Las Vegas Sun

September 1, 2014

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DAILY MEMO: LAS VEGAS CITY HALL:

For mayor, unusual disappointments

Goodman’s preferred candidate defeated, pet projects imperiled

Mayor Oscar Goodman is accustomed to winning.

He won reelection by record margins. The City Council almost always follows his lead — voting unanimously 98.4 percent of the time, according to a Sun analysis last year. And downtown redevelopment has at times appeared to progress by the sheer force of his will.

Those facts make the mayor’s win-loss record during the week of June 15 stand out. It saw Goodman’s favored City Council candidate — who supported his stance on a key project — lose in a razor-thin recount, and potential delays announced for several of his most touted downtown redevelopment projects.

The mayor’s fierce will, he is starting to concede, cannot overcome a spiraling economy.

The bad news for Goodman began June 15, when he received word that the candidate he had endorsed in the Ward 4 City Council race, Glenn Trowbridge, had lost an election recount. Trowbridge lost to Stavros Anthony by just 10 votes out of 6,608 cast.

Goodman supported Trowbridge in large part because he was more in line than Anthony with the mayor’s new city hall project. Unlike every other member of the council, Anthony has strongly opposed the plan.

Goodman cherishes cohesiveness on his seven-member council. Anthony could present an unwanted challenge to his leadership.

Anthony was sworn in to the council the following Wednesday — a day of more bad news for the mayor.

Much of the council’s meeting that day was spent trying to settle a bidding dispute between two contractors aiming to renovate the interior of the planned mob museum. The $11.5 million contract was scheduled to be awarded to APCO Construction. But after Flagship Construction Co. filed a protest of what they claimed was an unfair bidding process, the matter was postponed.

The fight had Goodman and the council flummoxed. Some council members expressed concerns about the city’s bidding process.

For Goodman, a different concern dominated. The bidding scrap could cause the opening of the museum — currently slated for about a year from now — to be delayed by two years.

“I hope that the council will be able to wend its way through ... so we can get that open,” Goodman said last week. “I’m not around that much longer, and I’ve been the driving force, I guess, about the concept and I hope it’s completed while I still can enjoy it in public office.”

That wasn’t the only delay of a major project. An official with Newland Communities, serving both as Symphony Park’s project manager for the city and developer of several residential projects there, announced during the same council meeting that the company would delay the start of its first project.

Construction on that project, which will include a 19-story high rise, has been pushed back two years to 2011, Rita Brandin said.

But perhaps the most surprising concession about downtown development delays came from Goodman at his Thursday news conference.

The new city hall project — the controversial development that’s been the subject of ballot measures and court fights with the Culinary Union — may be too expensive, the mayor said.

He said he has asked his staff for a report on the current feasibility of the project, which could cost up to $267 million. The report will be delivered at the council’s July 1 meeting.

Goodman defeated the Culinary. But ultimately, the economy may be too tough an opponent.

“I didn’t create the economic problem, but I’m going to be a good mayor and make sure that I’ll be a steward of the public trust,” he insisted. “My ego is not gonna get in the way.”

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