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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 house that Mikey built
Another Vegas politico bites the dust,
but this time it may not be gold dust.

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
January 31, 2005
          Mayor Oscar Goodman consoles               Councilwoman-elect Lois Tarkanian consoles
     Mike McDonald on election loss, 2003           Janet Moncrief after being recalled on 1/25/05
                                                                                        (Click on LV Review-Journal photo by K.M. Cannon)

LAS VEGAS - In Sin City politics, no bad deed ever went un-rewarded -- until now.

Ex-councilman Mike McDonald may best be remembered for favors he granted the infamous Crazy Horse Too topless bar including his once calling its purported owner a "Pillar of the community." McDonald is also remembered for arranging the sale of 160 acres of valuable taxpayer owned land for only $5,600 per acre to a connected golf course developer, and for spearheading a new billion dollar trash collection franchise five years before it was due for renewal, and without competitive bidding.

When voters in 2003 were reminded of his shenanigans, he was easily defeated in his run for a third term. McDonald's rewards, however, came after he left office, possibly in the form of paybacks from those he profited.

I was part of the team that helped elect McDonald's replacement, just ousted Councilwoman Janet Moncrief. In her 20 months at City Hall, she will best be remembered for saying she doesn't know Steve Miller, then hiring the Crazy Horse Too's PR man as her advisor, fund raiser, and "transition team leader," while going after the liquor licenses of two of his client's main competitors, Cheetah's and Treasures. This inspired me to help put a premature end to her disappointing political career. Nonetheless, she did succeed in closing Treasures, and slamming Cheetah's with a million dollar fine. If she'd stayed on the council, I anticipated her next assignment would be to propose using eminent domain to remove the Crazy Horse's long time nemesis, garage owner Buffalo Jim Barrier.

Barrier in front of his garage located next to Crazy Horse Too
        Garage opened in 1976, topless bar opened in 1987
                                    (Photo by Mike Christ)

In Vegas, political favors are long remembered by those who benefited. Former Mayor Ron Lurie helped the powerful Becker family gain zoning to build Arizona Charlie's, the first neighborhood casino. Now he holds a top position there.

Former Mayor Jan Jones used her mayoral title to help her friends build casinos on California roads leading into Nevada. Now she holds a top position with Harrah's.

Mike McDonald was no exception. When elected in 1995, he made around $40,000 per year as a cop.

Mike's digs when he was first elected, valued at $46,140

After failing to win a third term, and after being named a subject in the FBI's ongoing political corruption probe, Mike is now busy building a twelve car garage at the rear of his recently purchased one-acre estate. The house that Mikey built in Vegas' ritziest neighborhood is certainly an inspiration to aspiring politicians, proving it really pays to be a member of the Sin City Council, a fact that's certain to titillate the relentless feds, especially the IRS.

Mike's new digs after two terms on the council, valued at over $1 million with improvements

It took extraordinary measures to oust McDonald, et. al., especially with his million dollar war chest. After such an effort, it was a shock to see his replacement's stint on the council cut short by her own doing. Nonetheless, she still had adequate time to show loyalties to her predecessor's cronies through her efforts to shut down their competitors. However, despite her efforts, Treasures will probably reopen soon, Cheetah's is still open, and the Crazy Horse is in big trouble.

As problems escalated at the Crazy Horse Too, Moncrief dutifully told a reporter, "We're not putting other sexually oriented businesses on trial. I don't know that our industry is that big of a problem."

Moncrief probably did only what she was asked to do by her "advisor," but now her payback may never come. Last week, the FBI and IRS all but crippled her benefactor's chance of rewarding her. The feds have begun to drop the hammer on the Crazy Horse Too with the first of many expected indictments for racketeering and political corruption. Therefore, the chances of Moncrief also building her dream house may have faded.

Crazy Horse Too manager taken down by FBI and IRS, 01/19/05
                            (Review-Journal photo by John Gurzinski)

I'm proud to have had a part in Mike and Janet's ultimate removal from Vegas politics. Though my efforts to finally elect someone with no connections to the Mob have proven arduous and personally embarrassing, the outcome was certainly worth the effort.

Congratulations Councilwoman-elect Lois Tarkanian!

Lois Tarkanian hugs her husband, former UNLV men's basketball
coach Jerry Tarkanian, after the final results were announced in
the Las Vegas City Council Ward 1 recall election on Tuesday.

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