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Tensions rising between Las Vegas leaders and Nevada COVID-19 task force

Councilwoman Fiore calls ambassadors 'snitches'
Posted at 10:12 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 09:47:40-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Tensions are rising between some City of Las Vegas leaders and the governor's COVID-19 task force after some heated meetings and lingering restrictions on businesses amid the pandemic.

On Friday, Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore spoke one-on-one with 13 Investigates and she underscored her displeasure and criticism of the state's approach to containing the virus.

"For the governor's new task force to actually attack the City of Las Vegas doesn't make me happy, that doesn't give me faith, and don't forget Joe [Bartels], every five minutes the rules change," said Councilwoman Fiore.

Las Vegas, Clark County to face COVID-19 task force benchmark check

Fiore, who represents Ward 6 in the Northwest part of the City of Las Vegas, recently fired off during a city council meeting and blasted the push to punish businesses through an ambassador program.

The program began at the urging of the governor to crack down on businesses that were not complying with his directives to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The City of Las Vegas mobilized 65 city employees across 20 different departments to visit businesses within the city's jurisdiction to identify violations with state directives and then inform code enforcement for possible penalties.

"The bottom line is, I am not in agreement with sending 65 folks out there to snitch on our businesses when they are struggling through COVID and then call code enforcement on them," said Fiore told city staff during a Wednesday city council meeting.

The presentation by city planning authorities indicated that almost all businesses became compliant after being notified by code enforcement.

Other city council members including Mayor Pro Tem Stavros Anthony said they heard from constituents who raised concerns over the program.

"We want to get information to [Gov. Sisolak] that we are doing our best, every moment of the day, do not shut us down again!" said City of Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during the same city council meeting.

Bars that do not serve food have continued to be on the governor's radar for the spread of the virus.

Gov. Sisolak ordered certain counties, including Clark, to close these types of bars several weeks ago.

"The city of Las Vegas has been doing everything in their power to try and keep us open and that's obvious from the business owner's perspective," said Derek Stonebarger, owner of two bars in Las Vegas including Rebar in downtown.

Nevada COVID-19 task force votes to keep current restrictions for Clark County

Stonebarger is keeping his two bars closed at his option due to the COVID-19 pandemic and now the rising tensions between city leaders and the state.

"When certain city council people are saying things to make our governor more upset because it's just coming down on small businesses only in the City of Las Vegas," explained Stonebarger.

Stonebarger says the City of Las Vegas has made accommodations for bars to reopen including granting temporary food licenses to circumvent the governor's directive but he fears the war of words may make the COVID-19 crackdown even tougher.

The city council narrowly approved the ambassador program to continue by a 4-3 vote.

The state COVID-19 task force voted on Thursday to keep the current restrictions in place for Clark County bars and will reevaluate in a couple of weeks.