Oscar Goodman

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Oscar Goodman
Oscar Goodman 2003.jpg
Goodman in 2003
20th Mayor of Las Vegas
In office
June 8, 1999 – July 6, 2011
Preceded by Jan Laverty Jones
Succeeded by Carolyn Goodman
Personal details
Born (1939-07-26) July 26, 1939 (age 75)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Independent
Democratic
Spouse(s) Carolyn Goodman
Alma mater Haverford College
University of Pennsylvania Law School
Occupation Lawyer
Religion Judaism

Oscar Baylin Goodman (born July 26, 1939) is an American lawyer and politician. He was the mayor of Las Vegas, Nevada from 1999 to 2011. Mayor Goodman is an Independent and a former member of the Democratic Party.[1]

Biography[edit]

Goodman was born and raised in Philadelphia, graduated from The Haverford School,[2] Haverford College and received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He and his wife Carolyn have four children.

During his career as a defense attorney he represented defendants accused of being some of the leading organized crime figures in Las Vegas, such as Meyer Lansky, Nicky Scarfo, Herbert "Fat Herbie" Blitzstein, Phil Leonetti, former Stardust Casino boss Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal, and Jamiel "Jimmy" Chagra, a 1970s drug trafficker who was acquitted of ordering the murder of Federal Judge John H. Wood, Jr. One of his notorious clients was reputed Chicago mobster Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro, who was known to have a short and violent temper. In the semi-factual 1995 movie Casino, the character of Nicky Santoro was based on Spilotro and was portrayed by actor Joe Pesci. Goodman had a cameo appearance in the film as himself while defending "Ace Rothstein", a character closely based on Lefty Rosenthal and played by Robert De Niro.

Goodman also represented former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock, who was convicted of accepting illegal campaign contributions and eventually forced to resign. Hedgecock was later cleared of all charges on appeal.

In 1980-81, he served as president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.[3]

Goodman was a senior partner in the law firm of Goodman & Chesnoff.[4] Goodman currently serves as Of Counsel to Goodman Law Group, a Las Vegas law firm formed by his son, Ross C. Goodman.[5] Goodman was elected mayor of Las Vegas on June 8, 1999, receiving 32,765 (63.76 percent) votes while his opponent, then-Las Vegas City Councilman Arnie Adamsen, received 18,620 (36.24 percent). Goodman was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2003, defeating five opponents and receiving 29,356 (85.72 percent) of the votes. On April 3, 2007, he was re-elected to a third and final term with 26,845 votes (83.69 percent), again defeating five opponents. Las Vegas law prevents the mayor, who has been called the town's "most popular mayor",[6] from serving more than three terms.

Goodman was a member of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority before being elected mayor.

Significant events[edit]

Goodman appears as himself in the 1995 Martin Scorsese film Casino. Later on, he made another brief appearance in the film Looney Tunes: Back in Action on the DVD extras.

On June 8, 1999, he was elected mayor of Las Vegas.

On June 28, 1999, Goodman was the first mayor of Las Vegas to have his image placed on $5 and $25 casino chips issued by a Las Vegas casino. The two chips were issued by the Four Queens Hotel and Casino in Downtown Las Vegas. In 2006, the Four Queens put out a $200 Silver Strike with the likeness of Oscar on it.

In 2000, a bobblehead doll was issued as a promotion during a Las Vegas 51s baseball game.

Mayor Goodman was an invited celebrity photographer for the Playboy Cyber Club. He shot a topless pictorial of Miss January 2001 Irina Voronina for the website.

In 2002, he became a spokesman for Bombay Sapphire gin, receiving a $100,000 salary which was donated to charity, including $50,000 donated to The Meadows School, a private school in Las Vegas founded by his wife Carolyn.

In April 2003, he was re-elected for a second four-year term, winning 86% of all votes,[7] and becoming one of the most popular politicians elected to office in Las Vegas.[8]

In 2003, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith wrote a book titled Of Rats and Men: Oscar Goodman's Life from Mob Mouthpiece to Mayor of Las Vegas, which chronicles Goodman's life, including 35 years spent defending notorious U.S. crime figures, including, among others, Meyer Lansky, Anthony "Tony The Ant" Spilotro and Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal (The last two were portrayed respectively, and under different names, in the film Casino by Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro).

In 2003, Goodman was voted the Least Effective Public Official in the Review-Journal's annual reader's poll.[9]

Goodman has been vocal about having a Major League Baseball team relocate to Las Vegas. In 2004 the city failed to secure a move by the Montreal Expos to the city. Instead, the team relocated to Washington, D.C. and became the Washington Nationals. Later that year, Goodman met with officials of the Florida Marlins. The Chicago White Sox were considering a move but talks fell through after Chicago officials provided incentives for the team to stay.[citation needed]

In recent years, Goodman has tried to get National Football League teams to Las Vegas. On April 24, 2006, he called the San Diego Chargers and asked if they would be interested in moving. Because of a contract, the city could not talk about a possible move. On January 4, 2007 he called again, since the team was not allowed to talk to other cities about a possible move. Again, Goodman was turned down "for the time being.[10] According to Mark Fabiani, the Chargers general counsel, Goodman is a longtime season ticket holder of the Chargers and a fan.[11]

He guest starred twice as himself on CSI in the episodes "Sqweegel" while defending Ann-Margret's character from being harassed by the LVPD and "Maid Man" CBS, first appearing at the opening of the Mob Museum, which was re-created for the show in advance of its opening.[12]

Seeking higher office[edit]

Goodman briefly entertained challenging presidential son Jack Carter for the Democratic nomination to run against incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John Ensign in 2006. However, on April 20, Goodman announced that he would not run but instead would run for a third term as mayor. After winning the mayoral election in 2007, Goodman, like his counterpart Michael Bloomberg in New York City, looked into a means to change the city charter to remove term limits.[13] In the absence of that change, Goodman fueled speculation that he might run as an Independent in the 2010 gubernatorial race against embattled incumbent, Republican Jim Gibbons, and the presumptive Democrat candidate, Rory Reid.[14] However, Goodman decided to drop out of the race for governor, citing his desire to stay close to his family and objections to moving to the capital Carson City.[15] Goodman has appeared interested in higher office and was the focus of a story (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) about being the First Jewish president of the United States by Las Vegas commentator Dayvid Figler.[16]

Controversies[edit]

Ethics investigation[edit]

In February 2004, Robert Rose, an ethics watchdog, filed a complaint with the Nevada Commission on Ethics claiming that during the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Goodman handed out to fellow mayors, conference attendees and other political figures invitations to a cocktail party Goodman was hosting. Rose alleged that this was nothing more than the mayor abusing his power of office to help promote a business that is owned by his son, Ross Goodman, and Las Vegas Councilman Michael Mack. The Nevada Ethics Commission opened an investigation on April 14, 2004, and on May 13, 2004, the members of the commission found the mayor in ethics violations, although no fine was rendered. Goodman sued the commission and won; the commission's ruling was reversed by the court.

On September 16, 2004, Rose again filed a complaint with the Nevada Commission on Ethics, this time asking the commission to clarify Goodman's affiliation with his son Ross's law firm. In a statement, the mayor explained his name on the letterhead is a way of informing out of state law firms that Ross Goodman is his son. However, a person serving as an elected public official in Nevada may not have his name listed on a law firm letterhead, and Goodman removed his name under protest after several newspaper articles noted the infraction.[17]

On July 18, 2005 the Nevada Commission on Ethics concluded insufficient cause for a hearing and recommended the allegations be dismissed, clearing Goodman of the ethics complaint regarding his name listed as "Of Counsel" to Goodman Law Group.[18]

On September 11, 2007 the Supreme Court of Nevada ruled that Goodman did not violate any ethics laws during the 2004 cocktail party that he hosted on behalf of his son Ross C. Goodman.[19]

Remarks to schoolchildren[edit]

On March 3, 2005, Goodman spoke to a group of fourth-graders at Jo Mackey Elementary School. When asked what he would take with him if marooned on a desert island, the mayor replied, "A bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin." When asked about his hobbies, the mayor named drinking Bombay Sapphire Gin as a favorite. Later, when asked to comment about his statements, Goodman was unapologetic: "I'm the George Washington of mayors. I can't tell a lie. If they didn't want the answer, the kid shouldn't have asked the question." This caused an outcry from parents whose children heard the remark, and school officials said the remark was inappropriate.[20][21]

Thumb amputation and caning[edit]

On November 3, 2005, Mayor Goodman suggested that those who deface freeways with graffiti should have their thumbs cut off on television. Goodman, appearing on the "Nevada Newsmakers" TV show, said, "In the old days in France, they had beheading of people who commit heinous crimes", "You know, we have a beautiful highway landscaping redevelopment in our downtown. We have desert tortoises and beautiful paintings of flora and fauna. These punks come along and deface it", I'm saying maybe you put them on TV and cut off a thumb", and "That may be the right thing to do."

Goodman also suggested that whippings or canings should be brought back for children who get into trouble.

"I also believe in a little bit of corporal punishment going back to the days of yore, where examples have to be shown," Goodman said. "I'm dead serious. Some of these (children) don't learn. You have got to teach them a lesson, and this is coming from a criminal defense lawyer." But, he added, "they would get a trial first."

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas[edit]

In July 2006 the mayor criticized the Ubisoft game Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas for its premise of terrorism in Las Vegas, because he thought it may tarnish the city's image. He stated, "It's based on a false premise.... It could be harmful economically, and it may be something that's not entitled to free speech (protection).... I will ask... whether or not we can stop it."[22] Publication of the game has not been hindered.

Legalized prostitution[edit]

Currently, prostitution is legal in Nevada only in rural counties with fewer than 400,000 residents, a requirement which excludes Clark County and the city of Las Vegas from allowing the practice. Mayor Goodman supports legalizing prostitution in the city's downtown area as a revenue generator and tool for revitalization,[23] although a majority of Nevadans polled in 2003 opposed the mayor's position.[24] Goodman's views on prostitution have been criticized by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert,[25] as well as Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston.[26]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Goodman Switches Party Affiliation. KXNT, Ret. December 16th 2009
  2. ^ Oscar Goodman, "Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas--Only in America", (Weinstein Books, 2013), p. 277
  3. ^ http://www.nacdl.org/past_presidents/
  4. ^ JANE ANN MORRISON: Malpractice lawsuit heads for trial as attorneys go their separate ways Las Vegas Review Journal)
  5. ^ "About Ross C. Goodman". www.GoodmanLawGroup.com. Retrieved 2011-03-18. 
  6. ^ "MID-August '06 Celebrity Scene Column". Vegascommunityonline.com. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  7. ^ "POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Goodman's goal: $1.5 million fundraiser". Reviewjournal.com. 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2011-10-07. 
  8. ^ "Three mismatched mayors find common ground downtown". lvrj.com. 2011-04-03. Retrieved 2011-10-07. 
  9. ^ "BOLV Long Return". Reviewjournal.com. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  10. ^ "Chargers turn down offer to move to Vegas". North County Times. 2007-01-05. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  11. ^ Powell, Ronald (2007-01-05). "Las Vegas woos Chargers". signonsandiego.com. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  12. ^ "Photos: Oscar Goodman is shot tonight on CBS hit ‘CSI’". Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  13. ^ Las Vegas SUN newspaper, January 9, 2009
  14. ^ Ball, Molly (2009-6-11), Goodman Eyes Race for Governor. Las Vegas Review-Journal http://www.lvrj.com/news/breaking_news/47891957.html
  15. ^ Powers, Ashley (January 25, 2010), Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman decides not to go for Nevada governor. "Los Angeles Times http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/01/oscar-goodman-nevada-governor.html?utm_source=latimes.com&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+topoftheticket+%28Top+of+the+Ticket%29
  16. ^ Figler, Dayvid HEEB Magazine, Issue 18, The First Jewish President
  17. ^ Richmond, Emily (2006-07-19). "Stories published July 19, 2006Las Vegas Sun". Lasvegassun.com. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  18. ^ Ryan, Cy (2005-07-28). "State Ethics Panel Clears Goodman on Complaint published July 28, 2005Las Vegas Sun". Lasvegassun.com. Retrieved 2011-03-18. 
  19. ^ Vogel, Ed (2007-11-12). "Supreme Court sides with Mayor Goodman published Sep. 12, 2007, Las Vegas Review Journal". LVRJ.com. Retrieved 2011-03-18. 
  20. ^ Koch, Ed. "Stories published March 2, 2005 Las Vegas Sun". Lasvegassun.com. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  21. ^ "Here's Looking at You, Kid". Wired. AP. March 4, 2005. Retrieved 2012-08-12. 
  22. ^ McCauley, Dennis (2006-07-13). "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Rainbow Six ...maybe". GamePolitics.com. Retrieved 2006-12-31. 
  23. ^ Neff, Erin (2003-10-24). "LEGALIZED PROSTITUTION: Vegas brothels suggested". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  24. ^ Lake, Richard (2003-10-30). "Majority opposes legalizing prostitution in Las Vegas". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  25. ^ Herbert, Bob (2007-09-04). "City as Predator". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  26. ^ Ralston, Jon (2007-09-05). "Jon Ralston thinks New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has a pretty good take on Goodman". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jan Laverty Jones
Mayor of Las Vegas
1999–2011
Succeeded by
Carolyn Goodman