Harrah's Las Vegas closed 537 rooms and a county building inspector was reassigned this week amid the ongoing investigation into whether major remodeling at Harrah's Entertainment properties went on without proper permits or safety inspections.
The Clark County investigation was spurred by a Review-Journal investigation that showed remodeling work on 17 floors of the Rio's Ipanema tower was done without proper permits or inspections. The county last week ordered the Rio to close two floors holding about 140 rooms in the guest tower while building inspectors and Harrah's Entertainment rechecked the work.
Harrah's Las Vegas voluntarily closed more than 500 rooms Monday to re-examine remodeling work done there.
"The county is doing everything it can to make sure the rooms are properly inspected, remediated and repaired, then brought back online," said Jan Jones, a Harrah's Entertainment executive.
On Thursday, County Manager Virginia Valentine removed building inspector Rick Maddox from the investigation at the Rio, citing negative public perception about his role.
Maddox had inspected the work in February, six months after Fred Frazzetta, an electrician who worked on the Rio project, filed a complaint with the county building division. Maddox's inspection declared the work was original and not remodeled and exonerated Harrah's.
Maddox said his removal from the investigation was because he was too personally involved and couldn't be objective.
Gaming officials oppose tax hike
Gaming industry reps took up arms in the debate over raising the state's gaming tax to fund education, saying the teachers union proposal unfairly targets casinos.
The reaction came in response to the Nevada State Education Association's plan for a petition drive to raise the tax on Nevada's largest casinos from 6.75 percent to 9.75 percent. The increase would add $250 million a year to the public schools budget, union officials said. Other projections show it would raise $400 million.
Gaming officials said other industries should share the tax burden.
"Other businesses and industries that benefit from our vibrant economy need to have a responsibility to be part of the solution," Boyd Gaming spokesman Rob Stillwell said. "We just happen to be the most visible."
Las Vegas car thefts drop 15 percent
After skyrocketing up the list of worst cities for car thefts, Las Vegas got some good news.
Thanks to new technologies and techniques, Las Vegas police reported a 15 percent drop in stolen vehicle reports through the first nine months of the year.
In 2006, Clark County had the worst car theft rate in the nation, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Facing such a dismal ranking, Las Vegas police brought in new tactics such as bait cars and beefed-up their auto theft unit.
51s fan takes case to Supreme Court
A Las Vegas 51s fan who had her nose broken by a foul ball took her case to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Lawyers for Kathleen Turner argued she should be allowed to sue Cashman Field's operator, Mandalay Sports Entertainment, for creating a casual atmosphere in the Beer Garden that lured the 54-year-old into a "feeling of complacency." Her case had been thrown out by a District Court judge.
Mandalay's attorneys asked the state Supreme Court to adopt the limited-duty rule, sometimes called the "baseball rule," which protects stadium operators from litigation.
Orthodontics program on notice
A report given to a Board of Regents committee painted a bleak picture for the future of UNLV's troubled orthodontics program.
The report by the Commission on Dental Accreditation expressed serious doubts about the program's financial backing, its quality of education and the ratio of faculty to students. After hearing the report, angry regents gave the program six months to turn around before facing the possibility of shutting down.
Regent Steve Sisolak was livid over the report and was the lone vote against giving the program more time to turn things around.
"I've been lied to," Sisolak said. "I've got too many taxpayers in the state of Nevada being lied to."
UNLV's orthodontics program has had problems since a company it partnered with backed out last year. But its future hasn't been in jeopardy until this year, when a national organization threatened to revoke the program's accreditation. The Commission on Dental Accreditation gave UNLV until Feb. 1 to comply with its recommendations.
Regents reject guns on campus
Regents shot down an unusual proposal that would have made Nevada the only state to pay its faculty to attend police academies and then allowing them to carry firearms on campuses.
The 8-5 vote brought an end to an idea that had been debated, attracted national attention and brought out the collective fears of faculty and staff.
University Regent Stavros Anthony, who is a Las Vegas police officer, pitched the idea after the Virginia Tech shootings in April left 33 dead. He wanted to create pools of reserve police officers for Nevada campuses that would be made up partly of faculty.
COMPILED BY BRIAN HAYNES
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