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August 1, 2014

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ANSWERS: CLARK COUNTY:

Citizens weigh in on state of affairs in North Las Vegas

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Justin M. Bowen

One of many billboards put up by The North Las Vegas Police Officer Association is displayed on the corner of Craig Road and Bruce Street Thursday, July 7, 2011. The signs were put up by the North Las Vegas Police Officer Association in response to the city lawmakers attempt to lay off 17 officers and three supervisors. A district judge put in a restraining order to prevent the layoffs, which were part of a budget reduction plan by the council last May reduce a $30 million gap in the 2012 fiscal budget.

Recent news that North Las Vegas’ finances could be taken over by the Taxation Department, along with a story listing some of the decisions that have led to this point, prompted several calls and emails. North Las Vegas residents are angry.

At whom or what?

Many North Las Vegas readers are furious at the union representing the city’s police officers. Facing officer layoffs, which the City Council had approved in May to help balance its budget and eliminate a $30 million deficit, the union peppered city streets with signs cautioning that the city is no longer safe — “Warning: Due to recent police layoffs, we can no longer ensure your safety!”

The layoffs never happened, thanks to a decision by District Judge Nancy Allf, who agreed with the union that layoffs would violate the union’s contract.

Now, the city says it is paying $165,000 a week that could have been saved had those layoffs, and others including firefighters, taken place.

People who admitted to not being avid followers of local politics weighed in. One was Bobby Mockbee, who owns TheInfoPeople, 720 W. Cheyenne Ave., a longtime family-owned business that sells engraved awards, trophies and other items. Mockbee said the police union’s signs are “a slap in the face” to the city’s business operators.

Despite its best efforts, as well as a growth spike in the mid-2000s that led to the creation of master-planned communities, North Las Vegas “has always had a stigma associated with it,” Mockbee said. “I don’t care if 80 percent of it is new or not.”

Who else called?

Some called grumbling about the inequity in union contracts among North Las Vegas police and fire, and the city’s other union workers, many of whom will likely be laid off if the city leaves police and fire alone. Then again, if the city sells its new City Hall, not yet opened, and its new wastewater treatment facility, which opened a month ago, it might be able to eliminate a good chunk of its long-term debt and fewer people would lose their jobs. The City Council is expected to vote on ways to fix the financial mess at an upcoming meeting.

Any other calls and issues related to North Las Vegas?

One person closely tied to North Las Vegas politics called to say that Las Vegas should look at consolidating with North Las Vegas. Las Vegas would assume North Las Vegas’ debt, but consolidation would open the northeast valley to Las Vegas, eliminating the need for the landlocked municipality to carry out leapfrog growth.

Is that it?

Not quite. Many people expect the police union to file papers seeking the recall of North Las Vegas City Council members Anita Wood and Robert Eliason, who have not voted the police union’s way all the time. Sources say union members are poring over the two council members’ votes and gearing up to obtain signatures of 25 percent of the people who voted in the last election. That might not be easy, sources say, given the fact that North Las Vegas has experienced so many foreclosures. Many of the people who have voted in the past might not live in the city anymore.

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  1. "Many people expect the police union to file papers seeking the recall of North Las Vegas City Council members Anita Wood and Robert Eliason, who have not voted the police union's way all the time. Sources say union members are poring over the two council members' votes and gearing up to obtain signatures of 25 percent of the people who voted in the last election."

    This is EXACTLY why I say public employee unions are a conflict of interest and should not be allowed. What's worse, is that many of the union members who want to control OUR city don't even live here.

    Why should non-residents be able to control what we have to pay?

  2. When was there ever a "guarantee" of safety in the past? I have seen however, up to THREE police cars at a routine traffic stop, with TWO police at the rear of the car line up BSing. The driver stopped was just sitting in the car waiting for his ticket.

    I have seen Simmons street lit up time after time like a Christmas tree with red and blue lights of police vehicles giving their Citizen Victims tickets. Simmons is a six lane street with one lane in the middle, but apparently the home of long time criminals and law breakers, which is why it is patrolled so heavily.

    The criminals we are being protected from looked more like commuters who failed to see the 35mph speed limit and went 45mph, or "forgot to signal" when changing lanes, which is $190 fine plus all the insurance executives can squeeze out next year.

    North Las Vegas is a Prison City, the prisons of which help introduce the inmates to each other and forms the core of crime central training, paid for by the residents.

    The only guarantee I've experienced in North Las Vegas are fines from HOAs, which the bank will eventually pay, and pension, paycheck and ticket guarantees for the city. My guarantee in return is to fight every ticket I ever get again. Need a pension? Don't follow me.

  3. While high wages paid to public sector employees makes up a small part of the "to numerous to count" problems faced by North Las Vegas, the real problem lies with the voters themselves who religiously vote in to office the worst possible candidates, over and over and over and over.......................

    To the residents of North Las Vegas, I say to you, .................You reap what you sow..... Enjoy

  4. "Warning: Due to recent police layoffs, we can no longer ensure your safety!"

    The threshold inquiry here would be how "safety" is defined. It seems according to the NLV police union it's a disarmed citizenry with them everywhere creating the need for their services.

    "Because there is no comparison whatsoever between an armed and a disarmed man; it is not reasonable to suppose that one who is armed will obey willingly one who is unarmed; or that any unarmed man will remain safe among armed servants." -- Niccolo Machiavelli 1513 "The Prince" Chapter IV

  5. I've always been a big supporters of police personnel. I understand commitment and duty. I'm less inclined to continue to do so after this slap in the face.

    First, lets not BS anyone here, the police have never guaranteed anyones safety, not here, not anywhere. Nowhere is there anything codified in law that says the police are responsible for our safety. They are responsible for enforcing the law.

    Second, no crime statistics for NLV I've seen shows any increase in crime direct caused by staffing shortfalls. One may draw inferences about changes in some crimes that may result from changes in the economy since the recession.

    Third, it is irresponsible for police to put up signs threatening us with a less responsive police force due to layoffs that never happened when it's obviously done for financial and political purposes.

    As a retired US Marine I can say never has the US military threatened not to do our job regardless of the issue. Not during the Carter and Clinton years when they decimated our ranks and defunded DOD to fund social programs; not when we went years without adequate pay, COL raises and not during Carters 28% interest, 13% inflation rates and not now when we haven't had a COLA for 4 years. No 4.5% raises like NLV got this year. We didn't threaten the taxpayers with not doing our job, not even when our equipment was so old that the wings were falling off aircraft in flight causing loss of life.

    We did bitch just like anybody but mostly we worked harder and longer. Our armorers invented ways to keep small arms working even when we couldn't get parts. I watched a slide come off a pre WWII era Colt 45 and hit my SNCO in the face during firing. The armorer welded the frame, machined it, refitted the slide and reissued it. We used obsolete and decommissioned equipment, cannibalized parts to make one good tools, test equipment, hydraulic jennys, etc. We improvised, worked harder, smarter and never gave up. And we would have slapped down anyone who didn't.

    We didn't punch a clock, watch a clock, take sick days off or vacation when necessary. We sometimes lost leave because it wasn't used by the required date. We got paid less with smaller pensions than police but we always did our jobs even when it cost us... and we did it without a union.

    So, I'm losing my patience with the whining, woe is me and the world owes me a living crap. My advice is to strand up, strap up, shut up and do the job. Or quit and find another one. No one is forcing them to be a police officer and no one wants to be threatened by them not doing their job. We all have families to support and bills to pay. And for those loyal enough to sick it out, they know they will be remembered for that loyalty when times get better.

    If the police and their union think this is a winning tactic, keep it up. I don't think it is and I suspect it will cost them big in the end if they do.

  6. @dipstick - Unfortunately, the only remaining person on City Council that voted for either the Union Contracts, Gregory Rose's contract with a platinum parachute or started the new City Hall or Waste Water Treatment plant is the Mayor herself. So, if anyone is going to be subject of a recall, it should be her.

    Her never-ending temper tantrums, inability to provide any sort of leadership and general corrupt actions are enough.

    I will say that I'm impressed with the number of well-thought out comments. If this is the case, I'm actually hopeful for the City of North Las Vegas - until the next municipal election when only a fraction of people actually show up and vote.

  7. Judge Gonzales muddied the waters with her questionable decision to prevent the special precinct election in Ward 4 that would have sealed the victory for Richard Cherchio over Mayor Buck's and the police and firemens unions' choice in the race Wade Wagner. If this lunacy plays itself out, based on strictly power and money politics, shortly all the really good council people in NLV will be gone, and Buck and the unions will be in total control--that's the real end of the city !

    Mayor Buck plays nasty politics,and she lacks
    a vision for NLV, and will finish off the city in no time flat! The interesting aspect of the emerging pattern is that the police/firemens unions are undermining themselves, and when the City caves in they may all be gone. On the other hand if Cherchio, Eliason and Wood can hang in there, there is still hope for NLV!The real push should be on recalling Buck.I would love another vote on her--the first time I made the big mistake of voting for her.

  8. NLV is a nice City area with suburban potentials. It is obvious, the City's officials, namely Mayor Buck is non-productive and lack true leadership qualities. How can a City with declining revenues agree to build a new City Hall and Sewer Plant when employees are losing jobs. At no time did the City Council volunteer to forgo their salaries during conncessions by the Teamsters and Security unions.

    NLV Mayor & Council have not received acceptable evaluations to justify their salaries and monthly transportation perks. Futhermore, what have they done to increase services in the city? For instance, did they force removal of the terrible signs by th police union about NLV safety? Have they forced banks/owners of foreclosure properties to maintain yards and structures? Have they visited neighborhoods to make an assessment of the voters needs? Have they ever insisted that the police walk/ride into neighborhoods at least once per month to be visible? TIME FOR A CHANGE.

    As a former union officer from another State, I must agree about the validity of a contract. Management can't have second thoughts after agreeing to terms that were ratified by the members. The blame lies with NLV labor relations reps. and the NLV Mayor and Council for signing such an outlandish agreement. Futhermore, if the actions of our NLV Mayor and City Council result in the financial take over by the State and more taxes for the City residents, an immediate recall of elected officals is warranted.