weather icon Clear

Las Vegas councilman called developer ‘Crazy Israeli’ in text message

Updated September 28, 2018 - 7:05 pm

A developer is asking a federal judge to block Las Vegas City Councilmen Bob Coffin and Steve Seroka from voting on items related to building on the defunct Badlands Golf Course, a court filing shows.

Attorneys for EHB Cos. CEO Yohan Lowie filed the emergency motion in U.S. District Court this week, submitting several of the councilmen’s emails and text messages as evidence that they cannot give the proposed Badlands projects a fair hearing.

In one August email about the lawsuit — sent from Coffin to Mayor Carolyn Goodman, other city councilmembers and Mandalay Bay president Chuck Bowling, who lives in the Queensridge community that Badlands weaves through — Coffin called Lowie explicit names and said he has “several mental disorders.” More emails document attempts by Coffin to shield his communications from public record requests.

Coffin said Friday that he sees “nothing inappropriate” with using those words in private conversation.

“If a person writes to me in desperation because of what’s going on out there at the Badlands, I’m going to level with them,” he said. “I’m not one to hold back on my opinions.”

Coffin, whom Lowie has accused of being anti-Semitic, also called the developer a “crazy Israeli” in a text message sent on an undetermined date. Later text messages suggest the city councilman wanted a private investigator to scrutinize Lowie, according to the motion.

“Dirt will be handy if I need to get rough,” Coffin wrote.

Coffin said he did not remember sending any texts about “dirt” or a private investigator, and that he knows of no such investigations into Lowie.

He also denies being anti-Semitic, pointing out that Lowie moved to the U.S. from Israel. Coffin said Lowie has insulted him before.

“’Crazy Israeli’ is a common term. It’s sold on T-shirts for God’s sake,” Coffin said. “It’s not a big deal … I think he is crazy. So he’s a crazy Israeli.”

Evidence also shows Seroka conspired with Queensridge residents to formulate strategies to oppose developing the Badlands, according to the motion.

Communications from this year and last show Seroka using his personal email address to coordinate with gaming attorney Frank Schreck and Queensridge homeowner Kenneth Thompson to create presentations regarding the proposed development.

“This is great,” Seroka wrote to Thompson in April after receiving an email containing two attached files. “Both maps could really help the discussion. I like that they are stand alone slides that I could pull out and use depending on the conversation.”

Seroka declined to comment due to the ongoing lawsuit.

Lowie’s attorney, Mark Hutchison, said the evidence supports Lowie’s separate lawsuit claiming that the councilmen are depriving his client of his 14th amendment rights to due process.

“It is impossible for my clients to get a fair and impartial hearing in front of the city council with both Bob Coffin and Steve Seroka on that council,” said Hutchison, who also is Nevada’s lieutenant governor.

Coffin said that’s not true.

“I disagree with a lot of people out there, but I treat them fairly,” he said.

Proposed law

The requested injunction would stop Coffin and Seroka from voting on a proposed city ordinance that would affect more than 20 open spaces and golf courses in Las Vegas.

The proposal, sponsored by Seroka, would require defunct courses inside city limits to be maintained in fully functioning condition. Rule breakers could face fines of up to $1,000 per day or up to six months in jail. The ordinance is scheduled to be considered by the city’s recommending committee on Oct. 15. Coffin is one of three city council members who make up the committee.

“Based on our analysis, there’s one golf course this will apply to, that’s the Badlands,” Hutchison said. “That was not the law when my client bought the property, but those criminal penalties will be applied retroactively.”

EHB Cos. bought the golf course in 2015 and closed it in late 2016. Lowie wants to build homes on part of the 250-acre west Las Vegas property, which is zoned for single-family residences. He and Queensridge have been fighting over potential development for three years, and each side has filed several lawsuits in the matter.

Flouting law

Coffin’s emails show him relaying instructions about how to shirk Nevada’s Public Records Act, according to the court filing.

In May, Coffin told Queensridge resident Gordon Culp that any communications sent to the councilman’s city email address would be subject to a public record request. Coffin also noted that communications on his personal devices could be made public due to an “erroneous (Nevada) supreme court opinion” made in March.

“Please pass word to all your neighbors. In any event tell them to NOT use the city email address but call or write to our personal addresses. For now,” he wrote.

Coffin sent more instructions later that day.

“Also, please pass the word for everyone to not use B…l..nds in title or text of comms. That is how search works,” he wrote.

Coffin said that he wanted to keep his communications with private citizens out of the public eye in order to protect them from Lowie and his attorneys.

“This gentleman who owns this Badlands course has a habit of suing people,” he said. “They (the private citizens) have a perfect right to privacy, and they should be allowed that privacy because there are financial consequences and legal consequences for going against this guy.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

Coffin emails by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.