As It Is: Don't mess with the councilman

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By David Giuliani

With the news of assaults suspect Michael Gallegos’ sentencing last week, I couldn’t help but think about his father, Michael Gallegos Sr., who served on the Las Vegas City Council for a decade.

The older man was seen by many as the council’s tough guy, along with sidekick Eugene Romero.

During his terms in office, city employees told me that Gallegos accused them of mad-dogging him. Apparently, Gallegos went to the city manager at the time with the complaint, but the manager declined to take any disciplinary action based on an alleged dirty look.

In 2005, Gallegos claimed a cop mad-dogged him. The officer, Martin Salazar, told Gallegos that he was parked on the wrong side of the street  — the incident being caught on the officer’s video camera. Gallegos was heard repeatedly asking Salazar, “What’s that all about?”

Gallegos went to the police chief’s office shortly afterward to complain. Then-Chief Tim Gallegos backed his officer. That didn’t make Councilman Gallegos too happy. He and Romero went public criticizing the chief’s performance.

The message to city employees: You don’t mess with Councilman Gallegos.

My relationship with Michael Gallegos ran hot and cold. Shortly after I took over the city beat in 2004, he complained during a council meeting that the Optic had written nothing about an investigation into the solid waste department. We wrote a story shortly after that.

In other words, he pushed for a story that would reflect negatively on City Hall. And that’s fine. We must report the good, bad and the ugly.

However, the next year, Michael Gallegos changed his tune. He took the newspaper to task for going negative on the city government. That was when he was under fire for his faceoff with the city cop and his opposition to a proposal to reduce the council’s size from eight to four. (Ninety percent of voters backed that reduction.)

Later, a group tried to recall Gallegos from office. A majority voted in favor of his ouster, but it wasn’t the super-majority required for a recall.

Gallegos helped make for a more colorful City Council.

• • •

I have nothing against former Las Vegas police Officer Shawn Montoya, but if you have visited the state courts’ website in recent times and inputted my name, you might think I do.

The other day, I was inputting various names into the site, which documents people’s troubles with the law and when they’ve been involved in lawsuits.

After a while, I inputted my own name. I saw that I got a ticket a decade ago for defective equipment on my car; I don’t remember what the problem was. I also saw that I was a party to an open-government lawsuit involving a number of media organizations in southern New Mexico. That’s when I worked for the Deming Headlight.

But a more recent item on the website got me interested. I was listed as a plaintiff in the case involving Shawn Montoya, who faced 29 felony counts of fraud, forgery and false insurance claims.

However, in felony cases, there is no plaintiff. The state prosecutes. And I could vouch I never got involved in the case.

I’m sure the mixup must have happened because I requested to see the documents in the case in 2009 at the Magistrate Court. Indeed, former Optic reporter Lee Einer was mistakenly listed on the site in association with another case, probably for the same reason.

By the way, Montoya was ultimately convicted on some of the counts. But I had nothing to do with that prosecution. All I did was write stories about his travails.

The case was the work of the district attorney.

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