Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Saturday, May 22, 2010 | 9:37 a.m.
Updated Sunday, May 23, 2010 | 6:01 p.m.
- Larry Ruvo
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- Ruvo Center architect's form helps direct focus on a cure (4-6-2010)
- Ruvo's mission is bold, driven by love (2-17-2009)
- What Cleveland Clinic means for Las Vegas (2-18-2009)
Now we turn our attention to the dozen acres next door.
The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health formally opened its Life Activities Center. This is the plush room under the undulating, windowed exterior of the center that is silver on the outside and white on the inside. It's quite bright in there, and the new burnt-orange carpet — about the color of the University of Texas home football jerseys — gives the space a comfortably familiar desert feel.
There also is a desert feel on the acreage just to the north of the $100 million clinic across from World Market Center in Symphony Park. That's because it is, in fact, desert. But wait a while, because Ruvo and the Cleveland Clinic have plans for that, too. As Mayor Oscar Goodman noted after the formal news conference, and after dozens of biodegradable blue-and-green balloons were sent aloft, Cleveland Clinic and the city are in negotiations to "further expand their presence here."
Ruvo offered no specifics, but did say earlier that Cleveland Clinic's scope can hardly be limited to neurological disorders. It has long been recognized as the world's leading medical center for heart and vascular disease care.
Goodman seemed eager to parlay the momentum spurred by the Ruvo Center.
"What I've found in this job is success breeds success," Goodman said. "This was once barren land, but the World Market Center went up, the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center went up, the Smith Center (for Performing Arts) is going up, and it's spreading through the region."
From the clinic's medical staff, Cleveland Clinic President Dr. Toby Cosgrove and Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute Chairman Dr. Michael Modic were on hand. Joining them was Dr. Jeffrey Cummings, formerly director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at UCLA. Cummings is one of the nation's top medical minds in the field of research of brain disorders related to Alzheimer's, among many other brain disorders.
Cummings is in the process of moving to Las Vegas, having been lured by Ruvo's powerfully persuasive manner and the resources behind the clinic (which are largely a result of Ruvo's persuasive manner).
"I wanted a clinical platform large enough to do the kind of work I feel passionate about. ... I'm passionate about finding new treatments for Alzheimer's, and there are the resources here to do that," Cummings said. "I feel there is great support from Larry Ruvo and the center here in Las Vegas. The mayor welcomed me today. I've already met him. I've lived in Los Angeles for 20 years, and I've never met the mayor (the non-former mob attorney Antonio Villaraigosa), and I would not expect to meet him any time soon."
Ruvo said he experienced few anxious moments during the three years since the center's formal groundbreaking. There were moments, he said, when he wondered if the needed funding for the center would meet the growing expenses. Over the past three years, between $60 million to 70 million has been raised for the clinic.
"But I never doubted we'd get here. No, never," he said. "I never look back. I always look ahead."
More from the scene:
• Libby Lumpkin worked the perimeter of the event and said there has been no formal reorganization of her role as curator of the center's art exhibit. She said she started looking for career options outside Las Vegas almost immediately after Las Vegas Art Museum closed in February 2009. She has been offered a tenured teaching position at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and her husband, acclaimed author, art critic and genius-grant recipient Dave Hickey is leaving for a teaching position there, too. She said she does plan to remain in an active role at the clinic but that the position was not a full-time career. At least, not for her.
• Goodman said plans for Lady Luck's long-awaited reopening are moving forward. No specific time frame has been set, but Goodman said that after meeting with representatives of Lady Luck's ownership group (Los Angeles-based CIM Group), he's confident that new construction will begin "soon." The hotel-casino has been closed since February 2006.
• Former City Councilman and current County Commissioner Larry Brown and Council members Stavros Anthony and Lois Tarkanian were in attendance. Tarkanian was joined by Jerry Tarkanian, and if you ever thought you'd see the day when Jerry Tarkanian would occupy a concrete bench in the heart of Las Vegas and not be disturbed, Friday was it. He didn't seem to mind, either, as I went up and disturbed him. He's feeling OK, just not as lively in the legs as he used to be.
• Goodman is hosting a media tour of the Mob Museum on 300 Stewart Ave. on Tuesday morning. Both organized-crime attractions in Las Vegas claim to be so unlike the other that there should be no heated competition between the two. But powerful personalities are at the front of both attractions — Goodman and civic officials on one side, Jay Bloom and a host of mob-connected families on the other — and it will get heated, oh yes.
• The first event at the Life Activities Center was May 1, a bat mitzvah for Jaye Straus, daughter of Heidi and David Straus. Jaye Straus is the granddaughter of Caesars Palace and Circus Circus founder Jay Sarno and was named for him. The night was not without glitches, though. The dishwasher broke. Ruvo called architect Frank Gehry the following Monday to tell him there was a significant problem with his building.
• Cosgrove by the numbers: More than 23,000 surgeries, more than 30 patents, in his medical career.
• Goodman, on his meeting this week with President Clinton, who visited Las Vegas on Wednesday to dedicate the retrofitting of a building at 302 E. Carson, a 46-year-old, 11-story office tower downtown: "He's a very smart guy and very charming. He told me, 'Mayor, I'm jealous of how many people have voted for you.' "
- Best in Show
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Dogs in the blog
Absent for a year but returning Sunday is the "Best in Show" doggie adoption event at The Orleans Arena. Terry Fator is hosting this year's event, in which 60 dogs from Lied Animal Shelter will be shown, judged (but not harshly) and put up for adoption. During a recent interview for my radio show, "Our Metropolis," on KUNV 91.5-FM, Lied Animal Shelter Director of Operations Jason Smith and event chairwoman Dale Wynn said the chief objective is not to adopt out all 60 dogs. That did happen in 2008, as a dog-loving audience of more than 4,000 eagerly snapped up those pooches available; that year, a couple of dogs not adopted at the event found homes during the week.
The real issue is educating people of what happens outside "Best in Show." Some 50,000 animals are sent to the foundation each year (that's about 960 each week) for reasons ranging from foreclosure to simple neglect, and they all need homes. Sad to say, Lied is the largest shelter in the United States by the measure of animals it takes in for adoption. It's so large that there are 60
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