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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:

The inmates are running the asylum

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
July 7, 2003

“Pillars of the community,” “Man of the Year,” “Citizen of the Month,” “Angel of the Year,” or “Humanitarian of the Year.” Only in Vegas could such esteemed titles be awarded to people who would be considered outcasts in any other city.

In 2001, mobbed up restaurant owner Freddie Glusman was crowned “Man of the Year” by Sin City Mayor Oscar Goodman. Then in 2003, Glusman was named “Citizen of the Month” by Goodman’s obedient city council with one exception, Councilwoman Lynette McDonald.

"That Black Woman!" These are the words used by Glusman to describe Councilwoman McDonald in an October 2000 Las Vegas Metropolitan police report. When detectives went to Glusman’s eatery on October 18, 2000, to investigate a criminal complaint, they were berated by Glusman.

"He was very angry with us and claimed we were on a 'witch hunt' to get (Mike) McDonald and (topless bar owner Fred) Rizzolo because of what 'that black woman' said," according to the police report. (In reality, Glusman had referred to the councilwoman as a "schwarze," but the police officer translated his remark.)

Regarding Glusman receiving the “Citizen of the Month” award, Councilwoman McDonald said, "It (the remark) was definitely within a derogatory context as he was extremely angry. I can tell you this . . . and I have no problem with you attributing it to me, I have not frequented (his restaurant) since that incident and won't even attend fundraisers or other special events that are held there. So it was fortuitous that I was absent from the meeting yesterday."

Glusman's “Citizen of the Month” award was sponsored by a mobbed-up councilman who was just defeated by political neophyte Janet Moncrief in the spring municipal election. Glusman’s son-in-law Tom Letizia on Tuesday, July 2, produced a fundraiser for Moncrief. During the campaign, I advised Moncrief to avoid Glusman and Letizia, and described the racial epithet incident as one of the reasons. Moncrief discounted my advice and accepted Glusman and Letizia’s new-found friendship. Moncrief’s lack of discretion probably has offended the only other female on the council.

When it comes to honoring Sin City denizens who do not deserve to be honored, I once had the dubious honor of naming Moe Dalitz of Murder Inc., Las Vegas “Man of the Year.”

Then, speaking of “only in Vegas,” I somehow was named “Humanitarian of the Year” several years after Dalitz was honored. I sometimes wish I hadn’t accepted the plaque.

Are the inmates running this asylum?

What has our town come to lately?  It took a slip of the lip by one of our elected officials to open my eyes. Unfortunately his remark, “Pillars of the Community,” took the luster off my “Humanitarian of the Year”award, but in a nutshell (no pun intended), his remark described what was happening to our community. People who were anything but honorable were being honored. I just thought being an honoree in Vegas should be better than this!

I worked for my awards. I put in countless hours each week volunteering for local charities for over 25 years. Then, when I was asked to present high honors to guys who essentially bought their awards with blood money, I felt like puking.

Dutifully, I obliged my boards of director’s wishes and put on a happy face at the awards ceremonies. I shook hands with guys who, in my opinion, were buying legitimacy from the charities I represented. I also knew how desperately those charities needed that money! At one event held at the Desert Inn, I gave a guy a plaque in front of an audience that looked like the cast from Goodfellas.

I named the dining hall at one local charitable institution after a union guy who had just firebombed a restaurant. I gave a plaque to another big donor nicknamed “Icepick.” It was my job as the President or Chairman of the two biggest charities in the state to honor people who supposedly supported the organizations. But it was always “For the youth!”

I was asked to appoint Mustang Ranch brothel owner Joe Conforte to one of my boards. He had offered the charity I headed $25,000 per year in donations if he could be named on the letterhead as a Director, but he escaped to Argentina before I had the pleasure. Maybe when he gets back...

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