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October 23, 2014

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Politics:

Q+A: Bob Beers on budgets, Cliven Bundy and his challenge of Sen. Harry Reid

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Steve Marcus

Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers poses in his office Tuesday, May 15, 2014.

Councilman Bob Beers is frustrated that the City of Las Vegas can’t seem to live within its means.

At a recent meeting, council members praised their own work on the city budget. But to get the budget passed, they had to dip into their savings account for $9 million to hire more than three dozen people and boosting police spending to Metro by nearly 6 percent.

When the praise ended, Beers spoke quietly and criticized the city for not cutting expenses like the typical Las Vegas resident had to during the recession.

"My developer friends … sold their cars and put their kids in public school … I guess we're different because we can pull money from general taxpayers,” he said. “I wish there was a better solution.”

Beers, who represents Ward 2 in west Las Vegas, earned his fiscal conservative reputation as a state senator in 2005. That year, he helped convince the late Gov. Kenny Guinn to return a $300-million budget surplus to taxpayers.

In 2006, Beers ran for governor but came in second in the Republican primary to Jim Gibbons. Earlier this year, he announced plans to run for U.S. Senate against Harry Reid in 2016.

The 54-year-old doesn’t seem to tire of overseeing budgets, but he looked tired after the recent city budget hearing.

Q. What makes you think you can beat Harry Reid?

A. Because Washington is not sustainable the way it’s running now. You can’t do this to your children, you can’t do this to your currency and have a sustainable society.

As a Republican, what slot do you fill: moderate, conservative, tea-partier?

I’ll leave that to you to decide.

Well, here’s a delineator: How did you feel about the Bundy Ranch incident?

I do believe both sides in the Bundy incident were wrong. And I find it deeply alarming that a branch of government made up of bureaucrats managing vacant land (the BLM) also possess AR-15s.

If elected, would you be seen as a budget hawk in Washington?

I would be in a more explosive and extreme unreasonable spending environment. Thus, by contrast, I would be the same old me but by contrast I would look that way.

What’s your view on public sector vs. private sector unions?

Unions evolved from a broad professional protection idea to include skills development and run apprenticeship programs and learn a trade. And they negotiate with “The Man” for more of The Man’s money. Somehow, that concept has been applied to government where unions don’t get involved in any skills development … and, frankly, The Man is not a robber-baron taking shoes off babies to roll them into fat cigars. The Man is you and me.

I’m supportive of unions in the private sector.

What’s the biggest issue facing Las Vegas in the next 10 years?

Water.

How about we build a desalination plant for California in return for the water they take from the Colorado River every year?

Or why don’t we buy a strawberry farm in the Imperial Valley, let it go fallow and keep the water credits they would normally get? Buy more farms as need arises instead of spending a big chunk of money all at once on some project.

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