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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:

Juice - Vegas Style
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 25, 2003
                 Goodman                                      Christoff                                              Moran

"You're a shyster lawyer; a two faced phony shyster lawyer.
Why don't you kiss him on the ass?"- Peter "Chris" Christoff

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 attorney.

The comments 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 forty minutes.

                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 please?"

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 sit down."

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 the week.

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 ran unopposed.

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.

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