While Pushing for Massive Development Agreement, Jacobs Has Been Generously Donating to City Council Members
“A Reno City Council vote on a proposed development agreement for a downtown project devolved into a heated exchange among some members of the council, with one councilwoman accusing the city manager of being in the developer’s pocket….” is how a recent RGJ article begins, as local media focused on testy exchanges at the latest Jacobs Entertainment round of asking for an extra long agreement before Reno’s City Council.
Naomi Duerr who has been asking for more open consultations joined Jenny Brekhus in voting no this time around. A few performance benchmarks seem to have been added, but the agreement rolls on, with added discussions for so-called tax increment financing coming soon.
Among those who voted yes to keep this wide ranging agreement for the gaming operator who has been buying up and destroying motels but still hasn’t built anything new, there was Oscar Delgado, the most reserved as usual, Mayor Hillary Schieve, who repeatedly requested civility, and Devon Reese, who called comments by Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus as bordering “on being slanderous.” Brekhus was referring to meetings involving the Jacobs team and City Manager Doug Thornley.
A quick look through the most recent contributions reports for our elected officials indicate Jacobs Entertainment is very generous with supporters of his plan: $2,500 from their Colorado address on May 1st, 2020, for Oscar Delgado and the same amount for Neoma Jardon on April 21st, 2020. On just one day, on December 3rd, 2018, Mayor Schieve received $7,500 from Gold Dust Reno, Elko and Carson City, all Jacobs-owned casinos. The law firm speaking on behalf of Jacobs Entertainment at these marathon Council sessions has also been generous to elected officials voting for their presented plans: $2,000 from Arizona-based Lewis Roca to Oscar Delgado in 2020 ($1,000 on 08/11/2020 and $1,000 on 12/16/2020), $2,000 for Neoma Jardon ($1,000 on 11/02/2020 and $1,000 on 07/29/2020) and $2,000 for Devon Reese ($1,000 on 07/13/2020 and $1,000 on 08/16/2019). From an address in California, a Jeffrey Jacobs directly contributed $250 to Bonnie Webber on May 29th, 2019, while she also received $500 from Lewis Roca on August 19th, 2019.
The Council also voted to ban whips. It’s now a misdemeanor "to possess, use, or carry a whip within the Downtown Corridor without a permit" and "to crack or use a whip so as to injure, annoy, interfere with, or endanger the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of others within the limits of the city." Many advocates see this as another law criminalizing poverty, as for some of our residents struggling it has become one of their few activities of choice.
The Council also gave a green light for a pilot program to have ambassadors apparently stationed across the city’s parks during open hours. It makes us wonder if they will allow people who have nowhere else to go the freedom to rest.
Our podcast episode this week is with a young activist explaining why he joined the anti-sweeps movement, and why more voices need to be heard when important decisions are made concerning the unhoused. It also delves into our archives featuring a gentle 73-year-old woman who was trying to survive on the streets when we last met her.
Our featured story earlier in the week was about a new fund to help people who can’t afford to pay for an abortion. We also published a citizen’s forum contribution about Reno increasingly becoming a city of contrasts, pushing long-term residents out.