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Inside Vegas - Steve Miller

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. In 1991, the readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public Official" in Southern Nevada. Visit his website at:

What has Vegas become?

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
January 27, 2003

Like old Chicago, Las Vegas has always been mob run whether local citizens liked it or not. Lately, LV has reinvented itself as "Sin City" and started capitalizing openly on its sinister reputation . The mob has also reinvented itself into what - only here - looks like legitimate business. Replacing casinos as the once pilfered cash cows, many topless clubs are now the money laundries, dope dens, and hooker havens just as off limits to law enforcement as the casinos once were.

Our politicians are not scandalized by their involvement with stripers, mobsters and pimps - it's normal here. Like old Chicago, many Vegas cops have also been compromised along with a few of the DA's and judges who party out in the open with the mobsters while most of the populace thinks its just fine. One politically connected restaurateur, after two thugs beat somebody up in his eatery, even said it was "Just like old Vegas," and got a big laugh for his remark. Several months later, the city council named him Citizen of the Month!

Most of the local citizens are brain dead - happy as clams with the status quo - accepting all this as normal (for Las Vegas) while the local newspapers and TV news departments reap the advertising harvest. This town leases more new cars and sells more new homes than anywhere else in the US, so they think everything is OK.

The average resident treats Vegas like a motel or rental car and has little or no community pride. Most residents are just passing through and don't participate in the voting process. They just eat a lot of cheap buffets and think our mobbed up mayor is a hero. According to the census, our average resident moved to town in 1998, and has less than a high school education.

Many of our town's "Pillars of the Community" would be the jail population of a more sophisticated city, but their behavior is acceptable in a town where local TV is full of ads for bankruptcy lawyers and pay check loan companies. The bail bond, massage, outcall dancer, and tattoo parlor businesses are also thriving. This is considered normal around here where we tear down historical landmarks for the fun of it. Our under funded schools are geared to turn out parking attendants, waitresses, strippers, and dealers. We have no culture or history. That's why LV will never be a "city," just a town.

The populace is played like John's each day by popular politicians and the local media, and most residents could care less when our taxes are raised to pay for the growth that should be paying for itself.  Is this the Utopia that the casino guys want to sell to other cities? You bet! They want gambling everywhere and are willing to tell great lies to get their way. "Party On!"

Sadly, when I talk to national media they ask me "What do you expect from the town Bugsy built?" I guess they're right, but I grew up here when it was a better place - a place where your word was your bond and a handshake was as good as a contract, a place where you didn't have to lock your doors. This town was once a forthright place. Maybe that's why I stay here. Somebody has to compare what we were to what we've become. I feel that I do a public service by telling the true story, kind of like the radio operator on the Titanic tapping out SOS while waiting for the water to bubble up around his knees.

Up until the late 1980s, the bosses and owners actually lived here. The old expression "Don't shit where you eat" held true back then. Now the bosses live in Newport Beach or New York and don't care about the town that made them rich, they only care about the Strip and the golf courses while Las Vegas' downtown resembles the Third World.

This town has become a paradox. What is right is wrong, what is good is bad, and that's OK because many of us are making lots of money. People ask me why I complain so much because I've also prospered here? However, I can't help but compare the magic town I moved to as a boy to what it has degraded into today. I'd rather be poor and living in a community like Las Vegas once was, than to be rich in a place like this.

The leaders here are mostly a tight knit bunch of scumbags in expensive clothes. They travel around town in helicopters and never experience our horrible crime or traffic. Life is good for them, but they opt to drink bottled water because Lake Mead is completely polluted with sewage from the subdivisions, apartments, and resorts they built. Nobody recreates at the lake anymore, boats are out of style; out of control growth is in. We recycle the sewer water to supply more low-end houses, apartments, and man-made lakes.

In 1959, my Dad moved away from LA to escape all of what Las Vegas has now become. He died in 1984 when Las Vegas was still a nice place. Now, with help from Nevada's "leaders" and their bought-off politician friends around the nation, much of our nation is about to be reborn as mini-Las Vegas's.

Copyright © Steve Miller

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