It was bad enough in 2009, when President Obama told bankers who accepted taxpayer bailouts, "You can't go take a trip to Las Vegas ... on the taxpayers' dime."
The chill grew more noticeable a year later, when the president advised voters at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire: "You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college."
But the real concern over government convention traffic came two months ago, when there were congressional hearings over a $823,000 bill run up by the General Services Administration for its big Las Vegas-area party in the fall of 2010, including $100,405 for pre-planning meetings and "scouting trips," $44 per head for breakfast, $7,000 for a sushi reception and $3,200 for a session with a mind reader.
All of which makes it good news that next year's annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors has just been scheduled for Mandalay Bay, on the Strip. Conference officials in Orlando, Fla., announced the decision last week.
"We are a great place for meetings, but we are also a great place to have a great time," Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman told the group. The conference last held its annual gathering in Southern Nevada in 2006, at Paris Las Vegas.
According to Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority spokesman Vince Alberta, the conference is expected to attract 1,300 attendees and generate about $1.3 million in spending in the local economy. The mayors will arrive next June - the same month Southern Nevada is scheduled to host the U.S. Travel International Pow Wow, which Mr. Alberta said means "great exposure for the destination."
These bookings send the message loud and clear: game on.