The Ferraro Group is a leading Nevada public relations and public affairs firm that provides strategic communications to businesses, corporations, industry associations, governments, and non-profit organizations. With offices in Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City, the firm concentrates on strategic positioning of established and new brands, reputation and crisis management, social media and marketing strategies, lobbying before elected officials and government agencies, and other communications services.
The Ferraro Group helps our clients win the battle of persuasion. Forging the power of ideas with the hard-earned experience of success. With results. Every time.
TFG becomes an extension of your team as you are building name recognition, enhancing new product exposure, securing strategic marketshare or repositioning your brand. Whatever the case, TFG strives to collaboratively reach your goals with the personal attention and commitment necessary to produce meaningful business results.
Our team of 12 experienced professionals capitalizes on relationships with traditional and online media, business leaders, public officials and key decision makers to help clients meet and exceed their communications goals. We understand the realities that confront today’s businesses and we work hard to solve problems by building the kind of messaging that leaves a positive and lasting impression on targeted audiences.
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Dec. 3, 2012
Nathan Adelson Hospice’s Pet Therapy Program Spearheads
2nd Annual ‘Dog Bed & Blanket Drive’ to Help Keep Animals Warm in the Winter The State’s Largest Non-Profit Hospice and the Jolley Urga Wirth Woodbury & Standish Law Firm Team Up to Collect Donations
(Las Vegas) – Tails are wagging again this year as the panting pooches and one friendly feline from Nathan Adelson Hospice’s Pet Therapy Program gear up for their “2nd Annual Dog Bed & Blanket Drive” to benefit their furry friends at local animal shelters.
From Dec. 1, 2012 through Jan. 31, 2013, Nathan Adelson Hospice and the Jolley Urga Wirth Woodbury & Standish law firm will be collecting items to help several area animal shelters. Among the new or gently used items individuals can donate are: dog beds and blankets; towels; and unopened dog food.
Donations can be dropped off at any of the Nathan Adelson Hospice locations: 4141 Swenson St., Las Vegas; in the MountainView Medical Office Building, 3150 N. Tenaya Way (near Cheyenne), Suite 350, Las Vegas; 1401 S. Highway 160, Suite B, Pahrump; and 1201 Nevada State Drive, Henderson. They also can be dropped off to attorneys Holly Fic and Jennifer Poynter-Willis at the Jolley Urga Wirth Woodbury & Standish law firm, 3800 Howard Hughes Parkway, Suite 1600 in Las Vegas.
Lisa Browder, Complementary Therapies Program manager for Nathan Adelson Hospice, said last year’s campaign generated more than 2,000 items for local shelters. "Our hearts go out to all those animals that have ended up in shelters. Our Nathan Adelson Hospice Pet Therapy Program is helping to keep these pets warm during the colder months. Our program is full of caring, concerned pet therapists, so we are pleased to do our share in collecting blankets and beds for abused and homeless animals.”
Attorney Jennifer Poynter-Willis echoed her thoughts: “We are pleased to take part in this campaign and help collect donations for these hundreds of animals in local shelters. We hope this program also raises more awareness and encourages people to adopt some of these loving pets.”
The Pet Therapy Program is under the Bonnie Schreck Memorial Complementary Therapies Program, which was created in 1999 as a means by which the hospice could provide a greater range of valuable therapies to patients. Patients and loved ones are able to request various therapies and techniques, such as pet therapy, reiki, reflexology, massage, and aromatherapy, to help ease discomfort by providing a calming and soothing environment. The goal is to provide the most effective, innovative and compassionate care possible. The Pet Therapy Program’s innovative technique to improve the quality of life for hospice patients has been one of the most successful thus far. It has been shown that spending time with a friendly animal can lift depression, lower blood pressure and respiratory rates, and bring comfort. Currently, the program has 26 dogs and one cat.
Nathan Adelson Hospice, the trusted partner in hospice care for more than 34 years, is the largest non-profit hospice in Southern Nevada, caring for more than 450 patients daily. In 1978, Nathan Adelson Hospice began providing home care hospice service in Southern Nevada with the mission to offer patients and their loved ones comprehensive end-of-life care and to influence better care for all in the community. In 1983, Nathan Adelson Hospice opened an in-patient hospice in Las Vegas, and today the hospice is recognized as a national model for superior hospice care.
The mission of the hospice is to be the Hospice of Choice, the Employer of Preference and a Training Center of Excellence. Its vision is simple: no one should end the journey of life alone, afraid or in pain.
The hospice also is home to The Center for Compassionate Care, a non-profit counseling agency providing individual, group and family counseling services to address grief, loss and issues related to surviving life-threatening illnesses. For more information and to donate, visit www.nah.org.
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November 1, 2012
Nathan Adelson Hospice Becomes National Leader in ‘App’ Development for Healthcare Organizations
(Las Vegas) – Nathan Adelson Hospice, the largest non-profit hospice in Nevada, has put itself on the technology and communications map in an effort to assist referral based practices nationally. The local hospice has become the first one to develop and sell a “customized app” for healthcare organizations.
The app, called iRefer DR, can be used by anyone in healthcare that has a referral-based business. With more than 80 percent of doctors owning an iPhone, iPad or Android device and 40 percent of healthcare providers expected to purchase one in the next six months, apps are becoming increasingly popular to facilitate health care processes.
“The app we had developed for Nathan Adelson Hospice worked so well for us, that we decided to customize it and sell it to other hospices and healthcare organizations,” said Nathan Adelson Hospice Vice President for Development Karen Rubel.
iRefer DR customizable features include: company logo and brand; and “About”, "News", “FAQ” and "Patient Information" tabs. After the customization of the app, it is registered in the Apple Store and Android Marketplace searchable by the name of the organization. Startup support and training, content data hosting and ongoing maintenance and content management support are also provided.
For referral-based businesses, the patient referral feature streamlines the referral process by allowing doctors to send a referral directly to the recipient electronically, without a phone call or fax. The complete iRefer DR app package is $5,000, and the mobile referral component alone is $2,500.
About Nathan Adelson Hospice
Nathan Adelson Hospice, the trusted partner in hospice care for more than 30 years, is the largest non-profit hospice in Southern Nevada, caring for an average of 400 patients daily. In 1978, Nathan Adelson Hospice began providing home care hospice service in Southern Nevada with the mission to offer patients and their loved ones with comprehensive end-of-life care and influence better care for all in the community. In 1983, Nathan Adelson Hospice opened an in-patient hospice in Las Vegas, and today the hospice is recognized as a national model for superior hospice care.
The mission of the hospice is to be the hospice of choice, employer of preference, training center of excellence, and the community’s trusted partner for comprehensive end-of-life care. Its vision is simple: no one should end the journey of life alone, afraid or in pain. The hospice also is home to The Center for Compassionate Care, a non-profit counseling agency providing individual, group and family counseling services to address grief, loss and issues related to surviving life-threatening illnesses. For more information, visit www.nah.org.
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Sept. 11, 2012
Community Associations Institute, Nevada Chapter, Announces 2012 ‘Ordinary People, Extraordinary Measures’ Award Recipients
(LAS VEGAS) – Community Associations Institute, Nevada Chapter, a trade organization representing homeowners associations, community managers and industry partners statewide, announced today the 2012 ‘Ordinary People, Extraordinary Measures’ award recipients.
The ‘Ordinary People, Extraordinary Measures’ event awarded six exceptional Nevadans who have consistently gone above and beyond to help the southern and northern Nevada communities. The winners were nominated by CAI members and others in the community and were given a special recognition during the monthly CAI luncheon on Sept. 11, 2012 at the Gold Coast. This marked the inaugural year for this awards ceremony.
“As a statewide organization, we are pleased to honor individuals who serve others and make Nevada a better place to live,” said CAI’s Nevada Chapter Executive Director Mary Rendina. “We are proud these residents have accomplished so much with their sincere, heartfelt efforts.”
The winners are as follows:
Veterans Village, Arnold Stalk, PhD, -- Mr. Stalk is responsible for coordinating and retrofitting a 125-unit former motel in downtown Las Vegas for veterans. It includes fully furnished rooms, employment services and on-site job placement, career and life planning services, etc. veteransvillage.newmediavegas.com
Homeless Helpers, Michael Swecker - A non-profit group focusing on servicing low- to moderate-income neighborhoods. They currently provide food following the usual daytime feeding times of other shelters. They serve more than 500 meals per day. homelesshelpers.org
Stomach Cancer Relief Network, Marcus Mitchell - After Marcus' wife died of stomach cancer, he vowed to continue his promise to her of trying to find a cure. His network, SCRN, was formed and he continues to give grants to people with this disease to use as they choose. Marcus is very active in the ‘Pay It Forward’ movement and gives away money on a daily basis. www.scrnet.org and www.GuyNSinCity.com.
Baby's Bounty, Kim Amato - Provides clothing and essential gear to babies in need. They work hand and hand with social service agencies and homeless shelters to provide the necessities to infants born into low-income families. www.babysbounty.org.
Moms on the Run, Barbara Pinocchio – Reno-based Moms on the Run is a non-profit organization that was formed in 2000 to raise money to assist local women with cancer. Funds raised are donated to the specific needs of women's cancer in Northern Nevada. They are local people helping local people. All the money raised here stays here. www.momsontherun.info.
A Home for Spot, Diana England - A manicurist by trade, Diana started visiting the Lied Animal Shelter as it is the only kill shelter in Las Vegas, and began adopting the "death row" dogs. The organization has outgrown the many foster homes, and is currently in search of farm property in the valley. www.ahome4spot.com.
CAI is a 31,000-member international organization that represents homeowner and condominium associations and provides education, best practices and resources to the homeowner volunteer leaders and professionals involved in the governance and management of common-interest communities. The Nevada chapter is one of 59 state and regional U.S. chapters. The Nevada chapter serves the educational, business and networking needs of volunteer leaders and professionals throughout the Las Vegas and Reno areas. With more than 1,000 members nearly 150 business partners, more than 300 professional managers and more than 400 community association volunteers, the Nevada chapter is one of the largest and most active chapters in the nation. For more information, visit www.cai-nevada.org.
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August 3, 2012
Nathan Adelson Hospice’s Carole Fisher Joins Hospice Action Network and Helps Spread Word on Capitol Hill
(Las Vegas) -- As a newly appointed board member of the national Hospice Action Network, Nathan Adelson Hospice’s Carole Fisher is already making strides in getting the word out to legislators on Capitol Hill about the importance and impacts of hospice care.
Fisher, who serves as president and chief executive officer of the non-profit Nathan Adelson Hospice, has been a strong advocate for the hospice industry and conveying the impacts some of the policy issues under consideration have in Nevada. The recent trip to Capitol Hill was dubbed “Advocacy Intensive” and was sponsored by the Hospice Action Network, a division of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
“Our intent in meeting with U.S. leaders in Washington D.C. was to educate them about hospice from the heart,” said Fisher, who was joined on the trip by Nathan Adelson Hospice nurses Michael Kemp and Kathleen Bergevin. “Having these honest, candid conversations with them will help pave the way to a broader knowledge and support needed in our industry.”
During the recent trip, the Nathan Adelson Hospice representatives met with Congressman Joe Heck and Congressman Dean Heller. They also met with the health legislative assistants from Sen. Harry Reid’s and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley’s offices.
Overall, the Hospice Action Network’s Inaugural Advocacy Intensive involved more than 175 hospice social workers, nurses, chaplains, aides and clinicians who met with more than 250 Congressional offices on June 19. Among the topic areas shared with the nation’s leaders were: What is hospice care and who receives it; margins and Medicare expenditures; levels of care; and locations of care. The hospice representatives also noted that in 2009, an estimated 1.56 million patients received hospice services. The NHPCO also estimates that 41.6 percent of all deaths in the United States were under the care of a hospice program.
“It’s nice for Nevada to have a presence as we band together with other national hospice advocates to encourage Congress to learn about and protect access to compassionate and high-quality end-of-life care for all Americans,” Fisher said.
About Nathan Adelson Hospice
Nathan Adelson Hospice, the trusted partner in hospice care for more than 30 years, is the largest non-profit hospice in Southern Nevada, caring for more than 400 patients daily. In 1978, Nathan Adelson Hospice began providing home care hospice service in Southern Nevada with the mission to offer patients and their loved ones with comprehensive end-of-life care and influence better care for all in the community. In 1983, Nathan Adelson Hospice opened an in-patient hospice in Las Vegas, and today the hospice is recognized as a national model for superior hospice care.
The mission of the hospice is to be the Hospice of Choice, the Employer of Preference and the Training Center for Excellence. Its vision is simple: no one should end the journey of life alone, afraid or in pain. The hospice also is home to The Center for Compassionate Care, a non-profit counseling agency providing individual, group and family counseling services to address grief, loss and issues related to surviving life-threatening illnesses. For more information, visit www.nah.org.
About NHPCO and HAN
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) is the largest membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States. The organization represents more than 3,800 hospice programs that care for the cast majority of hospice patients in the nation. NHPCO is committed to improving end-of-life care and expanding access to hospice so that individuals and families facing serious illness, death and grief will experience the best care that humankind can offer.
Hospice is healthcare that cares more and costs less. The Hospice Action Network (NHPCO’s HAN) is dedicated to preserving and expanding access to hospice care in America. The group connects advocates with one another and provides them with the tools they need to fight for the hospice cause at home, in Washington and online.
(Carson City, Nev. – November 14, 2011) – In a step towards making a strategic and impactful advance in economic development in the state, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution, Brookings Mountain West, and SRI International have released a report entitled, “Unify/Regionalize/Diversify: An Economic Development Agenda for Nevada.”
“This report is yet another building block in the new framework of our state’s serious economic development discussion and forthcoming action plan,” Governor Brian Sandoval said. “I thank Brookings and SRI for their work to help us more effectively build a unified, regionally vibrant and diversified Nevada.”
The study, released during today’s meeting of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Board of Economic Development and the Advisory Council on Economic Development, analyzes Nevada’s strengths and the challenges ahead and makes recommendations for improving economic planning and development to help the state overcome its economic challenges and diversify its economy.
“We appreciate the report and the clear-eyed look at Nevada’s economy and the current economic development process,” said Steve Hill executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “We look forward to incorporating this information with continued input from Nevadans as we structure a State Economic Development Plan.”
“Unify/Regionalize/Diversify” is the result of an intense five-month inquiry that sought to define the nature of the economic challenges the state and its major regions face; identify industries and industry clusters that have the highest potential for expansion as part of an economic diversification effort; and suggest policy options that will enable the state, its regions and the private sector to work more effectively to build a more unified, regionally vibrant and diversified Nevada.
The analysis identifies industries and sub-industries that have the highest potential to restore growth and jobs, spawn innovation in core or emerging sectors, and drive economic diversification.
The study recommends Nevada focus its economic development activities on 30 target opportunities for growth, innovation and diversification in seven broad industries.
Key inputs to identifying the seven industries included insights of Nevada stakeholders (through interviews and focus groups), review of Nevada’s existing capacity and competitive advantages, research on national and global market trends, quantitative analysis of Nevada’s past and projected industry trends, and review of existing regional studies and analyses.
The seven industries revealed in the study are:
- Tourism, Gaming, and Entertainment
- Health and Medical Services
- Business IT Ecosystems
- Clean Energy
- Mining, Materials, and Manufacturing
- Logistics and Operations
- Aerospace and Defense
According to the study, these industries and niches occur in unique mixes in the state’s regions and require a “bottom-up” approach to economic development. To unleash their potential for growth, the study recommends the state work to unify and align the state’s efforts through stronger leadership and more effective partnerships with its regional actors—including regional development authorities, strong non-profits, the state’s municipalities and education leaders. The study also recommends the state “regionalize” its efforts to support regional initiatives and also set a platform for long-term diversification by investing in effective innovation and commercialization infrastructure; promoting global engagement; and aligning its education and workforce training efforts towards the identified industry opportunities.
“Nevada doesn’t lack for assets and opportunities, but it needs to do a better job of aligning diverse efforts, supporting creative initiatives in the regions, and putting in place a platform of innovation efforts, global outreach, and workforce upgrading on which regional clusters and sectors can grow,” said Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings and the lead author of the report. “That’s why we are calling this agenda “Unify/Regionalize/Diversify.”
“There is a bipartisan consensus around the kind of growth agenda we’re recommending,” Muro said. “It’s now a matter of seizing the opportunities.”
Overall, the study argues that the state possesses fundamental economic assets along with serious challenges as it seeks to build the next Nevada economy. In this regard, the report confirms that Nevada’s core strength for economic development has been and will remain its overall business-friendly environment, including low taxes and relatively low costs, along with its excellent airport infrastructure, global connections, and proximity to West Coast population centers. Key challenges include spotty economic planning and cooperation, a weak innovation and technology commercialization enterprise, and substantial workforce skills shortfalls.
The need now is to systematically leverage the state’s assets, address its challenges, and move to construct the next Nevada economy, firm by firm, job by job, innovator by innovator.
“We understand there is much work ahead, but Nevada is up to the challenge,” Hill said. “Our state is determined and we will work together to bring a vibrant economy back to Nevada.”
To this end, the full 175-page report—available at www.diversifynevada.com — provides some 37 recommendations organized under three major themes and across 10 strategies.
This report is part of the Brookings-Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation. This collaboration between the Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation is working to present fiscally responsible state policies and practical metropolitan led solutions to policy-makers. The work is also supported by the Lincy Foundation and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas through Brookings Mountain West. SRI International’s participation was made possible by the Office of the Secretary of State, State of Nevada and the State of Nevada Advisory Council on Economic Development.
For more information please visit: www.brookings.edu/metro/nevada.
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Contact: Amanda Llewellyn
The Ferraro Group
Nov. 19, 2013
(LAS VEGAS)— The Western Folklife Center and its 30th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering today announced the launch of a spoken word poetry competition, Expressing the Rural West: Poetry of the Next Generation, on YouTube.com.
Poets between the ages of 18 and 35 are invited to submit videos which include an artist introduction and do not exceed four minutes in length. Submissions may not contain curse words or explicit imagery and must be original compositions. Content should have a rural focus and poems should be performed and not read.
Poets must be currently living in one of the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Poems will be judged by the public as well as by a committee of two professional poets and two staff members of the Western Folklife Center. There will be a winner of the public vote and a winner of the juried competition.
The winner of the public vote will receive two free 3-Day Deluxe Passes to the 30th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and a free Gathering poster. The winner of the juried competition will be given a performance slot at the event and must be able to travel between January 29 to February 2, 2014. Travel and lodging will be paid by the Western Folklife Center.
Guidelines for the competition can be found on the Expressing the Rural West—Poetry of the Next Generation competition channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/2014poetrycontest. Participants should tag their entries: 2014 Cowboy Poetry Competition. Public judging will end on December 19 and our judges will select a winner by Dec. 21.
The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering turns 30 years old in 2014, and the nation’s greatest celebration of the American West, its people, culture and traditions, will turn its focus to the future of the region. From Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, 2014, in Elko, Nevada, the Gathering will present poetry, music, fine western gear, films, workshops, dances and discussions with a clear focus on encouraging the next generation and working together to ensure the sustainability of the occupational and artistic traditions of the rural West.
The theme of the 30th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is “Expressing the Rural West—Into the Future!” Through performances of poetry and music, thought-provoking films and fruitful discourse, artists and audiences of all ages will share their art and their opinions on meeting the challenges of rural life in the modern West. In particular, the next generation of cowboy artists will present their work and discuss their brand of ranch life—with one hand on the reins and the other on the cell phone.
More than 50 poets, musicians and musical groups from the U.S. and Canada will perform on seven stages at four different venues. The 30th Gathering line-up includes cowboy poets Baxter Black, Paul Zarzyski, Waddie Mitchell, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Joel Nelson, Doris Daley, Pat Richardson, Randy Rieman and many others. Music is as integral to the Gathering as poetry; the musical line-up includes Ian Tyson, Michael Martin Murphey, Riders In The Sky, Don Edwards, Dave Stamey, Jeffrey Broussard & the Creole Cowboys, Caleb Klauder Country Band, Martha Scanlan and more. For a full list of participating artists and much more information, visit www.westernfolklife.org.
Recently there has been a lot made about the Affordable Care Act not being ready in time to meet its obligations to the American public. Do you feel this was a huge oversight on the current administration’s part?
BO: “I don’t think it was an oversight. It was an overestimation of the ability of technology to solve the complex problems of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Everyone knew the system would have to access other existing systems like the IRS, Medicaid, and Homeland Security for example and seamlessly connect to state run exchanges. Many of these systems use different platforms and computer languages. Add to that the required data transfer with the insurers and you had the potential for total system failure. In my estimation it was a hill too steep to climb, too much too fast.”
Do you believe that if the site is not ready by the time the open enrollment period begins, we might see another extension of the law?
BO: “Given enough time the computer issues will be solved. Will it be done soon? I doubt it. Some adjustments will have to be made to the enrollment window and/or the penalty for not enrolling.”
Do you believe that Congress will make changes to the Affordable Care Act?
BO: “No changes will be made to the Affordable Care Act until the 2014 mid-term elections. Administrative changes will have to be used to patch the system until a new Congress convenes in 2015. Any changes made by Congress will not be effective until the 2016 plan year. However, Congressional action in 2015 could affect 2014 Tax Returns. The Department of Health and Human Services will have to make administrative rules that reflect the current difficulty of implementing the law.”
“The real issue now is how to fund the system. Those who have a high utilization rate or serious preexisting conditions will buy into the system no matter how difficult the sign-up process is. Others will wait to sign up and risk the penalty because many believe it will probably be waived for the 2014 tax year. Insurers will have to actuarially fund benefits in 2014. High claims costs combined with lower than expected enrollment means less than expected premiums to fund claims. The result of this funding shortfall is increasing premiums or limitations on benefit levels; both are bad outcomes.”
Moving away from national politics and focusing more on Nevada, what are the biggest challenges you perceive for the silver state in 2014?
BO: “Since the 2009 Legislative Session it always has been about the budget. In 2015, it will be more of the same. Funding for education, Medicaid, and mental health services will be front and center on the legislative agenda. Added to that mix will be the impact of ballot questions. The results of the vote on the Margins and Mining Tax will have an impact on the agenda.”
Of the issues you just mentioned, which one are you more focused on and why?
BO: “You have to stay focused on the big picture. The budget, including its funding sources, affects all TFG clients. Add to that industry specific bills and you have a recipe for a busy Legislative Session in 2015.”
With over 30 years of experience working as a lobbyist in the Nevada Legislature, what accomplishment are you most proud of?
BO: “The privatization of the state’s work compensation system was a proud moment for me. The state eliminated over a two billion dollar unfunded obligation, employers got lower, more stable rates, injured workers got more timely benefits, and state employees working in the system were protected from job loss. This is a perfect example what can be done with a state agency if you think out of the box. Will work for all state agencies? No, but in specific cases it should be considered as an option.”
In your experience working with members of both parties, what helps drive a compromise or builds consensus?
BO: “Even with a wide variation of political views our elected officials still focus on what is good for Nevada. If you keep in mind what is good for the citizens of Nevada you can always find middle ground.”
How is Nevada politics different from Washington?
BO: “In Nevada, it’s all about our constitution. Requirements for a balanced budget, term limits, and 120-day session add up to a different environment than you find in Washington.”
If you could offer advice to a college grad looking to enter into your chosen profession, what would you say?
BO: “Learn to read the numbers like you have an MBA, good basic writing skills, and start by focusing on a specific industry. Take a staff job or an internship in a government agency or a legislative body.”
The first step in the 2014 campaign seeking voter approval for a Court of Appeals in Nevada was taken today with the formation of a bi-partisan political action committee, Nevadans for a Court of Appeals. The PAC is co-chaired by two veteran Nevada lawmakers and attorneys Sen. Richard “Tick” Segerblom (D-Las Vegas) and Sen. Greg Brower (R-Reno).
In order to amend the Nevada Constitution to allow for the creation of an appellate court, the Nevada Legislature is required to pass a resolution in two consecutive legislative sessions and Nevada voters must then approve it at the next general election. Senate Joint Resolution 14 passed the 2011 Nevada Legislature and was approved again by the Legislature unanimously in 2013.
“Nevada is at a turning point, it is no longer the little state we all grew up in. We’re in the 21st century and our courts need to follow suit. A court of appeals will make the court system more efficient and functional for everyone,” said Segerblom.
Brower added, “Nevada is one of only 10 states without a court of appeals and we are the largest state by population of those 10. As a practicing lawyer, I can tell you the backlog is becoming a serious problem and now is the time to do something about it.”
The proposed court of appeals would consist of three judges sitting in the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas.
Longtime Nevada banker Roger Ashby was named treasurer of Nevadans for a Court of Appeals.
Barbara Smith Campbell to affiliate with The Ferraro Group
Long-time Tax Commission chair will be available to advise on Nevada tax issues
The Ferraro Group, a public relations and public affairs company with offices in Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City, announced today that respected tax consultant Barbara Smith Campbell will affiliate her company, Consensus, with The Ferraro Group and will be available during the 2013 Nevada Legislature to provide exclusive legislative tax review and analysis to the firm’s existing and future clients. Under the affiliation, Ms. Campbell will not work as a lobbyist.
Prior to forming Consensus, Ms. Campbell served for 10 years as the Chairman of the Board of the Nevada Tax Commission. As chairman, she oversaw the implementation of the 2003 legislative tax package that included for the first time the modified business tax, among others. Ms. Campbell served on the Nevada Tax Commission for 5 consecutive four-year terms. She was first appointed by Governor Richard Bryan and subsequently by Governors Bob Miller and Kenny Guinn.
“Barbara is one of the pre-eminent experts on Nevada tax policy and we are delighted that she is joining us to provide critical tax analysis of the various tax proposals being debated in Carson City,” said Greg Ferraro, President of The Ferraro Group.
Ms. Campbell currently serves as a Board Member of American Pacific Corporation (Public, NASDAQ:APFC) and Advisory Board Member of AMERCO (Public, NASDAQ:UHAL), parent company of U-Haul International, and as a Trustee of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. She was appointed by Governor Sandoval to the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, and later elected chairman by the exchange board. She also serves as Chairman of the Board of Nevada Taxpayers Association and a member of the Community Board of St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center.
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Power brokers wield clout in, out of Nevada Assembly, Senate
By Ed Vogel
Feb. 3, 2013
CARSON CITY - Each legislative session there is a small number of lawmakers, lobbyists and elected officials who drive the legislative agenda, who make the decisions, often behind the scenes, that lead to approval of the state budget and passage of about 700 new laws by June.
We call them movers and shakers. Actually they are the insiders and politically influential who, because of their wealth or business and personal connections, make the most important decisions that affect state government. Right or wrong, that's how its been in Nevada since statehood, when the mining industry's power was unlimited.
Here are people we anticipate will be movers and shakers in the 2013 session:
GOV. BRIAN SANDOVAL
Rather than only relying on aides, Sandoval has taken a hands-on role in dealing with legislators and selling his budget plans. He meets privately with each legislator and often shows up unannounced at the Legislative Building to talk issues or just to be seen. He personally negotiated with legislators the tax increase deal that ended the 2011 session.
Expect more of the same in 2013. Democrats are aware of his popularity with voters, and Sandoval knows they can't pass anything he opposes since they are four votes shy of a veto-proof two-thirds majority. The governor also will rely on his top lieutenant, Chief of Staff Gerald Gardner, a longtime lawyer embarking on a new career, and Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp, formerly the chief financial officer for the state Department of Corrections, in selling his message.
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MO DENIS, D-LAS VEGAS
Denis is a calm, well-mannered and religious family man whose personal example might lead to a less partisan session. But Denis, a former state PTA leader whose wife is a school teacher, strongly believes that the state needs to do much more for public education, including implementing full-day kindergarten and reducing class sizes. He isn't going to be Mr. Nice Guy if nothing is done on those goals. Born to Cuban immigrant parents, he is the cousin of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who might be a presidential candidate in 2016.
ASSEMBLY SPEAKER MARILYN KIRKPATRICK, D-NORTH LAS VEGAS
Kirkpatrick becomes the second woman speaker in state history with a horrible distraction to overcome: Her fellow Democrat, Assemblyman Steven Brooks, was arrested last month on allegations that he threatened her - and he is expected to be sitting in the same legislative rooms as her during the session.
Liked by Republicans, she might be the most down-to-earth speaker ever. Kirkpatrick is not a college graduate, but earned her leadership post through hard work, personality and fairness. She is known for her expertise on tax matters and intends to consider a complete tax review during the session.
ASSEMBLY MINORITY LEADER PAT HICKEY, R-RENO
An author, former reporter and Unification Church spokesman who returned to his Catholic roots, Hickey is known for his wit and being a straight talker. He readily acknowledges Republicans are limited in what they can accomplish since they hold only 15 of the 42 Assembly seats. But he knows his party can block any tax increases sought by Democrats and strive to sell Sandoval's message. Hickey often writes a funny column on the Legislature that anyone can receive by contacting him at email@example.com.
SENATE MINORITY LEADER MICHAEL ROBERSON, R-LAS VEGAS
In his second term, Roberson, unknown in state political circles before 2010, now is Republican leader in the Senate. He has an attribute that many past Republican leaders lacked: The ability to speak forcibly and challenge the Democrats.
Roberson has pledged to work in a more collegial manner with Democrats if they return that favor. But he vows he will continue to push his "pragmatic conservative" philosophy. His willingness to back Sandoval's plan to keep $649 million in taxes that otherwise end after June 30 has led to criticism from blogger Chuck Muth, who dubbed him "Moderate Mike." Don't expect that tag to continue in coming months.
MIKE WILLDEN, DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
A nearly 40-year state employee who started in his teens when he worked at the state youth training school in his Caliente home town, Willden must sell the governor's plan to expand Medicaid to legislators. Over the years, he has gained increasing respect from governors and legislators. He can explain complex social service and funding issues in language they can easily understand.
JEREMY AGUERO, PRINCIPAL ANALYST FOR APPLIED ANALYSIS IN LAS VEGAS
Aguero prepares objective policy and statistical reports for many businesses and organizations and for the Legislature. He has become the go-to information guy for everybody, largely because people trust his reports. "The reason is I am an analyst, not an advocate" he said. "We are policy neutral. Our job is getting the information legislators need to make better decisions."
CAROLE VILARDO, NEVADA TAXPAYERS ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT AND A LONGTIME LOBBYIST
She is the acknowledged expert on taxes. Although she takes a pro-business, don't-tax-unless-it-is-absolutely-necessary viewpoint, she objectively answers legislators' tax questions and can suggest less onerous, better tax options. She was one of the first female lobbyists and has been a welcome fixture in the Legislature since the 1970s.
LYNN WARNE, PRESIDENT OF THE NEVADA STATE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
Warne will have a central role in the discussions in the Legislature on tax proposals to provide more funds for education. Her organization collected 152,000 signatures on a petition to impose a business tax that would raise $800 million a year for public schools. This might be the centerpiece of the tax discussions. Some conservatives might not like the union, but every legislator wants to improve Nevada's education system and must listen to her views.
GEOFF LAWRENCE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF POLICY FOR THE NEVADA POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Lawrence is hated by some Democrats and loved by Republicans, some who consider his Libertarian, conservative-based policy studies as gospel. He says he simply presents objective data that he wants legislators to consider. Some Democratic legislators were rude to him in hearings during the 2011 session. He says his job is to offer "free-market thinking" that often is missing in the Legislature.
JIM WADHAMS, LAWYER AND LOBBYIST
Wadhams has been one of the primary lobbyists for the mining industry, advocating against additional taxes and making sure the news media properly present the mining industry's viewpoint. Expect a call if you aren't fair. He also represents many insurance industry clients. Wadhams is a former Commerce Department director under Gov. Robert List and has lobbied legislators since the 1970s.
GREG FERRARO, OWNER OF THE FERRARO GROUP PUBLIC RELATIONS AGENCY AND A VETERAN LEGISLATIVE LOBBYIST
Son of former Boulder City Mayor Bob Ferraro, he is one of the people who encouraged Sandoval to run for governor and has written speeches for Sandoval and former Govs. Kenny Guinn and Jim Gibbons.
His firm last summer combined with an agency owned by another veteran lobbyist, Robert Ostrovsky. They represent the gaming industry and many major businesses. A staff of seven will show up at the Legislature. Ferraro's interest in politics began as a child over dinner when his parents talked about state issues. His maternal grandfather was a Republican legislator from Reno in the 1950s.
PETE ERNAUT AND BILLY VASSILIADIS, RESPECTIVELY PRESIDENT OF GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND CEO OF R&R PARTNERS
This marketing and public relations-lobbying firm is famed for developing the "What happens here, stays here" slogan for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Ernaut is a former Republican legislator, chief of staff to Guinn and one of the people who encouraged Sandoval to run for governor.
Vassiliadis is a Democrat who has been critical of Sandoval, but whose wife, Rosemary, was named by Sandoval to the board of the state Department of Homeland Security. They employ a staff of nine legislative lobbyists who will represent dozens of clients, including the gaming industry and NV Energy. Vassiliadis usually only shows up at critical points of the session, often sitting outside the Legislative Building with his ear to his cellphone. His arrival means something is up.
Copyright © Stephen Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
Nevada Business Magazine
Getting It Done: The 2013 Legislative Session
By Jennifer Rachel Baumer
December 3, 2012
The 77th regular legislative session starts in Carson City on February 4, 2013. What major issues will be coming down the pipeline in 2013? How will issues discussed and laws passed in the upcoming session affect Nevada in the future? What part will a freshman Legislature play and what challenges will lawmakers face?
One of the biggest issues facing every legislature is the budget and the 2013 session will be no exception. The details of the budget Governor Sandoval will present to the Legislature won’t be finalized until after the Economic Forum in December, but the Governor has already indicated he’s against any new taxes. He intends to renew the sunset taxes scheduled to end June 30, 2013; then the question becomes whether the revenue projected by the economic forum will allow for discussion about modifying the sunsets.
“That being said, there will be a number of legislators that will want to expand the budget, and you’ll have a number of enhancements that I expect will lead to the discussion about the tax structure of the state,” said Carole Vilardo, president, Nevada Taxpayers Association. Vilardo has been the state’s foremost authority on tax issues for several years and understands the ins- and outs- of Carson City.
“Obviously revenue always plays a key role, although the economy appears to be headed in the right direction,” said Michael Sullivan, vice president of state government affairs, Porter Gordon Silver Communications. Still, gaming is lagging behind in the state’s recovery, and taxable sales of homes and the like are moving slowly, with the upshot being the flat budget submitted by the Governor in October, with no increases, during a time when there are demands for funding education. “So that certainly will be an interesting process to whether or not with a recession you put more money into education. Where do you find that money? No doubt there will be those discussions,” said Sullivan.
Among other budget considerations are questions as to whether Nevada can afford to expand the Medicaid provisions, and discussions regarding state employee salaries.
“Obviously you can either keep spending into the amounts that you’re showing revenue having been received including the extension of the sunsets, or you can wind up looking to increase the revenue so you can expand the expenditures and that’s where I see one of the biggest issues that will dominate the Legislative session and one we’ll be watching very closely,” said Vilardo.
In addition to traditional education funding comes the question of what the state can afford not to do when it comes to technology requirements for schools.
If schools, particularly those working with English learners, are going to use technology to teach, the technology has to be available, and that’s not traditionally built into the base, said Vilardo. “Interim committees have had discussions about putting in additional funds or changing the formula to address the issue of students who are English learners, but if technology is going to be employed and the schools don’t have enough computers, then there need to be upgrades – and is that something the state can afford not to fund?”
Education reform is expected to be discussed during the session, with a new formula proposed for funding higher education that would allow the University and community colleges system to keep more of the funding they generate themselves. “Ultimately the theory behind that is to get more sustainability into the system. Like anything new, there’s going to be significant debate,” said Alfredo Alonso, principal, Lewis and Roca.
Budget discussions are a given for any session. Vilardo, putting together the NTA newsletter, pulled a series of quotes from newsletters as far back as 1922 that are still appropriate today. From 1995: Policy makers must continue to rethink and restructure government services and their delivery to achieve the highest level of efficiency and quality possible while stabilizing the expenditures of the state.
“The issue is stabilizing expenditures, when we usually talk about stabilizing the revenue,” Vilardo said. “But stabilizing expenditures and being able to show that the level of expenditure you are proposing is something that you’ve looked at to see if you should be able to continue to support for five or six years down the road is what we’re looking at in stabilizing expenditures.”
With new faces in the Legislature, Vilardo expects a push-pull situation between advocates for putting money back into the budget for services and programs cut in 2011 and those who don’t want to see a substantial increase in revenue. Those against budget increases are afraid it will exacerbate the economic situation because funds put into programs in the 77th session may not be sustainable.
Other budget considerations are apt to include frozen or cut back state employee positions and salaries. State employee pay cuts in 2011 were 2.5 percent. Issues realted to state employee salaries are expected to crop up in the next session because state revenue isn’t meeting growth.
“I think it will be a difficult session. Part of that is because we will have a number of new legislators. With term limits creating that vacuum on institutional knowledge, it also created new legislators, and a very steep learning curve as to what the process is,” said Vilardo.
The Nevada Legislature had 22 vacant seats filled in the November election, and 19 filled in the last election, making for a very new legislature.
“Due to term limits and significant turnover, half of the Senate will be new members to that body,” said Greg Ferraro, president and founder, The Ferraro Group. That doesn’t mean everyone will be brand new – five members moved up from the Assembly and one member returns after a break in service – but 10 new faces will fill seats in the 21-seat Senate. Similar turnover will happen in the Assembly, 10 or more new members out of 42.
“We’ve got three or four people between last time and this time who moved from one house to another, so there is some knowledge there, but a brand new legislator has a very steep learning curve for issues they’re going to be dealing with,” said Vilardo.
In addition, some of the major committees will be chaired by freshmen legislators.
“At this moment I can’t think of one committee that will stay the same,” said Sullivan. “All the major committees will have new chairs and that’s very, very important because you have no continuity of leadership.”
There’s only 120 days for new legislators to get up to speed. Six of the incoming senators are former assemblymen or returning to service, but many in the Assembly will be first time public servants, Sullivan said. “For businesses and people it’s a negative, just because the less experience you have, the more it takes to get up to speed. So, in that sense it will probably be an issue, but it might also mean some issues that have not been brought up before will get brought up because those legislators are new.”
By the Numbers
As the 2013 Legislature prepares to launch, Democrats hold 27 out of 42 seats in the Assembly. If the November election had given them 28 seats, they’d have had a veto-proof majority. This would have meant that anything they voted for, if it was vetoed by the Governor, that veto could have been overridden by the Democrats. The flip side was also true – if the Republicans had taken 28 seats, their votes would have been veto-proof.
Most people didn’t expect the Democrats would get to 28, though 27 is a tight margin. A veto-proof majority of Democrats would have made for an interesting session, according to Sullivan, who predicted it would have been a more aggressive agenda as far as new taxes on businesses and the like. Despite that, pre-election neither side was looking particularly aggressive about looking for new tax revenues.
Still, the Democratic majority might encourage education and labor groups to push for changes, Sullivan speculated before the election, and those changes would require more funding in the form of taxes, which the Governor will most likely veto. Without the veto-proof Democratic majority, likely such measures will not pass.
Without a Democratic majority of 28 seats, the biggest tax issue facing the Legislature are the sunset taxes, $600 million in business and sales taxes that should expire at the end of June 2013. These taxes include the modified business tax, which has a higher rate for large businesses since the 2011 session, and an increase in sales tax.
Taxes aren’t the only revenue discussions apt to come up. Due to requirements from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Nevada now has to make internal changes within the state, most likely involving expanding Medicaid to meet requirements of the act. A June 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling gave states the right to opt in or opt out of expanding Medicaid eligibility, and decisions on expanding Medicaid won’t be made until after the economic forum.
Back on the Table
Healthcare, education and construction defects are all expected to show up again in 2013.
In the realm of construction defects, the real issues aren’t so much with the builders as with the sub-contractors who end up in court, brought in on a suit even though their work on a project was a small part of the whole and may have had nothing to do with whatever actions or defects incited the suit. Sub-contractors are looking to make it harder for lawyers to sue everyone involved in the project rather than determining which contractors should be named. The issue has been showing up every two years for about a dozen years and looks likely to appear again in 2013.
Then there’s the PERS controversy, the Public Employees’ Retirement System, a constant battle every session, with both Republicans and Democrats pushing for changes in benefits and in workers’ compensation. “PERS Reform is basically underfunded now, those are unfunded mandates and I’m not sure how the Legislature is going to deal with that,” said Alonso.
Funding for education remains a constant in legislative sessions. The teachers initiative, or Education Initiative, with its proposed 2 percent margins tax on businesses making more than $1 million annually was struck down in October by District Judge James Wilson. The Nevada State Education Association met the November 13 deadline to collect 72,234 signatures required to submit the proposal to the Legislature with more than 149,000 signatures, but must win the appeal set for oral arguments before the Nevada Supreme Court December 5 before going on to Carson City in February.
“If it qualifies, and I expect it will qualify, the Legislature has by law its first 40 days to decide to either adopt it or not adopt it or prepare an alternative for it,” said Ferraro. “That obviously is going to be a very serious issue people are going to be paying close attention to.”
But with the Governor set against new taxes, it’s likely the initiative would be vetoed. With the Senate split evenly between Republican- and Democrat- held chairs, the question of whether the initiative will get approval remains up in the air. It’s possible that the Governor could bring competing questions on this issue before legislators.
Another issue the Legislature is expected to face concerns foreclosures in Nevada. “Bills AB 283 and 284 are being litigated,” said Samuel P. McMullen, Sr., partner, Snell & Wilmer. The bills essentially stopped non-judicial foreclosures in Nevada. AB 283 relates to mortgage loans and agents and brokers who work with them. AB 284 was enacted to address a scandal that involved illegal signatures on foreclosure documents. AB 284 requires agents who sign these documents to have personal knowledge of the lender’s authority to foreclose.
Capital projects on the table include the University of Nevada Las Vegas stadium project. The proposal has gotten a lot of attention, Ferraro said, and should go to the Legislature with a proposal to create a tax increment district to fund the project. Last session there was a lot of activity surrounding the proposal but nothing came of it. It’s expected the proposal presented this coming session will be much more specific.
All the Rest
By November there were over 500 bill requests presented to the Legislature, that number is expected to double by February fourth when lawmakers convene in Carson City. Along with budget issues and sunset taxes, education and healthcare, a number of other issues expected to effect Nevadans will be considered.
The 2011 Legislature created the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, replacing the Nevada Commission on Economic Development. The 2013 session is expected to work toward making certain the state has the necessary tools to compete for the interests of businesses seeking to relocate or expand in Nevada, which goes directly to the issue of employment, according to Ferraro.
Nevada owes the Federal Government somewhere in the neighborhood of $750 million. There’s expected to be discussion during the session as to how best to address that debt.
With Nevada gaming not yet back to 2006 levels, but still recovering, there should be discussion regarding the future of the state with respect to interactive gaming, whether the Federal Government is going to allow online poker and issues as the gaming marketplace faces the realities of interactive play.
“I think it’s a good time in Nevada,” Ferraro said. “I think after all we’ve been through in our state over the last five-plus years, Nevadans have a lot of fighting spirit. They’re resilient. We’ve been through some pretty tough times, I think most Nevadans will come together in Carson City in February and pledge to work together to create new opportunities for businesses to create jobs and continue to pay attention to the important issues of education and healthcare and moving our state forward.”
© Copyright 2012, Business Link LLC dba Nevada Business Magazine and Nevada Business Journal.
Ostrovsky and Associates Merges with
The Ferraro Group
The Ferraro Group, a Nevada public relations and public affairs company with offices in Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City, announced today that Robert Ostrovsky will merge his lobbying firm, Ostrovsky and Associates, with The Ferraro Group effective Aug. 1, 2012.
Ostrovsky, one of the capital's most respected and experienced lobbyists since 1981, will join The Ferraro Group as a principal. His firm currently represents the Nevada Resort Association, United Health, Cox Communications, City of Las Vegas and 3M among other clients before the Nevada Legislature. The Ferraro Group, voted PR Firm of the Year in 2011 by the Las Vegas Business Press, represents numerous public relations clients including Vegas PBS, Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development, Nathan Adelson Hospice, Majestic Realty and Desert Research Institute as well as public affairs clients that include Apple, NV Energy, the Nevada Resort Association, Frias Transportation, JPMorgan Chase and Saint Mary's Hospital.
"Bob Ostrovsky has earned an excellent reputation through four decades of work in the Nevada Legislature and he is considered a leading expert in the complex areas of labor relations and health care," said Greg Ferraro, president and founder of The Ferraro Group. "To have him join our firm is a significant addition heading into the 2013 Legislature. Not only is Bob a skilled advocate, he is one of the really good guys in Carson City, and we are excited to have him on our team."
Ostrovsky added: "After 15 years of service to my clients as Ostrovsky and Associates, I am joining forces with one of Nevada's most respected government affairs and public relations firms. I am pleased to be joining Greg Ferraro and Holly Silvestri at The Ferraro Group and look forward to working with them and their excellent team in delivering the high-quality work and superb client service they have become known for."
Ostrovsky's long-time associate, Misty Grimmer, will become senior public affairs executive for The Ferraro Group and will continue to assist Mr. Ostrovsky in Carson City.
Ostrovsky is currently chairman of the Nevada Commission for Cultural Affairs and of the Nevada Cultural Affairs Foundation. He has been a member of the Department of Industrial Relations Advisory Board from 1981 to 1998 and from 2009 to 2012, and served as chairman of the Advisory Board from 1989 to 1999 and from 2009 to 2012. From 1973 until 1996, Ostrovsky held various positions at MGM and Bally's Casino and Resorts. He was corporate vice president of Human Resources for Bally's Grand from 1986 to 1996.
The Ferraro Group, founded in 2004, is a leading Nevada public relations and public affairs firm that provides strategic communications counsel to corporations, coalitions, associations and individuals. The firm specializes in strategic positioning, marketing campaigns, reputational management, media relations, crisis management and advocacy.
Las Vegas Sun
For Reno-Sparks, $89 million in tax breaks well worth Apple’s economic impact
By Anjeanette Damon
Wed, June 27, 2012
For months, Apple executives have waged a stealth campaign in Northern Nevada to win an unprecedented package of tax incentives that will allow the company to escape almost entirely a state sales tax bill on $1 billion worth of servers for a data storage center it wants to build just outside of Reno.
Since February, the company has wooed local elected officials, met with the governor and worked with a local developer, scrupulously keeping its name out of any public document and off any public agenda until just hours before a county commission meeting Tuesday to endorse the deal.
Indeed, the fact that it was Apple seeking the tax breaks wasn’t publicly known until 8 a.m. Tuesday, less than three hours before the Washoe County Commission unanimously signed off on a deal worth $89 million in tax abatements over 10 years.
Apple won the county commission’s endorsement in a hearing that lasted a scant 20 minutes, during which no one testified in opposition or even rose to question the tax breaks.
Instead, the developer, Apple executives and lobbyists sung the praises of the project, and commissioners almost giddily endorsed the tax incentives before posing for a photo in the commission chamber with the businessmen who brokered the deal.
The commission’s endorsement sets in motion a final 30-day approval process that runs through Gov. Brian Sandoval’s economic development office. But state law gives the office little discretion to reject the abatements as long as the company meets four simple criteria — all of which it has already met.
The proposed data center is an exciting project for Northern Nevada.
An economic impact analysis — named “Project Jonathan” after the medium-sized sweet apple to hide the company’s identity — estimates it will generate 329 direct and indirect jobs for the community with a total personal income of $15 million.
Construction of the data center just east of Sparks is expected to generate a one-time $103 million economic impact, and Apple has said it will invest $1 billion in equipment for the storage center.
Perhaps more valuable than the dollars and cents, however, is the cache of attracting an internationally renowned company such as Apple as the first user of the nascent Reno Technology Park.
“When a company like Apple chooses to locate in Nevada, that causes other major companies to take a second look at the state, and I think that there will be significant interest on the part of others because this deal took place,” said Steve Hill, the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
“The agreement to move forward with this project represents a watershed moment for our region’s economic future,” Washoe County Commissioner Robert Larkin gushed in a statement.
But while the project is estimated to generate $105 million in tax revenue over the next decade, government coffers — including the state’s — will see just $16 million of it, according to the Project Jonathan study.
Under the deal with Hill’s office, Apple is eligible to abate 85 percent of the personal property tax owed on its servers.
And in a creative move, Apple also was able to cobble together various tax incentives to eliminate almost its entire sales tax bill.
Here’s how it will work: The state can waive all but 2 percent of the sales tax rate for the server equipment Apple purchases for the data center. But by opening a second location in a special tourism improvement district in downtown Reno — an office meant simply to receive shipment of those servers — Apple is eligible to be reimbursed 75 percent of the 2 percent sales tax it still owes.
That piece of the deal is up for City Council approval today.
After all of its abatements and reimbursements, Apple would pay only 0.5 percent sales tax — instead of 7.5 percent — on the $1 billion in server equipment it’s expected to buy over the next 10 years.
Hill said the abatement was necessary to make Nevada competitive with other states vying for the business. Apple could have expanded its existing data center in rural Oregon, which doesn’t impose any sales tax, he said.
Hill also said Apple has agreed to special audits by the state tax department to ensure it is living up to its end of the bargain in terms of employee salaries and capital investment. If it doesn’t, it would have to pay the abatements back to the state.
If the project were to move forward without any tax abatements, state coffers would collect $16 million, the county and city would collect nearly $40 million and the school district would get $26 million over 10 years.
But project proponents argue that shouldn’t be looked at as lost money. Without the abatements, the project wouldn’t move forward at all and the economic impact would be nil.
Hill acknowledged that details of the deal were kept quiet until the last minute, but he argued that wasn’t out of fear of generating public opposition to the tax abatements.
“Obviously, they are a very high-profile company,” Hill said. “Our concern was that the public rumor mill would actually have run them off.”
Hill said elected officials in charge of ratifying the deal were kept in the loop, even if the public wasn’t until the very last minute.
“This was not sprung on the elected officials or staff,” Hill said. “All along the way we have talked to the city of Reno and their staff, the school district and their folks, the county and their folks. This has been a team effort in order to make sure this was done correctly and in the best interest of everyone.”
But Reno Councilman David Aiazzi said that while he had heard earlier this year that Apple was looking to build a facility in Nevada, he wasn’t given the details of the tax abatements until Tuesday morning.
“It’s private enterprise doing all the secrety stuff,” Aiazzi said. “I don’t know if the governments are hiding anything. It’s more been the guys working the deal.”
Apple has partnered with several Northern Nevada powerbrokers to work the deal. Greg Ferraro, a close adviser to Gov. Sandoval, was hired to represent Apple before the city and county.
Reno developer Steve Polikalas, who is experienced at working government financing deals, is the developer on both the downtown Reno tourism improvement district and the Reno Technology Park.
Still, Aiazzi doesn’t think the confidentiality is necessarily a problem.
Although Apple’s name wasn’t made public until Tuesday, the details of the tax abatements were released a week ago by the Washoe County Commission. It’s not their fault that no one noticed the broadly worded agenda item, Aiazzi argued.
But Aiazzi said Apple is striking at the right time, offering a recession-stricken community the prospect of high-paying jobs.
“If everything was good and the economy was great, we may not think this is such a good deal,” Aiazzi said. “But for the people who get the jobs out there, who are saying, ‘I need the money,’ for them it’s worth it.”
© Las Vegas Sun, 2012, All Rights Reserved.
Apple Plans Facilities in Reno
By Brian Duggan
June 26, 2012
Apple Inc. has plans to build a 350-acre data center east of Sparks to house its iCloud and iTunes services as well as a business and purchasing center in downtown Reno, as part of a $1 billion investment the company plans to make in Northern Nevada over the next 10 years.
The news broke Tuesday morning when city and county officials posted staff reports online detailing the deal called “Project Jonathan,” which had been kept under wraps for months despite rumors among local officials — not surprising given Apple’s secretive reputation and the scope of the potential deal for local and state economic development officials.
Greg Ferraro, who runs a statewide public affairs and relations firm that is representing Apple, told Washoe County commissioners on Tuesday: “This is the most significant economic news we’ve had in our region in over 15 years.”
To attract Apple to the Silver State, local and state government officials are in the process of approving a series of tax cuts for the company that will amount to $89 million over the next decade, effectively reducing Apple’s tax burden by 79 percent, according to an analysis of the project by Phoenix-based Applied Economics. About 82 percent of those tax breaks will come from local governments, including Reno, Washoe County and the Washoe County School District. The rest comes from the state.
If all goes as planned, construction is expected to start on the data center by August. It will eventually employ up to 41 full-time employees and 200 long-term contract employees on top of the estimated 580 construction jobs it’s projected to generate. In all, analysts hired to study the project say the region will benefit from $343 million in economic activity over the next decade as a result of Apple coming to Northern Nevada.
Meanwhile, Apple will spend another $65 million for infrastructure upgrades to make the data center possible, including a fiber-optic network and a planned power installation to generate the 35 megawatts of energy the center will need by 2017. For example, at its Maiden, N.C., data center, Apple will eventually generate about 60 percent of the 20 megawatts it needs through the nation’s largest private solar array and a fuel cell installation.
Washoe County Commissioners approved their portion of Apple’s tax abatements on Tuesday, giving the company an 85 percent break on its personal property taxes — a deal that can be renewed for another two 10-year deals. Today, the Reno City Council will consider its portion of the tax breaks, pledging 75 percent of its share of sales taxes to the company for a downtown business center that Apple plans to build in Reno’s so-called Téssera District, which covers the lighted northeastern portion of downtown.
“Having Apple in our community would put us on the global economic development map for other related industries.” County Commission Chairman Bob Larkin said in a statement Tuesday. “This proposed high-speed data center could bring hundreds of much needed construction jobs to our area in the coming months. In addition, Apple promises the investment of $1 billion dollars in our region over the next 10 years. The agreement to move forward with this project represents a watershed moment for our region's economic future.”
A long time coming
The developers behind the projects in downtown Reno and the data center east of Sparks have been at it for years and it wasn’t until earlier this year when Apple approached them about coming to the Reno-Sparks region, said Steve Polikalas, a principle with Northern Nevada Urban Development, the company behind the downtown Reno portion of the project.
Sparks-based Stonefield Inc. has spent the last two years developing the Reno Technology Park, located about 11 miles east of Sparks. It will house Apple’s planned data center and potentially others in the years to come.
Polikalas’ company, meanwhile, has spent years acquiring blighted properties east of Virginia Street, north of Fourth Street and south of Interstate 80 to make way for the now-planned downtown technology business park that will include Apple.
The Reno City Council in 2009 approved a special tax break for that Téssera District area, allowing up to 75 percent of the sales taxes collected there to go back to developers. That includes an ability to use the sales tax-backed STAR bonds with additional City Council approval.
“Certainly (Apple) is a seed to the Téssera project itself and a seed maybe for a larger Apple presence,” Polikalas said. “But even if it facilitates the Téssera project, which it will ... it’s just absolutely exciting and transformative.”
Cost and benefit
Apple is no stranger to Northern Nevada. The company already has a small office in Reno, which was the subject of a major New York Times article in April that highlighted Apple’s ability to avoid paying billions in taxes by setting up subsidiaries in low-tax states and countries. The article also noted the company, the world’s most profitable technology firm known for its popular iPhones, iPads and iPods, is expected to generate nearly $46 billion this fiscal year.
Steve Hill, the director of the Nevada Office on Economic Development, said local and state officials needed to give Apple tax breaks to stay competitive with other states that house data centers, notably sales tax-free Oregon. Earlier this year, Apple bought 160 acres in Prineville, Ore., where it plans to build a data center. Facebook, Google and Amazon have also built data centers in Oregon during the last six years.
He added Apple could have built more data centers in Oregon, but chose to come to the Silver State to diversify its data center locations, which include two others in California, as well as to capitalize on Reno’s vicinity to Apple’s home Cupertino, Calif. — about a four-hour drive from Reno. Other cities Apple was considering to build its new data center included Salt Lake City and Phoenix, Hill said.
“They’ve got lots of options,” Hill said. “The Prineville, Ore., area remains more competitive than Northern Nevada.”
Ultimately, if the project goes as planned in Northern Nevada, local and state governments are expected to generate about $16 million in tax revenue from Apple over the next decade after the tax breaks are applied.
The tax breaks shave millions off Apple’s bill. For example, if Apple were to set up shop here without them, Washoe County, the school district, Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District and the state would collect about $20 million from personal property taxes. With the personal property tax cut approved by commissioners on Tuesday, it’s $3 million.
But there are plenty of intangible benefits to having a world-renowned brand like Apple open a major operation in the region, said Rich Miller, the editor of Data Center Knowledge, a New Jersey-based publication that tracks the industry.
Aside from the temporary boost in construction work for a region still suffering from a historic building slump, a data center backed by a name like Apple can attract others to the region.
“I think the hope is a data center project will mark a region as a favorable area for high technology development,” Miller said. “A big project for Apple or Google or Microsoft will lead to other projects following, so you get a cluster of data centers forming.”
In other words, Reno has the opportunity to become an important intersection in the digital highway, he said.
And while it’s no guarantee, “sometimes you get one project that can be the impetus for a lot of growth,” he said.
Brian Bonnenfant, the project manager of the Center for Regional Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, said Apple’s plans are a boost for the Reno-Sparks region, though the project will not generate a large number of jobs in the long-run. For that to happen, Apple must attract ancillary businesses in the hardware and software industries.
“It’s all about the spinoff, the ripple effect,” he said. “That’s really where it has to pack the punch.”
© Reno Gazette-Journal, 2012, All Rights Reserved.
By Sun Staff (contact)
Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Which presidential candidate will win Nevada in 2012? Will Nevada decide to soften its heart and better fund education? Will our freeways be less congested?
In all manners of politics and government, Nevadans may experience major changes in 2012 — or cling to the status quo. Are Nevadans ever predictable?
Political consultant Greg Ferraro, adviser to the presidential campaigns of Bob Dole and George W. Bush and a principal adviser to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s campaign in 2010
The big X factor next year is: How well does the president run despite bad economic numbers?
President Barack Obama has to contend with the increase in the unemployment rate, which was roughly around 8 percent when he won four years ago and is now at 13 percent. So that becomes a key number for him.
And I think the enthusiasm gap is gone. The Democrats have real problems keeping their base enthusiastic in light of all that has gone on.
So, it’s going to be very close. But I think the Republican, given the enthusiasm gap, can probably win Nevada.
In the U.S. Senate, between Republican Dean Heller and Democrat Shelley Berkley, I’m going to call it Heller by a whisker.
This is going to be heavily influenced by the presidential race and what is happening nationally. We are one of the only states that is a battleground in both the presidential and the Senate race. Given some of those same factors, I think it’s Heller by a whisker.
The 1st Congressional District Democratic primary between state Sen. Ruben Kihuen and former U.S. Rep. Dina Titus will definitely have great entertainment value. We know Dina is a fighter and she’s a take-no-prisoners kind of candidate. Ruben hasn’t run on this level before. He has the safety of losing and going back to the Senate. I don’t really know what’s going to happen in that race.
The 3rd Congressional District race between Republican Rep. Joe Heck and Democratic Assembly Speaker John Oceguera obviously will also be influenced by the presidential race and the issues that are at the center of that, which are the economy and unemployment. I think it’s going to be hard for Oceguera to beat that incumbent if the president is not at the approval numbers he would like to be. I think Heck will hold onto his seat.
Which party will control the Assembly and the Senate? That’s the easiest one of all. The Democrats will hold a strong majority in the Assembly.
The Senate is probably a toss-up. You have such a slight margin for the majority now. There are far too many variables to predict, but I think there is a slight Republican edge.
— Anjeanette Damon
• • •
Billy Vassiliadis, CEO of RR Partners, a veteran Democratic operative and campaign adviser to President Barack Obama
I do think the president is going to win Nevada, as we’re starting to see better signs in the economy. If the president has weathered the worst of this, we are going to be in pretty good shape and I think the rest of the races are fairly dependent on that.
Nevada has gotten more partisan. To the extent the president does well, it will drive the kind of turnout needed to drive the down ticket races.
The Senate race between Republican Dean Heller and Democrat Shelley Berkley is going to be close. They are both good candidates and it will be a good contrast election. It will be so close that the last three weeks, the early voting period and election day, will determine it. If the president is doing well and the machine is cranking, I think Shelley has a good shot.
I think that right now you’d be silly not to make Dina Titus the favorite in the 1st Congressional District Democratic primary against Ruben Kihuen. Ruben is a good candidate and he needs to run a pretty good race, but this is Dina’s, what, fourth straight time on the ballot? She’s got high name recognition. She’s got some fierce supporters. She’ll have the money. We don’t know if Ruben can raise the kind of money Dina has been able to raise in the past.
Democrat Assembly Speaker John Oceguera will have a tough race on a couple of fronts in his 3rd Congressional District race against Republican Rep. Joe Heck. One is that over the last year, Heck has been very smart to sort of go back to his own moderate roots. I think he’s been keenly aware that Nevada is not a really philosophical conservative or liberal state. So I think he’s done a pretty good job of not being painted as an extremist. He obviously has good fundraising. It’s a key seat for the Republicans to hold on to. I think the speaker is going to make it a good fight, a real good fight, but I think turn out is really going to have be above average for him to beat Heck.
The Democrats will control the state Assembly, but not by a significant majority. And frankly, the D’s can’t fall asleep on that or they could lose it.
The state Senate will, again, be a function of the president and a function of fundraising. It will come down to probably (Sen. Shirley) Breeden’s and (Sen. Allison) Copening’s districts. I think the senate will go to whoever raises more money and runs a better campaign.
— Anjeanette Damon
• • •
Carolyn Goodman, Las Vegas mayor
I’m very excited about 2012 because we already have planned the opening of a new city hall, the Mob Museum, the magnificent Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the new Lied Children’s Discovery Museum and the Neon Museum.
We’re also looking forward to expansion of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
Of course we’re continuing to work on a sports arena for the 61 acres downtown. We’re moving into discussions on that in late January.
We’re seeing a real interest in people moving into downtown. We’ll see the great vitality of Fremont East, and we look to the start of Downtown Grand hotel remodeling and reopening.
It’s a very exciting time for us. We see the growth, and there are some real exciting plans for further development in the Arts District moving both south and north.
We have an incredible group of talented artists here who are spreading the word that downtown is the place to get a foothold.
I see it as a wonderful, wonderful time for us.
What we see are the old days of Las Vegas alive and well in the core of the city.
There’s great competition and great camaraderie. Everybody’s looking at each other to come up with something bigger and better. That creates a feeling downtown that’s very exciting.
— Conor Shine
• • •
Andy Hafen, mayor of Henderson and a 22-year veteran of the City Council
We are going to focus on fostering education and business opportunities and building a sustainable community.
We have some exciting grants that will help promote those efforts on a regional level.
We’ve cut millions of dollars and hundreds of staff from our city, but we are continually finding creative, cost-effective ways to still provide the best services and amenities to our residents.
We’ll continue to look for ways to boost our local economy. In 2011 we began working with developers on two major projects — a sports stadium complex and Union Village (a 150-acre, $1.5 billion medical, retail and residential complex) — that will bring jobs and other long-term economic benefits to Henderson.
We are also at the beginning stages of making changes to our civil and criminal procedures to mitigate the reputation and types of activities associated with massage parlors. Henderson is a community where people choose to raise their families, and it’s important that all our businesses support that, as well.
— Aida Ahmed
Robert Lang, director, Brookings Mountain West
Next year is all about getting ready for the 2013 Legislature, where we can get things delivered to us.
In key areas, we need to get organized. In transportation, we need to continue planning the interstate to Phoenix, and it can’t be a toll road. We may need business improvement districts downtown for an arts and design area and a technology corridor just south of the airport.
And we need to resolve to make no further cuts to our already low levels of investment in higher education and K-12 spending. Whatever we do, we cannot go backward.
And that’s just a flavor. It’s a perfect year to begin a series of conversations about taking charge of the future, about doing what needs doing.
— J. Patrick Coolican
• • •
Brian Hoeft, traffic management expert, Regional Transportation Commission
Motorists will see a number of changes on valley freeways this year, especially as some major construction projects come to an end.
We’re already starting to see more convenient and free-flowing traffic on Interstate 15 in the southern valley, especially for those going to and from the freeway at cross streets like Tropicana Avenue, Russell Road and the Las Vegas Beltway.
Interchange improvements along I-15 will continue in the next few months. They’re also continuing the express lanes with guideposts south to Silverado Ranch Boulevard, extending that idea of separating the traffic.
In the northwest part of the valley, work on U.S. Highway 95 is also wrapping up. The big benefit there is the carpool lanes will now continue past Rainbow Boulevard to Ann Road.
Motorists will also see an improvement with the new bridge that will directly connect the HOV lanes on U.S. 95 with Summerlin Parkway. It will provide people who are traveling in from Summerlin or the Westcliff Transit Station an opportunity to bypass some of the jam-ups that we see at the Rainbow curve.
We’re also finishing up our intelligent transportation systems on the beltway in the southern valley, on U.S. 95 between the beltway and Charleston Boulevard, and on I-15 between Silverado Ranch and Primm. These systems will give motorists more information on travel times, and we’ll be able to observe the traffic, gather data to evaluate the congestion and maybe find some operational solutions to help keep traffic moving.
— Kyle Hansen
• • •
Mike Willden, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services
We’re going to face a mass turnover in leadership at Health and Human Services — the top three leaders in welfare, the top three in mental health and the leader of aging services.
By my last count, 17 of the top 32 leaders in HHS plan to leave.
This has been a stressful period of time for people in the department. We’ve made a lot of reductions, cuts. We have less staff and higher caseloads. It’s a difficult time to be in state service.
Over the next nine-month period, we’ll start building our budget for the next cycle. Agency request budgets are due Sept. 1. We have to do all the prep stuff for the new legislative cycle.
I plan on sticking around. We have to find new leadership and mentor them. Even if they’re currently in the system, they’ll be learning new roles.
We’ll also be getting ready for health care reform. The Affordable Care Act mandates that by January 2013, if a state’s not deemed to have made adequate progress, the secretary of Health and Human Services can take over.
To implement the federal law, we’re setting up a health insurance exchange. We got a $1 million grant a year ago to get the exchange established and are about to announce a $4 million grant. We are applying for $15 million grant.
It’s a mountain of work.
— David McGrath Schwartz
• • •
Carolyn Edwards, Clark County School Board president
I hope we can find a resolution to the labor negotiations so we can get to a better climate in the School District. Also, I hope for an improvement in the economy so that, next legislative session, we might be able to lobby for increases in education funding.
In our last adequacy study in 2006, we were about $2 billion short. No more cuts to education needs to be the No. 1 goal. I’m optimistic about the new year because of the direction we’re going.
I know it’s stressful for all of our employees to have the bar raised while we hold the line on costs. But we’re heartened and emboldened by the new superintendent’s vision. We’re on the right track.
— Paul Takahashi
• • •
Don Burnette, Clark County manager
No one knows if tax windfalls like those from the boom-times will ever return to government in Nevada. A hint of improving conditions came in December, though, in a county report that “unanticipated” tax revenues were coming in. It’s a sign of improvement. But will it last?
We’ve truly made some good progress this past year, but we still have a general fund budget that requires our attention. We don’t have any (general fund) layoffs planned. But we still need to reduce our operating budget, obtain reasonable employee concessions, and hope property tax revenues don’t decline much more.
This could also be the year changes are solidified at University Medical Center, an annual drain on county coffers. That could include incorporating as a public benefit corporation, which would be a pretty substantial change. If the hospital advisory board gets its arms around that and comes up with something to recommend to the county commission, that could lead to long-term sustainability for UMC.
— Joe Schoenmann
• • •
Shari Buck, mayor of North Las Vegas
We’re going to work on continuing to provide good service to citizens, balancing the budget and getting through tough economic times in a way to serve citizens the best. We have a new city manager and a new council, and there is definitely a feeling of hope and cohesiveness.
I have a lot of hope for this year. To go from a $30 million deficit to $15 million in a year is pretty good, so, yes, I see things getting better slowly.
We still have a$15 million budget deficit. One way or the other we’ll solve that problem.
— Aida Ahmed
• • •
Tim Hacker, North Las Vegas city manager
In a general sense, I believe the community has turned a corner, along with the other communities in the region that felt the impacts of the recession.
North Las Vegas has created a foundation for success beginning in 2012 and beyond. As a city we project out five, 10, 30 years. The foundation is there has been a lot of infrastructure. The wastewater treatment plant, street improvements, working with developers, master-planned communities and constructing Craig Ranch Park to enhance the quality of life.
Financially that’s another corner we have turned with the recent restructuring of bond debt and putting off payments for the next six years to maintain our cash flow and general fund reserve.
I see a lot of promise as far as stability. Strategic planning with an outside consultant has really shown that our elected officials and community seem to have identified the challenges and opportunities. We need to start looking beyond two weeks and start looking at two years. It’s only going to get better.
— Aida Ahmed
© Las Vegas Sun, 2012, All Rights Reserved.
The Ferraro Group Named "Firm of the Year"
Las Vegas Business Press Salutes Best Advertising & PR Firms
We are very pleased to announce that The Ferraro Group was named "Firm of the Year" by the Las Vegas Business Press "Best Advertising Agencies and PR Firms" awards. To be recognized among the top public relations and advertising agencies in Southern Nevada is truly an honor. From everyone at The Ferraro Group, we are excited to share this news with our clients, friends and associates and appreciate your continued support.
For more on the awards, please see below.
Morphing with the Message: Best Advertising Agencies and PR Firms
Advertising and public relations firms broaden clientele, widen focus in recession
By Howard Stutz
Like many businesses, advertising and public relations companies in Las Vegas took steps to survive Southern Nevada's recent economic turmoil. . . Read the article here.