Substance lacking in Mayor Goodman’s ‘State of’ speech

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman struck out Thursday with a third self-indulgent speech that sometimes sounded like she was reading the back of a cereal box and sometimes made little sense but contained plenty of jokes and plenty of shout-outs to people in the audience.

Sometimes you knew who she was praising and why, sometimes it wasn’t clear. It resembled a movie awards speech in which she had to name staffers and others, as well as deliver her standard and now familiar paean to her husband and predecessor, Oscar Goodman.

She apparently tried to restrain herself, noting she was allocated 45 minutes to talk. She kept it to 58 minutes. Because she read her comments, she failed to see people quietly leaving or observe looks on faces that silently cried out, “Shut up, already.”

Goodman offered no new policy initiatives, no big announcements. She delivered jokes well, but her speech was often little more than reading a list of openings and re-openings downtown with a few words of praise for each one. I can’t remember the last mayor who thought the opening of a tavern downtown was worthy of inclusion in a State of the City speech.

Like she has done before in her two previous State of the City speeches, she bogged down in small details and let the big picture slip away. But she still came across as funny, likable and passionate about downtown redevelopment despite her flawed presentation.

The only real new news was leaking that when the More Cops vote comes before the Clark County Commission on Jan. 21, the latest version seems likely to pass. After noting that safety is a priority and that all five mayors and councils in Clark County have supported the largest increase first proposed, the half-cent on a dollar sales tax increase, it appears a smaller version will finally pass.

“The good news is that just this week, the word is out behind the scenes that we’re getting closer to a positive resolve with our partners in the county,” she said.

The latest proposal from Sheriff Doug Gillespie is smaller and kicks in completely only after he spends roughly half of the $140 million he banked to pay long-term salaries for the first batch of More Cops hired.

The fifth vote needed to pass something is Commissioner Tom Collins, who told me Friday that the latest plan is a comprehensive hybrid plan of getting the full 0.15 percent over time (before the next Legislature) and spending a lot of the existing More Cops money, all in one vote. “If it hires enough cops, which I think it will, then it should pass.”

When in full force, Clark County’s sales tax would rise to 8.25 percent, and 101 additional police officers would be hired by the end of June 2016. That is roughly enough to replace retirees.

The most memorable part of Goodman’s speech was the detail she provided about her son’s injuries and how he was identified.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman, her youngest son, went jogging Dec. 15, and it’s unknown how he ended up in a park restroom with severe head injuries. First responders didn’t know his identity, and the only way they found out was when he was briefly revived and gave them the code to his cellphone, which was strapped to his arm. Then he passed out again.

That allowed authorities to contact the Goodmans.

She has asked Las Vegas Fire Chief William McDonald to develop a system where people could register their information with the Fire Department and wear a band when they are out alone. Their identity information could be contained in a data bank.

She praised the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue and the University Medical Center for their combined efforts, saying that without their efforts, her son “would not be with us today.”

Goodman’s mother bear mode cannot by criticized. It’s her essence. It’s what makes her a passionate advocate for education.

It’s the mother mode that makes her want to give shout-outs to people she thinks deserve them. I understand that. But private thank-yous work.

Mayor Goodman could and should restrain herself so that her State of the City speeches are substantive, making her less like a cheerleader reading a list and more like a mayor.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call her at (702) 383-0275.