State Of The City: Las Vegas, Nev.
From the beginning, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman has said she wants to make Las Vegas a world class city.
During her State of the City address this month, she touted the city’s economic growth and successful projects such as functionally ending veteran homelessness in the valley.
It was a notably different tune than the 2015 state of the city, which largely focused on the prospect of a soccer stadium in Las Vegas.
As part of a special series of interviews with local and regional mayors to from all over the state, Goodman joins KNPR to talk about what lies ahead for 2016.
How would the city use homeland security funds?
This has been ongoing since 9/11, looking at homeland security really has become paramount. I have been most outspoken since I became mayor five years ago and meeting with people in our capitol talking about you have got to look at the fact that we have 350,000 people coming in here. We have Nellis. We have Creech. We have Hoover Dam, which believe it or not, produces 25 percent of the Gross National Product.
We’re hopeful we’ll get the $3 million this year because we really are so vulnerable.
In your state of the city address, you said that the suburbs are thriving but the city’s urban core continues to be the most challenged area. What do you mean by ‘the most challenged?’
It’s old and we have the lion’s share of low-income families. We’re doing a lot to bring the level of the economic base and the jobs and all the support systems that we need. But we have an inordinate amount of challenged individuals living there that need wrap-around services that don’t have the same affluence that is out there in the suburbs. So concentrating on: how do we move people around? How do we connect to people? How do we bring jobs in?
So what we continue to look at is: how can we rebuild areas of our cities that are still boarded up? Where nobody is living and there are pockets of crime and so it’s a vibrant, healthy city where everybody wants to come into the heart of downtown much like in New York.
What can be done about the homeless problem downtown? Could the efforts to provide homes for veterans be expanded?
One of the biggest problems we have in Southern Nevada, which is true in San Diego and Arizona, is our climate. It is a haven because the weather is positive. So we do draw homeless here. We have reached functionally zero for veteran homelessness. That meant we put together groups of people, identifying who was out in the homeless crowd that happened to be a veteran. Then working with them to provide homes first. Permanent residency first and then help with the counseling and the job training and the job access. But it is going to be a continuing problem. There is no point in telling a fib and saying ‘Oh yes, we’re going to make great inroads.’ Yes, everyday we’re making inroads. But many of these people have mental illness and this is a problem in the country. And they don’t understand where they are. We have a lot of drug addicts out there. But it is being out there and trying to reach the homeless person and then to this community and this country stepping up and helping those with mental illness.
What is the direction for downtown?
The reality is: how do we continue to bring a tourist here who wants to come and how do we keep them spending his money? You have to be very creative, innovative and continually change. Now, what’s happened downtown is certain restaurants and taverns have opened and because they didn’t keep up with the change… it’s a very difficult business to open a restaurant.
People need to live downtown. There’s been talk about more apartments:
There are. There are apartments going up in the neighborhood of the Las Vegas Academy. But what’s been a real boon is you know right now we have the World Market Center, the joint venture with High Point, North Carolina, twice a year they have a retail furniture, accessories and gifts show, which is packed. Every time they do it it’s bigger than the last time. But we’ve just opened 26 or 28 at the Premium Outlets, which is a phenomenon, one of the best in the entire country. What’s happening is those spur more development. What you’re seeing do in our redevelopment areas have incentives to develop something that is old and boarded up. You can receive matching funds if you bring your business into the downtown.
Why are you excited that the family of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a newspaper you have been openly critical of for years?
Sheldon Adelson has all the marbles so he has control of what’s going to be printed. Actually, I gather, his son-in-law out of New York City is running that piece. They have a new publisher and he’s out of Charlotte, North Carolina and he has a philosophy. I did explain to him when he came up with some of his staff to the office. I said, ‘you know I don’t mind controversy. I understand advertising. White paint drying doesn’t sell, controversy and weird stuff sells. And if in fact you’re going to get someone to advertise in your paper, they don’t want to see it sitting on the shelf.’ So understanding that, it doesn’t mean however that you don’t research and print the facts. The reality. That was year in and year out my five years and certainly my husband before me for 12 years. The inaccuracy of the reporting it was repugnant. Editorialization of things that were so outlandishly stated but I’m very hopeful. Because he is a man who is involved and my hope is through his son-in-law they’ll really demand the quality.
In December, you sponsored an ordinance that would create a department of youth development social innovation. What can the city do to help kids in need?
In the city of Las Vegas, we know we are not the school district. In fact, we have no control over the school district… We are doing everything we can to augment families and child development before and after school, wrap-around services.
What it’s about is first of all, before and after school programs and partnerships with our non-profits, Three Square. We are able in our Safe Key programs… is to give those children a meal in the morning when they get there free and then after school when they stay. Help them look at what opportunities they might be interested in later on in life or jobs. We have now developed My Brother’s Keeper, which is targeting the African-American male group to try to get them involved to try to get them on a pathway to success rather than a pathway of school, out into the community and onto prison.
Are you going to push for a pro-soccer stadium where Cashman Center now sits?
What are we 2.3 million people here? There’s no reason we don’t have major league sports. There is no reason. Now, whether it is basketball, baseball, football, major league I’m talking and soccer is the number one sport in the world. There is an impetus there that has been here. The council did pass 4 to 3 to build a stadium, not for all of it but with support funds coming in from tourist dollars. The Review-Journal took it about themselves to spread and fan the word that we were using resident monies.
It really is time for us to have major league sports.
So you won’t give up?
I will not give up because I know we’re ready for major league sports. And fortunately, we do have continuing tourist income.
Do you have any in roads into the NFL?
I have an individual with whom I’m speaking about a building a stadium. And of course because you know the Rams, the St. Louis Rams are going to L.A. I happen to be a Chargers ticket holder with my family. So, certainly Oakland or the Chargers could come in with their ownership and occupy the stadium that would be built, perhaps on city land and city infrastructure but privately funded.
The NFL thing, to me, is a real possibility.
Carolyn Goodman, mayor, Las Vegas