Juiced deal dies

Sometimes, the layers of government bureaucracy don't serve as a wet blanket. Sometimes, they provide actual, valuable oversight.

Taxpayers can toast the Nevada Housing Division for rejecting a plan that would have allowed two former Las Vegas councilmen to use tax money to build housing units the valley doesn't need.

Five months ago, Michael McDonald, chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, won the blessing of the Las Vegas City Council to spend almost $4 million of public money to construct nearly 200 senior apartments near Vegas Drive and Decatur Boulevard. Even then, it was clear the expensive "affordable housing" project didn't pencil out and didn't make sense, given a real estate market with no shortage of cheap homes and Mr. McDonald's sketchy political history and limited business experience. He brought on another ex-councilman, Frank Hawkins, as a consultant to help seal the deal.

But the men needed federal tax credits to fully fund the project. And the state did what the city should have done months ago: It said no.

"Clearly the state looked at his business qualifications and track record regarding housing and not his political access," said Martin Dean Dupalo, president of the Nevada Center for Public Ethics.

So the city reluctantly terminated its development agreement with Mr. McDonald. And thus the public was saved from yet another government housing boondoggle.

Is it too much to ask that a wooden stake be driven through this contract, then dunked in holy water? Anything that ensures this deal stays dead.


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