Las Vegas Sun

November 30, 2015

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Where I Stand — Guest Column:

Best service comes from a unified community

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In August, Brian Greenspun turns over his Where I Stand column to guest writers. Today’s columnist is Susan Brager, chairwoman of the Clark County Commission.

As a real estate professional and county commissioner, I am often approached by citizens about issues they want their local government to address. Sometimes they are concerned about a neighborhood problem, such as graffiti or a blighted property. Other times, the issues are of regional significance, such as care of our local indigent population.

Often, citizens look to me as a commissioner to solve whatever problem they bring forward. I am always eager to help solve problems for my constituents, but I’m also aware that government is not able to solve all problems alone and that the best solutions often involve a group effort.

It’s no secret that the economy in Southern Nevada has struggled in the past several years. Government has also struggled as a result of the recession. Now more than ever, there are needs in our community that government simply cannot meet.

Arguably, even when the economy was booming in Southern Nevada, government struggled to meet the needs of the community. In my experience, it is only when government reaches out to partner with the private and nonprofit sectors that we achieve the best outcomes.

Each of these groups contributes unique talents and expertise to produce an outcome better than each could have produced alone.

Clark County has been working successfully to build a record of positive public-private and public-nonprofit partnerships for the betterment of our community. From expanding recreational opportunities to providing necessary care to children, Clark County has successfully partnered with community members to provide services that we would not have been able to provide on our own.

For example, when a 32-acre parcel of land sat undeveloped for decades in District F, it was a private donor, the Frias Group, that stepped forward to jump-start the project with a substantial donation.

What was to be a drainage basin to protect the surrounding area became both a drainage facility and a new park with recreational facilities for our residents to enjoy. When it opens this year, the Charlie Frias Park will include playgrounds, picnic areas, multi-use fields, a walking path and a dog park.

Another example of a meaningful partnership involves the work of the Foundation for Positively Kids on the Clark County Child Haven campus. Through a partnership with Clark County, the foundation provides medical and dental services to children in the foster care system, using facilities provided by the county on the campus of the Department of Family Services. The foundation also serves children who have been recently removed from their parents or guardians and may need medical attention when they arrive at Child Haven. Also, Clark County will hopefully soon expand the services it provides to include children’s mental health services, which have traditionally been difficult to access in Nevada.

In Clark County’s Department of Social Service, we’ve partnered with other nonprofit organizations such as HELP of Southern Nevada to provide homelessness prevention services, as well as private long-term care facilities to provide necessary care for aging or disabled clients who cannot care for themselves.

While these are just a few examples, the Departments of Family Services, Juvenile Justice and Social Service partner with hundreds of nonprofits, businesses and individuals in the community to provide necessary services to some of our most vulnerable citizens. Without these partners, Clark County simply could not provide the level of services that are currently available, and our community would suffer as a result.

In each of these instances, Clark County has been able to partner with the private and nonprofit sectors as well as citizens to create change that would not have been possible otherwise. My experience with these examples of public-private partnerships has taught me that leveraging the talents of interested citizens and businesses is crucial to lasting, sensible solutions for many of the issues facing us today. Coming together as a community, whether representing the public, business or nonprofit sector, is essential to solving the issues that concern us. Without these partners, we simply could not provide the level of service and amenities we do today.

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