“O! reason not the need,” King Lear cried when challenged about how much stuff and how many helpers a retired king needs to get by on. Las Vegas like a former monarch losing sanity in a Shakespeare play also does not think need is an important standard when it comes to spending money.
Last month there was a topping off ceremony for Las Vegas new City Hall. The wonder is that the arrangements behind this project have never generated national attention or even much local anger. It should. The use of taxpayer money– at a time of reduced city services and furloughs—to benefit powerful local interests (unions and construction), and all disguised as stimulus spending make Las Vegas’ new City Hall an example of waste for the textbooks.
So, why is the new City Hall being built in the midst of a recession? Not because of any problems with the City Hall currently in use that was built in the 70s
The real driver behind the new City Hall is given by the city as a pull-quote in the official FAQ for the project: “City Hall is the catalyst for four major mixed redevelopment projects that will bring 13,441 new permanent jobs to the city of Las Vegas.” What civics class did they learn a city hall does that? Take a moment and consider that outrageous claim: 13, 441 jobs will exist in Las Vegas only by moving the less than 600 city employees into a new building (and, one not too far from the old city hall).
The cost of the new City Hall is not small: $150 million. And, the city wants you to know that’s a bargain price as Las Vegas actually claims in the FAQ that the recession is a compelling reason to build a new City Hall now: “Building the $150 million City Hall now saves money because construction costs are well off their highs by as much as 30%.” This is faulty logic, of course, because if you do not need a new building how much you “save” in construction costs is meaningless.
(And, the sleaze has one more notch to go. The construction savings argument has the strong implication that lower costs make the project cheaper for taxpayers, and that is not the case: “City Hall itself is actually being paid for by the private sector with the city leasing the facility.” This is a remarkable deal for the landlord considering the office vacancies all over Las Vegas now. That the $150 million is from the taxpayers of Las Vegas ultimately is not made clear in the FAQ,)
The highlight of Las Vegas official new City Hall FAQ explanation comes though when the main question is bluntly asked and avoided: “Why does the city of Las Vegas need a new City Hall?” The answer given begins: “There are actually multiple reasons why a new City Hall will be a good thing for the city of Las Vegas.” The remaining answer elaborates on the “good” reasons. The word “need” does not make an appearance in the city’s answer as to why Las Vegas “needs” a new City Hall. “O! Reason not the need.”