Baseball players have “walk-up” music, the songs played as they take the mound or approach the plate. Retired Yankee closer Mariano Rivera’s “Enter Sandman” is perhaps the most famous example.
If former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman were to have such a signature tune, an appropriate choice might be The Edgar Winter Group’s 1973 classic “Free Ride.”
Mr. Goodman, hallmark martini in tow, has become a local institution in the wake of his 12-year stint as mayor, which ended in 2011 thanks to term limits. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority now pays him $72,000 a year to act as a “goodwill ambassador,” a ceremonial post that includes glad-handing and hobnobbing at events.
It also apparently comes with free chauffeur service, courtesy of the taxpayer.
A Sunday story by the Review-Journal’s investigative team revealed that convention authority security guards “left their taxpayer-funded posts about 260 times since 2013” to drive Mr. Goodman around town. The list of destinations includes various hotel-casinos, restaurants, TV stations, Nellis Air Force Base and even a golf course. The security guards routinely pick up Mr. Goodman at his home.
“Using the taxpayer-subsidized transportation for personal benefit is just a gross abuse of the will of taxpayers,” said Curtis Kalan, a spokesman for Citizens Against Government Waste.
Of equal significance, the practice also means that convention authority security guards are spending an inordinate amount of time shuttling Mr. Goodman from place to place, rather than actually doing the jobs that taxpayers hired them to do.
The former mayor says that the car service is necessary as a security precaution. And if you believe that, we’ve got a case of Burnett’s London Dry Gin you’re sure to enjoy. Besides, neither a tax-funded driver nor a security detail is provided for in Mr. Goodman’s contract.
It’s certainly understandable that Mr. Goodman — who told a TV reporter in May that he starts “slurring my words about noon” — would rather not take the wheel himself. But Mr. Goodman’s convenience aside, the use of taxpayer resources in this manner is wholly inappropriate.
Mr. Goodman, a well-paid mob attorney before entering local politics, is neither indigent nor immobile. If he prefers the comfort of a well-stocked back seat when traveling about the Las Vegas area, he has no shortage of options — private limo service, ridesharing outfits, even a lowly cab. Just step away from the public trough.
If the LVCVA wants to shed its reputation as a poster child for extravagance, it could start by cutting off the driver perk for Mr. Goodman. Then the former mayor who loves a good time could switch his walk-up music to Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.” The taxpayers would appreciate it.