Steve Neighbors is a 'turnaround specialist'

In a recent two-part Q-and-A interview in the Appeal, Carson Nugget President Steve Neighbors and his PR people tried to portray him as an idealistic philanthropist whose main goal is to "save" downtown Carson City.

However, I believe I see Neighbors for what he is: an Idaho businessman and self-described "turnaround specialist" who would like to enhance the value of his dilapidated casino so that he can sell it for a profit.

After all, that's what turnaround specialists do; just ask Mitt Romney. Let's face it, businessmen are in business to make a profit. That's the American way and I wish Neighbors well in his efforts to turn the Nugget into a profitable enterprise. But since no outside buyers have come forward, Neighbors is attempting to sell the casino to his employees.

"We have chosen to sell in-house to the management team," he wrote, "and (will) finance the sale for them."

Caveat emptor (buyer beware).

We've heard a lot from Neighbors about how much the Adams family cared about Carson City, but former mayors Ray Masayko and Marv Teixeira tell me that the late Hop and Howard Adams and Hop's late wife, Mae, repeatedly broke their promises to invest in downtown Carson City. Instead, they took their casino profits back home to Boise. Nevertheless, Neighbors, who administers the Mae Adams Trust, says he's here to "save" downtown Carson City by helping to build a big new library that we don't want, don't need and can't afford. More than 4,000 signatures on a petition to put the bloated project on the November ballot tell us how local taxpayers feel about the controversial proposal.

Neighbors probably believes what he wrote, but his Nugget Project (aka City Center Project) is a tough sell in a city facing a $3.6 million budget deficit. There may have been a time when our town could have afforded to put more than $28 million taxpayer at risk to build a huge library, or "Knowledge + Discovery Center," but that time is long gone. This is a moment for austerity rather than to raise taxes.

In his interview, Neighbors indirectly acknowledged that he and his PR people have done a lousy job of selling the Nugget Project to Carson City taxpayers. He attempted to blame the November ballot measure for lack of support but also admitted that the project has "morphed" every time it's been presented to the public. "Unfortunately," he added, "this public process has led to some confusion and frustration as the plans changed ..." No kidding?

"We have high hopes that the community will work together to make the City Center Project a reality," Neighbors wrote.

Well, I have high hopes that local taxpayers will see through this unaffordable, pie-in-the-sky project by voting against the controversial Nugget Project in November.

• Guy W. Farmer has been a Carson City voter since 1962.


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