Health Insurance Canceled Due to ACA, Again – October 14, 2014

I have been reluctant to publicly join the health care debate.  I have gotten to the point that I feel I must speak about what the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has done to my family.

I am a freelance writer.  I have purchased private health insurance since 2007.  I was opposed to Obamacare but tried to give it some benefit of the doubt.

“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan”

There are at least 37 documented times that Barrack Obama and his cabinet said “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” or similar.  That was fine with me.  My family carried a great policy with a high deductible.  We got doctor visits and cheap prescriptions.  Our deductible was capped if we had a major bill.

In 2013, my family received a cancellation notice from our insurance company.  The notice stated that the policy did not conform to ACA standards so it must be discontinued under federal law.  This ran contrary to the previous promises made.

Our insurance company gave us one out. We could extend one year knowing that our rates would go up about 15% and we would have to pay the Obamacare fine for not carrying proper coverage.  We decided we would not renew the policy.

Nevada created a health insurance exchange but it never worked properly.  The state blew $72 million on it before abandoning it.  We could have given health insurance free for a year to about 10,000 families for that amount.  It is now the target of numerous lawsuits.

I tried to get insurance through the exchange but it never worked properly.  The questionnaire asked only one question per page that would have to be confirmed two additional times.  Once the site timed out all of this information would be lost and I would have to start over.

After wasting hours trying to get the site to work I was finally able to get quotes.  Premiums were more than double what we paid for deductibles that were not much different than the ones we already carried.  We were forced to carry coverage for ridiculous items we do not need and would never use that contributed to this increase.  Being forced to leave the insured group’s loyalty discount also contributed to the difference.  My wife and I decided that our family would go without health insurance.

Obama admitted that he lied about the insured being able to keep their policies in November 2013. He offered a chance for existing insured to keep their coverage for another year and not pay the fines.  We reconsidered our carrier’s offer and renewed it for one year.

It is hard to think that anyone would have voted for this law had known the insured would become uninsured.  Those that were misled should have a second chance to vote.

Nevada Health Exchange Sold Us Policy We Never Created

Fast forward to March 2014.  We started receiving insurance information from Nevada’s child health care program known as Nevada Checkup.  The notices stated that if our children were already insured then we could not use the cards. Since our kids were insured these cards were of no use to us.

The next month we received more information from Nevada Checkup. I decided to contact them to see why this was happening.  Their voicemail system is nearly always full when I call so there is no way to leave a message most times.

I did get through one time to the voicemail and left a message.  I got a call back.  The woman asked me to return her call in a message.  She did not leave her number and she called from a private number so it was blocked from called ID.

I decided not to waste any more time with this until the end of May when I started receiving bills for this insurance we never signed up for and never used.  I again tried to contact Nevada Checkup, but to no avail due to the voicemail being full.

I received a packet of information from two insurance companies that appeared to be vying for my business related to this state program.  I called both.  Neither could find me in their system with the account number, names, date of births and Social Security Numbers of my family.

I also called Medicaid, which had a number listed in this mountain of documentation.  The woman I encountered at Medicaid was extremely helpful but she also could not locate my family in the system.  I again unsuccessfully tried to contact Nevada Checkup.

I am not paying the premiums since I never signed up for this policy.  I am concerned that my credit could be damaged or someone collection company try to sue me for nonpayment.  I have also spent a good 20 hours on this entire nightmare, taking time away from my business and family.

Policy Canceled in 2014

I received a notice today, October 14, that our policy would be canceled and there would be no reconsideration this time.  We will now have to go without health insurance due to the law that was allegedly written to get people insured.  Now that we are getting older we will not have insurance because we can no longer afford all of the crap that is forced into policies. This obviously would not happen if we were able to keep the existing policy, as promised.

The feds have now extended non-ACA policies through 2017.  This is up to state insurance commissioners.  To the best of my knowledge, Nevada is not allowing any of these policies to remain active so this change of policy appears to be of no help to us.

The federal government clearly sees the damage caused to families like mine since it kicked the can down the road several years.  It is baffling that policy cannot be enacted into law to put this issue to rest once and for all.

I understand that the health insurance situation in the U.S. was not ideal and that was the entire reason behind the new law.  The thought behind Obamacare was in the right place.  Ramming through legislation nobody bothered to read was not the answer.

It is even more insulting that while I can no longer afford health insurance for my family after December 2014, I will be forced to pay fines that will subsidize other people.  There are ways around that, but the fact the law creates this scenario is unethical.

What About Subsidies?

One of the big selling points of Obamacare is that those making under a certain amount would receive federal subsidies for insurance. That is not really the case when you are self employed. When I tried to buy insurance from the Nevada exchange I was forced to submit a W-2.  I am self employed and file a Schedule C. Since I could not supply this information, I could not get subsidies.

I was instructed that my subsidies would appear on my tax return in the form of a tax credit. Since I am self employed, I have no idea what I will make in 2014.  I am basically being told that I am forced to buy a product that has no predefined price.  In that case, one must assume the highest price advertised is the actual price.

Senator Reid Refuses to Act

It is time for Congress to go back and revisit this.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused to discuss Obamacare on the Senate floor even though he has received more than 50 bills related to it that already passed the House.  Forget little people like me.  The Las Vegas casino unions were threatening to strike over Obamacare and he did nothing.  It is hard to imagine that he acts in Nevada’s best interests.

Insurance Was Always the Problem

It is hard to argue that giving power to insurance companies was the solution.  They are part of the problem.  Many insurance policies do not pay anything, they simply create a discount off what the patient pays.  The solution was to fix this problem so that the working class could pay a reasonable amount in cash for health care visits.  All this does is encourage people to needlessly visit doctors.  It also discourages the next generation from entering the medical field.

I’m Not a Conservative

Some people that read this will probably automatically dismiss this as another angry republican.  I am a moderate by all accounts, probably even libertarian on some issues. I am certainly not a conservative.  I would probably be considered “Nevada Republican” since the party here voted to dump moral issues from its agenda but I do not identify with most republicans as they lose me when they start to force their moral policies into law.

On the other hand, I am baffled that the same party that feels big government should stay out of bedrooms, marriage and abortion feels that forcing Obamacare onto people is somehow different. The school lunch program nutrition debacle is another situation where no logic was applied. There are several other education policies that baffle me, as if federal lawmakers have any idea what policy is best for local public schools.

My point is simply that this health care law that was forced down our throats has millions of people like me in a bad situation. Most of the affected people are self employed or small business owners.  There are going to be a lot more contractors in the workplace as employers opt to cut hours and positions to avoid paying their share of Obamacare.

It was certainly not ever anyone’s intention to force families that were already insured into the situation I am in.  Unfortunately, it appears that the people responsible for ramming this poorly worded law through Congress refuse to admit their mistakes and fix them.  Those people will be looked at as one of the reasons for our epic health care collapse down the road if we cannot convince them to change their ways or vote them out of office, replacing them with those willing to pass a legitimate health care law.

Thank you for reading my rant.

New and Improved Nevada Anti-SLAPP Law Now in Effect

First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza and Governor Sandoval celebrate the signing of Nevada’s new anti-SLAPP law. Credit: Randazza Legal Group

First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza championed a groundbreaking law in Nevada that went into effect on October 1, 2013.  Journalists, bloggers, and anyone that believes in the U.S. Constitution should rejoice.  Any Nevadan that publishes a truthful article based on any topic of public interest is now immune from frivolous and vexatious lawsuits due to Nevada’s new anti-SLAPP law.  If a lawsuit is ruled by a judge to be a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) it is immediately tossed without ever going to trial, according to numerous articles published on the topic, including one from the Randazza Legal Group.

Marc Randazza published an article about his legal group’s road to victory in the Nevada Legislature. Others followed his lead to celebrate the news (examples are here and here).

The previous version of Nevada’s anti-SLAPP law may have only applied to political speech and the right to petition.  This meant that someone that successfully defended protected First Amendment speech might have to go through the hardship of a trial before being able to recover attorney’s fees and costs.  That has now changed since the scope of Nevada’s anti-SLAPP was expanded to include anything pertaining to “free speech in direct connection with an issue of public concern”, according to the points made in the above linked articles and other legal advice.

The new law now includes this language:

A person who engages in a good faith communication in furtherance of the right to petition or the right to free speech in direct connection with an issue of public concern is immune from any civil action for claims based upon communication.

Speech related to the gaming industry should fall under a topic of public interest due to NRS 463.0129, which begins:

NRS 463.0129  Public policy of state concerning gaming; license or approval revocable privilege.

1.  The Legislature hereby finds, and declares to be the public policy of this state, that:

(a) The gaming industry is vitally important to the economy of the State and the general welfare of the inhabitants.

(b) The continued growth and success of gaming is dependent upon public confidence and trust that licensed gaming and the manufacture, sale and distribution of gaming devices and associated equipment are conducted honestly and competitively, that establishments which hold restricted and nonrestricted licenses where gaming is conducted and where gambling devices are operated do not unduly impact the quality of life enjoyed by residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, that the rights of the creditors of licensees are protected and that gaming is free from criminal and corruptive elements.

(c) Public confidence and trust can only be maintained by strict regulation of all persons, locations, practices, associations and activities related to the operation of licensed gaming establishments, the manufacture, sale or distribution of gaming devices and associated equipment and the operation of inter-casino linked systems.

(d) All establishments where gaming is conducted and where gaming devices are operated, and manufacturers, sellers and distributors of certain gaming devices and equipment, and operators of inter-casino linked systems must therefore be licensed, controlled and assisted to protect the public health, safety, morals, good order and general welfare of the inhabitants of the State, to foster the stability and success of gaming and to preserve the competitive economy and policies of free competition of the State of Nevada.

 

The immunity described in the new anti-SLAPP law means that if a judge determines that a defamation lawsuit is unlikely to prevail due to it being protected free speech, it immediately gets tossed.  There is no trial.  The entire process is over and the aggressor will pay the accused all attorney’s fees and costs related to the case.

The anti-SLAPP statute does not stop at just immunity and attorney’s fees.  Defendants that prove that they were a victim of a SLAPP suit can be awarded up to $10,000 in damages immediately, in addition to reasonable attorney’s fees.

The court may award, in addition to reasonable costs and attorney’s fees awarded awarded to paragraph (a), an amount up to $10,000 to the person whom the action was brought.

Government attorneys can get involved too.

The Attorney General or the chief legal officer may or attorney of a political subdivision of this State may defend or otherwise support the person whom this action is brought.

They may not choose to do so, but if they do:

The court shall award reasonable costs and attorney’s fees to the person whom the action was brought, except that the court shall award reasonable costs and attorney’s fees to this State or to the appropriate political subdivision of this State if the  Attorney General, the chief legal officer or attorney of the political subdivision or special counsel provided the defense for the person pursuant to  NRS 41.660

Once a SLAPP is dismissed:

The person against whom the action is brought may bring a separate action to recover:

– Compensatory damages
– Punitive damages; and
– Attorney’s fees and costs of bringing the separate action

The law exists to discourage frivolous lawsuits and I cannot put into words how important this is.

It appears to apply to some federal cases.  Nevada’s anti-SLAPP law was applied in a New York Federal Court ruling earlier this week.  That case involved a Nevada party.

It is not that I want someone to be punished with these damages, I want these lawsuits to cease to exist.  Everyone deserves First Amendment protection without fear. I hope the potential damages and costs associated with lawsuits attempting to silence critics discourages this type of action forever.

Every person and company makes mistakes.  A simple apology goes a long way and countless companies have come out looking great by taking the proper route when their issues are made public.  In my opinion, this is what sets a great company apart from its competitors.  A company that chooses to threaten its critics will not go far.  I feel this is especially true in my industry where transparency is imperative.

The current US interactive gaming environment requires the licensing of all officers and companies.  This includes affiliates.  Groups that have operated unethically in the unregulated industry may have issues getting licensed.  Any company that manages to sneak in the back door could suffer a massive backlash.   We already saw this with iovation.

Nevada is a great state that believes in the First Amendment and all freedom associated with the US Constitution.  I am proud to be a resident.

Not a Lawyer Disclaimer

I am not a lawyer and this should not be taken as legal advice.  It is simply a celebration of free speech.  This article is based on other articles and discussions with an attorney about the law.  Always get legal advice from qualified legal experts.

Why did I write this? (Updated)

A month or so before the Anti-SLAPP went into effect, I busted a company known as 180Vita of publishing plagiarized content on its PokerUpdate site.  They decided that instead of removing the content they published word for word from other sources without attribution or permission, they would send a lawyer after me.  They didn’t delete the copied content until I called them out at Two Plus Two for it.

It is absurd to think someone would rather send a lawyer after someone than do the right thing, but that is how some people in my industry operate.  They have never apologized for their behavior, but tried to bully me into publicly apologizing to them for the articles I published about their company.  They even tried to get me to put in writing that I would never write about them again.

While I regrettably backed down because I did not have time for their behavior and the Anti-SLAPP was not live yet, I wasn’t going to sign my rights away.

Had they filed their lawsuit, it would have been a waste of time and money to defend.  Nevada’s Anti-SLAPP law should discourage them from using any such tactic in the future.

You can read more about the nonsense involving Jamie Nevin and 180Vita.

(Edited 10/4)

Companies Should Learn Service Lesson from Outright.com

I noticed that Outright.com, the website that I use for my accounting, was not working properly last week.  I did not think much of it.  Their outages do not usually last more than a few hours.  I do not know how long their system was not running at 100% because the next time I went to use it everything was working fine.  I received this email today:

————————————–

We apologize that the Outright service did not have updated data for several days. You use Outright to run your business with up-to-date, accurate data and we wanted to let you know what happened, and that it’s been fixed. As of Monday, September 10 around 7:30pm PDT, Outright was back up and all data is now up to date.

You can log in now to see your current information.

What happened?

Starting Thursday, September 6 around 7:00am PDT, Outright was unable to import data from linked accounts. Adding and Editing transactions was also not working.

This outage was due to a database field capacity issue.

Essentially, our database ran out of numerical combinations for creating new records. A new record is required each time data is imported. We knew we were approaching the limit, and have been working on expanding the database. Unfortunately, we missed some key elements and the system halted while we implemented the fix.

The error was preventable and we recognize that it’s not the level of service you expect us to provide. Our team has learned from this mistake and is putting the checkpoints in place to make sure this specific issue doesn’t happen again.

Please reach out to me at steven@outright.com if you have any questions or concerns about your Outright service. I read every email and want to hear from you.

Steven Aldrich
Outright, CEO

————————————

So this company, who does not charge most of their customers anything for their service, decided to email everyone and admit that their systems were down for an extended period of time.  Considering most of that downtime was a weekend, I doubt most people even noticed.  Not only do they admit the long downtime, they even admit that it was preventable and fully explained in layman terms exactly what the issue was.

In a day where people are continuously trying to pass the buck this was refreshing to see.  The company came out and told their customers “We goofed, this is how, we fixed it, and it will never happen again”.

At some point, Outright will start charging me for their service.  I was reluctant to pay for it since there are so many free options out there.  After seeing this email I will be happy to pay a reasonable fee for their service.  This is exactly the type of company that I want to do business with because I see that they have integrity and service is important to them.  When they do not live up to their high level of service it bothers them to the point that they let their customers know and learn from their mistakes.  The CEO even gave everyone his personal email address!

If you need accounting software for your small business I highly recommend Outright.  In addition to the basics being free and service obviously being a priority, the software does exactly what a small business owner needs.

Papa John’s Inaction Ended in Murder

This is off topic for those looking for my typical poker articles.  If you want to read more about my past life before poker, I invite you to read this long article.

Twelve years ago today, I lost a close friend and coworker to murder.  Monica Tuttle was murdered at our workplace during an after hours robbery.

I still cannot get over what Papa John’s did and did not do that caused her to get murdered.  Papa John’s did not pull the trigger, but their incompetence and refusal to secure a store led to the situation that caused it.

Now that I write for a living, this seems like the time to expose their behavior and hope that it never happens again.  I will start with a background of the situation.

I started working for Papa John’s at 7277 Roswell Rd in Sandy Springs, GA in 1994.  I had two sources of income, one was working for the pizza place, and the other was beating local poker games.  You might even say the pizza job was a front for my poker playing.

The pizza job guaranteed my rent would be paid, and if I needed more money, hours were always there.  I would work 20-50 hours a week, depending on my need, how much I liked the employees, and how many poker games I was getting invited to.  I worked more with Monica because I liked her.

To give you an idea of manager turnover, Monica was my 22nd manager in six years, not including the times I would manage it after people would get fired or quit and they could not find replacements.

Lack of Secure Environment

The person that worked out of the corporate office as the supervisor was a complete jerk and he wanted Monica gone.  She did not want to be there either.  The neighborhood was really rough and went downhill more every day.

The parking lot was dark with no working lights.  The landlord and company would not do anything about it.  There was no back door to the store and no outside cameras.  Looking back, it was a pretty scary place to work.

I feel the company was wrong for creating such an unsafe working environment.  We did not even deliver after dark to the apartments that shared a majority of the property line with the store.

I grew up about a mile away so I probably felt safer than I should have, but I still complained constantly about the security problems.  I never dreamed it would lead to this.

Future Murderer Gets Hired

There was a thug that was a friend of someone that was a shift runner at this store.  The loser got a job because his friend recommended him.  He was useless and we figured he would stop showing up like they always do.  The problem was this one kept showing up because he liked a girl that worked there.

On Sunday, June 11, 2000, this guy showed the object of his affection a gun and bragged about it.  He was 20 years old, too young to legally possess a gun in Georgia.  Even if he was old enough, he cannot have it in the store.  The girl, who was only 16 or so, immediately told Monica that this guy had a gun in the store and he was showing it off to her.

Papa John’s Corporate Orders Victim to not Call Police

Monica called the supervisor of the store, who we all knew was a major problem.  He told Monica to send the felon home.  Monica said she was going to call the police.  Monica was told not to do that and to just send him home.

To make sure there was a witness to this order, she pulled me into the office to hear him tell her that in a follow up call on speaker phone.  Monica was too loyal to go against a direct order.  The supervisor later denied ever saying this, even though I heard it.

Monica fired her future assailant.  He left without incident. I considered calling the police, but the girl who saw the gun was scared and would not talk to me about it.

Warning from Neighboring Business

There was an auto detail shop next door. The murderer spent a lot of time over there talking to the guys that cleaned cars on the days following his termination.  The guys that worked over there told us we needed to watch out for this scumbag, they thought something bad was going to happen. They were right.

I did not call the police because I had not seen the gun and had no first hand knowledge of it, and nobody else seemed to want to get involved.  That is a decision I will regret every day for the rest of my life.

Ignored by Corporate Office

On Wednesday, June 14th, I called the Atlanta corporate office for Papa John’s.  I could not get anyone to take this situation seriously.  I got passed around from person to person who did not care and eventually was given the voice mail of the Atlanta Operational Vice President.  I left him a voice mail that told him I had “grave concerns” about the store and begged him to call me ASAP.  He never bothered to call me back.

It was important to get Monica out of that store immediately and her direct boss needed to get fired, but her boss was reportedly close to buying many franchises, which made him untouchable.  At the time, Papa John’s took care of anyone they thought would buy a franchise during their rapid expansion.

Monica cried in my arms multiple times that week about how scared she was.  I would hint that she should quit, but Monica was no quitter.

I was not some random whiner.  As far as I know, I was the biggest employee cash investor in the Atlanta market.  There were less than 100 publicly disclosed shareholders in the company that owned more stock than I did.  None of those shareholders were employed in the market.  My ownership was well known throughout the market’s management team.

My complaints were still ignored.  I sold my entire investment before leaving the company.

Friend That Referred Murder Bails on Working Night of Crime

On Friday, June 16th, the friend that referred the thug conveniently told Monica he could not work Saturday night.  I later suspected he knew what was going to happen, but was never able to prove it.  This employee was even allowed to continue working for the company after the murder.

Monica found someone to open on Saturday the 17th and she would close.  The opener was late and we had a big order due early, so Monica had to drive 20 miles to the store to help get the order out.  She was angry, and rightfully so, but eventually headed back home but had to be back in a few hours.

That night we were short staffed, and she called her husband and a close friend to come help her out who both worked for Papa John’s.  The night was the craziest night I had ever seen there.  I am pretty sure the day broke every record outside of the Olympics.

Something Was Not Right

The whole night felt wrong.  I cannot put it into words.  There was just something eerie.  At 11:30pm, I had been there for 14 hours.

Georgia used to have a law that you could not buy beer after 11:45pm on a Saturday.  I wanted to get beer before the cutoff.  I asked Monica if she would be OK and she said yes.  I asked, “Are you sure?”, implying I would come back but not outright offering.  She insisted that I go home and relax.  I would never see Monica alive again.

After I was home a couple of hours, I thought about calling the store to check on Monica.  Something just was not feeling right.  I then thought I would go up there and help her close. I had consumed a few beers though and thought better of it.

Monica was in my dreams all that night and I was restless.  The dreams were “day in the life.”  I knew something was wrong when I woke up.  I was not the only one that had those types of dreams that night.

Arriving to the Murder Scene

I was scheduled to open the store the next day, which was Father’s Day, June 18, 2000.  As I was driving south over the hill at Dalrymple Rd and Roswell Rd, I saw one police car over the horizon.   As I got closer, I saw our parking lot full of police cars.  I also saw Monica’s car parked in the exact same place it was the night before.  Every news channel in Atlanta was in the shopping center parking lot across the street.  I knew what had happened before even pulling in the parking lot.

“We’re Opening Anyway”

I pulled into the parking lot anyway and was stopped by a police officer.  I told them who I was and they let me proceed to the door where I was greeted by the store’s corporate supervisor, the one who wanted Monica gone.

He told me “There has been an accident, Monica is dead.”  He then told me to come back later because the store was opening in a few hours.  After nearly collapsing in shock by the callousness, I exploded in anger and started yelling at him because I knew this was no accident.  He had helped create the situation that got Monica killed.  The police pulled me away and took me in front of the neighboring apartments.

Initial Detective Interview on Scene

While I was still fuming, Detective Yates with the Fulton County Police Department came over and introduced himself.  The news crews were creeping closer, so he took me to the alley next to the building.  He asked me several questions about my background and my knowledge of store procedures and why I was so angry at the supervisor.  He left me with one last question, “Who did this?” and I answered “Carlous Gibbs, he lives in Spalding Bridge Apartments.”

After he asked me that, I looked over and noticed one of the detail shop guys pressure washing the sidewalk in the alley.  I had assumed she was killed in the store, but it was obvious she was killed just feet from where I was standing.  I will spare you the gory details of what I saw, an image I will never forget.

The dumpster had been completely emptied and garbage was all over the parking lot.  It had been picked through piece-by-piece by the police looking for evidence.

I had a breakdown in the alley, and eventually got enough composure to make it back to my car.  The detail shop employee came over and gave me a hug.  I asked him if I could use his phone because I did not have one on me.  He let me use it and I called my mom, my best friend from high school, and a couple of coworkers.  At some point, I had to get out of that parking lot, and finally got the composure to leave.

Face-to-Face with Murderer Minutes Later

The first thing I did after leaving was go up to the BP gas station at Dalrymple/Roswell Rd to let them know what happened.  I had gotten to know them well over the years.

While I was there, the murderer showed up and acted all surprised when he was told that Monica had been murdered.  When he left, I let the BP employees know it was him that murdered Monica.

Living Minutes from Murderer

I went home and called everyone whose number I knew that worked at the store what had happened.  It started to occur to me that the murderer lived less than a five minute walk from me.

I lived on Colquitt Rd in the Dunwoody Club Apartments (Treelodge Pky) and there was not even a fence separating it from Spalding Bridge where the murderer lived.  I got paranoid and had to get out of there.  Luckily, I had several friends that took me in for a couple of days.

Full Interview with Detectives

Two days after the murder, I went to the Major Crimes Division of the Fulton County Police Department and got interviewed for about six hours.  I have never been somewhere so stressful in my life.  I was drenched in sweat, but wanted to help them.

Several times they accused me of having an affair with Monica and I denied it each time.  Nothing had ever happened, nor ever would have.  After several accusations, I blew up and told them I was going to leave.  They finally left that alone and I calmed down.

They were very concerned about my poker, which they had dug up somehow.  I proved to them I was in no need of money.  They were also very concerned about who I called on the day of the murder and why I used the detail employee’s cell phone.  The interview finally ended.

My sister, who is an attorney, thought I was crazy not to have her or another attorney there for questioning.  In hindsight, she was right.

I found out when I was there that my neighbor was a police officer.  They notified him that a witness in the case was his neighbor and he watched out for me.  When I touched base with coworkers after the interview, I was told they had the murderer in custody at that same time.  I was very relieved.  The police released him later that same day.

Store Reopens

On Wednesday, June 21st there was a meeting at the store.  We were told the store would reopen in two days.  The revenue for the first three days would go to her husband.

I worked that weekend to show support and put my tips in the collection jar.  After that, I was told that since I was a witness on the case, I could no longer work at the store.

Papa John’s offered no alternative.  I was basically laid off.  I was one of several employees told that.  I applied enough pressure to get us paid leave, threatening to go to a news channel to blow the whistle on them.  I am glad I never did, as I did not want to blow the case.  I eventually worked for friends in another area, great friends I made due to this horrible tragedy.

Funeral

Monica’s funeral was on Thursday, June 22nd.  I spoke at the funeral, but have never remembered what I said.  Several of us that worked at the store went to the Masquerade for 80’s night that night like we sometimes did, just to try to have some sort of normalcy.  After this tragedy, the group went to 80’s night weekly, where I eventually met my wife.

Police Lost Him

Weeks went by, and the murderer was still at-large.  I later found out the police had lost him.  One night, I got dropped off from 80’s night and my police officer neighbor opened his door at 4:30am and let me know he had run off someone matching the description of the murderer who was hiding in a back stairwell to my apartment building about an hour before I got home.  It could have been a coincidence, but who knows.

Keep in mind that his friend that referred him, that got out of working the night of the murder, had access to all employee information, including addresses.  Referring someone that murdered an employee and calling out the night of the murder is not grounds for termination, or even a demotion, at Papa John’s.  The company apparently had no problem with giving this type of person access to employee information related to witnesses in the case.

I pointed out the fact that this employee should not have access to employee files to upper management, but it fell on deaf ears.  Before I could get too in my head about that, the murderer was located and arrested just a few days later.

Confession

After being arrested, the murderer fully confessed, and he eventually pleaded guilty.  He is serving life in prison (Update: He will be released after serving less than 20 years.)

I was always curious about the case.  Open records laws allow anyone to see the entire file, but I did not want to see the crime scene photos.  I had already seen enough in person.

Another Robbery at Store – Female Victim Assaulted

Many of us begged the company to close the store permanently.  Instead, the company finished a remodel that had just started when the crime happened.  Within a few months, there was an armed robbery at the same store where a female employee got beat up, but her life was spared.

The company still did not close the store until much later, after a replacement store was built.  Papa John’s clearly did not care how unsafe this store was.  Sales were obviously more important.

Learned Full Details

A month or so before moving to South Dakota in 2006, I ran into Detective Yates.  I asked him about the case and he told me many details I had never known.  There is no reason to go into the gory details, but if anyone wants to know, contact me privately.

I worked for a couple of friends in the company while I still played poker.  When online poker exploded in 2003, I got to the point where I was losing money by going to work so I quit and never looked back.

You Can Never Be Too Careful

I have never shared this full story with anyone, only bits and pieces, and I needed to share it.  I hope it makes people understand my obsession with security.  I know my South Dakota friends never understood why I would never leave someone alone at the Happy Tavern at closing, I hope this makes that more clear.  All I can say is that you can never be too careful.

My Year Since Black Friday

Black Friday was a shocking day.  Before the press release about the seizures hit the wire, someone tried to break into my house and got into several others around me.  Once I came inside after talking to the police, I picked up the laptop and there it was, news that most people did not believe at first.  PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and Ultimate Bet were indicted by the feds, with tens of millions of dollars seized.  In the end, only PokerStars would recover.

I am still pretty angry about the government and how corrupt this situation was on both the government’s side, as well as Full Tilt Poker’s side.  I always knew Cereus was corrupt so that came as no surprise.  Beyond saying that the U.S. Government needs to know that they do not own the internet, I will not go beat that dead horse.  Hopefully somewhere down the road people that actually understand technology can be in charge of this country.

Before Black Friday, I played online poker full time.  I left Poker Affiliate Solutions full time a few months before and decided to go back to playing the game that I love.  I was crushing Carbon Poker when it was just a few hundred players.  It was an unknown gold mine before Black Friday.  Since so many U.S. grinders have moved there, the game quality has suffered badly.  I also played Seven Card Stud High/Low sit and gos and multi table tournaments, with an occasional Omaha High/Low game on PokerStars and was doing great.  That all came crashing down.

Shortly after Black Friday, Poker Affiliate Solutions brought me back on as a writer, consultant, and to help with player support.  It was a good way to get back into the swing of working again.  I had been writing on this blog, but had done little else.  The exposure I got from PAS, and my coverage of Black Friday news on this blog, helped me land some good writing jobs.

I have written about many different gambling topics in the past year.  In addition to online poker, I have also written about Las Vegas table games, sports betting, video poker, restaurants, hotels, and written dozens of legal articles covering the gaming industry.  My business takes me to the Las Vegas Strip often.  I have been in each Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Las Vegas casino a dozen times for my business.

I have cut a lot of my poker playing out, mostly because of work.  I still get to play some.  I tend to play Omaha High/Low at Venetian, and Seven Card Stud High/Low at Suncoast.  I do not play any No Limit Hold’em.

Black Friday Made Me an Entrepreneur Again

Beyond what Black Friday taught me about politics and government, it taught me a lot about myself.  I always knew that I was an entrepreneur.  Black Friday forced me to become one again without any planning.  I had not owned an active business since I sold Rake Rebate Review in 2006.  In one year, I have built a large customer base, as well as some websites such as this blog.

One month after Black Friday, I decided to get an office.  I found one within five minutes of the house.  It is 250 square feet.  It is far from a professional environment.  It has a recliner, a mini fridge that is usually well stocked, pictures of dogs playing poker on the wall, and a sound system hooked up the desktop.  The office has one wall that is all windows facing outside.  If I have the blinds open, people walking by sometimes give me odd looks as I am stretched out in the recliner watching TV.  I also have a desk and office chair, but most of my creative writing is done in the office recliner.  It is a great place to go and be creative, even if only for a few hours.

The office is cheap, and was perfect for giving me a place to write during my creative spurts.  I am not a natural born writer.  Sometimes I need some extra help and the change of scenery at the office is perfect.  Sometimes I am there for 16 hours, other times I go days without going to the office at all.

Instead of letting my anger at the online poker industry and the politicians involved get in the way of my life, I made the most of a truly awful situation.  I am lucky that I only have a few hundred dollars lost at Full Tilt Poker.  I know that players have a total of about $400 million lost between Cereus and Full Tilt Poker, with many single players owed well into six figures, and hundreds or thousands with $10,000 or more lost.

Although several states have had serious discussions about legalizing online poker, Nevada is the only state that has actually done it.  Online poker is yet to be live in Nevada though, but should be during 2012.  That will be another opportunity that hopefully opens some doors.  Not only will there be endless work writing about online poker in Nevada, my ultimate goal is to either contract with the online poker rooms, or become employed by one to help build it from the ground up.

A year is a long time in the online poker industry.  By April 15, 2013, there will be more states with online poker.  Nevada should also have several months of experience by then.  There is no telling what will happen on the legal front.  Considering the light sentences those who have come forward in the Black Friday cases have received, the only enforcement I predict down the road will be cash seizures.  I am already looking forward to my Black Friday second anniversary post.

Woman Opens Emergency Exit Door on My Flight Today

I needed a weekend in the woods so I went up to visit the Black Hills in South Dakota where I used to live to see some old friends and experience some winter.  I think everyone that lives in Las Vegas needs to get away from it from time to time to stay sane. That is especially true for people that hate the Las Vegas weather like I do.

The airport that serves the Black Hills is Rapid City Regional Airport.  I was on Allegiant Air flight 429 this morning from Rapid City back home to Las Vegas.

I always sit in the exit row.  On Allegiant Air it costs $15 to buy an exit row seat on this flight.  I am 6’2 so it is worth it to me to have the extra leg room.  While the flight attendant was going over the evacuation procedure to the exit row occupants, she gave instructions on how to open the emergency exit door.  The woman in the exit row across from me, who was sitting in 24F, actually opened the emergency exit door.

She seemed to have thought that we were suppose to test the door to make sure that we could open it.  It takes a complete idiot to think that you should ever open an emergency exit on an airplane unless there is an emergency, but her intent was not malicious so that must have been her thought.  The flight attendant was in shock and so was anyone that noticed it had happened.

She put the door back in place once she realized that she had messed up.  The pilots came back to check out the door.  They fixed the latch on it and checked to make sure it was sealed.  I was quite surprised that she was not thrown off of the plane.  She was probably in her 60’s or older, so maybe her age got her some leniency.  I was more surprised that she was still sitting in the exit row.

A few minutes went by and one of the flight attendants came back and told the woman that the pilots said that she must leave the exit row.  She actually suggested that she should be able to exchange seats with her husband in the middle seat of the exit row.  Thankfully, the crew denied her request.  Anyone that is dense enough to think that they should open an exit row door on an airplane does not need to be in charge of an evacuation, no matter how unlikely it is.

The woman was forced to move up a few rows away from the exits to another empty seat.  The crew checked the door one last time and we took off.  I overheard the crew discussing how they had never heard of this happening before and there was an overall disbelief.  For the first time ever, I was a bit nervous taking off.  The rest of the flight went fine and we were just about on time to Las Vegas, even with this incident.

I was impressed with how the Allegiant Air crew handled it.  I was really surprised that they allowed her to stay on the plane, but see in hindsight that many other problems may have been created if she was booted.  If she had luggage, we would have been delayed while they found it.  Her husband was also on the flight.  There may even be some security procedure that may have created a major delay if she was removed from the plane.  The whole thing was an honest mistake, but anyone with common sense would have never made a mistake like this.

I was looking to revive my writing with this trip.  At least this incident gave me something to write about.  Every time I fly on an airplane from now on I am going to picture that woman with the exit door in her arms and the exit doorway wide open.  I wish I could have gotten a picture of it but the crew had already instructed everyone to turn off cell phones.

My Ten Years of Online Poker History

I realized recently that I have been playing online poker for ten years.  That is a long time in online poker, almost its entire history.  I thought I would write about my journey in the online poker industry.  Before I got into the online poker industry I was working as a pizza manager and driver where I had been working for seven years at the time.  I was disgruntled and ready to do something else.  I played poker 2-3 nights a week at a home game that I delivered pizza to one night that thought they would take me since I was just the pizza guy.  I had been playing with my friends all through high school and knew this was my chance to see how good of a player I was.  I ran over that game but yet they would still invite me to help fill their games.  I figured I must be good enough to do OK in online poker once I discovered it.

My First Online Poker Room

The first poker room I found was America’s Card Room.  They are owned by one of the most respected sportsbook in the world, Betcris.  I created an account and grinded out a freeroll for a small win, probably less than $100.  I managed to grind that money up to maybe $1000 taking advantage of their promo bucks system which going back in time I figure had to be one of the most player friendly bonuses ever on online poker.  After countless hours of fun I busted due to my inability to understand bankroll management.

As this was going on I got engaged.  I lost a little interest in online poker.  Eventually though, I could not stay away and deposited $200 of my own money at Paradise Poker.  At the time it was the largest online poker room.  This was before No Limit Hold’em caught on.  Most of the games were fixed limit and there were no multi table tournaments because the software for MTTs had not been invented yet.  There were sit and gos up to $100 but nobody played them.  I grinded the 5 max tables of Fixed Limit Texas Hold’em and Omaha High/Low and turned my $200 into $1000 or so.  I cashed out my $200 deposit and freerolled my $800.  Eventually I would end up playing well over my head and would bust the $800.  It probably took me a year to do it.

My First Online Poker Job

It was now 2003 and online poker was really starting to explode.  I still had $200 sitting in my PrepaidATM account.  Someone I played with at America’s Card Room got in contact with me and wanted me to prop (a proposition player is one that gets paid by the house to start games) at Big Bet Poker.  I took them up on their offer of 100% rakeback and deposited my $200 there.  While I was propping for them in my spare time I got hurt in a car accident while I was working.  I had some time off to recover.  I decided to play a lot of online poker in my spare time.

Big Bet Poker Bad Beat Jackpot

Props were able to take part in their promotions.  One of their promotions was a $25,000 bad beat jackpot.  One night I was playing and I rivered a straight flush to beat quad 5’s.  We hit the bad beat jackpot.  My share of it was $6250.  It took a couple of months to get my money but they eventually paid it even though it killed their poker room.  Now I had a real bankroll and it was time to take poker seriously.

Time to Say Goodbye to the Pizza World

Even though I went back to the pizza world I knew my days were numbered.  I was working in a terrible, crime ridden area of Marietta, GA.  I had some money saved up and decided after a workplace blowup with an incompetent coworker it was time to move on.  I moved to another store part time but concentrated on online poker.  Eventually I would completely quit because I was losing money every time I went to work because it took away from my poker time.  In the end, I even got to tell the vice president of operation to shove it, although it was not that polite.

The Phrase the WSOP Would not Allow on a Tshirt

I began to “bonus whore” online poker rooms.  That is finding online poker bonuses that paid back over 100% rakeback.  I was making more money than I had ever dreamed without ever really risking any of my own money.  While I was doing that I was offered a prop job at Absolute Poker right as they launched for real money.

When I First Discovered How Shady Online Poker Could Be

Absolute Poker was a rocky situation.  While I made good money, I knew something was wrong.  Eventually they would get busted in a massive insider cheating ring that I helped uncover.  The people I knew, Scott Tom and Brent Beckley, were indicted in online poker’s Black Friday.  The evidence is overwhelming that Scott Tom was the infamous “Potripper”.

I decided I was done with small, shady online poker rooms.  I moved most of my action to Party Poker.  One night I was playing the $25,000 guaranteed tournament and took it down for $8200.  It was my biggest tournament win by far up to that point.  I decided to play World Series of Poker satellites with my win.  I ended up winning an $11,000 prize package.  I decided not to play it though, Party Poker bought it out for $9700.

My Contribution to the Online Poker Industry

While all of that was going on I launched Rake Rebate Review.  It was the website that brought rakeback from the underworld to legitimacy.  To this day rakeback is still commonplace in the industry.  From November 2004 through May 2006 it took most of my time so I played little online poker.  Pokerlistings ended up buying it from me and intentionally killing it, presumably to kill off their competitors.  They created an empty shell of a company to convince me it was a venture capital company because they knew I would not sell it to them otherwise.  They went to a lot of effort to trick me but in the end they were the ones that got stuck.  Just a few months after we closed the sale, Bill Frist backdoored the UIGEA into law as his last act as Senate Majority Leader by attaching it to unrelated legislation before leaving Congress in disgrace (or if you ask him, deciding not to run for reelection).  Even though my industry was almost put out of business by a shady politician, my timing could not have been better to sell my website.

After selling Rake Rebate Review, I took a job with the company that coined the phrase “bonus whore”.  Bonuswhores.com was the website I went to work for in South Dakota.  After seven months the company sold.  Luckily I discovered Cake Poker.

Cake Poker was the U.S. friendly fish pond for 2007.  I took quite a bit off of Cake before they went shady.  After dealing with Cake Poker’s shady ways, I decided to give all of my action to Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker.  I am a Seven Stud High/Low and Omaha High/Low specialist.  PokerStars would end up being where I played the most because that is where the non hold’em action was.  I did well grinding the tournaments out but needed something more since high buyin non hold’em games are not common.

No Job and Non Competed Out of Online Poker

I had signed a couple of agreements to stay out of the online poker industry until 2008 due to the sale of my business.  My South Dakota job was exempted from them, but after that sale I was unable to work in the industry for anyone.  After all of my non competes ran out, I went to work for Poker Affiliate Solutions (PAS).  They had been trying to get me to work for them for months but I had ignored their emails.  I cannot really say why.  Looking back, it was quite unprofessional of me.  I guess life was good and the thought of another online poker job did not really interest me.  I finally agreed to visit their office and after some consulting days I agreed to work for them.  Although I left the company full time in August 2010, they are still a company I help out part time with blog posts, industry news, player support and other odd jobs that come up.

In October 2010, I moved to Las Vegas.  It just seemed like the place to be if I wanted to stay in the industry.  On Black Friday (April 15, 2011), I had almost all of my online poker money at Pokerstars as opposed to Full Tilt Poker.  That turned out to be a good thing since Full Tilt turned out to be a “ponzi scheme”.  Those are the Department of Justice’s words, not mine.  PokerStars paid my money quickly but as you probably know Full Tilt Poker has yet to pay any U.S. players back.  As much as the DOJ wants to point fingers at Full Tilt, it is hard to think U.S. players would be in this situation if they the same interpretation of the Wire Act of 1961 that the courts have decided.  Their lack of understanding of court rulings is for another blog post, maybe my online poker cash grab post.

So here I am, ten years after my first online poker hand, writing for a variety of online poker companies about the industry that I know better than almost anyone.  I do not work for any single person or company.  I have a modest office about six miles west of the Las Vegas Strip.  I play little online poker due to PokerStars being forced out of the U.S.  Hopefully ten years from now I can be talking about how the U.S. finally caught up with the rest of the world’s internet freedom and I am either playing professionally again or working for one of the future U.S. online poker companies in my corner office writing about my 20 years in online poker.

One Year of Living in Las Vegas

It has been one year since we packed up the South Dakota house and moved to Las Vegas.  It has been quite an adjustment.  If we had moved from Atlanta to Las Vegas there would not have been the same shock.  Four and a half years in South Dakota made Las Vegas an interesting transition.  Here are the positives and the negatives:

The Positives:

  • I am a night person.  It is great to live somewhere that I can eat, play poker, get a beer, shop or really do anything at any hour of the day.  The 24 hour lifestyle is easily the best thing about Las Vegas.
  • There is no traffic here, especially for a city of its size.  Sure, if you drive down Las Vegas Blvd at night it sucks and there is some traffic in the I-15 corridor but for a city of its size there is little traffic.  The main roads are all six lanes and most of the traffic lights work efficiently.  Traffic tilts me bad.  After living in Atlanta for so long, and finally getting away, I never want to live somewhere with traffic like that again.
  • It is nice to be back living somewhere that has great food.  While it is not as good as I expected, it is far better than it was in South Dakota.  Unfortunately, I still have not found good Chinese or Thai food.
  • The winters here are a nice relief from South Dakota.  While I sometimes miss the snow, and miss driving the neighborhood snowplow, it is nice to not be snowed in several times a year.  It is also nice to not have it get any colder than about 20 degrees in the winter.  I will be happy if I never see -20 ever again.  I also like it being 60 in January and looking up and seeing snow on the mountains that surround the city.
  • It is nice to have friends and family visit.  Since Rapid City, SD only has five destinations by air, it was not easy for people to visit.  I have seen several friends I would have never seen without living in Las Vegas.
  • It is nice to have all of the parks in Summerlin.  Walking trails, playgrounds, sports fields, pools and much more are available in the parks.  It is nothing like being surrounded by the Black Hills National Forest like we were before, but the parks are still nice to have.
  • Believe it or not, the schools here are great.  I know that is not the case as you get closer towards the strip, but the schools in Summerlin have been excellent so far.  Our kids are happy and learning.
  • Outside of the extortionate car license tag taxes, there are virtually no taxes.  Property taxes are very low, there is no state income tax and no tax on groceries.  The tourism and gambling pays most of the taxes.
  • Las Vegas is an entertainment capital.  It is hard to not have something to do here.  If you are really bored, you can bet on a sporting event and have something to watch on TV.
  • It is extremely cheap to live in Las Vegas.  A positive of the bad economy is the competition among the businesses.  The bad economy also helped us buy a house for half of what it went for five years ago, and helped me get a steal of a deal on my office.
  • When I want to play a poker tournament it is nice to not have to plan ahead and waste money on travel expenses to play tournaments.  I can pick and choose what I want to play and when I want to play it.
  • My industry is essentially based in Las Vegas which is part of why we moved.  It is great for meeting people in the industry and the networking associated with that.
  • Everything is just minutes away.  You take that for granted until you live somewhere that the grocery store is 15 miles away.

The Negatives:

  • The summer was absolutely miserable.  At first it was not, but it seemed the more days that were over 100 the more I could not stand it.  I am not sure I can handle another 90 days of 100 degrees next summer.  The long summer is by far the worst thing about living here, and after living in the Black Hills where many summer days would not break 60 degrees it was a shocker.  I will need to go see my South Dakota friends during the peak of summer next year.
  • I was taken by surprise by a crime spree in our neighborhood.  On the day of online poker’s Black Friday there were five break ins in our neighborhood within 24 hours.  Overall though, we are in a low crime area.
  • After living somewhere that people were as friendly as could be and making friends easily, Las Vegas is the complete opposite.  People are nice, but a lot of it is fake.  This is a city to get lost in the shuffle, not make new friends.
  • The economy here is rough.  There are no jobs.  The number of people begging on off ramps seems to get worse and worse very day.  The city is starting to look a little run down due to the lack of new construction, lack of new cars on the roads, abandoned construction projects and the lack of money to remodel existing buildings.
  • The positive of the housing market helping us to get a great deal on our house has also worked against us as we have lost about 7% of the value of our house in a year.  That seems to be about on par with the rest of the country though.
  • California drivers!  When I see a California license plate I have to keep my eye on them, they make Atlanta drivers seem safe and courteous.
  • It is still hard to get used to living on .11 acres.  In South Dakota we had .79 acres.  It makes loud neighbors especially annoying.  There is no reason to have a big lot in Las Vegas though, what are you going to do with all of that rock and sand?
  • I hate the fake oasis in the desert.  Who had the brilliant idea that Las Vegas needed palm trees?  It is nice to go back to the Black Hills and see the natural beauty.

I miss the people in South Dakota a lot but overall I think this was a great decision to move.  Hopefully it stays that way and I can get my business off the ground.  I will always have South Dakota and Atlanta as places to vacation.  It is nice to get away from here from time to time.  It is funny to think that when I am on a plane headed to Las Vegas most of the plane is starting their vacation when mine is just ending.

If you have never seen the Ten Worst Things About Living in Las Vegas it is worth a read.  It is funny, and some of it is unfortunately true.

A Weekend Back in South Dakota

"Downtown" Johnson Siding, SD

I needed some time out of the miserable heat of Las Vegas.  I booked a cheap Allegiant Air flight and headed to the Black Hills of South Dakota.  I lived in a small mountain community there for close to 5 years and from time to time I feel the need to visit.  I certainly miss the people up there.

The community I lived in is called Johnson Siding.  As much fun as it sounds to live out in the woods, after a few years the novelty wore off.  The people are great but driving 15 miles to the grocery store is not.  Still though, I like to go and visit.  It clears my head.  Seeing my old friends in the hills is always a great experience.

I started the trip by seeing my old friend Gonzo787.  We worked together at Bonuswhores.com and he now works for Poker Affiliate Solutions, my former employer and a company that I still do some part time work for.  We had the best Chinese food I’ve had since I left South Dakota.  It is hard to believe but the Chinese food in Las Vegas is terrible, it is as bad mall Chinese food.  We talked about the online poker industry and I ventured up to my vacation rental which is the two story building in the picture on the left.

I dropped by the Happy Tavern which is in the center of the picture to see my old friends.  The Happy Tavern was the local hangout, as you see from the picture there are not too many choices.  It was a great place to get to know the locals.  The bartenders are all great.  Unfortunately I missed one as she was out of town but got to catch up with several people I had not seen in six months.

I then headed up to Deadwood and did some work for an upcoming project I hope to have live in a week or so.  I took a lot of pictures, then headed to the Silverado to play 5/10 Omaha High/Low.  After that game broke I headed back to Johnson Siding to help close the Happy Tavern.  It was great to be somewhere that it got close to freezing at night.

The next day I headed back up to Deadwood and got the rest of my work done on my project.  That night I headed back to Johnson Siding.  I ran into the person that bought my old house.  We went back to the old house and had a couple of beers to close the night.  I like the couple that bought the house and I know they fit in well with the neighborhood.  It is funny to be invited back to my old house for a beer but that is just how the people up there are, as friendly as could be.

The next day I went to another old neighbor’s house where I watched my Carolina Panthers get beat by Chicago.  I said hi to a few other neighbors and the next morning it was time to head back to Las Vegas.  Luckily when I got back to Las Vegas it had cooled down.

If you have never had a chance to see the Black Hill in South Dakota it is a must see.  There is Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood, Sturgis and countless other attractions.  A short drive will take you to Devil’s Tower and the Badlands.  The National Forest is over 1,000,000 acres.  There are hundreds of miles of scenic drives.

When you live in Las Vegas you need somewhere quiet to go and get away from everything.  The fake green in the desert just does not compare to seeing real forests.  I will be back up there in the winter.  I already cannot wait to see the snow and feel the bone chilling cold.

A week in Atlanta

Twice a year I visit Atlanta.  One trip is during the summer, the other during the winter.  The last few visits show me that getting out of Atlanta was a great idea.

In 2006 I moved from suburban Atlanta to the Black Hills of South Dakota for a job.  Later I moved to Las Vegas.  Atlanta was a mess then but every time I visit now it is worse and worse each time.  People like to bash the economy here in Las Vegas but I think it is worse in Atlanta, at least visually.  There are countless constructions projects in various stages of completion that have been abandoned in both cities but there are many more in Atlanta.  There are many road projects half finished in Atlanta too.

Twenty five years after the Atlanta boom started they still do not seem to understand the concept of a four lane artery road or widening interstates like 575 and 985 more than two lanes each way.   The smog and traffic are as bad as ever.  From talking to people it is easy to tell the southern hospitality is long lost.  Don’t even get me started about the airport.  Insulting the Hartsfield family by renaming the airport was disgusting.  It would have made perfect sense to build a second airport and honor both men but that would mean Atlanta would lose its title as busiest airport in the world, about the only thing Atlanta has to be proud of.  If it were not for my family and friends still there I would never go back.

Sorry if you live there.  I just had to write about my trip.  Maybe if the cities could finally agree on widening a few major roads, upgrade the infrastructure and not set up revenue generating speed traps all over the city while letting real crime go unchecked I might could tolerate it.  The city is falling apart and the suburbs were very poorly planned, especially considering the infrastructure.  After living in Las Vegas where the planning was well thought out going back and seeing Atlanta’s mess makes me see just how bad Atlanta really is.  Maybe my friends and family can move out west like I did…..