Latest news from Las Vegas

I just got back from a long weekend in Las Vegas, which accounts for a gap in my blog. Despite being hard hit by the recession, the Las Vegas Strip looks as great as ever, with towering new hotels like the Aria, Vdara, Mandarin Oriental and the Cosmopolitan at the all-new City Center, and only slightly older stars as glamorous as ever, like the Bellagio, Wynn, and Encore.

The recession means that anyone shopping around gets a great deal on hotel rooms and live entertainment. The Las Vegas business model provides full-services entertainment for every price range from luxury to economy.

The big political news there is U.S. Senator John Ensign’s decision not to seek re-election next year, after being caught in a sex and pay-off scandal. This opens the door for a return of Sharron Angle, the tea party favorite who won the Republican primary for Senate last year, and then nearly defeated Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The Republican favorite to succeed Ensign is Congressman Dean Heller who represents northern Nevada outside of Las Vegas. Sharron Angle has to decide if she wants another primary challenging the party favorite, or alternatively, if she would be content taking Dean Heller’s seat in the U.S. House where she could represent her political base in northern Nevada.

In the unlikely event that Heller passes on the vacant Senate seat, it seems likely that Sue Lowden will enter the race. She was the Republican party favorite defeated by Angle in the 2010 primary. So if Sharron Angle decides again to run for U.S. Senate her path will again run through a tough Republican primary.

With Christine O’Donnell planning to run again for Senate in Delaware, a Sharron Angle re-run in Nevada, will again focus media attention on the tea party movement and its future.

My recommendation for anyone going to Las Vegas is to try to stay in the middle of the Strip, to conveniently explore and see the sights in both directions. At the high-end, you can’t beat the Bellagio for location. In the middle range I’d recommend Bally’s. And at the lower end, there are many choices including Bill’s, Casino Royale, Flamingo, Harrah’s, and Imperial Palace.

The Las Vegas airport has a single-unified facility for all rent-a-car companies, which means a single shuttle-service transports customers between that facility and the passenger terminals. Arriving at Philadelphia’s airport, one can’t help but contrast Las Vegas efficiency with the multiple rental car vans, one for each company, that continuously circle through the Philadelphia airport, usually empty, searching for customers.

The most unpleasant feature of Las Vegas is the evidence of large-scale illegal prostitution in the city. Yes, I know prostitution is legal in many parts of Nevada outside of Las Vegas. And I know it has a long history in Las Vegas despite its illegality. But the most evident soliciting for the illegal business today is by scruffy looking men and women on street corners pressing photographs with phone numbers into the hands of any male who walks by. Harry Reid is now advocating making prostitution illegal throughout Nevada. But I haven’t heard him advocate enforcing the anti-soliciting law in Las Vegas.

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