From Humble Beginnings

The Story of Lawrence Weekly

Clark County Commissioner, District D

by Joseph C. Abraham

 

Who could possibly have imagined that ‘Baby Coleman’, born at Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital, now known as University Medical Center, would preside over UMC’s operations as Chairman of the Board nearly fifty years later?  But that is precisely what happened.  Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly’s rise to prominence in Southern Nevada is one which defies the odds on many levels, and as the Commissioner says, “Is surreal”.

 

Raised as a foster child after being abandoned at birth

 

Memorialized in a Las Vegas Review Journal published March 5, 2012, Commissioner Weekly recalls the first conversation he had with his biological mother.  “Do you recall April 1964? You may have had a little boy that you may have given up for adoption?  I think I might be your biological son.”  The woman began to weep, and her phone dropped to the floor.  When she gathered the strength to pick up the phone, he got the answer he was searching for – this 70-year old woman was the one.  [1]

 

Being raised by a foster parent, his early years were not without struggle.  As chronicled in ‘An Interview with Lawrence Weekly: An Oral History conducted by Claytee D. White’, the eventual County Commissioner was raised primarily by a single mother.  “When I was around six, seven years of age, my mother became a single mother; it was a struggle. She battled with unemployment.  She had to seek government assistance at one point in her life. Growing up in West Las Vegas it was amazing because everybody in the community—we all had very similar stories and similar struggles. We weren't really all that aware of our conditions; meaning we weren't too aware that we were poor, we were struggling, because we never missed a beat. We never missed Christmas. We never missed Easter. We always had Thanksgiving dinner. How those mothers were able to pull it together, it was amazing.”[2]

 

After graduating Western High School and successfully completing his degree at Grambling State University, he returned to Las Vegas where he was ultimately appointed to the Las Vegas City Council.  He served seven years on the Council. In 2007, Weekly was appointed by Governor Jim Gibbons to the Clark County Commission where he has remained for a decade.

 

As a Clark County Commissioner, Lawrence Weekly has been selected to serve as the Chairman of the Board for the University Medical Center, Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, and the Clark County Liquor & Gaming Licensing Board.  These duties are  in addition to a seemingly limitless list of other board positions and advisory positions held by the Commissioner, including the Southern Nevada Gang Task Force, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and the United States Tennis Association.

 

Chairman of University Medical Center

 

We were, at one point operating with a $100,000,000-dollar deficit (annually) that taxpayers, by way of Clark County, were subsidizing.  To the point now where the hospital is doing good.  But what frightens me now is looking at the tax plan presented by this current administration where poor people, indigent people, like me could afford to go to the doctor, this is all being proposed to be taken away.  So, we don’t know what is ahead of us, if we are going to see a rash of people dying in the streets because they can’t go to the doctor or people with pre-existing conditions…Where do they get help?  Where do they get medical refuge?  You know, those are the things that really concern me, but being Chairman of the Board at UMC I have been there through the bad times, I am enjoying the great times right now, it’s all a part of being in office.  It’s what you sign up for.”

 

Chairman of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Association

 

The LVCVA, with a reported FY2017 Revenues of $371,606,410[3], is Las Vegas’ strongest advocate for the expansion of tourism. Commissioner Lawrence Weekly has been elected to serve as its Chairman of the Board for two consecutive terms (a feat only matched by former City of Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman). 

 

The LVCVA is responsible for attracting shows that range from CES (Consumer Electronics Show), NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), MAGIC (Men’s Apparel Guild in California), to Conexpo-Con/Agg (International Construction Industry Trade Show. All the major shows and conventions that are hosted in Las Vegas come by way of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority.  This is a public-private partnership, with a fourteen-member board comprised of seven elected officials and seven from the private sector.  The Board comes together in support of the President and CEO to promote Las Vegas, all over the world.” 

 

Through legislation, the LVCVA will now move to expand its footprint to boast over one million square feet of convention space, which is so needed because there are still major international conventions that we still want to attract here.  We have the hotel rooms, but we don’t have the convention space.”

 

With the expansion of the Convention Center, KME Architects (http://kmearchitects.com, a MBE/DBE design firm based in Las Vegas, Nevada) was able to secure a contract to assist in the design portion of the new convention space.

 

Yes, they are part of a group called TVS (http://tvsdesign.com).  TVS is a consortium of architectural firms that joined together.  This is a $1.5 BILLION expansion project and, yes, Mel Green and KME Architects are a part of that consortium group that were awarded a $59 MILLION architectural design contract.  When you see the finished product, you will be able to know that Mel Green and his design team were intimately involved with what is going to be the future of the convention center here in Las Vegas.”

 

It’s good to be able to have voices in the boardroom, voices who can really help seal the deal.  It’s good to see that we are able to ensure some diversity being brought to the table from minority and women owned businesses.  To make sure they are having the opportunity to participate is something that is very important to me and something that I definitely emphasize as being Chairman of the Board.”

 

Describe for our readers, the toll exacted for being an elected official. 

 

There is no manual for this thing.  They don’t put you through a training.  They don’t put you through a boot camp.  You sign on and, God willing, you are elected, you swear in, and you go right to work.  You talk about, man, every day is a different day.  And some days you are so overwhelmed and excited because you are seeing things come to fruition.  You are seeing that, wow, I am helping!  You are seeing that, wow, I am making a difference in the lives of people and communities.  And some days, you are just driving down the street and you burst into tears and you wonder why you are crying.  You wonder why you are so frustrated.  And it’s because you give a damn.  You care, but you just can’t seem to find a break that will allow you to really see the difference that you want to make.    I want to make a bigger difference.  It’s weird, you start out seeing the difference you are making.  You get so hungry, you want it to be greater.  God, I want to do better, I want to do better in the terms of the difference I am making.  It’s not about celebrity and press releases, I am not big on that.  My thing is, when it is all said and done, I want to know that, when I leave, someone will say that I tried.”

 

What can we do, as a community, to better support you in your capacity as County Commissioners, or our black elected officials in general?

 

Let me tell you something, what we can do as a community that would really make me feel proud of our community is to take a page out of what we saw in Alabama.  Let’s not complain about conditions anymore.  Let’s not complain about certain things we are seeing on CNN, MSNBC, in the Review Journal, or wherever, let’s get up and do something about it.  When we support each other, when we empower one another, we can make a difference.  You know people were so concerned about what was going on in Alabama, but the people spoke, and I like that.  When we stand up and do that we can make a mighty, mighty difference.”

 

What does the future hold?

 

You know, that’s the million-dollar question that people are asking me.  ‘Lawrence what’s next?’  And my answer to that, my response to everyone, has been ‘Wherever God sees fit.’  I am praying that as long as I have health and strength and breath in my body that I can continue to serve and that I can do it on a greater scale.”

_____

 

To learn more about Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, visit http://thelawrenceweekly.com where you can listen to an informative, six-part, podcast, titled: “RELATIVE UNKNOWN: Las Vegas leader and politician, Lawrence Weekly, reveals his 46-year secret in this podcast series dedicated to telling his story.” 

 

SIDEBARS:

 

Clark County Commissioners (http://clarkcountynv.gov): Clark County is governed by a seven-member County Commission, elected from geographic districts on a partisan basis for staggered four-year terms. Commissioners biennially elect a chairperson who serves as the Commission's presiding officer, and appoint a county manager as its chief executive officer to carry out its policies. The Commission serves as the governing body for the Las Vegas Valley Water District, Clark County Water Reclamation District, University Medical Center of Southern Nevada and other agencies. The Commission meets each first Tuesday of the month at 09:05HRS and each third Tuesday at 09:00HRS.[4]

 

Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority (http://lvcva.com):  The LVCVA is among the world's top destination marketing organizations - constantly leveraging Southern Nevada's world-class facilities, resources and services to create economic opportunity and maximize occupancy and revenue for all stakeholders. This revenue has a ripple effect in our community as well, creating jobs and opportunity for residents. Our research, strategic planning, marketing and advertising departments team up to create state-of-the-art destination marketing programs and services, all in support of Southern Nevada's tourism-based economy.[5]

 

University Medical Center (http://umcsn.com): Today, UMC is more than a hospital; it is a comprehensive academic medical center with a rich history of serving the community. UMC now offers the highest level of care in Nevada, providing a wide range of exclusive and specialized health care services to community members and visitors. UMC is home to Nevada's only Level I Trauma Center, only Designated Pediatric Trauma Center, only Burn Care Center and only Center for Transplantation. Children's Hospital of Nevada at UMC serves as the state's only hospital to be recognized and accepted as an associate member of the Children's Hospital Association.[6]

 

Liquor and Gaming Licensing Board (http://clarkcountynv.gov):  The Board of Clark County Commissioners sits as the Liquor and Gaming Licensing Board. The Business License Department supports the board as the overseer for administrative affairs, including, but not limited to, processing of applications for consideration of a liquor and gaming license.  The Liquor and Gaming Licensing Board delegates the licensing of privileged licenses to the Department. The Department posts a schedule of administrative licensing decisions taken every month on the Schedule of Administrative Actions.[7]

 

Why should our children attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)? 

 

(http://digital.library.unlv.edu/api/1/objects/ohr/2851/bitstream)  “The theme of Grambling is the place where everybody is somebody and owning your blackness and feeling good about who you are and then being able to leave the campus and go out into the world and feel like you can do and be anything you want to be. But then, for a lot of people who really aren't aware of that, they take it as 'who is this young arrogant individual that believes the world owes him something?' And that wasn't the case; it was just this historical black university instilled these values and this self-confidence in me that said you really can be whatever you want to do; you just trust in God and believe in yourself and go out there and get it and when you walk into a room feel like you own the room and feel like I'm supposed to be here.”  -Commissioner Lawrence Weekly

 

CITATIONS.

 

[1] “Clark County Commissioner finds his family roots after 46 years” by Kristi Jourdan for the Las Vegas Review Journal, March 5, 2012 – 1:59AM  https://www.reviewjournal.com/local/local-las-vegas/clark-county-commissioner-finds-family-roots-after-46-years/

 

[2] “Interview with Lawrence Weekly: An Oral History Conducted by Claytee D. White”  A Collaborative Oral History Project by University of Nevada, Las Vegas 2012 http://digital.library.unlv.edu/api/1/objects/ohr/2851/bitstream

 

 
 

HOME

ADVERTISE

CONTACT US

LAS VEGAS DIRECTORY

 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

DESIGN TEMPLATES

DISTRIBUTION POINTS

© 2008 – 2017 All rights reserved

The Urban Voice is powered by Unrelenting Media, Inc.

Search Engine Optimization, Website Concept & Design, performed by Unrelenting Media, Inc.   SITEMAP