Juice - Vegas Style
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 25, 2003
"You're a shyster lawyer; a two faced phony shyster
Why don't you kiss him on the ass?"- Peter
Angry words directed toward Sin City Mayor Oscar Goodman by political
activist Peter "Chris" Christoff at the August 20, 2003, Las Vegas City
Council meeting caused many to look closely at Goodman's connection to
a local juice
came moments after Goodman cut off Christoff's protest of the city gifting
attorney John Moran a public alleyway behind his office building in downtown
Vegas, a building located directly next to the law office of Goodman's
former law partners and son.
A poorly worded agenda item that was first intended to slip by with
little to no discussion took on a life of its own after Las Vegas Review
Journal columnist John L. Smith wrote a story
about it the day before the hearing. Within minutes of the RJ hitting the
street, I received several calls from attorneys who own or rent offices
near Moran on South 4th Street. They told me that the alleyway is a handy
shortcut used regularly by their employees and is a pick up point for garbage
trucks. One expressed his concern that dumpsters will now end up on the
recently beautified 4th Street curb. They asked me to help.
I complied by taping a thirty-second automated telephone dialer message
that was phoned to 30,000 city voters before the Wednesday meeting:
"This is former City Councilman Steve Miller with a citizen alert.
Wednesday at the Las Vegas City Council meeting, a politically connected
attorney - during a buried agenda item - will ask taxpayers to give him
a valuable piece of downtown land for free. Located behind John Moran's
South Fourth Street building, and directly next to Oscar's Goodman's former
law office, is a public alley Moran would like to own at no cost to himself
- but at your expense as a taxpayer. This alley is there for the public's
safety and should remain open for public use. If political patronizing
and back room dealing outrages you, call the mayor or your councilman at
229-6405 and leave a strong message. Or be at city hall Wednesday morning
to express your outrage in person. The number again is 229-6405.
They gave away Carson Street and Fremont Street. Politicians should not
be allowed to give away more valuable downtown public property as payback
for campaign contributions. Call 229-6405 and tell the mayor and council
to say NO to John Moran! Thank you."
By Tuesday afternoon, City Hall was deluged with protest phone calls
that were mostly ignored. On Wednesday as the Morans stepped to the podium,
they were shadowed by Christoff. When Goodman saw Christoff breathing down
his friend's necks, the tension in the chambers could be cut with a knife.
However, instead of asking Christoff to take his seat and saying it was
not a public hearing, Goodman let him stand in the background for almost
Christoff standing behind the Morans
After a nervous presentation by John and Marilyn Moran as to why they
deserve to inherit the alleyway behind their building and permanently close
it to public use, Goodman asked Christoff and Tom McGowan who had also
been patiently standing near the podium, "Did you folks want to be heard?"
"All right briefly, just a minute each please. Could they have the timer
Christoff stepped up to the microphone and asked "why" pertaining to
the one minute limit? Goodman answered, "There's no public comment on this,"
even though he let the two men stand just feet away from the Morans during
their entire forty minute presentation which is something that only happens
when rebuttal witnesses are to be heard. "I'll give you the opportunity
because you stood up to let you be heard," stated Goodman.
Christoff then said, "Your honor, you always give the taxpayers a chance
to be heard..." Goodman cut in, "All right, sit down! Marshall, have him
Christoff continued, "You're not giving the taxpayers..." Goodman yelled
"No! Sit down!
"You're wrong," Christoff exclaimed.
"I tried to give you a break, and I don't like you to call my office
either pretending you're some kind of an Oriental person," said Goodman.
"You're a liar," responded Christoff.
"OK, OK, marshall, throw him out," ordered the mayor.
Christoff turned to exit, but while on the way out he said, "I don't
have to come down to put up with this. You're a shyster lawyer."
"Throw him out," said Goodman.
"You're a two faced shyster lawyer," Christoff repeated.
"Throw him out," harped the mayor.
"Why don't you kiss him on the ass," (referring to Moran) was the last
thing said by Christoff as he left the building with the marshall following
several steps behind. Goodman's "Oriental person" remark was never explained.
The entire episode was televised live on cable TV and replayed throughout
After Christoff's treatment, others who may have been present to protest
the alley giveaway did not step up. However, Goodman did allow perennial
council gadfly Tom McGowan to speak for several minutes without interruption
in favor of Moran's request which passed by a five to two vote.
Who are John Moran and Chris Christoff?
Moran is the son of the former Sheriff of Clark County, and often represents
real estate developers before the council. He is best known as a fund raiser
during political campaigns. His wife Marilyn served two terms on the LV
Planning Commission. Her presence on the commission was often considered
a conflict of interests while her husband represented developers seeking
approval of projects.
Most recently, the Morans raised money for defeated Councilman Mike
McDonald who served two terms and was known to rubber stamp Goodman
and Moran on council matters. John Moran was also influential in raising
$1.5 million for Goodman in the springtime election even though Goodman
Christoff is given credit for bringing down McDonald during the same
election. Christoff, at the behest of the woman who defeated McDonald,
authored five letters mailed to voters including
several that mentioned McDonald's ties to Joey Cusumano, one of Goodman's
former Mob clients and an honored guest
at social functions held at the mayor's home.
The writing was on the wall. It was obvious Goodman owed Moran big-time
and hated Christoff for interfering, let alone for publishing damning political
fliers telling of a clandestine relationship between Cusumano and the councilman
who once sat in the seat next to the mayor's on the dais.
Some are beginning to believe that Goodman's four-year honeymoon in
politics is about to end based on the reaction of an old Marine who's angry
words may have rung true and caused a callous town to take a second look
at the man they elected mayor.
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com