President Barack Obama and Steve Wynn take hits in former Mayor Oscar Goodman’s new memoir, “Being Oscar.”
Goodman’s famous feud with Obama in 2009 was ignited when the new president “started using Las Vegas as a whipping boy for the country’s economic troubles,” the former mayor wrote.
Goodman fired off a letter to Obama saying Las Vegas was “entitled to some kind of statement from him saying Las Vegas was a good place to come for a convention.”
There was no response.
A few months later when Obama was headed to Las Vegas for a fundraiser, Goodman was wavering on accepting the invitation to meet the president at the airport. Then he received a call from the White House, and an official told Goodman he was “expected to be at the airport.”
“I’m not coming,” Goodman said. “The president hurt my city, and he hasn’t done anything to rectify it.”
Another call came on Memorial Day after Goodman had settled in with a big martini.
According to an advance copy of the book obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, this time the caller was Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff, “although he introduced himself as Congressman Emanuel,” Goodman said.
“It’s amazing how fast you can sober up,” Goodman said.
Emanuel wanted to know what it would take for Goodman to greet the president. An apology, Goodman said, in the form of a comment that Las Vegas was “a great place to do business and have fun.”
Emanuel said he could take care of that with the speech writers, and Goodman took Emanuel at his word.
Goodman showed up at the airport, but all Obama said was, “It’s nice to be in Las Vegas.”
Goodman was not happy, and the next time the president came to Las Vegas, the mayor was not present.
Goodman’s falling-out with Wynn came after Goodman won the mayoral election in 1999. Months earlier, Goodman had approached Wynn to float his downtown ideas and get the hotel developer’s support.
Wynn “especially liked my ideas for downtown” and “told me if I were elected, he would help me redevelop the urban core,” Goodman wrote.
Then, according to Goodman, “as soon as I got elected, Wynn went south on me. He wanted nothing to do with downtown.”
When Goodman confronted him, Wynn said, “Your downtown is never going to come back, and I’m not going to build down there.”
Goodman called it a “rude awakening,” and made him more determined. He decided the cornerstone of downtown revitalization would be the old post office and courthouse building where he tried his federal cases.
“Eventually, it was,” said Goodman, as the building is now the Mob Museum.
BEST SEAT IN TOWN
Courtroom reporting legend Linda Deutsch has been covering big trials for The Associated Press since the early 1970s.
She has dictated news stories from every imaginable location, some during earthquakes. But Wednesday provided a first.
After covering O.J. Simpson’s evidentiary testimony at the Regional Justice Center, Deutsch was having dinner with friends at Hugo’s Cellar at the Four Queens when she realized her scheduled interview with BBC was moments away. With Hugo’s jammed, she was desperate for a quiet location.
Hugo’s manager Richard Assalone, who has worked at some of the best restaurants in town, came up with a corker of a solution: He borrowed a chair from a dinner table and gave Deutsch the coolest seat in town — inside Hugo’s 55-degree wine cellar.
THE PUNCH LINE
“(O.J. Simpson) is hoping if he’s granted a retrial they’ll let him serve the remainder of his sentence under Waffle House arrest.” — Jimmy Kimmel
Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke. “Norm Clarke’s Vegas,” airs Thursdays on the “Morning Blend” on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.