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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:

Until late last week, no evil deed went
un-rewarded in the new Las Vegas
These pictures tell it all. Follow the...$$$...trail
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
April 5, 2004

"I'm going to run the city the way I want to run the city." "I will not let anyone tell me how to run the city." -- Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, April 2, 2004


     (02/03/03 "Conceptual Alignment Schematic" courtesy of City of Las Vegas Department of Public Works)

The Bell Transportation Company (BellTrans), 1900 Industrial Rd., generates thousands of cab, bus, trolley, and limousine movements per day, but they will not receive any engress/egress safety enhancements at tax payer's expense. Unlike their neighbor who is receiving the city's largesse, BellTrans apparently does not qualify for city help possibly because they have no record of  beatings, shootings, murder, violations of alcohol awareness laws, credit card coercion, or political corruption -- "qualities" that lately seem to be a prerequisite for governmental favors. BellTrans is also not a potential client for a certain hungry law firm, another apparent prerequisite for special treatment.


Just 0.4 Miles south on Industrial Rd., its a different story:

(02/03/03 "Conceptual Alignment Schematic" courtesy of City of Las Vegas Department of Public Works --
Annotations added by author)

Four blocks away, there's a topless bar at 2476 Industrial Rd. that apparently possesses the prerequisite "qualities" to get a slew of custom designed engress/egress convenience enhancements at taxpayer's expense. Amenities including: (A) An extra wide driveway & sidewalk, (B) Double turn lanes with an extra wide median to access West Sahara Ave., (C) An exclusive-use signalized turn lane leading only into the bar, (D) A single turn lane to access East Sahara Ave., and the ultimate favor, the potential misuse of eminent domain to remove a pesky neighbor!

Because the two Alignment Schematics shown above have remained unchanged since their public release in February 2003, it appears as though some badgered public works draftsman was told by a higher up at city hall that the safety and convenience of patrons of a politically influential topless bar is a higher priority than the safety and convenience of hundreds of bus, trolley, limo, and cab drivers who will have to face three lanes of speeding oncoming traffic to access their law-abiding workplace just four blocks down the road!

After 4 years of doing favors, the shit finally hit the fan...
(Las Vegas Review Journal FRONT PAGE photo by Cariño Casas)                 (AmericanMafia photo by Steve Miller)
      Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman                          Robert Rose, complainant

On Saturday April 3, the Las Vegas Review Journal depicted a furious Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman on the front page blasting the Nevada Ethics Commission and Robert Rose, the 77 year old retired auto mechanic who had the temerity to file a second ethics complaint against him. Goodman was quoted saying the commission had an ulterior motive in finding probable cause that he violated state ethics laws by doing favors for his sons. "If there's anything wrong with that, I'm going to keep on doing it, and I'll have my face in their face as long as I'm the mayor of the city of Las Vegas," Goodman scowled!

The mayor did not elaborate on what the commission's alleged ulterior motive was, but it's speculated he may have been about to announce a run for Nevada governor in the upcoming November election, but the timing of the ethics complaint threw a monkey wrench in the works prompting Jim Ferrence, one of Goodman's campaign managers, to say they are treating the complaint as an election issue. "It is a baseless complaint written in gibberish by a total moron who has never filed a complaint that wasn't campaign related," stated Ferrence.

Rose calmly responded to Goodman and Ferrence's fury: "If he would have just read these ethics laws, he wouldn'd have gotten into trouble. He is a lawyer after all."

In June of 2003, Goodman ran unopposed for a second term while a mob connected friend raised over $1.5 million in unneeded campaign contributions -- possibly to finance the now-deflated gubernatorial run -- or to possibly grease the skids for an eminent domain taking to aid in the expansion of the trouble plagued topless bar. Either way, many believe the un-timeliness of the ethics complaint is the main reason for the anger expressed by Goodman and Ferrence toward Rose, not the complaint itself.

On last Friday evening's KLAS TV Channel 8 News lead story, Goodman, in an emotional rant, blamed his ethical problems on Rose, referring to him as "envious, jealous little people who are motivated as a result of journalists who are trying to make a name on my bones." (Streaming Video)

Rose laughed at the criticism which further infuriated the already flustered mayor and his supporters.

Goodman did not identify the journalists by name, but its speculated he was referring to Jon Ralston and Sito Negron at the SUN, and Erin Neff and Michael Squires at the Review Journal.

If the mayor is found guilty of multiple ethics violations, it could lead to a District Court proceeding to determine whether he should be removed from office.

One of Goodman's colleagues, Councilwoman Janet Moncrief, is also facing possible removal from office. Within hours following her June 2003 election, Moncrief, at the mayor's insistence, aligned herself with the same political fund raiser who collected the $1.5 million. This "unholy alliance" inspired several of her former campaign supporters, including myself, to file election fraud complaints with the Nevada Secretary of State. On Feb.12, Moncrief was served notice that the state intends to seek an indictment against her for falsifying campaign contribution and expense reports, a felony. Since then, she has been unavailable for comment on the subject.


Goodman and his fund raiser Tom Letizia

This is the second ethics complaint Rose has filed against Goodman. The first complaint was for Goodman voting to license Albert Rapuano, a former client who was approved in 2002 to be a key employee at the troubled topless bar. Goodman voted to grant the license despite the advice of Nevada Gaming Control Board chief of investigations Randall Sayre who testified at the hearing that Rapuano maintains close ties with organized crime figures. The ethics board did not find probable cause to take jurisdiction in this case however, and Goodman was excused, but not before he took the opportunity to blast Rose at a press conference on the steps of city hall..


(AmericanMafia photo by Mike Christ)
       Albert Rapuano

Last January, when he heard that Robert Rose had filed a second ethics complaint against him, this time for using his mayoral title to promote his son's business, Goodman said: "And if anybody tells me I canít help my son who I love, they can drop dead!"

During happier times...

             (Las Vegas SUN photo)
          Patti and Goodman

Topless bar attorney Dean Patti and Mayor Goodman speak in favor of an ordinance to allow expansion of a certain city assisted adult business, and permit teenage strippers to work there. When criticized for his actions, Goodman responded, "There's no prostitution taking place, and if there was, they should arrest them, not make some big fuss as to what some 18-year-old girl is doing to make a living." "I think anything that's legal should be here."


             (Las Vegas SUN editorial cartoon by Mike Smith)


             (Courtesy of KVBC TV)
        Goodman and Spilotro

Before being elected in 1999, Oscar Goodman was the defense attorney for Tony "The Ant" Spilotro whom Goodman described as an innocent, misunderstood businessman. At the same time, Goodman said he'd rather have his daughter date Spilotro than an FBI agent. Goodman was also known for saying, "There is no mob," and his later actions as mayor substantiate his belief.


                    (Courtesy of KVBC TV)
           Cusumano and Goodman

Goodman represented Spilotro lieutenant Joey Cusumano, a suspected hidden owner of the troubled topless bar on Industrial Rd. Cusumano is listed in Nevada's Black Book of persons excluded from entering casinos, but was recently spotted at the mayor's home attending a social gathering. Goodman was also criticized for receiving at City Hall another Black Book member, Charles "The Moose" Panarella, and Vincent "Vinnie Ocean" Palermo, acting boss of the DeCavalcante crime family. Panarella has been identified as a member of the Colombo organized crime family.


According to a Las Vegas SUN story, Palermo is the owner of a strip club called Wiggles in Queens, New York. Palermo wanted to open a gentleman's club in an area of Las Vegas that was not zoned for adult businesses. FBI tapes quoted in the SUN state that Goodman told Palermo before he was elected mayor that, if elected, he would help him with the zoning issue. Palermo told the FBI that he subsequently sent Goodman a campaign contribution of $10,000 through a third party.

The reporter who first identified Panarella visiting Goodman on the tenth floor of City Hall stated that the mayor threatened him, saying that if he continued writing about his visitors, he would be banned from the building.


                                                      (Las Vegas Tribune editorial cartoon by Dave Addis)


                                (Las Vegas Review Journal editorial cartoon by Jim Day)


          (From the Janet Moncrief for City Council campaign)

The "Two faces of Oscar:" (left) Oscar the mob attorney. (right) Mayor Oscar doing favors for his former, and his kid's future clients.


                    (Las Vegas Review Journal photo by Gary Thompson)

On Feb. 20, 2003, the topless bar owned by friends of the mayor was raided by the FBI and IRS.


                            (AmericanMafia photo by Mike Christ)
                              Goodman and Miller

On Feb. 21, 2003, the day after the raid, Mayor Goodman visited author's home to say he will not bring the topless bar up on a license revocation action after a murder, numerous beatings, and the raid by federal authorities.
In 2003, the mayor's sons, Eric and Ross Goodman - fresh out of law school, took over their father's criminal law practice. Evidently, they haven't been doing too well. This inspired their father to violate state ethics laws to give them a hand. When questioned by the Las Vegas SUN about his ethical transgression, Goodman replied, "I'm going to run the city the way I want to run the city," he said. "I will not let anyone tell me how to run the city." "I would do it again!"
According to two prominent Las Vegas lawyers and a Clark County law enforcement official, raided topless bar owner Rick Rizzolo asked Goodman to defend him in the probability he's indicted for racketeering and political corruption. Because it would be a blatant conflict of interest, Goodman must personally decline such an offer, but his sons can take the case and charge exorbitant fees while the mayor coaches them from the wings to make it worth the price.
Win or lose (odds are they'll lose), Eric and Ross stand to make personal fortunes by following in their dad's footsteps defending potential criminal defense clients like Rizzolo and his associates. With Oscar's ongoing mob connections (and his secret coaching), how can they go wrong?
In the meantime, every favor Mayor Goodman can bestow on his kid's first potential criminal client is allegedly being offered at public expense. Favors including an exclusive-use signalized turn lane leading only into the potential client's topless bar along with an extra wide driveway and sidewalk. An ordinance allowing the potential client to expand within 1000 feet of competition and to allow teenage strippers to be employed. The ignoring of over 737 police responses in a three year period including nine for assault and six for robberies involving the potential client's employees. Ignoring numerous calls for liquor license revocation, and the possible future use of eminent domain to remove the pesky neighbor, are all allegedly being offered in his package of paybacks to inspire business for his sons, and to allegedly reciprocate for past business from before he was elected mayor.
As I mentioned earlier in this article, last year Oscar Goodman ran unopposed for his second term while a friend of his raised over $1.5 million in unneeded campaign donations. The donations were raised by a man who has a highly placed relative in the Nevada Department of Transportation, an agency that will be asked to assist if eminent domain condemnation is needed to make way for enhancements to benefit the trouble plagued topless bar -- a bar that employs an advertising agency owned by the same friend who raised the $1.5 million in unneeded campaign donations for Goodman and over $100,000 for Goodman's embattled colleague Janet Moncrief. The same advertising agency is being paid to defend Rick Rizzolo's public image.* Rizzolo is also a former Goodman client.


       Rick Rizzolo

Mayor Goodman will face off with the Ethics Commissioners on May 12, 2004. Notwithstanding his sometimes nefarious and incestuous business relationships, Oscar Goodman continues to enjoy being the second most popular mayor in the history of Las Vegas. Goodman and his unexplainable popularity may be the best  reason they keep calling this place "Sin City?"

The author is a former Clark County Regional Transportation Commissioner.

Steve Miller was the author and sponsor of the original City of Las Vegas Ethics in Government Law.

* The author is a consultant in a civil lawsuit involving Rick Rizzolo.

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