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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' secret city
Are politicians plotting demise of low income
neighborhood to benefit rich developers?
Or is this "progress" Vegas style?

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
January 10, 2005

Buried behind the glitz of the intersection of the Strip and Sahara Avenue lies one of Sin City's best kept secrets. Once known as the "Naked City" because of its titillating 1960's reputation for being the haven of nude sunbathing showgirls and hedonists, the neighborhood has taken on a far different reputation of late.

                                               (Click to enlarge)

Only steps away from the Stratosphere and Sahara hotels, prostitution, drug sales, gang shootings and robberies now permeate the once peaceful streets of Vegas' secret inner city. In the late 1980s, the City government tried to change the area's image by giving it a new name: "Meadows Village," but the unfitting name didn't stick. Crime statistics continued climbing.

Then one of the local property owners took matters into his own hands.

        Peter Christoff       (Las Vegas SUN photo)

Apartment owner Peter Christoff began distributing fliers advising embattled residents how to obtain a permit to carry concealed weapons for self defense. This caught the attention of police and the media.

                                (Click to enlarge)

Then Christoff went a step further. He commissioned an satirical water color painting by local artist Frank Insinga.

The painting entitled, "Thank you Mayor Goodman" was intended to emphasize what Christoff calls "a lack of interest in improving this important corner of our city; " an area best known as the location of our city's seediest topless bar, and the unchecked crime it generates.

The cartoonesk painting is meant to graphically depict the severe problems in the low income residential and industrial area that is inhabited mainly by poor Hispanic families seeking the American Dream.

"How better to get the Mayor and Council's attention than to present an accomplished artist's impression of the rampant crime just outside our front doors." Christoff went on to say, "The residents of Meadows Village are being ignored in favor of other areas of our city. Mayor Goodman is concentrating on downtown and the new areas while hundreds of Meadows Village children play in crime infested streets. We are a forgotten neighborhood."

                Drug dealing on Meadows Village street
                                    (Photo by Peter Christoff)

Meadows Village residents had long asked for a police substation in their high crime area but only received lip service from Metro and City of Las Vegas officials according to the 67 year old apartment manager. "Maybe this embarrassing painting will finally get their attention," Christoff said. "Maybe now they'll finally begin to realize that our little corner of the city is in desperate need of help."

Christoff then began setting the stage for one of our city's most embarrassing moments.

A well known, trusted, and respected citizen advocate since 1987, Christoff used his reputation as the spokesperson for Meadows Village to ask that a special presentation be scheduled at the next City Council meeting. The City Clerk gladly agended an award presentation to take place at the beginning of the meeting to present what Christoff said would be a "symbol of gratitude" for the "good work the city is doing."

Following the July 15, 2002 Pledge of Allegiance, the Mayor and Council stepped to the podium to receive Mr. Christoff's award. The award's content was unbeknownst to any official other than it was an original painting to be hung in City Hall.

Amid much Pomp and Circumstance, Mr. Christoff was invited to the podium with his framed painting covered by a gold shroud. He placed it on an easel. The Mayor presented him the microphone and Christoff thanked the public officials for their much publicized efforts to clean up his neighborhood. He then ceremoniously unveiled his masterpiece.

The Mayor and Councilmembers stepped forward to view the painting, and stood aghast. One even tried to place the veil back over the painting, but Mr. Christoff removed it entirely while he explained that the art work depicted a current typical evening on the streets of his neighborhood, and the dismal state of the City's efforts to stop the crime. Reporters took notes as cameras flashed.

He then thanked the officials for "doing nothing" to eradicate the problems, turned and walked out of the Council chambers.

During the next three years, crime worsened in Meadows Village while property values mysteriously skyrocketed, some believe based on the neighborhood's close proximity to the new Wynn resort, and future developments by Donald Trump and others. Because of this, it almost appears the Mayor and Council are participating in an orchestrated scheme to further blight the area so it can soon be condemned through the City's power of Eminent Domain, then sold under market value to politically connected developers with plans to turn Meadows Village back into a "Naked City," but this time a place full of vacationing fun seekers frolicking in plush resorts and high rise condos replacing what once was a secret neighborhood full of false hopes and promises.

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