A tale of two cities — of contrasting influence

To the editor:

On Wednesday, the Las Vegas City Council — after neighborhood residents voiced their opposition — unanimously rejected a doctor’s plan to renovate and add a second story to two vacant buildings on West Charleston Boulevard. It was the council’s first hearing on the matter.

The renovations would have meant some much-needed construction jobs and improved medical care. The doctor planned on doubling his staff, as well. The doctor said he doubts he will resubmit his plans due to the powerful relationships between some members of the community and the City Council members.

By contrast, in 2009, the residents of historic West Las Vegas repeatedly pleaded with the City Council to stop the closure of F Street during the Interstate 15 widening project. Instead, the project went on as planned and today there is a behemothic wall restricting the residents from accessing downtown.

The F Street underpass is finally due to be redesigned this fall at a cost to taxpayers of $20 million. That will allow residents free access once again. But it came after a hard-fought and protracted protest by the residents that resonated in Carson City and included a lawsuit and a march on the Strip.

So what is the difference between these two communities? Historic West Las Vegas is populated predominantly with lower- to working-class African-Americans, who have little in the way of economic or political connections. Conversely, the residents of the McNeil neighborhood are predominantly white upper-class professionals, including lawyers, doctors, politicians and a District Court judge.

I am not saying that the council was wrong to reject the doctor’s proposal. But this is just another example of how the wealthy and powerfully connected citizens of Southern Nevada continue to influence the actions of our elected officials at the risk of uneven treatment to those residents who lack equal access to the power structure.

Robert J. McKee

North Las Vegas

Thanks, taxpayer

To the editor:

As a retired public employee with 42 years on the public payroll, I hate to break the news to Roy Scott (Tuesday letter) but taxpayers do, indeed, pay for everyone’s pensions, including his and mine.

While employees and employers may transfer “their” retirement contribution funds to the government for distribution, it is the working taxpayer, private and public, who pays our salaries, pensions and 401(k) plans. Without them, we would have no salary to make those contributions.

In a private enterprise, customers pay the bills. In a public enterprise, those who pay taxes pay the bills. The irritant for many private citizens, though, is that the public enterprise dispenses much higher salaries and pensions than those who pay for it usually get. And yes, some of us public employees had non-contributory retirement systems and paid not even the token contributions Mr. Scott mentions.

But for those who did contribute to their retirement, chances are you will collect substantially more than you contributed — thanks to the taxpayers who pay the bills.

Bob Foessett

North Las Vegas

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