"I can do whatever I want. I'm the
Mayor Bud Clark (1984 - 1992)
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman (1999 - present)
Imitation is the
sincerest form of flattery...
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
May 23, 2005
In 1990, as a member of the Clark County Regional Transportation
Commission (RTC). I traveled to Portland Oregon to ride on their new
light rail system. After getting off the immaculate electric train in
the city's center, I walked around what was once the most dismal and
dangerous downtown I had ever experienced, but this time I was met with
gardens, fountains, and hundreds of office and store workers enjoying
the revived inner city atmosphere during their lunch break.
Las Vegas was at the time experiencing a downturn in gaming revenues in
its historic downtown, and I surmised it was for lack of a good transit
system to bring millions of Strip-bound tourists into what was then
known as "Casino Center." For that reason I traveled to several cities
on a fact finding tour (at my own expense) to see how they overcame
Honolulu, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Portland were my examples --
all cities that had once felt the wrath of decaying downtowns -- and
all had overcome their problems by one means or another.
In the case of Portland, the results were the most shocking. Back in
the seventies, the railroad station and river front docks were, what
appeared to be, beyond repair -- mostly inhabited by street people and
panhandlers. But in 1990, things had really changed and I wanted to
know how it was done.
Very enthused, I walked the several blocks from the light rail station
to City Hall where I asked to speak to the Mayor.
I was told he would be
arriving in several minutes and that I might catch him on his way into
the building if I waited on the steps. Soon, a bearded man rode up on a
ten speed bicycle. It was Bud Clark. I introduced myself and presented
my RTC credentials. He welcomed his unscheduled visitor and escorted me
to his office. There, I saw for the first time his famous
Yourself to Art" poster that had sold 895,000 copies.
We laughed, then got down to business. I soon learned of his vast
accomplishments and how he cleaned up his downtown. How he sponsored an
ordinance to ban the sale of fortified wines such as Mogen
David "MD 20/20" aka "MAD DOG"
NIGHT TRAIN, THUNDERBIRD and WILD IRISH ROSE. How winos preferred the
swill because it was enhanced with added sugar and alcohol, and how its
effect was the main reason downtown Portland had deteriorated, along
with the lack of police, a convention center, and a good public
I soon realized I was in the presence
of a true public servant. The one-time tavern owner had
turned the town around in less than two terms, first by turning City
Hall upside down by firing the police chief, then by implementing
everything -- politically correct or not -- to bring business back into
the downtown. All the while he promoted his town by regularly appearing
on the Tonight Show as one of Johnny Carson's favorite guests.
Instead of just promoting himself, Bud Clark selflessly strived to
bring new life into his city.
Cut to the present. The "silicon forest," as Portland has come to be
known, enjoyed a boom in high-tech business during Clark's tenure and
after. It's truly his legacy. But since the late 1980s, Las Vegas'
historic Fremont Street has not fared as well.
Other than a distracting light show canopy dubbed the "Fremont Street Experience" by Steve
Wynn and the then-mayor -- a misguided effort installed at taxpayer
expense in 1994 -- little has been done to
revitalize what was once Vegas' thriving "Casino Center."
Now closed off to tourists in cars, cabs and tour busses, the noisy
light show over Fremont Street distracts gamblers twice per hour each
evening and continues to suck up taxpayer dollars while the adjacent
casinos are allowed to deteriorate or close.
Our present Mayor, former mob lawyer Oscar Goodman, inherited the
monstrosity from his predecessor Jan Jones,
and he has no plans to dismantle it. After her
second term, Jones abandoned the city to take a position with Harrah's
promoting competitive-to-Las Vegas casinos in California. Her canopy
meanwhile decreased tourism and caused property values on Fremont
Street to plummet. Today, Oscar Goodman is reactively selling the remains of
"Casino Center" at bargain basement prices. Because of the devaluation
and neglect, new blood may now be able to afford to revitalize the
area, but that's not the way Mayor Bud Clark proactively accomplished the same
goal in downtown Portland!
Clark, like Goodman, was a consummate showman -- seeking the spotlight
at every chance. But unlike Goodman, Clark was showboating to help the
city he was elected to serve, and he didn't step over the line
of decency to do so.
gin to school children (03/07/05)
(AmericanMafia photo by Mike Christ, Illustration by David Stroud - LV Review-Journal
Instead of working to rid his downtown of chronic inebriates,
himself referred to as a "chronic
," told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "Everyday that I have I live to the
drink to excess (emphasis added).
I gamble with both fists. And when I eat, I eat like a gourmand. I can
do whatever I want, I'm the mayor."
Unfortunately, his most recent stunt did nothing to promote the entity
he was elected to serve: downtown Las Vegas. While the
Strip (located in Clark County) flourishes, downtown's Fremont Street
Oscar Goodman is the mayor of the city of Las Vegas, not the Strip. On
April 29, he participated in a Playboy
photo shoot at the Palms Hotel. The Palms sits just off the Strip
on Flamingo Road in Clark County -- seven miles from the "Fremont Street Experience," and
four miles from the actual city limits at Sahara Ave.
Goodman needs to concentrate on his decaying inner city like Mayor
Clark did, not on the county which is a completely separate political
entity with a separate tax base that's doing just fine without his
help. Some also feel that Goodman stepped over an imaginary line by
posing with a topless model for Playboy, to which he responded by
calling his critics
"haters and those who need to get a life."
What to do? Mayor Goodman should begin by tearing down the canopy and
re-opening historic Fremont Street to vehicular traffic. He could also
follow Mayor Clark's lead and outlaw the sale of fortified wine within
the city limits. He could remove the $2 per hour downtown parking
meters; run free trolleys from the county's McCarran Airport and Strip
hotels to Fremont Street; purchase steam cleaning
machines and pay jail trustees or the homeless to steam the sidewalks
and alleyways nightly. And he could encourage commuter airlines to use
the nearby North Las Vegas Airport as an inner city reliever and
provide inexpensive ground transportation for fly in tourists to the
Fremont Street hotels.
All of these ideas have been suggested time and again, but Goodman is
too busy self promoting and boozing to listen.
Former Mayor Bud Clark made fun of himself to promote the arts in
downtown Portland, and his less-than-
worked wonders. Clark also knew of substance abuse from behind the bar,
and did everything in his power to rid his city of its plague including
homelessness and prostitution.
Conversely, Mayor Goodman knows of chronic alcoholism from the wrong
side of the bar, and is promoting anything
but the arts in his downtown!
In fact, Goodman in 2003 even said
legal brothels would be a welcome addition to East Fremont Street --
not exactly the kind of downtown rejuvenation Bud Clark had in mind..
With this kind of promotion, its no wonder Las Vegas suffers from one
of the highest
crime rates in the nation. And its no wonder we're no "Silicon
For the sake of our city, Mayor Oscar Goodman should get off the booze
and try to set a better example for non-gambling industries that, without
his interference, might find Las Vegas a good place to
locate. If not, Goodman should step aside after the end
of his second term so someone with common sense and
sobriety can take his place.
Steve scolds Goodman for protecting the Crazy Horse Too (City
Hall - 2002)
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