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Taxpayers Will Pay For A Stadium! No They Won't!

AP Photo/Isaac Brekken
AP Photo/Isaac Brekken

Players warm up on a newly-painted field at Sam Boyd Stadium prior to an NCAA college football game between UCLA and UNLV, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Las Vegas.

Two competing polls released this week came to opposite conclusions about the same issue: using taxes to pay for a private football-sized stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.

Meanwhile, is the state being taken for a ride?

Nevada is now considering incentives for another Elon Musk-connected business. It’s not Tesla near Reno, it’s the Hyper-Loop in North Las Vegas.

And a week doesn’t go by without sensational news of a certain state lawmaker. But maybe Sharron Angle’s entry into the race for U.S. Senate might overshadow Michelle Fiore this week.

KNPR contributors Jon Ralston and Steve Sebelius weigh in on all the political happenings in the state.


Where did the surveys come from?

Ralston: There is credibility in each of the surveys in some way. The point is: of course people would love to see pro sports here. Of course they would love to have a stadium and some people wouldn’t mind if the convention authority moved more into the 21 st Century. But do they want to pay for either of those things? NO, they would probably rather pay for other things like schools and roads. Those choices weren’t in there.

The real questions fundamentally here is: if there is going to be stadium built what percentage of that should be paid for by the public? There is no professional stadium in the country, essentially, that has not been subsidized by public dollars. But is that what we should be using our public dollars for?

A recent editorial in the RJ has supported public funding for the stadium, which is a big switch from when the paper had editorials strongly opposing the city’s efforts to use public money for a downtown soccer stadium.

Ralston: They explained it away with very tortured logic and they even referred to the previous editorial. As I’ve said about Sheldon Adelson using that paper for his agenda. He can essentially do with that editorial page whatever he wants. I guess you could say that other owners do it to. But this is so blatant and there is no real explanation of why a publically funding stadium is a good idea.

I don’t have any doubt that Sheldon Adelson will use that newspaper to further his agenda whether it's one gutting the convention authority and building a stadium or whether it’s one hurting NV Energy or trying to stop a legalized pot initiative. He will use that newspaper.

Sharron Angle who lost to Sen. Harry Reid in 20120 announced she was running for his Senate seat. Does Sharron Angle have a base of support in Nevada for this run?

Sebelius: I think there are people in Nevada who like her. Who are affiliated with her political philosophy. Who will support her again, but I don’t think it is very big. I think it is actually smaller than what it was in 2010. You had a lot more people excited about that candidacy in 2010 because she was taking on Harry Reid and had the potential to unseat the majority leader. Her disastrous performance, there can be no other word employed to describe it, in that race in 2010, I think, lost her a lot of support.

Do you think Super PACs will come to Nevada to support Angle, thinking it would help Catherine Cortez Masto?

Ralston: That would be out of the Harry Reid playbook from 2010. I would be shocked if something like that did not happen. Can they have an impact? I don’t know. When Harry Reid-aligned Patriot Majority did that in 2010, they had Sue Lowden and the chicken’s issue to use, which helped destroy her candidacy. They have a very flawed candidate now in Sharron Angle and they have someone in Joe Heck who is a very good candidate, a very careful candidate. It is going to be much more difficult to do that. But if they can make Joe Heck spend some money, that would be the goal of a Super PAC attack during the primary. I think we’ll see it.

Nevada is paying millions in tax incentives and abatements for some high-tech companies making a lot of promises, but are those promises really going to bear fruit?

Sebelius: They don’t always work, especially when you’re talking about futuristic technology like the Hyper-Loop, which may not work as a technology in general, but I think the other two big projects the Faraday Future and the Tesla are both going to produce jobs. So, if you’re asking me, will jobs be produced? I think the answer is yes that’s going to happen.

Michele Fiore is again being scrutinized over tax issues:

Sebelius: You know Michele Fiore has got some issues to be worked out. That is going to be part of the circumstances dogging her campaign. Same thing for former Assemblyman Morse Arberry who is running for Congress in the fourth district. When you have these things hanging over your head and you put your name on the ballot to run for Congress, you are going to have to explain how you got into a situation where you have a large unpaid debt to a state agency or to the IRS and explain how you are going to make it right.

Ralston: Michele Fiore’s elective career is over. It’s just a matter of what day it ends. She is not going to lose in June… just because of this IRS problem… She cannot win that race. It is not just about the IRS. It’s about all the crazy stuff that she said: cancer is a fungus. And the fact that she has been so over the top in her support of people like the Bundys and what they’ve been doing and essentially said it is okay to point guns at the government. Some people in Nevada might agree with what she said but it is a very small percentage of people.  

Two lawmakers we talked with last week supported the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s argument that open record laws do not apply to the Legislature. What do you think?

Sebelius: Not much. I think if you are sending and receiving messages on a government issued device, it is public. Everyone from Hillary Clinton all the way down to the newest employee of a local government is aware of that and are told that when they are using those resources because they’re conducting the business of government and the public has the right to know what’s going on.


Jon Ralston, host of "Ralston Live"; columnist Reno Gazette-Journal;  Steve Sebelius, host of "Politics Now"; columnist for Las Vegas Review-Journal

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.