A class of fifth graders from Garehime Elementary got a sobering lesson in local government Wednesday morning.
Sometimes, even well-researched proposals fail.
In a 3-3 vote, the Las Vegas City Council rejected the class’s proposal to designate the black-tailed jackrabbit as the city’s official animal. Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Councilmen Cedric Crear and Bob Coffin voted no. Councilwoman Michele Fiore was absent from the meeting, and a tie means the proposal failed.
“I can tell you people in my ward would want to have an opportunity to submit what the official animal should be,” said Crear, who suggested holding a contest to name an official animal.
The split vote came after the students presented a slideshow and took turns speaking for several minutes about the native species. They had worked on the proposal since last school year.
“Our country has a bald eagle as a representation of our courage and power. Our state has the bighorn sheep as a representation of our wilderness and our strength,” the student said. “Our city, Las Vegas, needs an animal mascot that represents our city’s unique energy, history and perseverance.”
The students said they chose the desert dwelling black-tailed jackrabbit from a list of animals that included the scorpion, rattlesnake, coyote and mountain lion.
The hare’s speed matches the quick pace of Las Vegas; its power to make large leaps is similar to the city’s strength in recovering from the 2017 mass shooting’ and it is hardworking like the people who created the city and live here now, the students said.
“The black-tailed jackrabbit is an animal that reflects our nature and desert wonders as well as connecting to the unique qualities that Las Vegas embodies,” the students said.
Councilman Stavros Anthony, who supported the proposal, said he was disappointed with the council’s decision.
“I’m kind of surprised at all of this. I thought this was going to be noncontroversial. I thought this was going to be a no-brainer,” he said. “Since I’ve been on the city council nobody has ever once mentioned an official animal. Nobody has once mentioned a contest.”
The children did not leave empty-handed. The council thanked them for their activism and presented them with a proclamation declaring Oct. 17, 2018, as Black-tailed Jackrabbit Day.
The class’s teacher, Shelley Kress, wrote in an email her students were pleased with the proclamation and had taken to heart Coffin’s suggestion that they may gain his support if they narrowed their request to a designation such as the city mammal or city rabbit.
“They are incredibly proud of themselves, and I am incredibly proud of them. … we will continue to work with Councilman Anthony’s office to see what we might be able to do to get the recognition,” she wrote.
In other action
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday voted 4-to-3 to postpone a discussion on a proposed open-space ordinance until Nov. 7. Councilwoman Michele Fiore called into the meeting from Singapore, where it was almost 2 a.m., to tip the vote in favor of postponement.
The council voted to ban feeding wild pigeons both on public property and at private homes, similar to a measure enacted in unincorporated Clark County last year. Violating the law is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
In order to cut down on noise, businesses in the six-block Downtown Entertainment Overlay District are required to aim outdoor speakers toward the business. The council also banned drinking alcohol from cans and bottles in the district; however, drinks purchased in plastic containers from bars can be consumed outdoors.