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What are the odds Las Vegas really is blacklisted for federal meetings?

July 24, 2009 |  8:08 pm

Remember back in May when Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons (pictured), a Republican, and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, a Democrat, got themselves all worked into a froth over President Obama’s perceived denunciation of Las Vegas as a place where taxpayer-aided companies shouldn’t blow cash?

And how Obama -- in town to headline Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s fundraiser -- made verbal amends, kinda sorta? Nevada Republican Governor Jim Gibbons

(We’ll forgive you if other Nevada headlines stole your attention in the interim. Ahem, John Ensign.)

Well, in the spirit of the movie in which Bill Murray keeps reliving the same day, Gibbons is again seething over a perceived federal slight.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Agriculture Department had been pushing for employee meetings to be held in (yawn) St. Louis and Milwaukee instead of (yippee!) Las Vegas, where empty poker tables could use a federal stimulus. Apparently the policies had been in place since George W. Bush's administration.

“The policies of the Obama administration have sentenced Nevada’s economy to the gallows,” Gibbons' latest press release says.  “President Obama came to Las Vegas in May and raised more than a million dollars in campaign cash, then turned around and stabbed us in the back.”

But just before that story broke, it seems White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told Reid that  federal employees are free to visit Las Vegas. So which is it?

We challenge you, Agriculture Department employees, to book some flights, bet some hands, file your expense reports and find out if, as Obama said in May, “there’s nothing like a quick trip to Vegas in the middle of the week.”

But now a challenge may not be necessary. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has introduced two bills to ban federal blacklisting of certain cities as meeting sites just because they're popular tourist destinations. Like, oh, say, Orlando.

-- Ashley Powers

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