Responding to LVCVA criticisms

Andy Matthews

I wanted to take this opportunity to comment on Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Ben Spillman's blog post, which covers our Thursday morning conversation about criticisms of NPRI's report on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

My intent is not to dispute anything Mr. Spillman has written; best I can tell, he gave a very fair and accurate representation of our conversation. I wish only to add a few more points in order to further clarify the modifications we at NPRI have made to our report.

It is true that since the original publication of our report on LVCVA financing, a couple of errors have been found. In one case, the error was brought to our attention by the LVCVA's own report in response to ours; the other we caught ourselves. It is important to note four things:

  1. The errors have been corrected in our online report, the detailed version of which is available here. Anyone who reads the report from beginning to end now will be reading the amended, corrected version of the report.
  2. We have added annotations – asterisks (*) and number signs (#) – after the text that we have corrected. At the bottom of the section (Section Two) that contained the errors, one will find an asterisk and a number sign, each followed by the word "NOTE" and then an explanation that the original text for those annotated areas was incorrect, but has been modified. We recognize, as Mr. Spillman notes, that because of the length of the report, the annotations may be difficult to spot. However, because we have actually corrected the errors in the report, anyone who reads the report and fails to spot the annotations can still be assured he is reading the new, accurate information. The only thing he would not know is that the information had at one point been inaccurate. And again, that is only if the reader fails to spot the annotations.
  3. It is worth noting that the errors found in the NPRI report on the LVCVA were relatively minor, and that all of the annotations in our report relate to these two errors. In one case, NPRI reported that an LVCVA executive stayed in a $2,000-per-night hotel in Dubai. In fact, the LVCVA has stated that the $2,000-per-night amount reported on the expense report was in a foreign currency, so the actual cost of the room was approximately $500 per night in U.S. dollars. While NPRI regrets the currency exchange error, the fact remains that the LVCVA paid more than $9,000 in first-class airfare to send an executive to Dubai to stay in an expensive hotel for a week.

    In the second instance, NPRI erroneously reported that the LVCVA held a March 20 conference call with as many as eight LVCVA board members to discuss a strategy to oppose a room tax initiative that would have diverted tax funds away from the LVCVA to other recipients. In fact, only as many as seven LVCVA board members participated in the March 20 conference call. It's important to note that LVCVA President Rossi Ralenkotter invited the most powerful elected officials in Southern Nevada to secretly discuss a strategy to oppose an initiative that had strong public support. The LVCVA has refused to identify which LVCVA board members participated in the conference call, but records show the invitees included mayors, county commissioners and city councilmen. Nor has the LVCVA provided details of what was discussed during the conference call. The LVCVA also has not explained why, if the meeting was important enough to invite up to half of the LVCVA board, it didn't just call an emergency board meeting that would have been open to the public, rather than conduct a secret meeting without public notice.

  4. While we at NPRI certainly strive to be as accurate as possible in everything we publish, we are, alas, human, and thus prone to the occasional honest error. Because of our commitment to the truth, we appreciate efforts to bring any such errors to our attention so that we can correct the record and be sure that we are providing Nevada's citizens with the most accurate information possible.