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COLUMN: We all have regrets

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By David Giuliani

Often, I read stories in which someone reflects on his career or life and insists, “I have no regrets.”

Really?

Boy, some people must be perfect. Being an imperfect person, I have my share of regrets, especially after I read my stories in print.

Recently, I wrote a column using the word “jihad” in referring to a battle at City Hall. A local police officer, Clarence Romero, wrote a letter to the editor, rightly chastising me for the use of that word, noting that it creates negative connotations about Muslims.

I regret using that word.

In the political sphere, it’s considered a no-no to admit any regrets. That’s why it’s so refreshing when politicians acknowledge their own mistakes; it shows that they’re just like the rest of us — human.

A few months ago, Sen. Phil Griego, D-San Jose, went on a local radio station and told listeners that Plaza area merchants were a bunch of newcomers who wanted to turn Las Vegas into a Santa Fe or a Taos.

He said it; that’s a fact. And it angered some local merchants.

I wrote about his comments in my column, but Griego declined to answer my calls about it.

Last week, Griego went on the radio again — with leaders of Las Vegas’ new Independent Business Alliance, which represents Plaza merchants, among others. The seasoned politician extolled the virtues of local businesses. And then he referred to the earlier radio interview, saying that the print media (read: Optic) “misconstrued” his comments.

Now, mind you, he didn’t say my column was wrong. He just tried to portray himself as a poor, misunderstood politico.

The truth is that he probably got carried away on the previous program and realized later — after the community flak became apparent — that he shouldn’t have attacked local merchants.

But, as a politician, he couldn’t own up to his mistake. He had to find a convenient scapegoat. And what a better one than the media. We’re right down there with attorneys and time-share salesmen.

• • •

Another politician who knows how to spin well is Abelino Montoya, a member of the Luna Community College Board of Trustees.

The last board election was in March, and two new trustees were elected. The typical procedure is to select board officers right after the election. But the trustees waited until last week to make such decisions.

That’s because the board factions maneuvered behind the scenes for the chairmanship. Ambrose Castellano has held that position for five years, and Montoya has wanted to hold that post — or so goes the reports on campus. But he didn’t have the votes. And it’s apparent the two new guys, Frankie Tenorio and David Gutierrez, wanted to go with someone else. So the board unanimously elected Jerry Maestas, who belongs to Castellano’s faction, as the new chairman.

Even Montoya voted for Maestas. But he knew it was a foregone conclusion that Maestas was going to get the job. Indeed, the college already had a plaque made up honoring Castellano for his years of service as chairman. That tells me that these guys were working behind the scenes to arrange the transfer of leadership.

At the meeting, Montoya insisted that there were no factions.

“So the message I want you to hear is that we are very solid as a board, and the community needs to know that. No matter what is being said downtown at the coffee shop or wherever the gossipers and non-believers are talking, this is the time to say we are solid. We respect each other no matter what,” Montoya said.

I don’t go to coffee shops, but I think the buzz is correct: There are factions, and Montoya would like to be chairman. But the trustees prefer this political intrigue stay behind the scenes, not in public.

David Giuliani is managing editor of the Las Vegas Optic. He may be reached at 425-6796 or dgiuliani@lasvegasoptic.com.