Businesses Prepare to Fight Culinary Union in Court

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A coalition of downtown Las Vegas businesses is
raising funds to fight a Culinary Union ballot initiative aimed at
requiring voter approval for city redevelopment decisions.

The business group, called the Downtown Las Vegas Alliance, has
hired the influential law and lobbying firm Kummer Kaempfer Bonner
Renshaw & Ferrario, and plans to oppose the June ballot measure in
court.

"We're looking very closely at the initiative and will challenge it on many levels," said Rich Worthington, president of the Molasky Group and head of the alliance. "We need to make sure that the city still has its basket of tricks to land redevelopment projects downtown."

The business coalition formally registered as a nonprofit
organization last year. Officials say it may also establish its own
political action committee and begin a public relations campaign.

Worthington said the alliance has 35 members, including
prominent downtown condominium developer Sam Cherry and casino
executives from the Four Queens, Fitzgerald's and El Cortez.

A seven-member executive committee includes representatives of
the downtown Arts District, the World Market Center and Forest City
Enterprises, the Cleveland-based developer working with the city on
the city hall project.

In a Feb. 2 memo, Worthington asks each alliance business member
to pay $5,000 to the legal fund. Nonprofit organizations are asked
to contribute $1,500.

Culinary Local No. 226 qualified two measures for the June
ballot - including one to have voters decide whether to require
public votes on lease-purchase construction projects.

The other initiative opposes a plan for a private developer to
build a new seven-story City Hall on Main Street just west of the
Regional Justice Center and Clark County jail, and lease it to the
city.

The union maintains that the $150 million or more the city would
spend on the city hall move would be better spent on schools and
other public needs.

The city is barred from using taxpayer money to promote its
position on the city hall project, which has been a pet project for
Mayor Oscar Goodman.

The business alliance opposes both measures. But Rita Brandin,
an executive with Newland Communities, the manager and designer of
the big Union Park area for the city, said the co-called Las Vegas
Redevelopment Reform Referendum was the biggest concern for the
downtown business community.

"It isn't about supporting or not supporting whether a new city
hall gets built," she said. "It's because of the (redevelopment
agency's) efforts that we've seen the development that we have."

The initiative would repeal the existing redevelopment area plan
and would require public votes on future redevelopment projects.
The Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency was created in 1986 to attract
businesses downtown.

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Information from: Las Vegas Sun, http://www.lasvegassun.com


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