community stories for southern Nevada

State of Nevada: Looking beyond the decline…

…and learning from the rust belt.

We did a show on KNPR’s State of Nevada, looking at the ballooning need for social services in Nevada. The state’s unemployment rate recently hit 13.2% (it’s higher in Las Vegas). Tens of thousands of people have lost their homes. The state’s Health and Human Services Department estimates that by 2013, 1 in 5 Nevadans will be on food stamps.

So, if the boom times are gone, what can we learn from cities that faced a similar decline years ago? On this edition of State of Nevada, we talked with the dynamic, young mayor of Youngstown, Ohio, Jay Williams. Williams shared some of the things he’s been trying to accomplish in Youngstown, a city that’s been declining since the steel mill heyday of the 50’s and 60’s. 

Smaller is better? Jay Williams says yes. Listen to Mayor Williams offer a little advice to Oscar Goodman, and to the rest of our show, here:

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One Response to “State of Nevada: Looking beyond the decline…”

  1. ed says:

    Las Vegas is similar to Youngstown only in the aspect that they are both company and union towns. While those could be enough to cause Las Vegas to suffer the same plight as Youngstown and Detroit (subject of a identical SON program several months ago), there are major differences so that the “problems” of Las Vegas are much easier to overcome: Y and D were industrial giants at the eclipse of the Industrial Age; LV is and has been a leader in the Information Revolution. As Y and D wallowed in the values of the industrial age (conformity, dogmatic ideology, racism) merging itself with the prevailing activity of industrial societies–that is, war, Las Vegas has led the way in promoting the values of the information society (creativity, innovation, respect for individual choice and privacy, tolerance) in establishing one of the most exciting cities in the world, a place where visitors can be themselves, and a business, meeting and entertainment marketplace as vibrant as any in the history of mankind. These were all achieved against the odds of its location, by its predominant religious identity, and by the Federal Government which has done everything it could to destroy Las Vegas (Kefauver Hearings, taxing tip income, money laundering regulations, opposing 6-week divorces and prostitution, blowing up atomic bombs nearby, forcing nuclear waste transportation and storage on the area, refusing to modify water distribution schemes, etc.).

    If Las Vegas can overcome the incredible incompetence of its “leaders” (namely the Convention and Visitors’ Authority which failed to “follow the money” to the non-bankrupt nations of the world and its governments at all levels who actually believe they can just pile on taxes, fees and fines without killing the golden geese), if the two fossilized bureaucratic monoliths can be dispersed into 20 hotel-casinos managed by different owners allowed to compete in areas of creativity, rather than in the area of political influence, and if the religious zealots can give up their industrial age values of control, hate, and division, then Las Vegas will easily reach new heights of world leadership. Note: KNPR’s SON can play a crucial role in this metamorphosis by ceasing to act as “The Mouthpiece of Government” by really seeking out those who dare have dissident thoughts or, if that is impossible, by at least making complete presentations of other sides–just like you would like public meetings discussing the future of Las Vegas to be more than “echo chambers”.

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