Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Las Vegas doesn’t need an apology — it needs stimulus

One Man’s View:

By Tim O'Callaghan (contact)
Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009 2:43 p.m.

It appears President Obama’s off-the-cuff remarks have been taken out of context by Nevada’s economically strained hoteliers and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, who has demanded an apology from the president.

During a town hall meeting Obama held to promote the economic stimulus package, he said, “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 taxpayer’s dime” — referring to corporate CEOs.

Unfortunately, Las Vegas was probably at the top of his mind for a couple of reasons. The first was Wells Fargo Bank’s plans to hold a corporate event to recognize employees, as reported by the Associated Press last week. To the credit of Wells Fargo, the company quickly reversed its plans canceling the event. This was unfortunate for Las Vegas' economic woes, though.

The second reason is the Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs’ run for cover after the fallout from Wells Fargo. Those Wall Street types are a slick bunch, because they still plan on having their conference — only in San Francisco, not Las Vegas. Here’s the kicker: The Four Seasons San Francisco is advertising on Orbitz.com rates of $395 a night, while THEHotel at Mandalay Bay is advertising $243 for the same nights and same suite.

With that said, perhaps Goodman and company may have a hair to stand on for their hypersensitivity. However, what if the president instead mentioned Chicago, Atlanta or San Francisco? Well, I am not convinced it would have the same chilling effect on any city. I don’t think there will be a chilling effect at all.

The president was correct to say, “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 taxpayer’s dime,” using federal bailout money.

This blowup begs the question of how many bailed-out companies are throwing conferences or parties anywhere using federal money. My guess is not many.

The bottom line is the president’s remarks will have very little effect on the convention business in Las Vegas. As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “The President knows that Las Vegas is America’s premiere destination to do business. The city has more than 140,000 hotel rooms and tens of thousands of feet of meeting space.”

Perhaps, Oscar Goodman should retract his request for a presidential apology. We don’t need an apology — we need some economic stimulus.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or tim.oc@vegas.com. He writes a regular blog at tocomv.blogspot.com.

Current path won’t fix health care

One Man’s View:

By Tim O'Callaghan (contact)
Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009 4:53 p.m.

Most everyone in the United States knows health-care reform is needed. However, each may have his own idea of what reform should be. To me, it's quite obvious there are at least two points to consider.

The first is the cost of actual medical care and the second is medical coverage, or the mechanism to pay for the rising cost of medical care.

My personal experience from this past week has made this even clearer than ever before.

It started with a weekend at Lake Mohave two weeks ago, where we met up with some of our Orange County clan. While frolicking and jumping off rocks into the lake, our youngest must have picked up some bacteria in her ear. She returned to OC with the clan, where her ear exploded with ooze and became so inflamed it closed up.

Donna and I had gone up to Pioche in Lincoln County for a couple of days when the drama began to unfold, leaving any urgent care decision to our relative, Sharon. After they made a trip to the urgent care facility, then a second one and finally a trip to the ER without any results, we made a quick change of plans and immediately headed to Southern California. When we arrived, we made a call to Dr. Dushman, the family pediatrician, and explained everything that had occurred. To us, it seemed desperate after four doctors and eight different prescriptions with no improvement. He said she needed an ear wick to get the antibiotics into the ear. We had an appointment with a ear specialist, who confirmed what our pediatrician had told us over the phone.

All turned out well, although it leaves me wondering why it took so many doctors and prescriptions. We had to pay the deductibles, and the insurance company must cover the rest.

Even though the first four doctors didn't get it right, we don't recover our deductibles, and the insurance company still has to pay.

We can't return the unused meds to the pharmacy and, again, the insurance company still has to pay.

So what kind of health-care reform are we looking for?

The issue has become quite convoluted. But one thing is for sure: The bill proposed by the House of Representatives is flawed in many ways. It has the backs of the insurance industry, the medical community and average Americans up against the wall.

The Senate needs to listen to the American people and come up with reform that makes sense and is written in concise language that can be understood.

We need reform that is fair and provides coverage for every citizen that doesn't impede upon ability of Americans to have a choice in coverage.

The rhetoric is running deep and fast in the public debate, making it hard to decipher what is true and what is not.

The stakes are high with all sides skewing the truth.

The rhetoric needs to stop, solutions need to be created and reform needs to begin.

In my opinion, it should start with legislation that is less complicated than what is proposed by Congress.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or tim.oc@vegas.com. He writes a regular blog at tocomv.blogspot.com.