Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Welcome to Sin City, Mr. President!

With an unprecedented 30-mile radius air traffic prohibition in place (usually it’s half that) during his trip to Las Vegas, costing commercial air tour travel operators thousands of dollars of lost revenue, President Barack Obama remains undaunted, planning to land his Air Force One gas guzzling hog later tonight, marking his second presidential visit to Sin City– you know, the little hideaway berg that encourages corporations to blow their government bailout funds or simply have students waste their college savings on gambling forays. 

Despite having such a notorious moniker, Las Vegas tourism officials have weathered the multiple gaffes and predict a million more visitors in 2010.  Thank you, Mr. President. 

He’ll probably need to bring a strong suit of armor and sharp swords when he speaks Friday for select invitees at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, where his prior barbs were specifically aimed.

His olive branch offering, if you will, will be his quest to seek congressional approval of the Travel Promotions Act- an overseas $4 billion promotion program that could bring more moneyed foreign tourists to Las Vegas.   Morevover, the bill promises it could bring 40,000 new American jobs and $320 million in new federal tax revenue, according to the U.S. Travel Association. 

If that doesn’t stick when the Prez throws it against the wall, his backup plan (or an add-on, depending on crowd rancor) could be to announce the Department of Transportation’s $30 million project for a new Sahara Avenue – one of the most traveled byways in Las Vegas – bus project as part of the multibillion stimulus package. 

But outspoken ex-mob lawyer turned Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman will not being rolling the red carpet out.   Goodman remains upset at President Obama. Goodman said he needs to be true to his conscience and, therefore, won’t accept invitations to greet the president of attend any town hall meeting unless he personally gets “some kind of retraction.”  

If you like to be part of this surely politically entertaining event, you can line up for tickets now at Green Valley High School in Henderson for Friday’s 10 a.m. town hall meeting. 

Mr. President, please be sure to enjoy yourself when you’re in the home of sin.  It’s a devilishly fun town.

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Go to Las Vegas- and Go Broke?

A careless remark by President Barack Obama about Las Vegas has triggered a furious backlash from Nevada’s cash-strapped gambling mecca and a key Democratic ally fighting a tough re-election battle in the state. 

Speaking about the economy yesterday at an event in Nashua, New Hampshire, Mr. Obama told Americans: “When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices.” 

The economy of Las Vegas, the world’s most famous gambling and entertainment destination, is heavily dependent on tourism and Las Vegans were already incensed by a crack from Mr. Obama a year ago that companies should not use federal bail out money for trips to the city.   The city is still reeling from that comment, trying to keep bookings and revenues up on conventions and other events. 

Mr. Obama’s latest remark about Las Vegas prompted a swift and angry retort from Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, who is fighting an extremely uphill battle to win re-election in Nevada, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the U.S. – a whopping 13 per cent.

Mr. Obama hurriedly dispatched a letter to Mr. Reid. “I hope you know that during my Town Hall today, I wasn’t saying anything negative about Las Vegas,” he wrote. 

Oscar Goodman, the Mayor of Las Vegas and an independent, also got into the fray, raising his voice and describing President Obama as “a real slow learner” who has a “psychological hang-up” about Las Vegas. 

Mr. Goodman added that this time an apology from Mr. Obama wouldn’t be enough. “I’ll do everything I can to give him the boot.” 

Last year, Mr. Obama apologized for his prior gaffe and during a visit to Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas said that it was good to get out of Washington and “there’s nothing like a quick trip to Vegas in the middle of the week.” 

Repercussions surrounding the current incident are not nearly over.  In a couple of weeks, Mr. Obama is planning another visit to Las Vegas, which surely will cause sparks to fly anew.

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President Obama Visits Nellis Air Force Base today in Las Vegas

Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas hosted President Barack Obama today giving him an up close tour of the 140-acre solar photovoltaic array that has been running since December 2007.  The installation at Nellis is the largest of it’s kind in the United States and an example of how solar energy can be captured and processed in a sun-soaked state. nellis

The Nellis power plant was funded by NV Energy in return for energy credits which may be sold to other utilities.  The Air Force buys their power at reduced rates and rough estimates indicate that the solar array could save the service $1 million per year or $40 million over the 40 year lifespan of the project. 

While at Nellis, President Obama gave a speech at the Thunderbirds’ hanger to 400 airmen and other base personnel about the progress made during the first 100 days of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  

Obama said the expectation is that there will be more than $467 million in stimulus money used “to expand and accelerate the development, deployment and use of geothermal and solar energy throughout the United States.” Nevada is in line for more than $1.5 billion dollars in Recovery Act funds. 

Today’s event followed the Tuesday night Caesars Palace fundraiser for Democratic Senator Harry Reid that the President attended. 

President Obama will leave Nevada for Los Angeles later today where he will attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.

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U.S. President Barack Obama Swoops into Las Vegas, Leaves Little Impact

Not long ago outspoken Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman was taking to the air waves to voice his dismay at comments that President Barack Obama made.  In the February speech on bank excesses and the economic distress faced by so many, Obama stated “You can’t get corporate jets. You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas, or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime.  There has got to be some accountability and some responsibility, and that’s something that I intend to impose as President of the United States.” 

Goodman responded with a full-media assault – demanding an apology, even as 340 corporations and business meetings were canceled or worse, moved from Las Vegas to San Francisco, San Diego and Phoenix. 

But it’s always been said that politics make strange bedfellows and now, just months later, the media was on hand when Goodman met Air Force One at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on Tuesday, shook President Obama’s hand and escorted him to the waiting motorcade. 

After starting his day in Washington with the announcement of  Sonia Sotomayo for the Supreme Court, President Obama ended his day at a Caesar’s Palace fund raiser for Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid.    

The Las Vegas fundraiser wasn’t the routine chicken and a handshake event.  The sold-out party of 4,000 at the Colosseum listened to about 15-minutes of Obama speaking about and touting the accomplishments of Reid and his support for issues “that matter not just to Democrats but to middle-class families all across America.” 

Obama didn’t mention anything about the local controversy over his remarks earlier this year condemning lavish Las Vegas junkets by corporations getting federal bailout funds, but did praise Caesars Palace where he spent the night in a lavish 22,000-square-foot suite in the Forum Tower, the first time a sitting president has stayed at Caesars.

In fact, for those that had long hoped to hear some substantial “magic” words from Obama during his visit to help boost the Las Vegas and Nevada economy from the doldrums, they never came.   And while Goodman shared his disappointment from the visit, his prior demands appeared to soften and he expressed much more optimism than Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons, who said the President’s comments “were better than nothing, they were also next to nothing.  I thought he could have done more.”

Hopes and rhetoric were set aside as entertainment ensued with performances by Rita Rudner, Sheryl Crow and even Bette Midler will take to the stage for her milestone 100th performance. 

During it all, about 100 peaceful protestors gathered outside in front of Caesars Palace, chanting “Heave ho!” waiving flags and carrying signs protesting against Harry Reid, criticizing his “tax-and-spend,” “big government” ways.

Today, President Obama will give a federal stimulus package and solar energy speech that primarily will highlights job-creating solar and geothermal energy projects.

Will the Las Vegas crowd expect the President to stand on stage and apologize for his February comments anytime soon?  Not many – if any – are predicted to look for a retraction or softening of his words.  The unfortunate reference cost Vegas in the short run but in a city that plays all the angles, this visit by Barack Obama is guaranteed to become a showman’s golden opportunity.  

So it was lights, cameras and You Tube at Caesar’s Palace with the city of Las Vegas betting on, but not receiving, a Presidential image upgrade, all the while pouring $2 million into Reid’s 2010 campaign coffers.

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Legalizing Internet Gambling in Top 10 of President Obama’s Citizen Briefing Book

Poker players simply passively sit, blow wispy smoke designs in the air and look at their cards from behind their stealth disguise of dark sunglasses and ball caps all day long, hoping to just cash in on a good payday.Gambling

Wrong.

Rather, many members of the one-million strong Poker Players Alliance saw fit to actively make their voices heard on the issue of legalizing Internet gambling by flooding the Obama Web site, suggesting online gambling should be made legal.

Their efforts paid off. Poker playing made the top 10 list of subjects sent to the White House when President Barack Obama – a self-proclaimed poker player -asked Americans to send him their policy priorities. Poker playing also ranked as the No. 1 issue in the technology category.

The citizen requested priorities were unveiled last week in a Citizens Briefing Book, made public just days after legislation was introduced in Congress to repeal the 2006 ban on Internet gambling.

In all, more than 125,000 users suggested 44,000 ideas to help the administration properly prioritize their agenda. They cast 1.4 million votes for their favorite ideas, with each supportive vote earning 10 points.

Legalizing poker was suggested by an online player from Washington, D.C., under the heading: “Boost America’s Economy with Legal Online Poker.” It earned 46,890 points.

Poker players beat out a suggestion for increasing automotive fuel efficiency standards (46,120 points), but didn’t outscore “the permanent closure of all torture facilities” (61,250 points).

An American Gaming Association study released Monday shows that 2 percent of adult respondents gamble online. The Poker Players group estimates between 10 million and 15 million Americans regularly gamble on the Internet. They also estimate $3 billion annually could be generated from legitimizing the online gambling business.

This month, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., introduced legislation that would essentially repeal the Internet gaming ban by instituting a framework for licensing and regulating online games.

Religious groups have vowed to maintain the online gambling ban, saying Internet gaming is a threat to home life and family finances.

This year Harrah’s Entertainment became the first major gaming bricks-and-mortar operations to back the online legislation. Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley signed on as a co-sponsor.

Franks spokesman Steve Adamske said support for the bill depend on the extent to which backers contact their lawmakers, adding that actions like the briefing book onslaught are “hugely helpful.”

In some ways Obama’s briefing book reads like a to-do list he has already started – closing Guantanamo Bay detention facility, developing clean energy sources, supporting investment in high-speed rail.

In others it is purely the voice of the people.

The top 10 issues also include: “Revoke the George W. Bush tax cuts on the top 1 percent,” “Commit to becoming the ‘greenest’ country in the world,” “No more wars on abstract concepts” and “ending marijuana prohibition.”

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Nevada Travel & Tourism Sales Blitz This Week

Some may still not feel promoting Nevada travel and tourism benefits is a good idea in our stagnating economy, especially following President Obama’s February comments about frivolous travel in Las Vegas by corporations that accepted federal bailout money.  

But don’t tell that to Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman or casino mogul Steve Wynn.  Both want to bend the ear – and more – of President Obama when he vists Las Vegas on May 26 and headlines a fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.  (Las Vegas Backstage Access April 1 article.) 

Wynn wants Obama to specifically address Nevada tourism.  “The people that voted in the Democratic Party, for the main part, work in the tourism and travel industry as cooks and waiters and housekeeping,” Wynn said. “They are being hit very hard not only by the recession but by federal policy that has discouraged travel.” 

Providing added fuel to boost Nevada’s flailing tourism industry, six Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) staffers have taken to the road early today for a western sales “blitz” during National Travel and Tourism Week to promote special travel deals designed to boost Nevada visitor numbers, according to NCOT chairperson and Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian K. Krolicki. 

The sales team will visit travel agents, tour operators, AAA offices and other influential tourism industry representatives in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle. Several tourism industry partners from around the state will accompany the staff members from NCOT’s Sales and Industry Partners department. 

“There’s no better time for fun in Nevada than now, because of the special travel deals at hotels, golf courses, shops, spas and entertainment venues throughout the state. It’s a productive way for NCOT to observe this year’s National Travel and Tourism Week and a great way to attract more visitors in this current economy,” says Krolicki.   

The team will visit AAA offices that advise consumers about travel destinations, tour operators that bring groups of customers to Nevada and receptive operators who help with arrangements in the state. At each stop they will distribute USB flash drives that contain the new NCOT Industry Partners Newsletter, Nevada Magazine’s Events and Shows publication, a listing called What’s New in Nevada and an introduction to the new Web site, NV.Mobi, which makes travel information accessible by mobile phones and devices, a consumer newsletter and special spring travel packages. They also will hand out the Visitor Guide and fliers with information about special events and attractions. 

The team will also visit six different tribes to exchange ideas and generate interest in attending American Indian events in Nevada throughout the year and meet with a Japanese credit card company in Los Angeles to promote special Nevada travel deals for the company’s cardholders. 

Nevada’s attractions and deals with tour operators and motorcoach companies will be promoted in Salt Lake City, a strong market for travel to Elko County and other points in eastern and southern Nevada including Las Vegas. 

“Tourism is a highly competitive industry, and we need to be aggressive and never let up in our sales and marketing efforts,” Krolicki said. “Nevada is a destination that allows consumers to maximize the value of their dollars, and we must do all we can to boost awareness, attract more business and maintain our place as a leading destination.” 

The sales blitz is NCOT’s second since December 2008, when economic challenges were escalating and the commission stepped up its already vigorous sales efforts. 

National Travel and Tourism Week on May 9-17 is an annual observance by the U.S. Travel Association in Washington, D.C., that focuses on the industry’s contribution to the U.S. economy, which is worth more than $700 billion.

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President Obama Makes Tracks to ‘City of Excess’

It must not be a bad business move anymore to attend a junket in the City of Excess. 

President Barack Obama is planning to visit Las Vegas on May 26, headlining a fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. 

It will be Obama’s first visit to Nevada since being elected president.   

Although it’s not known whether the president will have a public event while he is in Southern Nevada, a political firestorm and public outcry was created in February when President Obama announced in his speech that companies that receive taxpayer bailout money shouldn’t use it party in Las Vegas. 

The White House has been mum on the details of the president’s visit, but Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley says she expects Obama to talk about the importance of leisure and business travel. 

“I believe that he’s going to be using that opportunity to say…that it’s part of the American dream, this travel, and encourage people not only to do leisure travel, which Las Vegas is famous for, but business travel as well,” Berkley said last week from the House floor. 

It’s also not known if Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman will be scheduling a face-to-face pow-wow with the president after the mayor requested a formal retraction from him after hearing the president’s speech statements.

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