commentator for Nevada Public Radio, says Climo is one of what seems an underground of growing hatred in the country.

“There is something about this phenomenon that people, I think, need to be aware of," Smith said, "This is part of what the white supremacists consider their leaderless resistance.”

He said that it is not about one leader marching a group of Neo-Nazis through the street but about the hate. Smith said they communicate over the internet and through social media.

“When we talk about the community of hate, whether Nevada has more members in hate groups of some kind, I’m not so sure Nevada does but it is really not about Nevada. It’s a national movement. They egg each other on,” he said.

And that egging on is leading to threats of violence and actual violence, Smith said.

“These are American terrorists and people need to recognize that," he said.


In Nevada, the mining industry mined more than $7 billion of gold in 2017 but it is only taxed at 5 percent on its net proceeds. Smith said that is a lot less than other countries and states. 

Canada, for instance, taxes mining at 13 to 15 percent and Colorado is higher than 5 percent and taxes the gross amount. Plus, it has a business-related tax.

“It’s tiny compared to what others pay," he said.

Plus, he said while the industry is taxed at 5 percent it doesn't pay close to that because of writedowns and deductions.

“What it could be paying under the current tax and what does it pay are two very different things,” he said.

Both the gaming industry and the mining industry argue that raising taxes would 'kill the golden goose.' Smith is not really buying that argument when it comes to mining.

“This is an extractive industry once the gold is out of the ground and leaves the state it never comes back… once it’s out and gone – it’s gone,” he said, “In theory, if the taxes were so high and onerous it could drive companies out of business. The reality is that has never been the case.”

Getting the tax laws governing the mining industry changed is often a hard sell in Carson City, Smith said. The industry employees about 60,000 people, mostly in Northern Nevada. It has always had a big influence.

“When you talk about the need for public school financing and all of these things, at some point, you are going to come back around to, well if mining is going to continue to extract billions and haul it away... They are certainly able to pay more but who is going to force them to do it,” he said.

John L. Smith, commentator/contributor, Nevada Public Radio

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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.