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October 20, 2014

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NLV mayoral candidate gets warm greeting at barbecue

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William Robinson

Click to enlarge photo

Shari Buck

The back-yard barbecue was a chance to meet North Las Vegas Councilman and mayoral candidate William Robinson. There were plenty of burgers and hot dogs and lots of friendly banter. And no one was heard asking Robinson about being the focus of a 1994 FBI political corruption investigation.

It was so long ago, people said dismissively, sipping red wine and munching on cheese cubes.

Why bring it up now? they said, scooping potato salad onto foam plates.

And Robinson has made it clear he won’t discuss the 1,600 pages of one-sided FBI transcripts that were part of a sting aimed at busting corrupt politicians. No charges were filed.

The event was billed as a “BBQ for Democratic Candidates.”

The attendees gossiped about Robinson’s opponent, Councilwoman Shari Buck, a Republican. They talked about the $12-an-hour internship the city police department created especially for her then-19-year-old daughter in 2005.

County Commissioner Tom Collins showed up, offering his support for longtime friend Robinson and City Council candidate Anita Wood, who chatted with voters near a cooler filled with sodas.

Collins detests Buck. In 2004, Buck ran a brutal but unsuccessful campaign against Collins for a Clark County Commission seat, targeting his arrest record, which included misdemeanor battery (he was convicted) and DUI charges (which were plea-bargained down to reckless driving).

Collins thinks Robinson, a city councilman since 1983, will win the race, FBI investigation notwithstanding.

“They were talking about me punching people in the nose and I still won,” Collins said, munching on a hot dog wrapped in a slice of American cheese.

• • •

The North Las Vegas City Council approved a tentative $817 million budget Tuesday that included massive cuts. If more are needed, it will likely mean layoffs.

Earlier the city chopped department budgets by 3 percent, froze hiring and negotiated concessions with unions as it trimmed about $15 million from the coming year’s budget.

But more was on the table during the hourlong budget presentation by City Manager Gregory Rose.

The city is delaying work on several park projects, including the planned Tropical Breeze Park at Tropical Parkway and Bruce Street.

It will also delay a $5 million expenditure on infrastructure improvements to the downtown redevelopment area along Las Vegas Boulevard North.

Additionally, the city’s annual Balloona-

Palooza and Tastes & Tunes festivals will be canceled.

The city managed to avoid laying off any employees.

Rose said any future cuts would likely require the city to reduce staff and outsource services.

“Which ones?” Councilman William Robinson asked. “Don’t know yet,” Rose said.

Robinson also questioned whether the city staff had a plan in case tax revenue continues to drop.

“I want to see the doom and gloom part of what could happen,” he said.

Rose said it was too early to project future revenue.

• • •

Three top jobs at Henderson City Hall are in transition.

On Tuesday Mark Calhoun was officially named the new city manager.

Calhoun had been the interim city manager since the City Council fired Mary Kay Peck last month, accusing her of mismanaging the city budget and treating employees poorly.

Peck is suing the city for wrongful termination.

Calhoun will be paid $225,000 a year. He has worked for Henderson since 1983, serving as city engineer, public works director and assistant city manager.

Also on Tuesday the City Council celebrated City Attorney Shauna Hughes’ retirement.

Hughes has been the city attorney since 1983. She took a recent buyout offered to experienced employees as the city aims to cut costs during the recession.

Assistant City Attorney Elizabeth Quillin has been named her successor.

Financial Director Steve Hanson, who has held the position since 1985, also had planned to take a buyout next month.

But he agreed to stay on the city staff until February to help the city ride out the recession.

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