Ask Tessie: What are your tips for someone who wants to get into climbing? |

Ask Tessie: What are your tips for someone who wants to get into climbing?

Dear Tessie,

I'm an avid skier and hiker, but have only dabbled in rock climbing. It's something I'd like to get into this summer, but I don't know how to get started. Any suggestions for this newb?


Movin' On Up

Alright, the first step to becoming a rock climber has absolutely nothing to do with the physical activity itself. It's all about laying the groundwork, so start talking to your friends about it constantly. But before that, grab a cheese grater and get to work on distressing that pair of cords your mom bought you for Christmas, then roll them up into capris in a very casual way. You want them to look like they've been rubbing up against rocks for years now, but you're so environmentally conscious you can't bring yourself to throw them away and have them end up in a landfill.

Next, throw on a Patagonia jacket and snag a pair of those shoes with individual spaces for each of your toes. The average chica will likely never want to talk to you again, but those climbing birds will be all over your new look.

Everywhere you go, assess the landscape — including buildings and homes — and describe to your friends the techniques you would use to climb it. Better yet, get on there and show them. There is nothing cooler than a man in toe shoes attempting to scale the side of a taco stand.

Also, make sure that your car is so full of carabiners, rope, crash pads and chalk dust that you have to strap one of your buddies to your new Yakima roof rack just to fit everyone in for your next climbing adventure. Remember, you are not "excited about the big trip," you are "stoked for the gnarly terrain."

But if you really want to be the real deal, build a bed inside the back of your truck, adopt a dog and name it Summit or Banjo, and live out of your car.

As for actual advice on learning or locations to climb, I haven't the faintest idea.

Dear Tessie,

I'm in dire need of some pampering after the winter we've had. What are your favorite South Shore joints to go get a massage on the South Shore?


In Need of TLC

How many dolla-dolla bills are you willing to drop on this pampering? I'm a creature with expensive taste, so when I go in to get my scales buffed and fins moisturized, I don't skimp.

When I'm in the mood to get rolled up like a nice Rainbow Sushi Roll, I head on over to Sugared in South Lake Tahoe for a Seaweed Wrap. It's like being inside a giant burrito, but better.

When I'm feeling like I'm carrying a little winter weight, I pop on over to Onsen Spa at MontBleu for the Yellow Horned Poppy Cellulite Treatment. Apparently the extract from the Yellow Horned Poppy can produce colorful hallucinations, plus, it's about time to put that summer bod on display!

And while you may be tempted to go for that $35 massage advertised by the dozens of massage parlors along U.S. 50, just … don't. Instead, grab bae and head over to BioSpirit Day Spa for a couple's massage (unless he's the kind of guy that falls asleep within five minutes of hitting the table — that's just a waste of money).

Tahoe Tessie is a humorous take on the standard advice column. It is produced by the Tribune staff, and it is not meant to be taken literally. Have a question you want to ask Tessie? Send it to

Guest column: Temporary environmental art installation at Tahoe is about coming together for common purpose

Keep Tahoe Blue is an iconic slogan that has been broadly recognized and embraced by the public worldwide for the past 50 years. Now in 2017, we are faced with taking the public dialogue around this long-standing call to action one step further, and that is to do our part in preventing Lake Tahoe from turning green.

This week, the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) released new data related to the latest scientific findings about how climate change is impacting the clarity of Lake Tahoe — "the decline in 2016 is the second year in a row in which the effects of a changing climate have directly impacted clarity."

It is imperative that all of us become aware of how we can help protect the lake: once it turns green, we are told, it will stay green forever. And at the current rate, it could turn green before 2030. How to catch the attention of an often-preoccupied public? Art is one effective method.

This August, Tahoe Public Art will be unveiling a temporary 20-day environmental art installation that will be floating on a 50-by-25-foot barge in Lake Tahoe. The three-dimensional sculptural work of art is designed to have a zero carbon footprint, utilizing renewable energy sources such as solar to power the installation, and each component of the installation is reusable or recyclable.

The goal of this "public intervention" art piece is to attract, educate and activate audiences to learn about the science behind the impacts climate is having on Lake Tahoe and to engage locals and visitors alike in taking part in available solutions.

Whether people accept climate change or not, we can't deny that we all emit carbon dioxide. In fact, the average U.S. citizen emits more than 1 metric ton of CO2 per month. If global greenhouse-gas emissions (a vast majority being made up of CO2) continue at current levels, TERC states that the deep mixing of Tahoe's lake layers could become less frequent and less deep — even stop altogether.

"Once oxygen stops reaching the lower layers of the lake, phosphorus that is currently locked up in the lake-floor sediments will get released. This phosphorus will eventually reach the lake's surface, where it will fuel algae growth," stated Geoffrey Schladow, TERC director.

We are not talking about 100 years from now, we are talking about this happening within the next 10 years. This should be alarming to all of those who love the pristine clarity and magical azure color of Lake Tahoe, and should be enough to herald people to come together to do something about it, individually and collectively.

Our upcoming art installation, titled "LAKA'LELUP", a Washoe (Wášiw) term meaning "coming together for a common purpose," is designed to inform and activate audiences onsite and online about how we can come together individually and collectively to preserve and protect the natural grandeur of Lake Tahoe and the Lake Tahoe Basin.

By day — in the "Reflect Mode" — the natural phenomena of da'aw — Lake Tahoe — such as water, weather and sunlight, bring life and light into play on the reflective facades of the ephemeral art installation, inviting people to paddle board or kayak out to it to actually see themselves in their local environment and contemplate their relationship to the Tahoe Basin. By night — in the "Illuminate Mode" — the installation transforms into an aesthetic multimedia experience with scientific data-driven storytelling, intertwining art, science and technology with an environmental call to action.

Data sets from our scientific content collaborators include the latest reports available from TERC's "State of the Lake" and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's (TRPA) "Environmental Improvement Program" to drive the data visualizations.

Audiences can log into the mobile companion website via their smartphones to access the audio components and musical score in real-time, do a deeper dive into the data sets, and register to make their personal pledges to reduce or offset their carbon footprint. We provide a carbon calculator tool to help people determine how much they need to offset their carbon footprint (approximately $10 per month to offset 1 metric ton of CO2) and we direct them to our carbon offset partners where they can make tax-deductible donations to tree-planting, solar plants, wind farms and other sustainable efforts to restore balance in our local ecosystem.

With community-based participation at its center, LAKA'LELUP provides a public platform that strengthens the connection between people and their surrounding environment by creating awareness, stimulating dialogue and activating change that leads to long-term respect for coexisting with the natural ecosystem of the Lake Tahoe Basin.

By sharing a set of values that guide behaviors to protect Lake Tahoe from the impacts of climate change, we instill a sense of responsibility in locals and visitors alike to ensure that the clarity and purity of this precious natural resource we experience today will be equally enjoyed by future generations.

Tahoe Public Art is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit registered in California and Nevada, we rely on individual contributions, foundation grants and corporate sponsorships to brings projects like this to fruition. The LAKA'LELUP art installation is not funded by any tax dollars, however, tax-deductible donations can be made via our INDIEGOGO / Generosity Campaign (search

LAKA'LELUP, timed to coincide with the Lake Tahoe Summit in August, will be exhibited on North Shore, near Commons Beach, from August 4-13 and on South Shore, near Ski Run Marina, from August 22-31. The multimedia experience will play after nightfall, approximately from 9-11 p.m. each night. For more information and updates, please visit: and follow @TahoePublicArt and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For inquiries, please contact or 530-580-8121.

Mia Hanak is the executive director of Tahoe Public Art. Prior to joining TPA in November of 2016, over the past decade she has been producing large-scale public environmental art installations worldwide in partnership with the United Nations.

Letter: Amgen is a bad deal for South Lake Tahoe residents

Dear Tessie,

Even though I tried to avoid the backup caused by Amgen, I got stuck in it. Traffic was backed up from Al Tahoe to Stateline. That is about 3 miles. That is around 150 cars per mile or 450 vehicles and around 675 people sitting in traffic for an hour in just that one direction (probably as many going the other way, too) so that about 100 arrogant yuppies can parade through town on bicycles (not to mention how much gas was wasted and pollution sputtered into our air by the stalled vehicles).

As for Amgen attracting spectators, I saw very few of them. In fact, there were more police, sheriffs, CHP, fire crews and emergency personnel than spectators. And no one has mentioned how much all those public servants cost the rest of us taxpayers. We get the bill for all this overtime so a few merchants can make a few extra bucks. Doesn't sound like a very good deal for the residents of South Lake Tahoe to me.

John Messina

South Lake Tahoe, California

Outside the Tahoe Classroom: Challenging our children may spark motivation

This past week I joined 80 second graders on a field trip to the South Lake Tahoe ice arena. Having grown up near a small farm pond in Maine, I'd skated since before I can remember so chaperoning this trip was really appealing. At first, skates on, I skimmed across ice, lost in the old feeling, wind in my face.

But, of course, I was there to chaperone so I looked up. Kids in helmets were everywhere. Many skated in groups while others zipped around on hockey skates. Oops. There one fell. Another. I skated over to one fallen child. Tears. She'd hurt her knee. I felt the impulse to grab her arm, help her up, console her — and reinforce the idea that she couldn't do this skating thing on her own.

Isn't this one of the pitfalls we face as educators? We think that we need to "help" children, thereby (unconsciously) lowering expectations and micromanaging their will to achieve their own goals?

I caught myself thinking about Angela Duckworth, the former middle school math teacher turned psychology researcher most famous for her work on what she terms "grit," or the perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Based on her experience in the classroom, she found herself fascinated by what makes people successful. Her research took her to Ivy League schools, West Point, to the National Spelling Bee, and to high powered corporate sales organizations where she and her colleagues found that grit — more than talent, IQ, or conscientiousness — predicted successful outcomes.

So as I looked again into this girl's teary eyes, I saw her determination. She scrambled back to standing, flashed me a smile, and took off. Again and again, I watched children fall, watched them cry or slam the ice with their fists, before they were off again. Children have an impressive capacity for getting up from a fall and trying again, especially if they are surrounded with others doing the same thing. And especially when they have a personal goal, a passion for an outcome they know they can attain if they keep at it.

The National Center for Education Statistics recently published the results of the 2014-15 adjusted cohort graduation rate (AGCR), a calculation that looks at the percent of students who graduate with a regular diploma within four years of their starting ninth grade. The good news is that, across the country, the ACGR has increased since it was first reported in 2010-11, up to 83 percent from 79 percent. This means that four out of five students graduate within four years of their starting ninth grade.

In California, the graduation rates also increased, from 74.7 percent in 2010 to 82.3 percent in 2015. Especially encouraging here was that gaps actually closed some for English learners, rising by a huge 4 percent, and for African American students, rising by over 2 percent. California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson noted this May, "This is encouraging news … since the increase is occurring as we are introducing much more rigorous academic standards."

Forgive the leap here, but I think we may have to acknowledge that having challenging standards that provide real opportunities for children to struggle and get back up again may actually add to motivation, not detract from it, especially when we let them own their own success.

Special education is another place where we can learn lessons about what kids can really do. For example, traditionally, we expected students with significant cognitive disabilities to gain only functional skills — taking care of themselves, walking across the street or balancing a checkbook. As the movement toward inclusion asked that students be instructed in academic subjects in school, we've not only seen how students can perform academically, we have seen how they exceed expectations. On required academic assessments per No Child Left Behind, students have consistently out-performed expectations when taught the content in school, according to numerous research studies.

In 1948, psychologist Robert K. Merton coined the term "self-fulfilling prophecy." As another researcher Herman H. Spitz wrote in 1999, "If we prophesy (expect) that something will happen, we behave (usually unconsciously) in a manner that will make it happen. We will, in other words, do what we can to realize our prophecy."

If we expect our students to get grittier and more successful, if they really display the passion and perseverance that lets their talents blossom, we need to get grittier as educators and parents. Do we have the long-term goals that drive our schools toward ever stronger academic programming? Do we exceed our own expectations by reaching for aspirational values, rather than minimum compliance with district, state or federal policy? Do we adults in the community have the grit to focus our time, talent and money on the things that count most for student success?

I think we can do all these things in South Lake. We need to push for strong curricular and instructional leadership within Lake Tahoe Unified School District if we really care about giving students compelling opportunities to show their stuff, to fall down and get back up, on the road to success.

We can expect student outcomes to reflect a coherent, articulated set of academic expectations only if we have a coordinated approach to academics with strong leadership at the helm.

Annie Davidson, Ed.D., is the parent of two young children in the Lake Tahoe Unified School District. Her work in education has spanned the elementary classroom, testing industry and higher education. She volunteers as much as she can. She can be reached at

Barton Health CEO: Republican health care bill will likely raise South Tahoe uninsured rate

Recently, the House of Representatives narrowly passed the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628). The bill now resides in the U.S. Senate for determination and possible modification.

Though we do not know if the senators will pass the American Health Care Act, Barton Health is committed to providing consistently exceptional care for our Lake Tahoe community members and visitors.

Many of our residents rely on health care coverage from the expansion of the Affordable Care Act. Since the passage of health care reform, the number of residents covered by Medi-Cal has doubled. Currently, 9,500 South Tahoe residents receive Medi-Cal benefits and the area's uninsured population has reduced from 26.2 percent in the 2012 Community Health Needs Assessment to 14.7 percent in the 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment.

If the American Health Care Act passes and is enacted in the Senate without changes, the American Hospital Association estimates that $880 billion will be cut from Medicaid programs nationwide. This will affect more than 14 million Californians ­— many children, senior citizens and low-income families — who rely on Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid, for health care services.

It is Barton Health's commitment, in conjunction with the California Hospital Association, the American Hospital Association and many other health care providers, to ensure health care coverage for as many individuals and families as possible.

Though changes and revisions are expected, it is important for all of us to keep a watchful eye on this bill. The American Health Care Act puts less financial strain on the federal government, while adding more pressure on states, local jurisdictions, health care organizations, and the patients and communities we serve.

Barton Health is determined to provide programs and services for all our patients. We will continue to work closely with the California Hospital Association and American Hospital Association to find a bipartisan solution that keeps as many residents insured as possible in order to support the overall health and well-being of our community.

Dr. Clint Purvance is the CEO and president of Barton Health in South Lake Tahoe.

Ask Tessie: Why are people complaining about AMGEN?

Dear Tessie,

I think having the AMGEN Tour of California Bike Race come to our mountain community is amazing. It sheds a great light on Lake Tahoe, it's fun to watch, and it also is an economic boost. Can you please explain to all the whiners why being delayed in traffic for an hour is ultimately not a big deal?


Get Over Yourself

Preach, sista! If you've learned one thing from reading my column over the past couple of months it should be this: Tessie hates whiners. And I think due to the high elevation of Lake Tahoe, whiners have a higher-pitched, more grating tone to them. Boo freakin' hoo, you were stuck in traffic for under an hour in one of the most beautiful places on Earth because 99 of the most talented and hard-working cyclists from around the world want to participate in an epic race in your town.

Guess what? Some people don't have food to feed their kids. Others live in countries that are being bombed. So take your first-world problems and stick them where the sun don't shine.

However, this does bring up an important topic I would like to address — sharing the road.

So this one is for you, dude with hairless legs and neon green spandex so tight you must've covered yourself in Vaseline just to squeeze into them. The bike lane is not a sign of weakness, so stay the hell in it. I know you are a better person than me because you are getting exercise, saving the environment, yada yada yada, but when I do happen to hop out of the lake and into my suped-up Suby, I would prefer not to hit someone with a car because they consider the bike lane more of a suggestion. That would be emotionally scarring, and I don't have time for therapy.

Dear Tessie,

The slopes are closed, but most of the trails are still too snowy to hike. I'm in need of some in-between-seasons activities. Any suggestions?


I Need To Get Off The Hill

Alright, try this one on for size. My peeps over at the League To Save Lake Tahoe are always doing good stuff to keep this here lake of ours clean and healthy. I respect that.

Volunteers recently cleaned up 500 pounds of trash from the sledding hill near Spooner Summit — like legitimately picked up dirty baby diapers, beer bottles and pieces of broken sleds. (Side note: Humans are disgusting.) Now, that may not sound like a whole lot of fun, but you know what is fun? The feeling of absolute superiority when you are done. You have earned the right to walk around, scoffing at the mere mortals around you who did nothing with their day but binge-watch "13 Reasons Why" and eat Funyuns on their couch. You, my friend, are a cooler, smarter, better-looking person for having done such a deed.

There are tons of programs you can get involved with in the League, but also with other organizations around the lake. Build trails with TAMBA (I hear they throw great parties). Donate your time to Live Violence Free. Cook a meal for Bread & Breath.

Now excuse me, that nap is not going to take itself.

Tahoe Tessie is a humorous take on the standard advice column. It is produced by the Tribune staff, and it is not meant to be taken literally. Have a question you want to ask Tessie? Send it to

Letter: Why I’m concerned about Mar-a-Lago

In 2015, Trump said he would rarely leave the White House because there's so much work to be done. Now, he is golfing and visiting a Trump-branded property every few days!

I'm deeply concerned with Trump's taxpayer funded trips to Trump properties, Mar-a-Lago.

Here's why:

Trump is putting taxpayer dollars directly in his pocket by visiting his properties so frequently. The Secret Service has spent tens of thousands of dollars on golf carts alone at Mar-a-Lago, and that's the tip of the iceberg!

While Trump spends our tax dollars at Mar-a-Lago, he's also hosting high-profile meetings with foreign heads-of-state there, like the prime minister of Japan. Talk about a photo op for his own property!

After Election Day, Mar-a-Lago doubled its membership fees to $200,000. That's a lot of money in Trump's pocket!

Nobody should be allowed to profit from the presidency. I've had enough. It's time for our representatives in Congress to stand up to Trump's abuse of power and waste of taxpayer dollars.

Trump's trips to Mar-a-Lago have already cost millions of dollars.

If Congress continues to sit on its hands, our representatives should be held accountable for their complicity to Trump's corruption. I'll remember their inaction when I step into the voting booth.


Jennifer Wanslow

Truckee, California

Letter: Floating art project belongs in Vegas, not Tahoe

Regarding the "Art Revolution" article in Wednesday's Tribune … WHAT ARE YOU PEOPLE (TPA) THINKING? We are blessed to live in one of the world's most scenic natural environments.

Over the decades we have worked hard to regulate development and preserve the natural beauty of Lake Tahoe. There is near unanimous agreement for policies to maintain and improve the clarity of Lake Tahoe. South Lake Tahoe has worked hard to attract visitors to our shores by extolling the wonders of our natural environment and all the activities associated with it.

So where does this proposal to put floating art on the shores of Tahoe to promote environmental awareness and enhance cultural landscape come from? Has TRPA or the city of South Lake Tahoe given their approval? Stacked hexagonal tubes with LED panels, two way polycarbonate mirrors, chirping bird calls, spoken words and musical scores belong in Las Vegas, not Lake Tahoe.

Please do not desecrate the shores of Lake Tahoe with this circus-like proposal masquerading as art.

Dave Carneggie

Meyers, California

CORRECTION: This letter was incorrectly edited to state (TRPA) instead of (TPA). It has since been corrected.

Tahoe Mom Talk: Work together to reduce mental health stigmas

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a movement that is close to my heart. Next month, it will be 11 years since I lost my brother to suicide. It took years to come to terms with his death and what led to it, but over time I've learned that addressing awareness and education around mental health is essential so we can build resilience and reduce stigma.

The truth is, we all have mental health. You have it. I have it. It's no different than physical health … we all have it. And yet, we don't talk about maintaining mental health the way we do with physical health.

If I mention that I'm going to the gym this afternoon, no one would flinch. But if I say I have a therapist appointment, people expect that it should be muttered quietly … under my breath. Addressing how we maintain our mental health is a massively important topic and one we should be talking more openly about.

Just like we all have mental and physical health, the same could be said for how we maintain it. Some of us have the coping mechanisms, the resilience and perhaps the genetics to maintain a healthy balance. Others battle mental illness silently. As I mentioned above, we have not quite evolved as a society to where we can all openly share, the way we do on other health topics.

As a mom, I feel that this topic is especially important. Have you ever heard of "mom guilt?" I experience it every day. It's a form of mental health that I strive to find balance in. Raising two boys is so rewarding, but it comes with its share of challenges. Are the boys eating the right foods? Learning at the right pace for their ages? Playing with the right friends at school? Sleeping enough? Stretching their imagination enough? Am I a bad mom for putting another movie on? Or going out on date night and leaving them behind with a babysitter? Should I play more with them? Or let them find their own independence?

I constantly remind myself that this is a marathon, not a race. I feel lucky to have a close circle of moms who express the same worries and concerns. But we moms just don't give ourselves enough grace or credit.

I'm here today to tell you that as a fellow mama, you are not alone and you're doing the best job you know how. I also want to tell you that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others, whether that includes husbands, partners, friends and of course children.

Some good tips for self-care? Get up early (before the rest of the household) and work out or do some yoga. Allow yourself to put your phone down and get outside. Enjoy some vitamin D and watch the kids run around. Reach out to a friend and grab a cup of coffee. Take a moment to laugh … did you know that laughing helps to reduce anxiety? It's true.

We can all work together to reduce the stigmas around mental health and help to normalize the conversation. Reach out to a friend, give back, and ask questions … it's OK! You can see more about local mental health tips and events over at Barton's website this month:

Natasha Schue is a mom of two boys, wife and a full-time working, young professional. You can read more about her family adventures on her blog or follow her on Instagram @schuelove. You can send questions or comments to:

Guest column: No, Sen. Heller did not vote to sell your internet history

It looks like liberals are in the business of using billboards to promote their delusions. They have hijacked the truth and put it on Interstate 580 for everyone to see with a billboard making the ridiculous claim that Sen. Dean Heller voted to allow companies to purchase your internet browsing history.

This claim is a far cry from the truth. All the Republican-controlled Congress did is restore the rule of law by repealing the political favoritism of the Obama administration's regulatory overreach. Your privacy is still intact and the liberals know it.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has protected internet users from violations of their personal privacy for close to 20 years. During this time, consumers have embraced the FTC model and the internet has grown well beyond our wildest expectations, moving from a novelty where you could talk to others in an online chatroom to an integral part of our lives. Thanks to the free market, companies now compete for your services, speed has increased exponentially, and access is widespread and growing.

Despite this market success, or perhaps because of it, the Obama-era Federal Communications Commission (FCC) aggressively promoted an effort to transform the internet into a government controlled entity.

To further this agenda in the final months of the Obama presidency, the FCC passed a so-called "privacy" measure over the objections of the FTC. This rule would have created a duplicative set of rules in conflict with existing privacy regulations. This would have meant consumers had different protections on different parts of the internet. The two-tiered system would have opened unsuspecting consumers to a myriad of cyberattacks.

Congress rightfully decided that two sets of rules was not only wrong, but also threatened the future of consumers' privacy by handing out exemptions to favored special interest groups. The rule only applied to broadband providers, leaving data collectors like Google and Facebook untouched. That's why Congress rejected the FCC rules, an act that created an avalanche of inaccurate scare tactics declaring your privacy was now for sale.

Liberal groups have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in a fruitless attempt to purchase the browsing histories of members of Congress, which was and remains illegal. As Jules Polonetsky, the head of the Future of Privacy Forum, said, "In no conceivable way is it legal … to sell the individual browser history of a person." The inability of these groups to purchase the data proves that every claim they are making is false. Yet, they forge ahead claiming that the recent actions by Congress allows privacy violations like this to occur.

Instead of refunding the money and admitting they were wrong, which would have been the honorable thing to do, these groups pivoted and are now purchasing billboards alleging that members of Congress, including Nevada Sen. Heller, voted to allow your web history to be sold! They know it is a falsehood, but still allege in big bold letters that Mr. Heller "voted to let them [Internet Service Providers] sell your web history without your permission."

The ironic thing is that what these groups are advocating for is even worse. Housing your personal information in a government agency would undoubtedly threaten your security, not foster it. There is still the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, and this information housing looks unconstitutional to this observer.

Heller did the right thing by standing up to those seeking to transform the internet into a government-run monopoly. That would have decimated competition, innovation, progress and ultimately privacy. Thanks to Heller's vote, the FTC and FCC have agreed to work together to give consumers one set of rules for all of the internet, something that would have never happened without the actions of this Congress.

If you are driving down the road and happen to see this particular billboard, you have been warned — the information on it is false, and sadly, its sponsors know it. In today's world, however, we should not expect anything less from a left wing that is slowly losing touch with reality.

James Smack is the former Republican National Committeeman for Nevada.