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City passes sex offender law

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By David Giuliani

In a split vote, the City Council this week passed an ordinance that is somewhat stricter than state law on where sex offenders can live.

State law requires that sex offenders live at least 1,000 feet away from a school or daycare center. The city’s new ordinance would expand that to playgrounds, parks and the city’s recreation center.

The ordinance was proposed by Mayor Tony Marquez, who told the council that the city can’t always depend on state law.

“I choose to side with the protection of the children of the community,” the mayor said.

City Attorney Carlos Quiñones said the ordinance was modeled after one in Farmington, saying it takes into account the constitutional objections of groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union. He said the ordinance is not retroactive and applies to anyone who is convicted of a sex offense under state criminal law.

“The proposed ordinance would pass constitutional muster. It may still be legally challenged,” Quiñones said.

Councilwoman Diane Moore objected to the ordinance, noting that there was already a state law in place to deal with such situations. She said the ordinance “borderline” violates constitutional rights and that people pay their debt to society when they serve their sentences.

She questioned whether the Las Vegas Police Department had enough manpower to enforce such an ordinance.

Councilman Andrew Feldman agreed.

“Is this going to be more stringent than state law? I’m not so sure,” he said.

However, Councilman Morris Madrid supported the ordinance.

“This is another layer of protection. I don’t think we can do too much,” he said.

Two residents, Curtis Sollohub and Bruce McAllister, questioned the proposed ordinance during a public hearing before the council discussion.

Sollohub said ordinances tend to define sex offenders broadly, lumping minor offenders with major ones.

“You end up creating a worse situation,” he said. “How do you define sex offender?”

McAllister said he wanted to make sure the city ordinance was “congruous” with state law.

The council divided evenly on the ordinance — Madrid and Cruz Roybal in favor and Feldman and Moore against.

Marquez broke the tie.

“Absolutely yes,” the mayor said when asked for his vote.