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Transcript of interview with Yorgo Kagafas by Claytee White, January 14, 2010

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2010-01-14
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Yorgo Kagafas is a self-described "urban guy." He became an Urban Planner for the City of Las Vegas in 1999. A farm boy from Ohio, he was educated at The Ohio State University, served in the US Navy and earned a M.A. in Environmental Planning from Arizona State University. He came to Las Vegas with a successful grassroots experience from living in a historic Phoenix neighborhood. His unique background complemented his new job which was to implement the Neighborhood Planning Process, a proactive system for Las Vegas communities to express their neighborhood desires prior to a developer coming in with their own agenda. In this interview he explains the criteria that must be met in this process. By coincidence, Yorgo moved into the John S. Park Neighborhood. He was attracted to its central location, intact residential neighborhood, and homes with character at affordable prices. While walking his dog one day, he met neighborhood leader, Bob Bellis, and became aware of neighborhood activism that could use his expertise. Yorgo points out that the good-old-boy mentality that still existed in Las Vegas was a potential obstacle. However he, Bob, and others were able to rally the homeowners and became a textbook example of how the Neighborhood Planning Process should work. He helped them identify their main issues: 1) Mary Dutton Park rehabilitation; 2) code enforcement of property maintenance; 3) attaining historic designation; 4) halting commercial encroachment. That was the first battle, according to Yorgo. With that done, they could next devise and implement a plan, which he describes. The process officially began March 14 2000. In June 2001, the Las Vegas City Council approved the final document.

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[Transcript of interview with Yorgo Kagafas by Claytee White, January 14, 2010]. An Interview with Yorgo Kagafas, 2010 January 14. OH-00982. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.

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F W ids 0 if if 3 ro/o An Interview with Todd Jones An Oral History Conducted by Claytee White Voices of the Historic John S. Park Neighborhood Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas r © Voices of the Historic John S. Park Neighborhood University of Nevada Las Vegas Libraries 2010 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries, Director: Claytee D. White Project Creators: Patrick Jackson and Dr. Deborah Boehm Transcriber and Editor: Laurie Boetcher Editor and Production Manager: Barbara Tabach Interviewers: Suzanne Becker, Barbara Tabach, Claytee D. White n Recorded interviews, transcripts, bound copies and a website comprising the Voices of the Historic John S. Park Neighborhood Oral History Project have been made possible through a grant from the City of Las Vegas Centennial Committee. Special Collections in Lied Library, home of the Oral History Research Center, provided a wide variety of administrative services, support and archival expertise. We are so grateful. This project was the brainchild of Deborah Boehm, Ph.D. and Patrick Jackson who taught at UNLV and resided in the John S. Park Neighborhood. As they walked their community, they realized it was a special place that intersected themes of gender, class, race/ethnicity, religion, sexuality and gentrification. Patrick and Deborah learned that John S. Park had been listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and that original homeowners, local politicians, members of the gay community, Latino immigrants, artists and gallery owners and an enclave of UNLV staff all lived in the neighborhood. Therefore, they decided that the history of this special place had to be preserved, joined with the Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries and wrote a grant that was funded by the Centennial Committee. The transcripts received minimal editing that included the elimination of fragments, false starts and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the narrative. These interviews have been catalogued and can be found as non-circulating documents in Special Collections at UNLV’s Lied Library. Deborah A. Boehm, Ph.D. Fulbright-Garcia Robles Scholar 2009-2010 Assistant Professor, Anthropology & Women's Studies Patrick Jackson, Professor John S. Park Oral History Project Manager Claytee D. White, Director Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries Interview with Todd Jones January 7, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Claytee White Table of Contents Introduction: grew up in historic Gettysburg, PA; picked fruit in the summers. Father is psychologist at Gettysburg College; mother taught at various local colleges. 1 How he came to be a philosopher: university work at Hamilton College (NY) and University of California, San Diego. Accepted position as philosopher of social science at UNLV. 2 First impressions of Las Vegas: “unbelievable” growth. What led him to live in the John S. Park Neighborhood: artsy people, uniqueness of neighborhood: houses, look and feel of vintage Los Angeles neighborhood, enormous number of trees, yard sales. 3 Purchases house in John S. Park Neighborhood (2000). Social life of the community: few artists, some older people, families, people who appreciated vintage houses. Primarily an old Mormon neighborhood. More UNLV professors moved in after 2000. Comments on non-interaction of diverse populations in the neighborhood. Transition of community into a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. 5 Social life of the community today: mainly Hispanic neighborhood, diverse groups that do not interact with each other. Talks about Heidi Swank and foundation of the community Flamingo Club. 8 Arts and connection between First Friday and John S. Park Neighborhood: “more a myth than true.” Appreciation of First Friday and businesses connected with the Arts District. 10 Political leanings of John S. Park Neighborhood: heavily Democratic Party- registered, but very strongly apolitical. Issues that galvanized the community: helicopter damage to old houses, Stratosphere rollercoaster, and Circle Park closing. Comments on Hispanics’ non-participation in politics and social life of neighborhood. 12 Major changes to the John S. Park Neighborhood since 2000: transition “from an old, white, Mormon neighborhood to a largely Hispanic neighborhood.” 16 John S. Park Neighborhood and controversy over National Register of Historic Places designation. Impact of Downtown Neighbors website on the community. 17 Comments on crime in the John S. Park Neighborhood. 18 John S. Park Neighborhood Association and its importance to the community. Integration of John S. Park, Huntridge, and Northridge neighborhood associations. 19 What he likes right now about living in John S. Park Neighborhood: living in a small-town enclave but seeing the Las Vegas skyline, being close to Downtown. 20 Difficulties of business development on Fremont Street East. 21 Luv-It Frozen Custard and Luv-In in support of the John S. Park Neighborhood. 22 IV cwription of houses in the John S. Park Neighborhood: deceptively small but uial and beautiful. Reflects on how community is close to Downtown, but ^ mown needs to be revitalized in order to “yuppify” John S. Park Neighborhood. 23 ?dks about importance of neighborhood businesses such as Enigma Garden Cafe J their loss to the community. 24 aclusion: vision for John S. Park Neighborhood: more community-oriented m nesses needed to revitalize the neighborhood. 26 V Preface In 1991, Todd Jones arrived in Las Vegas to become a professor of philosophy at University of Nevada Las Vegas. He immediately liked the John S. Park neighborhood, where he had friends—members of a poetry group and other professors. He was attracted to the vintage esthetics and the feel of streets lined with large trees. It was a contrast with the explosion of homes being built in the city during the 1990s. Todd knew if ever bought a house, it would be there. In 2000 he did. He describes his impressions of the neighborhood’s history as an old Mormon area. He also classifies the residents as being members of what her describes as three or four very distinct populations: “urban professionals, old Mormons, professors and lots of immigrants from Mexico. Todd talks about the neighborhood website that once existed and his impression of the political leanings of residents. At one point he worked as a Democrat precinct captain. ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH CENTER AT UNLV Voices of the Historic John S. Park Neighborhood Name of Narrator: Name of Interviewei Use Agreement IJjtibL AKCS ?M£t££ 7) /rV/Tg We, die above named, give to illl Oral History Research Center of UNLV, the recorded video interview initiated on / n jm~~ . as an unrestricted gift, to be used for such scholarly and educational purpose/ as shall be determined, and transfer to the University of Nevada Ins Vegas, legal title and all literary property rights including copyright. This gilt does not preclude the right of the interviewer, as a representative of UNLV, to use the recordings and related materials for scholarly pursuits. There will be no compensation for any interviews. Library Special Collections 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 457010, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-7010 (702) 895-2222 Interview with Todd Jones January 7, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Claytee White This is Claytee White and I’m with Dr. Todd Jones in his office in the Central Desert Complex on UNLV’s campus. Today is January 7th, 2010. So how are you this morning? I’m doing well. Great. So tell me just a bit about your childhood, where you grew up and what that was like. I think when people say, “Where did you grow up,” I think that means for me, where’d you go to high school, and so I went to high school in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was really a very nice place to grow up. One of the nicest things was in that just so many areas where there was like sort of farmland and woods getting plowed under, Gettysburg had this enormous battlefield, which couldn’t be [plowed under] because it was a historic place, and so all the woods that was there in the Civil War was still there. The county was surrounded by apple orchards, an enormous amount of apple orchards. I think it’s one of the biggest fruit-producing counties in the world. I worked picking apples and cherries and things. That’s great. So you would do that during the summer? I did that in the summers, yeah. So what kind of work did your parents do? My father was the psychologist at Gettysburg College. He got there in 1964 and he’s still there, counseling sometimes the kids of people that he counseled [before]. 2 Oh, that’s amazing. Now did your mother work outside the home? My mother also, she taught at various local colleges in different kind of adjunct positions. Good. So this was a natural progression. It was a natural fit, yes. So how did you decide on philosophy? That’s a very sort of roundabout thing. I thought I was going to be an anthropologist since I was a little kid. In second grade I remember putting that down. I couldn’t check off “cowboy” or “doctor.” I said I wanted to be an anthropologist. I ended up going to grad school in anthropology, working in anthropology, and people all through anthropology kept telling me, You know, you seem to be more interested in philosophy, because I was really interested in the philosophy of science questions about what makes a good explanation and how do you trust certain evidence and things. That’s why I was always interested in anthropology [but] people actually said, You know, you’re actually really interested in the philosophy of science. Eventually I was convinced that was true, so I switched everything and ended up doing much the same work I always did in anthropology but in the right field. So where did you go to college? Hamilton College in upstate New York. And your PhD is from there as well? My PhD is from UCAL [University of California] San Diego. OK, good. So that’s how you got to the West? Yep, and just, you know, like everyone, you sort of look for wherever jobs [are] and this is the one that was looking for a philosopher of social science. 3 That’s wonderful. So, after San Diego, what was Las Vegas like? Well, one of the things that was interesting was the job interviews. People kept saying, You know, this is great; you’ll love the weather. I’m like, No, I’ve been living in San Diego for the last four years, so I don’t think I will, because San Diego has the world’s best weather. I mean it’s 70 degrees all year round. But, you know, Las Vegas is really a radically different place than any place. The most different thing about it really is the growth, which until last year was just sort of unbelievable. Almost any place you are in the world, you can count on certain things being the same, and [in] Las Vegas, not only was it true on the outskirts of the city— every time you drove they had further outskirts—but even in the middle of the city, you would drive by a hotel that was there two weeks ago and it wouldn’t be there. So that was radically different and still takes some getting used to about Las Vegas. I agree. So tell me, where did you live when you first arrived in Las Vegas? When I first got here, I lived by the Liberace Museum on Tropicana [Road] because it was close to the university, and then I had an apartment behind the MGM [Grand Hotel and Casino], and then I guess in 2000 I moved to the John S. Park [Neighborhood]. So what pulled you to John S. Park? That’s a good question. I’d say two things. Around 1996,1 had a good friend who saw a house for rent there, and she couldn’t afford to put the down payment on the rent, because all of my friends were starving, bohemian artists and poets. They all were people I met doing poetry readings at Cafe Espresso Roma. And she found this fairly cheap place for rent but it needed a big down payment. She didn’t have that, but she knew I did. A lot of people from this poetry circle—I was sort of the gainfully employed one—they would 4 have me drive them places, they were always borrowing money from me for down payments and things people were asking. So there was a house down there [that] they wanted me to help them put a down payment [on]. And she ended up moving there and about five or six of her friends kind of all moved there, who were all sort of friends of mine, and so there was a kind of group poet house in that neighborhood. So I would go there and visit them and I really liked a lot of things about the neighborhood. There was a sociology professor named Barb [Barbara] Brents who was one of the first UNLV professors I think to live in that neighborhood, and she used to have a lot of parties at her house for new faculty members, for anybody I mean, for people she befriended, and they would come down. It’s a very different neighborhood than any neighborhood in Las Vegas. It’s a very unique neighborhood. Describe it to me. All of the houses are old, that’s the main thing. I think it’s probably statistically true that the majority of houses in Vegas were built since the Nineties. Most of those houses [in the John S. Park Neighborhood] were built in the Fifties. And so I mean it has a really very different look and feel. I mean it looks like a kind of old vintage neighborhood from Los Angeles [California] maybe from the Thirties or Forties. There is an enormous amount of trees; I think there’s more trees there than any other neighborhood. So it’s a neighborhood with trees, which you just don’t see anywhere in Vegas. It really looks more like a small town. There were things there that you just didn’t find in Las Vegas. I remember my parents would often say to me things like, I was like, Ah, you know, I don’t have this or that, and my father would say, Well, just get it at a yard sale. I was like, There are no yard sales in Vegas. I lived in apartment complexes; there was no yard sales 5 in apartment complexes, right? But there were yard sales there [in John S. Park], like all the time. I mean it was just like an ordinary sort of Eastern or Northwestern town. So that was really striking, and I thought eventually, if I ever bought a house, that’s where I’d buy. So, are you still in the same house now that you purchased in the beginning when you first [moved to John S. Park]? So in 2000 I bought a house and yeah, I’m still in the same house. What about the community? You went there because of the artsy part of the community, the poetry and all of that. We look at that community as being a lot of art, a wonderful immigrant community now, just all kinds of diversity. What was the social life like there, especially since you knew so many artists? I would say actually surprisingly the artists are not a big part of it, I would think. This is my opinion, right? I mean in 1995 there was that group there in that house and you would sort of think, this would kind of be a mecca for it with cheap rent. They were the only ones. There were very few. There were some older people who were, I’d say sort of artisans. They were realtors who really like vintage houses and they sort of worked in professional arts communities but they weren’t sort of young, starving bohemian artists, which you would think in other cities, there would be a lot of; there weren’t, there. I mean there were sort of all older people with families that liked the esthetic, so there was some of that, but there wasn’t a sort of young arts scene. When I moved there, it was primarily an old Mormon neighborhood because there was a giant tabernacle there, and so most of the people around there were [Mormons]. And there were very few professors. So it was mostly this old Mormon neighborhood, a 6 few people who really liked the esthetic of the vintage houses and those people are still there, and, to my knowledge there almost no professors. I mean Barb and her husband Mike were the first there. I was one of the second, I think. And then both of us sort of began telling people kind of about the neighborhood, like, whenever a new person would be hired in Sociology or a new person in Philosophy or English, I’d say, Hey, this is a really good neighborhood you ought to think of moving there. And so, little by little, a whole group of professors started moving there. An interesting thing was that about within two or three years, everybody started having kids, so that was when we started clicking and forming a community around that. When you have young kids, you really want to talk to other people that do and want to figure out what’s going on. So there were about five or six professor families with young kids that ended up getting together a lot. Now, what I think is most interesting at that time is that there were three or four very different populations there that actually did not interact much, and I think that’s important and interesting because they were somewhat invisible to each other, kind of coexisting in this neighborhood, right? There were, I just call them the sort of “vintage esthetes,” the people who really liked the old houses’ style, who were young urban professionals; there were a few of them that lived there. There were the old Mormon people. There were the professors, right? And an enormous number of immigrants from Mexico, moving there. What about the Gay community? 7 Yeah, but it was not very visible, I’d say. You would see people who looked gay, like walking their dogs and stuff there, but they probably interacted with each other more. So there might well have been a large Gay community but they didn’t interact with us. It’s interesting. If you asked people from each of these communities what they neighborhood is like, I think if you asked the old Mormons they say, Oh yeah, this is a great neighborhood and it’s full of Mormons. They wouldn’t mention the professors. I remember people at the time talking about this young, vibrant neighborhood full of professors that was sort of gentrified. Well, there are six or seven families, right? Probably fifty Hispanic families, I think. Nobody would mention, No, this is really becoming a Mexican neighborhood. This is transitioning from an old Mormon neighborhood into a completely Mexican neighborhood. To us, they were fairly invisible. I mean we knew each other, we interacted with each other, we talked to each other. And I remember people talking at the time, asking about the neighborhood, and asking about the gentrification and the artists and whatnot and I was like, Well, this is true and there were a few of us, but the actual story that everybody was missing is this is completely transforming into a Hispanic neighborhood, with Mexican immigrants. You know, it’s kind of like in New York City in the late Eighties or early Nineties, I think. You could probably interview people in neighborhoods and they’d say, This is a great yuppie, gentrifying neighborhood, and you could interview other residents and [they would say], No, this is an old Italian neighborhood. Despite what people might say, they didn’t interact. People did not, I mean because mainly there was a language barrier, right? The Hispanic people probably talked to their neighbors, talked to their friends. Very little interaction between the growing Mexican community, the older Mormon, and the young 8 professor, all kind of sharing the same neighborhood, not really interacting with each other. Not hostile or anything. And I was really struck by this at the time because they were sort of kind of invisible. Because people would often talk to me about the neighborhood because there was a lot of growth and change and transformation in it, and the questions they would all ask me would always have nothing to do with the fact that it’s really becoming a Hispanic neighborhood. Nobody sort of seemed to notice that, even though that was true. So, what is it like today? Td say a very large overwhelming majority Hispanic neighborhood, and that again is probably something like not noticed because the people there sort of talk with their friends, interact with their friends, and their friends aren’t sort of Hispanic casino workers, right? So when they think of the people, they’ll think of their friends and their neighborhood community and what they interact with; they won’t think of that. But I think if you actually sort of did the numbers and the statistics, somebody who would be good for that would be Jack LeVine, who knows literally who lives in every house and everything about that. I think I remember him talking about houses for sale two years ago and that 90 percent of them were Hispanic sellers, or buyers. So I mean he would know. But I think other people, this is like people in the Flamingo Club, if you ask them about the neighborhood, they would probably never mention [Hispanics] because to my knowledge there’s nobody in the Flamingo Club who is Hispanic. So, you know, people who talk about this neighborhood and this vintage neighborhood, right, people in the neighborhood can have radically different experiences of the same neighborhood. That’s amazing. Were you ever a member of the Flamingo Club? 9 I don't know how they count membership, but I’ve gone to some of their parties. Tell me about the club and their parties. I can't tell you a lot about it because I think my wife has been to more [events] than I have, and I’ve been to two, but I think the club was started by [UNLV professor] Heidi Swank. She was somebody who bridged two different communities. She was someone who was there as a sort of young professor, but she also met and befriended a lot of people who were there; I think really for the houses and the look and feel and the esthetic, and so she met a lot of them and she really liked the look and feel of the esthetic and she said there ought to be more sort of celebration of people who like this esthetic and people who like it down here and like this kind of art and houses and architecture. I think she started the club. What’s interesting is a lot of the people are older, in their fifties and sixties, so they’re people who moved there for the esthetic and who really like that esthetic. It’s one of the few places where there’s sort of a meeting of the different communities. And there’s probably a big overlap between the Gay community and the esthetes. There was not that much with the professors. Heidi is a nice bridge. Your wife is a professor here at the university? No, she is a freelance writer and editor, and she did a lot of work for a lot of companies in New York and still does. Nowadays you can do things over the Internet. You can do things from anywhere. So she works from home every day. Is there a connection with First Friday and the John S. Park Community? I would say a small connection. That’s again one of the things that people will want to push that I think is more a myth than true. Again, I think statistically, it’s a big Mexican neighborhood. I think people don’t really realize that but I think that’s what it really is. 10 That’s what the sort of population is. And the professors that live there are sort of forty- something with young children, is what they mostly are. Those people aren’t going out a lot on Friday nights. And the fifty, sixty-year-old esthetes, they’re not really going out a lot on Friday nights. First Friday, if you go to that, is full of twenty-somethings, all twenty-somethings looking to meet other twenty-somethings, and it’s a good question where they live. They probably live in apartments all over Las Vegas. But if you go to First Friday, it’s sort of thousands of people all in that demographic. It ought to be the case. A couple of things about First Friday: one, it’s amazing how there are almost no places to eat there on First Friday when they have thousands of people there. One kind of theory of capitalism is that, when there’s a niche, it’ll get filled. It doesn’t. I mean, you would think, there’s thousands of people there, they’re all looking for restaurants and everything, [and] there’s one small restaurant, I guess, that people go to, a Mexican [restaurant], but there really is very few. Those people, you would think, hey, this is a great neighborhood; I’d like to live here. I think there’s very little of that that I’ve seen. They don’t then say, I’m going to come live in the [John S.] Park Neighborhood. Those are mostly sort of single-family houses. People who go to First Friday don’t have families. They don’t have kids. I mean they’re young people looking to meet other young people, so they’re not thinking about, hey, I think I’m going to buy a house or rent a house. Most of the houses there are buyers or single-family rentals. 11 So, I think there’s actually very little connection with First Friday. Now, that said, I never miss a First Friday. 1 always go to First Friday. I’ve gone to every First Friday since they opened it, just about. So what is it that pulls you to First Fridays? I really, really like art, still, and I mean it’s great art and I like that kind of vibe. I like that I can walk from my house to it and that, you know, there’s music and there’s poetry and stuff. I mean, you know, much as most people sort of give that up when they get married and have families—I’ve mostly given it up—that’s like the one time I still kind of go back to my bohemian life. So, what are the locations around the area that you go to on First Fridays? I just walk from my house to, I guess probably the first thing I go to is the Funk House, and then I just take a tour from there. I go up there through the streets and to the Arts Factory. Now there’s a very nice flower shop called Gaia. Take a look at that and you might want to talk to them too, the people that own that, Heidi and Peter [Frigeri], because they’re new. They just bought that. It’s a risky place to kind of open a business, right downtown, and it’s right across from the Arts Factory. The people that own that store live in the Huntridge neighborhood that’s a lot like John S. Park on the other side of Maryland Parkway. They live in the Huntridge neighborhood, and they opened this store there. They sell a lot of exotic plants and things. So that’s always fun to go to. They always have a lot of nice events. They have a guitarist in there. And it’s always nice to be surrounded by plants, which you don’t see in Vegas a lot. What do you see as the political leanings of the neighborhood? Is there anything particular when it comes to politics that’s peculiar to John S. Park? 12 You could probably look up the actual statistics on that, and statistically I think it’s sort of a heavily Democratic-registration district. However, I know this as well as anyone because for the last election I was the precinct captain, and I go door-to-door to every house in the neighborhood and sort of talk to everyone, and I would say, like Las Vegas, a lot of the people are very strongly apolitical. I remember in the 2004 election, there was an enormous percentage who did not know there was an election. You’d think, well, surprising for Las Vegas, but, you know, really not. I mean people in Las Vegas, they often work in casinos and whatnot. Las Vegas has always been kind of isolated from the national culture, largely, and I mean that neighborhood maybe has some pockets of more attuned people and stuff, but for the most part, going door-to-door, people knew very, very little about the candidates. So I would say it’s probably like most Las Vegas neighborhoods, where people are pretty militantly apolitical. It might seem like it has a strong political character because there is sort of a vocal minority. One of the things I guess you will find, there have been some political issues involving the community that galvanized people a couple of times. The first one was the helicopters. In around early 2000s, there was an enormous number of helicopters going over a lot, low-flying, I think for maybe Grand Canyon tourists, for a hospital, for the NASCAR races, and actually caused damage like to the houses. I mean they’re old, old houses. They would fly over and your house would shake. And there was a meeting organized about it and I don’t know who organized it—that would be a good question— about what could be done about the helicopters. Everyone showed up, and that was interesting, and that was all branches of the community, I guess, except Hispanic. Where was the meeting held? 13 The meeting took place in the [John C.] Fremont [Junior] High School, which is right there. Myma Williams conducted the meeting. She was the County Commissioner at the time. I think that was one of the things that led to her getting voted out, because she was not really very receptive. She seemed to be perceived as being a kind of defender of the business interests (the helicopters). And I think that’s one of the things that really helped [County Commissioner] Chris Guinchigliani. Now Chris G. is really kind of an interesting politician in the neighborhood because I think the neighborhood as a reputation for being a very liberal neighborhood. I think it’s not true. I mean when I moved there, it was all Mormon families, so these are very conservative families who were there to be at the tabernacle. So probably in terms of raw numbers, you have still a number of very sort of conservative Mormons. You have fairly conservative Catholic Hispanic people there. You’ve got your professors who tend to be more liberal, and the esthetes and Gays were more liberal, I guess fairly vocal. But I bet you if you actually like did numbers and did surveys on every one of the houses over here, you would actually find it a very conservative neighborhood. That said, people of every stripe still love Chris Guinchigliani because she was outspoken, she was clear, she was very honest, she cared about the neighborhood. I remember one time I got outside and a tree had fallen on my fence and was bending it, and Chris was out there trying to get the tree off the fence at, you know, 6:30 in the morning. She didn’t have to do this. I mean she and her husband always walk the neighborhood every morning, and she was sort of out there. People knew she really cared about the neighborhood. She’s has very liberal political leanings. I don’t think anybody cared about that. I mean, that’s where the sort of conservatism and apoliticalism sort of 14 takes a back seat to kind of the personal connections. She’s somebody I think everybody in the neighborhood always feels very strongly about and I think people could see the contrast between her and Myma Williams at the time. So there was that big helicopter thing that really politicized the neighborhood somewhat. That made it easy when the Stratosphere thing happened. The Stratosphere [Hotel and Casino] had some plans to build a giant rollercoaster. One of the things I remember and I remarked on it at the time was there was a Woody Allen movie [Radio Days, 1987] where in the beginning he talked about how horrific his childhood was, his talk about that he grew up underneath a rollercoaster, which is what they were trying to do to the neighborhood, right? And nobody liked this, in the neighborhood. OK, so the Stratosphere is right there on the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara [Avenue]. So was the rollercoaster going to come over that far? 1 think it was supposed to go over the Strip, down onto the other side, right where the neighborhood is, and then sort of back up. And they said there would be no noise, but nobody bought that because we hear screams every night from the thrill rides at the Stratosphere now. I think because people had already kind of come together about the helicopters, there was sort of a habit and a precedent of, when there’s neighborhood stuff, you know, you turn out. So, supposedly when there were kind of town meetings and hearings on that, there were lots and lots of people that went to that. So that was another big political event. And a guy named Ben Contine was sort of very involved in the fight on that. There was another political issue: t