I’d like to congratulate the Review-Journal on a fine series of reports about the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s spending practices.
What the series has uncovered goes well beyond just questionable expenses. What we see here underneath all the receipts is a case of what I would call “institutional narcissism.” We “deserve the jewelry, the travel, the entertainment, etc. because we’re working so hard and doing such a good job” is the classic entitled narcissist’s defense.
This type of thinking is a very toxic organizational mindset that makes one oblivious to much beyond immediate self-gratification and self-aggrandizement at the expense of the taxpayer. If we all took what we believed we deserved from our respective employers, we’d all be very rich indeed — but only briefly.
Public service, which is what the authority claims to be about, requires a very different leadership and organizational mindset: one that promotes an unselfish stewardship of taxpayer provided resources along with unlimited transparency, adherence to accepted public-sector accounting standards and — here comes the hard part — the common sense to realize that Tiffany bracelets for employees is not a wise use of public monies. It’s not the spending that’s the problem. It’s the spenders.
No one would reasonably ask authority officials to accomplish its mission by advocating for the city with private-sector “movers and shakers” over a Happy Meal. That would be foolish — almost as foolish as the $328 steaks purchased for the same purpose.