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
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
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
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
Top - L to R: Oscar Goodman
and Jimmy Chagra;
Spilotro, Goodman, Herb
Middle - L to R: Goodman
and impeached judge Harry
Claiborne; Convicted racketeer Rick
Bottom - L to R: Joey
"The Clown" Lombardo; Joey
Cusumano and Goodman; Frank "Lefty"
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.
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
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.