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July 6, 2015

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ANSWERS: CLARK COUNTY:

Citizens weigh in on state of affairs in North Las Vegas

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Justin M. Bowen

One of many billboards put up by The North Las Vegas Police Officer Association is displayed on the corner of Craig Road and Bruce Street Thursday, July 7, 2011. The signs were put up by the North Las Vegas Police Officer Association in response to the city lawmakers attempt to lay off 17 officers and three supervisors. A district judge put in a restraining order to prevent the layoffs, which were part of a budget reduction plan by the council last May reduce a $30 million gap in the 2012 fiscal budget.

Recent news that North Las Vegas’ finances could be taken over by the Taxation Department, along with a story listing some of the decisions that have led to this point, prompted several calls and emails. North Las Vegas residents are angry.

At whom or what?

Many North Las Vegas readers are furious at the union representing the city’s police officers. Facing officer layoffs, which the City Council had approved in May to help balance its budget and eliminate a $30 million deficit, the union peppered city streets with signs cautioning that the city is no longer safe — “Warning: Due to recent police layoffs, we can no longer ensure your safety!”

The layoffs never happened, thanks to a decision by District Judge Nancy Allf, who agreed with the union that layoffs would violate the union’s contract.

Now, the city says it is paying $165,000 a week that could have been saved had those layoffs, and others including firefighters, taken place.

People who admitted to not being avid followers of local politics weighed in. One was Bobby Mockbee, who owns TheInfoPeople, 720 W. Cheyenne Ave., a longtime family-owned business that sells engraved awards, trophies and other items. Mockbee said the police union’s signs are “a slap in the face” to the city’s business operators.

Despite its best efforts, as well as a growth spike in the mid-2000s that led to the creation of master-planned communities, North Las Vegas “has always had a stigma associated with it,” Mockbee said. “I don’t care if 80 percent of it is new or not.”

Who else called?

Some called grumbling about the inequity in union contracts among North Las Vegas police and fire, and the city’s other union workers, many of whom will likely be laid off if the city leaves police and fire alone. Then again, if the city sells its new City Hall, not yet opened, and its new wastewater treatment facility, which opened a month ago, it might be able to eliminate a good chunk of its long-term debt and fewer people would lose their jobs. The City Council is expected to vote on ways to fix the financial mess at an upcoming meeting.

Any other calls and issues related to North Las Vegas?

One person closely tied to North Las Vegas politics called to say that Las Vegas should look at consolidating with North Las Vegas. Las Vegas would assume North Las Vegas’ debt, but consolidation would open the northeast valley to Las Vegas, eliminating the need for the landlocked municipality to carry out leapfrog growth.

Is that it?

Not quite. Many people expect the police union to file papers seeking the recall of North Las Vegas City Council members Anita Wood and Robert Eliason, who have not voted the police union’s way all the time. Sources say union members are poring over the two council members’ votes and gearing up to obtain signatures of 25 percent of the people who voted in the last election. That might not be easy, sources say, given the fact that North Las Vegas has experienced so many foreclosures. Many of the people who have voted in the past might not live in the city anymore.

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