Surpise, surprise

Geoffrey Lawrence

Members of the Las Vegas City Council voted Wednesday to keep two ballot initiatives proposed by the Culinary Union off of the July ballot.

One of the ballot initiatives would have required a vote on any lease-purchase agreements the city entered into on behalf of its redevelopment agency. Because the proposed new $267 million city hall that would bear Mayor Oscar Goodman’s name would be constructed using a lease-purchase agreement, the measure would give voters a say in whether city officials should build themselves a new palace at $881 per square foot – while forcing new debt on taxpayers to do so.

The project has sparked controversy among local taxpayers and some union members because the city already will face a $150 million deficit over the next five years and has recently reduced benefits for some city workers. The new city hall would likely lead to tax increases during a recession.

The second ballot initiative would prevent the redevelopment agency from issuing new debt and would require voter approval for all future projects of the redevelopment agency. According to the city’s lawyer, the initiative is “legally defective” because it would take power away from the redevelopment agency. Imagine that.

City officials voted to keep an initiative that could potentially limit their power off of the ballot. Ironically, they voted to keep the electorate from voting. Can we say oligarchy?

As Chris Bohner, research director for the Culinary Union, observed, “”It’s a sad day when elected officials are afraid of the voters.”

Got despotism?

Geoffrey Lawrence

Geoffrey Lawrence

Director of Research

Geoffrey Lawrence is director of research at Nevada Policy.

Lawrence has broad experience as a financial executive in the public and private sectors and as a think tank analyst. Lawrence has been Chief Financial Officer of several growth-stage and publicly traded manufacturing companies and managed all financial reporting, internal control, and external compliance efforts with regulatory agencies including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Lawrence has also served as the senior appointee to the Nevada State Controller’s Office, where he oversaw the state’s external financial reporting, covering nearly $10 billion in annual transactions. During each year of Lawrence’s tenure, the state received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

From 2008 to 2014, Lawrence was director of research and legislative affairs at Nevada Policy and helped the institute develop its platform of ideas to advance and defend a free society.  Lawrence has also written for the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, with particular expertise in state budgets and labor economics.  He was delighted at the opportunity to return to Nevada Policy in 2022 while concurrently serving as research director at the Reason Foundation.

Lawrence holds an M.A. in international economics from American University in Washington, D.C., an M.S. and a B.S. in accounting from Western Governors University, and a B.A. in international relations from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  He lives in Las Vegas with his beautiful wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Carson Hayek and Sage Aynne.