Just Some Harmless Fun

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One of my favorite former Newport Beach mayors closed escrow on a Las Vegas condo last week.  He was going there so much (but only for the shows and wonderful restaurants, of course), he figured why not have a second home there?

About the same time, I was wrapping up a client’s Nevada Sales Tax audit during which the auditor revealed that Nevada gets 40 percent of its tax revenue not from gaming, restaurants or prostitution, but from mining—and coal mining, no less. Vegas gambling, she said, is in trouble—you might say there’s less gold in the Silver State: as the economy slows, fewer troubled industry people go to Las Vegas, and that means fewer people are gambling away their kid’s college funds.

And all of this had me thinking about a casino project closer to home – the Newport Beach City Hall/Civic Center/Taj Mahal/White Elephant/Dog Park with an Espresso Stand boondoggle.

You may think the project – estimated cost: upwards of $140 million – is old news. But it continues to generate controversy in the papers, and is becoming an issue in the City Council election.

And it still doesn’t have a price tag.

So friend Bob Rush emailed out a dartboard, wondering how much this project will cost.  This solicited a curious, odd, and seemingly time consuming, response by City Manager Dave Kiff which edited, corrected spelling, and defended/justified the expenditures, emailed out to another distribution list.

Perhaps it isn’t such a dead issue?  Perhaps people are waking up to the fact that they while we voted to put a $60 million dollar white elephant in the park, we didn’t vote to put a Dog Park in the park, nor a library expansion in the park (which NEVER would have been approved and done on its own), nor an espresso stand in the park.

Least of all, we didn’t vote to put Newport Beach over $100 millions into debt.  But it feels like I’m beating a dead horse…

So back to my original comments, I would like to carry on the gaming spirit of Las Vegas, in Newport Beach and start a City Hall/Civic Center/Taj Mahal/White Elephant/Dog Park with an Espresso Stand betting pool.

You know, like your office Super Bowl pool, but easier.  No bets on coin tosses, who scores first, who wins, and by how many points.

It’s simple; whoever comes closest to the amount that this project ends up costing, without going over, wins.

For instance, I bet that the Civic Center/City Hall project will cost $118,359,403.50. That’s my pick.  If it ends up costing $118,359,401.28, I went over and although I was the closest, I would lose.

So what do you say?  $5 a pick and winner takes all.

To make it more interesting, for you degenerate gamblers out there (like me) we can create a couple of bonus side pools.  One for how much the City will borrow and another for how much the interest the 30-year loan will be.

And to cap it off, if you win the trifecta, in addition to the hundreds of dollars you would win, I might be able to get you a nice 8-by-10 signed glossy of our publisher, Tom Johnson (shhh…I haven’t asked him yet).

One rule, no Councilmembers (you know who you are) or upper management City Staff, primarily since they can ultimately influence the cost.  But you would be more than welcome to participate for sport.

Send your picks for the main pool to me at [email protected] and we’ll get this party started!  I’ll keep track of you all and will gather the dough from you as we go along.  Your picks can be as specific or as general as you’d like.  Remember, the closest without going over wins.

*Disclaimer – this City Hall/Civic Center/White Elephant pool is for entertainment purposes only and should only be taken as such.  There will be no money waged, risked, or won…wink wink…but if some law enforcement personnel would also like to participate, I can keep your names anonymous if you win.










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