‘Skeptomist’ mayor’s talk has balance, not bluster

North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee managed to balance skepticism with optimism in his State of the City speech Thursday at the Aliante. He even coined a word to describe the feeling: “skeptomistic.”

His city continues to reel as the depth of its financial picture becomes clearer. While most state of the city addresses are glorified ticker-tape parades with enough hot air to float enormous cartoon balloons, Lee was somewhat more circumspect. But while he asserted he didn’t intend to dwell on the financial mismanagement of the recent past, he couldn’t help himself.

“I have dumped my bucket, and I am ready to move on,” Lee said at one point.

Then he proceeded to knock his predecessors and question their competence.

In keeping with the theme of the day, avowed optimist Rudy Ruettiger gave a brief pep talk, and no fewer than two officials with the Metro Chamber of Commerce held forth on the potential of North Las Vegas as the valley recovers from the recession.

“We have ended the days of North Las Vegas bumbling along with one financial crisis to the next without a clearly defined vision for our city,” Lee said. “Our council has decided to act, and not react, by stepping forward with an honest assessment of our financial condition.”

In tough financial times, the tough talk is the easy part. The more difficult task will be in making substantial cuts while balancing complex interests and local services.

WYNN’S ART: This time, it’s Elaine Wynn who is making headlines in the art world.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Wynn, a co-founder of Wynn Resorts Ltd., in November paid $142.4 million at Christie’s New York for Irish artist Francis Bacon’s triptych, “Three Studies of Lucian Freud.”

The article notes that Steve Wynn is the better known art collector of the two. Last year, he sold Picasso’s “Le Reve” for $155 million. Ex-wife Elaine’s estimated net worth, as measured by Forbes, is $1.9 billion.

DUNES REDUX: Remember Sid Wyman? How about Morris Shenker? The Dunes closed for good in 1997 to make way for the Bellagio, but its former employees continue to cherish their memories of the colorful carpet joint. Each year, they gather to celebrate their time there under bosses Wyman, Shenker, and others.

Thanks to Pegg Wallace and her friends, the reunion continues in style this year with a gathering set for 5 p.m. Jan. 29 at the New York City Bar and Grill at 6168 W. Spring Mountain Road. All former Dunes employees are welcome.

CLIP JOINT: Down at 2341 E. Bonanza Road near Eastern Avenue, Gary &Derrill’s Plaza Barber Shop is closing in on 50 years in business. A celebration of the hometown clip joint is being planned for March. It is owned by former Las Vegas City Councilman Gary Reese and is known for attracting working folks and power players alike.

Shopping center manager Jeff Mayhew can’t wait to celebrate his special tenant.

“Gary is just a solid, standup guy who looks out for people,” Mayhew says. “It’s rare in today’s world to have somebody who has that rocklike presence in the community.”

VEGAS VACATION: The New York Times Travel section recently highlighted many of the world’s best vacation spots under the headline, “52 Places to Go in 2014.” Alas, neither Las Vegas nor Nevada made the list.

The feature wasn’t intended to be comprehensive, and the selections were of the sort that generally excite experienced travelers and those who favor armchair expeditions.

The oversight was exacerbated by the fact the roundup included downtown Los Angeles and Indianapolis and such world destinations as the Albanian coast and rural Serbia.

At one point, the list came close to the state line with the selection of Tahoe, Calif. The entry included a mention of the legendary Cal-Neva and its famous former part-owner Frank Sinatra.

ON THE BOULEVARD: District Judge James Bixler, a solid fixture in the local justice system for 34 years, this week confirmed he will retire from the bench. … Diehard Democrat and former Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid will mix it up with ex-state GOP Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian during the 12:30 news broadcast at KSNV-TV, Channel 3, starting Feb. 10 in a segment titled “What’s Your Point?”

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