New Reno restaurant offers a foie gras “Double Down”

Heritage restaurant photoIn the soul-decaying world of fast food specials, there hasn’t really been anything that both captured the combined excitement, curiosity and disgust of a nation quite like KFC’s Double Down “sandwich.”

The inspired creation that replaced bread with fried chicken inspired numerous parodies, gawkery and even a Colbert Show skit.

Now, four years after the fact and after “Double Down” has entered the popular lexicon, a new Reno restaurant is offering their version of the double down – but with foie gras instead.

Heritage – the fancy new eatery inside the recently rebranded Whitney Peak Hotel in downtown Reno – opened just a few months ago. It’s Chef Mark Estee’s latest expansion, after Campo Reno, chez louie in the Nevada Museum of Art and two Burger Me locations.

After a friend sent me the restaurant’s dinner menu, the foie gras double down caught my eye. After tweeting it out, the place’s twitter account confirmed that it was in fact real and on the menu.

A friend of mine who had called it “delicious.” I’ll hold judgement until I can try it for myself.

Nevada actually has an interesting history with foie gras – a ban on the food in California lead many Nevada restaurants to begin offering foie gras in an attempt to get hungry Californians over the border and into their eateries. One Reno casino even offered an “all-you-can-eat” foie gras buffet.

Q&A with ASUN Chief Justice Robert del Carlo on his impeachment decision, more

ASUN Chief Justice Robert del Carlo

The following is a list of emailed questions and answers between myself and ASUN Chief Justice, Robert del Carlo, regarding the impeachment process for embattled ASUN President Jake Pereira. I’ve edited for spacing and spelling, but left his answers almost … Continue reading

ASUN AG: Impeachment trial for student body prez must go on

ASUN President Jake Pereira

ASUN President Jake Pereira

According to an opinion filed today by Associated Students of the University of Nevada Attorney General Steven Kish, the scheduled impeachment hearing for President Jake Pereira on May 7 is legitimate and should not be delayed.

The opinion, written in response to Speaker Cadden Fabbi’s request for clarification on the legality of the judicial council’s actions, found that the council acted legally and that a delay in the impeachment proceedings would result in charges brought forth against Fabbi.

In the Judicial Council’s 3-2 decision, the body found that Pereira acted with “malfeasance” in intimidating Kish to delete an erroneously sent email regarding Pereira’s membership in UNR secret society Coffin & Keys. Pereira also lied to students during a presidential debate, saying that he was not affiliated with the group.

(For more information on the judicial council’s opinion, please see my previous post.)

Both Pereira and ASUN Vice President Alex Bybee released statements yesterday admitting their membership in Coffin & Keys.

“I was wrong in being untruthful during the debate and am making every possible effort to be as forthcoming and transparent in this current process moving forward,” Pereira said the statement.

During an interview on Tuesday, Bybee said he will retain support for Pereira due to his leadership, and that being a part of Coffin & Keys is only a part of their identity as leaders.

“Do I think Jake should have lied? No,” Bybee said. “But Jake has been honest since then.”

Bybee said he began the initiation process into Coffin & Keys during the semester, but was not fully aware of Pereira’s membership in the organization until after the election due to the group’s secretive nature.

Pereira and Bybee both stated that they will retain membership in Coffin & Keys. Both leaders denied commenting on the identity of other members in Coffin & Keys, as well as other details about the organization.

A large coffin-shaped sign erected at UNR alleging to name the members of Coffin & Keys was not from the group and not entirely accurate, Bybee said.

“The list that was published on the coffin today was speculative,” he said.

Since the Reno Gazette-Journal published a story on the impeachment process yesterday, more than 530 people have liked a Facebook page titled, “We Stand with Jake Pereira.” A Facebook post on the official Coffin & Keys page promised that the group’s members would continue working towards the betterment of the University of Nevada.

It is neither the comments we post, nor the articles we publish that make us who we are,” the post said. “Rather it is the actions of each of our members, known or not.”

For a collection of documents related to this story, please visit this link.

UNR Student Body prez lied to students, brought up for impeachment

(Note: The Reno Gazette-Journal has published a story on Pereira’s impeachment. It can be found here.)

Newly elected ASUN President Jake Pereira has been brought up for impeachment by the student judicial council stemming from his involvement in UNR secret society Coffin & Keys.

The student judicial board, in a 3-2 decision released on April 27, found that Pereira alongside fellow Coffin & Keys member Steve Bezick intimidated ASUN Attorney General Steven Kish (all of whom are members of Sigma Phi Epsilon) into deleting an accidently sent email regarding Coffin & Keys activity.

The council also found that Pereira lied to students about his membership in Coffin & Keys during an ASUN Presidential debate. (Remarks start at 18:00)

During the debate, Pereira stated, “Going back to those allegations of being in secret societies such as Coffin & Keys…I’d like to deny my membership in said organization as well as the fact that these organizations will dictate any part of the visions and goals of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada.”

Pereira said his answer was more focused on ensuring that his presidency would not be influenced by Coffin & Keys, and that he’s tried to act with transparency since being elected. He said that since taking the oath of office, he’s fully dedicated to fulfilling his role as ASUN President.

“I was a candidate then, I’m the president now,” he said.

Pereira said that he plans on releasing a statement shortly, and being addressing the situation during Wednesday’s Senate meeting. However, Pereira said he will retain membership in Coffin & Keys.

Pereira said he agreed with the two dissenting justices, who found Pereira’s actions in asking Kish to delete the email not serious enough to warrant impeachment. The dissenters, who filed different opinions, found that Kish’s initial charge sheet asked for the council to not levy judgement against either Coffin & Keys or Pereira’s involvement.

According to the decision, Pereira planned to appoint former Senator and current Coffin & Keys member Steve Bezick to the position of Chief of Staff. Bezick is still on the Senate agenda for confirmation to that position.

Additionally, a large coffin-shaped sign was erected on campus Tuesday, listing the names of alleged Coffin & Keys members. The alleged members include former ASUN President Ziad Rashdan, Pereira, current ASUN Vice President Alex Bybee and Speaker of the Senate Caden Fabbi. Among the alleged members is current ASUN justice Jake Pinocchio, who dissented in the council’s decision.

(Note: I previously had a picture of the sign itself up. After talking to several Coffin & Keys members, I’ve decided to take it down, as several of the names listed are not members of Coffin & Keys. I will be reaching out to everyone on the list to ask whether or not they’re members in the next few days.)

Pereira said the sign was not entirely accurate, and he was not in the position to confirm or deny any names listed. He said that he didn’t know who put the sign up.

ASUN’s judicial council criticized Pereira for falsely campaigning, noting that it was setting a precedent in not allowing “this type of behavior” to jeopardize the integrity of ASUN. In the decisions, the justices clarified that it was not Pereira’s membership in Coffin & Keys that lead to their decision, but the fact that he lied to students about his association, as well as intimidating Kish into deleting the email.

Coffin & Keys is a male-only secret society that occasionally publishes obscene, humorous newsletters often commenting on campus politics and life (An excellent history can be found here). Pereira said that he has never written anything in the Coffin & Keys newsletters.

The council ordered the ASUN Senate to stay Pereira’s executive board appointments, as Bezick is one of the nominees, and instructed the senate to hold an impeachment hearing on May 7. The judicial council also provided instructions for ASUN to purchase advertising space in the Nevada Sagebrush relating the council’s decision.

As of April 29, the Sagebrush has not posted any story on Pereira’s impeachment. A Sagebrush writer confirmed that a story on the impeachment will be published in next Tuesday’s issue.

A copy of the decision has been posted below.

ASUN Judicial Opinion Assenting Impeachment

Fearing crossfire from state/federal conflicts, Nevada cities kick MMJ discussions down the road

Photo Courtesy Torben Hansen via Flickr

Photo Courtesy Torben Hansen via Flickr

Following in the footsteps of Las Vegas, the Reno City Council decided last week to delay any vote or conversation on implementing medical marijuana until next year.

Though the Las Vegas City Council ultimately took a harsher route in placing a six-month moratorium on any type of medical marijuana business (Reno only voted to reconvene six months down the road), the two largest counties in Nevada have decided to wait until early 2014 to set local ordinances governing the legal buying and selling of medical marijuana.

At this point, I think (we need) a wait and see approach,” Reno City Councilwoman Neoma Jardon told RGJ reporter Emerson Marcus.

News of the delays, especially in Las Vegas, attracted some criticism from medical marijuana activists, but essentially puts both cities on the same path as the state towards an April 1, 2014 deadline to figure out any additional medical marijuana guidelines, as set forth in a bill passed last legislative session.

A disagreement over the delay is why Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus voted against the Council’s decision to reconvene. Brekhus, who was the only ‘no’ vote, said she was wary of any sort of vote to limit medical marijuana due to the “muddled grounds” between federal, state and local laws.

While Brekhus said she personally sees the merits of medical marijuana, she would rather wait and see how state regulators shape medical marijuana policy, rather than forge ahead and deal with the consequences of being caught between state and federal laws.

“I think it’s really getting into a muddled area between federal and state authorities and cities are caught in the middle,” she said.

Introducing: A blog about medical marijuana in Nevada

It’s a great time to be a stoner.


All throughout the United States, individual states are for the most part moving to decriminalize and lessen punishments associated with the use and purchase of both medical and recreational marijuana. From Washington and Colorado legalizing pot in late 2012 to Attorney General Eric Holder’s call for sweeping changes to the nation’s drug sentencing laws, it’s quite clear that acceptance of marijuana is becoming more and more widespread.


And the state of Nevada is by no means left out of this issue; in fact, Nevadans fighting over marijuana has been in the headlines for more than a decade. In 2000, residents of the state voted to legalize medical marijuana, and then two years later shot down a proposal to legalize recreational use of marijuana by almost two-thirds of voters.


And in the last state legislative session, a bill was passed to create a regulatory structure for medical marijuana dispensaries, as the state’s approximately 4,000 medical marijuana card holders have had no legal way to buy marijuana since 2000. Senate Bill 374, a bipartisan piece of legislation based mostly on Arizona’s medical marijuana system, set a deadline of early 2014 for the first medical marijuana dispensaries to be opened.


But it’s the journey to that system that’s extremely interesting. The intersecting conflicts and fights over how medicinal marijuana will be regulated involves everyone from marijuana advocates, zoning boards, U.S. Senators and local law enforcement. And the bill’s provision to allow local governments to make many of the zoning and regulatory decisions themselves means that local elected officials, like the Reno City Council, face the question of whether or not it’s even worth following the bill especially as marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Several rural counties are already pushing in that direction.


Needless to say, there’s a ton of questions sure to arise in the coming months as state regulators get a better handle on what type of medical marijuana system to implement. Some will be practical – how will the dispensaries be zoned, who will have access to them, how much will medicinal marijuana cost?


But I’d also like to get at the underlying issues for medical marijuana implementation: Who exactly holds medical marijuana cards, and what do those demographics in general look like? What kind of an impact would easing access to marijuana have on law enforcement in Reno? A state-wide proposition to legalize marijuana was defeated in 2002 – why have things changed in such a short amount of time? Who has the cash to pay the significant sums required by the state to start medical marijuana facilities? Will elected officials on Reno City Council even vote to authorize medical marijuana within city limits?


Over the next nine weeks and beyond, I hope to tackle and get a better sense on what a medical marijuana system will look like in Nevada’s future. But the story won’t stop there – there’s a significant undercurrent afoot that holds that once regulations for medical marijuana are in place, expanding to recreational marijuana won’t be nearly as difficult. State Senator Tick Segerblom told me as much over summer.


So for the next nine weeks, I’ll be posting mainly about medical marijuana. I’m calling it (for now) “The Silver Bake,” or at least until I can think of a catchier title. All of the posts will appear on this blog, and archived on a separate page.

On a personal level, I don’t really have a dog in this fight- I don’t smoke marijuana and don’t plan too, regardless of whatever kind of legalization may pass over the coming decades. I’m welcome to all kinds of criticism and comments, and please don’t hesitate to comment or contact me if you have questions or ideas of what you’d like to see covered. You can contact me here.

UNR Fraternity/Sorority GPAs released

UNR’s Greek Life program released the average Spring 2013 GPA for each fraternity and sorority on campus today, and the results are interesting:

  • Best: Delta Delta Delta had an average GPA of 3.203, which is pretty crazy considering they have more than 100 members. Overall, Panhellenic sororities averaged a 3.1 GPA, which is higher than the average for all women at a 2.99 GPA.
  • Worst: Kappa Alpha Psi, which counts 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick as a recent alum, averaged a 2.12 GPA for the Spring semester. Overall, the Kappas had the lowest GPA out of any Greek organization on the UNR campus.

For more numbers/breakdowns, check out the pdf file below:

Spring 2013 Summary Final

Could a Texas legislature-style filibuster happen in Nevada?

Wendy Davis

Wendy Davis

Update: Sean McDonald, who runs the Amicus Nevada law blog, has a new post up regarding the material in this blog post. He disagrees with Byerman and says that Senate Rules 80 and 81 do not provide a mechanism to cut off a filibuster. It’s worth a read.

In the words of Nevada Senate Secretary David Byerman, the short answer is no.

In case you’re not following the whole thing on Twitter, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) has launched into an hours-long filibuster of a bill that would restrict the ability of women to get abortions, according to the Texas Tribune. (You can view the floor proceedings here).

So what if one of the state senators from Nevada tried filibustering? According to Byerman, such could not happen due to a process in the Senate Rule 80 and 81. See below:

1. Every Senator who speaks shall, standing in his place, address “Mr. or Madam
President,” in a courteous manner, and shall confine himself to the question before the Senate.
When he has finished, he shall sit down.
2. No Senator may speak:
(a) More than twice during the consideration of any one question on the same day, except for
explanation.
(b) A second time without leave when others who have not spoken desire the floor.
3. Incidental and subsidiary questions arising during debate shall not be considered the same
question.

The previous question shall not be put unless demanded by three Senators, and it shall be in this
form: “Shall the main question be put?” When sustained by a majority of Senators present it shall
put an end to all debate and bring the Senate to a vote on the question or questions before it, and all
incidental questions arising after the motion was made shall be decided without debate. A person
who is speaking on a question shall not while he or she has the floor move to put that question.

Essentially, Nevada senators can’t filibuster because it’s quite easy to end debate on the senate floor – if someone was to attempt to filibuster, one would only need three senators to call the previous question, interrupting the speaking senator and forcing them to wait until every other waiting senator talk. There are no standard rules for cloture or similar rules that are used by the U.S. Senate or the Texas Senate.

“If someone were to stand and start talking and talking and talking, someone could call the previous question,” Byerman said.

The Nevada Assembly has essentially the same rules, but gives the author of the bill/resolution/move the power to close debate.

I’m not a legal expert by any means, but that’s how I understand it. Byerman said that as far as he knows, no Nevada Senator or Assemblyman has ever attempted to filibuster during the legislative session. Wendy Davis may be getting a ton of media attention, but any Nevada state officials looking to follow in her footsteps would probably get shot down.

Wendy Davis

Wendy Davis

Joe Heck is still paying off student loans

Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV 3rd District) and I have something in common; we’re both dealing with student loan debt from higher education. In a Las Vegas Review-Journal story Sunday, fiscal disclosure forms show Heck, 52, is still dealing with debt from becoming an osteopath.

Heck, a Republican in his second term, and his wife, who is a nurse, hold bank accounts of between $15,000 and $50,000, and annuities and retirement accounts containing between $199,000 and $561,000.

Heck, 52, reported he still is paying off between $50,000 and $100,000 in student loans from his education to become an osteopath. The family last year began participating in a college savings plan for their teenage son.

Heck and his wife hold a mortgage of between $250,000 and $500,000 on their home in Henderson.

This actually isn’t the biggest surprise - Heck mentioned it in a video released last week laying out his positions on student loan debt.

Say what you will about Heck’s beliefs on student loans, but it’s nice to see a Congressman actually having to deal with paying them off.

ASUN planning to strip funding from UNR publications

ASUN President Ziad Rashdan

ASUN President Ziad Rashdan

Funding for several ASUN-sponsored publications, including Insight Magazine, Wolf Pack Radio and literary arts journal Brushfire  could be fiscally gutted or otherwise unfunded if the student government’s proposed budget is approved.

Though ASUN’s income is projected at about $70,000 more than last year, President Ziad Rashdan’s proposed budget would eliminate all funding for Brushfire, which was allocated about $25,000 last year. Wolf Pack Radio’s funding would drop from about $30,000 to $16,550, and Insight Magazine would see their budget drop from $33,450 to $22,175. In total, publication funding would drop from about 4 percent of ASUN’s budget to 1.8 percent if the proposal is approved.

Brushfire has taken to Facebook to protest the cuts and to ask contributors to write messages of support on its wall, while both Insight and Wolf Pack Radio have made no public comments since the budget was first released last week. ASUN has made no public statement about the proposed cuts at this time. Though not on the May 1 agenda for the ASUN Senate, the budget is usually approved before the end of the academic year.

You can check out this year’s proposed budget by clicking here.

UPDATE: Evynn Tyler, Editor of Insight Magazine, has created a petition to stop the cuts to the publications. As of April 29, it has more than 75 signees.

UPDATE 2: Tyler’s petition has received more than 250 signatures, including some from UNR professors and student media leaders in the Nevada Sagebrush. Reynolds School of Journalism Senator Myles Button posted on his facebook page that he would vote against the cuts, saying, “I will oppose these cuts because I know my constituents oppose them.”

I ran into President Rashdan at an event earlier this week, and he acknowledged my request for comment and said he’d get back to me with a statement.

The ASUN Committee on Budget and Finance will meet on Friday to put together a bill approving the budget. Meeting details can be found here.