Wednesday, September 19, 2012

1st District debate - Las Vegas Review - Journal

Posted: Sep. 19, 2012 | 2:03 a.m.

The public isn't hearing much about Nevada's 1st Congressional District race. Registered Democratic voters outnumber registered Republicans by more than a 2-to-1 margin in the urban Las Vegas district. The outcome of the election is assumed to be predetermined and, as a result, GOP resources are flowing elsewhere.

That's a huge benefit to Democrat Dina Titus, an ex-state Senate leader and former one-term congresswoman. The Republican candidate, Chris Edwards, is a relative unknown facing long odds.

Voters frequently complain about negative campaign ads, but they should consider the alternative: no campaigning at all. No debates between the candidates have been scheduled, although a spokesman from Ms. Titus' campaign said Monday her team "is working through" a single debate request.

In Northern Nevada's 2nd District, Republican Rep. Mark Amodei enjoys a safe seat as well. Republicans make up 44 percent of the district's voters, compared with the Democrats' 34 percent. Rep. Amodei's Democratic challenger, Sam Koepnick, is essentially unfunded and unknown.

Yet Rep. Amodei has agreed to debate Mr. Koepnick so voters can see how each man thinks on his feet and responds to challenges on policy positions. They will debate Oct. 18 on Reno's PBS-TV affiliate.

Ms. Titus should debate her underdog challenger, too. And not simply because this newspaper has endorsed Mr. Edwards, a retired Navy commander.

She should debate him because it's good for democracy. Because it's good to have an informed electorate engaged in the choices they must make come November. Because voters deserve to see, first-hand, the intellectual rigor of their representatives. Let's see a Titus-Edwards debate soon.

Despite setbacks, board still bullish on Henderson Space and Science Center - Las Vegas Sun


A conceptual model of the Henderson Space and Science Center.

A year ago, leaders behind the Henderson Space and Science Center announced an ambitious goal of raising $30 million over five years to make a project that has been talked about for decades into a reality.

Backed with a $25 million commitment from the Henderson city government’s land fund and a financial plan created by Gallagher Associates, the company that helped raise money for the nearly half-billion-dollar Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Las Vegas, Space and Science Center officials were optimistic their project had finally turned a corner after years of planning.

Nearly a year later, the project is again on the ropes. The center, estimated to cost between $50 million and $60 million, has brought in less than $1 million of the $4 million officials hoped to raise in the first year of the capital campaign.

The city had given $4 million to the center for architectural designs and public works costs, according to a city spokesperson. But in March, the city pulled its commitment for the other $21 million, leaving the center without a clear source of financing. Its executive director, Jack Clark, resigned in June, making him the second executive director to leave in the organization’s short history, and the staff has shrunk to just one part-time employee.

But a volunteer board of directors still guiding the organization is refusing to give up on the goal of bringing a science center to Henderson, even if it takes a little longer than expected.

“It’s more a question of timing. We were not really in a position to do what we’re doing today any earlier,” board chairman and former Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson said. “We needed … the mock-up, the architect’s design, to show people what we have in mind. We needed the programming element so we could describe the things we’re hoping to accomplish inside of it. All of that is done.”

A search is under way for a capital campaign director to raise money for the center, and Gibson said there’s still a possibility to tap into city funding if the center’s leaders can show they have a clear plan and have made progress toward their fundraising goal.

A conceptual design and model presented this year shows the potential for the Space and Science Center, which leaders envision being filled with hands-on, interactive exhibits that appeal to multiple age groups. It would sit on five acres next to the proposed Union Village complex near U.S. 95 and Galleria Drive.

Gibson, president of, a sister company of the Greenspun Media Group, which owns the Las Vegas Sun, said the center would especially appeal to students and teachers and could help supplement science and math education in the Clark County School District, where test scores rank among the lowest in the nation.

The chances of the center opening by the summer of 2015 â€" the initial targeted opening date â€" continue to shrink and will depend on the success of fundraising efforts. But Gibson said the delays are minor compared with the decades-long impact building the center could have on the valley.

“If we didn’t pursue something that was hard, much of what you see in the city of Henderson wouldn’t be here today,” Gibson said. “If this is worth doing and is doable, then a year or two really won’t matter at all.”

Spotted a busted road sign? Make the right call - Las Vegas Review - Journal

Posted: Sep. 19, 2012 | 2:01 a.m.

A reader called a couple weeks ago to complain about a stop sign in his neighborhood. The sign was so faded from the sun, he said, it is a traffic hazard.

I wrote his question down on a scrap of paper, maybe the back of an envelope.

And then I lost it. So I have no idea what his name was or what part of town he was in.

Doesn't matter, though, because it got me thinking. What should you do if you see a road sign that has been damaged so badly it's dangerous?

I have that answer, plus a few more, so stick around.

What should you do when you spot a damaged road sign?

If you're in the city of Las Vegas, you should call the Traffic Department at 229-6331.

If you're in Henderson, you have a couple of options. You can go to the city's website at and look for the purple "Contact Henderson" button down at the bottom of the page.

Or, if you're tech-savvy, download the city's iPhone app. You can take a picture of the offending sign and attach it to your message. You'll even be able to track the city's progress in dealing with your complaint and get a notification when it's fixed.

If you're in North Las Vegas, you should call 633-1264.

If you're in unincorporated Clark County, you can report the problem to public works by phone at 455-6000 or via email:

If you don't know which city you're in, go here: You should go there anyway. It's a fun site to play around with.

John asked: Why is the speed limit 35 mph on Buffalo Drive, between Charleston Boulevard and Sahara Avenue. South of Sahara it is 45 mph and north of Charleston it is 45 mph, and if you try to go 35 mph during heavy traffic you get ran over.

Diana Paul with the city of Las Vegas wrote this when I asked her via email: "The segment of Buffalo between Charleston and Sahara is reduced to 35 mph because the corridor has houses that front Buffalo and back out onto the street and because we allow parking along the All American Park curb frontage as well as along an area at the north end where apartments have no other place to park. We generally try to keep speed limits at 35 or less on corridors where on-street parking is allowed."

Ann and Wayne asked: Will they ever make off- and on-ramps from Durango Drive to Summerlin Parkway? You can only go east to get onto Summerlin Parkway and can only get off when you are going west on Summerlin Parkway.

Paul wrote this in response: "There are no ramps planned to/from the west at the Durango interchange because the spacing between the Rampart off/on ramps would be too close to make those ramps work without using very expensive 'braided ramp bridge structures' to separate the movements. Also, the volumes for those movements are too low at this time to warrant the very high cost."

Sara wrote: A lot has been written in the Road Warrior column for the past few years about the Volunteer Boulevard/Executive Airport/Via Inspirada intersection in Henderson. The traffic light is finally operational, but now it has caused another problem. There is no right turn lane from eastbound Volunteer to southbound Via Inspirada (there are right turn lanes in the other 3 corners) and traffic backs up during the afternoon rush hour when the first car at the light is going straight. Are there any plans to put in a right turn lane?

Kathleen Richards with the city wrote this: "The City does not have sufficient rights (of way) to construct a right-turn-only lane on eastbound Volunteer at Via Inspirada and would have to acquire property from the owner on the southwest corner of the intersection. We did not acquire those rights at the time we widened Volunteer because the SB5 funding that financed the project had schedule requirements that did not allow for the time it would take to acquire the property. We will be looking to acquire the right-of-way with any future roadway construction funds we may obtain."

Patty asks: My auto registration renews in August. Is there any way to have it changed permanently to renew in a winter month so it doesn't interfere with summer travels?

Kevin Malone, a spokesman for the DMV, said come on down. They'll fix you right up.

"That's an easy one," he said in an email. "The customer should come in and do an early renewal on whatever date she would like the registration to expire. Say she renewed on August 15. If she wants the registration to expire on October 15, she would do an early renewal on October 15. The DMV would give her a credit for the unused portion of the registration, so she would pay only for the two months from August 15 to October 15. One catch, though, is that the emissions inspection is good for only 90 days. She will need a new test if the last one is more than 90 days old. Another is that it has to be done in person at a DMV office."

I'll end on a personal note here: I'll be moving on from my short gig as the Road Warrior to cover more general news in and around town. Joe Hawk, who most recently served in the Review-Journal's sports department, will be taking over. You're in good hands.

If you have traffic questions or gripes, email them to

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Flooded homeowners receive warning about scam artists - KTNV Las Vegas


Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - It's been a week since heavy rains and flash floods damaged homes in the eastern part of the valley.  Now there are reports of scam artists looking to make a quick buck by promising repairs.

Repair trucks line the street on Walton Heath Avenue, now that many residents have turned to professionals for help cleaning up.

But, after hearing reports of unlicensed contractors offering their services, representatives for county commissioner Chris Giunchigliani went door to door posting notices on homes, warning residents not to hire anyone before running a background check and making sure they're licensed to perform repairs.

 “I was surprised, but it's good they're coming around trying to do something,” said resident Conrad Gardner shortly after receiving the notice on his door.

 “You have to be careful who you left into your home to repair anything,” echoed neighbor Sue Johnson.  “I am also glad that they're concerned about all the damage that was done in the area.”

If your home was damaged in the storm, you're encouraged to contact the county emergency management department.

Romney campaign bolstered by Republican National Committee - Las Vegas Review - Journal

Posted: Sep. 18, 2012 | 6:38 p.m.

The Republican National Committee is deploying two regional directors to Nevada through the Nov. 6 election to boost GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign in the battleground state and increase his chances of defeating President Barack Obama, a top Republican official said Tuesday.

Rick Wiley, the political director of the RNC, said Republicans just surpassed making 1 million voter contacts in Nevada and added 100,000 more Romney supporters with the election seven weeks away and both campaigns kicking into higher gear with frequent visits from Obama and Romney.

Wiley said the 1 million-voter mark is five times the number of voters Republicans had contacted at this point in the Nevada campaign in 2008 and in 2004, when President George W. Bush won re-election.

Obama won in 2008, easily beating U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., thanks to a huge voter registration drive that added 100,000 Democrats to the rolls in Nevada. The Democrats have a 60,000 registered voter edge over Republicans now and it's growing by the day along with new non-partisan voters.

Wiley dismissed the Democrats' voter registration advantage, saying it's more important for Republicans to turn out long-time GOP voters and loyal Romney supporters who are more likely to cast ballots Nov. 6. He said the campaign is focusing on swaying nonpartisan voters, who could make the difference.

"Registered Romney voters are more likely to turn out" than someone who just registered to vote, Wiley said in an interview during a 36-hour visit to Las Vegas. "There are a lot of people registering as 'other' who are self-identified as Romney supporters," he added. "We're just calling independents."

The launch of the more aggressive GOP effort in Nevada comes as Romney is scheduled to campaign in Las Vegas on Friday, a month before early voting starts Oct. 20 in the state. No details were available.

The visit will be Romney's sixth campaign stop in Nevada since April when he became the presumptive GOP presidential nominee and his 16th stop in the state since February 2011, a GOP official said.

Obama, too, has focused on Nevada more than any other battleground state, visiting 14 times since he became president in 2009 - more than any White House occupant - and seven times this year.

Vice President Joe Biden has visited Nevada several times this year as well. And GOP vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, has campaigned twice in the Silver State so far.

Although Nevada has only six Electoral College votes of the 270 needed to win the presidency, it is one of 11 swing states that will determine who wins the White House. As well, Nevada is a key test of whether Obama's plea to give him four more years to fix the economy will work since the state has been hit harder than any other with record high unemployment, bankruptcy and foreclosure rates.

On Friday, the day Romney plans to campaign in Las Vegas, new Nevada unemployment figures are scheduled to be released, giving him an opportunity to highlight the issue. Last month, the jobless rate rose to 12 percent -- 12.9 percent in Clark County -- or several points high than the national average.

Despite the limping economy, recent polls show the presidential race in Nevada remains a near dead heat with Obama having a slight advantage. Last month, Obama was edging out Romney 47 percent to 45 percent in a poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and taken by Survey USA.

Wiley said he believes Romney can win Nevada because the GOP is running a get out the vote operation that's far more aggressive than in recent years to compete against the Democratic Party's aggressive state operation that helped re-elect U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., in 2010 and Obama win in 2008.

"The ground game we put together is the best we've ever had," Wiley said. "I have a regional director who's going to spend the next 49 days in Nevada. This is an important state."

Emily Cornell, the RNC regional director, will be based in Las Vegas, Wiley said. Another regional director will be coming to the state within days to work out of Reno, he added.

Cornell has experience working in the 2008 and 2010 campaign cycles, including in Texas, Virginia, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky and Oregon. She's currently overseeing a region that includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Alaska and Missouri.

Wiley said Republicans from outside Nevada will flood the state in the coming weeks as well, including from California, Idaho and Utah -- one blue and two red states that are not competitive. The Obama campaign, too, is relying on workers and volunteers to flood the election battleground zone.

A spokeswoman for the Obama campaign said Republicans can't match Obama's deep organization.

"Our volunteers have been active in communities across the state since 2007," said Aoife McCarthy of the Obama campaign. "From Sparks to Pahrump, neighbor to neighbor, conversations have happened nonstop. It is these conversations illustrating the clear choice in this election and how President Obama's plan will move us forward, strengthen the middle class, continue to provide quality health care and protect higher education funding that will get people to the polls starting October 20. The ground game and the effort that we have built can't be replicated in the final 49 days."

Obama's campaign has 25 offices in Nevada, 20 of them in Southern Nevada -- including in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson and one in Pahrump -- and four offices in the Reno-Sparks area. There's no Obama office in rural Nevada, where Republicans dominate, according to the campaign's web site.

The "Team Nevada" operation for Romney's campaign began opening offices in May and now has 11 across the state, including six in Southern Nevada: two in Las Vegas, two in Henderson, and one each in Pahrump and Mesquite. Two Team Nevada offices also are open in Reno and one each in Carson City, the state capital, Fernley and Elko, a rural mining town in far northeastern Nevada.

Wiley questioned the Obama strategy of focusing so much on Southern Nevada where Democrats dominate, including Hispanics and African-American voters who overwhelmingly back Obama.

"That screams to me they have a base problem," Wiley said. "That strategy is strange to me."

Contact reporter Laura Myers at or 702-387-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj.

Rescued Brown Pelicans Calling Las Vegas Strip Home - KLAS-TV

There are lot of things to see on the Las Vegas Strip. Now, there are two new addition to the list of attractions: rescued brown pelicans.

The pelicans are now part of the Wildlife Habitat at Flamingo Las Vegas. The birds were originally rescued and rehabilitated by Pacific Wildlife Project. They were injured when they became entangled by fishing lines, and now they cannot fly, making it impossible for them to return to their native habitat.

The male pelican has been named Bugsy, after the famous Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel who built the original Flamingo Hotel and Casino. The female bird has been named Virginia, after Siegel's girlfriend Virginia Hill.

The habitat has been renovated to make room for the new pelicans. The island, which was originally a home to a colony of penguins, was repainted and repaired for Bugsy and Virginia. There is also a new perching area for the birds.

“We set out to create a replica of the pelicans’ original habitat in order to help with their rehabilitation,” said Robin Matos, wildlife manager at Flamingo. “The island is complete with a cooling mist system for those extra hot days which will drop the temperature 30 to 40 degrees, more in line with their natural environment.”

The Wildlife Habitat at Flamingo Las Vegas is open 24 hours a day. There are two presentations each day at 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Besides the new pelicans, there are turtles, ducks, black swans, a white sturgeon, koi fish, parrots, pink flamingos, guineafowls, and ibis at the habitat. 

Seatbelt Use Increases 22 Pct Over 10 years - KLAS-TV

LAS VEGAS -- The use of seatbelts has increased about 22 percent in the past 10 years in Nevada since the start of the statewide "Click it or Ticket" campaign.

In 2002, 74 percent of those surveyed said they used seatbelts; in 2012, the number of people buckling up increased to 90 percent.

Researchers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas conducted the survey between May 21 and June 3.

Last year, 62 people who were not wearing seatbelts died on Nevada roads. Of those, 15 would not have died had they been wearing their seatbelt, according to the Nevada Department of Public Safety.

And another estimated 95 people in Nevada survived a wreck because they were buckled up, according to the department.

Last year seatbelt usage was measured at 94 percent, but according to the study, federal requirements changed the survey's methodology from a population-based one to a fatality-based criterion.