Interview #27: North Las Vegas, NV City Clerk Catherine Raynor (with podcast)

This podcast interview is available on iTunesStitcherPlayer FM and right here:

Catherine Raynor has been city clerk of North Las Vegas for eight months, after being a clerk in two California cities and an Army officer. We played a game that tested her memory of the city council chamber! Then we talked about time she met John Denver and about unusual uses of the council chamber.

Q: We’re going to start off with a little game called “How Well Do You Know the North Las Vegas City Council Chamber?” I’m going to put 60 seconds on the clock. Are you ready?!

A: We might have to stop after 30 seconds…okay, yes.

Q: You’ll do fine. How many projector screens are behind the council?

A: There are two, but there are also two that you do not see.

Q: Correct, and I’ll give you extra credit for that last part. Which company manufactured the computer monitors you’re using?

A: We have Dell.

Q: Correct. Which council member sits left of the mayor?

A: That is Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown.

Q: Correct. Does the door beneath the clock open inward or outward?

A: I would say it opens outward.

Q: True or false: there is only one hand railing in the chamber.

A: False.

Q: That is correct. Congratulations, you got all right!

A: Okay!

Q: You were assistant city clerk in Monterey, California. Were there any differences between their city council meetings and those in North Las Vegas?

A: [Monterey’s] meetings are actually split. They have an afternoon session and an evening session. They have a dinner in between. They have the more routine items in the afternoon and they have the other items in the evening so the public can attend.

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North Las Vegas, NV City Clerk Catherine Raynor

Q: You were also the city clerk of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Clint Eastwood was once mayor of Carmel. Did you ever see him?

A: He had a movie premiere in Monterey and we purchased tickets to go the Unforgiven film and I saw him there. The only [actor] we were able to talk to was John Denver.

Q: Wow! How would you describe your job to someone who has never seen a city council meeting?

A: For the council, I provide assistance to them in the decorum, the rules of the meeting, how we vote. I also prepare items for council consideration. It’s really a lot about the who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Q: What skills did you learn in the Army that are useful for city council meetings other than being able to kill someone with your bare hands?

A: That was not the kind of Army I was in. I was an intelligence officer and so it’s who, what, when, where, why, and how. Learning that information helped me for taking minutes and for proofing the minutes for what happened at the meeting.

Q: What kinds of things do people use the council chamber for?

A: Congressman Hardy, he uses the chambers. Our police use the chambers for training. The capacity is 344, so if we need a venue that can hold that many people–

Q: So no Zumba or yoga classes?

A: The seats are permanently affixed and it tilts down, so yoga wouldn’t work in there. Unless it was yoga in your chair!


Note: Afterward, Catherine remembered this video of a mannequin challenge in the council chamber:

#9: North Las Vegas, NV 4/20/16

Las Vegas, baby! A.K.A. Sin City. Hookerville, USA. Yeezus.

This city council meeting will be Off. The. Cha-what’s that? This is North Las Vegas?! Please tell me some of the debauchery trickles across the border.

“You just opened your new church and I was there maybe two months ago,” Mayor John Lee recalled after a pastor gave the kickoff prayer. “How is it going?”

“Amazing! Lots and lots of people,” the padre eagerly responded.

“Well, that’s blessing for our community,” the mayor nodded. Well, shucks. This is going to be as wholesome as a daycare. And speaking of children, “some Rancho High School students are here. We’re going to recognize the winners of the art show.”

The council descended to the floor, as Councilman Isaac Barron launched into a weird trip down memory lane. “There used to be this one show here in town–I was almost a radio personality. There was a reggae show and the host always ended the show with saying ‘and remember, if you don’t like reggae, you don’t like life.’ In this case, I would say if you don’t like art, you don’t like life.”

Smooth, Councilman. Very smooth, mon.

The council handed an award to a moody teen who could not have looked less happy to be there. She won first prize for her performance piece, “MOM!!! You’re embarrassing me in front of my council members!”

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Did Picasso get an award from his city council? I think not!

At this point, Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown had an announcement. “A couple of weeks ago the mayor and myself attended the Goodwill annual community recognition luncheon. But the good thing is-” she could barely contain her excitement as she stood up-“we all received one of these bags!” She flaunted her man-sized tote bag, which she would use to collect donations.

An aide piped up: “Mayor, also on Tuesday at the Goodwill, you will be here at 11 a.m. in a blue blazer collecting those donations.”

“Mayor, I think blue is your color,” complimented Councilman Richard Cherchio. “Maybe you can wear that bag. I think you’d look good in it.” Boom! Roasted.

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Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown shows off her giant sack.

It was time for public comment. A citizen named Doris rolled up in a wheelchair and complained–very politely–about people leaving their debris in her path on the sidewalk. “How many hours does it take for somebody outside to clean up this mess?” she pleaded. “Work on making North Las Vegas a beautiful place to live. Not just better, but beautiful.”

“It’s possible we could deputize you,” Mayor Lee mused, “and give you a badge and a little red light and put you to work out there.”

“What would my role be?” Doris asked skeptically.

“Alex will figure that one out for you. You’re our favorite citizen!” the mayor said with a laugh. Oh, really? Is that how you treat your favorite citizens, mayor? By recruiting them to fight crime on the mean streets? Because if so…ALEX, MAKE HER A SUPERHERO! She shall be Debris Woman and ride a flying bulldozer.

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This is Doris. Do not f*ck with her.

Final thoughts: To paraphrase Councilman Barron, if you don’t like reggae, art, or city council meetings, you don’t like life. I give this meeting 2 stars: one for Doris and one for all the tush she’s gonna kick.