John Lee unplugged

In a remarkable interview Tuesday, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee brimmed with optimism about North Las Vegas, trashed two high-ranking employees he forced out, referred to his city as a “financial stinkbomb” that could hurt tourism, said he does not know anyone in his jurisdiction who has been a crime victim and compared his police force to Metro, saying, “Our cops don’t shoot people when we stop them.”

I kid you not.

The interview occurred Tuesday morning with KNPR’s Dave Becker and featured some startling responses and locutions for the mayor of 80 days. To wit:

----Lee repeatedly assured Becker that North Las Vegas is “not going under” and will report back soon to a legislative oversight committee. His Honor also said he would fix the problems without layoffs: “At this time, I don’t know that we need to cut anybody. It’s about information and a game plan.”

Yes, I think it’s called magic math!

When asked to rate the city’s financial health a day after gaming numbers showed an 18 percent dropoff in the city, Lee said, “I couldn’t be more impressed with where we are at right now. By the end of November I can give you a better number.” Lee said he is “burning cash too fast” between distributions of property and consolidated taxes.

When Becker asked for details of the “month to month” debt, Lee replied, “I don’t have that information for you right now. That’s all being crunched right now.”

Becker: “But you are the mayor, though?”

Lee: “Based upon the information and facts we have, we are just listlessly moving along as we get to that final answer of where I’m at.”


----Lee then referred to his own city in quite the derogatory way to make the case that the Strip could languish unless his city was tended to: “I don’t think people in this region really paid attention to the asset that North Las Vegas is….(Airport boss) Rosemary Vassiliadis has 40 million people fly in…Wow, we’re coming back. (LVCVA boss) Rossi Ralenkotter says 20 million people come for conventions, (people say) we’re really starting to pull out of this. But any cub reporter can look at his iPad and say, ‘What is this financial stinkbomb called North Las Vegas.'”

Lee essentially was making the case that if North Las Vegas continues to, well, stink up the joint – i.e. Southern Nevada – that could affect tourism. Uh huh.

“Until they (the Strip, I suppose) realize they are partners with us, and you throw a shred of fear in there, maybe it’s wise to link up with John, and see what we can to do to help this region,” Lee said, somewhat cryptically and strangely, “Why spend all these millions of dollars in what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and we’re there?”

Yes, people won’t come to stay at the Bellagio if they see that financial stinkbomb on the map, right? What in God’s name is he talking about?

---When a caller criticized the crime rate in North Las Vegas, Lee responded that his city had gone from being seen as a “bedroom community” with family values to “nasty boys, drugs, gangs graffiti, Crips and Bloods take over the headlines.”

But crime? That’s when Lee went over the top:

“Our cops don’t shoot people when we stop them. We don’t have those kind of heinous crimes that happen that we have to kind of explain to the community. We have a great police force. We don’t have the crime numbers that Las Vegas has.”

And then:  “I don’t know anybody who has had their house broken into.  I don’t know anybody who’s been assaulted. I don’t know anybody who’s been robbed. It’s a beautiful place to live.”

You cannot make this stuff up. A crime-free paradise!

----When asked about City Manager Tim Hacker and City Attorney Jeffrey Barr leaving, Lee said, risibly, “I didn’t fire anybody. I took resignations from people. In each of those situations, I’m happy and excited for their future. But I think we replaced them with far better quality people.”


----Lee differentiated between “land” and “real estate” for Becker:  “Land is what holds the planet together.” Real estate is what he can build on, Lee said.


Lee concluded the interview by saying it will take him two to four years to right the listing (or is it listless?) city. “It’s going to be just lovely,” he said.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mayor Sunny.

The audio is here.