Profit before proselytizing at the morning newspaper?

Last six-page Viewpoints section

Everybody assumed that when casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson bought the Las Vegas newspaper two years ago for an obscene $140 million — $38 million more than the previous owner had paid nine months earlier — that he intended to use the paper to spread more of his conservative political views. After all, he was spending millions of his gambling-generated assets to support conservative candidates for public office.

Apparently, profit is more important than proselytizing.

Without fanfare and apparently without notice, the Review-Journal recently cut its opinion pages on Sundays from six pages to four and on Wednesdays and Fridays to one page instead of two. This follows what appears to be the purchase of thinner newsprint — possibly down from 32-pound stock to 30-pound, would be an educated guess — as the price of newsprint has increased steadily recently and the threat of tariffs on Canadian paper has been raised.

Buoying this supposition is the fact that since the middle of January, the Las Vegas Sun insert has been running a daily front page announcement saying that it is now charging for access to its online content. The putative editor of the alleged newspaper states that this is because, under the joint operating agreement that requires the Sun to be inserted in the morning paper, the Sun gets a percentage of the R-J’s profits, but there are no profits.

“The current management of the Review-Journal plunged the newspaper into a loss immediately after purchasing the newspaper in 2015. To date, the Review-Journal’s management continues to run a money-losing newspaper,” he writes every day. “We hope they find a way to turn the R-J around in the face of ongoing revenue and circulation decline.”

The R-J bid for that profitability appears to be thinner paper and fewer pages, though considerably more savings could be netted by dropping the 10- to six-page, ad-free Sun insert.

The morning paper has already made a symbolic gesture in that direction. For years the Sun insert has been included in the online electronic replica, dubbed the eEdition, of the printed paper, but two weeks after the Sun started running its daily notice about charging for online content the eEdition dropped the Sun. Petty payback perhaps? Portent of things to come?


LEED, follow or get out of the way … of taxes that is

I was reading the other day about how all those buildings with LEED ratings are costing taxpayers, and recalled all those casino executives bragging about how their then-new casinos and hotel were “green” friendly because they earned an LEED rating.

What I don’t recall, nor do I recall any news reporter ever asking, is just how much the ratings saved the builders in tax exemptions.

You know LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, those designations handed out like so much Halloween candy by the U.S. Green Building Council for being efficient and environmentally friendly.

Plaque in lobby of Palazzo.

It turns out, according to an article in USA Today this past summer that I somehow overlooked, a LEED tag can be worth millions, not in savings on power bills, but on tax exemptions.

The Palazzo hotel and casino, built by the Las Vegas Sands and its owner Sheldon Adelson, 12th richest person in the world, managed to grasp a $27 million tax break over 10 years because it did such things as putting a bike rack in the garage and putting cards in hotel rooms suggesting towels could be used more than once.

The green building gurus reportedly looked past their own policy and overlooked the fact smoking is allowed in the 2.5-acre casino.

The Palazzo also got credit for having preferred parking for fuel-efficient cars. When USA Today checked those spots were occupied by Ford Expeditions, Chevy Tahoes, Range Rovers, Mercedes E320s, Chrysler 300s, Audi A6s, vans, sports cars and a Hummer.

Writing in the Washington Times recently, David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, reported that a study of 11 U.S. Navy-owned buildings revealed four certified green structures were outperformed by noncertified structures; three more were at parity; and four others narrowly outperformed conventional buildings.

“The U.S. General Services Administration, which serves as the landlord for the federal government by managing its various properties, estimates that each federal project in which LEED certification is pursued costs the taxpayers an additional $150,000,” Williams wrote.