Lee uses hyperbole, cutting comments to steer mayoral spotlight north


For 12 years reporters looking for blunt words and tough talk needed only to head to Las Vegas City Hall and find former Mayor Oscar Goodman.

Maybe it’s time to turn to North Las Vegas for new material.

That’s where former legislator John Lee is settling in as mayor and dishing out quick quips and cutting comments of his own.

Lee was in top form last week at a “Hashtags &Headlines” forum sponsored by the Review-Journal. It included Lee, Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, the less loquacious spouse of the aforementioned Oscar.

And it was Lee who got off some noteworthy one-liners, including one in response to ongoing efforts to store nuclear waste in Nevada.

“If it’s going through North Las Vegas, I will block the freeways,” said Lee, applying some Goodman-esque hyperbole.

He didn’t shy from making some cutting remarks about operations within his own city either.

When the talk turned to home rule — the idea that local governments should have more control than the state when it comes to taxing and spending — Lee departed from the conventional line that more home rule is better.

Not only was he on a different page than Hafen and Goodman, he was using the circumstances of his own, cash-strapped city as an example of why local government needs limits.

“If North Las Vegas had home rule, how much worse could things have been with that leadership,” said Lee, who has already watched much of the senior staff hired under previous administrations walk out the door.

“I will tell you right now I am not a proponent of home rule based on the fact every time I kick over a rock things scurry out that I didn’t know were there.”

Lee might know his way around microphones; but until he tops Goodman’s showgirls gimmicks, he’s still got more to learn when it comes to attention-grabbing antics.

DRINKING IN SOME RESEARCH

If you’re looking for lively holiday cheer this season, you could do worse than Bob Coffin’s home.

During a discussion about a proposed moratorium on new liquor store applications on Fremont Street, the Las Vegas city councilman said he did his own research in the area and was disturbed by the preponderance of outlets selling sugary, fruity and booze-heavy beverages such as Four Loko.

In the name of research, Coffin took the tour a step further and bought some of his own to enjoy, apparently, when the time is right.

“I bought a can of Four Loko with a huge amount of alcohol,” Coffin said during a council Recommending Committee meeting. “I haven’t tried it yet. I’m thinking maybe Christmas Eve.”

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN

Las Vegas Mayor Pro Tem Stavros Anthony might have to clear his schedule for a few more years if Mayor Carolyn Goodman is sincere about her desire to run again in 2015.

“If I live that long, absolutely,” Goodman said in response to the re-election question.

It’s well known that Anthony, a retired Las Vegas police captain, has been eyeing the mayor’s chair for awhile. When asked to respond to Goodman’s comment, however, Anthony said he would put his own political ambition on hold if she decided to run again.

“Bottom line is, if Mayor Goodman runs again, I will support her 100 percent,” Anthony said. “If she doesn’t run for mayor, I will be running.”

Anthony was re-elected earlier this year to a second term on the council, which means he could run for a third term should Goodman win another four years of her own.

THE REAL WORD OF THE YEAR

The Oxford English Dictionary folks clearly were wrong Tuesday when they named “selfie” the word of the year for 2013.

Anyone in the United States, at least, knows the word of the year has been “Obamacare.”

If you want to be technical, it’s the Affordable Care Act, although even President Barack Obama at times refers to it as Obamacare.

Selfie? What the heck is that? People under 20 may know it’s taking your own picture on your smartphone. But to older people, it’s seems more like the misspelling of selfish.

HICKEY PLEADS FOR UNITY

With the Republican Party split into conservative and moderate factions, Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, took the issue head-on Nov. 18 by politely scolding Republicans at a Washoe County GOP dinner.

“Our problem as Republicans is (whether it’s the so-called moderates or so-called conservatives in control) that we like to practice what I call ‘Pup Tent Party Politics,’ shooting at each other and trying to take out our own in primaries against Republican incumbents because they are not ideologically pure enough.”

Hickey said that for the Republican Party to prosper, party members need to do what is “right but smart.” And that is by adhering to Ronald Reagan’s old adage that, “Just because I’m your friend 80 percent of the time, it doesn’t make me your enemy 20 percent of the time.”

At a time when the Affordable Care Act is under broad attack, it will be interesting to see in November’s election whether Republicans have found a way to unite factions and go after Democrats rather than themselves.

COLLINS SPEAKS, SAILORS BLUSH

Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins had some spirited interactions with the press at Tuesday’s commission meeting.

As the meeting was beginning, he walked up to a Review-Journal reporter and inquired if the newspaper had removed information from its website that he didn’t consider appropriate — an unredacted arbitrator’s ruling about a fired county hotline worker.

The arbitrator had ruled that the worker, Jadon Davis, gets his job back, and faulted county policy in Davis’ handling of a call regarding a 7-year-old abuse victim who died.

“You’re bad,” Collins whispered when told the document would remain on the website.

Later, as reporters gathered to ask about his stalled More Cops sales tax proposal, the commissioner asked if the reporter had to be there.

The reporter is an “a--hole,” Collins said to the clutch of reporters from most Las Vegas Valley media outlets, plus a county public information officer.

He complained again about the online document and made a reference to its connection to litigation, though that linkage was unclear.

Collins eventually spoke about his proposal, employing the same colorful language.

Asked why he tabled his proposal, Collins started by saying, “Without being rude …” before dropping his voice to a whisper and referring to his fellow commissioners with a profanity that describes a person who performs fellatio.

Returning to his normal tone of voice, he went on.

“Without being rude — you didn’t catch that — without being rude to a lot of folks that don’t like someone or don’t like something, whether it’s their community where they live or whether it’s the County Commission or the, the lemonade party that doesn’t like taxes or whatever — OK, I’m trying to be generic.”

“I’m not following you, Tom,” one reporter said.

“I’m still waiting for the answer,” said another.

Eventually, Collins explained that a detailed budget presentation is planned, and talked some more without profanity.

As his conversation with the media wrapped up, he looked the Review-Journal reporter in the eye, smiled, and whispered, “F--- you.”

MILLER PREVAILS IN COURT

Chalk one up for Secretary of State Ross Miller. District Judge James Wilson of Carson City ruled Nov. 13 that the Alliance for America’s Future must register as a political action committee in Nevada and submit a list of people who donated more than $100.

Miller filed a lawsuit against the organization in May 2010 after it refused to follow the state law that requires it to register and list its donors with the secretary of state.

The dispute was over an alliance TV ad dealing with the GOP gubernatorial primary between then-Gov. Jim Gibbons and candidate Brian Sandoval that ran 320 times. The independent ad was designed to gather support for Sandoval. Sandoval beat the incumbent governor by a 2-to-1 margin that June.

The organization contended it did not need to register in Nevada because the $189,200 it spent was only 2.4 percent of its $7.8 million total budget for 2010 and therefore did not have a “major purpose” of influencing elections in Nevada. The organization also said Nevada had no interest in learning the names of donors whose money was not used on the Nevada ad.

But Wilson ruled the alliance must at least report donors for the Nevada ad and pay the secretary of state $15,000 in civil penalties for failing to comply with the state law. It also must pay a fine of $295.50 for each time the ad aired, or about $95,000.

Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has been identified as one of the alliance’s leaders. She is now running for the U.S. Senate for Wyoming.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285. Follow him on Twitter @BenSpillman702. Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at edvogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901. Follow him on Twitter @edison vogel. Contact reporter Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.

 

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