I was an hour early to this week’s Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority meeting. Instead of arriving at 9:00 a.m., I swooped in at 8. (That story another time.) So I sat calmly watching the folks from ARA Services set up the little breakfast bar that is part of every meeting. Though I normally don’t visit the breakfast bar, I had time Tuesday and selected some muffin-like items that I discovered weren’t muffins at all….but mini Frittatas baked in muffin cups. Oh so tasty! (The scoop: mix up scrambled eggs; add cheese, sausage and veggies and pour the mixture into pre-oiled muffin pans; bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 325 and voila, personal-sized Frittatas. Delicious.)
Then, just a few minutes before 9:00 a.m., the newly elected Las Vegas Mayor, Carolyn Goodman, entered the Board Room. She had come to be part of her husband’s last meeting as LVCVA Board Chair.
I had never seen Mrs. Goodman in person. Blond hair coifed, full makeup (including early morning eyeliner), large earrings, manicured nails, three-inch heels – she made a rather impressive entrance. She looked around to those of us seated in the audience, walked straight toward us, looked at each of us personally and said, “Hi, I’m Carolyn.” Sure, she was still in campaign mode, but I found her forthrightness charming. She told me her husband had told her the LVCVA meeting wouldn’t be too boring. His description was, “I tell a few jokes and it’s all over.” (That’s true; Oscar Goodman runs a slick meeting, but always has time for humor. We will miss him.)
The meeting was full of news. Here are a few memorable tidbits:
*Eighteen percent of current Las Vegas visitors are from outside the country. LVCVA hopes in 10 years to boost that number to 30 percent.
*LVCA President & CEO Rossi Ralenkotter noted, “We’ve had 14 straight months of increasing visitor volume. We are turning things around, but it’s a slow turn.”
*Studies have shown for every $1 spent to promote Las Vegas, the return is $26 to the community.
*Las Vegas hosts more than 20,000 conventions and meetings each year.
*The cost of Central Plan Improvements at the Las Vegas Convention Center came in under budget, thereby saving some $135,000. The savings will be used to refurbish the 35-year-old room dividers in the Convention Center’s Central Hall.
*A company named Jones Vargas is LVCVA’s lobbyist with the Nevada legislature. LVCVA pays Jones Vargas $15,000 per month when the legislature is not in session and $20,000 per month when it is in session. Ralenkotter noted that LVCVA typically talks with Jones Vargas two or three times a day, and for example, credits the company with helping pass the legislation that allows tobacco-centered conventions to be held in Las Vegas.
*Under the directors’ recognition portion of the agenda, five current members of the LVCA Board, all political office holders, will be transitioning off the Board and were thanked for their service. The departing directors included Henderson Mayor Pro Tem Steven Kirk, North Las Vegas Mayor Pro Tem William Robinson, Las Vegas Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese, Mesquite Mayor Susan Holecheck and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.
Goodman had served LVCVA for 12 years and, as Rolenkotter said, “created his own brand” for Las Vegas. ARA Services had made a special farewell cake in the shape of the Las Vegas sign for all the departing directors. Lots of pictures and interviews followed. The “happiest mayor in the universe” was the center of most of the interviews.