Goodman meeting with Las Vegas convention authority on job possibility

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said Thursday that he is meeting with officials of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to discuss an employment opportunity.

Goodman, chairman of the convention authority board, described the job as “very generic” and gave no further details after speaking at the Crystal Ball housing seminar at Alexis Park.

“They have an idea of how I can be of value to them,” Goodman said.

Authority President and Chief Executive Officer Rossi Ralenkotter was unavailable for comment Thursday.

“The LVCVA continuously evaluates opportunities to market and brand Las Vegas,” authority spokesman Vince Alberta said in a statement. “We have had initial discussions with Mayor Goodman regarding a possible role to help promote the destination. At this time, no decisions have been made.”

Goodman, who has dubbed himself “the happiest mayor in the universe,” is nearing the end of his third and final term as Las Vegas mayor. His run as mayor will be over at the end of this year. His wife, Carolyn Goodman, is running against Chris Giunchigliani for the office.

“I’m having a meeting with them this morning to discuss the potential,” the mayor said Thursday. “I’ll only consider it if it’s a serious job. I’m not going to become a caricature of myself in my next life.”

Goodman wouldn’t be the first Las Vegas mayor to parlay political power into employment in the gaming and tourism industry.

Former Mayor Jan Jones is corporate spokeswoman for Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Ron Lurie is general manager for Arizona Charlie’s Decatur.

Richard Lee, public relations director at First American Title and a popular speaker about Las Vegas development, said he liked the idea of Goodman working for the tourism agency.

“If he goes there and doesn’t become what he called a ‘caricature,’ if he becomes a meaningful ambassador for Las Vegas, go for it, absolutely,” Lee said. “He’s got to discuss it so he’s not just a figurehead, but something meaningful. He can bring value to the table if they recognize it and structure it right.”

Goodman has championed Las Vegas from the day he took office and led the efforts to rejuvenate downtown Las Vegas. He led negotiations with New York-based investment firm Lehman Bros. to acquire the 61-acre Union Park, now being called Symphony Park.

Lehman had foreclosed on the land once proposed for a domed stadium by a Texas developer and wanted $33 million for it. Goodman said the city didn’t have the money, so he worked out a deal to trade the 100-acre Las Vegas Tech Center at Buffalo and Vegas drives.

He also takes credit for bringing the Las Vegas Premium Outlets center and the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute downtown.

“Since I’m here at Crystal Ball, I’m going to predict that the city of Las Vegas, particularly downtown, has a future nobody could have dreamed of five years ago or 10 years ago,” Goodman said. “Many people live here and never leave their home in Summerlin or Green Valley — wherever that is — to go downtown. They come downtown for an event and marvel at what they see in the epicenter of the valley.”

Goodman also discussed the city’s agreement with Cordish Cos. to bring a sports arena to downtown Las Vegas. Even if it’s not downtown, an arena will be built somewhere in Las Vegas, Goodman said. He “guarantees” Las Vegas will have a National Basketball Association franchise as soon as ground is broken.

Money has never been an issue for Goodman, who made a fortune in the 1970s as a lawyer defending mobsters in Las Vegas. His salary as mayor was $48,000 a year.

Among his more notorious clients were Lefty Rosenthal, Tony “The Ant” Spilotro and “Fat Herbie” Blitzstein. Goodman played himself in the movie “Casino.”

“I’ve only got a few days left and a few people might get whacked,” Goodman said, looking in the direction of a newspaper reporter.

Goodman said he had an “exploratory discussion” with authority representatives Thursday and “hopefully something will be worked out.”

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

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