Three words: You are wrong!
That comment is directed to Steve Sebelius and his “answer” to the question, “Why did we celebrate the Las Vegas Centennial in 2005, when the city wasn’t incorporated until 1911?” (The Answers, January).
In his response, Sebelius says the reason why we celebrated Las Vegas’ birthday in 2005 was “Mayor Oscar Goodman.” He also states that the city of Las Vegas was incorporated in March of 1911, and then somehow gives credit to the former mayor for the “commemorative license plates.” The 2005 birthday celebration started as a project of attendees to a Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program. This group was led by Louise Helton, and came up with the idea to create a license plate to celebrate the community’s 100th birthday. Led by Helton, the license plate idea became a reality and, to this day, is still funding historic presentation and celebrations, including the Helldorado parade. This group, along with historians, approached the mayor — who initially had misgivings and wanted it to be a one-day or a weekend celebration.
At a meeting, which I attended, we were able to convince the mayor that a yearlong celebration was feasible. The mayor was concerned about costs to taxpayers, and who would do the work to make it a reality. Out of that meeting, the Las Vegas Centennial Commission was created and the rest is history.
Now to the other major error in Mr. Sebelius “answer” that Las Vegas was incorporated in March of 1911. Wrong! What occurred on March 16, 1911, was that then-Gov. Tasker Oddie signed legislation that said, in part, “the qualified voters of the precinct of Las Vegas shall vote on the question (of) whether they shall accept the charge and be incorporated as a city, pursuant to the provisions as herein set forth.” That’s from page 147 of the 1911 Statues of Nevada. On June 1, 1911, the voters in the unincorporated township of Las Vegas went to the polls and voted. The results were that 168 were in favor of incorporation and 57 opposed. The front page of the Las Vegas Age of June 3, 1911 pointed out the winning margin was 3 to 1.
Mr. Sebelius did get one thing right when he wrote that “most people trace the founding of modern Las Vegas to May 15, 1905.” True, and since that auction/land sale, we have been celebrating May 15, 1905 as our community’s birthday — long before Mayor Goodman, and Steve Sebelius were born. I, of course, was just a young lad at the time.
Chairman, City of Las Vegas Historic Preservation Commission
Steve Sebelius responds: I relied on the official Las Vegas website for reference to my date of Las Vegas’ incorporation. That date is listed as March 16, 1911.
As for the genesis of the Las Vegas centennial license plate, I had no knowledge of the involvement of Leadership Las Vegas, Louise Helton or the alleged reluctance of Mayor Oscar Goodman to initially embrace a yearlong celebration. I did cover the mayor and the centennial, and he was more than willing to take full credit for the event. If I was in error on that, I apologize.
In your January issue, you answer the question, “What is the great Northern/Southern Nevada divide?” The comment is made by Dennis Myers that the “Fair Share” battle in 1991 took place between Dina Titus and Bill Raggio. In point of fact, my husband, Jack Vergiels, was the Senate Majority leader in 1991, and it was he and Bill Raggio who fought over fair share during that session. Jack was one of the earliest, and fiercest, proponents of Southern Nevada getting its “fair share.”
Dennis Myers responds: Vergiels was the majority leader and he certainly voted with the southern position, as did all the Clark legislators. But Titus was so outspoken on the issue that her floor speech was quoted against her in her governor’s campaign 15 years later. No one else took such an aggressive stance on the issue: “For years, Washoe County has been a sponge just soaking up the income that’s been earned by the blood and sweat of miners, gamblers, ranchers throughout the rest of the state. They don’t want taxes. They don’t want growth. They just want a handout.”