Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2014

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ANSWERS: CLARK COUNTY:

New-route noise lights up airport hotline

This week’s main topic: Airplanes.

More specifically, the noise — and complaints — they generate.

You’ll recall all the hubbub over a new departure route that went into effect at McCarran International Airport last year. Las Vegas unsuccessfully fought the new route, which sent about 200 flights a day over the western part of the city starting in March 2007.

We’ve taken a look at the number of calls being made to the airport’s noise complaint hotline to gauge the effect of the new route. The numbers are clear: Las Vegans aren’t happy.

How dramatically did calls increase?

Here are the number of calls. We also included the percentage that came from residents in Las Vegas:

2007: 4,944 (41 percent from Las Vegas)

2006: 3,797 (1 percent from Las Vegas)

2005: 1,044 (10 percent from Las Vegas)

2004: 3,620 (2 percent from Las Vegas)

2003: 2,745 (3 percent from Las Vegas)

But here’s something you ought to know about this data. A few callers can have a huge effect. And believe us, there are some dedicated callers out there. That’s why airport officials are quick to point out that 36 percent of the calls in 2007 came from just 13 households.

So it might be more accurate to look at the number of callers, rather than calls?

Right. Here are those numbers:

2007: 1,371

2006: 267

2005: 375

2004: 440

2003: 400

As you can see, the numbers look a lot different this way. Still, the message is clear. People didn’t like the new flight path, often called the “right turn.”

I’m no mathematician, but don’t the 2006 numbers suggest that a few people made a whole lot of calls?

We had the same thought and put the question to airport officials. Airport spokesman Chris Jones said sometimes a single resident will make hundreds of calls.

Hundreds?

Yep. Sometimes even more.

Who made the most?

That record goes to Joe Capozzi, a resident in the southwest part of the valley. He called an impressive 2,664 times from 2005 to 2007. He made most of those calls — 1,902 — in 2006. That’s an average of more than five calls a day. It also means Capozzi single-handedly doubled the number of calls to the hotline that year. Not bad.

We called him Friday, but he didn’t want to talk much. He did offer an explanation for the large number of calls, though.

“We were instructed that one call equals one complaint,” he said. “If I made one call and complained about 10 planes, it would be counted as one complaint.”

So he called once for each noisy plane that flew over his house.

The first week of candidate filing is over. Any surprise candidates running for county commission?

The only contest that might be interesting so far is between Las Vegas City Councilman Larry Brown and Assemblywoman Valerie Weber. They are vying for the seat held by Commissioner Chip Maxfield, who isn’t running for reelection.

Two other contestants also jumped into commission races last week. Both are political newcomers and aren’t expected to seriously compete with the incumbents they’re challenging.

Who are they?

Both have worked for county government. Not sure what that says, but here’s a brief introduction.

Duane Christy, 46, runs a collection agency. A newcomer to politics, he has filed to run against fellow Republican Bruce Woodbury, the longest serving commissioner in Nevada history.

Isn’t that political suicide?

More of a mistake actually. Christy said he didn’t realize Woodbury was running again. In fact, he said Woodbury has done a “great job” and has an “impeccable record.”

But Christy said he’s decided to stay in the race anyway to toss some ideas around and learn about the district in case he decides to run again in four years, when Woodbury will be term-limited.

Christy worked for University Medical Center for 10 years in the county hospital’s collections department. He quit in 1996, when he started his own company, Aargon Collection Agency, he said.

Who else jumped in?

Republican Gary Hosea, 55, is taking on Commissioner Tom Collins, the cowboy-turned-politician and former chairman of the Nevada Democratic Party. Like Christy, he is a political newbie who has connections to the county. He’s a record technician in the county’s development services department.

Hosea, a 20-year Army veteran, is promising better accountability and efficiency. Those issues could resonate with voters, but Hosea is facing a financial hurdle. He hasn’t raised any money.

That could be a problem. Collins is holding a fundraiser May 21, and, as our colleague Jon Ralston pointed out last week, the invitation boasts a lengthy list of supporters — more than 100 ranging from fellow politicos to lobbyists. Lots of lobbyists. The commissioner is calling the fundraiser a “shindig” and offering big donors “gold belt buckle” status.

Candidates can file through Friday.

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