The mayor has a bad idea

Oscar Goodman is an amiable soul, but perhaps his critics are correct when they argue he should be kept away from impressionable schoolchildren.

And not because he might accidentally spill a martini on them.

Rather, if kids take to heart the Las Vegas mayor’s most recent shoot-from-the-lip comments, they might find it difficult to pass an elementary government or economics class.

Last week, Mayor Goodman raised the possibility of proposing an ordinance prohibiting banks from selling any more foreclosed properties in the city limits. Las Vegas has been hard hit by the housing downturn, the mayor reasons, and releasing more of such properties onto the market will exacerbate the current crisis.

"We can’t absorb what we have now," he said. "If they are going to throw more on us, it’s just going to get worse and worse."

Problem is, the mayor’s approach is a recipe for prolonging our pain.

The faster foreclosed properties can be disposed of via the marketplace, the faster the local real estate market can stabilize and prices can hit bottom. The market is indeed absorbing these properties right now, as real estate values are largely holding. A rebound will occur only when this inventory has been significantly reduced. Governmental interventions designed to avoid the inevitable tend to make things worse in the long run.

But Economics 101 isn’t the only class in which Mayor Goodman needs a refresher. He may want to sit in on a few remedial civics classes, also.

When told by Councilman Stavros Anthony that his proposed ban on foreclosure sales might not pass constitutional muster, Mayor Goodman — who allegedly went to law school — replied, "I don’t care."

Good grief.

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