On her fourth effort, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman gave her best State of the City speech so far. And her shortest at 50 minutes.
There was less overt kowtowing to the vision of her husband, former Mayor Oscar Goodman, and more about Carolyn’s vision. Her jokes were funny but she didn’t try to be a laugh riot like last year. Oh, and she had the self-discipline to mostly stick to her written remarks which had substance but didn’t overload with unnecessary details.
It was a far cry from her first one in 2012 when the consensus about the 80-minute speech was summed up in one word: “Long.” And it was an improvement on her 2014 speech, which tried to cover too much and ended up sounding trivial.
What made last Thursday’s speech different from her other three was that it had an edge. Without naming the three council members who are opposing spending public dollars on the Goodmans’ pet project, a downtown stadium, she took shots at them and predicted doom for downtown without the stadium.
She also spoke harshly about the news media’s criticism of the project. She clarified in her news conference afterward, her comments were primarily directed at the Review-Journal’s editorial page, which she has lambasted previously in televised city council meetings.
In Goodman’s opinion, those who questioned the stadium financing were naysayers while supporters were visionaries.
The uninformed listener might be deceived into thinking the entire council supports the stadium from the way Goodman spoke of the council’s “courage” to keep working on the stadium and keep “open minds.” But in a series of votes, the approval to move forward has barely scraped by with mostly 4-3 votes.
The three opponents are council members Bob Beers, Stavros Anthony and Lois Tarkanian. Beers and Anthony have opposed the use of public dollars for a stadium since the beginning. Tarkanian has waffled on the project and recently said she thought she may have been snookered. Bob Coffin turned from foe to friend after the city voted to give $25 million for parks as part of the complex agreement. His older ward is short on parks.
The unwavering triumvirate in support of a downtown stadium are Goodman, Ricki Barlow and Steve Ross.
“You can listen to the pundits in the media who try to create controversy to sell their misinformation and hype, if that’s what you choose,” she said. “You and we and us need to think deeper, find out the truth and get the real facts.”
She cautioned that the stadium only goes forward “if we get a franchise,” referring to a Major League Soccer team.
(At her news conference later, she explained, if that doesn’t come through — and many think it won’t — there are other sports options that could be viable and if she’s re-elected to a second term, she’ll keep working on those possibilities.)
“We don’t need any naysaying and putting roadblocks up to prevent a strong future,” she said during her speech, urging more public private partnerships of the kind that developed the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the World Market Center and the Las Vegas Outlet Mall.
She painted a bleak picture of downtown without the stadium. “Without substantive and new reasons to visit our downtown, our city businesses will be challenged to stay open. Our casinos and hotel rooms will not be filled. Our shops, our galleries, our taverns, our restaurants will empty.”
Beers has since launched an effort to put a question on the June ballot to see what the public thinks of using $56.5 million of city money for parking and infrastructure primarily benefiting the stadium being developed by Findlay Sports & Entertainment and The Cordish Cos. The city would pay them $25 million and add $31.5 million in infrastructure improvements. The land the city would provide is worth $35 million to $48 million and tax breaks are estimated at up to $7 million.
Beers’ petition reads: “The City of Las Vegas is hereby prohibited from contributing, investing or lending any of its revenue or assets, or those of its Redevelopment Agency, for a Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium in Symphony Park.”
After her speech, Goodman said she respected Beers’ right to launch his petition drive but that the council is well informed on issues. “We are elected to do the job.”
In an indirect swipe at Beers, an accountant who pointed out a $4 million hole in one lengthy proposal, she criticized that the news media doesn’t get the other side before printing comments.
Beers had found that hole before the city staff had done its analysis and city officials weren’t prepared to comment on his concerns. Goodman thought the news media should have waited until the city was prepared to comment, showing a poor grasp of today’s competitive news cycle.
“We need the media behind us,” Goodman said.
Goodman wants cheerleaders, not naysayers.
Beers certainly doesn’t fit that role, nor does the bulk of the local news media.
Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Thursdays. Email her at email@example.com or leave a message at 702-383-0275. Find her on Twitter @janeannmorrison.