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EDITORIAL: Las Vegas City Council repeals unpaid leave ordinance

Poor Ricky Barlow. Who knew that the Las Vegas city councilman had been subjected to such trauma and indignity? Back in 2007, when many local residents were on the verge of being swept up by the financial crisis, Mr. Barlow was forced to take unpaid leave when he chose to run for the City Council.

“My city badge, my cellphone, my PERS, my vacation, my sick leave — everything came to a halt and it was as though on the books I did not work for the city of Las Vegas,” he said on Wednesday. “When I won, the meter started again.”

Well, thank goodness for that! Who could possibly support such inhumanity?

Mr. Barlow’s self-serving mewling was part of a debate Wednesday over the fate of a 13-year-old ordinance mandating that city employees who run for office take an unpaid leave of absence to do so. The statute also imposes the same requirements on city workers who serve in the Legislature. The restriction is intended to protect taxpayers and dates to 2004, when two municipal workers moonlighting as state lawmakers — a topic for another day — were gaming the system with their sick time while serving in Carson City.

The reform made eminent sense. So naturally, the City Council last week killed it. Seems a few council “liaisons” are contemplating running for office in the near future and, like Mr. Barlow, weren’t thrilled about losing their cushy salary and benefits while they conducted their campaigns. In the end, Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Councilwomen Lois Tarkanian and Michelle Fiore teamed up with Mr. Barlow to repeal the provision.

Yet again, Nevada’s state and local officials display remarkable consistency when faced with a choice of coddling government employees or defending the taxpayer.

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