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.”