They call themselves "the most informed people you'll find in the city."
They attend every North Las Vegas City Council meeting demanding to know the plan for closing a $30 million budget shortfall while keeping state officials from assuming the city's finances.
Most are respectful.
Others are more passionate, blowing through their allotted three minutes when they address the council at City Hall, 2200 Civic Center Drive. Sometimes their monologues become more of a public dressing down rather than constructive criticism or suggestions to improve the city's fiscal situation.
Meet community advocates Bob Mersereau, Gary Bouchard, Bob Borgersen, Ken Angell and Steve and Gay Shoaff. All have lived in the financially strapped city for more than six years and have attended council meetings for just as long.
Half of them are Republicans, and the others are Democrats. They don't always agree with one another about how the city should solve it s fiscal problems, but they've found a common ground in voicing their concerns .
"This is all because of poor planning," Angell, 59, said. "We don't want the state to come in. The possibility of a 28 percent property tax increase? That's the maximum they can throw at us, and I'm certain the city of North Las Vegas would love that. We'll watch houses go into default how many more times? I won't pay 28 percent. You'll have people leaving in droves."
They're all in agreement that apathy within the community has allowed the city to "spiral out of control," which some claim is evident by low voter turnout. A single vote separated the two candidates in the Ward 4 City Council race, causing a massive legal snarl. There was a tie in the Ward 2 race, which prompted a card draw. Borgersen's daughter, Linda Meisenheimer, was a candidate in that race, which Pamela Goynes-Brown won.
It's a Saturday afternoon, and a spirited debate is going on at the Borgersen household. Some have come prepared with copies of City Council agendas and the minutes of those meetings.
"Here's something that bothers me," Bouchard, 61, said. "We're all outraged and other people in the city of North Las Vegas who should be upset, they could care less. It's a few people who care, but about 10 percent of the people control the votes."
When asked about their efforts despite what little impact they might have on the actions of the council, Gay Shoaff, who serves on the city's utility advisory board, threw up her hands.
"Somebody has to do something," the 58-year-old said.
The discussion over a recent billboard campaign critical of the council and sponsored by the city's police union has the group livid. Most agreed that the signs, which claim residents' safety is "no longer guaranteed," are a scare tactic that only will invite crime.
"There will be no residential, no industrial (and) no commercial growth of any kind because of these signs," Gay Shoaff said.
Some in the group support consolidating the city's public safety agencies and handing over control to the county, citing "unsustainable salaries" that were negotiated when money was coming into the city.
The discussion switches over to the failed Gensler project, which aimed to transform the city into an international business hub by dividing North Las Vegas into economic districts capable of attracting Fortune 500 companies. The city had agreed to pay Gensler, the architectural firm responsible for Las Vegas' CityCenter, $500,000 for a redevelopment plan. Mayor Shari Buck was the lone vote against the plan and called the idea "a very pie-in-the-sky boondoggle."
In March, the firm withdrew its proposal, citing a "present political controversy."
"It would have been exactly what we needed right now to overcome every bit of this financial crisis," Mersereau, 75, said.
Some of that plan relied on the presence of a satellite campus from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, that has yet to come to fruition because of the downturn in the economy.
As for the suggestions to sell off the city's new $240 million wastewater treatment plant on leased land near Nellis Air Force Base and the yet-to-open $130 million City Hall, Mersereau, who heads the city's Alliance of Homeowners and Concerned Citizens, said it would only add to the city's financial problems.
Angell chimed in, calling the new city hall "the Taj Mahal."
"We hardly needed such a structure," he said.
Gay Shoaff said she thought the wastewater treatment plant was a necessary project that could save taxpayer money once the legal battles with the county are resolved.
Her husband, Steve, disagreed, saying the project was a mistake.
Despite what they call a lack of community participation, members of the group said they feel their comments resonate with the City Council.
"It's going to cost people money if they don't get involved, and they have nobody to blame but themselves," Steve Shoaff said. "You don't get involved, it's your fault. The City Council needs to be watched. They're just human beings. They make mistakes. They're only as good as the information presented before them."
He added that he's concerned about a lack of diversity -- in race, gender and age -- at council meetings.
"This city needs every color and every age group involved," Steve Shoaff said. "Otherwise, things will never be any better than what they are right now. We've got a bunch of old gray hairs here."
Contact Downtown and North Las Vegas View reporter Kristi Jourdan at email@example.com or 383-0492.