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We established a red-light district in Las Vegas?

by Scott Dickensheets

Pluses

Two big ones, says George Flint, longtime lobbyist for the legal brothel industry: money and crime. Extrapolated from the activities in Pahrump’s brothels, he estimates that 1,000 legal hookers in Vegas, averaging four dates a day, could generate half a billion dollars (“that’s billion, with a B”) in taxes every 15 months. (Critics have disputed that figure.) And, he argues, it would wrestle the sex trade from pimps and criminals, making it safer for prostitutes and clients. A third benefit: medical. After all, who screens unregulated sex workers for HIV? Lastly, legalizing what’s already taking place would amount to an act of civic honesty.

 

Minuses

“I can’t think of one,” Flint says. Though he does allow that our convention business might suffer as image-conscious businesses and government agencies avoid the perceived stigma. And it would peeve Sen. Harry Reid, who’s called Nevada pols “cowards” for not banning prostitution altogether. He told the 2011 Legislature that it inhibits business growth, scaring off legitimate companies.

 

Plausibility level

Support comes from

(scale of 1-10)

1. “Behind closed doors, lawmakers will say it’s a good idea,” he says. “But publicly, no one wants their fingerprints on it.”

 

North Las Vegas merged with Las Vegas?

by Andrew Kiraly

Pluses

A freshly engorged Las Vegasopolis would make life simpler, says Christopher Stream, director of UNLV’s School of Environmental and Public Affairs. “Consolidation could also create an economic development advantage, making for quicker reaction to prospective business and industry investment — fewer parties at the table, less red tape. Another plus: decreasing the number of elected officials could make it easier for citizens to understand and access their elected officials.” John Restrepo of RCG Economics also points out that landlocked but economnically strong Las Vegas could help land-rich but economically weak North Las Vegas put those vacant parcels to work in a peanut butter-and-chocolate kind of arrangement.

 

Minuses
It’s not as efficient as you might think. “Studies have shown little evidence of cost savings when municipalities merge,” says Stream. “A ‘change of scenery’ often doesn’t produce greater efficiency.” Restrepo agrees. “In some cases, shared services save money, in other cases, it costs more.”

 

Plausibility level
(scale of 1-10)

2. “These cities aren’t run by technocrats,” Restrepo says. In other words, even if merging made sense on paper, egos and power come into play. “There are politics involved, winners and losers. Because of that, it’s unlikely to happen.”

 

We broke up the school district?

by Scott Dickensheets

SchoolPluses

With less bureaucracy between schools and district leaders, says Kim Metcalf, dean of UNLV’s College of Education, smaller districts could be more responsive to school-specific issues. A split would also mitigate some headaches of coordinating activities across hundreds of facilities. People who testified in favor of a district break-up in the 2007 Legislature said it would give parents more influence over schools — which may or may not be a plus.

 

Minuses

Metcalf worries that deconsolidation could exacerbate disparities between affluent and less affluent neighborhoods — a large district has a better chance to maintain at least some resource equity. Lost would be the district’s ability to leverage its size when it comes to hiring, grant-seeking and purchasing. Staffing up multiple districts might wipe out savings from cutting central bureaucracy. And the upfront costs of a split would likely be enormous.

 

Plausibility level
(scale of 1-10)

2. Metcalf wouldn’t venture a guess, but the odds seem long. Previous Legislatures flirted with the idea but it ultimately went nowhere.

 

We converted the Las Vegas Strip into a pedestrian mall?

by T.R. Witcher

Pluses

A fully pedestrianized Strip would fulfill the ambition of recent Strip urban design to create a truly walkable, human-oriented destination. It would create a sublime balance between intimate spaces and spectacle. It would free up land for a robust public transportation solution on the Strip (perhaps the maligned monorail, but even BRT in dedicated lanes would do). It would, quite simply, give us the greatest urban street in the world.

 

Minuses

Well, sure, if you want to go there, displaced traffic would bring I-15 to a standstill. The back roads locals depend on — Industrial/Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Koval — would also become parking lots. And yes, you’d lose the pleasure of driving down the Strip on a dusky night, windows open or top down, when … oh, wait, you can’t cruise down the Strip most evenings, can you? Too many cars already.

 

A compromise

As architect Nir Burras once proposed, you could simply remove the traffic lights from the Strip, install giant roundabouts at the intersections and convert the median into a long, linear pedestrian promenade. You’d keep the cars (and add the public transit) but still create a delightful place for the rest of us.

 

Plausibility level
(scale of 1-10)

Um, 0. (Blame the traffic engineers and timid casino moguls.)

 

Las Vegas were made the capital of Nevada?

by Rob Lang, UNLV director, Brookings Mountain West

Pluses

More state attention and resources directed to Southern Nevada. It would become easier and cheaper to administer state government because it’s now close to most state residents. The global nature and perspective of greater Las Vegas would be reflected in a more modern and sophisticated state government.

 

Minuses

Remarkable political controversy in moving the state government from its historic roots in the north. There would also be a modest one-time cost to the state in modifying state buildings in the south to accommodate a state Legislature, executive and judiciary offices. There would be some disruption to state workers’ lives and careers in the transition of much of the state government to the south.

 

Plausibility level
(scale of 1-10)

3. The best chance for Las Vegas to become the state capital would be a transition to an annual Legislature — odd-year sessions in Carson City, even-year sessions in Las Vegas. Carson City could serve as the official capital and retain some state offices and a share of legislative work. Las Vegas would become the functional capital and gain more state offices.

 

Southern Nevada had a desalination deal with Mexico or Southern California?

by Heidi Kyser

Pluses

Since the logistics of desalinating water and pumping it from a coastline up to Southern Nevada make it cost-ineffective, desalination, for us, is really all about the ability to bank water. Current river law, including recent amendments, allows for various kinds of swaps — water that’s desalinated and used on the California coast for supplies left in Lake Mead, for instance. That, according to water authority boss John Entsminger, is a scenario that could bolster Las Vegas’ reserves.

 

Minuses

The technology isn’t quite where it needs to be in order to make a good business case for desalination. “The operation and maintenance costs of the Poseidon desalt facility that’s under construction in Carlsbad, California, are estimated to be $1,500 per acre foot,” Entsminger says. “We charge our member agencies $300 per acre foot. So, you’re talking five times the cost to operate. It wouldn’t be 100 percent of your portfolio, but you’re still talking big dollars.”

 

Plausibility level
(scale of 1-10)

Proportionate to the number of years out (5 in 5 years; 10 in 10)

 

We legalized recreational marijuana?
by Heidi Kyser

PotPluses

Las Vegas would become “Amsterdam on steroids,” says Nevada Senator Tick Segerblom, who’s long advocated for the cause. People from all around the country would come here to smoke a joint, go to the world’s best restaurants, shows and nightclubs, and then go home and tell their friends about it, fuelling a huge economic revival for the region — just one slice of what experts expect to be a multibillion-dollar industry. “The reality is, we’re seen as Sin City, and that’s how we advertise ourselves,” Segerblom says. “This adds to that cachet.”

 

Minuses

Just as other states have jumped on the gambling bandwagon, they will inevitably join the weed rush. Within 10 years, Segerblom predicts, the blush will be off the Mary Jane rose, diminishing Nevada’s standout status. Considering self-reinvention is our gift, there will have to be another, next frontier.

 

Plausibility level
(scale of 1-10)

5 in the 2015 legislature;
9 if it goes on the ballot in 2016, for which proponents have gathered the necessary signatures

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