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Vegas People: The Mayor

A special treat this month, as Paul Sculpher managed to wangle an interview with the mayor of Las Vegas. The meeting took place at Mayor Goodman’s amazing office

No messing about this month, it’s straight to the top. Paul Sculpher met with the mayor of Sin City recently to get his take on the latest from home and abroad. He’s our kind of guy – the mayor is a big sports bettor and even owns a racehorse named Oscar The Mayor. He loves to bet on NFL football games and people in Las Vegas actually call in to his office to get his picks. He has been known to say, "I will bet on anything. If a cockroach were to run across the floor right now I would bet you if it would turn left or right."

Gambling: Hi, Mayor Goodman, and thanks for taking the time to see us. I understand you’ve recently had a trip to the UK?

Mayor Goodman: Yes, that’s right. I was asked to fly on the inaugural British Airways service from London Heathrow over to Vegas, so I took the opportunity to explore just a little bit.

How did you find London, and have you ever been there before?

No, I’ve never been to England before. I had a great time. It’s wonderful to be in a place with so much tradition and history. I was very busy with meetings and events – obviously, my priority was to promote Las Vegas as the fabulous tourist destination that it is – so I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to explore. My wife certainly had more of a chance to get around than I did.

What did you get up to?

Well, the tourist highlight of the trip for me was to take a look at the Old Bailey. My background is as a criminal lawyer, so to see it was really fascinating for me. I also got to see Churchill’s bunker form World War II, as well as seeing a production of Othello with Lenny Henry. We had some wonderful dinners, and I was able to meet with Boris Johnson, your mayor over there. He’s quite a character, and presented me with some wonderful whisky glasses.

He has a reputation – unusually for an Englishman – for being a little eccentric. Having said that, you have more than a touch of colour about you as well. Didn’t I hear something about you being asked what you’d take to a desert island?

Yes, that’d be when I replied with a bottle of gin and a showgirl.

Fine sentiments, sir. I’m quite partial to a drop of Bombay Sapphire myself. There was a lot of controversy recently with some unfortunate remarks by President Obama about companies cutting down on trips to Las Vegas in the current economic climate.

Yes, that was difficult for the city, especially with all the attention on him due to his election win. The simple fact is that if you’re going to have a convention, Las Vegas is perfectly equipped to handle it, and with times being hard – although I think we’ve bottomed out – prices here are lower than ever, making it pretty good value for companies. We’re still ticking along very well though – just the other week I presented the keys to the city to Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, who were in town for the big ‘Firepower’ title fight. Events like that really spur the city on – we get a huge influx every year for the Superbowl, and some of the conventions that come here are absolutely massive – the biggest run up to 190,000 people.

It seems strange that as the home of sports betting in the USA, there aren’t any top-level sports franchises here either. Wouldn’t it be great to have one of the majors here?

Well, as you’ll have read, we made a move to get the old Montreal Expos here, but it didn’t work out and they headed to Washington. It’s still something I’d love to deliver for the city, and other plans are underway.

“Whatever happens here, stays here”. That was the marketing slogan of the city, and compared to most places in the US, Vegas is a real eye-opener. For another interview in this series, I met with the manager of the Chicken Ranch brothel. Clearly there is a great deal of prostitution going on in town, pretty much decriminalised – you only have to walk down the Strip to be offered flyers, and I don’t think those girls are just offering a fashion show! What are your thoughts on legalising prostitution in Las Vegas?

My views are that I’ll welcome any discussion. Whether or not legalising it is in the best interests of the city, well that’s for my constituents to decide, but if they want to debate it, that’s fine by me. Some of the advertising can indeed be a little blatant –recently in Clark County a mobile cage-type setup was driving up and down the Strip with scantily clad girls in it on behalf of one establishment or another – but this has now been discontinued. There would certainly be a revenue benefit to the city if prostitution were legal, and the whole deal would be safer for both the girls and their customers.

I also read that you were once upset by a graffiti tagger defacing a desert tortoise statue that is located along a highway in Las Vegas. As I read it, “The statue is part of a landscaped area designed to beautify the highway. The mayor was asked about it and said that he would like to catch the tagger and have his thumbs cut off, then have him put in public stocks and allow citizens to paint his face”. Is that true?

Of course! Would a lawyer lie to you?


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