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September 2, 2014

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Mayor finds silver lining for Las Vegas in GSA scandal

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Steve Marcus

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman speaks during a Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Aria Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman downplayed concerns Tuesday that a recent scandal involving the federal General Services Administration is hurting Las Vegas. In fact, the mayor said the spotlight focused here as a result of the investigation was helping the city.

Goodman said the benefit was twofold: National media outlets have come to town to cover the story, giving city officials an opportunity to tout Las Vegas’ attractions; and the spending being condemned by federal officials spreads well beyond Nevada, highlighting the fact that excessive spending can take place anywhere.

Earlier this month, a senior GSA official resigned after a report concluded her agency improperly paid for an “over-the-top” training session in Henderson. The $820,000, 300-person conference at the M Resort featured a mind reader, bicycle giveaways and lavish after-hour receptions for federal workers. Investigators also found that GSA officials took taxpayer-funded trips to Hawaii, Napa Valley and the South Pacific.

“Don’t make us a scapegoat for how our tax dollars are misspent,” Goodman said Tuesday. “Darn it, Washington. Get your act together and don’t waste our dollars.”

Goodman shared her thoughts on the GSA scandal after a speech she gave to members of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. A business leader had asked Goodman whether she thought the investigation had hurt the city.

Goodman spent more than a half an hour at Aria speaking to chamber members about ways to improve the city’s economy and business climate. Goodman echoed much of what she said during her State of the City speech, proposing that small businesses be rewarded with a favorable tax structure and encouraging more research opportunities at UNLV. She also advocated for bringing an NBA team to Las Vegas and building a large stadium near the university.

“We are on the verge of a really fabulous time,” Goodman said. “We have the brain power. Now we need the investment.”

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