Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has announced a special session for October 10th iin Carson City and that will focus on the set of recommendations advanced by the Governor’s group called The Southern Nevada Tourism and Infrastructure Committee (SNTIC).In a statement on the Governor’s website, Sandoval’s staff reports the meeting will start at 8 am (PST) and he will release the agenda for it on Sunday, October 9th.
In the announcement, the Governor wrote “My staff and I have had extensive discussions with legislative leadership and it’s time for the full body to begin its deliberations on the recommendations of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee. Now is the time to capitalize on the opportunity before us to invest in Nevada’s most foundational industry, tourism, by providing for the infrastructure and public safety needs of the 21st century. As I have said before, we can and must usher in a new era for tourism in the Las Vegas market, while keeping our citizens and visitors safe, and ensuring our position as the global leader in entertainment and hospitality.”The rest of the Governor’s statement focused on Nevada’s under-funded education system and his desire to “get ahead” of the needs of the education budget. It’s reported that a number of Republican Nevada lawmakers had high hopes a education funding for what are called “education savings accounts” would be part of the set of legislative actions for special session.
But the Nevada Supreme Court ruled the Legislature could not dip into money already set aside for public education. Having said that, the education discussion is arguably a political smoke screen for the real main event: the hotel tax increase and the $750 million bond issue that, if voted for, would be placed on the fiscal back of Clark County, Nevada.
The only way Clark County, Nevada could stop the decision is via a vote among its commissioners either not to do that bond issue, or to reduce the amount to something below the $750 million Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and Oakland Raiders Owner Mark Davis say they want, and that not getting it would be, in their words, a “deal breaker.”
And if Clark County wound up approving that money, the next stop for proponents of the Oakland Raiders in Las Vegas would be the January NFL Owners Meeting.
According to observers the legislation would come down to a vote on a proposal that, if granted as one (rather than sectioned off as different bills) would lead to $750 million for the stadium, $400 million for the Las Vegas Convention Center Expansion Project, and $40 million for education, although it’s not clear where that money would come from as of this writing. What is clear, is that the stage is set for a massive battle between giving almost $1 billion to a person in Sheldon Adelson who is worth $29 billion, versus the original intent many in Nevada, which was to allow the state to provide $1 billion for the LVCC expansion project.
Does Nevada Special Session Spell End Of Tea Party Politics?
Over the past decade, the national Republican Party’s platforms have been altered by the emergence of the Tea Party. Formost among the advocates has been one Grover Norquist. His non-profit called Americans For Tax Reform opposes all tax increases, and has consistently hammered what he’s called “tax and spend” Democrats. He has also been vocal on taxpayer spending for NFL stadiums, and on Twitter tweeted “The 20 new NFL stadiums built between 1997 and 2015 got $4.76 billion in taxpayer funding. Av handout:$238 million” If the Nevada Legislature approves the $750 million, almost 16 percent of all taxpayer money spent between 1997 and 2015 would be represented in the dollars set aside for Las Vegas Sands and the Oakland Raiders.
Given that, and the Tea Party’s stance against such tax increases and expenditures, how could Nevada get to a point where it’s one vote from doing what not even Democrats are known for doing? Two words: Sheldon Adelson.
Fueled by his intense hatred for public money going to the convention center authority in Las Vegas, Adelson has been at war with the organization for the better part of 15 years. In an effort to slow down money going to LVCC expansion, Adelson and his staff saw the Raiders need for a new stadium, and Mark Davis’ willingness to not work effectively with the City of Oakland, as an opportunity not really to get a new venue for Las Vegas, but more as a new tool in his ongoing fight against the Las Vegas Convention Center Authority.
The true bottom line is that Adelson could pay for the football complex all by himself, if he wanted to. But he also knows that given his much talked about and current legal problems with money laundering allegations, he’s better off reducing his fiscal exposure as much as he can, and in the process steering tax money away from the LVCC.
To that end, Adelson first sought to control as much of the production of local news as possible. To do that he spent $140 million last year to buy the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Then, his management staff fired several journalists who didn’t want to play along and write only nice things about Adelson. Then, the remaining writers sought to pave a road of content favorable to the idea of an NFL stadium in Las Vegas, as well as why Nevada should agree to a hotel tax increase to give Las Vegas Sands $750 million to pay for it.
But Adelson had not stopped there: he also paid over $200,000 to help fund the campaigns of over 20 Las Vegas and Nevada lawmakers, from city council people to senators and assembly persons. The two public officials on the SNTIC, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodwin and Clark County Supervisor Steve Sisolak, both received a total of $25,000 from either Adelson or one of his business interests last year.
Even the Nevada Governor’s fed from the Adelson troff.
So, Sheldon Adeldon has done as much as he can to engineer this outcome. Many in Las Vegas and Nevada are, I’m told, afraid to piss off the billionaire. Why this is, is a mystery, but the word is out. Moreover, Adelson has the help of powerful friends, including Casino Magnate Steve Wynn, owner of such posh hotels as Wynn and Encore in Las Vegas, and who’s managed to realize significant revenues from Macao, as has Adelson. In a recent interview, Wynn said that having an NFL team in Las Vegas would be the biggest thing in 25 to 40 years and if the Raiders deal wasn’t approved, “someone should be arrested”. If that’s the case, Wynn may be calling for the jailing of The Nevada Taxpayers Association.
The Nevada Taxpayers Association has came out, full force, against the stadium financing proposal, saying that 57 percent of its board of directors is against the plan. Adding to their voice is that of the organization Nevadans for the Common Good, a religious non-profit that consists of 40 other similar companies.
Thus the stage is set. Stay tuned to this space and to Zennie62.com for more information leading up to Monday’s Nevada Special Session.