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: http://www.SteveMiller4LasVegas.com
What happens here, stays here
Was the popular slogan plagiarized from Alcoholics Anonymous?
Miller is degrading Las Vegas!" - Mayor Oscar Goodman
Why Goodman is livid
(LV Review-Journal photo)
(Photo by Steve
by Steve Miller
July 18, 2005
LAS VEGAS - Last Thursday, during his weekly press
conference, a bitter Mayor Oscar Goodman said, "Steve Miller is
degrading Las Vegas" by offering a "$19.95 T-shirt" that uses an
offshoot of the LVCVA's supposedly proprietary slogan, "What happens here, stays here."
Goodman, who chairs the LVCVA, also said "Steve Miller should be
ashamed of himself," and that he (Goodman) met with officials of the
LVCVA (Las Vegas Convention
and Visitors Authority) Thursday to discuss Miller's T-shirt
advertisement. He said "Miller will
be receiving a cease and desist letter" from the LVCVA within the next
several days (its been over five days, so it must be lost in the mail).
Last week was one of those times when I just couldn't control my urge
to "thumb my nose at the lot of them" as opined
by John L. Smith in last Friday's
For the past 16 years, the
governors of Nevada have been anointed by just two guys, Sig Rogich and
Billy Vassiliadis. The duo has also had a lot to do with who
appointed to the LVCVA board of directors. Together they own the
most influential political
PR firms in our state -- Rogich Communications, and R&R
For over 25 years, R&R has held an
exclusive contract with the LVCVA that is rarely challenged. Other
better known national ad agencies have tried in vain to compete for the
contract, spending huge sums to make lavish presentations to the
lock-step board of directors, but have consistently failed to usurp the
politically powerful R&R.
Last year, the obedient LVCVA board
voted to pay
R&R a whopping $64.5
million taxpayer dollars out of their $190.1
million budget to
duplicate the efforts of many Strip
hotel PR departments in promoting Sin City. In the meantime, R&R is
also being paid separately by a number of hotels who have board members
on the LVCVA.
Some of those casinos covertly take advantage of the LVCVA's
taxpayer-funded promotion, and defer part of their advertising budgets
to promote their competitive casinos in other states.
The original mission of the
LVCVA, formerly known as the Clark County Parks and Recreation Board,
was to build parks and provide wholesome family activities in a city
that sadly lacks both, but that mission was
forgotten long ago. Now their mission is to do the bidding of the
county casinos by spending taxpayer dollars promoting the Strip,
LV is left to languish.
To guarantee the board's full
cooperation, the LVCVA's $400,000 per year salaried President has the
ability to send hand picked
directors and their spouses or companions on lavish taxpayer funded
First Class trips
around the world to purportedly "market" LV. A position on that board
is the most coveted appointment in Vegas political circles, and being
friends with Billy and Sig doesn't hurt a bit!
I should know. I was never on the
LVCVA board, but on city fact finding trips, when I rode in the back of
plane, slept in budget rooms, and ate in coffee shops, the LVCVA members always traveled up
front in First Class, slept in suites, and ate in gourmet restaurants.
Most of the time the LVCVA members slept
late and missed the meetings, or took side trips while we worked. With
the exception of one or two, most were totally useless moochers. I
doubt much has changed since then.
In 2003, R&R was paid millions of taxpayer dollars to purportedly originate a phrase such as
"What happens here, stays here" for
the LVCVA -- not copy and alter the motto of a hard working charity.
However, for decades, Alcoholics Anonymous
the similar motto
"What you see here, what you hear here, whom you see
here, stays here," according to Mike Christ, the
AmericanMafia.com photographer here who also does research for INSIDE VEGAS.
Until last month, neither motto was
In June, R&R
secretly bought the LV version of the motto from the LVCVA's President
Rossi Ralenkotter for one dollar,
without gaining board approval. The same day, R&R applied for a
trademark for the slogan. Now they want to pull it from the public
domain and stop its use on T-shirts and other LV promotional items even
though such products help promote our city.
The reaction from the LVCVA board?
R&R wants to trademark a slogan they may have
plagiarized, after its been
public domain for over
two years - maybe longer considering AA's original version, and nobody
wants to talk about it at board meetings.
Bon Voyage LVCVA board members! Enjoy your European vacations, but
don't rock the boat!
Mayor Oscar Goodman may coincidentally be
familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous and their motto. In
2004, he accepted $100,000 to endorse Bombay
Sapphire Gin, his booze of choice. After the story went national and he
received wide spread
criticism, he split the proceeds with the city to try to save face. This
action helped bring Goodman before the state
ethics commission inspiring the following comment about his
alcoholism from Commission Vice Chairwoman
Jenkins, Esq. "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."
Al-Anon's mission statement, they explain under Anonymity: "The motto 'What
you see here, what you hear here, whom you see here, stays here'
sums up anonymity outside Al-Anon. We guard the anonymity of others in
Al-Anon, Alateen, and AA by not revealing whom we see or what we hear
Their statement continues, "We all come to Al-Anon because we want
and need help."
Oscar Goodman needs help and could have been exposed to the motto
at an Alcoholics Anonymous
meeting. Or possibly, someone from R&R has a drinking problem
and subconsciously picked it up. If
true, I commend them for seeking help, but plagiarism is
still not acceptable -- even if you don't remember doing it -- and
using an obviously plagiarized motto degrades
our city more than my
Like most Nevada politicians, the mayor
Billy Vassiliadis and Sig Rogich. Oscar Goodman, is considering a
run for governor, and
if so, will need friends like Billy and Sig if he plans to succeed,
hence his obvious efforts to help Billy save face.
Up until this
week, Billy and his firm
have been mostly off limits to criticism (or competition) and have been
held in the highest local esteem -- that's until I became a "professional
pain in the neck
," and stepped into a court battle between the
LVCVA and California T-shirt entrepreneur Dorothy
Billy and Oscar want Dorothy to
cease and desist manufacturing and selling her version of the "stays
Its hard to imagine anyone
wanting a gal like Dorothy
to cease and
desist manufacturing and marketing extremely attractive T-shirts that
correctly -- something that can't help but benefit our city when worn
worldwide by members of Generation X, but that's exactly what the mayor
After learning of Dorothy's
T-shirt enterprise, Goodman persuaded the LVCVA to spend an amazing
amount of taxpayer money on an
internationally recognized law firm that
charges up to $675
to research who actually owns the slogan; whether the rights to the
slogan could secretly be sold for a buck; and if R&R or the LVCVA
could control marketing of products emblazoned with the slogan two
years after the fact?
If he were a creditable civil litigation lawyer, and wasn't trying to
pass the buck, Goodman would already have
known the answers and could have saved the taxpayers lots of money.
Then last Friday, again at taxpayer's
expense, the mayor jetted off to Reno, "The
biggest little city in the world," (I wonder if anyone owns that
slogan?) to attend a settlement conference scheduled by R&R to try
to shut down Dorothy's humble operation. By these two actions, its
who's pulling Oscar's strings.
Miller to the rescue!
I'm a sucker for a nice T-shirt worn by a
beautiful model, and I also
have extensive history manufacturing and marketing Las Vegas souvenir
items, so I
decided to become Dorothy's amicable competitor just to make a point
(no pun intended). Last week I began advertising my own
version of the "stays in
Vegas" T-shirt, and Oscar hit the roof!
Dorothy's T-shirt model
My T-shirt model. (Oh well....)
I asked one of
, Peter Christoff, to model my
T-shirt to enliven a rather dull news week. Enliven -- it did!
This convoluted story starts back in
the early 1970's, when my late father, Hal Miller, hired The
Goodman Law Firm to analyze a threat then-made by Caesars Palace
against our souvenir manufacturing business, Miller Novelty Company
MILNO had already made a fortune inventing and marketing the icon of
Vegas souvenirs, the Casino
Dice Clock, and was about to market several products that displayed
the image of Strip hotels.
The threat involved MILNO marketing products that displayed the
image of Caesars Palace. The
hotel's attorneys said that my dad should pay Caesars a royalty,
or cease and desist manufacturing and wholesaling products with Caesars
Palace's image or marquee. Following extensive (and expensive)
research, Jay Brown, an attorney with Goodman's firm, concluded that
the image of the hotel and its marquee are public
domain since they are visible from the public street.
The slogan "What
happens here, stays here," or its offshoot "What
happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," has been used by everyone including
Lady Laura Bush, and has gone without trademark protection for more
than two years. Unlike
Caesars Palace, a private corporation, the LVCVA is a tax supported
public agency, therefore their work product is even more in the
public domain, and that can't be changed two years after the horse is
out of the barn.
Armed with a
legal opinion from Goodman's law firm, my dad held his
ground and he was never again challenged by Caesars, proving that the
Goodman firm's advice was legally sound.
I believe the Goodman Law Firm
properly advised my father then, and I believe their advice
still holds true today. Based on their findings, I will
continue to advertise my T-Shirt even if I do receive a cease and deist
letter from a high priced out of state law firm paid with taxpayer
Unfortunately, the founder of the Goodman Law Firm suddenly disagrees
with his firm's previous findings, probably as a favor to Vassiliadis.
"The two faces of Oscar"
(From the Moncrief for Council campaign)
It may surprise you after
hearing all this, but Billy Vassiliadis and I have worked together on
elections. I know him well. The first was in 1982 when I joined Billy
and Kate Hitt on
the Committee to Elect John Moran Sheriff. Our threesome formulated a
highly successful campaign strategy, and I doubled as a
fund raiser. Billy used Moran's election to
begin his meteoric rise to prominence as a local political campaign
manager. Sheriff Moran later convinced me to run for the city council.
Our combined efforts proved quite rewarding
Then in 1994, I again was
asked to collaborate with Billy, this time while he was in partnership
with my old Las Vegas High classmate Sig. The duo was running the
campaign of Bob Miller (no relation) who was running for Nevada
Governor against LV Mayor Jan Jones. I was asked to share my
extensive dossier on Jones with R&R. The secret meeting took place
in a suite in the Reno Hilton where I delivered a 30 pound box of
printed material to Rob Powers, then an executive with Billy and Sig's
company. Rob coincidentally now works for the LVCVA.
Four years later, I was
contacted once more by R&R, this time by Billy's assistant Denise
Miller (no relation). She asked me to electronically send R&R an
updated version of my Jones dossier. I did so, and as reported in Jon
Ralston's book "The
anointed one," Billy
used my research and materials to, for the second time, effectively
trounce Jones thus rendering a fatal blow to her once promising
Today, if you're an ambitious
politician like Goodman, then Sig Rogich and Billy
are good friends to have. For me? I just like to blow the whistle when
guys get too big for their T-shirts.
Mayor endorsing gin to fourth graders
(Las Vegas SUN)
back to Goodman and the possible inspiration for the "stays here"
slogan. This is the same guy who told
forth graders that if he was marooned on a
desert island the one thing he would want to have with him is a bottle
of gin, and that his hobby is drinking! He could be the poster boy for
AA -- and he had the
say "Steve Miller is degrading Las Vegas?"
( SAM MORRIS / LAS VEGAS SUN)
a widely distributed product says "Vegas," and spells the city's name
correctly, the city always benefits, though Oscar, in his loyalty to
Billy, doesn't want to admit this fact. He should
however, because when his face is plastered all over the screen in the
movie "Casino," where the "F" word is used over
300 times, it still benefits our city
even though his previous job as a lawyer for murderers was a much
more negative image than our simple
"Degrading Las Vegas" has become an industry at city hall, and it
obviously works. The casinos, pay
day loan stores, escort
services, massage and tattoo parlors are
all booming thanks to Goodman's image!
Goodman photographs Playboy model
As this stupid story progresses, it
and more obvious just how incompetent a lawyer Oscar Goodman
actually is when it comes to civil litigation. For him to spend
taxpayer's money on an expensive out of state law firm to "stonewall"
until the issue cools off, and for him to spend tax dollars traveling
to Reno to support Billy, proves my point.
Prior to the last LVCVA meeting, Goodman pledged,
"I'll be asking some very hard
questions on July 12. There will be no whitewashing, no stonewalling!"
As the meeting
approached, he tempered his words, "I know Rossi Ralenkotter and I think his integrity is unimpeachable.
I'm confident that at the end of
the day this will be resolved."
On the eve of the meeting, probably after realizing he was about to
embarrass Billy, Mayor Goodman said: "Reputations are of course at
stake whenever these issues become public."
At the eventual meeting, a very
timid Goodman said nothing other than, "There will be no
resolution today because of the litigation."
So much for his "There will be no whitewashing,
no stonewalling" statement!
Meanwhile, Dorothy and I
continue to advertise our T-shirts with the knowledge that Goodman's stupid
remarks smack of restraint of fair trade, prohibited under
the Sherman Antitrust Act, and something any competent attorney would know.
"The antitrust laws - the Sherman Act, Clayton Act and Federal Trade
Commission Act at the federal level, and similar laws in many
states-prohibit contracts, combinations, conspiracies,
and other agreements in restraint of trade, as well
as monopolization and attempted monopolization."
This explanation is the opinion of the 450 lawyers at the Washington
D.C. law firm Mintz,
Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo. What is now
occurring at the LVCVA and R&R Advertising could possibly be an
example of such a
conspiracy, and Oscar is helping to perpetuate the crime
if its determined in court that such a conspiracy is underway.
Having a layman such as me publicly telling an experienced criminal defense
lawyer how to conduct his business must be an extreme irritant to a
guy like Oscar, especially when he knows I'm 100% right!
Or maybe he's pissed
because I included the following statement in my T-Shirt ad: "Be the first on your block to proudly wear
one, and tell Billy, Oscar, and the LVCVA to 'Go Suck Eggs!' "
No matter where the slogan originated, the two controversial T-shirts
should be on Vegas gift shop shelves in the
very near future. In the meantime, as John L. Smith wrote
last Friday, "
Something tells me Vassiliadis & friends have
an unprintable slogan reserved for Miller."
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