Las Vegas, NV

Not-so-perfect life

March 17, 2005
"Southern Highlands. The perfect life."
     That's the statement posted on billboards and on the golf community's Website. But this pocket of luxury and estate homes in the southwest Las Vegas Valley has been a not-so-perfect life for at least three families living there, despite Southern Highlands' motto. That's because, they say, they've been targets of racial discrimination. All three families are black. And they are three of the four African-American families who either own homes or live in the upscale community.
     Southern Highlands, just off of Interstate 15 near West Lake Mead Drive, is a 2,300-acre master-planned community of high-end homes. The south end of Southern Highlands is where Steven Ferguson and three other black families live.
     Ferguson's house -- which, according to Clark County assessment records, was purchased for him by his company -- is on a street just past the guard gate, while the other homes are a few blocks away on what an official with the Las Vegas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called "the black persons' street.

Weatherman fired for slurring civil rights leader on air

January 18, 2005
A television weatherman was fired after referring to slain civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. as ''Martin Luther Coon King'' on the air, station officials said.
     Rob Blair, of KTNV-TV, was delivering the extended forecast Saturday morning when he said: ''Martin Luther Coon King Jr. Day, gonna see some temperatures in the mid-60s.''
     Jim Prather, vice president and general manager of the ABC affiliate, said Blair stumbled when he uttered the remark, but the excuse was not enough to save his job.

HUD secretary announces higher FHA home loan limits to help more Las Vegas families become homeowners

June 18, 2004
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson today announced that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has increased its single-family home mortgage loan limits by more than 18 percent.
     Effective today, FHA will insure single-family home mortgages up to $224,500. The old limit was $189,800. The loan limits for two-, three- and four-unit dwellings also increased.
     Last year, FHA insured home loans for over 21,000 families in Las Vegas. Under the old limits, in effect until this week, almost 9,000 families obtained FHA insured home loans through May. The new loan limits will allow more families to benefit from the FHA insured loan program.

Review alleges housing authority engages in racial discrimination

May 04, 2004
The Las Vegas Housing Authority provides better security and maintenance at its majority-white senior housing developments than at its majority-black and Hispanic family developments, a federal review of the local public housing agency alleges.
     Repeating a long-standing charge, a preliminary report sent to the troubled agency last month states Department of Housing and Urban Development investigators found a "significant disparity" between the authority's treatment of family housing residents versus those in senior housing.
     The report also accuses the agency which oversees all public housing within the city of Las Vegas of dismantling desegregation plans, failing to reach out to Hispanics and failing to fully comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Study finds lower pay for Hispanic immigrants

April 17, 2003
A study released Wednesday by state educators and Hispanic business representatives found non-native Hispanic workers in Clark County -- the area's fastest-growing immigrant group -- earned considerably less than the average industry wage in a number of industries that employ many Hispanic workers.
     The study assessed the economic impact of 605 non-native Hispanic workers in terms of employment, output and tax revenue in Clark County.
     It attributed the wage disparity to several factors.
     These include discrimination, immigrants with poor English skills and limited education being limited to lower-paying jobs as well as a willingness among those working without proper immigration documents to accept lower wages than documented immigrants.

Las Vegas apartment complex sued for discrimination

December 17, 2002
The federal government has filed a fair housing lawsuit against a downtown apartment complex that charges race and disability discrimination.
      The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas on Friday charges black residents at the Bonanza Springs Apartments were asked to move from a courtyard area around a pool to loud rooms facing U.S. Highway 95.
      It also claims apartment owners refused to rent to families with children and told black applicants that no apartments were available when there were openings.

Federal court: gay butler can sue

September 25, 2002
In a 7-4 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has ruled that a gay butler who worked in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas can sue his employer in federal court for sexual discrimination.
      Medina Rene claimed in a federal lawsuit that from 1994 to 1996 his all-male co-workers and supervisor subjected him to a hostile work environment that included crude and demeaning pranks targeting his homosexuality.
      The federal appeals court ruling Tuesday reversed an earlier decision by the same panel that examined whether federal civil rights laws protect homosexual workers who are physically harassed on the job.

Nevada disability rights activist dead at 55

August 05, 2002
Ronald Ray Smith, the colorful and sometimes cantankerous "Enforcer" of civil rights for peoplewith disabilities in Nevada, died on July 16 at his Las Vegas home.
      He was 55.
      Smith was the technical adviser for the Nevada chapter of the Disabled Rights Action Committee("DRAC"), a Utah-based non-profit organization whose mission includes enforcement of theAmericans with Disabilities Act and the accessibility provisions of the Fair Housing Act.

Court orders casino renovations for ADA compliance

October 04, 2001
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday ordered Coast Resorts to renovate more than 800 rooms at The Orleans to bring the hotel into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
     In addition to the hotel rooms, the company was ordered to redo two slot kiosks. The renovations are projected to cost more than $800,000.
     The decision is the latest local victory for the Salt Lake City-based Disabled Rights Action Committee, which has sued entities ranging from the Hard Rock Hotel to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas's Thomas & Mack Center for alleged ADA violations. 

Jewish Center Shooter surrenders

August 11, 1999
The white supremacist wanted in the shooting of five people at a Los Angeles Jewish community center fled to Las Vegas in taxis, walked into an FBI office and confessed Wednesday, saying he wanted his act to be "a wake-up call to America to kill Jews," authorities said.
    Buford O'Neal Furrow Jr., 37, also will be charged in the slaying of a postal worker who was shot Tuesday near the community center, authorities said.
     Los Angeles police and federal agents poured into Las Vegas to question Furrow. He has ties to hate groups in the Northwest and had tried to commit himself to a psychiatric hospital last year.
     "He certainly had the wherewithal to create a greater tragedy than the one we had," Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks said. 


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