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Thinking about Robert Broadbent

I was struck by Richard Velotta’s column in Vegas Inc (and reprinted in the Las Vegas Sun this morning — but that’s another topic so don’t get me started). First, he treats readers to a righteous look at what ails the Las Vegas Monorail.

“Instead of being delivered to the shiny entrances of Strip resort properties,” he writes, “passengers are dumped off in the back like an after-hours delivery.”

But second, he mentions Robert Broadbent, the architect of the monorail.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen Broadbent’s name in print and the monorail would be far from his No. 1 achievement. Nonetheless, it reminded me about this kid from Ely who contributed so mightily to the formation of Las Vegas. Most readers today probably don’t know his name.

So, I thought it would be good to take a moment and remember a man who ought not be forgotten. In the Las Vegas Review-Journal book “The First 100,” Broadbent was named one of the 100 people who most contributed to the formation of Las Vegas in its first 100 years. (Full disclosure: I commissioned and published the book.)

When I arrived in Las Vegas in 1976 as a cub reporter, Broadbent already was a big-shot county commissioner known for his political clout and his bluntness. For example, he was the first Nevada public official to speak the truth about Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal. He publicly called Lefty a crook. Everybody knew it, but in those days of wink-wink nudge-nudge mob influence nobody said it in polite society. You see, if you uttered Rosenthal’s name in that context, the conversation quickly led to Moe Dalitz and other movers and shakers on the Strip and downtown. “Respectable” people, you know.

Anyway, you can see more of the increasingly forgotten (more’s the pity) kid from Ely in his “First 100” chapter here. Enjoy.

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