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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:

Vegas elections show ignorance
and vulnerability of most voters

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 21, 2006

LAS VEGAS - Two guys named Bob Beers just ran for public office. One Bob Beers ran for Nevada Governor and spent over a million dollars. He lost. The other Bob Beers ran for state assembly, spent nothing, and won.

Vegas' psudo-popular Mayor Oscar Goodman didn't run for anything this year, but Robert "Bob" Goodman did. Bob Goodman, who is no relation to the outrageously over rated but famous Mayor, ran for Nevada Lt. Governor, spent nothing, and received over 27,000 votes also based on false name recognition. He trailed
by only a few hundred votes the leading candidate who spent close to a half million dollars.

During previous local elections, outraged voters would've blamed such anomalies on our old electronic voting machines that lacked a paper ballot back up. This year, all our voting machines printed a paper ballot for voters to verify before casting their votes. Now a recount is finally possible, so ended the suspicion of rigged elections.

The average resident of Las Vegas moved here less than three years ago -- 6,000 new residents move into this valley each month. Many register to vote at their first opportunity, and most vote at shopping centers starting seventeen days before election day.

During that seventeen day early voting rampage, and after most people have cast their votes, the TV stations finally get around to airing candidate debates, and most of the issues are finally discussed -- but usually after half the people have already voted. The foolish early voters are usually stuck voting for who spent the most on billboards, direct mail, TV, and radio ads. In most cases, the candidate with the richest early war chest has a head start and easily wins, often over much better candidates.

Political power brokers love and protect the 17 day early voting system.

In other cases, new-Nevada voters vote for the candidate with the most name recognition such as Beers and Goodman, though they are often unknowingly voting for someone other than who they intended.

Then, of course, there are those who demand their ballot be printed in Spanish. Most if not all campaign speeches, debates, and materials are in English, so how are they to know what English-speaking-only candidates stand for? They don't, so purchased name recognition usually wins their vote.

In the case of one local candidate who likes to have a few highballs before making political speeches, he mistakenly told an audience that he's for "opening the borders" between the US and Mexico, when he meant to say he was for "closing the borders!" The next day, after he sobered up, he sent the news media a retraction they didn't print, and a week later, Hispanics in Politics endorsed him.

Then there's the often used trick of waiting for the last minute before the Tuesday election and running advertisements claiming your opponent has committed a felony, or produces porno films. Both happened in last week's Nevada primary election.

In the case of porno, current Nevada Secretary of State Brian Krolicki  who is running for Lt. Governor, accused his opponent Barbara Lee Woolen of
owning a company involved in the production of pornographic films. He neglected to mention that Woolen's company rents lights, cameras, and other motion picture equipment -- that she has nothing to do with what the equipment is used for after it's rented. He won, she lost. Woolen vows to sue for defamation.

Incumbent Clark County Commissioner Myrna Williams, two days before the election, was accused by her opponent
Chris Giunchigliani of being "investigated for corruption by the FBI" in the operation "G-Sting" case.

Other than being accused of being "asleep at the switch," and having a photograph published showing her snoozing at a Commission meeting, Williams had nothing to do with the G-Sting case that convicted four of her colleagues.

It worked, Giunchigliani won and Williams lost after spending close to two million to try to gain a forth term. Williams also vows to sue for defamation.

I feel empathy for Williams because I was inadvertently involved in creating the issue that was exaggerated to slander her.

For years, I've been a lecturer on
Political Science and Journalism in classes at UNLV and Clark County Community College. For that reason,  my advice is often sought on how to run political campaigns. Very early in this year's campaign, I was contacted by the third candidate in this year's Clark County Commission race, 20 year old UNLV student Priscilla Flores. She asked for advice on how she could learn about, and make a name for herself in local politics.

I told Prisicilla that Williams had slept during years of Commission meetings, and if she could get a picture of her slumbering, it could possibly help the public relations student place second or third in a minimally funded campaign. I also told her of
Giunchigliani advocating the legalization of marijuana.

Priscilla asked how she could obtain a photo of the sleeping Commissioner and another of
Giunchigliani, a teacher, extolling the virtues of pot? I suggested she go to a Commission meeting with her video camera, place it on a tripod and zoom in on Williams to record everything she does until she doses off. Then use a still frame of her sleeping in a mailer with the caption "Asleep at the switch." I also told her there was a photo of Giunchigliani in front of a classroom, and it would be easy to superimpose Giunchigliani's actual quote from the LV Review-Journal; "We have the right to use marijuana," handwritten on the blackboard.

Priscilla also asked me to help her research, design, and author a  factually accurate campaign mailer. I complied, but ask her not to reveal that I was helping her as I thought it would encourage retaliatory political attacks on the young woman.

Priscilla heeded my suggestion and mailed voters thousands of the following fliers with the two provocative photos and references to substantiating news articles.

County Commission has been disgraceD!

Priscilla Flores

for County Commission, District E - Democrat

Dear District E voter,

My name is Priscilla Flores, and I’m a candidate for Clark County Commission.

These are my two main opponents.

I copied photos from their bickering political attack mailers to show you what I’m up against. Please read the following and decide who should be the next Commissioner.

 Chris Giunchigliani                     Myrna Williams
Promotes marijuana                 Asleep at the switch

Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani signed on as a free consultant with Billy Roger’s Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement, a committee supported by The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which wants to legalize dope and have it sold in convenience markets. She once went ballistic when a Deputy District Attorney and a Nevada State Senator said her efforts were financed by an investor with ties to the South American drug cartel. - October 08, 2002, Review Journal

On October 11, 2002, Assemblywoman Giunchigliani told the Review Journal “We have the right to use marijuana!” 

On November 1, 2002, Giunchigliani appeared on CNN Newsnight with Aaron Brown and said, “All this simply recognizes that in the privacy of your own home, if you're an adult, you don't get busted for it.”

Then on November 2, 2002, the Canadian National Post reported: “She (Giunchigliani) says, while watching Saturday Night Live with friends. It (marijuana) made her hungry and a little high. ‘It was so mellow,’ the assemblywoman remembers. ‘You didn't go out and get in a fight.’" 

In 2002, Giunchigliani sponsored the losing AB362 which would have increased the threshold for marijuana levels from 2 nanograms per milliliter of blood to 15 nanograms. The bad bill would have also removed provisions allowing urine tests for marijuana use. The assemblywoman said the purpose of the bill is to get to the driver who is impaired and not just a “casual user” of marijuana (who drives after smoking.) 

Then there is incumbent Commissioner Myrna Williams who is no longer in touch with the real needs of her District while she continues doing the bidding of developers in newer parts of the Las Vegas Valley. To prove my point, just look at the extent of her political campaign contributions that have so-far exceeded one-million dollars! Keep in mind that most of her bounty is from people who have requirements which are not representative of the needs of you and me; her true constituents.

I’m amazed that Commissioner Williams
could sit silently through six years of political corruption exposed in “Operation G-Sting,” and not have a clue as to what was going on! She nodded off while favors were being granted by four of her colleagues; Erin Kenny; Dario Herrera; Lance Malone; and Mary Kincaid Chauncy, and did nothing to stop it! All four were found GUILTY OF CONSPIRACY, WIRE FRAUD, AND EXTORTION! 

I feel its impossible that Williams did not realize what was going on right before her eyes during Commission meetings. As we all painfully have learned, these favors extended beyond the strip club industry, and into the realm of home builders and other developers according to testimony that surfaced during the “G-Sting” trial.

Williams must have known!

Unfortunately, it was not Flores who profited from my help, it was Giunchigliani who won the election. Also, the secret that I had helped design the Flores mailer leaked out.

What bothers me more however, is that
Giunchigliani went much farther with my idea than I ever intended, and ended up committing slander against her opponent. Her tactic even made the pages of the Los Angeles Times.

Giunchigliani went way over the line with her last minute attack piece accusing Williams of being investigated by the FBI for corruption, a despicable political tactic I spent years trying to stop.
Myrna Williams was never of interest to the FBI.
Years ago, the same tactic was used against me, and in no way did I ever want to see it resurface after my ten year court battle with ex-Mayor Jan Jones. Giunchigliani and her campaign manager husband Gary Gray should have learned a lesson from the MILLER v. JONES defamation lawsuit against my 1991 Mayoral opponent who was also desperate to win at any cost.
Whether legal or not, these examples show one of the only ways under funded or desperate candidates can win against well funded incumbents such as Michael McDonald and Myrna Williams, however, two wrongs don't make a right.

Priscilla will turn twenty-one several days before the November general election. She may not have won a seat on the powerful County Commission by telling the brutal truth about her two opponents, but she has learned a valuable lesson about Vegas politics, and she certainly did make a name for herself.

But when the dust settles, the winners may end up like Jan Jones, having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to defend themselves in well deserved defamation law suits.

Unfortunately, it was proven in my own slander case that such lawsuits cannot be won in Nevada, and desperate candidates continue to use the Jones technique without regard to the damage they do. Maybe its because the citizens who blindly vote to put such people in public office are many of the same citizens chosen to sit on our local juries.

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