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September 22, 2014

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Sam Skolnik

Story Archive

At breakfast focused on prayer, Goodman finds ways to amuse
Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009
The Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada’s mayors prayer breakfast is billed as an occasion to celebrate diversity and unity and, of course, prayer. But for Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, any public gathering — no matter how lofty or reverent the purpose — is a platform for his trademark shtick.
Henderson postpones vote on toughening law on massage parlors
Number of licenses would increase because more would need them
Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009
The Henderson City Council on Tuesday postponed action on a proposed ordinance clamping down on massage parlors. Without comment, the vote was moved to early next year, probably in January or February.
Binion's to close all 365 rooms, lay off 100 workers
Monday, Nov. 30, 2009
Binion's Gambling Hall & Hotel in downtown Las Vegas will close a 365-room hotel tower on Dec. 14 and lay off about 100 workers. Spokeswoman Lisa Robinson said the decision was made as a result of the economic downturn, which has decreased occupancy at the property and other hotels across the Las Vegas Valley. Binion's also will close the Binion's Original Coffee Shop and discontinue keno.
LV budget numbers foretell many layoffs
Hundreds could lose jobs if city can’t make other significant spending cuts
Monday, Nov. 30, 2009
The hints began dropping at the Nov. 18 City Council meeting: The announced layoffs of a few Las Vegas city workers likely won’t be the last.

After bruising bout, both City Hall and Culinary end up winners
Their deal: Represent workers in new hotels — you got it; new city hall — you got it
Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009
The proposed peace pact between Las Vegas and the Culinary Union — until recently the most intractable of political enemies — appears to offer a victory to both sides. The agreement between the city and the Culinary spells out a rather clear quid pro quo: The Culinary may unionize future resorts downtown and, in return, it agrees not to picket or strike or sue the city.
City, Culinary Union pact would mandate 'mutual support'
Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009
After the ballot initiatives and the lawsuit, after all the harsh words and the animosity built up between the Culinary Union and the city of Las Vegas, the two parties, once seemingly intractable enemies, are on the verge of officially making peace.
Loss of some sleep just the price of progress at Tenaya Way
Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009
Construction workers began their labor on the city’s Tenaya Way overpass project early Friday morning. Incredibly early. The overpass is part of a $7.8 million project officially called the Tenaya Way Overpass and Bonanza Trail improvement project. It will link Tenaya by bridge over Summerlin Parkway, connecting Washington and points north to Westcliff Drive and points south.
City adopts ordinance requiring pets be spayed, neutered
Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009
The Las Vegas City Council, heeding the call of a wide coalition of spay-and-neuter proponents, on Wednesday passed the toughest such ordinance in the region in an attempt to reduce rampant pet overpopulation. After a hearing that lasted almost three hours, the council voted 5-2 to pass the measure. Regionwide last year, 55,000 stray animals found their way to shelters. More than 30,000 were put to death.
Henderson mayor says closed-door council sessions were proper
But in one case, state attorney general’s office disagreed
Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009
The city of Henderson appears to be getting used to conducting important business in private. Secret meetings or votes by the Henderson City Council have occurred twice in the past several months.
New city hall bonds have given project stimulating effect
Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009
President Barack Obama’s federal stimulus bill might bail out Mayor Oscar Goodman’s new city hall project.
In recent weeks each of the three major rating agencies, Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, gave the city hall financing plan their fourth-highest rating — increasing the likelihood that the city will be able to raise the $179 million needed for the project.

Henderson's toughest challenges: Mark Calhoun, City Manager
Monday, Nov. 16, 2009
Henderson City Manager Mark Calhoun moved to Henderson from Michigan in 1983 to take a job as city engineer.
Survey reveals residents’ priorities
In tough economy, they want safety ensured above all
Friday, Nov. 13, 2009
Before city coffers fell on hard times, the big City Council debates over spending focused on which districts would get money for new parks.
ICE wants to build in LV; city wants a certain builder
Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency wants to build a Las Vegas headquarters. That news was broken at last week’s Las Vegas City Council meeting by representatives of the Molasky Group, the developer behind several large government projects.
For the record, commissioner offers passionate defense
Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009
Former Councilman Larry Brown was always among the cooler characters on the Las Vegas City Council. In contrast to Mayor Oscar Goodman with his outbursts and lectures, Brown usually laid out the facts in measured tones.
City found at fault in tennis court defects case
Arbitrators award contractor total of $2 million; each side spent more on attorney fees
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009
State-appointed arbitrators have found that Las Vegas managers “knew from the beginning” that their plans for the Darling Memorial Tennis Center were defective — long before the center’s cracked courts launched a costly, four-year legal dispute.

Jail filling up, suburb to try new approach
Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009
In an effort to save money and reduce crowding in an often filled-up local jail, Henderson is set to establish an Alternative Sentencing Division at its next City Council meeting. The new division would be responsible for supervising misdemeanor probationers.
LV council member in a fix over other job
Ross to face ethics panel in complaint that votes clashed with role as union leader
Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009
Before July, Las Vegas Councilman Steve Ross was a consistent “yes” vote on Mayor Oscar Goodman’s plans for a new city hall. It stands to reason. Ross is secretary-treasurer of the Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council.

City may cut license fee to spur arts area nightlife
Sunday, Oct. 25, 2009
Three years ago, Las Vegas created a new business designation — the “urban lounge,” a kind of cross between a bar and a nightclub tailored to the downtown arts crowd. But no such lounges have opened, even though at least four have been approved by the City Council.
Pet sterilization. Not mandatory, yet
Las Vegas City Council to consider law aimed at reducing animal overpopulation
Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009
Last year more than 55,000 stray animals landed at local shelters. Experts say those numbers, if unchecked, will continue to rise in this economy, as home foreclosures prompt some owners to abandon pets and the downturn spurs unlicensed animal breeders to chase quick profits. The Las Vegas City Council will today introduce what would be the toughest spay-and-neuter ordinance in the region.
Council support for mayor’s pet project might be slipping
Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009
Mayor Oscar Goodman has faced down his share of threats to his plans for a new city hall.
Length of stays at motel an issue for arts district
Friday, Oct. 16, 2009
Downtown residents have lined up against a motel’s plans to convert many of its rooms into “extended stay” quarters.
Las Vegas city auditor on the lookout for fraud, waste
Head of auditor’s office has brought quantifiable toughness to oversight
Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009
As the recession has deepened and the city’s budget has tightened, Las Vegas officials have emphasized streamlining the bureaucracy, including launching new programs focused on cost savings.
A compelling argument can be made that the city has for just over a decade had an office dedicated to improving efficiency: the Las Vegas city auditor’s office, headed by Radford Snelding.

Do incentives to the big guys trickle down?
City fails to track programs designed to provide work
Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009
Included in deals that attracted a number of projects to downtown Las Vegas were programs intended to benefit residents of surrounding neighborhoods. But community activists and some city officials are saying the programs simply have not worked.
Plans to give 'Star Trek' attraction a home in Vegas still alive
Monday, Oct. 5, 2009
The dream of bringing acquisitive Ferengi, scheming Romulans and combative Klingons to downtown Las Vegas — as if downtown weren’t colorful enough — is still alive.
Little light shines on politicians’ side funds
Law doesn’t force them to reveal who’s bankrolling committees
Monday, Oct. 5, 2009
Since 2000, Mayor Oscar Goodman has formed two political action committees with the stated goal of revitalizing downtown Las Vegas.

Ex-councilman Michael Mack behind pawnshop push
Against existing stores’ wishes, proposed change would pave way for more
Monday, Sept. 28, 2009
A familiar and controversial name is behind Las Vegas’ proposed ordinance to increase the number of allowed pawnshops: former Councilman Michael Mack.
Rick Rizzolo’s old strip club, Crazy Horse Too, might have a buyer
Deal hinges on licensing and change of another club's similar name
Friday, Sept. 25, 2009
The federal government has wanted to unload the Crazy Horse Too strip club ever since the U.S. Marshals Service assumed ownership of it in 2007, as part of a plea agreement with its former owner, convicted felon Rick Rizzolo.
Homes have unwanted Strip view: Parked billboards
Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009
For some, the scores of mobile billboards that troll the Strip are yet another reminder of the in-your-face advertising culture of Las Vegas. The billboard trucks generally don’t operate within city limits, but some drivers have been planting them in residential neighborhoods during off hours. A proposed ordinance before the City Council would make that illegal.
Pawnshops oppose proposal that could increase rivals
Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009
Las Vegas is in the early stages of considering an ordinance to allow more pawnshops in the city — the measure has no City Council sponsor, and council members have yet to be briefed on it.

Not yet built, mob museum may get rival
Friday, Sept. 11, 2009
A new mob war is brewing in Las Vegas. On one side, you’ve got the long-planned, $50 million downtown mob museum sponsored by the city. On the other, you’ve got three investors planning their own display at a Strip hotel.
Councilman Stavros Anthony takes on the role of the contrarian
He’s crossed the mayor on new city hall, mob museum
Monday, Sept. 7, 2009
Stavros Anthony made it clear during his campaign for Las Vegas City Council that he wouldn’t support two of Mayor Oscar Goodman’s biggest proposed downtown developments: the new city hall and the mob museum.
In his first three months on the council, Anthony’s comments and consistent “no” votes have shown he intends to maintain those positions.
City hall plans moving forward, behind the scenes
Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009
Two months ago Mayor Oscar Goodman said the City Council needed to re-evaluate its proposal for a new city hall. “We hope the times are less challenging, and then we’ll decide whether or not we’re gonna pay for it, and whether we can pay for it,” he said.
Companies, city officials scrutinize how Vegas awards contracts
Monday, Aug. 24, 2009
Over the past decade, the process Las Vegas has used to award hundreds of millions of dollars in city contracts has been a quiet one, with few protests from losing bidders and even fewer spats among City Council members over the contracts.

Jewelry hub won’t adorn Symphony Park soon
City Council set to soften time line, add wiggle room to deal for project
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009
Plans to build a key world jewelry industry hub in downtown’s Symphony Park will take years longer than originally planned.
Gold Spike reborn as larger Lady Luck sits idle
Despite little help from the city, things are looking up at The Gold Spike, but not at a bigger project that’s received more aid
Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009
In some of Las Vegas’ grittiest dive bars, stale cigarette smoke hangs in the air, fixtures are coated with ’70s-era grime and the clientele often includes sex and drug peddlers.
The Gold Spike used to be something close — a dive casino. “Before we bought the place, people were scared to come down here,” said Michael Crandall, business affairs director for the Siegel Group, which purchased the property early last year. The ambitious Siegel Group is finishing top-to-bottom renovations at the Gold Spike and the adjacent Travel Inn.
Scientology ups profile
Controversial church expanding to synagogue’s former home as part of global recruitment push
Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009
Scientology is getting big in the Las Vegas Valley, at least in terms of square footage.
The controversial religion is renovating a former synagogue complex near the corner of Eastern Avenue and Emerson Avenue so that it can become Scientology’s focal point in Nevada, with 36,845 square feet of space and a “Celebrity Centre” to specially cater to high-profile artists, celebrities and community leaders.
The Las Vegas celebrity center will be Scientology’s fourth such center in the U.S. The others are in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville, Tenn.
Las Vegas' guru of alternative fuels
Dan Hyde sounds off of on his effort to make Las Vegas' vehicular fleet green
Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009
Dan Hyde’s job title at Las Vegas City Hall is fleet and transportation services manager. But “alternative fuels guru” might be more fitting. Largely through the efforts of Hyde, who’s been in the job since 1993, the city’s fleet of cars, trucks and street sweepers has become the greenest of any municipality in the country.
Mob museum contractor at odds with city
Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009
The most expensive arbitration in Las Vegas’ history, costing taxpayers $3.3 million and counting, involves APCO Construction. The city claims the 23 courts at the Darling Memorial Tennis Center weren’t built properly and that each court was cracked before the center opened. In turn, APCO claims its warnings about design flaws were ignored, and is seeking $7 million in damages. Despite being at odds with the city over the costly project, APCO, a well-connected company founded almost a half-century ago, has continued bidding for, and winning, major city contracts since the arbitration began in 2005.
With arena plan dead, what next for former REI Neon site?
Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009
From the beginning, city officials acknowledged the $10.5-billion dreams of REI Neon — a basketball arena, casino and boutique hotel on 73 gritty downtown acres — were a long shot. Although the City Council formally ended REI Neon’s quest to build an arena in October, the future of the “gaming overlay district,” which would allow casinos on the site, is unclear.
Hard times dash high hopes for downtown's Streamline Tower
In a cautionary tale of the downturn, Streamline goes from swank to repossessed to bargain-basement
Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009
Once touted as a sign of a resurgent downtown, Streamline Tower has become a symbol of how the economic downturn has hurt revitalization efforts. Potential buyers are reportedly floating bids at a fraction of the original $205 million cost of the property.
Proven again: Home rule a lost cause
Legislators aren’t willing to give up power over cities’ purse strings
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The issue has come up again and again in Carson City. Like clockwork, legislators who believe that cities and counties should control their own financial destinies sponsor a bill to change the law.

Whose influence engages city's expensive legal tangles?
Battles have cost Las Vegas lots of precious general fund dollars
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic has waged a number of battles royal on behalf of the city, costing it lots of money for legal fights. For those looking to assign blame for the city’s poor courtroom record, the most obvious culprit would be Jerbic. But that conclusion would ignore the role Mayor Oscar Goodman and City Council members have had.
Tentative deal reached with fire union
City firefighters would receive no cost-of-living raises for two years
Friday, July 24, 2009
After four months of tough negotiations, the union representing the city’s firefighters has finally reached a tentative accord with the city on a two-year contract calling for no cost-of-living raises, sources confirm.
Symphony Park's dirty little secret: $30 million cleanup
The cost of cleaning the soil in the downtown expansion area may hit $30 million. The city and a former owner each say the other should pay.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Las Vegas officials have long known that before they create a sparkling new downtown at Symphony Park they must deal with remnants of the site’s past as a rail yard. The 61-acre site is a brownfield, an abandoned industrial site that had been home to Union Pacific Railroad Co.’s local refueling station — and is still home to dirt contaminated by diesel fuel and other petroleum hydrocarbons. As the park’s second major project takes root, the city and the railroad — each claiming the other is ultimately responsible for up to $30 million in costs for soil cleanup called “remediation” — have reached a truce.
Grocery store finds popularity where for years no other tried
Monday, July 13, 2009
It took years for Las Vegas officials to find a grocery store willing to do business in the downtrodden neighborhood that was once the thriving center of the area’s black community.
Auditor finds fault in oversight of consultants
Contract monitoring policy suggested for second time, said to be in the works
Monday, July 13, 2009
Consultants hired by the city may be doing their jobs effectively, but that’s difficult to know because the city has done a poor job of monitoring contracts. That’s just one of the conclusions reached in reports released by the city auditor’s office.
Experts raise issues on probe of Moulin Rouge fire
Demolition seen as obstacle to determining if cause was arson
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
For city residents, the four-alarm fire at the Moulin Rouge in May was a civic misfortune, the second major blaze to devastate the site since the iconic downtown hotel opened in 1955. For Las Vegas arson investigators the blaze presents a host of facts to explore.
City Hall project gets support, leaders note risks
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Top city of Las Vegas staffers and most of the City Council expressed continued support for the new City Hall project at the council’s Wednesday meeting, reasoning that the risks of delay outweighed those of moving forward despite the faltering economy.
The fight over the closing of F Street
In West Las Vegas, memories of a historical racial divide loom over the city's desire to redevelop its downtown
Sunday, June 28, 2009
The decision to close the street opened old wounds and will end up costing taxpayers $40 million to $70 million -- millions governments could have saved had more residents been aware of the plan. Instead, advocates had to march, hire a lawyer and lobby lawmakers to force the reopening of F Street, after the fact.
Handling the public display of contrition
Political consultants, public relations executives and media experts evaluate aftermath of high-profile affairs
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Here’s the new playbook for politicians caught in unseemly dalliances: Get to it quickly, read a brief statement of acknowledgment and regret, and leave the wife at home. One expert says Americans “don’t like liars” and reward truth-tellers.

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