Published Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | 12:45 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | 1:24 p.m.
- What led to plan to build city hall absent voter OK (3-4-2009)
- Scramble is on for right to word questions - if they reach the ballot (3-2-2009)
- City Council wins round in City Hall battle (2-27-2009)
- Ross keeps voting despite warning (2-22-2009)
- Union cheers agreement to fund city hall project (2-18-2009)
- Complicated deal, powerful partner (2-7-2009)
Las Vegas city voters might not be asked to decide on future redevelopment agency projects, such as the controversial new city hall, on the June ballot.
The Las Vegas City Council voted unanimously today to keep two Culinary Union-backed questions off the ballot, following advice from the city attorney that the referendum is unconstitutional and would end the redevelopment agency. Unemployed laborers lauded the decision as an economic stimulus for the downtown area.
“This vote means my laborer brothers and sisters are going back to work building a city hall project,” said Kenij Glosson, an apprentice and laborer with the Laborers Local 872. He has been out of work for about a month.
One of the proposed ballot questions would have required voter approval for future redevelopment agency projects and prevented the agency from incurring debt.
“To repeal the agency as proposed by the referendum will impair and end our obligation to pay $80 million in bond obligations,” City Attorney Brad Jerbic said. “This is structured to kill the redevelopment agency.”
The other question would have required voters to sign off on “lease-purchase” projects, such as the new city hall.
About 300 members of Laborers Local 872, many who wore their construction vests and carried helmets, again packed the council chambers for this morning’s meeting.
Thomas Morley, Local 872 director of governmental affairs, said about 1,000 members are out of work. The union has about 5,000 members.
“This referendum would not just have stopped city hall, but any project over $2 million,” he said. “And we have shovels in the ground on projects now breaking ground that would’ve been stopped.”
The Culinary Union opposes taking on the large debt during a recession, when the city faces a $150 million deficit over the next five years and plans to cut public services.
"It's a sad day when elected officials are afraid of the voters," said Chris Bohner, Culinary Union research director. "Our fight was to let voters decide about the new city hall through the referendum and initiative process."
He said the Culinary Union is going to review the city attorney's memo and decide shortly if it will take the issue to court.
Mayor Oscar Goodman said many union jobs would have been in jeopardy if the council placed the questions on the ballot.
“You people would be placed back to work if this council has anything to do with it,” he said, which was greeted by a standing ovation. Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian was absent for the vote because of illness. She did attend parts of the meeting.
Becky Bosshart can be reached at 990-7748 or firstname.lastname@example.org.