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Sisolak throws water on Culinary’s UFC complaint

Culinary Local 226 and the Ultimate Fighting Championship are mixing it up again, and this time the Clark County Government Center has become the octagon.

Union leaders are attempting a rear naked choke on the UFC by opposing a recent County Commission approval of an outdoor water feature at UFC’s proposed new global headquarters in the south valley.

The Culinary union charges the water feature is decorative and “wasteful” at a time when businesses are being asked to conserve water.

Filing an appeal with the commission to reconsider its decision, the union argues the commissioners approved the UFC’s water feature even though county planning staffers recommended denying it.

But commission Chairman Steve Sisolak countered, saying the water feature is not decorative and that it’s actually a shallow pond serving as a functional part of a cooling tower. The commissioners serve as the zoning panel members.

Sisolak explained Tuesday that staff initially recommended against the water feature because they misunderstood the UFC application before realizing it was part of the cooling tower and made to look attractive.

Indeed, Nancy Amundsen, director of department of comprehensive planning, wrote to a county commissioner: “As I stated at the public meeting, upon learning that the proposed water feature at the UFC Headquarters was actually a necessary and functional component serving an allowable use (the cooling towers), under Title 30, the regulation would be exempt …”

But in a press release Tuesday, the union included the political contributions from the UFC to Sisolak and fellow Commissioners Susan Brager, Lawrence Weekly and Mary Beth Scow.

“It’s definitely a fact you have to consider,” Jim Sullivan, Culinary Local 226 research analyst, said of the political contributions.

Commissioners Tom Collins and Chris Giunchigliani dissented.

The union and UFC are bitter foes because nonunion Station Casinos is owned by the Fertittas, including Lorenzo, who is UFC’s CEO.

“I don’t believe it’s just about the water feature,” Sisolak said of Local 226’s opposition to the cooling pond at UFC’s new headquarters.

UFC blames the union for applying political pressure in the New York Legislature, which recently declined to adopt mixed martial arts legislation that would legalize sanctioned MMA fight events in the Empire State.

“This is the latest attempt by the Culinary union to harass an innocent company,” said Lori Nelson, Station Casinos spokeswoman. “This is one of thousands of bully tactics they have tried to use because they have been unsuccessful in persuading the majority of team members to join the union.”

Contact Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Find him on Twitter: @BicycleManSnel.

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