Report dissects government spending

• $14,000 for cell phones that sat unused.

• $3,000 for trinkets bearing the names of Las Vegas City Council members.

• $800 for four 100-pound pigs.

That’s a handful of the numbers — some of which are quite large — thrown around in the "Nevada Piglet Book 2008," which takes readers on a whirlwind tour of some of the greatest complaints about government spending in the past few years.

"We wanted to impact the environment in which government decisions are made," said Steven Miller, vice president of policy for the Nevada Policy Research Institute, which published the report.

"Effectively, much of what government does and spends is hidden from people because it’s such a hassle for them to track down where in state government the budget can be found, and once you get there, the quality of the reporting that the state does."

State Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, said he wanted to "caution against anyone characterizing this as hating government in any way. That’s not what this is about."

"Government uncovered more than half of the problems here," he said. "Waste is not a thing. It is an ongoing process. It needs to be carefully guarded against at all times, and forever, and that’s really a big piece of what government managers and management is supposed to do."

Those remarks, at a news conference announcing the report’s release, are more nuanced than the report itself, which refers to public sector employees as the "ruling class" and features whimsical drawings of pigs reaching into a cookie jar or wallowing in a Nevada-shaped tub of cash.

The report draws on audits, public records requests and news reports, and criticizes everything from overpayments made by the state Department of Health and Human Services to a $105,000 expenditure by Clark County for a skateboard park.

The Nevada College Savings Program gets a mention because of possible overspending on its marketing budget — concerns that led to state officials to ask for an investigation last year. The report also rehashes concerns, and possible solutions, on the subject of expensive public employee retirement benefits.

Miller acknowledged that his group hadn’t checked to see whether the misspending and other concerns have been addressed, saying that instead they’re focused on ensuring public agencies make financial data more available to constituents.

He and Beers also said that not everyone will agree that all the items in the report are frivolous.

"The universe of good things is infinite," Miller said. "If government is always going to do anything that somebody believes is good, then there will be no limit to government. We will end up with essentially totalitarian government."

The report is available at NPRI’s Web site: www.npri.org.

Among other items, it takes aim at overtime for emergency services workers, noting that some firefighters make in the low six figures, including benefits, because of overtime costs.

Examples can be found at both Clark County and the city of Las Vegas, although officials would say the issue is not that clear cut. Fire protection services must be provided, and there are times when it’s less expensive to pay a firefighter overtime than to hire additional employees and have to pay their benefits.

If senior firefighters rack up enough overtime, their yearly salaries will exceed six figures, said Clark County Fire Department spokesman Scott Allison. But they often work 24-hour shifts, put their lives in danger and suffer ill health from the physical and emotional demands, as well as from breathing toxic fumes from fires, he said.

"It really tears you up because it’s a strenuous job," he said.

In many other cases, the report trumpets problems that were found but not the work that has been done to correct them.

Some of the largest problem expenditures were found in the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, including $19 million in overpayments, payment errors and problems with record-keeping and the overprescribing of some drugs.

Those findings came from a legislative audit that looked at 2004 to 2006 and was requested by the department. Since then, the agency has recouped most of the overbilled money and put stricter billing procedures in place, and the rest of the audit recommendations will be in place by year’s end, said Health and Human Services official Chuck Duarte in an e-mail.

The report also explores a 2006 federal audit finding that the Las Vegas Housing Authority in 2004 and 2005 improperly awarded three consulting contracts without open and fair competition, "in violation of federal requirements and its own policies."

Those contracts, which totaled $473,499, included a $250,000 contract mentioned in the Piglet Book.

Former housing authority director Parvis Ghadiri resigned shortly after the audit was released, and the current director says the agency pays much more attention to its procurement policies now.

Still another audit uncovered the cell phone problems at the city of Las Vegas, including payments for unused phones and surcharges for employees going over the allotted minutes.

Tighter policies have been put in place to control costs, city spokesman Jace Radke said, adding that one item in the Piglet Book — the city covering charges for employees’ personal phone calls — isn’t accurate. The personal calls logged in the audit were identified by employees, who had money deducted from their paychecks to pay for them, although the audit found that the rate charged wasn’t enough to cover the costs of the calls.

And then there’s those 100-pound pigs.

Neither the Piglet Book nor NPRI spokesman Andy Matthews had the details of that expenditure. County spokesman Dan Kulin did, though. The police department used them for forensic training.

Staff writers Lynnette Curtis, Scott Wyland and Sean Whaley contributed to this report. Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate@reviewjournal.com or 702-229-6435.

ad-high_impact_4
News
2 in custody after chase
Two people were in custody after a chase involving Nevada Highway Patrol and Nye County Sheriff"s office deputies ended in southwest Las Vegas. Las Vegas police blocked off Rainbow Boulevard north of Tropicana Avenue around 1 a.m. Wednesday. Law enforcement personnel prepared to tow a black sedan as part of their investigation. It's not certain what precipitated the chase or where and when it started. Check back for updates.
Police Officer's Vehicle Was Taken During Shooting
Video from body worn camera footage released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Wednesday shows an officer realizing his police vehicle has been taken during the chaos of the Route 91 shooting. It was later recovered at Sunrise hospital with the keys in the ignition and nothing removed. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
See Kitty Hawk’s flying car cruise over Lake Las Vegas
Kitty Hawk takes their flying car for a ride in the company’s hidden test facility in Lake Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Las Vegas police wild pursuit through busy Las Vegas streets
An intense chase near Downtown Las Vegas ends after gunfire is exchanged as the suspect flees on busy streets and ends up near an elementary school. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Man shot strolling through park
A man was hospitalized early Tuesday morning after being shot while walking in a central Las Vegas park. Las Vegas police say the man and a woman were in Molasky Park just after midnight when the man was shot. The pair ran to a nearby supermarket where a security guard called for help. The man was hospitalized and as of 3 a.m. was in stable condition. Police have yet to identify the shooter and no suspects are in custody.
Police investigating shooting at east valley apartment complex
No one was injured late Monday night after someone fired shots at a vehicle at an east valley apartment complex. Police responded just before midnight to the Hamptons Apartments, 3070 S. Nellis Blvd. Someone fired shots at a vehicle that was leaving the complex, and struck the vehicle. Another bullet struck a nearby apartment building. The shooter or shooters remain at-large.
Hundreds Attend Slides, Rides and Rock and Roll in North Las Vegas
Hundreds attended the inaugural slides, rides and rock and roll event in North Las Vegas Saturday. The event featured a car show, water slide park and live music. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
It's All Rainbows At The Center's New Cafe
The Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada (The Center) introduced its new coffeeshop, Little Rainbow Cafe, in June. Rainbows are everywhere, even in the lattes and toast, and employees wear t-shirts with the quote "Be a rainbow in someone's cloud." Owner Ben Sabouri said the concept is "built around the idea of, you know, be kind and treat everybody the same." (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a Rainbow Latte at the The Center's Little Rainbow Cafe
The Center, a community center for the LGBTQ community of Southern Nevada, has a new cafe. Little Rainbow Cafe serves up a pride-inspired signature "Rainbow Latte." (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian killed trying to cross Sahara
A pedestrian was killed Friday trying to cross Sahara Avenue near Maryland Parkway about 5 a.m. A sedan struck the pedestrian while the person was outside the crosswalk between Maryland Parkway and Pardee Place, according to Las Vegas police. Police also said the driver of the sedan remained at the site of the crash. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene. This is the 75th fatal crash that Las Vegas police have investigated in 2018.
Man shot multiple times
Las Vegas police are investigating after a man was shot multiple times early Friday morning. The shooting was called in about 3:20 a.m. at the Harbor Island Apartments, 370 E. Harmon Ave., near Koval Lane. The man was hospitalized and is expected to survive, but police are still searching for the shooter.
Former Military Police Corps Officer Celebrates 100th Birthday
Summerlin resident Gene Stephens, who served as a military policeman in WWII and escorted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and President Roosevelt during the war, turned 100 on July 13, 2018. He credits his longevity to living a normal life, exercising regularly and eating three square meals a day. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Motorcyclist suffers serious injuries
A motorcycle rider was seriously injured Tuesday night after a crash on Charleston Boulevard. The crash was reported just before 10 p.m. near Durango Drive, according to Las Vegas police. The motorcyclist was hospitalized with unknown injuries but is expected to survive. Las Vegas police are investigating the cause of the accident.
CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara Has Lunch With Students
New Clark County School District superintendent Jesus Jara continued his listening tour by having lunch with students at Red Rock Elementary School as part of the district's summer lunch program. In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children under the age of 18 can find a free lunch at 104 different locations across the valley through the summer months. Jara highlighted the free program and the importance of eating healthy during his visit. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Timeline Leading Up to Scott Dozier's Execution
Scott Dozier is set to be executed by lethal injection the night of July 11 at Ely State Prison. Dozier was convicted of the April 2002 killing of 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller and was given the death penalty in Oct. 2007. In 2016 Dozier asked in a letter to District Judge Jennifer Togliatti requesting that he “be put to death.” A three-drug cocktail of midazolam, a sedative; the painkiller fentanyl; and cisatracurium, a paralytic, is expected to end his life. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Program Helps Mothers Battling Addiction
Jennifer Stanert has battled drug addiction on and off for the last 21 years. It caused her to lose custody of one of her children, Alec, after she gave birth while high. A new program at Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican Hospitals aims to connect mothers like Stanert with community resources and provide case management services while still pregnant to get connected to lactation and parenting classes, group peer support and education on neonatal abstinence syndrome. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Felon caught with guns in Mandalay Bay room 3 years before Las Vegas shooting
A felon was caught with guns in a Mandalay Bay hotel room three years before the October 1st mass shooting. Six weapons were found inside Kye Aaron Dunbar’s 24th floor room in November 2014. Four were semi-automatic. One was a scoped rifle pointing toward the Strip, according to court documents. Dunbar was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for unlawful possession. The case just came to light in a lawsuit accusing Mandalay Bay of negligence in connection with the Oct. 1st shooting.
Illegal fireworks in the Las Vegas area garner complaints
Clark County received nearly 25,000 complaints over the Independence Day holiday on a new illegal fireworks site. Reports from the site led to at least 10 illegal fireworks busts across the valley overnight. As of Thursday morning, the county is still compiling the total number of citations issued.
House fire displaces 2 people
Two people were displaced after a house fire early Thursday morning. The fire, at 963 Temple Drive in east Las Vegas, was reported just after midnight, according to a battalion chief from the Clark County Fire Department. Crews from the North Las Vegas and Las Vegas fire departments also were called in to help. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
"Red White and Boom" July 4 Fireworks at the Stratosphere
Full video of the Fourth of July "Red White and Boom" fireworks show at the Stratosphere as seen from the 8th floor Elation Pool. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
July 4th fireworks at the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite
July 4th fireworks at the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite. (7-04-18) (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Crowds Enjoy Fireworks at the Stratosphere
Revelers enjoyed watching fireworks displays from the Stratosphere's 8th floor Elation pool on July 4. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian killed in Henderson
A pedestrian trying to cross St. Rose Parkway at Bermuda was hit by a vehicle on Tuesday night and later died. The crash was reported around 11:30 p.m. Las Vegas police responded initially, but handed over the investigation to Henderson police once it was determined the accident happened in their jurisdiction. Las Vegas police did respond to a report of a pedestrian being hit by a vehicle on the Strip. The person, who was hit by a BMW near Fashion Show mall, suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries.
USPS owes $3.5 million for using Vegas Statue of Liberty on stamp
The United States Postal Service has been ordered to pay $3.5 million to a sculptor after using the Las Vegas replica of the Statue of Liberty in a stamp. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Officer Brent Horlacher shoots at Jessie Murillo
Las Vegas police video of an officer-involved shooting on June 29, 2018. Officer Brent Horlacher, 28, fired a single shot at suspect Jessie Murillo. Murillo was not injured. The radio audio is of the officer who fired the gun and the body camera video is from a different officer. Radio audio excerpts are added to the video and are not the precise times the audio was spoken.
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
UNLV professor cautions dangers of distracted walking
An alarming number of adults do not cross the street safely according to a study conducted by professor Tim Bungum of the School of Community Health Sciences at the UNLV. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas-Review Journal) @brokejournalist
Car left in remote desert 21 years is recovered for late owner's children
Showboat casino blackjack dealer Mark Blackburn died outside of White Hills, Ariz. 21 years ago. His 1980 Datsun B310 wagon remained in the remote desert until a network of volunteers recovered the car for his children. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Resort on Mount Charleston Sold for $4.8 million
North Carolina couple and hoteliers Deanna and Colin Crossman have purchased the Resort on Mount Charleston for $4.8 million. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like