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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:

Mob Museum overshadows U.S. Veterans
and clearly shows the difference
between a city and a town

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
September 8, 2008

                                   City of Wasilla, Alaska : Armed Forces Honor Garden

LAS VEGAS - Following World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and Iraq, tens of thousands of veterans chose Las Vegas as their new home town. Today, our metro area houses two million people and has one of the highest concentrations of war veterans in the United States. However, there is nothing here to commemorate their heroic sacrifices, while there is a wondrous effort being directed toward opening a museum to commemorate the horrific actions of a bunch of local mobsters.

For more than two years, representatives of Las Vegas' fallen war heroes have found it necessary to beg city and federal officials in vane for $800,000 to reopen a closed down city park so it can be devoted to the memory of those who lost their lives fighting for our freedoms -- freedoms that will soon include using government facilities to glorify criminals. But city leaders, especially Mayor Oscar Goodman, have set a goal that does not include war heroes.

The casinos and private citizens have opened their checkbooks and donated over $45 million dollars to convert an old federal court house and post office into a museum to honor the mob, and this is causing a great deal of anger among those more deserving of our town's gratitude.

In contrast to Las Vegas' latest priority, even the smallest cities in America routinely build memorials to honor their local war veterans (see above photo of a Veteran's Memorial in Wasilla, Alaska - a sophisticated small city of 9,000).

According to Nevada Assemblyman Bob Beers, "An Alaska city much smaller than Las Vegas put in an honor garden for their veterans. Up there, they jail their thugs. Down here, they put them into office."

It's estimated that for less than one million dollars, Huntridge Circle Park near downtown Las Vegas can be redeveloped into Veterans Memorial Park, but our local civic leaders are more inclined to raise $45 million dollars to honor the scum bag former clients of our town's hyper-popular mayor.

           Some former Goodman law clients who may be honored in the Las Vegas Mob Museum:
Top - L to R: Oscar Goodman and Jimmy Chagra; Tony Spilotro, Goodman, Herb Blitzstein
Middle - L to R: Goodman and impeached judge Harry Claiborne; Convicted racketeer Rick Rizzolo
Bottom - L to R: Joey "The Clown" Lombardo; Joey Cusumano and Goodman; Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal

In the meantime, local veterans' frustration spilled over into their Veteran's Memorial Park promotional material. Their aggravation with being cast aside in favor of gangsters comes through loud and clear on the following page taken from their brochure. And who can blame them for being so angry?

Of late, Las Vegas seems to have a cold place in its heart for our nation's heroes.

Pictured here at the 2002 Las Vegas Veteran's Day Parade is the late Willy Brown. At 107, he was the oldest living American veteran. Mr. Brown was one of the last surviving soldiers who fought in World War I, and spent his last years residing with his family in Las Vegas.

Brown was accompanied through the parade by my then 9 year old daughter Sarah Ann.

Willy Brown was not the Grand Marshal, nor was he the main honoree in the parade. The Grand Marshal was Mayor Oscar Goodman, and he was followed by a pack of current Nevada political figures riding in fancy cars.

Mr. Brown was placed near the end of the parade in the middle of a half dozen high school marching bands. When Brown passed the announcer's stand, he was briefly mentioned to the thinning crowd.

Oscar Goodman and the casino's Mob Museum is gaining popularity and funding. Some of our town's best known movers and shakers have signed on to help its cause since the city purchased the old post office for a dollar.

No one in Vegas thinks the museum is a bad idea. It's a very clever concept and destined to be a major tourist attraction. But its timing is very disturbing in the middle of a war, and when so many good men and women deserve to be recognized for their positive contributions to our nation. Therefore, it's natural to make comparisons of the importance of the two projects and those they honor.

Is Las Vegas so callous as to devote $45 million dollars to glorifying goons, after scores of our city's men and women gave their lives so we could do so?

72 year old former Marine Peter "Chris" Christoff (pictured below reading to students in a local elementary school in 2006, and as a young Marine in 1955), has taken the lead in letting Mayor Goodman know that veterans will not be overshadowed by mobsters.

Christoff is a relentless community organizer. He was the man who in September 2006 established a church two blocks from Rick Rizzolo's violence prone Crazy Horse Too strip joint. The closeness of his church almost stopped the topless bar from reopening, and he made some powerful enemies in the process. The attorney who represented the Crazy Horse was Jay Brown, Nevada Senator Harry Reid's business partner.

Now Christoff has shifted his focus to helping his fellow vets in this worthy cause. His first call was to Senator Reid's offices in Washington D.C., and Las Vegas.

"I'm not discouraged even though all of my calls go unanswered," Christoff told INSIDE VEGAS after many attempts to contact the Senator to ask for assistance.



"I call Harry several times each month to ask him to help with the Veteran's Memorial, but I guess he's busy with the presidential election and all," Christoff said.

Or maybe it's because Christoff likes to use the beautiful Wasilla, Alaska Armed Forces Honor Garden as his example?

On September 4, 2008, Senator Reid described the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska as "'shrill and sarcastic." The subject of his criticism was part of the team that built one of our nation's finest commemoratives to those who serve our country in time of war.

All this inspires the question why, with $45 million dollars in hand, doesn't the Mob Museum board just fork over $800,000 to redevelop a small city park to honor people like Willy Brown and others who really deserve to be honored?

Or why doesn't the Senate Majority Leader, the man the LV Review Journal describes as 'the third most powerful politician in America," use some of his political clout to make sure Las Vegas veterans get the honor they deserve? Or does he have other masters to serve?

There'll still be plenty of money left over to honor Goodman, Chagra, Spilotro, Blitzstein, Claiborne, Rizzolo, Lombardo, Cusumano, and Rosenthal, and it'll stop all the fuss!

If a Mob Museum is allowed to take priority over a memorial to fallen war heroes, then our overgrown town should never be considered a real city.

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