a service of NPRI

March 3, 2006 
Vol. 2, No. 4

Also in this issue:

NPRI Monorail Reporting

Resorts used to launder
money, says government

Nevada urbanization
drives building costs

Energy independence:
Disaster in the making

GM pays employees
not to work

Government sector
pension mess worse

The 65 percent
toxic solution


Black flight

Embarrassing the angels

Too big to burst

Press loses people's trust

Executive power
on steroids


from NPRI:

larcenous LVCVA

The Las Vegas Convention Center should be sold to the highest bidder

By Steven Miller

Around 1955, in the still-early days of the Mob in Vegas, the guys running the joints realized that business could be a lot better. What was needed was some way to get more visitors to Southern Nevada.


Black flight

The African-American exodus to charter schools

By Katherine Kersten
Opinion Journal

MINNEAPOLIS--Something momentous is happening here in the home of prairie populism: black flight. African-American families from the poorest neighborhoods are rapidly abandoning the district public schools, going to charter schools, and taking advantage of open enrollment at suburban public schools. Today, just around half of students who live in the city attend its district public schools.


Embarrassing the angels

Or, that's no way to treat a lady.

By Peggy Noonan
Opinion Journal

I want to revise and extend my remarks, as they say, from last week's column on airport security. The reaction was great, but I have two reasons to amend. The first is that I didn't really get to the heart of what is for me most offensive about airport security, and the second is that that thing, the most offensive part, connects to a larger, and I think more painful, fact of our culture.


The Fed
Too big
to burst

By Peter Schiff
Euro Pacific Capital

It is widely believed that the Federal government has an unofficial policy that some banks and other financial institutions are simply too big to fail. As a result, it is assumed that the government will take any action necessary to ensure that they do not. It now appears to me that there is a similar doctrine in effect for bubbles, in that some are simply too big to burst.


The media
Press loses people's trust

By R. Emmett
Tyrrell Jr.
The New York Sun

So we hear this week that President George W. Bush is taking delight in the spread of the "alternative press" (read conservatives on the internet, in talk radio, in print, and at Fox) and the gentle detumescence of "mainstream media" (read liberal media, or more precisely Democratic media). Well I join him in his satisfaction.


The presidency
Executive power on steroids

By Richard A. Epstein
James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago

President Bush's domestic surveillance program against al Qaeda has spawned multiple controversies. Intelligence skeptics ask, for example, whether the potential gains from snooping are worth the hassle. Civil libertarians doubt whether the warrantless surveillance and wiretaps can be squared with the Fourth Amendment.


WHY BusinessNevada

Public-private partnerships
Money-losing monorail
now offering free rides

Travel web site users to get ticket vouchers to boost sagging ridership

By Omar Sofradzija
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Customers of a travel Web site will be plied with free Las Vegas Monorail tickets as part of a new marketing partnership with the struggling rapid transit line that will be unveiled today.

Starting later this month, vegas.com will offer free vouchers for one-way monorail trips to the roughly 10,000 people a day who buy travel products through that site or other sites it runs, including lasvegas.com and espanol.vegas.com.


NPRI Monorail reporting

In-depth articles on the Las Vegas Monorail project by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, from the beginning:

Stalking the Public Purse

From the start, the Las Vegas Monorail project has been structured so that Nevada taxpayers will end up paying the bills.

The Moolah Rail

How a scheme to shift costs of the Las Vegas monorail away from sponsoring hotels and onto taxpayers led to a hugely inflated project price tag and fishy ridership numbers.

The Mass Transit Delusion

For rail mass transit to succeed in metropolitan Las Vegas, says Wendell Cox, the internal combustion engine would have had to never exist. "The problem," says the Illinois consultant.


Resorts used to launder money, says government

Rio, TI, Paris and Caesars
mentioned in indictment

By David Mckee
Las Vegas Business Press

Major Strip properties are again being brushed by an Asian money-laundering scandal. A quartet of casinos was used as a conduit for Chinese racketeers to embezzle funds into the United States, according to an indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney's office.

Four of the alleged embezzlers were arraigned two weeks ago. The fifth, Kwong Wa Po, is currently at large.


Nevada urbanization driving building costs

By Tony Illia
Nevada Business Journal

Nevada’s economy and steady job growth are attracting record numbers of new residents, causing a rapid urbanization in the state’s major cities. Developers and investors are now fast-tracking projects in order to meet the demand for services ranging from offices and homes, to shops and restaurants. The state’s unprecedented development activity has taxed its contractors and suppliers who are struggling with industry-wide issues of a shrinking labor pool and rising material prices.

In Las Vegas, high-rise condominium projects are being canceled due to higher-than-expected building costs.


Energy independence:
Disaster in the making

It's been a rallying cry since the 1970s -- but it could doom the economy, the environment and our position in the world

By Justin Fox
Fortune Magazine

NEW YORK - It may be one of the most dangerous phrases in the English language. It certainly is one of the most expensive. I speak of "energy independence," a rallying cry since the oil crisis of the 1970s and one that has been getting a ton of ink (and pixels) lately, especially since President Bush brought up the subject in his State of the Union address.


Idle Hands
GM pays employees not to work

By Jeffrey Mccracken
The Wall Street Journal

FLINT, Mich. -- In his 34 years working for General Motors Corp., one of Jerry Mellon's toughest assignments came this January. He spent a week in what workers call the "rubber room."

The room is a windowless old storage shed for engine parts. It is filled with long tables, Mr. Mellon says, and has space for about 400 employees. They must arrive at 6 a.m. each day and stay until 2:30 p.m., with 45 minutes off for lunch. A supervisor roams the aisles, signing people out when they want to use the bathroom.

[continued] This article will be available to non-subscribers of the Online Journal for up to seven days after it is e-mailed.

Unfunded liabilities
Government sector pension mess worse

By Adam B. Summers
Budget & Tax News

While private-sector pension terminations and freezes are grabbing headlines, the situation is every bit as grave for government pension systems.

Like many of the remaining traditional defined-benefit pension plans in the private sector, government pension plans are swimming in red ink.

As of January 25, 2006, the National Association of State Retirement Administrators and National Council on Teacher Retirement reported an aggregate unfunded liability of nearly $296 billion for the 103 pension systems and 127 total plans in their Public Fund Survey. A 2004 analysis by Wilshire Associates put the unfunded liability as high as $366 billion.


The 65 percent
toxic solution

By Frederick M. Hess
Washington Times

A new fad, called the "65 percent solution," is sweeping through school-reform circles. Eager to answer the education lobby's endless demands for more money, would-be reformers have embraced the idea that school districts should instead better focus existing dollars by spending at least 65 percent of their budgets on classroom expenditures. The idea has an initial, facile appeal. But it deserves a second, more careful look.


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