Las Vegas: The State of the City Address


Mayor Oscar Goodman, who is said to be looking into ways around the term limits he faces in two years so he can run again for mayor, gave his annual State of the City speech yesterday afternoon at the recently restored Fifth Street School.

According to the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman struck an aggressive tone in his State of the City address Tuesday, saying that continued investment in downtown projects was necessary to sustain the economy in the short term and improve the city in the long term.

"We're not going to abandon our vision of being a great city," he said to a crowd of about 350 people in the newly renovated Fifth Street School on Las Vegas Boulevard. "The very foundation of what made us great seems to be crumbling around us.

"Rather than join in the chorus of doom and gloom, the government needs to be a beacon of stability."

Goodman pointed to several projects that need continued support, singling out Union Park first, then naming the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the nearly completed Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, and the promise of a World Jewelry Center and a flagship Charlie Palmer restaurant/hotel. A new city hall building should also be a priority, he said.

Not all of those are public projects, but the city of Las Vegas has put up funding for infrastructure work at Union Park.

The projects keep construction workers employed and could help diversify the local economy, Goodman said. Plus, the economic downturn has led to lower construction prices -- "a silver lining to this great retrenchment, or reckoning, from which we are suffering."

At last year's State of the City address, Las Vegas wasn't yet enmeshed in a budget crisis brought on by a souring economy and massive home foreclosures. After his speech, the mayor said he set out to find a firmer tone this year.

"Last year we didn't have any particular problems. We were talking about all our success with sustainability and livability," he said. "Tonight's speech -- I was hoping it would be a little inspiring, showing our commitment to going forward, to be encouraging as far as city projects are concerned."

He did not mention another high-profile project at all -- the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, commonly known as the "Mob Museum," which will occupy the refurbished original federal courthouse building on Stewart Avenue.

The project has been mocked nationally since it was reported that Goodman put it on his wish list to receive funding from the pending federal stimulus package, along with the performing arts center and the new city hall building.

"That's been talked about so much the last week, I figured that we'd better get some face time on the other projects, which to me are legacy projects," he said.

In fact, Goodman wouldn't even say the word "mob" when answering questions about the museum: "I think everything that could be said about the M-O-B museum has already been said."


And from the Las Vegas Sun:


Mayor Oscar Goodman was upbeat and optimistic in his State of the City address Tuesday night, saying city-funded projects would create "a needed bridge through economic downturn until the private sector recovers."

Goodman listed a new city hall and the Smith Center for the Performing Arts as government efforts to create jobs and stimulate the local economy. He also encouraged the private sector to push forward with retail, hotel and gaming projects.

"We're going to rise again and we're going to recover faster than any other city and make Las Vegas an even better place to live and to dream," he said.

Projects completed in 2008 such as the Centennial Hills Community Center and renovation of the Fifth Street School, where the mayor gave his speech, show the city has the record to become an economic engine.

"With the downturn in construction we're able to get better prices today for public construction than we've seen in many years," Goodman said. "We're going to do our best to keep putting projects on the street that create construction jobs. We're going to do our best to help developers build projects that generate full-time jobs."

While the city continues to cut operating costs to offset a $150 million shortfall during the next five years, it would have to rely more on bonds than proposed federal funding to keep projects on track, Goodman said after his speech.

"Federal funds don't hurt but what we have to do is get the private sector's bonding sources back in action. Once we are able to fund our projects with bonds, we've been very successful in the past in doing that," he said.

The city will be receiving about $20.6 million in federal funds to purchase foreclosed properties and use them for affordable housing.

The city also will encourage the private sector to finish projects such as Tivoli Village at Queensridge, which developers announced will be delayed until spring 2010 -- one year later than planned -- because of the uncertain economy.

"We're going to encourage the private sector to participate in getting their projects off the ground. We're going to be of assistance to them," Goodman said. "They give our citizens jobs they create energy in a community."

In his speech, Goodman praised efforts to revitalize older east-side and downtown neighborhoods, attributing the turnaround in part to Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian's "Keep Everyone's Eyes on the Neighborhood" program.

"That has reduced crime. It has created a sense of community as a very, very special social project," he said.

Other accomplishments in 2008 that Goodman checked off included the opening of phase two of the Teton Trails Park in the northwest part of the city and the creation of the traffic court commissioner position, which collected $717,000 in fines last year.