INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
May 17, 2004
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar
Goodman (Las Vegas Review Journal)
"It just struck me that the fifty-thousand dollars the
city received went to a chronic inebriate fund. So, I thought that just
tickled me a little bit seeing as he is an admitted chronic inebriate."
-- Caren Jenkins, Esq., Vice Chairman of the Nevada Commission on Ethics,
LAS VEGAS - Last week, just before being found to have violated
a section of the Nevada Ethics in Government law* that bars public officials
from using their official title and position to secure "unwarranted privileges"
for family members, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman suffered one more self-inflicted
humiliation, being publicly referred to as a "chronic inebriate" by the
Vice Chairwoman of the state Ethics Commission.
The man who authored the successful ethics complaint was 77 year old
retired Mercedes-Benz mechanic Robert Rose. When Rose first filed the complaint,
Goodman responded, "If anyone says I can't help my son, whom I love, they
can drop dead," Goodman's campaign manager Jim Ferrence once called Rose
for filing a previous complaint against his client.
After the Commission's decision, Rose said, "I hope this teaches him
a lesson and he stays out of trouble. Public officials are never supposed
to use their title and position to profit their family."
The mayor was initially brought up on a number of charges including
an accusation he sold his official title and image to a gin company for
two $50,000 donations; one to a private school founded by his wife; and
the other to a facility that treats chronic inebriates.
After the commission viewed an infomercial tagged the "World's biggest
happy hour," Jenkins made her observation. The street party depicted
Goodman and his close friends drinking quantities of the sponsor's product.
The biggest shock was that the video was produced at taxpayer expense,
though no law prohibits such an expenditure.
This is all happening at a time in history when a Statistical
Abstract of the United States by the US Census Bureau
Nevada 39th in high school graduation rates, and 41 in number of persons
25 and over with a Bachelor's degree or more. Nevada also has one of the
highest DUI rates in the nation.
During the televised Ethics Commission hearing, a group of loyal Goodman
supporters in the audience laughed out loud each time he bragged: "I have
been drinking to excess for 35 years," and, "During my days as a criminal
defense attorney, I used to drink a lot. I may drink more now." The commissioners
found no humor in his statements however, nor did anti-drunk driving organizations
such as STOP DUI and SADD.
Las Vegas needs a positive role model for the youth in the community
now more than ever. Maybe the mayor could set that example by enrolling
in the same chronic inebriate treatment program that received the fifty
Three of the Ethics Commissioners hailed from Reno, the northern neighbor
of Las Vegas and a city of much more conservative values (something still
possible in Nevada). For many years, Reno has been busy diversifying its
economy with non-gambling related industry, while Las Vegas has only dreamed
of doing so. Many Reno residents have said they are embarrassed by Vegas'
"What happens here stays here," and "Sin City" image, an image that's beginning
to adversely affect the rest of the state in efforts to attract new industry.
Nonetheless, Oscar Goodman is said to be considering a run for Nevada governor
in 2006, a thought that brings cold chills up and down the spines of some
state economic development officials who represent communities other than
Prior to Goodman, Las Vegas mayors were businessmen,
albeit decidedly less flamboyant, who paid particular attention to the
businesslike image they portrayed.
Former four-term Las Vegas Mayor
endorsed candidate in 1991 mayoral
In the 1999 election that catapulted Goodman from mob mouthpiece to
mayor, he ran against two respected businessmen, Mark Fine and Arnie Adamsen.
However, neither had a chance in the "New Las Vegas." Their platforms included
improvement of educational opportunities for average Las Vegans.
Last Thursday evening on the Jay Leno show, Mayor Goodman appeared in
front of the Meadows School. While there, he touted his city's quality
of education, but failed to mention that the Meadows School is a very private
institution founded by his wife.
He also failed to mention that tuition ranges from $11,000 to $14,000 a
year depending on the grade level of the student. A far cry from our disadvantaged
public school system that suffers from a chronic lack of funds.
As a parent, I'm ashamed each time I see the mayor of my city waving
a martini glass in a gin advertisement or smarmy editorial cartoon. I do
not want my children or grandchildren to believe such behavior is normal
or admirable. Its worse when we're on vacation and asked about our home
being referred to as "Sin City." Our famous mayor is usually the next tidbit
To be the example for the expansion of gambling, Nevada has portrayed
its local and state governments in the most favorable light. The image
is not always accurate, but its never been an embarrassment out of state
-- until now. Today, other cities and states are seeing our inebriated
mayor and our other serious problems as an example of what they might expect
if they follow Las Vegas' lead. Maybe that's a blessing in disguise for
the rest of the nation? Gambling is not the fiscal panacea its touted to
be. But that doesn't improve quality of life for the local community. Economic
diversification and higher educational standards will do that. The question
is whether Oscar Goodman, his friends, and the image they portray, is thwarting
With Goodman exemplifying "everything Las Vegas," our town's regard
for the TAM (alcohol awareness) laws has dwindled. The TAM law was put
in place to keep bartenders from letting patrons over indulge, then drive
away. Our skyrocketing DUI stats
make my point.
That brings up a related subject: A familiar Vegas topless bar with
close ties to Mayor Goodman.
Photos taken in Crazy Horse Too parking lot, 2000 - 2004
From "Happiest Mayor in the World," to "Chronic
inebriate" in just one week...
LV Tribune Editorial cartoon by Dave Addis
LV Review Journal Editorial Cartoon by Jim Day
( SAM MORRIS / LAS VEGAS SUN)
At 9 AM, Friday May 14, the Metropolitan Police were notified that a
semi truck driven by an inebriated man leaving the Crazy Horse parking
lot crashed into a parked car. After narrowly missing several pedestrians,
the giant truck was seen speeding toward an adjacent residential neighborhood
that is home to hundreds of Hispanic children.
Damaged 2004 Saturn, 05/14/04
The driver of the truck, a black male, was observed by witnesses staggering
out the back door of the Crazy Horse Too, then climbing aboard an orange
18 wheeler parked on leased Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT)
property located under the Sahara Ave. bridge.
The driver's description and truck number were given to the 911 dispatcher
who said she would immediately send units to investigate. Witnesses stayed
at the scene to give statements about the hit and run incident. The big
rig had the word "Schneider" on its side. The truck number was P-361-983.
Schneider National, Inc., a trucking company in Green Bay, WI., has been
informed of the incident.
Under-bridge parking lot
leased from NDOT
Minutes after the initial call was made, the citizen who reported the
incident said he received a return call from "Kathy in dispatch." She reportedly
told him that someone within the Crazy Horse would be required to call
in the complaint before police would respond.
No such call was made and the police never showed up to investigate.
Unable to obtain a police report for his insurance company, the owner of
the car which was purchased brand new several days earlier, is threatening
to sue the Crazy Horse and NDOT to pay for damages.
Reports of police turning their backs on incidents at the Crazy Horse
are not new. The owner, Rick Rizzolo, a
former Goodman client, raised $50,000 for the D.A.
(that was later returned), and has many connections within Metro.
It has also been recently reported that ambulance attendants and fire
department paramedics who respond to numerous complaints of drunks passed
out in the bar's parking lot, or beating victims, are seen taking "coffee
breaks" in the bar after attending to the downed patrons. Since photos
of the visits began being taken (under protest by fire department officials),
no emergency calls have been officially recorded at the bar. This, after
737 such incidents
were recorded by Metro in a previous three year period.
One of the photos shows shift manager Bobby
D’Apice escorting paramedics into the club. D’Apice has previous arrests
for domestic battery, battery on an officer, and carrying a concealed weapon.
D’Apice escorts paramedics into club, 05/06/04
D'Apice is a suspect in the 2002 case of a bar
patron's neck being broken when the patron objected to an $88 bar tab.
stepped in after local police and the district attorney refused to take
Repeated requests have been made to Mayor Goodman to bring the Crazy
Horse Too before the City Council on disciplinary actions regarding the
ignoring of TAM laws, and for repeated acts of violence involving
bar employees and patrons. He refused, and I think I know why.
Rizzolo is an associate of numerous Las Vegas and Chicago
mob figures including casino Black Book denizens Fred
Pascente and Joey
Cusumano. In addition, Rizzolo employs Vinnie
Faraci, son of Bonanno crime family capo "Johnny Green" Faraci, and
Lombardo, brother of former Chicago Outfit boss Joey "The Clown" Lombardo.
Many of the above were among Oscar Goodman's clients in his former life
prompting the Las Vegas Review Journal to refer to Goodman's former
clientel in their May 14 Editorial:
"Mr. Goodman was a high-profile defense attorney, specializing in representing
the worst sort of mob vermin."
Cusumano and Goodman
Goodman and Spilotro
Las Vegas SUN editorial cartoon by Mike Smith
I don't blame first-term Clark County Sheriff Bill Young for the Crazy
Horse problems. It was Sheriff Young who reprimanded
former Sgt. Tom Keller on August 5, 2003, for violating department policies
prohibiting officers from "accepting gifts from suspects" and "consorting
with persons of ill repute," in reference to Rizzolo. Its hard to imagine
Young doing favors for a person he referred to in such a derogatory way.
But, it wouldn't surprise me if Young unknowingly inherited a few of Rizzolo's
on the force when he was elected last year, and that may be why a ten-ton
truck could turn a taxpayer-owned parking lot into the Destruction Derby
without warranting police attention.
Sgt. Keller left the deparment shortly after the reprimand.
Anyway, the Crazy Horse should be more careful to abide by the state's
TAM laws when they allow their patrons to park 18 wheelers on leased NDOT
property, then drive away inebriated. If not, the taxpayers could be exposed
to liability in the event of a more serious incident.
Connect the dots:
The Crazy Horse Too's public relations man is Tom Letizia who's cousin
Letizia is the Nevada Transportation Department's program development
manager in Southern Nevada -- the lessor of the under-bridge parking lot.
Tom Letizia is also Oscar Goodman's campaign advisor and fund raiser, and
the son in law of the owner of watering holes in Newport Beach and Las
Vegas that are well known hang
outs for modern day mobsters and paid off politicians.
(L to R) Goodman, Tom Letizia
Goodman has shown complete disinterest in enforcing TAM laws at the
Crazy Horse, though he closed several other liquor selling establishments
for fewer infractions. His reasons are obvious, but that doesn't stop his
supporters from bragging about him.
"From an advertising and marketing perspective he sells Las Vegas like
no other," swooned
Goodman's Chief of Staff, Stephanie Boxio to the Ethics Commission. Commissioner
Mark Hutchison then asked whether "that publicity of Mayor Oscar Goodman
was good for the city no matter what the publicity was?" In support of
his boss, City Attorney Brad Jerbic obediently testified, "We have a mayor
who in many ways is Las Vegas. His face is Las Vegas. It's very hard sometimes
to separate where his personal life is and where his public life is."
But that does not comfort those of us who have lived in this city for
years and are forced to explain to our children who that man is on the
TV screen, and what he is doing. Goodman's bravado may draw tourists and
hedonists, something that puts dollars in our state's tax coffers, but
it does nothing to improve the real quality of life for the 1.6 million
people who call Las Vegas home.
Mayor Oscar Goodman is the poster boy for "Las Vegas is a great place
to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there."
*Steve Miller was the author and sponsor of the original City of Las
Vegas Ethics in Government Law
* If you would like to receive Steve's frequent E-Briefs about Las Vegas'
scandals, click here: Steve Miller's Las Vegas E-Briefs
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com