Would China nuke Las Vegas?

Apparently, Nevada’s deep business ties to Macau mean nothing to China — at least as far as the military is concerned.

As reported Thursday by The Washington Times, Chinese state-run media on Monday claimed the country’s nuclear submarines can wipe out population centers in the western United States, a capability that would check America’s nuclear supremacy and deterrence in the Pacific.

The Chinese reports included maps featuring targets, damage projections and radiation ranges. One of the maps puts dots on major Western cities, including Las Vegas and Reno.

Reno, you’ve arrived! China wants to nuke you! It must be the strategic value of that fancy new bridge.

“Because the Midwest states of the U.S. are sparsely populated, in order to increase the lethality, [our] nuclear attacks should mainly target the key cities on the West Coast of the United States,” the Global Times reported.

Las Vegas gaming giants Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts International have a huge presence in Macau, the world’s top casino destination. Ironically, Las Vegas Sands chief Sheldon Adelson recently made headlines for suggesting the U.S. should launch a nuclear missile at Iran to project strength and encourage the Middle East country to shut down its nuclear program.

Maybe he can persuade the Chinese to move Las Vegas out of their nuclear cross hairs instead. Come on, China, we built your casinos!

The Washington Times reports that China’s submarine fleet is believed to be the world’s second-largest, behind the United States, with 70 vessels, at least four of which can launch nuclear missiles.

Las Vegas can appreciate the self-promoting aspect of the Chinese reports, which mentioned the “awesomeness” of the country’s fleet. It’s all posturing and no threat.

6 percent isn’t enough

In my Aug. 31 column, I detailed the breakdown in contract negotiations between Clark County and its largest bargaining unit, the Service Employees International Union Local 1107. The county offered the group’s members a 4 percent pay raise, half of it retroactive to Feb. 18, in exchange for the elimination of longevity premiums for future hires. Those raises give employees an annual 0.57 percent pay bump for every year of service at eight years and beyond.

It was an extraordinarily generous offer considering the county’s thousands of rank-and-file workers have seen their pay increase 10 percent since the onset of the Great Recession, while the wages of the private-sector workers who provide the SEIU’s generous salaries and benefits have been flat since 2008.

Not only did the SEIU reject the offer, it told members the sides were “far apart” because the union was “fighting for a real raise that gives working families a way to recover from years of sacrifice.”

The SEIU wouldn’t tell me what rate might constitute a “real” raise. Whatever amount it demands is of significant importance to the public. It wouldn’t be surprising if the county and the SEIU Local 1107 wind up at impasse and go to binding arbitration. The county’s aforementioned terms could very well mirror its final offer to the arbitrator, who by law must choose between that proposal and the union’s final offer — not a number in between.

So how big a pay raise does the SEIU want? Los Angeles offers a clue.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported the SEIU Local 721 had walked away from negotiations with Los Angeles County after the government proposed — get this — a 6 percent raise in pay over 18 months.

“We, the members, we’re so ready to strike,” Jessi Gonzalez, a social worker and SEIU bargaining committee member, told the Times. “We’re in a situation where we don’t see any respect from Los Angeles County listening to what we are asking in negotiations.”

The SEIU’s increasingly irrational bargaining demands are instructive. Clearly, no one on the union side of the table learned anything from the collapse of the economy. Public-sector contracts that provide generous, guaranteed pay raises over several years were supposed to be a thing of the past. The cost and inflexibility of those deals were directly responsible for the elimination of jobs and program cuts.

Unfortunately, local government leaders clearly are worn down by years of holding the line. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board recently approved a five-year contract with more than 10 percent in total pay raises for its SEIU workers. That reset the bar for local government contracts, and recent contract awards figure heavily in future arbitration proceedings. Clearly, the SEIU wants bigger money over many years from Clark County.

Hold on to your wallets, Southern Nevadans. This is going to get mighty expensive.

Hashtags &Headlines

On Monday, Nov. 18, the Review-Journal will present its third Hashtags &Headlines policy luncheon at Texas Station. I’ll moderate a discussion and public question-and-answer session with the valley’s three mayors: Carolyn Goodman of Las Vegas, Andy Hafen of Henderson and John Lee of North Las Vegas.

The luncheon will be held in the casino’s Houston Ballroom from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets cost $40 and can be purchased at reviewjournal.com (scroll down to the home page’s “Contests and Promotions” section) or by calling Melissa McCabe at (702) 383-0469.

The Review-Journal’s first two luncheons featured discussions on K-12 education (moderated by yours truly) and downtown’s revival (led by Review-Journal political columnist Steve Sebelius). The food was great and the conversation was even better. Check it out.

Glenn Cook (gcook@reviewjournal.com) is the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s senior editorial writer. Follow him on Twitter: @Glenn_CookNV. Listen to him Mondays at 4 p.m. on “Live and Local with Kevin Wall” on KXNT News Radio, 100.5 FM, 840 AM.

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