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Most top-of-mind observation about our sixth annual Best of the City issue: Wowie! If the intensity level of ballot-stuffing this year is any indication — in many cases, brute, systematic, monolithic, algorithmic and, hafta admit, admirably so — our Best of the City readers’ poll has officially arrived as a showcase for tastemaking and trendspotting. Oh, we’re not complaining. We’re flattered! (Or, more specifically, “We’re flattered,” we said as we tweezed out the 207th robo-response.)

But, again, no complaints. Completely unscientifically, I interpret such thriving, willful ambition as a strong heartbeat in a resurgent Southern Nevada. Since we published our first Best of the City in 2011, Las Vegas has been clawing its way back from the enervating swamp of recession to a chunk of mud resembling shore. (If only there was a way for state utility regulators to help the process along by somehow encouraging job growth and investment in a promising industry based on our sunny climate. Hm. Maybe there’s a clue on p. 21?) So yeah, ballot-stuffing as spiritual/economic indicator. Indeed, in the five years we’ve been besting it up, new businesses have become local mainstays, many local mainstays have deepened their roots, and other mainstays have faded away to make nutritive mulch for the next wave of growth. For the latest intel from our expert contributors on the revolutions of our restless, protean city — from the best coffee to the best coiff — turn to p. 57.

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There’s promise elsewhere in this issue as well; consider the human promise embodied in the compassionate, courageous care of a longtime local hospice on p. 36. And then (tenuous theme alert) there’s the murky promise of the Review-Journal’s recent sale to Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson, a development I dish some muse upon on p. 42. Since purchasing the paper as a shadow buyer in December — sending its reporters scurrying into an unlikely investigation of their new owner — Adelson has sent mixed signals about what his reign might entail. On the one hand, he’s already apparently tried to use the newspaper as a tool against his political foes (as the sale was in process, R-J reporters were assigned to investigate a local judge hearing a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the Sands). But on the other hand, he’s funding an expansion (or at least a reinstatement) of design and editorial positions. This is a rarity enough in print media, but particularly welcome at the anemic R-J, which has been in decline both due to a tailspinning economy and, no less, due to missing out on a crucial opportunity to capture the digital moment (and, perhaps most fatally, the heart and imagination of the community). But, whatever you think of the R-J, even the most frothing critic has to entertain the charitable premise that, as the daily newspaper of record and the closest thing we have to a shared stream of relevant, realtime information about the valley, its fortunes aren’t just the concerns of a casino billionaire and the hard-working news staff. As a community resource — a troubled resource, yes, sometimes mishandled, yes — it’s a concern to anyone who wants a better community.

If you’ve enjoyed this read, wait until you get your hands on a bunch of these reads from contemporary voices mining the good stuff from Las Vegas — all laid out in a gorgeous design experience. Subscribe. It comes to your house. For real!